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The 10 Commandments #4 - Seek Rest with God

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Text: Exodus 20:8-11

Thesis: To note the importance of resting with God.


(1) “Two words summarize the lives of most Americans – hurry and worry” (R. Atchley, Sinai Summit 82).

(2) “I’m in a hurry (and don’t know why)” – Alabama

(3) The 4th command seems to be the one that is out of place in the list.

(4) Let us note the importance of seeking rest with God.


I.                   What was the purpose of the command then?

A.   The Sabbath rest was a safeguard.

1.     It was a gift from God.

a.     “And on the seventh day God finished His work that he had done, and rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Gen. 2:2-3; cf. Exod. 20:11).

b.     “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15).

c.      “And he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’” (Mark 2:26).

d.     Note: “May be refreshed” (Exod. 23:12).

2.     Since God made man and knows man’s tendency to be workaholics, then He commanded Israel to take a day to rest.

a.     Also, in order to stress the necessity of it, God attached the penalty of death to those who disobeyed.

(1) “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death” (Exod. 31:15; cf. Exod. 35:2).

(2) “While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.’ And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses” (Num. 15:32-36).

b.     Unfortunately, we too often live like children fighting sleep (cf. Psa. 23:2Makes me lie down).

c.      Need rest – E.g., shoes, bowling pins, farming

d.     There’s always another job to be finished and another dollar to be made, but at what expense to yourself?

e.      Illustration – “When billionaire Bill Gates was asked why he didn’t believe in God, he said, ‘Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.’”

f.       Unfortunately, people continue to think that they know better than God and work themselves to death. 

(1) For example, most stores and restaurants used to be closed on Sundays. 

(2) Eventually, some began opening from 1-5 P.M. 

(3) However, many now are open to regular business hours.

(4) Therefore, we must commend Chic-Fil-A’s owner, Truett Cathy, who still closes on Sundays in order to give a day off for the employees.

3.     We must learn that there is more to life than work.

(1) Illustration – Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the cradle?”

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

(2) “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” (Matt. 16:26).

B.   The Sabbath rest was a reminder.

1.     Notice: “My Sabbaths” (Exod. 31:13; Lev. 19:3, 20; Lev. 26:2; Isa. 56:4; Ezek. 20:12, 13, 16, 20, 21, 24; 22:8, 26; 23:38; 44:24).

2.     In Luke 4:16, we note that Jesus’ going into the temple on the Sabbath “was his custom.”

3.     “The day then was looked on as a cessation from labor, a pause, a rest, but this with a view to its being dedicated to God, an opportunity for getting to know God and for worshipping him” (W. Scott, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology).

4.     Illustration – “Why go to church?”

A Church attendee wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.  “I’ve gone for 30 years now,” he wrote, “and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So I think I’m wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.” That started a controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column, much to the delight of the editor.  It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher: “I’ve been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals.  But I do know this:  They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today.  Likewise, if I had not gone to church for spiritual nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!”

C.   The Sabbath rest was a sign.

1.     “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you’” (Exod. 31:13; cf. Neh. 9:13-15; Ezek. 20:12, 20).

2.     Trusting in God to provide – Cf. Exod. 16:22-26 – Not gathering manna on the Sabbath … would not go bad

3.     Do you trust in God or yourself? 

4.     “People of character resist the temptation to compromise their values in order to secure their future” (92).

5.     Do you remember Chariots of Fire?  In this movie, Eric Liddell chose not to run in the 1922 Olympic Games in Paris because the race was held on Sunday, which he dedicated fully to God.

II.                What is the purpose of the command now?

A.   Since we are living under the New Covenant, then we do not observe the Sabbath day as specified in the Old Covenant.

1.     We cannot bind the rules and regulations of Sabbath for today.

2.     Also, the Lord’s Day is now the first day of the week.

B.   However, we may still learn some great principles from this OT command.

1.     “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psa. 90:12).

2.     “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16; cf. Col. 4:5).

3.     “And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves” (Mark 6:31-32).

4.     “Be still and know that I am God” (Psa. 46:10a.).


(1)  We should learn to seek rest with God.

(2)  The true rest will only be found in Heaven one day (cf. Heb. 4:9).

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