SUNDAY NIGHT CROSSTRAINING NOTES
The Most Neglected Command in the Bible
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Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 6:00 p.m.  Sermon #: 1651
Pastor Don Horban

Exodus 20:8-11 - ďRemember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] 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 the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.Ē

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 - ďObserve the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. [13] Six days you shall labor and do all your work, [14] 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 or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. [15] You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.Ē

The central issue of this command was probably best popularized by the story of Olympic runner, Eric Liddell. He was a Scottish athlete who trained his whole life to compete in the 1924 Olympic games. His story was made famous in the movie, ďChariots of Fire.Ē

Most of us canít even imagine the work and dedication required to make it to the Olympics. We see the TV commercials praising the dedication of such athletes. They virtually put the rest of their lives on hold to give themselves to the pursuit of Olympic gold.

Eric Liddell did win a gold medal, but thatís not what heís now most famous for. The conflict of his life came when he discovered that the race he had prepared all his life for was to be held on a Sunday. Eric was a devout Christian and felt he couldnít participate because it would be a breaching of the command weíre studying today.

Because of this, he switched races, competed in another event on another day, and won the gold medal. Later on, Eric Liddell became a missionary and died in the 40's in a prisoner of war camp in China.

Now, the world has changed a great deal since then. Most of us donít honestly even imagine that Eric would have done any damage to his soul had he competed in that Sunday race. He may have violated his conscience, but certainly not the commandment.

And yet, this fourth command, this command about setting a day apart for God, is the only command that begins with the key word, ďremember.Ē Weíre given a clue that this command only points to something already in place. Remember means this has been revealed to us in a way that predates the command itself. Weíre not told to remember that killing is wrong, or stealing, or committing adultery. But weíre told that we must resist the mindlessness that is so common about Godís day. That word remember means there is something already made known that I am likely to forget. Or overlook. Or conveniently justify and explain away.

Parents, upon leaving the house for an evening out, never shout back to the kids, ďDonít forget to eat all the cake and ice cream!Ē They are more likely to say, ďDonít forget to do your home work!Ē Normal, healthy children rarely forget about their stomachs. But they can, very conveniently and efficiently, forget about homework.

ďDonít forget about Godís day.Ē Thatís what this command is all about.

1) THE COMMAND IS TO CELEBRATE THE FAITHFULNESS AND GOODNESS OF OUR CREATOR GOD

In this sense it actually predates the Mosaic Law.

Exodus 20:11 - ďFor in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.Ē

Moses didnít make the day holy. God made it holy. And it didnít become holy on Mount Sinai. Its roots go back, long before the giving of the law, to the creation of the world.

The text says God ďrestedĒ on the sabbath day. Why? Was He tired? Was the Almighty just totally wiped out? Was His back sore or His hands blistered?

The creation account gives us some help here (and notice the seemingly literal creation assumptions in the explanation given by God Himself in Exodus 20:11). In Genesis we read that God rested on the third day, not because He was overwhelmed with fatigue, but to pause and celebrate the goodness of the created world. Thatís what God did on the sabbath day. He openly declared the goodness of all that He had made.

So the commandment stands as a reminder to reflect on Godís power, His majesty over all that is, to reflect on Who made us and to Whom we will all give account. How much does this matter?

Romans 1:20-25 - ďFor his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. [21] For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. [22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools, [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. [24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.Ē

Idolatry is what people do when they donít take the time to remember the glory of their Creator. Lives get bound in slavery to self and addiction. People use people and worship possessions. Thatís how important this command about a day set apart.

Perhaps, before anything else, this command calls people to acknowledge a sacred focus to all of life. Itís a command given to keep us from living life with ourselves at the center of everything. It calls us to remember that thereís more to us than chemicals and glands.

How our world needs this reminder today. God, in a tremendous act of life giving love, says, we must take one day a week or we will fail to orient the rest of our lives properly. Thatís what this command calls me to. It calls me to break with my normal routine.

Yes, weíve all heard it a thousand times. I know how people say they can worship God at the cottage or on the golf course. And there is a sense in which all of my life is to be lived to the glory of God. But thatís not what this command is talking about. This command is designed to jar my earthbound patterns and wake my soul up like a speed bump on a parking lot.

So the Sabbath rest isnít just a pause to catch my breath in a busy world. Itís a pause to turn my life from self to God - from my pursuits and plans to His. And I canít properly remember God without giving Him this time.

2) THE COMMAND IS TO CELEBRATE GODíS REDEMPTIVE DELIVERANCE OF HIS PEOPLE

This emphasis becomes particularly clear in the recording of the commandments in Deuteronomy chapter 5:

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 - ďObserve the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. [13] Six days you shall labor and do all your work, [14] 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 or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. [15] You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.Ē

From our first point, we saw that this one day was set apart right from the creation of the world. God establishes the pattern Himself. One day to devote entirely to reflecting on who made everything - who is in charge - where resources for life itself come from - and to whom everything returns.

Because God is creator, my days and my hours come from His hand. They belong to Him - not just symbolically, but literally. And one day is devoted to the re-establishing of that truth in my life.

This second point expands on this idea. And this second point is the best place to focus on the change from the Sabbath in the Old Testament to the Lordís Day in the New Testament. Moses records that Godís people were to reflect on one aspect of Godís goodness and power in particular. God was a delivering God. He had brought them out of a captivity from which they could never have freed themselves. God brought them out of bondage.

The New Testament picks up on this idea and develops a theology of it for believers:

Hebrews 4:9-16 - ďSo then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, [10] for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. [11] Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. [12] For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. [13] And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. [14] Since then we have a great high priest (Thereís the source of our rest) who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Ē

Look again at verse 10: ď....for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.Ē Weíre called back, not to the ten commandments, but to the creation of the world. This verse makes a direct link between God resting after His creation work and Jesus resting after His redemptive work. Then, the first nine words of verse 11 call each of us to enter into that rest of Christ - ďLet us therefore strive to enter that rest....Ē

Letís start putting this together. Because to limit our understanding of the Lordís Day by framing it with a legalistic, Old Testament interpretation of merely a day of rest from activity misses the New Covenant remodeling of what the Lordís Day, as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Sabbath, is all about.

We celebrate the Lordís Day on the first day of the week, because it celebrates our standing in a finished work. We start our worship on the first day because it pictures a rest of faith that was never earned by any preceding works of merit. Every Lordís Day we are saying that we stand in a work done for us. It comes before any of our own works. Thatís what the Lordís Day pictures.

The Lordís Day is related to the Sabbath in the same way the cross and Resurrection is related to the death of animals offered in the sacrifices in the OT. The Lordís Day doesnít contradict the sabbath. It completes and fulfills it. On the Lordís Day we rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

This also helps us understand the kind of rest the Lordís Day is designed to provide. The Lordís Day is a day of rest. But not in the way many people think. Itís not the rest of lying on the beach or barbecuing burgers on the patio. Thatís just relaxation.

The Lordís Day celebrates, and reflects on, and praises God for, the rest of sins forgiven, the rest of a life focused on the freeing power of praise and worship, the rest of joyful obedience to commands that are not a burden because of the new life of the Holy Spirit in the soul, the rest of a redemption that is safe and sure in Christ Jesus.

And most of all, the Lordís Day, is the rest of celebrating these great realities undistracted by the concerns of self and the cares of the rest of the week.

Weíll consider two more ideas on this subject next Sunday - next Lordís Day.