Today is the fourth in our series on the Ten Commandments. I hope you are enjoying this series. I hope you are learning a lot. It would be very difficult for a Seventh-day Adventist to learn anything new about the Fourth Commandment because that's one of the big ones in our book. So, let's see what we can do with the Fourth Commandment. We have just read that for our scripture reading.
I'm not an expert on gardening. I do have a nice garden. But I can just imagine that plants might grow a little bit at night but I think they grow the most in the light of the day. That would be my conclusion as a layman. And I think that Christians do grow some through the week, but I think our most productive growth could be on the Sabbath when we devote one entire twenty four hour period with God. That's a possibility. God so loved the world that He gave his created children a full day of time in which they could grow more into His image. Isn't that the purpose of the Sabbath? In fact, I believe that if the fourth Commandment had always been kept, there would be no evolutionists. The fourth commandment links all humanity with their loving Creator.
Let's repeat the Fourth Commandment. Exodus 20:8-11, KJV. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it."
I'm giving Bible studies to a fine young man, ten and a half years old, and I asked, "Can you recite the Fourth Commandment?" Out it came, just like that. Isn't that great?
In the first six days of creation God created life. On the seventh day He created love, a time for love, a day to love. The first five days were all created in anticipation of the arrival of God's children. They came on the sixth day. You remember how you fixed up the room when your first baby was born. Remember that? Before you went to the hospital, you and your husband painted the room and if you knew what the baby was going to be, the paint might have been blue for a boy or pink for a girl, or yellow if you didn't know. You did that so your baby would have an ideal place in which to grow. The Garden of Eden was a prepared place for His creatures to play and grow. God did the same thing. On the first five days of creation, He prepared the nursery so that His new children would have an ideal place to play and to grow. Adam and Eve were the highest form of life that God had created here on this planet.
To create all the other life God spoke and it came into existence, but He did not do that with Adam and Eve. He didn't speak them into existence, in fact what God did to create His first child, was to kneel down and mold Adam into His own image with His own hands. And then he placed his lips on those lips of clay and as if kissing Adam into life, and breathed into the man His own life-giving breath. And Adam became a living soul, a living person. Adam opened his eyes and the very first person he saw, he looked up into the eyes of his loving Maker, his Creator, his heavenly Father. He didn't look up into the eyes of a monkey.
After a short time Adam desired a companion like himself. God did not select clay this time. He chose to make Eve directly from Adam instead of using clay. He used a better substance to make the woman, and He chose to make Eve directly from Adam so that their genetic codes would have been identical. Adam soon awakened after his surgery. Notice that in this instance the man bore all the pain in giving birth, but not the woman before sin.
The next God did was to invent marriage. God united them together. There were angel choirs, animal parades, birds provided the music. I can imagine it was very special Adam and Eve were joined together in the beautiful garden of Eden. By sunset on the sixth day God had completed His work. No more work of any kind was done after sundown.
Then God created the Sabbath beginning at sundown, Friday night. The seventh day, in fact, was so important that it was the only day that was given a name. No other days had a name. It was made to benefit both Adam and Eve.
Look at Mark 2:27,28 KJV. Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Which day is the Sabbath day? It's the seventh day, Saturday. So, the Sabbath was made for people. And Adam and Eve were the first people. The Sabbath hours are a special time when again we fill our spiritual lungs with God's breath of spiritual life and we become born again. That's the purpose of the Sabbath. God rested, He blessed and He sanctified the seventh day. These are three elemental components that make the Sabbath what it is: Rest, Blessing and Sanctification.
It is a day of rest. It's a day when God ended His activity so that He could stop and focus on His creation. Come over here to Psalm 46:10 in your Bible. This states the law of stopping. "Be still and know that I am God." We modern human beings seem to think the only time we are valuable is when we are doing something. Have you noticed that? Therefore we become workaholics. We've either got to be talking on the phone or doing something, accomplishing something. Otherwise we're not valuable. God says, "Be still and know that I am God. God calls us to stop our workaholic behavior and recover from exhaustion. And He provides one twenty four hour period of time in which we can accomplish that very thing. You see, we are not gerbils on a perpetual motion wheel. That's not what we are. Love takes time and the Sabbath was created to provide a weekly time for love so that the creature might get to know the Creator, that they might grow closer together. That's the purpose of the Sabbath. It is a time of spiritual Re-Creation. Sometimes we call that, Wreck- creation."
We used to live in Michigan. My wife and I enjoyed that up there just north of Berrien Springs where there are lots of farms. We became close friends with some Seventh-day Adventist farmers that lived on Bangor and Hartford. Their name was Unrath. One summer I noticed this very experienced farmer did not plant one of his 40 acre fields. He plowed it. He disced it. But he didn't plant it. And I asked, "Why aren't you going to plant that field?" He told me that even dirt needs to rest. Sure enough, the next year he had a bumper crop on that fallow land. It's amazing.
The Sabbath is a day of rest. And, do you realize that we are made of dirt? Even dirt needs to rest! And so, the Sabbath is very important. We need the Sabbath rest. The Fourth Commandment is the longest commandment in the entire ten. It's the heart of the Ten Commandments. And it will enable your heart to grow. We need this Sabbath rest. So, go ahead, take a Sabbath nap after church. Not during church. That's the correct timing there, you understand. Rest your cares on Jesus and your relationship with Him will flourish. You'll have a bumper crop because of that rest. That restful time will boost your relationship with Jesus Christ. The Sabbath rest will produce a harvest of spiritual growth in your life. And the fruit of the Holy Spirit will flourish in your soul. God's purpose in creating the Sabbath was to put a stop to the work and hassle of the week and allow time for spiritual productivity.
Christians are like my rechargeable flashlight. We shine brightly until we begin to run down. Our light becomes dim. Then we need some down time when we connect with the power source and become recharged. And when does that happen? Well, we try it through the week, of course. We pray through the week. We study our Bible through the week. But on the Sabbath, here comes one glorious twenty four hours of time when we can be fully recharged for God. And to do that, we need some down time. I notice that when I plug my flashlight into the wall, it isn't on. It's down. And we need some down time from our labors, and our work. When we connect with the Power Source of the universe then we become recharged. And that rest time is called the Sabbath. That's what the purpose of it is.
The Sabbath is a blessing. God rested on that day, He blessed that day. And so, the Sabbath is a blessing, isn't it. On that first Sabbath, I can imagine God taking Adam and Eve into the Garden and bonding with them. They didn't really know Him, did they? They'd just been around a few hours. And so they needed to get acquainted. And so the Sabbath was a time when you acquaint yourself with the God of the universe, with your Maker. And He bonded with their heart. Perhaps there was a welcome ceremony for the newest members of God's creation. Welcoming Adam and Eve into the new family because they were the newest members of God's creation. And what a blessed day the first Sabbath must have been. Every Sabbath continues to be a fount of rich blessing. George Stephens, one of our church members, has written about the Sabbath and has some excellent ideas on Sabbath-keeping. Desmond Cummins has a book on the Original Love which is a fantastic brand new book on the Sabbath. We certainly want the optimal Sabbath blessing for our people. In the Garden of Eden, what a blessed day that first Sabbath must have been. They were able to spend the entire time with their heavenly Father. I don't even know if they went to bed on Friday night. Will it get dark in heaven? Did it get dark in the Garden of Eden? Did they need to sleep? The sun went down, but God was there. I think every Sabbath day continues to be a fount of blessing.
Look at Isaiah 56:2. It says, "Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath and keeps from doing any evil." If you keep the Sabbath you're going to be blessed.
You see, we can make material things, you can make a quilt, you can make a pie, but one thing you can't make is time. Only God can make time. We can't rearrange time. Time belongs to God. We can't rearrange the Sabbath. Some people say, "Well, Sunday is Sabbath, Friday is Sabbath, Thursday is Sabbath." We can't do that. Only God can make time. And I believe that once a week there is a twenty four hour period of time from sunset Friday night to sunset Saturday night in which we may draw nearer than ever to God and He can draw nearer than ever to His children. He has an appointment with us on the seventh day. I try to keep my appointments, and occasionally I forget, but I do have this helpful reminder here to keep my appointments. (He has a PDA.) I can simply turn it on and just look at it, if I remember to do that, and keep my appointments. I want to tell you that every week you have an appointment with God on the seventh day. Just like He used to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden on the seventh day, again, He come to walk with His children and now He comes walking again on the seventh day, with His pockets stuffed full of blessings to give to those who love Him.
I remember back in Indiana in Hartford City where I grew up, we used to have Doctor Ackerman and he would come with candy in his pockets. But God empties His pockets for His children on the Sabbath. And Doctor Ackerman used to give those kids candy after the sermon. And it was a special time. And just so, God comes on the Sabbath to sweeten the lives of His children. Isn't that beautiful?
Look in Isaiah 58:13,14 NLT. I love the way this is stated. "Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don't pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord's holy day. Honor the LORD in everything you do, and don't follow your own desires or talk idly. If you do this, the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and give you your full share of the inheritance I promised to Jacob, your ancestor. I, the LORD, have spoken!" Isn't that beautiful? If you enjoy the Sabbath, if you can call it a day of delight, if you use it to get acquainted with your God, and you honor the Lord, you will in turn be blessed.
The blessings are not just for today but for eternity because God comes every Sabbath like Ed McMahon from the Publishers Clearing House, and He comes to give His people great gifts of Joy, Peace, and love, and hope. Naturally we don't want to be working on the Sabbath when He comes, do we? That would spoil the relationship. So, we schedule shopping, our sports, our TV, our house work and bill paying and all those other things for some other time so that we can be present to get the full blessing that God has for us, so that we can devote our full attention to the deepening our connection with us and Jesus.
The Sabbath is such a positive thing. We rest on that day, we're blessed on that day, and we are sanctified on that day.
3) SANCTIFICATION.M He blessed that day, He hallowed that day, he sanctified that day. In Hebrew this actually means marriage. Sanctification means marriage because it means "becoming One." And that's marriage where two people become one. The Sabbath is a time when you and God can become one, one in purpose. Sanctification is where we humans gradually grow and become one with the Divine Image. Just like a greenhouse is a dedicated place for the ideal growth of plants, just so, the Sabbath is dedicated time that provides ideal conditions for us to grow into the likeness of God Himself. That's the direction we're growing. Jesus stated that goal in John 17:22,23. Here's the goal Jesus wants for His children. "...that they may be one, as We are one. I in them and You in Me, all being perfected into One." That is the purpose of the Sabbath. That's the time when this can happen.
The Seventh day is a golden opportunity to meet God and grow closer to Him. The tools to accomplish this wonderful growth are Prayer, Family Worship, Bible Study, attendance at Church and Sabbath School Class. A walk in God's second book (Nature) allows time to listen to God's voice and meditate on His will. Reading, relaxing, playing with your children, praying and a host of other spiritually rewarding activities will draw us closer to God. That's the purpose of the Sabbath. "God is love in person. The Sabbath is love in time. The Church is love in place." - Cummings.
As a weekly reminder of His Love God made the Sabbath. Because God loved Adam and Eve He also gave them freedom which always includes the power of Choice. That power could be exercised in one spot, at the tree of knowledge of Good and evil. It's interesting that evil was limited to one tree but Goodness was unlimited. It was everywhere. It was all over the new earth. The knowledge of evil was limited. God did His best to keep evil from them. Evil could not come to them but they had freedom to come to evil. Satan's freedom was limited but their freedom was unlimited.
Eve had a brilliant mind. One day she exercised her power of choice to enter Satan's turf. She listened to him. She looked. She took. She tasted. And she fell. Then she shared, and Adam fell. As she tasted the harmless looking fruit, I can just imagine all heaven saying "No! It's happening!" And it did. And the snake smiled. The garden started to become a jungle. The pure earth formerly only able to produce good plants is inoculated with weeds that soon attack the entire environment. It would spread like cancer. Adam and Eve's actions removed the fence around the tree of good and evil and sin escaped, attacking the other six days of creation. It was about to destroy the whole place, and God had to quarantine them, and evict them from the Garden of Eden. The saddest result of sin was it's assault upon the Sabbath. Do you realize that? Sin has done more than anything to the Sabbath. A dark shadow came over the day dedicated to love. Rather than deepen the love relationship with God, the couple now hid from His face. They were back there hiding in the shadows. Their Fear destroyed their rest. Their Shame destroyed their blessing. Their Blaming everybody destroyed their Sanctification.
The man and the woman soon started to die along with all other life. They immediately became uncomfortable with their nakedness. They wanted to be covered up. The beautiful robe of warm light was gone. In a dense part of the garden they struggle to cover their disrobed bodies. Quickly they must invent needle and thread and find material. The forest floor is littered with torn fig leaves and trampled foliage. Shame transformed Adam and Eve from caretakers to consumers. The six thousand year tyranny of the snake began its grim destruction upon the human race.
Fortunately God preserved two vestiges of His love from the wreckage. One was marriage and the other was the Holy Sabbath. And those have been preserved from the Garden of Eden. Marriage would remain to promote love in the family. The Sabbath would remain to promote Love with God. The Sabbath would draw them back into a loving relationship with their Creator. That's the purpose of the Sabbath.
Today the Sabbath remains like the Tree of Life in a forest of the knowledge of good and evil. That's what the Sabbath is, because we live in a land of good and evil. Each Sabbath God again walks the earth to spend time with His children. He comes to give us a blessing. He comes with candy stuffed in His pockets to sweeten His children. As Seventh-day Adventist Christians our task is to faithfully partake of the fruit of this holy Sabbath rest that we might grow more and more into the Divine Image of our Creator.
The Pharisees in Jesus day had pretty well spoiled the Sabbath. They had so many rules and regulations that they had placed a fence around the Sabbath just like there had been a fence around the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with all their regulations and rules. Nobody could enter into a full rest because of all those rules and reap its fruit. Instead of being a day of Love, the Sabbath had become a day of law and law keeping, the survival of the fittest. Jesus restored the true focus of the Sabbath on Love instead of law. In John 14:15 KJV, Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Love is the greatest motivation in the world. No one can keep the Sabbath unless at first they fall in love with the Creator of the Sabbath.
God thinks so much of this holy time together that when we leave heaven for the New Earth the special Sabbath hours will still be in place for us to spend quality time with our God. Isaiah 66:23 says, From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me, says the Lord.
Praise God for the Fourth Commandment. It's such a wonderful Commandment! It's one you ought to remember. You see, the Sabbath is a mine where the precious gems of God's character can be uncovered and assimilated into our very nature. Thus the Sabbath enables us to grow more and more into the image and character of God Himself. What a day of rest and gladness the Sabbath is!
Major Source: Original Love, by Des Cummings, Jr. Published by Hart Books, Fallbrook, California, 2001. We highly recommend this book for your reading and spiritual growth. Available from Hart Books, Fallbrook, Ca. 92028. ISBN: 1-878046-58-6
Hymn of Praise Revive Us Again Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11 Hymn of Response: #383, O Day of Rest and Gladness 020824#524
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last updated 8/25/2002 by Bob Beckett.