The Fourth Commandment – “Remember the Sabbath”

Date written: August 18th, 2007

SUBJECT: Ten Commandments

TITLE: “Remember the Sabbath”

PROPOSITION: As we study the fourth commandment let us consider 1) The Rule, 2) The Rationale, 3) The Relevance.

OBJECTIVE: That we will become more familiar with the Ten Commandments and that we will understand the meaning of the fourth commandment both for the Israelites and for us today.


1. Read: Exodus 20:8-11

2. About the Text:

1) In society we’ve seen a renewed focus by some upon the Ten Commandments.

2) Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison signed a bill into law, 9 April, 2015 to erect a display on the state capitol grounds.

3) In 2005 the Supreme Court decided to remove the Ten Commandments from some public places, but let it remain in others.

4) Do we know what the Ten Commandments are?

5) Do we understand their relevance to our society today?

6) What do we have in the Ten Commandments?

a. The first four deal with man’s relationship with God.

b. The last six deal with man’s relationship with man.

c. Thus, they all fit into the highest two commands of loving God and loving neighbor as oneself (Matthew 22:36-40).

3. The fourth commandment.

1) We have in our study to the fourth commandment.

2) “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.”

3) What did this commandment mean?

4) What was the intention behind it?

5) What does it mean for us today?

4. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.

DISCUSSION: As we study the fourth commandment let us consider . . .

I.   The Rule

1. Exodus 20: 8 “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.”

1) This is the rule stated generally.

2) The word “Sabbath” means “to rest from labor.”

3) God wanted His people to keep the Sabbath holy.

4) He then explains what he means by that.

2. Exodus 20:9 “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work.”

1) From the earliest time of creation God commanded man to work.

2) Before the fall, God had given man some responsibility. Genesis 2:15 “And Yahweh God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”

3) After the fall man’s work increased. Genesis 3:17-19 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

4) God still expects us to work today. Ephesians 4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need.”

5) This command first and foremost affirms man’s need to work.

3. Exodus 20:10 “but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Yahweh thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:”

1) After God expresses His desire for them to work He also expresses His desire for them to rest.

2) This rule is true not only for the wealthy, but for their children, common laborers, slaves, and even the animals.

3) This rule was first revealed after God gave the children of Israel manna in Exodus 16.

4) The manna would be good for one day and one day only and then it would spoil and become wormy.

5) God gave it to them for six days.

6) However, on the seventh day God gave no manna (Exodus 16:26).

7) They were to rest and the manna would keep for an extra day (Exodus 16:23).

8) We also know that God was VERY serious about this.

9) When a man was found gathering firewood on the Sabbath he was stoned (Numbers 15:32-36).

10) God’s intentions, however, were not to punish man for violating the Sabbath, but to give him a day to rest.

II.  The Rationale

1. Exodus 20:11 “for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Yahweh blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

1) The rationale for the Sabbath day was that this was the day on which God rested from his work of physical creation.

2) For Moses and the children of Israel the rationale was that man ought not to go beyond God and do things that God would not.

3) If the seventh day was good enough for God to rest on, then it was good enough for the children of Israel to rest on as well.

2. The concept of rest, however, was not only reserved for the seventh day.

1) The children of Israel had several feast days to observe.

a. The feast of Pentecost

b. The feast of Tabernacles/Tents

c. The day of Atonement

d. The Passover

2) There was also the command that every seven years they were to let the land rest (Leviticus 25:1-7).

3) And every fiftieth year was the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8ff).

4) There were many days out of the year that they were to rest.

3. The Sabbath demonstrated God’s love for man.

1) God did not want man to wear himself out with constant labor.

2) God wanted man to have days of rest so as to be able to enjoy life and the fruits of his labors.

3) Jesus proved this point on several occasions when he healed on the Sabbath day.

4) Jesus reasoned in Matthew 12:12 “How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.”

5) Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

III. Relevance

1. Is the fourth commandment still binding on us?

1) Many want to say that the Sabbath day is still binding on us.

2) Some religious groups, such as the 7th day Adventists argue for this.

3) However, it should be noted that the Ten Commandments as originally given were only for the nation of Israel.

4) Exodus 34:27-28 “And Yahweh said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.”

5) Consider also Deuteronomy 5:1-3 “And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and observe to do them. Yahweh our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Yahweh made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.”

6) Since the fourth commandment is part of these Ten Commandments, it was intended for Israel alone.

7) Today we are under a different covenant.

8) Hebrews 8:13 “In that he saith, A new covenant he hath made the first old. But that which is becoming old and waxeth aged is nigh unto vanishing away.”

9) Hebrews 10:9 says “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

10) So the fourth commandment is no longer binding on us today as

a. It was not given to us.

b. We are under a new and better covenant (Hebrews 8:6).

2. What then is the relevance of the fourth commandment?

1) As we already have noted, it teaches us about the love of God for man.

2) Jesus also reveals to us his identity through it.

a. Through all of the healings he performed on the Sabbath.

b. Through his declaration that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Luke 6:5).

3) In New Testament times, Paul used it to prove Christian liberty for the gentiles.

a. Colossians 2:6 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day:”

b. At the same time, Paul respected the custom of the Jew to observe it as a day of rest (Romans 14:5).

4) Ultimately, however, the Sabbath is symbolic for the rest of God’s people in eternity.

a. Hebrews 4:9-11 states, “There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience.”

b. If we desire this rest, we must work while it is yet day.

3. Is the first day of the week God’s Sabbath day now?

1) The first day of the week was never the Sabbath day.

2) We can be sure that Christians in the first century worshipped upon the first day of the week.

3) Jesus was raised upon the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, 9, John 20:1).

4) The day of Pentecost was the first day of the week, Sunday (Acts 2).

5) The church partook of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

6) They also took up a contribution on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

7) This indicated that they assembled on the first day of the week.

8) This isn’t the Sabbath day, but the Lord’s day (Revelation 1:10).

4. Today we honor the Sabbath by working for the Lord and waiting for the day of eternal rest.


1. Regarding the fourth commandment, we’ve considered . . .

1) The Rule

2) The Rationale

3) The Relevance

2. Invitation