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The Sabbath -- a test

The Sabbath and marriage are the only earthly institutions that come to us from the time before sin entered the world. Hence, sometimes they are called the twin sisters of Paradise. When you look at our world today, it's obvious that Satan has worked hard to deface and defile them.

Read Exodus 20:1-17. What is it about the Sabbath commandment that makes it stand out from the others?

The fourth commandment is, in a sense, a test commandment. It tests humanity's spirituality. Because it deals with time, which is invisible, rather than with tangible objects, it is well suited to measure humanity's attitude toward God. How we feel toward the Sabbath is an indicator of how we feel toward God. It is the only commandment an individual can break and yet be fully accepted as a good person in any conservative Christian society.

In a certain sense, the Sabbath is arbitrary. Why the seventh day over any other? It's because God said so, that's why. There's a lot of obvious and apparent logic in not stealing, not killing, not coveting, and so forth. You don't have to be a Christian to follow those precepts; many non-Christians do.

But to obey the seventh-day Sabbath, which isn't rooted in any natural phenomena, is to reveal a willingness to obey simply because God tells us to. Sabbath keeping is an act of faith; we keep the seventh-day Sabbath, not because it's socially acceptable, not because it's popular, not because it fits in with any natural cycle. No, we keep the seventh-day Sabbath because God commands us to, and as New Testament Christians saved by grace, we reveal our faith through obedience to God's commandments (James 2:10, 11; 1 John 5:2, 3; Rev. 14:12).

In fact, by resting on the Sabbath, we're revealing to the world that all this talk about resting in Christ isn't just talk. As Sabbath keepers, we truly rest in Christ's work of salvation for us, not just daily but also in a special way each week. We reveal the fullness of our assurance in Christ by resting on the Sabbath (see Heb. 4:1-11). Sabbath keeping is an outward expression of our rest in Christ.

Though the Sabbath is, in a sense, arbitrary, what are the tangible and practical benefits we get from keeping the Sabbath holy, as God commanded? What can you do to better enjoy the benefits of Sabbath keeping?

from the March 3, 2009 Sabbath School study guide -- used by permission

1 And God spoke all these words, saying:

2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 "You shall have no other gods before Me.

4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

7 "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

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 the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

13 "You shall not murder.

14 "You shall not commit adultery.

15 "You shall not steal.

16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's." Exodus 20:1-17