Robert Jeffress - Value God's Day
Hi, I am Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway To Victory". Busy people like you keep a packed schedule. Between work, family, and social obligations, hardly a moment goes unaccounted for. So in our nonstop modern world, is it realistic to set aside a day of rest? Today we're going to look at the fourth commandment and learn why the Sabbath is still relevant in the 21st century. My message is titled, "Value God's Day" on today's edition of "Pathway To Victory".
I don't have to tell you we live in a harried and a hurry up culture. Technology like cellphones and iPhones have allowed us to remain connected 24/7, constantly receiving emails, texts, social media posts. All of that means we can go, go, go without ever stopping. But that's not necessarily a good thing, is it? I'm often reminded of the story of the man who went to Africa, a traveler and he told his guide that he wanted to move at a fast pace and so the guide recommended they hire some local tribesmen to help carry all the stuff the man had brought over. So the man met with the group and he said, "Now we're going to go fast. We're gonna get up before the sun rises, we're gonna go all day and keep going until the sun sets".
And the next day they did just that. Up early, push, push, push, push, exhausted at night. The second morning of the trip, the man was ready to go but he noticed the porters were sitting under a tree and not moving. He said, "It's time to get with it, let's go". They refused to move and finally he asked the guide what was going on. The guide said, "Well, you pushed them so hard yesterday they're waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies". You know, God has designated a way for us to wait until our souls catch up with our bodies. In fact, there's one day a week we're to do that. It's called the Sabbath. And it's the focus of the fourth commandment we're going to look at today.
If you have your Bibles turn to Exodus chapter 20 beginning with verse 8, as we look at the fourth commandment, which in essence says we need to value God's day. Now remember in our series on the Ten Commandments, we saw these commandments were not given for God's benefit. God doesn't get anything out of the Ten Commandments. They're made for our benefit. The first four Commandments deal vertically with our relationship with God, the final six deal horizontally with our relationship with other people.
Let's look at the fourth and final command that deals with our relationship with God. It's found beginning in verse 8. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy".
God is basically saying there's one day a week that we're not to do any work, we're not even to think about working. Instead, we're to substitute for work, rest, relaxation and focusing on God. Now, before we look at the meaning and the application for us today, I wanna make three observations about this fourth commandment. Write them down on your notes so you remember them. First of all, "More space is devoted to this command than any of the other ten". Now that's interesting when you think of it. More space is devoted to remembering the Sabbath than there is to adultery, theft, murder or any other sin that's talked about. That tells you this is something important to God. It's not optional, it's essential.
The second observation is, Jesus never repeated this commandment. Did you know of the Ten Commandments, Jesus repeated nine of them in the New Testament, but there's one commandment he didn't repeat and it was this one, to remember the Sabbath. And it's not because it's not important, but here's the reason. The Sabbath for the Jews was the seventh day of the week, Saturday, but after Christ rose from the dead, the day changed from Saturday to Sunday. But even though the day changed, the principle has not changed. We're still to set aside one day a week in order to focus on our relationship with God. That's what the Sabbath is about.
The third observation I would make is, this commandment is only one of two commandments stated positively. Two are positive, eight are negative. "Thou shall not commit adultery". Literally in Hebrew, no adultery, that's all it says. "Thou shall not commit murder". In Hebrew no murder. No, no, no, no. Have you ever heard people say, "Now you Christians are too negative, you need to quit being so negative". Well, God's negative about some things. He says, no, no, no, no. But when it comes to the Sabbath, it's positive. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. It is a positive command again for our benefit, not for Gods. Look at what Jesus said about the Sabbath.
Verse 23, "And it happened that Jesus was passing through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to Jesus, 'Look, why are your disciples doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?'" Now, look at what Jesus said. He said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath". That's key to understanding this. We were not made to fit into the Sabbath regulations, the Sabbath was given for our benefit. Well, that raises some questions about the fourth commandment. Let me answer a few of them.
First of all, what is the Sabbath? I used to think that the word Sabbath meant seventh, as in Saturday, it doesn't. The word literally means to resist, to cease from any kind of labor. Somebody has said it's not only ceasing from labor, it's to cease for a many thought of labor, making your to-do list for tomorrow. Any kind of labor you're to cease, one day a week from. I have a little amber indicator light in my car that's been on all week. That little amber light is a reminder from the manufacturer that it's time for me to stop driving and to take my car in and have some maintenance done on it to have the liquids replenished and replaced to make sure everything's running as it should. That indicator light was installed by the manufacturer, not for his benefit but for mine so that my car could run efficiently.
God has said for each of us, there's a certain maintenance schedule. There is a time once a week that we need to quit working and allow ourselves to be refreshed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That's what the Sabbath is all about. Second question, what does it mean to remember? Why did he say remember the Sabbath? Well, that were means recall from memory. But you may be thinking, "Well wait a minute, if these are ten new commandments God is giving, how are they to remember something that didn't exist before"? Well, the fact is, it did exist in Israel. In Exodus 16, remember the children of Israel had left Egypt. They were in the wilderness and God said, "I will provide for you manna to eat. Every day I'll give you enough manna". Your daily bread, so to speak.
But then he gave this command in Exodus 16 verses 22 to 26. "Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread". That's Friday. "They gathered twice as much bread as they needed. And then Moses said to them, 'This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a Sabbath observance, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside and kept until morning.' So they put it aside until the seventh morning, as Moses had ordered". In other words, God said on Fridays, you're to take as much manna as you need for both days and save it so that you do no work on the seventh day. And then when we get to Exodus 20, God enshrines this principle as a part of the top 10. Remember that Sabbath and keep it holy.
Thirdly, what is the penalty for violating the Sabbath? Well, under the Old Testament, individuals who violated the Sabbath were stoned to death. Numbers 15, that was the Old Testament. You may be thinking, well, I'm sure glad I don't live under those restrictions where you get stoned to death for breaking the Sabbath. Well, there may not be that punishment for breaking the Sabbath, but listen to me, we all pay a penalty when we violate this principle. When we refuse to focus on God once a week and refresh ourselves emotionally and physically, we pay a price for it. And that's why we are to keep the fourth commandment. Let me give you several reasons specifically for obeying the Sabbath today.
First of all, the Sabbath affirms human dignity. Write that down. It affirms human dignity. Before the Sabbath, God gave the Sabbath, human beings were nothing but beast of burden who worked 24/7. Think about the Israelites in Egypt as slaves for over 400 years, they had no Sabbath. They got no rest, no ceasing of work, the only rest they would get was when they died. When you don't take a Sabbath, you're no better than an indentured servant. I mean, the millionaire who worked seven days a week is just as enslaved as the day laborer who has no money at all. But the Sabbath reminds us that we are more than animals. God has created other aspects of our life that we're to enjoy. That's healthy living and that's what the Sabbath is all about.
Second reason we observe the Sabbath is the Sabbath affirms the family. You know, when people take a day off from working and they usually use it to reconnect with friends or family members. The Sabbath allows us to do that. You ask the husband or wife of a workaholic, would your relationship improve if your spouse took a day off a week? They would say "Yes". You know, even in today's technological world, there's more stress in today's world than there was a 100 years ago when people only exerted physical energy again, because of that ability to remain connected 24/7. And when we do, when we refuse the Sabbath, it affects our most important relationships.
You may know the name of William Wilberforce. He was a member of the British Parliament. He led the abolition of slavery in Great Britain. He worked tirelessly six days a week, but he was very regimented about taking off the Sabbath day. And in fact, in one of his spiritual journals, he wrote, "Blessed be God for this day of rest and religious occupation wherein earthly things assume their true size and comparative insignificance. Ambition is stunted and I hope my affections in some degree rise to things above". I love that phrase. The Sabbath is where earthly things assume their true size. Six days a week, worldly things have our occupation. We think the most important thing in life is this telephone call that I'm about to make, or this task that needs to be completed, or this goal that needs to be accomplished because it's what is in front of us. But on the Sabbath day, when we focus on God, everything gets put into proper perspective.
Wilberforce had a friend who abandoned his family by taking his own life. And he said his friend didn't observe the Sabbath. In fact, he made this observation about his friend. With peaceful Sundays, it's highly probable that the strings would've never snapped in this man as they did from over tension. In other words, if he had obeyed God, observed the Sabbath, he wouldn't have taken his own life. That's an extreme example but it's true. You know, you can only remain in tension for so long without serious ramifications. You can take a rubber band and you can stretch it as far as it will go and hold it that way for a while, but eventually it will snap and so do we.
And that leads to the third reason to observe the Sabbath. "The Sabbath affirms our need for God". We are trichotomous beings. We are body-soul, but we are also spirit. And there needs to be a time that we worship God. Now, some Christians say, "Well, I don't need a church for that, I've got Jesus, I've got my Bible, I'm just gonna have my private time out on the lake or so forth". No, if you've ever said that or know of those who have said that, let me give you two script to very quick scripture verses to help remind us about the importance of corporate worship. One is Hebrew 10 verses 24 to 25. The writer said, "Let us consider how to stimulate one another to faith in good deeds".
That word stimulate literally means to irritate, to provoke, but not in a negative way. It's like a little piece of sand in an oyster that irritates that oyster until it produces a pearl. When we get together as Christians, we encourage one another, we provoke one another to greater faith. There needs to be a time we come together and remind ourselves that there's something bigger than us individually. We're a part of a body, the body of Christ, and we serve a God who is in control of everything that's happening in the world in general and in our world specifically. That's what the Sabbath does when we worship together.
In Luke 4:16, corporate worship was even important to Jesus. Luke says, "And Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read". Going to worship was a custom for Jesus. And let me ask you this, if Jesus the Son of God needed worship, being with other believers to remain spiritually hydrated, how much more important is it for you and me? By the way, when we don't come to worship, not only hurts us, it hurts other people around us. When you're not here in your pew on Sunday mornings, that means there's one less voice in this place praising God.
There's one less person here encouraging other Christians. There's one less spiritual gift being utilized. There's one less person sitting under the preaching of God's Word to transform their lives in the world. Some people say, "Well, pastor, I'll have to be honest with you. No offense intended, but I just don't get anything out of church. I just don't get anything out of it". Have you ever felt that way? I have found that a lot of real times people don't get anything out of church because they don't put anything into it. You know, occasionally I'll run into somebody and they'll have a sheepish look on their face and they'll say, "Pastor, I'm sorry, I've kind of been out of church for a while".
They think I'm angry with them. I'm not angry with them, but I feel sorry for them because they've deprived them self of the one solution to handle the physical, emotional, and spiritual dehydration we're all subject to. You know, cholera is a very dreaded disease. Thousands die from it every year but the cholera victims don't die from poison in the body, they die from dehydration. Fortunately, modern medicine has provided the machinery for intravenous influx of liquids that the cholera victim needs, but the question came, what do you do in countries that don't have that kind of machinery?
Finally, a solution was found. It was called oral rehydration. Doctors found that by preparing a simple solution of water, sugar, and salt, taking it orally is enough to replenish the fluids the body needs, you don't need any machinery. You know, God, thousands of years ago came up with a solution for the physical, emotional, spiritual dehydration we experience every week. That solution is the Sabbath. It's a time for us to resist work, to refresh our emotions, and to renew our relationship with God. "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy".