In Exodus 20, God spoke to Moses about the Ten Commandments that Israelites, and their generations, were expected to follow. However, some people still believe that those commandments were meant for Israelites only and, therefore, they can violate them. God had made covenant with the Israelite and, thus, He did not want them to break that covenant. The Sabbath commandment was issued in accordance with the first Sabbath (resting day), and Christians are expected to obey this command to maintain their covenant with God. This study will offer an insight on the fourth commandment that says, “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”
- What does the fourth commandment say about God?
The fourth commandment depicted Sabbath as a holy day, that Israelite families should honor it with their belongings. According to Bailey, the commandment depicted Sabbath as a part of divinely order that was beyond the human influence (221). God rested on the seventh day, and expected Israelites to observe this by dedicating the day to Him. He is a God of order, who commands His people to do according to His will. He is a caring God, who knows that people need to rest after toiling for six days. He not only required Israelites to rest during this day, but also to remember Him who sanctified them. God declared the Sabbath day as a sign of covenant to Israelites. By giving Moses the Ten Commandments, God depicted that He is the initiator of law, and expected the Israelites to change after reading the laws.
- How would violation of the fourth commandment influence the story of Israel?
Since God made the Sabbath day to be a special day, He did not expect Israelites to disrespect Him by compelling their servants to continue working during this day. The Sabbath day was so special, that God declared the death penalty to Israelites who would fail to honor the day. God assured Israelites that if they would heed His voice, He would make them His treasured possession. If Israelites had violated the command, then God would have abandoned them, and could not have led them to the Promised Land. Israelites were expected to follow this commandment, as it was part of their laws, and God did not want them to break the covenant that He had with them.
Israelites had to be reminded of the creation story, so that they could relate the Sabbath with it. Observing the Sabbath day helped the Israelites to come together and share the grace of their Maker. Although the Bible did not mention about worshipping during the Sabbath, it gave room for worship as a way of enhancing that commitment (Fretheim 229). If Israelites could violate this commandment, they would not have time to meet, and their story would not be as it is today.
(3) How do you see the commandment violated today, and the impact of this?
It is quite hard for humans to imitate God’s deeds. This has made them to act differently from what God expect them to do. Although the commandment is not quite clear on what should be done on this day, many Christians do not dedicate the whole day to God’s work. They do not understand how to keep Sabbath day sanctified actually means. They spend some few hours in worshipping God while they leave their servants at home to take care of their properties. Christians typically engage in all manners of fun on the Sabbath day without taking a second thought.
Nowadays, people have become more obsessed with their businesses and careers than their God. For those who operate businesses, closing the business on the Sabbath day would amount to loss, thus, they would rather attend church in the morning and open their businesses in the afternoon. Many companies compel their employees to work even on the Sabbath day, and those who obey the command are advised to choose between God and work. They are practicing the culture of convenience. I believe that observing the Sabbath should be a whole day affair, just like people work for a whole day for six days. Some of the unusual happenings that we observe in the contemporary world may be because of violating the Sabbath day.
(4) What are the benefits and challenges of obeying the fourth commandment today?
Obeying the fourth commandment has numerous benefits, as well as challenges. By obeying the fourth commandment, Christians gain the knowledge to interpret skills and maintaining Godly culture. Observing the Sabbath is a vital acknowledgement of God as the Creator (Eisenberg 128). Thus, Christians have the opportunity to connect with their Creator through worship and thanksgiving. It is the best opportunity to talk to our God and ask for forgiveness, as well as guidance throughout the week. The Sabbath day is for all, rich and poor, thus, it helps in cultivating inter-human relationships (Fretheim 230). It depicts to Christians that we are all equal before God.
One of the main challenges of observing the Sabbath day holy is many people do not understand what they are supposed to do during this day. Confusion always emerges between “the commandment” and “the law.” Men made laws while God made the Ten Commandments. People tend to break the commandment because they no one would blame them, but follow the laws since they fear punishment. People are finding it hard to spare a whole day to honor God’s command, since they have kept themselves busy with unnecessary practices to an extent of forgetting their Creator.
Bailey, Randall C. The College Press Niv Commentary: Exodus. Joplin, Mo: College Press Pub. Co, 2007. Print.
Eisenberg, Ronald L. The Jps Guide to Jewish Traditions. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2004. Internet resource.
Fretheim, Terence E. Exodus Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1991. Print.