Exodus 20:3 (NIV) You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:4 (NIV) You shall not make for yourself an idol

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1 Text: Exodus 20:8-11 Title: Rest for God s Best INTRODUCTION Review Ten Commandments: Exodus 20:3 (NIV) You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:4 (NIV) You shall not make for yourself an idol Exodus 20:7 (NIV) You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God Exodus 20:8 (NIV) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:12 (NIV) Honor your father and your mother Exodus 20:13 (NIV) You shall not murder. Exodus 20:14 (NIV) You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20:15 (NIV) You shall not steal. Exodus 20:16 (NIV) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Exodus 20:17 (NIV) You shall not covet Now let s go back to the fourth commandment found in vv Follow along as I read it. We live in a nation of tired people. In spite of the fact that we have more leisure time than any previous generation, for some reason we are tired most of the time. And the fatigue that I m speaking about is not just physical fatigue there s fatigue in our souls that we just can t seem to overcome. Well I have good news for you today. God knew we would face this. He created our bodies so He knows what s best for them; and He did something to insure that we would always get plenty of rest. He gave us something called the Sabbath. And we read about it here in the Ten Commandments. But the very idea that God wants us to observe a rhythm of rest in our life raises all kinds of questions. As we answer these questions one by one, it may help you understand why God makes such a big deal about this. There s more explanation about this command than any of the other commands. God wants us to have answers to 1. THE WHAT QUESTION

2 What exactly was Israel to do, or not do on the Sabbath? Exodus 20:8 (NIV) - Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. The word Sabbath means stop or rest. And it is called the Sabbath day, so there is to be a day of rest, a day of stopping regular activity. The practice of observing the Sabbath was already a part of the Israelites life. Remember back when God put His people in the position where they would have to live day by day by faith. They were in the wilderness where there was no food, so God provided manna for them. Every morning they awakened to find it waiting for them to go out and gather, just enough for that day. However, when it came to the seventh day, there would be no manna for them to gather because it was to be a holy Sabbath to the Lord. God would give them enough on the sixth day to cover them for two days. So the Sabbath day was already set. But here in Exodus 20 there is the instruction from God to Remember the Sabbath in other words, Don t forget to take a day off from your regular routine. By keeping it holy. This means set it aside from all other days as special. It is a holy day for you. Exodus 20:9-10a (NIV) - Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work Six days you shall labor and do all your work There God is giving dignity and importance to our work. When we work we are obeying God. v.10 (It) is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. So there s something about this day that is to the Lord your God. So the rest is not to be an idle rest, but rather a God-centered rest. Attention is to be directed to God in a way that is more concentrated and steady than on ordinary days. You see, God was building a rhythm and pattern into the lives of His people. Work for six days. That s good. Then on the seventh day rest. So what does it mean? First, it s a sign. God is making a covenant with His people here at Mt. Sinai, and we re told later that the sign of this covenant is the observing the Sabbath. Exodus 31:13 (NIV) Say to the Israelites, You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

3 The covenant God made with Noah had a sign the rainbow. The covenant God made with Abraham had a sign circumcision. And the covenant God made with His people here at Mt. Sinai had a sign observing the Sabbath. Second, it s a celebration. Exodus 31:16 (NIV) - The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. Now wait a minute. If you re like me you have thought of this Sabbath deal as a day that you sit around and do nothing and act miserable. No, it s to be celebrated. I ll show you more in a minute. So the Sabbath is a sign and a celebration. Now let s ask 2. THE WHO QUESTION To whom does this apply? Who is in the picture here? Exodus 20:10b (NIV) - On it you shall not do any work For the Israelites, there was, of course, some unavoidable work that had to be done. But aside from that, the day was to be a real day off. Now there was probably some hard-charging Israelite who wanted to get ahead, but he wanted also to appear to be obeying God, so he thinks: I can t work, but I ll get someone else to do it for me one of my servants, or someone from another country who doesn t know God. But God anticipated that someone would look for a loophole, and addressed it Exodus 20:10b (NIV) - You shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. So there s the answer to the who question. Next there is 3. THE WHY QUESTION Now why is the Sabbath observance important? I ve already mentioned that God gave more explanation for this commandment than any of the others, so it must be pretty important to God. First, it is to reflect on the creation of God. And God set the example for us. Exodus 20:11 (NIV) - For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

4 Now Moses tells us about this in Genesis. Turn to Genesis 2. Genesis 2:2 (NIV) - By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. What does it mean that God rested? He should have been exhausted from all the great work of creation, but He wasn t. So it means something else. It means at least that he wanted to now stand back in leisure and enjoy the beauty and completeness of his creative work. Genesis 2:3 (NIV) - And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. So God blessed the day. What does it mean for God to bless a day? Well when you bless someone, you want them to have a future filled with the blessings of God. And that s what God was doing with the seventh day filling it with His blessings. For whom? For His creation. And when it says that God made it holy what does it mean? It means he set the day aside for special focus on what is holy, namely, God and his holy works. QUOTE: John Piper put it this way: (God is saying) let my highest creature, the one in my image, stop every seven days and commemorate with me the fact that I am the creator who has done all this. Let him stop working and focus on me, that I am the source of all that he has. I am the fountain of blessing. I have made the very hands and mind with which he works. Let one day out of seven demonstrate that all land and all animals and all raw materials and all breath and strength and thought and emotion and everything come from me. Let man look to me in leisure one day out of seven for the blessing that is so elusive in the affairs of this world." Now part of the reason we have such a hard time with this is that here we have a day we re supposed to enjoy God, but we really don t have much inclination to do that. And if we did, we wouldn t really know how to. ILLUSTRATION It would be like saying to a husband and a wife, Alright, you have a whole day to spend with each other to enjoy each other a whole day. Don t worry about the kids, don t worry about the yard, just spend the day together enjoying each other. A fairly large percentage of married couples (particularly the men) would say, OK, a day with my wife to do what? Talk? OK. Well, the problem is that they really aren t used to the idea of just enjoying each other. And they certainly don t know how to even begin doing that. And that s the same problem with the idea of a Sabbath. A day to think about God? I wouldn t know what to do with an hour to just think about God, much less a day. Enjoy God? I m not even sure I understand that language. That s why we think of this idea of a Sabbath not a blessing, but a burden. And to people who had made the Sabbath a burden Jesus said:

5 Mark 2:27-28 (NIV) - Then he said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. So why observe the Sabbath? First, we do it to reflect on the activity of God in creation. Second, we do it to rest in the salvation of God. By the time of Jesus the Pharisees and scribes had made the Sabbath into something that was not for rest, but for feverishly earning God s approval. It became another legalistic rule. They had tacked on 39 extra rules related to the Sabbath so it was a burden and bondage, not a blessing. For instance, if a flea landed on you, you couldn t kill it. That would be hunting; so just shoo it away. ILLUSTRATION Even today, in Israeli hotels they have a Shabbat elevator. You get on this elevator on the Sabbath and you don t have to push a button, which would be work. It simply stops at every floor. But the deal is that the Sabbath was not another rule for earning God s approval. It was a reminder that they didn t have to do that that God had delivered them already. Deuteronomy 5 gives us a second version of the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 5:15 (NIV) - Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. The Sabbath was a sign that helped them to remember how God had delivered them from Egypt. Remember, they were to stand still and see the deliverance that the Lord would provide. They didn t work for that deliverance; it was something that God alone did. So to rest was not only remembering God s creation, but also remembering God s salvation putting our trust in Him. KEY POINT It s something God goes after in our lives. It s the same principle as the tithe. It is God saying, Do you trust me enough to do what I say? Do you trust me that if you give 10% to my Kingdom s work that I will bless you and the 90% will do what the 100% would do? Do you trust me to set aside one day in seven to restore and refresh your life, and to reflect on Me, and trust that you ll get as much done in 6 days as you would have otherwise in 7 days. Now let me say here, what you ve probably already picked up on the principle of the Sabbath was not just something that was for Israel. It also applies to NT believers. Remember God set up the Sabbath principle at creation, long before the Law or even Abraham. So it means something for NT believers as well. In fact, as we read the NT we see that the early church began the practice of making Sunday their main day for this Sabbath principle, though Sunday was not another Sabbath. Why? Among other things it commemorated the new creation that came about by the resurrection of

6 Jesus Christ, which occurred on the first day of the week. They gathered together to share in a common meal, they worshipped and they prayed and they gave and they studied God s Word. But let me show you another way that the OT and the NT come together on this Sabbath principle. The Sabbath, like all the rest of the Law was fulfilled in Christ. Hebrews 4:9-11 (NIV) - There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. The writer of Hebrews is saying, The real Sabbath rest is found in Jesus Christ when one stops trusting in their good works to make them right with God, and one begins trusting in (resting in) the salvation that Jesus accomplished for us by His death and resurrection. And while we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, we know that our good works don t get us to heaven. We are resting and trusting in Christ for that which is purely a gift from God. So the Sabbath rest is not just about a day it s about a LIFE! Well there, is so much more we could say on that, but let me get to the final question 4. THE HOW QUESTION Let me give you some practical ways to build this discipline into your life: Accept God s gift of a day's rest each week. Humble yourself enough to admit that you need it. Know that as much as you desire to do well in life, God wants it all the more. And He wants you not to strive for it in your own power, but to depend on Him. ILLUSTRATION One way to look at it is like traffic lights. There are times when you have a green light to go. And there are times when you have a red light to make you stop. You need both. There s a rhythm to it red lights and green lights. Can you imagine what a mess it would be without stop lights? It s part of life. The only time you won t have to stop at red lights is when your funeral hearse is carrying you to cemetery. They generally don t stop at red lights. But in the meantime, it s just part of life. By having a rhythm of work and rest in our lives, as God s people we are acknowledging that while we work hard, as the Bible teaches us to do, ultimately God is our source and we are trusting Him to provide for our needs. Devote the day to intently focus on God and your life in Him. Of course we are to focus on God throughout the week, but because we are working and laboring, maybe even playing, we are distracted. Keep a holy day and devote yourself to those things that deepen your love for God.

7 There s a reason that we are spread a mile wide and an inch deep, spiritually speaking. We don t allow enough time in our lives to rest and reflect in the Lord. If at all possible, make that day Sunday. Why Sunday? Well, as I ve already said, the church down through the ages has set this day aside because of its connection with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It s a witness to our neighbors when we do something different with our Sundays. I realize that some have to work on Sundays, and if that s the case your day of rest needs to be on another day. Set aside the whole day. Some of you remember a time when because of what was called blue laws, everything was closed on Sundays. Slowly American went from a six day a week culture to a seven day a week culture. And believers got pulled along with it. Some of you remember when you spent most of the day at church on Sundays, so you had some help staying focused on God all day long. To be honest with you, I miss that. But spending the day at church is not the only way to genuinely practice the Sabbath principle. Maybe you could use Sunday afternoons or evenings in more concentrated prayer, or personal Bible study, or some area of service to the Body of Christ, or a small group meeting in your home for deeper fellowship in the Lord, or a meal with your neighbors who need to know Christ. CONCLUSION It s really about the need for rest for our souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV) - Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. When we come to Jesus we come to the only One who can give rest for our souls. Your body needs rest and your soul needs rest. ILLUSTRATION I heard the story about a group of hard-charging Americans went to Africa on a hunting safari. The traveled hard for a couple of days led by their African guides. On the third day after breakfast the African tribesmen just sat there. They weren t getting ready to travel. The head guide said, Today we rest. One of the hard-charging Americans said, What do you mean rest? We have to make progress. The tribesman repeated, Today we rest. We must let our souls catch up with our bodies. You see it s one thing to rest your body, but only Jesus can give you rest for your soul. You can take a six week vacation, sleep 18 hours a day, play golf every day, but still be tired because your soul is tired and only Jesus can take care of that. Do you have a tired soul? Is it because you are not tending to your soul?

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