The 4th Commandment is not just for Christians. It is what we call a Creation Ordinance, just like the positive call to marriage between one man and one woman. That means that the Sabbath was a part of God’s good work before the entrance of sin into the world. Honoring the day of rest was always central to helping those made in the image of God give thanks for the LORD’s act in making us.
This week we only have one question to look at and with good reason, because it is long. I know I said about a dozen times in the past several weeks that the Third Commandment is the most misunderstood of the Ten. If that is the case, and it is, then the Fourth is probably the most (to be charitable) explained away of all the statutes of God which summarize the moral law. It’s not so much that folks just ignore it whole hog. All Bible-believing Christians worship the Lord on the first day of the week. However, the reasons behind why the 4th Commandment is a forgotten treasure in the kingdom, and why, on a positive note, we set the Sabbath apart from the other days of the week are less well-understood for myriads of reasons, some we will get into this morning. The next four weeks will be taken up with explaining in more detail what practically all of Christendom until about sixty years ago agreed upon when it comes to how the Lord’s Day (not the Lord’s hour) should be sanctified.
This morning I want to take some time and give some background and surface-level reasoning on what Jehovah intends with this commandment. Another thing I hope to help us to see, not just today, but through the next several weeks, is why the sacrifices (which aren’t really a sacrifice once you think about it) those who claim Jesus as their Savior and Lord make to keep this law are worth it in the short run and the long term.
But before that let’s look at the next question of the catechism:
Q. 57. Which is the Fourth Commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day and hallowed it.
All the first table commandments of the Law have in one way or another to do with worship, and this statute is no different. In fact, the second and the fourth are usually ground zero for all the wars that take place around what we are allowed to do and not allowed to do in our gatherings on Sunday morning and evening. To be sure that is what the 4th Commandment is about, however, when we restrict it to just that we miss the holistic nature of what God intends with it.