The Fourth Commandment -The Sabbath and its Purposes

This study touches on subjects that have been gone over in detail in previous studies. Before going over this study, please make sure you have a complete understanding of the the study on The First Commandment – No Other gods on My Face, The Second Commandment – No Idols, The Third Commandment – Carrying His Name in Vain, Sabbath for Man, and Is He Listening?

Of all the commandments, the fourth commandment is probably the single most intentionally forgotten. Many say that it has been fulfilled in Jesus, adding that we no longer have to observe this commandment.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to YHVH 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 YHVH made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore YHVH blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.“      Exodus 20:8-11

In the giving of this commandment, the first thing we are instructed is to remember or mark the Sabbath day to keep it holy. By saying “keep”, YHVH is telling us to protect the holiness of the Sabbath. As with all the commandments, the Sabbath is in danger of being changed, and YHVH instructed us to prevent that. How do we prevent the Sabbath from change? We protect the Sabbath by practicing it, and practicing it correctly.

The error of saying that the Sabbath has been fulfilled leaves it wide open to the dangers of change, and comes from a misunderstanding of the Sabbath. If one only looks at one of the many purposes for the Sabbath, it is easy to make this mistake. Sabbath actually has many purposes.

1. A Day of Rest

When anything is designated holy, it is set apart from all of the common class with which it is associated. YHVH is holy being set apart from all other gods. We are to be holy or set apart from all other peoples and nations. In this same way, the Sabbath is to remain holy or set apart from all the other days of the week.

YHVH instructs us in how to keep (protect) the Sabbath holy (set apart) by showing us how we are to treat the other common days of the week.

“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to YHVH your God. On it you shall not do any work..”

Can you see the difference between the common and the holy in this instruction? The common days are days of work. For six days, and especially on the sixth day, we work in preparation for the set apart day. We use the “common” days to make sure that we can take an absolute day of rest on the Sabbath, making it holy. This concept is evident in Exodus 16:13-30. (This is highly recommended reading.)

On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread (manna), two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what YHVH has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to YHVH; 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.’” So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to YHVH; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”      Exodus 16:22-26

As you read the story surrounding the above scripture, you find that the children of Israel are in the wilderness at this time. YHVH has put them through a time of lack in order to grow their faith in Him. They had gone without food, but YHVH provided manna for them just in time. For the first six common days of the week when the manna was gathered, the children of Israel were instructed to only gather one omer of manna each day. If they tried to save any of it overnight, the next morning they would find a stinking mess that was infested with worms. However, only on the sixth day were they aloud to save manna for the next day. In doing this, they would make sure that there was no work to be done on the seventh day. Through this, the Sabbath was made holy. 

Rest

 

The Sabbath day is not only given to us to provide a physical rest, but also to provide a mental rest from worrying about provision. For six days we are to do everything we can to be prepared so that we don’t have to worry about provision on the Sabbath. When we have done all we can, YHVH will take care of the rest. We can mentally rest in knowing that YHVH-Jireh is our provider.

Cast your burden on YHVH,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.      Psalms 55:22

2. A Picture

Throughout YHVH’s word, the things He has done, and the things He instructs us to do there are patterns, shadows, and pictures of things to come. While I am not prolific in end time prophecies, I do know when all is said and done, there will be peace and rest.

It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of YHVH
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and many peoples shall come, and say:

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of YHVH,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”

For out of Zion shall go the law,
and the word of YHVH from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.      Isaiah 2:2-4

Sabbath is a picture of this. Right now, there are so many who work against YHVH. They either willingly want nothing to do with Him, or ignorantly refuse to learn His ways and His laws which leads them to serving another god . Right now, those who follow YHVH and His ways have a duty to teach the truth and the path that leads to a relationship with Him. Though we spend all this time teaching our neighbors and brothers to know YHVH, there will come a time when peoples of all nations will go to YHVH on their own and ask Him to teach them.

And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know YHVH,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares YHVH. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”      Jeremiah 31:34

What a day of rest that will be! But, until that time, we are to continue in our work, which includes avoiding all disobedience, so that we don’t miss out on the final Sabbath.

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.      Hebrews 4:8-11

rest (1)

We are still working! Without the Sabbath, it is easy to forget that we have something to look forward to. It would be easy to give up, and consider sin a light thing, but the Sabbath keeps these things ever before our eyes. It shows us the importance of living a righteous life as well as the importance of teaching others who YHVH is. It give us an appreciation for YHVH’s plan and how He is working it out. The Sabbath puts an excitement and determination in us to live according to His will as we look forward to that final day of rest.

3. A Sign

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, YHVH, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to YHVH. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever.      Exodus 31:13-16

wedding-ring-300x233The Sabbath is a sign of our oath or vows to YHVH. Think of it as a wedding ring or a gift that the bridegroom gives his bride on the wedding day. In the verses above we can see that the sign reminds us that it is YHVH who sanctifies us.

The Hebrew word for sanctified is qadash and means to be clean. We are only clean because YHVH has cleansed us. Why is this so important? The only way we can be acceptable to YHVH is if we are clean. (For a more focused study on being clean, please see: Is He Listening?) When we realize our state and how difficult it is to continue in a clean or sanctified state, we realize how undeserving we are to be in His presence. Even so, He sanctifies us when we turn to Him and obey Him wholeheartedly. Sabbath is the sign that reminds us of this. It is a sign of our marriage vows to YHVH. This gift from Him is a reminder that He chose us and sanctifies us so that we can have a relationship with Him.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.      Ezekiel 36:25

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.      Hebrews 10:22

I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.      Jeremiah 33:8

4.  A Gift.

YHVH gave us the Sabbath as a gift. It is a day given to us, for us.

See! YHVH has given you the Sabbath… Exodus 16:29

Jesus also taught this:

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27

giftEach purpose that we can see for keeping the Sabbath is truly a gift for us. The day of rest we are given is a gift so that we can rest. The shadow picture that we can see in the Sabbath that points to a final rest and giving us something to look forward to – knowing that what we go through on this earth is not for naught – is a gift for us. Having a sign of our covenant with our Maker, and knowing that we are not exiled from Him is a gift for us. Being able to remember what YHVH has done for us, and understanding His plan through those things is a gift for us. Every purpose that we can find for the Sabbath is a purpose with us in mind. Why would we refuse a gift from our Father? When we refuse to accept His gifts, what are we saying to Him? (For a more detailed study on the gift of the Sabbath, please see: Sabbath for Man)

5. A Rememberance

Not only do we have something to look forward to by keeping the Sabbath, we also have something to look back on and remember.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to YHVH 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. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and YHVH your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore YHVH your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.      Deuteronomy 5:13-15

Many  people who claim to be children of God separate themselves from “the Jews” by saying that certain laws were written for the Jews, but not for us. When we separate ourselves like that, we are only hurting ourselves. Not only are we denying ourselves the honor of being able to keep the laws of YHVH, but we are also denying ourselves the benefits. When we agree to serve YHVH, we are adopted into His family.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”     Romans 8:15

 

remembr

When a child is truly adopted into any family, the history or legacy of that family becomes that of the child. As part of YHVH’s family, the history of His family is now our history too. The hundreds of years in slavery and the redemption from Egypt is our history. This is something we have the privilege to remember. When we remember what happened with The Exodus, we can say, “Our God did that!” This is another purpose for the Sabbath. In doing this, we are reminded of who our God is, and who He isn’t. 

They are both stupid and foolish;
the instruction of idols is but wood!
Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
and gold from Uphaz.
They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith;
their clothing is violet and purple;
they are all the work of skilled men.

But YHVH is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
and the nations cannot endure his indignation.     Jeremiah 10:8-10

6. A Representation of YHVH

“For in six days YHVH made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore YHVH blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

In the beginning, at the creation of the world, YHVH worked and created for six days, but on the seventh day, He rested.

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.      Genesis 2:2-3

While I could say something like, “if it’s good for YHVH, then it’s good for me,” as a reason to keep the Sabbath, it falls far short from what is stated a few verses earlier.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

Adam and all of mankind were created to be the very image of YHVH. While Adam fell short, as do we, it is still our responsibility to do our best to represent Him in the most complete way possible. Each of the ten commandments shows one way to represent YHVH, and keeping the Sabbath is just one. YHVH rested on the Sabbath, therefore as perfect representatives of Him, we are also to rest. When we fail to keep the Sabbath, we misrepresent Him, ultimately breaking the third commandment. 

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”     Exodus 20:7

The fourth commandment is the last of four commandments that deal with our relationship with YHVH. These first four commandments are what He requires from a bride, and one builds upon the other. How can you love YHVH if you don’t know who He is? How can you bear His name if you don’t know His commandments? How can you have His sign if you are not committed to Him eternally as His bride? If you break one commandment, it is likely because you have already broken another one (if not all) of the commandments. These first four commandments are truly summed up in the phrase, “Love YHVH your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength.” These commandments show us exactly how to love Him. 

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