The Fourth Commandment: Symbol of Life and Freedom

By Joe Boot/ February 2, 2014

Series  Ten Commandments

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Law & Gospel

Scripture  Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-14

God restricts our work time to bless us and to free us. Endless work is slavery and leads to death, because God's covenant law is built into the very fabric of creation. As a consequence of abandoning Sabbath rest, people become restless, stressed, overworked, unhealthy, and poor.

Scripture:  Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-14

Sermon Notes:

  1. The Jewish Sabbath dates from their deliverance from Egypt, and we now celebrate Christ’s resurrection rest.
  2. The Sabbath is primarily about salvation and deliverance and it has abiding relevance for the whole created order.
  3. God is sovereign over the time He gives us.
  4. God restricts our work time to bless us and to free us.
  5. Endless work is slavery and leads to death, because God’s covenant law is built into the very fabric of creation.
  6. The Sabbath rest celebrates salvation victory and brings blessings of life, health, and freedom.
  7. The Ten Commandments are reflected in the consciences of all people by virtue of creation. 
  8. Sabbath principle applies to everybody and it reflects God’s Creation pattern of rest (cf. Exodus 20:8-11).
  9. The Sabbath rest will be rejected by families and cultures which reject God’s covenant, and slavery will result.
  10. Every state has an established religion excluding others.  In the West, we see the demise of a Christian law-order, which is replaced by principles of a humanistic religion.
  11. As a consequence of abandoning Sabbath rest, people are restless, stressed, overworked, unhealthy, and poor.
  12. Time is basic and it is unchangeable.  Our time is priceless in some respects.  We need to think about how we use our time given to us by God.
  13. For there to be joy and meaning in our lives, we need to be mindful of God’s purpose for both work and rest.
  14. Work itself is good and normative, but pain and a sense of futility were added by the curse on work at the Fall.
  15. If we are capable of working, we should be actively seeking to work; both work and rest are a blessing.
  16. We rest one day in seven, joyfully celebrating deliverance in Christ.
  17. We recognize with gladness that we are creatures.  All things are in God’s hands; the future depends not on us.
  18. We can love and serve God but we cannot play God.  We thus have the duty to rest as well as to work. 
  19. Sabbath violation brings restlessness and trouble; the wicked cannot rest (Isaiah 57; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
  20. Sabbath rest eliminates poverty, debts, slavery, etc.
  21. We celebrate the Sabbath primarily by resting, and our rest focuses on salvation, freedom, and wholeness of life. 
  22. Business, trade, and usual work did not take place on the OT Sabbath; the Pharisees made hundreds of rules to fence Sabbath rest, so it became a yoke of oppression. 
  23. God’s law brings life and freedom. But antinomians get rid of God’s law, substituting their own oppressive traditions.
  24. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12; Mark 2) and we celebrate our freedom in Christ by ceasing from our regular labours as much as is possible one day in seven.
  25. Neglecting the Sabbath is to violate God’s covenant created order and will lead to our loss of serenity, prosperity, and health.

Application Questions

  1. What are the Sabbath principle’s implications for all of life?
  2. How does taking rest show recognition of God’s sovereignty?
  3. What is wrong with being habitually busy for the Lord “24×7”?
  4. What was wrong with the Pharisees’ Sabbath rules?
  5. How can we protect our day of rest and commemoration?
  6. How are we to view work and labour in light of the Sabbath principle?

Sermon Notes