First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ October 16, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“A Sabbath: Rest for the People of God!”
Exodus 20:8-11; Hebrews 4:1-5
Over the past few Sundays, we’ve been looking at and reflecting on the Ten Commandments. This morning we get the chance to reflect on the Fourth Commandment. What could a moral law that was given over three thousand years ago teach us today? I think you will agree with me when I say that the Ten Commandments are loaded with so many valuable and timeless lessons that we all need today. This truth is stemmed from that fact that the One who gave the law to His people on Mount Sinai is the Maker and the Creator of humanity. God knows us inside out. He knows what we need, and He is aware of our challenges. He has also given us the tools to overcome the world.
In the 1st commandment, God tells us who to worship. The 2nd commandment tells us how to worship God. The 3rd commandment tells us we are to worship God sincerely. The 4th commandment tells us that we are to worship God regularly and to intentionally set a time to commune with our creator. “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work” Exodus 20:8-10.
Before we dive into the meaning and some applications of the Fourth Commandment, I want you to know that the Ten Commandments are not rules handed out by a control freak who loves to boss people around. These commands are direction given by a loving Father, pointing us to greater and deeper joy and fulfilment. These commands guide us to joy by revealing the character and nature of God as well as showing us how we can express the love that we have for the One who first loved us. The commands are directions to joy from a loving Father. The more we know of God’s goodness and perfection the more joyous it is to live as one of His children and under His sovereign rule.
“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.” We live in a world in which there is no rest and life seems nonstop, so it is especially important for Christians to reclaim this principle of the Sabbath. In fact, this was a way God’s people stood out from the world around them. So, what is the rationale behind the Fourth Commandment? How does the Fourth Commandment speak to us today?
First: The Sabbath is a Day of Rest and Delight in the Lord
God’s intention of the Sabbath was to be a day of rest and delight in Him. The Sabbath, the day of rest, as God intends it, is far more than chilling on the couch doing nothing. I am sure we are entailed to some of that in our day of rest, but it goes beyond that. It meant to be a day of worship and reflection – it’s a sabbath to the Lord. During this day, Israel was to remember and delight in God’s creative and redemptive work on their behalf so do we. It was meant to be a day to renew our faith and trust in the Lord.
The Sabbath was a day of rest designed to help Israel learn to pattern their lives after the God who had given them life. Listen to these words in Exodus 20:11 “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The principle that we are being taught here from this commandment and explanation is that we are to pattern our lives after God; to value what God values and to keep holy what He keeps holy.
Second: The Sabbath is a Day of Rest Pointing to a Greater Rest
The New Testament highlights another reason for keeping the Sabbath holy. The Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest that pointed to a greater future rest. There is an eschatological dimension to the Sabbath here. Hebrews chapter 4 speaks so clearly about this. While we can enjoy today the gospel rest, we look forward to our future rest.
The Sabbath rest is a day in which we look forward to and when we can enjoy all that God has done in Christ for us. Right now, we are enjoying partly what Christ has done for us, not fully. We have to drop off these bodies to be in the presence of God and experience the fullness of it. What we enjoy today is just a shadow of what’s to come. Colossians 2:17 says, “Things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Listen to these words from Hebrews 4:8-11, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
Friends, let’s remember the Sabbath day and let’s keep it holy. Brothers and sisters, in six days we shall do all our work. Do it faithfully and as unto the Lord. But the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a day for rest and for worship. It is not a day for ordinary work or for worldly recreation. With the exception of acts of necessity and mercy, it is to be a day filled with a special kind of activity. It is a day for remembering our redemption in Christ Jesus. It is a day for fellowship amongst believers. Friends, the Sabbath was not made for God but for us! It’s for our sake. It is a gift to us, for in it we have the opportunity to draw near to God, our Creator and Redeemer, and to center and re-center our lives upon Him. I pray that it is a day that you long for and rejoice when it is here. I pray that we would learn to keep it more and more, to God’s glory, and for our good, as we wait for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and our eternal inheritance in Him. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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