Christianity 201

November 19, 2010

96 Words

We spent much of Thursday driving, and at one point, we were able to pick up a Christian radio station that interrupted its music format for frequent two-minute teaching moments with various authors and preachers.   They all tended to blur together, so forgive me for not remembering which voice was which.

One of these brief moments focused on the Ten Commandments; particularly the fourth one, which talks about resting on the sabbath day.    He noted that other, better remembered commandments are dealt with in four or five words — we’re not sure what translation he used — while that sabbath commandment used 96 words.

From Exodus 20, he contrasted:

14 “You shall not commit adultery.


13 “You shall not murder.


8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 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.

Yes, that is a lot of words.   It provides the historic background in which is contained the theological underpinnings of sabbath rest.   It covers all the bases, closing loopholes for getting for getting the kids, the employees, any non-Jews, or even your animals to do whatever job you feel needs doing.   The commandment isn’t just for you, but for anyone who falls under your authority.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a message on rest.   One of our local pastors, having just finished Mark Buchanan’s book, The Rest of God, noted that we tend to rest from our work, whereas the Bible seems to promote working from our rest.   In other words resting, in order to work.

But 96 words?   I think God didn’t want us to think this one was less important than adultery or murder.   I think he really means business about this one.   Or, more correctly, shutting down business.

For more on this, visit Rick Apperson’s columns here and here.


  1. I would like to express a thought from the perspective of a Sabbath-keeper (which I am). The Commandment that talks about ‘Remembering the Sabbath day’ is often understood to apply to any one day in seven, and for the sake of uniformity, that day became Sunday. Because, as it is said, Jesus rose from the dead the first day of the week, Sunday. Sounds good, except for the fact that Jesus never asked us ‘to do this [i.e. keep Sunday] in remembrance of Him’. The whole Sunday-keeping tradition is built on inference.

    There is no disagreement among the Christian denominations as to which day of the week is the seventh day: it is Saturday. That is the only day God calls us to “remember”. Tradition is one thing, but specific obedience to God is another.

    Comment by Stewart — January 18, 2011 @ 11:18 am | Reply

    • I have had occasion to encounter one or two people who feel as you do on this issue. I just hope it would not be a dividing wall that would prevent you from having contact and genuine fellowship with other Christians. I find Romans 14 very helpful on this…

      1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

      5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 18, 2011 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

      • I think the first ‘clue’ that Romans 14 is not talking about the Sabbath, is the apostle John’s singling out a definite day and designating it “the Lord’s day”. (Rev 1:10)

        Insofar as the name of the Lord is a name above every other name, it seems evident that John regarded that day as more sacred than the other days of the week.

        “The Lord’s day”: the only day in Scripture that Jesus claimed specifically as His, is the Sabbath. He claimed Lordship [effectively ownership] over that day. He claimed it as His own, and John acknowledges the fact.

        Comment by Stewart — January 19, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

  2. Stewart,

    You’ve completely missed the point of my response. Romans 14 is not about Sabbath. It’s about people who make an issue out of things.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 19, 2011 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

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