We often miss (or maybe always miss) the fact that the 10 Commandments have a preface. That preface, contained in Exodus 20:2, reminds us that the Lord our God is a redeeming God, that He redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt, and the law which follows flows out of His work of redemption. The law speaks to God’s holiness. It also speaks to His design for our lives. And though we may miss it, the law also speaks to His graciousness. One example can be found in the 4th Commandment. It is a command which provides for much needed balance in our lives.
Wednesday, October 23rd
Larger Portion of Scripture - Exodus 20:1-21
Focused Passage for Reflection - Exodus 20:8-11
Reflecting on the Text:
Where do you find balance in your life? Many of us don’t find it at all. Rather than balance, we live lives vacillating between the opposite extremes of exhaustion and boredom. But in the 10 Commandments, we find balance in a surprising place. In God’s wisdom, He has provided for a life of balance through the pattern of diligence and rest which is laid out for us in the Sabbath.
The 4th Commandment is found in Exodus 20:8-11. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” The text then goes on to give us God’s foundation for this Sabbath day. It is to be a day of rest, patterned after God’s rest on the 7th day. That is what we see in Exodus, but did you know the 10 Commandments are recorded twice in Scripture?
We see them again in Deuteronomy 5. There, Moses is preparing the people of Israel to cross over into the Promised Land. He reminds them of the covenant God has made with them, and in doing so, puts the 10 Commandments back before them. In Deuteronomy 5 we find a near word for word recitation of the Law found in Exodus 20, with one exception. When it comes to the 4th Commandment, Moses (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) adds an additional foundation for Sabbath. In Deuteronomy 5:15, the Israelites were told to remember that they were brought up out of slavery in Egypt. In other words, redemption is given as a foundation for Sabbath observance.
So on the Sabbath, we rest (founded in Creation) and we worship (founded in Redemption). That is what we do, but the simple command is to keep it holy. Maybe we understand this command to keep it holy when we consider worship, but how about rest? Why is our rest holy? This Sabbath rest is holy because it is a tangible way in which we depend upon God’s provision, and follow God’s pattern.
Did you notice that the text in Exodus 20:8-11 said, “six days you shall labor”? A large part of our resting for one day is found in our diligence during the remaining six. That is God’s pattern for our work, and it is His provision for balance in our lives. So are you experiencing this balance? Are you enjoying this rest? If not, what is it that gets in the way?
For most of us, when we consider the Sabbath, we rightly consider the Sabbath day, but wrongly miss the remaining six. So in our longing for balance in our work, whatever that work may be, let us consider the deeper issues of the heart. Those issues of the heart center on our belief/trust in God’s pattern, and in His provision.
For focus, let us ask ourselves two questions:
Do we believe that six days are sufficient for our labor?
Do we utilize those six days in such a way that they will be sufficient?
God in His gracious wisdom has provided for balance in our lives. This balance is a means by which we worship, and is founded on a pattern of diligence and rest. In the 4th Commandment, we find that both the diligence and the rest are part of God’s law. In proper balance, they are also part of His gift.
Questions for personal reflection:
What might you need to let go of on the Sabbath in order to more fully enjoy a day of rest and worship?
In what ways might you need to be more diligent for six days so that you are able to more fully enjoy a Sabbath day of rest and worship?