Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 26- The Sabbath- the Fourth Commandment

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

3.26- Fourth Commandment
12 "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 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. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

Calvin: This commandment has special interpretation, so let us ponder three conditions in which, it seems to me, the keeping of this commandment consists. First, under the repose of the seventh day the heavenly Lawgiver meant to represent to the people of Israel spiritual rest, in which believers ought to lay aside their own works to allow God to work in them. Secondly, he meant that there was to be a stated day for them to assemble to hear the law and perform the rites, or at least to devote it particularly to meditation upon his works, and thus through this remembrance to be trained in piety. Thirdly, he resolved to give a day of rest to servants and those who are under the authority of others, in order that they should have some respite from toil. The Lord enjoined obedience to almost no other commandment as severely as to this (II.8.28,29)

Calvin believed that the Sabbath Day ordinance was changed with Christ. The rigor was changed, but the three concepts for Calvin were rest, relaxation, and worship. The other change was that the day was changed from Saturday to Sunday. For Calvin a day of rest is necessary lest we become slaves to those in power over us, or slaves to work itself. Calvin was a hard worker. He was not the strict sabbatarian that some of his followers were. Calvin sailed his boat on Sunday. He allowed for relaxation and fun on the Lord’s Day. In our day- in America- we have completely forgotten the concept of rest and Sabbath. In fact, people would get angry, very angry when I would talk about a need to rest-not work or shop on Sunday. In the Old Testament, when the people didn’t keep the Sabbath- there were consequences. It is said that the exile of 70 years was on response to not keeping the Sabbath (2 Chr. 36:19). I wonder, just wonder, if our greed for shopping, and ignoring of the Sabbath have anything to do with our breaking the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a gift to us from God- setting us free from the slavery of work. Rest is not a curse, it is a gift. Worship is also a gift.

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for a day of rest, your day. Help us to appreciate it, and grow in our enjoyment of it.

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