Disciple Hour: Exodus 20:8–11

Exodus 20:8–11

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 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. 11 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.

We have just read a few verses from the OT concerning the Sabbath Day.  

1.  Why the Sabbath?

A.  Because God Rested After Six Days

Here we see that there is a pattern that God wants His people to follow.  Work for six days and rest on the seventh day.  God did not need to rest but He did so to model a pattern for His people.  His desire is that we stop our normal activities and take a day and rest and worship Him.  

Genesis 2:1–3 (ESV) 

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. 

Leviticus 23:3 (ESV) 

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.

B.  Because God Rescued Israel from Slavery

Deuteronomy 5:12–15 (ESV) 

12 “ ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 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 or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. 

God is showing that He is not like Pharoah who worked the people every day until they were worn out and many even died from exhaustion.  He is not like Pharoah.  Work is required and very good.  I pray you work hard and steady.  Work is good.  We live in a culture that looks down on those who work as if they are less than others who don’t have to work.  To enjoy a Sabbath rest God had to work six days.  For you to enjoy a Sabbath rest you too must work the other days.  

15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

2.  The Sabbath Preceded the Law

It was already set in place before the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.  It is based in Creation not the Law of Moses.

Exodus 16:22–30 (ESV) 

22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’ ” 24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.” 

27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. 

So, since the Sabbath was already in place by the time God gave the Law to Moses, it is the first commandment that starts with a positive movement.  Rather than saying thou shalt not, it starts our Remember…

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

The Hebrew word Sabbath does not mean seventh day but means to cease from work or to rest.  Step one in remembering the Sabbath is to stop every day activity of work and to rest.  The second part of remembering the Sabbath is to keep it holy or to set it apart as a special day, literally a holiday celebrating freedom from slavery and honoring the Lord who is the rescuer from slavery.

3.  What True Sabbath Keeping was to Look Like in Israel

Isaiah 58:13–14 (ESV) 

13  “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, 

from doing your pleasure on my holy day, 

and call the Sabbath a delight 

and the holy day of the Lord honorable; 

if you honor it, not going your own ways, 

or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 

14  then you shall take delight in the Lord, 

and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; 

I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, 

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 

The Sabbath was to be a delight to observe, it was a day when God was honored in the setting it apart and in the god-focused activities engaged in and not going your own way or seeking your own pleasure or talking idly.  Then we see the purpose in all this, you will delight in the Lord and He will greatly bless you.

4.  Moving to the New Testament: How Did Jesus Keep the Sabbath?

In the New Testament, Jesus kept the Sabbath by worshipping God in the synagogues each Sabbath and by acts of kindness to the needy. He also disagreed strongly with the additional requirements of the Pharisees regarding Sabbath observance. 

He Worshipped…Our Lord worshipped in the Temple and Synagogues every Sabbath day, He rested, prayed and healed others. 

Mark 2:23–3:6 (ESV) 

23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” 

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

5.  Changing from the Seventh Day to the First Day Called the Lord’s Day

The word ‘Sabbath’ does not mean seventh, although in the Old Testament period it occurred on the seventh day. Instead, it means ‘rest’. So, there is no requirement in essence that the Sabbath day should be on the seventh. The choice of day was God’s and he can change it if he wishes. So, are there evidences that a change was authorized?

A. The first day of the week was the day on which Jesus rose from the dead

On that first Lord’s Day he met with his disciples and did not meet with them as a group until the next Lord’s Day (John 20:19-29). His own example indicates that he no longer regarded the seventh day as the day for meeting with his disciples.

B.  The early church gathered for worship on the first day of the week 

1 Corinthians 16:1–2 (ESV) 

16 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 

Acts 20:7 (ESV) 

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. 

There must have been divine authority for changing the day of worship from the seventh.

C. One day in the week was called the Lord’s Day

Revelation 1:10 (ESV) 

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 

 John does not say which day it was, but evidently it is a special day – the title indicates it belongs to Jesus. It is difficult to imagine how another day could be more important than the day which was a weekly reminder of his resurrection from the dead.

D.  The Sanctity of the First Day was Symbolized in the Feast of Weeks

Leviticus 23:15–16 (ESV) 

15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. 

Leviticus 23:21 (ESV) 

21 And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations. 

The first day of the week, the Lord’s Day is the fulfillment of that festival held on the first day of the week, a day after the Sabbath.

The Early Church saw this bigger picture and believed as Jesus taught that He is the fulfillment of the Law.  Jesus is our Sabbath Rest. 

God set aside the Sabbath Day because of Creation, now in Christ we are New Creations and God set aside the Sabbath to celebrate that the Israelites are no longer slaves in Egypt.  The Church saw that this pointed to Jesus who has freed us from our slavery to sin.

6.  How Should Christians Keep the Lord’s Day?

A.  Keeping the Lord’s Day involves practical preparation. 

As much practical preparation that is necessary should be done beforehand. Sunday morning is not the time for doing what we should have done on Saturday night. We should anticipate with delight the approach of the Lord’s Day.

B.  Keeping the Lord’s Day involves personal and public worship 

John on the isle of Patmos, public worship (the early church in Troas and Corinth), fellowship with God’s people (the example of Jesus on the resurrection day) and 

C.  Keeping the Lord’s Day involves acts of kindness and charity

Performing acts of mercy (Isaiah 58) we saw Jesus healing on the Sabbath. It is not a day for inactivity. Obviously, we have to work out how we are going to do this, and God has not given a set of rules to follow. A single person has more free time than a married couple, a married couple without children have more time than those with young children.

7.  Benefits from Keeping the Lord’s Day Regularly

Our behavior on the Lord’s Day will inform us of four things: how much we value and love Christ, how much we care for our individual Christian growth in grace, how much we love his people, and how much we care for their needs. Murray McCheyne used to get up earlier and stay up later on the Lord’s Day because he wanted to profit from it as much as he could.

Keeping the Lord’s Day gives perspective on life. It enables us to look back  to our redemption by Jesus, to the coming of the Spirit (Pentecost was on the Lord’s Day), and ahead to heaven. We think about these things in our personal devotions, in times of fellowship, in applying the sermons to ourselves, and praying that God would bless his day to us.

The Puritans used to call the Sabbath ‘the market day of the soul’. At this market everything is free. All that it costs us is our time.

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