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Posts Tagged ‘exodus 20’

4

God lays out the fourth commandment in 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.” 

God commands rest.  The Hebrew word for Sabbath is “shabbat,” and it comes from the word which means, “to cease.” God commands his people to stop working.  Not only they, but their children, animals, and even foreigners passing through their land.  Not one of them was to work on this holy day.

So, you couldn’t just tell someone else to work for you on the Sabbath.  You couldn’t have your servants, kids, or animals pull your weight.  Everyone was to rest.  The reason is because this is the example – the precedent set by God himself in his very creation of the world.

The concept of the Sabbath is very important to us today.  It points us back to creation and, even more importantly, forward to redemption.  In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath was meant to point God’s people to their own deliverance from Egypt – from slavery.

All of this points us, today, to our rest in Christ.  We are commanded to cease from labor; to remember our deliverance from slavery; to rest in Christ alone every single minute of every single day in order to glorify him by our complete and total trust and faith in Him – despite the, often times immense workload he has ordained for us.

Resting in Christ does not mean that once we know him we can shuck all our responsibility and not do that which we have been called to.  It is not holy or righteous to cease from our work by dumping it off on everyone around us while we bask in the presence of God.

 It is tempting, I know.  I personally have an almost superhuman ability to block out noise and distraction when I want to study my Bible.  No matter how many mental gymnastics I do, I cannot justifiably come to the conclusion that God has commanded me to rest instead of doing the jobs he has given to me.  Even on the Sabbath, God has not commanded me to ignore and neglect my home and children in order to prove I am faithfully resting in Him.  No.  God wants me to pray for strength and endurance so I might have the great faith it takes to rest in Him in my most overwhelming circumstances.

Resting is remembering God and trusting him enough to stop working in my own strength, not only for one day per week, but every single day until my eternal rest.

Unfortunately, just like a human, I often get off track.  After I work in my own strength without resting in him for a long time, I crash, I burn, or I quit.  Quitting is resting in my own means.  It is a selfish rest.  And it doesn’t really help me, either.  Vacations do not make overwhelming situations go away.  If I left my home and children for a week, they wouldn’t magically become obedient, mature, and respectful while I was gone.  They may not even be alive anymore!  Literally ceasing from the work God has ordained in my life is never an option!  Ceasing from trusting in myself to accomplish it or trusting in my work itself is what this command calls me to.

On the contrary, carrying on and trusting that He is enough to help me accomplish all that which he has called me to do is truly what resting in him is all about.  That is a holy rest; a God-glorifying rest; a righteous rest.

I believe taking a once a week rest from physical or worldly work and daily responsibilities as much as humanly possible is definitely wise.  I believe, however, the command to keep the Sabbath for New Testament believers is rooted in our rest in grace, not works, and, ultimately, our eternal rest in Christ, in heaven.  Even a more literal approach to Sabbath-keeping only indicates and prescribes one day per week for rest from our human responsibilities and callings.  That means the more time we spend “resting” outside that prescription, the less we are actually trusting in God to give and provide us with the true rest he has promised – the rest that comes solely from Him despite overwhelming circumstances and hard labor coupled with a constant, urgent call to share his good news with everyone, everywhere, always.

“Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect.” ~Matthew Henry

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numberone

Finally, I made it.  Exactly halfway between slavery (Exodus 1) and glory (Exodus 40),  right smack dab in the middle, we find Exodus chapter 20.  Herein lies the ten commandments.  Halfway between slavery and glory, we find the law.

God begins his face to face meeting (well, more like face to finger…isn’t that just like a father?  Pointing his all-knowing finger and writing down the very important instructions we children need to obey?)  with Moses, by telling him two things.

The first thing God does is remind Moses exactly who He is and what good He has done.

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. ~Exodus 20:1-2

He then proceeds to give a huge, all encompassing law beginning with the ten commandments and extending to every aspect of Jewish life for the next eleven chapters and for the better part of the following book of Leviticus as well.

So, just so we are clear, God literally spoke all of these words.  They were His ideas and it is His authority that both establishes and upholds them – not mine.

Command number one:

“You shall have no other gods before me. ~Exodus 20:3

I have to be honest.  I had to stop right there, close the book, and spend a few days just thinking on what it would look like for me to have no other gods.  What if, truly, God was my only God.

In other words, what do I need to put away?  What have I elevated above or equal to Him?  How would my life change if He truly were my one, my only, and my greatest above all else, God?

I do not want to assume He is just because I want Him to be or because I wish he was.  I do not want to pay lip service to this commandment because it is the right Sunday School answer.  I want to know what it really means to cast down my idols.  I want to investigate what those idols might be and find real, practical, tangible ways to tear them down and remove them from my life.

The hardest part is when idols are good and necessary things, people, or places – gifts, even – from God Himself.  It is balance, affection, and attitude that generally makes the difference between whether something is becoming an idol that is being used for my glory or whether it is being being used rightly for God’s glory.

Consider those things and people and places and talents and gifts that you most enjoy.  Consider whether they have an appropriate place in your life or if God has reason to be jealous of the affections you are offering to them.  Because it is not a matter of saying, “I only believe in the One and Only True God.  Of course, I have always believed that.”  No.  It is a matter of living our entire lives in worship and sacrifice to Him alone in all things at all times.

That is what it means to have no other gods.  It truly is a daily battle of balance and being-ware.  That process starts with remembering exactly who He is and what he has done.

 He is the Great I Am, Creator of the Universe!  He has delivered us!  Let us love and serve Him accordingly.

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