“Why We Believe We Should Keep the Sabbath Holy” (Exodus 20:8-11

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I. Introduction. A. Orientation. If you are to live a life Wholly devoted to the Lord, Then you must: Love the Lord your God More than anything else in this world, And commit yourself to worship Him In the way He wants you to worship. Another way of putting this is That you are to look to Him As your highest possible good – As what thrills your heart and soul – And surrender your life To be His and His only – To serve Him as He wants to be served, From now until time ends – forever.

We began to look, last week, At how He wants us to serve Him In the Third Commandment, By not using His name as a common swear word,

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Or accusing Him of anything evil, Or by calling Him to bear witness To anything you say you’re going to do But aren’t really intending on doing, Or to anything you say that you know isn’t true.

To put this positively, you are to Use His name respectfully. Speak about Him respectfully. Keep your promises. And say only what you believe to be true.

B. Preview. Let’s look at the next thing He tells us As to how you are to love and honor Him: By remembering the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.

Let’s consider three things: First, why the Sabbath day exists. Second, why we believe the Sabbath continues into the New Covenant. Third, how you are to honor the Lord on the Sabbath. This is a lot of ground to cover in one sermon So we’re going to look at each of these only briefly.

3 II. Sermon. A. First, why is there a Sabbath day? The Lord actually gives us the reason in the commandment itself, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the 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” (v. 11). The Sabbath exists because God rested After the work of Creation. The word “Sabbath” means “to cease” or “to rest.” When God had finished creating all He made He ceased from creating – By which He doesn’t mean He was tired And that He needed a rest, But simply that He was finished.

If we were to ask the question Why did God take six days to create something He could have created instantly, The answer is: He did it to establish for us A cycle of work and rest.

That’s why we have a seven day week. That’s the reason we are to work For six of those days And rest on the seventh –

4 God worked six days And rested on the seventh.

As a quick aside, Why do we believe that God took six days to create And not six thousand, or six million years? Why do we believe He created in six days Of essentially ordinary length And not six long periods of time? Why do we believe that the Lord Didn’t create the heavens and the earth In six analogous days, Or describe what He did In a framework of six literary days, That actually stretched on For thousands or millions of years? It’s because here the Lord gives us an explicit commentary On how long those days in Genesis One really were: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.” Even though some argue He’s speaking in symbolic language in Genesis One – Which personally, I don’t believe – He is clearly speaking in our language here:

5 God created in six days.

Now the Lord knew that as creatures, We would need a day to rest – From the labors of the six days – And a day to worship – That’s what we owe Him for making us, And that’s what we owe Him because He is God. That’s why God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (Gen. 2:3). He set it apart from the other days To be a common day of rest for all His creatures, And a common day of worship for man. This day is for us, God meant it for our good. Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

B. Second, why do we believe the Sabbath continues into the New Covenant? We believe this for several reasons. First, because our need for rest hasn’t changed. If you worked all the time And never got the rest your body needs – Not just your eight hours of sleep every night, But your one day of rest in seven – It would shorten your life.

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You would get sick and die before your time.

Second, our need for worship hasn’t changed. God is still God, You are still a creature. And so you owe Him your love and devotion.

Third, God commands that we gather for worship. We are not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25). We can only do this, If we have the same day off. This commandment gives us that day off together.

Fourth, God tells us in the Old Covenant That the Sabbath would continue into the New. Looking ahead to the time When those who were excluded from God’s assembly Would be welcomed, He says, “Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely separate me from His people.’ Nor let the eunuch say, ‘Behold, I am a dry tree.’ For thus says the LORD, ‘To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, to them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath and holds fast My covenant; even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples” (Isa. 56:3-7).

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The Lord is describing here the blessings of the New Covenant In terms of the Old.

The psalmist also writes That the day of Jesus’ resurrection Would be a day of rejoicing for God’s people. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:22-24).

Fifth, our Lord defended What His disciples were doing on the Sabbath – When they picked grain to meet their needs. He also said it was appropriate To do acts of mercy on that day, Ending His teaching by declaring Himself To be the Lord of the Sabbath. He told His disciples That they were to teach the nations Everything He had taught them – This would include what He said Regarding the Sabbath.

Sixth, the author to the Hebrews argues That the people of God are still to keep the Sabbath

8 Because the possibility of entering heaven remains Through the work of Jesus. “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:9-11).

Finally, the Sabbath day remains because – As we’ve already seen – Jesus tells us the Ten Commandments are still in force. It is the fourth of the ten. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:17-20). God established the Sabbath for our good, To be a common day of rest and worship, And since we are still in need of both, He continues to give us that day As a blessing to our souls.

C. Finally, how should you honor the Lord on this day? The Lord tells us in the commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” “Holy” means set apart from common use to the Lord’s use.

9 He gives us six days to do what we need To provide for our bodies. But He gives us the seventh day To provide for our souls.

Let me just note that the commandment itself Doesn’t designate which day of the week We are to spend with Him. It only tells us how long and how often. We are to spend one day with Him And we are to do this every seventh day. He has to tell us outside of the commandment Where the cycle begins and ends.

In the Old Covenant, He specified the seventh day of the week – The day He rested after finishing the Creation. In the New Covenant, He designates the first day of the week – The day Jesus finished His work of the New Creation And entered into His rest, As the author to the Hebrews writes, “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10). This is the day the psalmist prophesied would be a day of rejoicing, “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24). It’s the day the early church met to worship the Lord.

10 Luke writes, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

So how are we to keep this day holy? First, we are to set it apart from the other days By leaving certain things out – Things we need to leave out so that we’ll be able To do what the Lord calls us to do. There are exceptions, as we’ll see, But let’s begin with the principles.

What are we to leave out? The simple answer is, Anything that doesn’t have to do With what the Lord calls us to do on this day Which is to rest and worship.

You are not to work: “In it you shall not do any work” (v. 10). Since this is to be a day of rest and worship for everyone You are also not to make others work, “You or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you” (v. 10).

Second, you are not to be involved in recreations that are tied to this world. This isn’t a day to play football or baseball or other sports, Or to go to these events

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Or to watch them on television, Or to watch movies and other TV programs. How can you keep the day holy – How can you spend it with God – If you’re distracted by these things?

How can you keep it holy to the Lord If you talk about these things, Or about the things that have to do with your work?

The Lord even gives you incentive – He promises blessing, If you will set these things aside. He says through Isaiah, “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isa. 58:1314).

These are the things you are to rest from So that you can spend the day with Him Both in worship and fellowship For the good of your soul And the ultimate growth of God’s kingdom.

You might look at this day

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As a picture of heaven. In heaven, we won’t be working, We won’t be playing sports, Or video games, or watching movies. We will be resting from our works, And from our recreations, And worshiping the Lord.

You might also look at this day As a test of your sanctification: Can you enjoy a day like this? If you can’t spend a day with the Lord Do you really want to spend eternity with Him? This day reveals what’s in your heart – What it is you really love, What it is you really want to do.

It’s also a day to increase your sanctification. When you set everything aside To seek the Lord through the means of grace, You will grow spiritually – Your love for Him will grow, And you’ll be better equipped To serve Him.

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But that we might also understand That He doesn’t intend this day In any way to hurt us or others, He does say that we may do what we need to do To protect life and property. Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. We can do works of mercy. The disciples picked grain and ate it while traveling. We can do works of necessity. If we’re going through difficult times In our places of employment, We can share those things with our brethren And we can pray for them.

There are things we are not to do That will interfere with the great purpose for this day. And there are things we may do To protect our lives and the lives of others.

If you are to love the Lord most of all, If you are to devote your life completely to Him, As He calls each of us to do, You need to keep the Sabbath holy.

14 There are so few today – Even among those who call themselves Christians – Who do this. Let’s make sure that we do.

Let’s make sure we don’t mistake The Lord’s patience for His approval. I believe He is patient with many of His people Who don’t keep the Sabbath holy, Because so many of them both believe and teach That the Sabbath is no longer binding. Most professing Christians you ask Would say that this is the case.

But we’ve seen It’s still the Lord’s will that we keep it – That we rest and worship on this day. And so to honor Him, We must keep it.

Let me just close by saying, That even if it was true that the Sabbath was abrogated, If you really love the Lord, You would wish that it wasn’t – That the Lord still commanded

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That we spend the day with Him. You would wish that every day was the Sabbath – As it will be someday in heaven. You wouldn’t be disappointed that you can’t do The things you might do on the other six days Because you’re able to do What you want to do most of all. May the Lord give us such a heart To enjoy the Sabbaths He gives us here As we look forward to the eternal Sabbath. Amen. http://www.graceopcmodesto.org

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