[Feb 14]--Valuing God’s Pattern

Exodus 20:8-11

The issue of how we need to follow the fourth commandment has caused a little controversy in the past few years, but it seems that it’s mostly died down. There was a time in which “Blue Laws” (making it illegal to conduct business on Sunday) were quite common, but they seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur in most communities. There was a time in which most conservative Christians would never dream of going to a store or (heaven forbid) participating in some form of “worldly” entertainment (like TV or movies) on Sunday. Times have certainly changed, and outside of conservative Jewish circles this commandment seems to have been largely abandoned.

Of course, there are some reasons for this. First, there's no Scriptural basis for changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. The closest we can find to it in the New Testament is Revelation 1:10, which refers to the “Lord’s day,” which probably was a reference to Sunday, but that doesn't change my main point. The only other argument is tradition, because the early church began worshipping on Sunday very early in its history (for obvious reasons). But as far as a direct command to treat Sunday as a day in which you're forbidden to do anything but worship the Lord, you won’t find it in Scripture. Furthermore, Paul told us “[Do] not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” In other words, the Sabbath points us towards Christ, but we shouldn’t consider ourselves legalistically bound to it. Another point to consider is that it's the only one of the Ten Commandments which is never repeated in the N.T.

Does this mean that we can simply ignore this commandment, then? I don’t think so. This is the only commandment in which we’re told that the reason to obey is in order to follow God’s example at the beginning of creation. In other words, this commandment is woven into the very fabric of creation itself. The pattern of work, then rest, is not something God made up just for humanity’s benefit; it’s carried out all around us. Most of the animal world and most of the plant world follows this pattern, so it’s part of the whole rhythm of everything. When we abandon this pattern by going without rest (or work!), we’ll find ourselves running like a car with sugar in its gas tank. I don’t believe we're obligated not to do anything on Sunday, but it would definitely be a good idea to take at least one day off a week to “recharge” and refocus our attention on what’s really important in life, especially our relationship with our Savior.

Lord Jesus, like Paul said you are my Sabbath Rest. In you I find rest from my work, both here and in eternity.

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