God begins the commandments telling us to love him with all of our hearts, to worship him only, and to remember to respect his holy name. Now he turns his focus toward his tremendous love for us. In this commandment, he says, in essence, “I created you and I love you and I know you need a day of rest.”
Exodus 20: 8 - 11 (NIV): “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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 manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Sabbath comes from the word cessation which means to cease - to stop. God said he worked for six days, then rested, and he wants us to do the same. He wants us to take a day and set it apart - make it different. Stop our usual work. Rest. Enjoy our families and friends. And we don't make our workers work while we rest either, we allow them to rest as well.
But by the time Jesus came along, men had made so many rules to regulate the Sabbath, it was more of a burden than a blessing. Jesus reminded us that the Sabbath is made for man and not the other way around. Jesus openly broke the rules men had added to this commandment, but he never broke the commandment itself. If our ox is in the ditch on a Sabbath, then we work to get it out, Jesus said. But when we can, we honor one day per week as a day of rest. Jesus showed that it's okay to heal someone or teach or feed ourselves on that day and that we can still set it apart.
The early Christians began to meet for worship on what they called “The Lord's Day” instead of, or in addition to, the Sabbath. The Sabbath was Saturday, but since Jesus rose again on Sunday, they began to worship together on that day and we still do this to this day. By moving our Sabbath to Sunday, we are still setting a day of rest aside, but giving that honor to the day on which Jesus rose again. When we do this, we are showing that Jesus is our rest - that he takes our burdens and offers rest to those who are heavy laden.
Craig Harris is an author and minister. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see more, go to www.instantmessagelive.com