The Fourth Commandment
"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: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the 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."
For years I have asked people, "Just what is wrong with the Ten Commandments?" I knew that the Fourth Commandment was the "great stumbling block" of the law of God in a Sunday-professing world.
Is there any church or organized religion that flagrantly teaches one may BREAK the Ten Commandments and still be saved? Naturally not. The teaching that "the law is done away" is infinitely more subtle.
There are seemingly endless arguments against the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath.
Among them are the concepts that Christ died to free us from the requirements of the law; that the "dispensation of grace" does away with the responsibility to keep God's laws; that being "under grace" means we do not have to obey the law; that Christians observe Sunday in honor of Christ's resurrection; that the Sabbath was purely a "Jewish" and a "ceremonial" requirement imposed upon ancient Israelites and is not of "New Testament origin"; that Sabbath-keeping is part of a "Mosaic yoke of bondage" which Christ came to break; that Sabbath-keeping represents "legalism"; and a host of others.
There exists bountiful proof that the seventh-day Sabbath is, nevertheless, to he observed by Christians, and that the Fourth Commandment is still a part of the original 10 - is just as efficacious, viable, binding and alive as the first, third, fifth, seventh or any other - and that the breaking of the Fourth Commandment carries with it the death penalty.
For each of the tiresome arguments against the seventh-day Sabbath, there are powerful, biblical PROOFS that Christians ought to keep this commandment of God!
Take a look at the original wording of the Fourth Commandment again.
It says "remember the Sabbath day, to KEEP it holy"!
The Ten Commandments did not come into existence at Moses' time. There exists abundant proof from Genesis 1 to Exodus the 19th chapter, prior to the giving of the Decalogue, that the Ten Commandments were in full force and effect long before Moses!
You read of the creation of the Sabbath day in Genesis 2:1-3. God says, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
"And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had made.
"And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it:
because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made."
Almighty God created the seventh day Sabbath by resting. Even though He rested from "all His work," He was still creating -creating a period of rest, whicch He blessed with His very holy and eternal presence, and "sanctified," meaning He set that seventh day apart for a specific holy use and purpose!
Never forget, as you ponder each of the Ten Commandments of God, what sin is! Let the Bible tell you what sin truly is.
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for SIN IS the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4).
Notice, too, '. . . for where no law is, there is no transgression" (Romans 4:15).
In order for there to be such a thing as "sin," there had to be a law in existence which was being broken.
Notice Genesis 13:13, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Eternal exceedingly."
Here, long before the birth of Moses, long before there was any such person on earth as an "Israelite," the Ten Commandments of God were being broken by the evil inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Read Genesis 26:5 which shows the real reason for the great blessings God gave Abraham: "Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My COMMANDMENTS, My statutes, and My laws"!
Believe it or not, the Fourth Commandment is the great TEST commandment of all 10! That is the real reason why it is the one of the 10 over which people tend to stumble; the one they resent, argue against and use every conceivable form of human reason to "get around."
Almighty God tested the people of Israel before the giving of the Decalogue on Mount Sinai by introducing His Sabbath day to the Israelites.
Read Exodus 16!
"Then said the Eternal unto Moses, behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them [test them] whether they will walk in My law or not.
"And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily . . . and it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
"And he said unto them, this is that which the Eternal hath said, tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Eternal: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that which ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning" (Exodus 16:4-23).
Moses pointed out the seventh-day Sabbath before another lengthy journey to a place called "Rephidim," a battle with the Amalakites, and other great events - all prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai!
In instructing the people about the Sabbath, Moses said, ". . . Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the Eternal: today you shall not find it in the field.
"Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.
"And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
"And the Eternal said unto Moses, how long refuse ye to KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS and My laws?
"See, for that the Eternal hath given you the Sabbath, therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide you every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
"So the people rested on the seventh day" (Exodus 16:25-30).
God's laws were known by the ancient patriarchs. Abraham was obedient to God's commandments, as well as certain "statutes," and other laws. One can find that the knowledge of "clean and unclean meats" was known by Noah at the loading of the ark.
The point is that the laws and commandments of God did not come into existence when God wrote the Ten Commandments with His finger on stone!
They are, after all, an expression of the divine character, will and purpose of Almighty God, an expression of His master plan for the creation of righteous, perfect character in the supreme example of His creative handiwork, mankind.
The first four commandments tell us how we are to love the Eternal our God. And, as we shall see, the last six show us how we are to love "our neighbor as ourselves."
It is utterly fallacious to think of the Ten Commandments as nonexistent prior to Moses' delivery of the tables of stone to the Israelites.
The Ten Commandments did not come into existence at the giving of the Decalogue; they were codified in stone, the most permanent writing material existent. But they had been in full force and effect from the moment of creation, when God MADE the holy Sabbath day!
Turn to and read Exodus 31:12-17. You will see that Almighty God intended the Sabbath to be a perpetual covenant, a perpetual SIGN, between the Eternal Creator God and His people forever, and that the seventh day Sabbath was a permanent part of the creation itself, and not a temporary "ritual" enforced upon man for a certain "dispensation" meant to be abrogated at a later date.
Obviously, there are no scholars who argue against the seventh-day Sabbath in the Old Testament. They all know that the patriarchs observed the seventh-day Sabbath; that God enjoined the Sabbath upon the Israelites; that righteous kings and prophets kept the Sabbath; that God promises eternal life to "strangers" (a type of all gentile peoples, or those who are not of Israel) for the keeping of His seventh-day Sabbath - and that Almighty God insists not only His weekly Sabbath but His annual Sabbaths as well are going to be kept in the millennium!
Read Zechariah 14:16-19.
The first great command the returning, conquering Christ will send to the remnants of mankind is that they are required to go to the new world capital, Jerusalem, "from year to year to worship the king, the Eternal of Hosts and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." In Isaiah's vision of the new heavens and new earth, the time of the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, he sees that the seasons, monthly cycles and weekly Sabbaths are in full force and effect!
"And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another (from month to month, as God counts time!) and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the Eternal"! (Isaiah 66:23).
But what about the Sabbath in the New Testament?
A few brief proof texts are important:
"And He said unto them, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:
"Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath"! (Mark 2:27).
Does this say the Sabbath was "made for the JEWS"? Absolutely not! It says the Sabbath was made for man - for all mankind, in all our races, colors, geographical locations and languages!
The Sabbath day was not given to only one race of people, nor given for only a limited period of time! It is a part of creation, a divinely set, God-ordained unit of time, which Almighty God has made holy!
Notice that the Sabbath is something that was made. It was made when man was made-at creation!
It was made FOR man, intended to be a great blessing; a day of complete rest and relaxation from the six days of laboring to earn our livings; a day of restful and peaceful worship of the Eternal God; a day which looks back to God as Creator - and a day which looks forward, as a "shadow of things to come," to the millennial reign of Christ!
Mankind could never have discovered the weekly cycle by himself.
There are no astronomical observations which would point out which day of the week it is! The months are discernible by the cycles of the moon, but nowhere in the heavens is there anything which points out to us the days of the week!
The Sabbath day is the ONLY day of the week dignified by a name in God's Word! All the others were merely numbered. from the first through the sixth. The seventh day Sabbath alone was given a name.
Almighty God began the weekly cycle at creation, and has always revealed to His righteous patriarchs, prophets and the leaders of His New Testament church from the time of Pentecost until today which day is the Sabbath.
God gave the keeping of the "oracles" to the Jews. Never has that race lost track of the weekly cycle.
From the time of creation until today, mankind has easily kept track of the week.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth is never called the Lord of "Sunday," but is called "Lord also of the SABBATH"!
If one were to ask, then, "Which day - in the Bible - is the true 'Lord's day'?" the only answer is "The Sabbath!"
Again, you need to ask yourself the question, "What is so bad about the Fourth Commandment?"
The response from most people would be that the world is geared to "Sunday observance"!
As a result of imperial edicts handed down by a sun worshiper named Constantine, early Christians were commanded not to "Judaize" by retaining their observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, or their keeping of the Passover on the 14th of Nisan!
At the councils of Nicea and Laodicea, in the 300s A.D., the growing universal church laid down laws to its adherents that they were to no longer "Judaize" by observing the seventh-day Sabbath.
Since countless numbers of pagans had brought their observance of the day of the SUN along with them into the "Christian" church (the great visible church which was now apostate!), it was decided to settle the controversy that was raging among the membership in the Eastern Mediterranean and settle upon one day each week for religious observance.
Actually, the early New Testament church never questioned the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath! For nearly two and one-half centuries that observance continued!
True Christians continued to observe the seventh day Sabbath, just as had their Savior, Jesus Christ, and the early apostles. It was not until about 325 and 331 A.D. that imperial edicts began to be imposed upon some who insisted on obeying God by observing the Sabbath day!
Finally, even by force of arms, when necessary, much (but never all) of Sabbath observance was stamped out!
The Roman Catholic hierarchy freely admits that Sunday, as a day of worship for modern Christians, was a day determined by the pope at Rome!
Catholics smile knowingly at feeble Protestant attempts to "prove" their Sunday observance from the Bible!
After all, Catholics do not hold, as most Protestants seem to do, that the Bible alone is their authority.
The Catholics Took upon the pope when he speaks from his throne in the Vatican as equal or even superior to Scripture - for they claim he is innfallible!
Also, Catholics appeal to the tradition of their "fathers" (meaning early Catholic writers, the "pioneers" of the universal church) and give it the same weight as Scripture.
There is no justification for "Sunday observance" in the New Testament of your Bible!
Rather, both the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths are found in the New Testament. The letters of the apostle Paul and the chronological record of Luke in the Acts bear ample testimony to the observance by the early church of the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost (the very birthday of the church itself!), the Day of Atonement, etc.
In Hebrews the fourth chapter, we see an obvious rejoinder upon Christians to "keep the Sabbath"!
Read Hebrews 4 in its entirety!
You will see the entire subject is "rest," and that God "spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all His works" (verse 4).
Here, the Sabbath day "rest" is being pictured as a type of the millennium, as a shadow of that which is to come as well as a remembrance of creation.
Verses 8 and 9 should read as follows: "For if Joshua had given them rest [the permanent, millennial rest], then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. Therefore there remaineth a keeping of the Sabbath to the people of God"!
The word "sabbatismos" for "rest" in verse 9, as a marginal reference will show, should read "a keeping of the Sabbath."
While ancient translators all but succeeded in completely obscuring this vital verse as they rendered the Bible in English from its Latin versions, true scholarship has preserved the meaning of Hebrews 4 and verse 9!
The sense of the two verses is that, since the Kingdom of God, the millennial reign of Christ, is not here yet, there remains a weekly "keeping of the Sabbath" to the people of God!
Remember, the Ten Commandments stand or fall on any one of the 10! James said, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all!
"For he that said, do not commit adultery, said also, do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
"So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:10-12).
The Fourth Commandment has never "passed away." It was never altered or done away by Jesus Christ. It was obeyed and observed by Christ, the early apostles, and generations of true Christians until most of such faithful observance of God's Fourth Commandment was forcibly stamped out in the Eastern Mediterranean regions by the middle of the third century after Christ!
However, there have always been small bodies of Sabbath-keeping believers who retained the true sign of God's true church, and who have understood the basic truths of the Bible, and who represented the scattered, weak "little flock" which is the true body of Christ!
The end-time remnant of the Church of God, terribly persecuted of Satan the devil, almost wiped off the face of the earth, yet preserved and protected of God, is described as ". . . the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17).
In the very last chapter of the Bible, God says, "Blessed are they that do His commandments," and warns, "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life . . ."(Revelation 22:14-19).
No amount of human argument, dishonest scholarship, vague human reasonings or excuses is going to do away with the Fourth Commandment of God! The holy Sabbath of God exists. It is.
Inexorably, every single week, at Friday sunset, a 24-hour period of holy time commences. That period of holy time continues until Saturday at sunset, which begins the first day of the week.
God commands mankind to keep His holy Sabbath day! God says, "Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil" (Isaiah 56:2).
God shows that those who are keeping His Ten Commandments in the spirit, as well as in the letter, are meeting the basic requirements of God's Kingdom! God will induct no person into His kingdom who will not OBEY Him! While obedience does not earn salvation - it is God's loving GIFT - the keepingg of God's law is the opposite of SIN! One must repent of SIN, of having flagrantly broken God's laws, receive God's loving grace, which is forgiveness by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and then quit sinning, which means begin keeping the laws that have been broken!
God says, "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure [your own will; desires, 'business' or pursuits] on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a DELIGHT, the holy of the lord, honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing thine own way, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
"Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Eternal; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Eternal hath spoken it" (Isaiah 58:13, 14).
The Sabbath day of rest from our work: of worshipping God in song, Bible study, hearing inspiring sermons and in fellowship with beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, is a delight, a joyous, happy experience. Not a "yoke" of bondage!
God commands us to keep it.