The Fourth Commandment
By Rev. T.F. Tenney
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
In this age of Filofax, Palm Pilots, PC’s, cellular phones, and e-mail’s – As we all spend our time with time-saving devices – in a world where no one has any time for any thing it is time for us all to take a serious and critical look at ourselves. God felt strongly enough about the fourth commandment that, according to the Holy Writ, Sabbath breakers were to be stoned.
The definition of the commandment was clear. In fact, it was spelled out with some pretty definite parameters even within the definitions of work and rest. Basically, this is it: Work six days-rest one day-UNTO THE LORD. I must admit that I am aware of many more people who violate this Scriptural principle, than those who stringently obey it. My calendar reflects that I myself am guilty of not doing this as much as I should. And the result of it in my life and the lives of other Sabbath breakers is a modern day stoning. We are hit with rocks of weariness. We are bombarded with the stones of frustration. We become cantankerous, difficult to live and work with.
Are you a car owner? Have you ever driven a vehicle until it was completely out of oil? Ignored the little sticker on the inside of your window when the mileage number and odometer matched? Driven on without stopping even when the engine light came on? Needless to say, if you did, you had to have a new car, or at the least a new engine. If you and I consistently dishonor the Sabbath principle in our lives, somewhere along the way the bills will come due. The oil change light will come on. Things will begin to break down in your life. The breakdown may be physical, emotional, spiritual or financial. His discipline will come into your life. He loves us too much to allow our self-destructive tendencies to go unchallenged.
If we could ever realize that behind this commandment is a heart of love for us. Jesus Christ wants time with you. He wants to walk with you. He wants to share His heart with you. He wants an intimate relationship with you, not just a casual acquaintance. He never lends Himself to the casual.
The Psalmist David must have at some point in his life struggled with at least some aspect of this. In Psalm 23 he said, “He makes me lie down.” If you and I don’t lie down and rest, if we don’t seek out quiet pastures and still waters with the Shepherd, it is not beyond Him to make us lie down. But remember the rest of that passage, He makes us lie down in green pastures …and He restores our souls.
The’ first 3 commandments concern our relationship with this God who loves us. We should put Him first. We should never allow anything in between that relationship with Him. He must be first! We must be careful to never dishonor His name …but rather to speak tenderly and truthfully of Him. So why the change in the apparent intent in this Sabbath commandment? Maybe the Lord wants us to use this interval of rest to accomplish some things in our lives.
For instance-in quiet-with no one else around-is the only time you can truly answer the question, “Lord, are you really first in my life?” And hear the answer to the question, “Lord, is there anything between you and me?” The Sabbath, this unique time of rest, is a time when we stop and remind ourselves who God is, of the price He paid to buy us back from Satan’s kingdom, and what he has promised to do in us and through us. It’s a time for us to catch a clear vision of what He wants to accomplish in our heart and lives. And of the place He is preparing for us.
So many of us are guilty of “charging” into life, seeking desperately to make sure that every moment is filled with some activity. A lot of times we justify this by busying ourselves with Kingdom enterprise, as if that excuses us from the need for rest.
The Living Bible version of Psalm 25 says, “Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.” It doesn’t matter who you are the work of life will never be done. There will always be another letter to write, another form to complete, another project to finish, another book to study, another drawer to organize. He said, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Satan knows that if he keeps us striving in our own strength, the joy and sense of purpose in our lives will drain like oil out of a quarter-sized hole in your car’s oil pan.
What has prosperity done to the Sabbath principle? Overcrowded lives reward personal (not God) devotion time-on the lake-expensive hunting, fishing, shopping trips-to the neglect of church, worship, and duties. If trumpet time comes on the Lord’s day-really, where do you want to be?
So it all boils down to a simple question: Who is the manager of your life? Is He Lord in title only or do you give Him an opportunity as manager and director to evaluate where you are and make necessary changes and adjustments? He isn’t Lord of your life simply because you call Him that. He is lord only when you allow Him to be Lord of everything. We must remember the old song that said, “If you’re not Lord of everything then you’re not Lord at all” and the commandment that says, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” as unto the Lord.
Reverend T. F. Tenney
Superintendent of the