Exodus 20: 8-11
Our great grandfathers called it ‘Holy Sabbath,’ our grandfathers called it ‘The Sabbath,’ our fathers called it ‘Sunday.’ Today, it’s referred to as the weekend. The fourth Commandment has increasingly become ignored as Sunday becomes just another day of the week. Previously we learnt that Sunday is a holy day devoted to specially to Him, a day of rest, a day free from the rest of the week, a day in which we can enjoy fellowship with God. It is a day of blessing; God grants us the benefits of His presence.How can we make the best of this special day, maximum its benefits?
- Sunday is a day for reflection.
2. Sunday is a day for renewal. Sunday is a day for reflection:
The first word of this Commandment is ‘Remember.’ Most commandments begin with a negative, ‘You shall not’ but this one begins with a positive call, a call to reflect on the past. It points back to the rest of God after six days of creation.
In Exodus 16 we remember that the Israelites were not to collect more manna than they needed for that day. They were to depend upon the Lord each day for their daily needs. The exception was the Sabbath, when they were to collect no manna at all but collect two days rations the day before.
We are to remember that God rested on the seventh day, to remember that God declared that manna was not to be collected. Later, when Moses reiterated the Commandments, they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. So another purpose of the Old Testament Sabbath was to reflect on God’s dealings with them as their Saviour. He is Creator, Provider and Saviour who brought them out of captivity in Egypt.
The New Testament Sundays have the same purpose, ‘On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight’ (Acts 20:7). A central part of the Sabbath was to remember the Lord’s death in partaking of the bread and wine. When they gathered, they listened to the Apostles’ teaching, reflecting on who God is and what He has done. The Sabbath remains of great importance as a day of rest from the business of life, set apart to praise God’s name as we reflect on who He is, what He has done in providing all our needs.
We are to set aside Sunday as we remember God and His goodness to us. It is a day to praise and thank Him. If we don’t guard our Sundays we will soon forget about God. There will be a rapid decline in zeal for the work of the gospel. Keeping the Sabbath is essential to our spiritual health.
Attendance at church services is so important. It is the best means of fulfilling the purpose of the day. Of course, we can reflect on our own, but it is best done in the company of the Lord’s people. We hear the Word of God preached and we reflect deeply upon Him. We are to be as devoted to the teachings of the Apostles as the early believers were. It is the heart of the worship of God. It is in the Word was encounter our risen, glorious Saviour. It is in the preaching of the Word that we remember the Lord Himself and grow in our love for Him. As we come together around God’s Word we encourage one another. We come to remember the Lord’s death until He comes, by sharing in the bread and wine, to remember His sacrifice at Calvary. It is important we are present when church gathers around His table to remember His death until He comes. The best way to keep the Sabbath holy is to come together to honour God and give maximum benefit for our souls. It is a priority for our spiritual health.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:8-11).
Sunday is a day for renewal:
Exodus 31: 12-18. There are two things about the Sabbath:
(i) it is a day of renewing commitment. God says people’s obedience to keeping the Sabbath holy was a sign of their Covenant commitment. God will be their God, they will be His people. A sign of their commitment was to be the sharing of His day. If they broke the Sabbath, they broke the terms of the Covenant, they no longer regarded themselves as His people. That is why the penalty for breaking the Sabbath was to be death. We might think this over-the-top, but what was involved was a clear renunciation of God, a bold act of treason and rebellion. It was an incredibly serious thing. However, when the people kept the Sabbath, it showed renewing of this commitment to the Covenant.
The Sabbath is a day in which we renew our commitment to God in keeping it holy. Being bold enough to say or show commitment to the Lord’s Day is a reflection of our commitment to the Lord. If we renew our commitment to God Himself only as far as it suits us, we are not committed at all. Of course, there are occasions when something crops up that keeps us from church – demands that need our urgent attention. Jesus understands this. Our commitment to the Lord’s Day is a testimony to the world that we put God first. There is no doubt, people can tell what our priorities are by the way we behave. It applies to the Lord’s Day as it applies to anything else (Eric Lidell).
(ii) Sundays are a day for renewing the soul. Exodus 31:12 links observance to the Lord’s Day to holiness, sanctification, ‘And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you’ (Exodus 31:12-13). Sunday has a role in increasing the holiness of God’s people. Sundays spent in the presence of God, in fellowship of other Christians, is the best preparation for the week ahead. God equips us to serve Him in the days ahead. Sundays are important to our spiritual growth and serving the Lord. Sundays are most spiritually profitable. Ensure maximum spiritual benefit.
So we are to look forward to Sundays and delight in praise and fellowship with God’s people. Know the delight of the Lord’s Day with the Lord’s people and the Lord’s Word. If we want to grow as Christians, to be sanctified, to be better servants, we will keep the Lord’s Day and make the best use of it and be present in services and encourage one another. The Lord’s Day is a day of reflection, a day set aside, given to considering the greatness of God as our Creator and Provider and Saviour. It is a day to renew our commitment to the Lord, who committed His all to us in dying on the cross for our sins. It is a day for spiritual renewal, in fellowship with one another as we praise the Lord and encourage one another. It is a day to cherish and look forward to. May the Lord so encourage us. Have joy in knowing the Lord’s presence, worship His majesty and splendour in the company of His people.