January 10, 2013 by Chris French
The 10 Commandments are found in two different passages in the Old Testament. Of course, both passages mention taking a Sabbath once a week. Let’s look at both these passages. The first is in Exodus 20:
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
The second is in Deuteronomy 5:
12 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave[c] in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
I’m sure you noticed a difference between the two passages. This isn’t uncommon. The Holy Spirit just gave us a little extra information in Deuteronomy that He left out in Exodus. The interesting thing is that you find duel purposes for observing the Sabbath. Exodus 20 says that the Jews ought to observe the Sabbath because God is the Creator while Deuteronomy 5 says that they should observe the Sabbath because God brought them out of the land of Egypt. He redeemed them from slavery.
Both of these reasons to observe the Sabbath are still true for us. He is still Creator and Redeemer! While observing the Sabbath isn’t bound on Christians like it was the Jews as you observe Sabbath this month these dueling thoughts should be what you focus on as you attempt to be still.
There are all kinds of ways you can remember that He is Creator. Take that walk. I recommend Lake Lurleen State Park. We walked about 4 miles in the woods a couple of days ago on my first Sabbath attempt. Focus on the beauty of creation around you. Another great idea is to visit a Planetarium. There’s two in Birmingham, the Robert R. Meyer Planetarium on Birmingham Southern College is closed for renovations right now, but you can still visit the planetarium on Samford University’s campus. It looks like the contact person there is George Atchley. His number is 726-4139. The cool part? It’s free!
You could also spend a Sabbath day remembering how God is your Redeemer. To truly appreciate and adore God as your Redeemer you need to remember what it was like to be in slavery, to have your freedom taken away, to be completely helpless. Take a tour of a prison. Find a way to serve the prisoners. Maybe that means you bake cookies to pass out there. Research modern-day slavery. It still happens today. Feel their pain. Step into their lives for a day and find a way to lessen their burden. You could pick out several songs that focus on God’s redemption of us and sing them to Him. Whatever you do I would recommend reading Psalm 136 at least twice during one of your Sabbath days. While you’re at it go back and read 2 Chronicles 5.2-14. It’s the only recorded time in Scripture when Psalm 136 was actually sung. How did God respond to the worshipper’s praise?
Remember it doesn’t matter what day you do these things. The important thing is that you do them right. Take your time. Don’t rush. Use that day or half day to remember God as Creator and/or Redeemer. Don’t cheat yourself with these activities. It will be uncomfortable doing these things and your mind will likely try to wander. Don’t allow that. Focus.
You’ll also likely be tempted to start something else on these days. Don’t let your mind fool you. Facebook, e-mail, hobbies, work etc. can wait for one day. You’ve got six days to do everything else you need to do. Take this Sabbath day and don’t try to produce anything. Just focus on remembering God as Creator/Redeemer.