The Fourth Commandment
This commandment is closely related to Gen 2:1-3. The Lord completed His work of creation in six days and He rested on the seventh day. The Lord didn’t rest because He was tired; He rested because there was nothing left to do. Gen 1: 31 remind us that at the end of the sixth day the Lord saw everything that He had made and it was very good, that is, perfect. At that stage there was no sin in the world.
- In Hebrew the days of the week are called; “Day One”, “Day Two”, etc, the seventh day is called Shabbat or “Day Seven”. When the Lord told His people to remember the Sabbath, He was telling them to remember the seventh day.
- At various times in history people have had different “week” lengths but God designed a seven-day week. In early Rome they held a market day every eight days so the workers rested from their labour on the eighth day so that they could attend the market. After the French Revolution the National Convention introduced a ten-day week and a ten-hour day but this was done to spite the church and didn’t last. Some scholars suggest that the week is based on this concept but the Bible shows us that this idea is wrong.
- Even though God wasn’t tired on the seventh day and He rested because the work was done, research shows that we are designed to have a day of rest. If a person works seven days a week over a long period of time but another person works six days and rests on the seventh then the person who has the rest will achieve more in the six days than the other person achieves in the seven days.
- This commandment follows naturally from the first three. If we have only One God, Who is absolutely powerful and wise and if we are to deny ourselves daily, then we will submit to His wisdom and live according to the way that He made us.
- As humans we have a tendency to want to fix things even though they are working properly. Whenever we get a new government they want to change everything the old government did even though it is working well. God, on the other hand, doesn’t try to fix things if they are working well. We have security in the perfect world that God has made. The Bible calls this security “rest”. We don’t have to worry about things falling apart or being destroyed because God made things perfect and then He allows us to rest in this perfection. When sin came into the world, this rest was destroyed (see Rom 8: 22, 23) but God, in His infinite mercy, has restored this rest in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Any person who trusts in Him can have perfect rest because the work of salvation is complete and perfect and God will not try to change it.
- God’s plan for us is that we enjoy completion in Him. Every time we accept that God knows what we need and we don’t need anything more than what He has to offer we rest in His completeness; this means that we give Him the glory and demonstrate that we believe He is the best in the universe, this is true rest. This kind of rest leads to real freedom as well, (compare John 8: 31-36) freedom not to worry about the eternal consequence of our actions.
- The idea of completion also has a picture of being covered (Is 25:10). While God’s creatures rest, He covers them and keeps them secure. Without this covering we would never really know true rest.
- We know that God created man in His own image but the true crowing joy of creation is the seventh day, the day of rest because we read that God blessed the seventh day. God gave man a job to do and told him to rule over creation. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, that is, set apart; He did not do this for man. The entire purpose of creation is for creatures to have true rest. However the Lord did tell us that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2: 27), the Sabbath is for our benefit and not a tool to restrict us.
- The only way to build a relationship with someone is to spend time with that person. Some experts tell us today that it is important for us to spend quality time with our children but if we really want to build a relationship with them we need to spend quantity time with them. If we set aside a complete day of rest then we can devote that day to the Lord and build our relationship with Him. Sometimes we need to prepare ourselves so that we can spend this time of rest but that is a way of honouring God by showing that we place a high priority on our relationship with Him.
- God’s plan looked forward to a time when there would be poor in the Land. He gave Adam and Eve everything that they needed but they chose to sin. As we have seen, God is completely innocent when it comes to sin but sin did not take Him by surprise. He had a plan to deal with sin before it happened. God always has a plan and nothing takes Him by surprise. Never the less, God knew that sin would lead to the need for rest. He understood that some people would be poor and other people would be rich. God always cares for the poor and the needy, the widow and the fatherless. He set aside a day of rest so that the poor and the needy could be guaranteed time that they could devote to the Lord by resting in the beauty of His goodness. The day of rest is part of God plan to mitigate the terrible effects of sin in the daily lives of His people. As a general rule people become rich by exploiting other people who are poor. The rich people have to accept that God wants them to rest from their pursuit of self and they have to accept that they have to give the people they are exploiting time to rest from their exploitation.
- Col 1: 17 reminds us that God holds all things together. Even though the Lord rested on the seventh day, He continued to hold all things together so God’s rest is a dynamic rest. This gives an extra sense of meaning to Christ’s suffering on the cross. He held the whip together that the soldiers used when they were scouring Him, He held the nails together as they were being driven though His hands and feet, He held the cross together as Hung there. He was so committed to providing the rest that He made us to enjoy that He endured all these things.
While the Lord Jesus was talking to His disciples, in the upper room, as we read in John 14, He said, “ In my father’s house are many dwelling places”. The word used here can also mean, “remaining places” or “resting places”. All along there was the thought of the final rest when God commanded that we enjoy the rest of the seventh day.