Does The Fourth Commandment Matter?

Do we need the fourth commandment today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about the Ten Commandments and said that I don’t think the fourth one applies to all of us seeing as I don’t think it can be known from general revelation. However, does that mean it is absolutely useless? Not at all. Does it have any place for us today? Indeed, it does.

For one thing, the commandment reminds us that one day of the week is to be separate from all the others. Pastors and those who do a large portion of their job on that day can be excused and use another day. We can also say that if all medical personnel and others were to stop one day a week, we would all be in trouble. (I definitely know that not everyone in our nation is Christian, but this is hypothetical)

Also, Jesus makes it clear that at least some work is done on the Sabbath in the New Testament. Animals are led to where it is that they can get a drink of water and their basic needs are taken care of. Naturally, if there is an emergency on the Sabbath day, you are allowed to work then to stop that crisis. Whatever role we give to the Sabbath, as Jesus says, man was not made for the Sabbath. Sabbath was made for man.

In that sense, we could say the Sabbath was not meant to be a duty really. It was meant to be a gift. Consider what God was saying to Israel. “Work hard those six days a week, but on the seventh, make sure you don’t work. I’ll make sure you’re taken care of then.”

That would be a major reprieve, but at the same time, it would be a major test of trust for the people. For us today, that would not be an issue really. We can have food stored in our refrigerators and pantries and clothes stored in our closets and money stored in the banks. The average person back in that day did not have that.

Sometimes we think it is hard to trust God when times are bad. Could it perhaps be the opposite? We don’t know how to trust God today because too often times are good and the mildest thing that throws us out of our comfort zone would be seen as laughable to the people back then?

For me, when Sunday comes, one thing I do is take a break from online debates. The rest of the world can handle it that day if they want to. If someone emails me a question, I don’t answer it until the next day. Of course, there would be valid exceptions. If someone asked me something in person at church, I would likely help, and if Mormons came to my church, as has happened at a church I used to attend, I would likely say something then, but those are the exceptions.

The day is to be holy meaning it is set apart. It is different from the other days of the week. It is also the way God did things. If God doesn’t work on one day, it’s quite arrogant of us to think we have to work all seven days.

The commandment is not meant to be a burden. It’s to be a joy. It’s a shame that when we get to the time of Jesus, it looks like it had been turned into a burden.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Why A Day Of Rest?

Why do we have a day of rest? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On the seventh day, God rested from all that He had done.


It’s not because He was tired. The creation week did not wear out God a bit. God did not have to use up a usable supply of energy in order to create. The main reason we can rest is because we are tired, but not so for God.

John Walton in his work The Lost World of Genesis One suggests that this is the way it was shown that a deity was dwelling in a temple. In this case, the cosmos is the temple. Our world is where God is meant to dwell with man, and there’s no reason to think that that has changed.

We could say in a sense God was making this place more than just a temple, but a home. I remember being in Elementary School and my parents had saved up enough that we could get our own house, and we were having someone build it. I came home every day and bit by bit, I saw the progress that was being done on that house. However, the house could have been completed and for some reason, we never moved in. It would have been a house. It would not have been our home.

Rest is a way of appreciation. Home is supposed to be where you go where you can be yourself. You don’t have the pressures of the world all around you. Home is a sort of retreat.

The day of seven is meant for us to have a day where the world doesn’t depend on us. We do this every night when we go to sleep and we trust God that He will keep the world turning while we sleep. It is truly one of the most vulnerable times we can ever have.

Today, it doesn’t matter as much to us really to take a day of rest. We have our bank accounts and our credit cards and many of us have enough saved up in the bank that we can rest. We have it that if we get sick, then we are sick and we call in that day. We hate the pay cut, though some appreciate a bit of a reprieve from their work. I realize not all are like that, but here in the West, many of us have it good.

We forget the ancient world.

You want to eat? You can’t go to the supermarket. You have to work to grow your food and process it and follow all the steps on cooking. Want some meat? Then you’d better be ready to sacrifice one of your own animals or else be a good hunter. Want some water? You can’t just turn on a tap. You have to go and get that water yourself. What about clothing? You’re going to have to make your own clothes.

Keep in mind, this is while dealing with any day-to-day problems and not having air conditioning in the summer or heating in the winter. Your houses would not be that big and all the families might have to share one room. Despite that, you would need to have a lot of children because first off, a large number will die in childhood, but after that, that’s pretty much the closest you have to social security.

This was rough.

Now imagine going to that world where the majority of people live on money they earn from day-to-day. Now you tell these people, “I want you to take one day a week and rest.” In a way, that could be financial suicide for these people. “What? Take a break? We’re working furiously just to try to get by?”

Yep. Take a break.

Oh, but it gets worse.

Your land also has to take a break.

Every seventh year, you weren’t supposed to toil the land. Nope. Just leave it be. Expect the land to produce the food for you independently. Trusting one day a week is monumental. Trusting one year out of seven is unthinkable.

Yet Israel was told to do it.

We can afford to relax at time in our day and age. Israel had to be forced to. Israel had to be forced to not do business with their neighbors on that day. Israel would show the world they could trust in God and still make it.

The Sabbath gave them a chance to recuperate from their work and also to show their trust in God. Their sovereign was providing for them regardless. This would be a very public demonstration to the world of the loyalty of YHWH to His people when they honored the covenant.

I will contend as we go through that we still need to rest. It’s one reason I don’t do debates on Sunday. I just relax and enjoy myself entirely, which is hard since I do enjoy a good debate. If you are an SDA minister, technically, you will need to do another day for your one out of seven since you definitely can’t rest on Saturday since that’s when you do your work of preaching.

We are not commanded to take one particular day as the Sabbath, but it is a good principle to have a Sabbath. It is a good principle to take a break. It reminds us we are not in charge of the story. He is. None of us can work ourselves too hard and even those of us in ministry can get burnout.

Take a Sabbath. God set the example. Take some time away and make your house a home.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)