This is just one of the first set of commandments that point us to focus on God and how He wants to be worshiped as the one and only true God, no idols used in worship, and we need not to take the Lord’s name in vain (say we are a believer for our benefit when in fact we are not). This fourth commandment reminds us of the creation where God created all things in six days and on the seventh day He rested. When we think on it, God has given us the responsibility to work the earth for six days and on the seventh to rest.

“’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 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.  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'” (Exodus 20:8-11).

Webster’ Dictionary first edition from 1828 explains the Sabbath as:

“The day which God appointed to be observed by the Jews as a day of rest from all secular labor or employments, and to be kept holy and consecrated to his service and worship. This was originally the seventh day of the week, the day on which God rested from the work of creation; and this day is still observed by the Jews and some christians, as the sabbath. But the christian church very early begun and still continue to observe the first day of the week, in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ on that day, by which the work of redemption was completed. Hence it is often called the Lord’s day. The heathen nations in the north of Europe dedicated this day to the sun, and hence their christian descendants continue to call the day Sunday. However; in the United States, christians have to a great extent discarded the heathen name, and adopted the Jewish name sabbath.”

The scripture does not point it out as specific days of the week. We are not told in the fourth commandment to work Sunday through Friday and then worship on Saturday (which is the Jewish Sabbath) nor are we told to work Monday through Saturday and then worship on Sunday (which is the first day of the week). We are told to work six days and rest on the seventh. The churches I have grown up in over the years and served within meet to worship on Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This would have been a passage Moses would have been constantly reminding the Israelite people of so they would remember and understand the creation of the universe and what God had made.

“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. (Genesis 2:1-3, ESV)

The LORD God showed the Israelites the pattern for their living. Work for six days and on the seventh to stop and rest and worship the LORD God alone. The first three commands point to the focus of the Israelite’s worship, and the fourth tells the Israelites when they are to worship.

In the following scripture passage, some of the Israelites did not collect the mana within the 6 days and double the gathering on the sixth so they went without. Either they did not trust the Lord would provide or the thought of worshiping the LORD was not on the forefront of their mind, or heart.

“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, 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.’” 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 the Lord; 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.”

 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 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.”  So the people rested on the seventh day.” (Exodus 20:22-30, ESV).

What this doesn’t mean…

– That we can forsake the fellowship of the believer.

  • “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV)

– That the Sabbath (or LORD’s Day) should be used for our benefit.

  • So often I’ve been confronted by people who say I can worship God on the golf course just as well as in the church. I can worship God while fishing, camping, driving, etc.

– That worship is only an individual action.

  • The problem is the misunderstanding that we can worship God by ourselves. We must be careful when thinking in this way because the passage in Hebrews from a previous comment has told us we should not neglect to meet together. We need each other to live life in Christ. We need discipleship!

The need for discipleship was discussed with my students; and I read some portions from Mark Dever’s article on “9 Factors to Consider When Choosing Someone to Disciple.” Here is a link to the article to help you encourage each other in church when you meet together on the Sabbath and also during the week when we meet together for discipleship.

Leave questions or comments, or send me an email at 
God bless,
Joseph Williams

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