The Lord's Day Refreshment
Read Exodus 31:13
Our world is in a hurry and too busy for the Lord's Day. All around our land on Sundays there are stores open for the shopping of those who are too busy the other six days. Many restaurants open to feed the Sunday crowd, many gas stations open for thirsty tanks and many stores open for whatever sudden buying urge might grab the consumer. And churches have to try to compete on Sunday and even on Sunday night? Over the next 100 years do you think the churches or the stores will win? In your family do you think the world or the Lord will win?
In the coal mines of Pennsylvania years ago, where mules hauled the little coal cars, men that tried to work their mules seven days a week found out it did not pay. If the mules stayed too long in the mines, they began to go blind. One day a week the animals had to be grazed out in the sunlight pasture, so that their eyes would continue to function as normal eyes should. Likewise, if human beings go week after week without the light of the Lord shining in their life and correcting the vision, blindness will naturally result.
Consider the fourth commandment through the words of Exodus 31:13.
You must observe My Sabbaths. This will be a sign between Me and you for the generation to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, Who makes you holy.
Notice The Lord's Commandment and The Lord's Sign.
1. The Lord's Command
The Lord's command is stated in a deliberate way. In today's environment many preachers proclaim commandments 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, but drop the fourth. And some people say Christ fulfilled the fourth commandment, which they take to mean that He abolished it. That cannot be. We may not say that the Lord Jesus came to destroy the law, for He said that He did not come to abolish it (Matthew 5:17). Christians may not swear. They may not kill, they may not commit adultery. And Christians are required by the Lord to honor this fourth commandment as well.
When the Lord led the children of Israel out of Egypt through Moses He also gave them the Sabbath Day. These former slaves in Egypt didn't have a Sabbath day. Slaves don't get sabbaths. But after they had been freed from slavery and gathered around Mt. Sinai the Lord did not want them to forget the redemption that He provided: therefore He gave them the fourth commandment (Deuteronomy 5:16).
Whenever you see a society that is drifting away from the Lord, there you begin to see a neglect of the fourth commandment. Even if a person was raised as a child in a Christian family and taught not to work on the Lord's day, if that person drifts away from the Lord he will more and more ignore the fourth commandment. The Lord's Day will mean less and less to him because the Lord Himself means less and less to him. A society that does not know the Lord will slip back into a slavery. It will feel compelled to slave seven days a week. A store manager who is enslaved to money will have his store open on Sunday. And a factory worker who is enslaved to pleasure, will push the Lord out of the Lord's Day in order that pleasure may enslave him or her seven days a week.
It should not surprise us that stores open on Sunday – it merely tells us the condition of the hearts.
To many, the Lord seems much too serious about the fourth commandment, for verse 14 says,
observe the Sabbath because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death.
Anyone who works on the Sabbath Day is to be put to death? That sounds much too stern to our ears. We read in Numbers 15:32 that a man went out on the Sabbath Day and was caught gathering sticks for a bonfire. For only gathering sticks, he was put into prison, and the Lord's command was, 'put him to death.' Put to death for gathering firewood? How shocking!
As I remember how I fail to live up to the injunctions of the Lord in the fourth commandment, I may only conclude that I have to turn to the cross of Christ. By faith I must take as my only hope of forgiveness the fact that Jesus my Savior came into the world in order to perfect the law in my behalf and in order to undergo my death penalty. For without Christ, there is no redemption. Thank the Lord for His unspeakable gift, Jesus Christ; without Jesus Our Lord, we could not live.
We are warned that the Lord's Day has to be "kept," "guarded," preserved, or it will slowly be taken from us. That day has to be dedicated to the Lord and kept holy, or Satan will little by little, take it from you. He finds all sorts of excuses to "rob" parts of the day from you until nothing is left. Likewise for a society, the Lord's Day must be preserved or Satan will have people back into seven-day-a-week-slavery.
Throughout history there has always been a bitter battle between Satan's people and God's people for possession of that one day in seven. Nehemiah found that on the Sabbath Day the local market opened for business. Salesmen were eager to give their pitch to ladies out on a Sabbath afternoon stroll or to men after synagogue services. (Maybe they even gave discounts — offered fresh fish from the sea, or a quick snack so ladies would not have to cook.) But godly Nehemiah came along and ordered the gates locked. And when the merchants still sat around, he chased them away with the threat of arrest (Nehemiah 13:15-21).
Our God is serious about our keeping His day Holy.
2. His Sign – His Purpose
We need to keep in mind the Lord's purpose for this commandment. The Lord has good reason why He wants this commandment kept.
The text says,
This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come.
When Christians honor the Lord's Day it is a sign to the Lord and to the world that these people belong to the Lord. When 2 young people "go steady," she wears his ring. If he is really interested, he buys her a pearl. If she becomes engaged she wears a diamond. That is a sign to the world that her heart has been attached to this young man. The Lord desires that if your heart is full of love toward Him, you will use His day as a sign between Himself and you. If He means something to us, we will keep it. If He doesn't mean anything to us, we will not keep it. If two young people "break up," she takes off his ring. And if the Lord no longer means much to people, they will naturally get away from the sign of His day.
The purpose of the Lord's Day is that it is to be a sign between the Lord and you, "for generations to come." On this score, our children will have a much much tougher time with this fourth commandment than their parents ever did. Parents, are you aware of that? Our grandparents had it relatively easy. When they were young, most of them did not see commercial streets miles long with stores open all the way. They did not know a shopping mall could compete for Sunday's attendance with the church. If present trends continue, each Christian child who wishes to honor and respect the Lord's Day will have to make deliberate bold choices; some so obvious that the world will be forced to see that this day is a sign between Christians and their God.
The society we are entering will fight us every inch of the way to seek to take Sunday from us.
Why should you keep this Lord's Day holy? Exodus 31:13 says that our Lord wants this day kept dedicated to Him so that we may know Him. If instead, people do not keep the Lord's Day holy – they are busy washing cars, mowing lawns, making double time, flying around town, chasing everywhere else – if they do not reserve the Sunday to be invested in their relationship with their God, then after a while they will not "know" Him any longer. In a marriage when mates do not talk to each other, after a while they don't know each other either. So too the Sunday is the safe-guard to our relationship with the Lord.
Verse 17 reads;
On the seventh day the Lord abstained from work and rested.
He refreshed His soul. That is what He intends for us with this seventh day, that we keep it holy. And while we rest, we refresh our souls. We pause to breathe fresh air, to take in spiritual nourishment and we are invigorated for the week ahead. In a busy world like ours, this is more necessary than ever