A Day To Remember

Bible Book: Exodus  20 : 08-11
Subject: Ten Commandments; Sabbath; Rest; Sunday; Worship
Series: Ten Commandments - God's Way, The Right Way

A Day To Remember - Commandment 4

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

Exodus 20:8-11

We come now to the fourth Commandment as found in Exodus 20:8-11. We are looking at God's Way, The Right Way, which is a series of messages taken from the Ten Commandments.

Homes are destroyed, bodies are broken, and lives are ruined by people who do not understand the balance between worship and work. There are some people who will neither worship nor work, some people who will worship but won't work, but there are others who will work but not worship. Still others do both but fail to understand the meaning of either. This can be a difficult subject. But I want us to look at this today as simply as we can. This is critical to God and we know that because he placed it in the Ten Commandments, therefore it should be indispensable to us.

First we need to understand that many people have abused this commandment or been abused by it. When I pastored my first post-college church, I found among the archives some written records which were quite fascinating. The church had been founded in 1796, so naturally some of the minutes of the church conferences went back to a time near the American Revolutionary War. One note, which I remember as very intriguing concerned a member of the church who had been accused of tuning a fiddle on Sunday. Since this was viewed as a violation of the fourth commandment, a trial was held in the church and the results were recorded in the minutes. The man came before the church on Saturday to be tried by the church leaders. He heard the accusation and admitted to merely turning one of the tuning keys, but protested that he neither knew how to tune a fiddle nor was trying to that day. The church was lenient on him, so it was determined that he would be prohibited from public worship for two weeks and would be on probation for a few more weeks. Any other such violations would result in his being removed from the church. Incidents like this were not unusual some years ago and they did not create a picture of a loving God or a church filled with loving people.

I wonder if you know how the Chocolate Sundae was first created. Though I'm not sure if it is true, I read somewhere that it began with a controversy over the fourth commandment. The story states at around 1875 some leaders in the town of Evanston, Illinois passed a law forbidding the sale of ice cream sodas on Sunday. They felt that pharmacies which were supposed to be open for the sale of medicine on the Lord's Day were violating the fourth commandment because so many people were stopping in to buy ice cream sodas on Sunday afternoon. Some wise individual saw an opportunity and simply changed the way he served ice cream. Instead of using soda, he poured chocolate syrup on the ice cream. Soon, people began to order a Sunday. It wasn't long before an outcry erupted over the use of the word Sunday to describe an ice cream dish. The spelling was changed to sundae to avoid the controversy and the ice cream sundae was born. As I said, I don’t know if that story is true, but the mere fact that such a description exits at all reveals that an unfavorable attitude toward the narrow minded church crowd was held by many people. Far too often we are known for what we are against rather than known for what we stand for!

Actually, the idea of the Sabbath or Lord's Day has been largely misunderstood through the centuries. In Old Testament times the Jews had over 1,500 laws that had to be observed in order to properly keep the Sabbath Law. For example, a woman was forbidden to look in a mirror on the Sabbath. Why? She might see a gray hair and pluck it out and that would violate the Commandment since it would be considered labor or work. A man was allowed to untie a knot if he could do it with one hand. If he used two hands that was considered work and was prohibited. Does all this seem silly? It was deadly serious to the people who wrote these laws. You could be put to death for violating them! A Sabbath day’s journey was considered to be three-fourths of a mile. If you had already taken your steps for the Sabbath, and your house caught on fire, you were obliged to be still and die in it; unless of course someone who had not taken their allotted steps came in to carry you out of the burning house.

While some people have made the law oppressive and burdensome, others have totally disavowed the day as having any significance. Workaholics toil away thinking that their work is the most important thing in the world. Career and ambition is put above family and faith, the result is that many lose both in the process.

A first-grader became curious because her father brought home a briefcase full of papers every evening. Her mother explained, "Daddy has so much to do that he can't finish it all at the office. That's why he has to bring work home at night." The little girl looked surprised. She had heard about having too much work at school and how some of the kids had to take work home. She said, "Well, then, why don't they just put daddy in a slower group?"

One is in a slow thinking group if he or she puts work above worship, finance above faith, and self above the Savior. But, what is the proper balance in regard to this Commandment? Can we work on Sunday? What about recreation? Should we come to church and then simply sleep and rest in the afternoon and evening? Actually, I know some people who get an early start. They come to church and then sleep and rest during the services! They really take the commandment concerning rest seriously.

I want us to leave here today understanding what this commandment is about and what it means to our individual lives. The Sabbath day means three specific things to God's people.

I. The Lord's Day is a Remembering Day

Note that the passage says that we are to remember the Sabbath. We must first note that this commandment is never mentioned in the New Testament. Yes, Jesus was accused of breaking the Sabbath because His disciples pulled some grain to munch on while walking through a field. And, He was questioned in regard to the Sabbath because He healed a man on that day. But, the Sabbath Commandment is never mentioned as something to be observed rigidly by Jesus or the New Testament authors. In fact, in Colossians 2:16 Paul writes, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.. “ Clearly the New Testament writers felt that the idea of a Sabbath had changed. There are many evidences in the New Testament that the Christian Sabbath is Sunday. Why? It was on Sunday that Jesus rose from the dead. That is the day the church was born, as recorded in Acts 2:1. Paul spoke specifically concerning the fact that one must not be judged according to the Sabbath (Colossians 2:14-17), as I have already mentioned. John was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day while on the Isle of Patmos, which was his day of worship. The history of the early church verifies this understanding.

The fact that God would change the day of emphasis from Saturday to Sunday tells you something. There is more to this commandment than the observance of a mere day. Specifically, it is not the day of the Lord but the Lord of the day that is important. God meant that we should have one day a week to remember. Just what are we to remember?

A. Remember God's Creation

In this commandment we are reminded that God created everything in six days, and on the seventh day He rested. For a moment, forget the seventh day and think about the other six. God mentioned creation to remind us that He made us. He knows how we are put together. He knows the laws by which He made all things and what holds all of them together. There is a law, a rule, which must not be broken in the creation order of God. That law is that everything in God’s creation needs rest. I will talk more about that in a moment. But most importantly, we must remember the Creator. He made us! We came from Him and we will one day answer to Him. Our days are numbered, so it is important that we keep our focus right. We will not always be here and we need to remember that. The Lord's Day was meant to keep our focus fixed on that which is most important and on the One who is most important – The Creator!

Somewhere I read about National Football League player Kevin Long telling a story about his former college football coach. Long had played for Bobby Bowden at Florida State University. Most of you know that Bowden is a dedicated Christian. Well, Bowden used a story to inspire his players and Long had heard it more than once. When Bowden was playing college baseball, he went a long time without hitting a home run. At last, the day came when he hit a homer down in the right field corner. Bowden told the story to his players and emphasized how ecstatic he was as he rounded the bases. He went around first, second, third, and then across home plate. All his baseball teammates came out to home plate to welcome him. But then something strange happened. The new ball was thrown out to the pitcher. He simply tossed it over to first base. The first baseman touched the bag and the umpire yelled, "Out!" Bowden said, "If you don't take care of first base, it doesn't matter what you do."

Bowden was right. So many people are hung up on what you can and can't do on Sunday but they forget that the main purpose of the day is not the day but the Lord of the day. If you forget Him and fail to honor Him, it doesn't matter what else you do!

B. Remember God's Concern

Also, the fourth commandment reminds us that God cares for us. The Sabbath was established to keep the world from crushing us. God did not create the Sabbath to make life miserable for us but to make life manageable for us.

Two friends were arguing about the difference between anger and exasperation. One said there was no difference. The other said there was definitely difference. The latter of the two said he would prove that there was a difference. He picked up the phone, dialed a number at random and said, "Is Howard there?" The man on the other end said, "No one by that name lives here and it would be a good idea if you would check your numbers carefully before dialing." So, the man hung up, waited a moment and then hit redial on his phone. When the man answered on the other end, he asked, "Is Howard there?" The angry fellow who answered the phone said, "Listen, buster, I told you no one named Howard lives here. Now get off my phone and don't call back." The caller hung up and turned to his friend. He explained that the answerer was angry, very angry, but not totally exasperated. He then promised to prove it. He called the number back one more time. The angry man answered with a yell, "What is it you want this time?" The caller said, "Hey, I'm Howard, do I have any calls?"

I'm not going to tell you what the man on the other end said, but you can be assured he was fully exasperated. God knows we face real hardships in life and He cares for us. He does not wish for us to go through life exasperated. When we focus our attention on the Lord and remember that He cares for us, we find ourselves taking a deep breath and experiencing peace. Part of the reason for the day or rest was for us to turn our eyes upward and away from this world and its woes. The Sabbath is one of God's ways of saying, "I love you."

C. Remember God's Covenant

Most importantly, the Old Testament Sabbath was to call to remembrance the deliverance God had given the people out of Egypt. He established a covenant with them. This is one reason I believe Sunday was chosen as the New Testament day of worship and rest. It was the day Christ sealed the covenant with us - He did it through His resurrection. We must take time to remember what He has done for us to deliver us. If we do not take this subject seriously, it means we are not taking the Lord’s death and resurrection seriously. You see, as Christians we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus each Sunday. There are chores, work, frustrations and hardships in this world, but when our focus is lifted to the risen Lord, we discover that God’s love is real and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

So, we know that the Lord’s Day is about remembering. But, let’s look at another issue related to this day.

II. The Lord's Day is a Renewing Day

The Lord’s Day is about more than simply remembering. It is to be a day of renewal. It is at its very roots a renewal day for the people of God. What is it that is to be renewed on the Lord's Day?

A. Worship Should Be Offered

We are to worship the Lord. Now let’s turn our minds back to the very beginning of mankind on hearth. Adam was created by God on the sixth day. That means that sometime during that day, God created Adam and breathed into him the breath of life. Since Adam was created on the sixth day, what was the next day – the first full day that Adam lived on earth? It was the seventh day – a day of rest! Now, just think about that for a moment. Adam’s first full day on earth was not a day or work but a day or rest. Man was created on the sixth day, and woke up for his first full day on earth as the Sabbath. Adam was to spend that day with God before he began to actually work. Listen carefully – worship is more important that work. God is more important than making money. We must set aside time to worship the Lord with His people. In the New Testament we were told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as some were doing. We are to renew our worship each week.

As Christians, we actually begin each week with worship. Sunday is the first day of the week. People now consider Monday as the first day or the week and almost every calendar is printed that way. But, Monday is not the first day or the week – Sunday is the first day or each new week. Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the new life we have on Sunday. Thus, we begin each week with worship and not work! That is how it should be. The Lord’s Day is a constant reminder that worship is primary for those who have trusted Christ as Savior and Lord.

B. Weight Will Be Lifted

Also, the Lord’s Day renews our strength by lifting our burdens. Now this is very important! The Lord's Day is a weight lifting day. I don't mean we lift weights in a gym on this day; I mean God wants to lifts weights from us. Look at Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus told the people to come to Him and find rest. The words used here mean to have a great weight lifted from your back. What weight? The weight of life without meaning. The weight of temptation or sin itself. The weight of worry. The weight of trying to sustain life with your own strength. The songwriter penned, "Burdens are lifted at Calvary!” A person may rise from bed on Sunday, yawn and say, “I really don’t feel like going to church today.” But, as a Christian, he pushes himself from bed and prepares to join God’s people in worship. Once he is present with the Lord and the Lord’s people, he finds that weight has been lifted from his heart. He doesn’t lose strength by worshipping the Lord, He gains strength! Has that ever happened to you? Yes, that is what I thought! We have all experienced that. We renew our strength when we gather to worship Him. Isaiah 40:31 states, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Indeed! That is exactly what happens when we properly observe the Lord’s Day.

C. Work Can Be Transformed

When worship is offered and weight is lifted, we are ready for a new week. We have new strength. We are energized. In spite of the ad to the contrary, there is no energizer bunny, much less an energizer person. We can't just keep going, and going, and going, and going. Land must rest or it cannot produce a good crop. If you owned one suit and put it on every day, it would not last long. If, on the other hand, you had three suits and changed them daily, your suits would not just last three times longer, they could last up to ten times longer! Why? Because God has made things to work better when they are given time to rest, and you are I are no different. That is why the sun does not shine twenty-four hours a day. The sun goes down to remind us to rest. The Lord's Day is a reminder that our bodies, minds and spirits need rest.

III. The Lord's Day is a Rejoicing Day

Worldly joy is short lived. It lasts a few moments and quickly fades. The drug user finds that he must have more and more drugs to satisfy his needs. The alcoholic learns that he cannot have the high he is seeking with the amount of alcohol that used to satisfy him. Pleasure is fleeting. But the joy of the Lord never runs dry. The Lord’s Day is to keep us in that joy.

A. We Rejoice That He Seeks Us

Just think of the amazing fact that God wants to spend time with US. How mindboggling! One of the most startling passages in the Bible is that one which reveals God seeking Adam, even after Adam had sinned against God. The Lord's Day reminds us that God desires fellowship with us and knows that we need fellowship with Him. He set aside a day as a reminder that He is calling us. “Come,” He says, “unto ME!” We are not called to the day, but we are called to the Lord of the day!

B. We Rejoice That He Saves Us

Sunday reminds us that we serve a Savior who died and rose from the dead. Sunday is a rejoicing day because Jesus saves. He rose on Sunday and we set aside time each Sunday to worship Him. If you are a Christian, you appreciate how important it is to honor the One who died in our place and rose for our justification. We did not save ourselves, nor could we have done so no matter how hard we tried. It is HE who saved us and He did so by His grace and mercy. The Lord’s Day is a celebration of joy.

C. We Rejoice That He Sustains Us

The Lord's Day is to bring us to a standstill and cause us to realize that we are sustained by a loving God. I cannot keep myself saved and secure, but He has promised to do that through the blood of His Son. I cannot lose what He has given. The Lord’s Day is a reminder that He sustains us.


Why would any Christian forsake assembling with God’s people to remember, be renewed and to rejoice? No one who really loves Him and understands the true nature of this day will do so. No one will forsake coming together for Bible study and worship who has an awareness of how absolutely amazing it is to be a Christian.

But, this raising a question that a lot of Christians ask. So what can I do on Sunday? The Bible does not speak in New Testament terms about what we can do or what we cannot do on the Lord's Day, but the entire Word of God reminds us that it is wrong for us to treat this day as we would any other. We must take time for God. We must take some time to rest. We need to remember and reflect on our Creator, Savior and Sustainer. Can you watch a ballgame, go on a picnic, or take you children to a park to play on the Lord’s Day? There is not one word in the New Testament that says you can’t do that; however, if doing these things keeps you from a time of worship with God’s people and from properly reflecting on God’s love and grace, it is certainly damaging to your spiritual life. We should not think of that which we cannot do on the Lord’s Day but ought to reflect on what we are to do. We are to remember Him, be renewed in Him and rejoice it Him on the Lord’s Day, and we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves with other Christians in prayer and worship.

Voltaire lived in the nineteenth century and he was determined to destroy Christianity. He is reported to have said, "I can never hope to destroy Christianity until I destroy the Christian Sabbath." He was correct. Satan and this world have been trying to destroy the Christian Sabbath from the beginning. To get right down to the nitty-gritty of this matter, we need to know that the Lord's Day is simply a preparation for living for the Lord of every day as we should and ought to do. We are to maintain this day for the sake of our Lord's honor and for the effectiveness of living as Christians.

You are here today, in the House of God. It is apparent that you take the Lord's Day seriously. But, do we take the Lord of the day seriously. Only if we remember, renew and rejoice before Him can it be said that we treat the Lord’s Day as we should. Let us turn to Him now. Worship Him. Allow Him to lift the weight of this sinful world off your shoulders.

Some years ago there was a song that contained the following words:

"Make the world go away,

And get it off my shoulders." (Hank Cochran, 1963)

That is something only Jesus can do! On this Lord’s Day, come to the Lord of the Day. If you need salvation, He can and will provide it. If life has become a burden, for whatever reason, He can lift it. If you need direction, He can show you the way. The Lord of the Day is here on the Lord’s Day. Come to Him! He is calling you!