The Fourth Commandment

Across America, Believers are resurrecting the exhibiting of lawnRev Paul Hoffmaster signs that depict the Ten Commandments.  What they hope to achieve can only be interpreted as a conscientious response to activating their Christian duty.  Bringing awareness to Biblical principles may identify one as a Christian, but does little to influence others into seeking a hunger for the things of God.

Believers emphatically believe that the Ten Commandments are the basis for social justice.  It is through obedience to these laws that the Sermon on the Mount can build Christian character.  If we promote the Ten Commandments, we are obligated to affirm all of them through our actions.  A problem seems to arise when the Fourth Commandment calls us to an action that is hard to justify by the Church.  “REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY TO KEEP IT HOLY.”  There is very little, if any, wiggle room to try to adjust or substitute a word for the Sabbath.  The observance of the Sabbath was to be perpetual, which means everlasting and never ending.  (Exodus 31:16)  What the Church tries to do is substitute the “Lord’s Day” for the Sabbath.  It is true the New Testament church did meet on the first day of the week to worship through the sharing of the Word, Communion, and fellowship, but that was not the purpose of the Sabbath.  It was to be a day of separation from the world.  It was a time to cease from the grind of six days and to rest in the Truths of God’s Word.  It was a time to shut out the world and its pollutants.  It was a time of worshipping God with spirit, soul, and body.  It was a time for renewal and spiritual reflection.  Jesus stated that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)   What a gift God gave us, and yet we lose its blessing by diluting God’s intention.  We attempt to have the Lord’s Day be our Sabbath.  The problem is we think by going to church we have honored the intent of the Fourth Commandment.  In fact, if we take out Sunday worship, there is really no difference from any other day.    If we are going to substitute the Lord’s Day for the Sabbath, we must also be dedicated to keeping it Holy!

I remember years ago, as a young boy, my parents would not even let me change out of my church clothes. (People use to dress up to go the church, but today we dress down as we worship our God!)  I could not go out and play baseball.  My parents made sure we had enough food in the house so we did not need to go to the store.  Many stores were closed on this special day.  We would share the Word together and pray as a family.  There was also a time for a nap.  The day wrapped up by going to church in the evening. (It is very difficult today to find churches with Sunday night services.)  By Monday morning, we were ready for the challenges of the week.

The argument of Saturday or Sunday as the Biblical day for the Sabbath has long been the focal point of division.  It has even come to the point of birthing new denominations.  Straining over the actual day of Holiness has dwarfed the intent of the Fourth Commandment.  One day of the week is to be set aside for the renewing of our body, soul, and spirit.  If we want that day to be Sunday, then let it be.  We must be certain that whatever that day is, it is totally dedicated to God.  When we fail to keep any of His commandments and try to teach others the insignificance of any of His teachings, we will be called “least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)  Many Believers claim this Fourth Commandment pertains only to the Jewish people.  If we want to be completely truthful, all the Commandments were for the Jews because the Church had not yet been conceived.  Yet, the Ten Commandments have a place in the Church today, and all we have to do is let the Holy Spirit guide us into the application of not only the Commandments, but all the teachings in the Old Testament.  Instead of looking for loop holes in Scriptural principles, let us simply obey what God says.  Is it that difficult to set aside a day, different from all other days, to focus on Him and to honor Him?  May our Sabbath be a day that prepares us for the challenges of the upcoming week.  Let us rest in the Lord that we may serve Him in the days ahead!

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