Q57: Which is the fourth commandment?
A: The fourth commandment is, Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.
Q58: What is required in the fourth commandment?
A: The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven to be a holy Sabbath to himself (Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12).
Q59: Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?
A: From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath (Gen. 2:3); and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath (Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10).
Q60: How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A: The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3); and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship (Ps. 92:1-2), except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11, 12).
Q61: What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A: The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required (Mal. 1:13), and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful (Ezek. 23:38), or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations (Isa. 58:13).
Q62: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments (Ex. 31:15, 16), his challenging a special propriety in the seventh (Lev. 23:3), his own example (Ex. 31:17), and his blessing the Sabbath-day (Gen. 2:3).
I. Opening comments. This commandment respects the time of worship.
A. “Sabbath” in Hebrew means to cease, or rest.
1. Only this commandment is stated both positively and negatively, and in three parts: what (Ex. 20:8), how (vv. 9-10), why (v. 11).
2. Sabbath has both a back to creation (Ex. 20:11) and a forward to redemption (Deut. 5:12-15; cf. Heb. 4:1-11) focus, the heavenly rest which was secured with the resurrection.
3. As circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, so the Sabbath is the sign of the Sinaitic covenant (Ex. 31:13), reminding the people of their place with God’s purposes of creation and redemption, ultimately pointing to Christ (Matt. 11:28; Col. 2:16-17).
II. Required in this commandment is the sanctifying of the Sabbath.
A. Whether it is the seventh day in order from the creation, as under the OT, or the first, as under the NT, Sabbath-keeping is a moral duty binding upon all.
1. Creation ordinance (Gen. 2:2-3).
2. Written on stone (Ex. 31:18).
3. Never repealed (Matt. 5:17-18).
B. To “remember” the Sabbath has a two-fold meaning: reminder to Israel of the previous institution (Ex. 16:23a); reminder of total engagement to the things of God.
C. One whole day of seven is to be kept holy as “the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”
III. The Sabbath day: God designed one in seven, and has the prerogative to change the specific day.
A. The seventh day was the Sabbath from creation, as on that day God rested, blessing and hallowing the day (Gen. 2:2-3).
1. This day was observed before Sinai (Ex. 16:1, 5, 23).
2. The Jewish Sabbath has been repealed (Col. 2:16).
B. The first day became the Sabbath at the resurrection of Christ by divine appointment.
1. The “Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10).
2. Christ is the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:28).
3. The disciples observed the first day (Jn. 20:19).
4. The early church worshiped on the first day (Acts 20:1)
5. A collection was taken on the first day (1 Cor. 16:2).
a. Ignatius, in the end of first century wrote that Christians “no longer observe the Sabbath, but direct their lives towards the Lord’s Day.”
IV. The manner in which the Sabbath is to be sanctified: rest and exercises of worship.
A. Rest, in accordance with the divine example, from our worldly employments (e.g., Neh. 13:15-22; Jer. 17:19-27; Ezek. 20:12-13); from our own pleasures (Isa. 58:13).
B. Rest does not mean inactivity, as God still upheld the world (Heb. 1:3); “six days…” commands work as well (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10); work is a gift (Gen. 2:15), though cursed by sin (3:17).
1. Two types of works that are clearly excepted: necessity and mercy.
a. Necessity: man’s nourishment (Matt. 12:1, 3-4); safety (Matt. 24:20).
b. Mercy: doing good (Matt. 12:11-12).
C. Exercises of worship: corporate and private.
1. Corporate: worship (Heb. 10:25); hearing sermons (Lk. 4:16); prayer (Acts 16:13-14), etc.
2. Private: devotions, meditation on creation and redemption, self-examination.
D. Preparation: physical (Ex. 16:4-5); spiritual, ready soul to taste heaven.
E. Puritan vs. Continental view.
1. Puritan: whole day, no re-creation (citing Isa. 58:13).
a. Isaiah was a covenant prosecutor, calling the people back to the original terms, not adding new ones.
b. “Pleasure” (v. 13) misunderstood by Puritans (?), as it pertained to commercial business, the doing of their (Israel) own will, what pleased them; and had nothing to do with recreation.
2. Continental: recreation allowed.
F. Calvin and Jonathan Edwards both asserted that the Sabbath is simply one day in a seven rotation.
V. Forbidden in this commandment and reasons attached
A. Forbidden are chiefly five things
1. Omission of duties required on this day, whether in whole or part.
2. Careless performance of the duties: formally (Matt. 15:7-9), wearily (Mal. 1:13).
3. Idleness: sloth-sleeping, vain and idle conversations or thoughts.
4. Doing that which in itself is sinful; which is highly aggravated by being committed on the Sabbath.
5. Unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about worldly employments or recreations (Isa. 58:13)
B. Reasons attached.
1. God has graciously given us six days.
2. All days are His, though this one in a special way.
3. God’s example, which we are to follow (Eph. 5:1).
4. His blessing the Sabbath day means that in our sanctifying of it we may look for a blessing (Isa. 56:6-7).
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. Sunday is the Christian Sabbath, which has a creative and redemptive focus. This is God’s deal-day, the market day for our souls.
2. The commandment is for our good, our blessing.
B. Use, of testing.
1. Do we: strive to get our hearts into a frame suitable to the exercises of this holy day; attend service; spend the morning in private exercises; examine ourselves and what profit we have enjoyed?
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. The high goal of this commandment and the inability to keep must press you to Jesus or you will perish.
2. Saints. Story told by Dr. Robert Rayburn: “A man was approached by a beggar on the street. The man reached into his pocket and gave six of the seven bills to the beggar, ‘here you go’. The beggar took the six dollars, but also struck the benefactor across the face and took the seventh too. What do you think of the beggar?” Then what do you think of the sinner saved by the grace of God who insists on taking seven days a week for himself?