“To be guilty of desecrating the Holy Sabbath is therefore no light matter, my reader. The violation of the Fourth Commandment is a sin of the gravest and blackest kind; yet, sad to say, the profanation of the Lord’s Day has become one of the most common crimes of our perverse generation.”1
The Sabbath is a day in which we should enjoy and rest from all our earthly employments and recreations. As the Westminster Larger Catechism rightly states: “The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose, and seasonably to despatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.”
This day should be a delight to our hearts. Yet, today we see many who not only have a disdain for the Lord’s Day, but openly rebel against the Lord by finding an excuse to obey Him. We should always look forward to this day, and remember to remember this day, and keep it holy.
The Sabbath Command: Remember
When asked, where do you find the Sabbath command? You find the command in many places, but the first passage we will attend to is in Exodus twenty. “8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 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 thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 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” (Ex. 20).
There are many parts to this command that must be given attention. We are told to do many things from remembering, to keeping, labor, and work. We are also told to cease from our work. Yet, there is an order that takes place in this command. The first thing we are commanded to do is to remember the Sabbath. “The first is, what it is to remember or (as it is infinitively set down) remembering to remember. This is prefixed and would look rather like the inferring of something commanded already, than the new instituting of a command, and so indeed it seems to suppose a day formerly instituted and set apart for God (as was hinted before) which by this command his people are put to mind. It does beside impart these four with a respect as it were to four times.
(1) A constant and continued duty at all times, and in all days, that is, that we would remember that God has set apart a seventh day for himself, and therefore every day we would remember to cast our affairs so, as they may not be impediments to us in the sanctifying of that day, and we would endeavor always to keep our hearts in such a frame as we may not be discomposed, when that day shall come. And this affirmative part of this command binds semper or always, and its negative ad semper, on other days as well as on the Sabbath.
(2) It imports a timely preparing for the Sabbath, when it is a coming, or when it draws near. This remembering calls for something to be done in reference to it. Before it comes, a man by this is obliged to endeavor to have a frame of heart, that he may be ready to meet the Sabbath, and enter kindly to the duties of it when it shall come. Otherwise, if it comes on him while he is in his common or coarse frame, and not fitted for it, it will say he has not been remembering it before it came.
(3) Remembering imports an intenseness and seriousness in going about the duties of the day, when it comes, and that it should be with all carefulness sanctified, and that men should be mindful of the duties called for, lest their hearts divert from them, or slacken, bensil and grow formal in them, whereby men’s inclination to forget this duty, or to be superficial in it, is much hinted at. This word we take to be moral, being a means for furthering the great duty aimed at of sanctifying the Lord’s Day or Sabbath coming.
(4) Remembering may import this, that the Sabbath even when it is past, should not be soon forgotten, but that we should look on the Sabbath past to remember it, lest by loosing the fruits of it, when it is by, we make ourselves guilty of profaning it.”2
We should prepare ourselves every week for the Lord’s Day. This is not just some one hour or one night thing. We should continually, from Monday to Saturday, look forward in anticipation to the Lord’s Day. It is sad and frightening to know that we are prone to forget this day. It should not be forgotten, but remembered. Israel would forget such a day, and when they did, God brought judgment upon them.
They (as well as us) need to be continually reminded to remember the Sabbath day. “A particular memorandum put upon this duty: Remember it. It is intimated that the sabbath was instituted and observed before; but in their bondage in Egypt they had lost their computation, or were restrained by their task-masters, or, through a great degeneracy and indifference in religion, they had let fall the observance of it, and therefore it was requisite they should be reminded of it. Note, Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect. It also intimates that we are both apt to forget it and concerned to remember it. Some think it denotes the preparation we are to make for the sabbath; we must think of it before it comes, that, when it does come, we may keep it holy, and do the duty of it.”3
- Pink, Arthur Walkington. The Holy Sabbath. Pensacola, FL: Mt. Zion Publications, 2001. Print.
- Durham, James. “The Fourth Commandment Part 2: The Particular Morality of This Commandment.” Naphtali Press, n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.
- Henry, Matthew. “Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible [Volume Index].” – Christian Classics Ethereal Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2016.