Day 6: Learning to Love God! (1 - 4 Commandments)

Introduction:  I was reading Ex 34:28 during my morning devotions and came across this; Moses was there with GOD forty days and forty nights. He didn't eat any food; he didn't drink any water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words.  I was struck with how Eugene Peterson interpreted the phrase ten commandments as “Ten Words” in “The Message”


  • This got me thinking how just one word of God can communicates a whole book worth of understanding! Think about it, one word from God can radically change our lives or change the course of a nation and completely turn countries on their ears!
  • Ex 19:17-20 Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God. They stood at attention at the base of the mountain. Mount Sinai was all smoke because GOD had come down on it as fire. Smoke poured from it like smoke from a furnace. The whole mountain shuddered in huge spasms. The trumpet blasts grew louder and louder. Moses spoke and God answered in thunder. GOD descended to the peak of Mount Sinai. GOD called Moses up to the peak and Moses climbed up.
  • What an event that must have been! God covering a whole mountain top with fire just so he could bear his heart to his people and give them just ten words that literally not only shaped and guided the nation of Israel, but became the very foundation of law of the greatest nation in the history of the earth, the United States of America!
  • And I can say that because up to this point there has never been a country that has been more giving in terms of the gospel by sending out missionaries and finances and aid and food and medical help to a desperately needy world, despite our present politics! The United States has been a beacon of hope to many over the years.
  • And the reason why, is because those 10 words that God spoke over 3500 years ago, shaped civilization as we know it today! So, I am not exaggerating when I say apart from Christ himself, this event we read about in Exodus was gigantic when it comes to historic events. By far this piece of historical writing stands out from all others.
  • And because of these things, this portion of scripture is worthy of our personal study! In fact, for us to truly understand Jesus sermon on the mount, we need to understand the heart and essence of these 10 living words, because they were Jesus source for his most famous teaching.
  • As we are going to see, the first four commandments are dedicated to our relationship with God, while the last six commandments focus on our relationship with one another. In this study we are going to focus on the first four commandments, which will give us insights into how to love God!
  • But before we get to them, let me give you five reasons I hope will be enough to inspire you to study these 10 living words on your own!

 

Five Reasons to study the Ten Commandments:

 

1. No other piece of literature can claim that it was literally written by the hand of God!

  • The Ten Commandments is the only document ever known or to ever claim that honor!


2. No other piece of literature can claim that they display the character of God to us!

  • One of interesting discoveries that archeologist’s found in the early 1900’s during a dig in the Middle East was a legal document dated the same time as mosaic law which allows a comparison of the Mosaic Law with other laws of that time and place. This document clearly points out the difference between the legal code of Babylon and the Mosaic Law.
  • In an article entitled, “Mosaic and Ancient Near Eastern Laws,” we read that the Code of Hammurappi and the Mosaic code “differ in their moral code.” “In the Hebrew laws a greater value is generally placed on human life, and the Babylonian code has nothing in it corresponding to the twofold golden thread running through the Mosaic legislation: love God and love your neighbor (Mat. 22:37-40).”
  • The article goes on to say that in the Code of Hammurappi, “There is no control of lust, no limitation on selfishness, nowhere to be found the claim of charity; every trace of religious thought is absent; while behind the Israelite law stands the ruling will of God;
  • So, what this means is that God was giving Moses a set of statements that was consistent with who He was, and still is –      just, personal, moral, and loving and truthful! These ten words paint the clearest picture of who God is at his core.
  • Jesus put it this way: Matt 22:37-40 Jesus answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.'  This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'  All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands." NCV
  • It was based on this I believe Paul was able to say this In his letter to the Galatians; Gal 5:14-15 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 
  • In other words, if love, be it love for God, or love for others, sums up the law, then love is the definitive expression of God, which John confirms in; 1 John 4:8 God is love

 

3. No other piece of literature more clearly defines our purpose or mission as God’s people!

  • The Ten Commandments are all about relationships. The whole Bible can be boiled down to one word--relationships. There are two areas of relationships, first with God and secondly, with other people. From Genesis to the end of the Revelation the Bible focuses on how to have a close, intimate relationship with a holy God and how we can have healthy and holy relationships with others.
  • If that is the focus on the Bible, it is no surprise that the 10 Commandments are all about relationships as well. The first four have to do with our relationship with God and the last six deals with our relationship with others.
  • For us here at the Vineyard, this defines our mission; to Love God, Love people! Period! So simple, so clear, so uncomplicated. Why are we here? Answer: To love God and love people. What’s our purpose in life? To love God and love people. Why are you alive today? To love God and love people.


4. No other piece of literature exposes the darkness of hearts as does the Ten Commandments!

  • I believe that God’s ten words act like spotlights into our soul, showing us where the disease of sin has corrupted our hearts.
  • In Genesis 3 when sin came into the world, something changed in Adam and Eve immediately! For one thing, their perception of who God was like, changed. Before sin they walked unafraid of God, enjoying fellowship with him daily. But when sin entered in, they became afraid in God! Their perception of God changed! He was no longer the loving father, but the angry judge from who they had to hide from.
  • You see, sin distorts everything about us. It distorts our perception of God, of others, and even ourselves. We became natural doubters. Meaning, it has now become easier for us to trust in our own strength than to trust in God!
  • Therefore trusting in self has become the sole motivator for our self-life rather than trusting God!
  • Implying that our heart, with all our motivations, has become corrupted. A corruption that we as people are blind to. But God understands this, and gave us these 10 living words, to act like a flash light, to expose our internal struggles, so that we would cry out to God for help!
  • Through God’s ten living words, we now can see how we are natural idolaters, who have struggles with lust, anger and coveting! We cannot control our mouths. We are now driven more by our need to achieve and acquire, than to live a life that glorifies God.
  • But if we heed each of these ten living words, they will bring healing and wholeness to our lives! And this is exactly what God longs to do! He yearns to bring healing to our sexual brokenness, our hurt angry hearts, and our obsession with things or people!


5. No other piece of literature holds out the hope for joy in this life as does the Ten Commandments!

  • Deut 7:12-15 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers.  He will love you and bless you.
  • Josh 1:6-8 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
  • So let’s begin by praying; Ps 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

 

First Word: The First Step To Changing your life!

  • Exodus 20:1-3 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
  • An interesting little study was done in the early 1990’s, several university professors passed out copies of the 10 Commandments to students and asked them to arrange the commandments in order of importance. Over 90% of the students rearranged the commandments and placed the commandments dealing with man’s relationship with his fellow man above the commandments dealing with man’s relationship with his God.
  • Unfortunately, they missed one of the most basic truths about the ten commandments, that being that without the first commandment being lived out in our lives, the rest of the commandments become unattainable! There is a reason why the first commandment was written as the first commandment!
  • This commandment is the door to everything else. It is the door to all the rest of the words. If we don’t get the first one, we will never be able to do the rest of them.
  • Here are five reasons why this is such an important word!

 

1. It’s about PRIORITES

  • Deuteronomy 6:4 says it best, which by the way is the verse that is considered the greatest statement in the whole Bible by both the Jews and by Jesus!
  • (4) Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
  • In other words, make God your number one priority. Make Him first in your life. Love him with a passion. Love him with your emotions, with your spirit, with your physical strength. Love him with everything you have and love him more than anything or anyone else. This is the starting place to having your life transformed!
  • In the New Testament… Paul applies this principal this way…
  • Romans 10:9-11 - That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
  • When Paul says "Jesus is Lord,” he is saying that Jesus is da boss! What he says goes! He is the one who is now sitting on the throne of my heart. And I am putting my faith, my trust, my confidence in him and no one else because alone died on the cross and bore my sin that I might live forever in him!

 

2. It’s about RELATIONSHIP

  • This first word is an invitation to us to have a personal, exclusive relationship with God!
  • Even though the translations reads, “You shall have no other gods before me” that doesn’t mean he is saying, “You can worship all the gods you want, I just want to be your favorite.” What He is saying is “Worship me alone and only me. For I am to be your ONLY God.”
  • These words remind us that God sees our relationship with Him much like a marriage relationship.
  • For those who have been married, guys can you imagine how your bride would react if you said at the altar “I vow to make you my FAVORITE girlfriend!” or ladies, can you imagine how your groom would react if when you went to the altar and said, “I vow to make you my FAVORITE boyfriend!”
  • All mayhem would break out! Just the idea that our spouse might be flirting with someone else makes peoples blood boil. You feel hurt, rejected, and angry and even hostile towards who ever this other person would be.
  • There is a reason why in the very next verse God says, Ex 20:4-5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God
  • This is not jealous in a bad sense, but in a good sense! We must understand that with out exclusiveness in the relationship, it can never be all its’ meant to be.
  • This is also the reason why our wedding vows contain the words “FORSAKING ALL OTHERS” Because reality is, if either spouse does NOT forsake all others, the marriage won’t work. So, it is with our relationship with God. God is showing us that the only way we can make this relationship work, is by making it an exclusive relationship!

 

3. It’s about CHOICES

  • This commandment highlights the role of human response concerning their relationship with God! He has clearly made his heart and love known to Israel when he choose to delivered them from Egypt!  But now, it was Israel’s turn to respond. God delivering them was his way to say… now the ball is in our court, will you choose him back?
  • We are given the same choice in the New Testament, Jesus clearly revealed his love for us when he died on the cross in our place! Now it’s our turn. Will we choose him back? Will we choose to put our faith, confidence and trust in him?
  • Reality is life is full of choices. We make choices concerning our lifestyle, our allegiances, our commitments, our priorities, our affections, our relationships, and so much more. The question that this commandment forces us to answer, is will we live our lives for ourselves? Or for someone else? Will we live our lives for an idea or a dream? Or will we live our lives for God? Will we let God be God, or will we let someone or something else crowd him out of the top spot in our choices?

 

4. It’s about (exposing our) PRIDE

  • This word, this commandment acts like a flashlight that shines light into the darkness of our souls and exposes the very root of our sin, human pride!
  • Pride is the bane of human existence! Since the fall of Adam and Eve, when humanity bought into the lie that we are better off not trusting God, but to trust more in ourselves. We thought we could make life work apart from him! But clearly that’s not true. Unfortunately, this pride has been the source of every human struggle through out the entire course of human history!
  • It’s pride that blinds us to God’s love! Its pride that pushes God away again and again, saying, don’t tell me what to do, I know better than you.
  • I always find it interesting to hear people react to Christians stand on salvation! It’s pride that says; “Who are you to say that YOUR way is the ONLY way? That is so ARROGANT!”
  • And of course, every time we hear that we have to pause and think, “Well, I don’t want to be arrogant.” “Christians are supposed to be humble, not arrogant.”
  • But in reality, that has NOTHING to do with whether or not there is only one God and one way to him! It was Jesus himself who said in, John 14:6 “I am THE way, THE truth, THE life. NO ONE comes to the Father except by me.” I didn’t make it up. It’s the God who reveals Himself in the Bible who says, “You shall have no other gods besides me.”
  • Please hear this; Arrogance is not saying, "I believe that God is who He said He is." And I believe that if He says He is the only true God, then He really IS the only true God.
  • Arrogance is saying, “God is whatever I say He is.” Arrogance is not saying, “I believe Jesus when He said He was the ONLY way to God.”
  • Arrogance is saying, “I don’t like the idea of Jesus as the only way, so I’ve decided that ‘all roads lead to God.’” “I’ve decided that as long as people are sincere in what they believe, they’ll go to heaven.”

 

5. It’s about PRACTICAL LIVING

  • If you really want to live life the way God intended, we need to learn what these three little words mean: Put God First!

 

Second Word: The Key to Never Stumbling!

  • Ex 20:4-6 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image or 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; 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, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
  • Let me quickly give you three insight into what I mean when I say it’s the key to never stumbling!

 

1. What is the number one reason for God’s people to fall away from God?

Answer: Idols! Whenever Israel sinned, it always began with idols! Whenever Israel began to backslide in their faith, it began with idols. Whenever Israel’s faith took a nosedive that led them to either being oppressed by their enemies or brought into total captivity, began with idols!

  • These false images and idols would lead the hearts of God’s people away from the God by getting their hearts focused on created things. The result was always the same, a weakened and distorted faith, resulting in their nation falling apart.
  • Therefore, this word was God’s beacon of light, designed to keep God’s people on track! The point being if God’s people would keep their focus on God alone, then they would grow and develop into being the kind of people God had originally intended them to be, thereby becoming a light and witness to all the nations!
  • The other side of this coin has the complete opposite effect. If we take our eyes off God and put it on something else, we begin to backside in our faith! If we allow sin to dominate some area of your life, it is because we have been seduced into some form of idolatry!
  • And regardless of whether we are talking about the Old Testament or New Testament times, or even today, the result of God’s people falling into sin is a byproduct of being seduced by some modern-day idol.
  • Thus, the all-important question, what is an idol? According to Adrian Rogers; An idol is anything you love more, fear more, value more or serve more than you do Almighty God.”
  • With this in mind, we then must ask ourselves, what does our own life center around? What is our primary focus? Interestingly, an idol doesn’t have to be a bad thing; it can be a good thing, which is why idolatry can be such a deceptive thing.
  • In Old Testament times there were three primary idols.

           - There was Baal ( and female counter part, Ashtorah), who was the god of sex.

           - There was Mammon who was the god of money.

           - And, there was Molech who was the god of violence.

  • Sex, Money, Violence – What does that sound familiar? I think so, just consider Hollywood, movies, TV. Those three influences are still as real today as they were back then!

 

2. What is the number one struggle of the human heart?

  • Answer: We are constantly tempted to try to create God in our image! We have reversed what the Bible says in Genesis, chapter one, where God says… “Let us make man in our image.” We are saying instead, “Let us make God in man’s image.”
  • Ex 20:4-6 "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; you      shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
  • Duet. 4:15-16 (GN) says “For your own good don’t sin by making an idol in any form at all.” The emphasis is on “For your own good.”
  • The second commandment attempts to prevent us from making any kind of image of God, either out of wood or stone, or, and here’s the point, out of our own ideas or concepts! It is prohibiting us against trying to define God by any kind of image that would seek to restrict Him to that image or symbol and thus make Him less than He is
  • Why? Because no matter how good or how powerful or how beautiful the image might be, it could never contain all that God is. All images of God are inadequate, because God is so much greater, and more powerful, more loving, more gracious, more merciful, and more holy than we could ever imagine.
  • Plus, we are given this insight from the threefold requirement; thou shall not make, nor worship, nor serve. In this there is the revelation of a sequence from which people cannot escape. Whatever be god to the human soul, the soul worships, and consequently, serves. We become enslaved!
  • You wee, humanity struggles with being satisfied with God as he is. We want him to fit our perspective, rather than change our perspective to fit him. We want him, but we want him on our terms.
  • In other words, it is a lot easier to change my image of God than it is for me to change. If God says, “Don’t commit adultery” and I want to commit adultery. Then all I have to do is change my image of God to justify my sin. That is idolatry.
  • And it was this kind of idolatry that led Israel to sin again and again and again!

 

3. What is the number one purpose for this word?

  • Answer: The purpose of the law is to lead us to Christ! Who after all, according to Colossians 1:15 says…[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God…"!
  • If you really need something tangible to help you know God better, then look no further than Jesus.
  • Hebrews 1:3 says, "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…”
  • Col 2:9 He is the image of the invisible God
  • If you want to make sure that you’re worshiping the genuine article, if you want to make sure that your focus is on God as he really is (rather than on God as you understand him), then get to know Christ better!

 

Third Word: Are You Walking Your Talk!

  • Ex 20:7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  • Here are three questions we need to ask ourselves to fully grasp the significance of this word.

1. What is the significance of God’s name?

  • Not only is a name a big thing in our society, but names were a big deal in the Bible. A name was practically the same thing as a person’s identity.
  • Even Jesus’ name has significant meaning. In Hebrew, it is the same as “Joshua,” which means “deliverer.” Meaning, that just as Joshua delivered the people of Israel into the Promised Land, so Y’shua (Jesus) would deliver his people into God’s promised blessings.
  • Names represents three things:

           (1) Character – It represents your being, who you are as a person, whether you good or bad, true or                                      false.

           (2) Reputation – As in “He’s making a name for himself” or, “He’s got a good name.” It’s what people think when                   they hear that name. Prov 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than                     silver or gold.

          (3) Authority – When you speak concerning things under your influence it carries authority. You might put your                      trust more safely in something that Billy Graham says about the end of the world than by Mike Tyson. Names                    carry authority.

 

2. Why should his name matter to us?

  • Because when you became a Christian, by believing what Christ did on the cross, that he died for you and he paid for your sins, thus inspiring you to surrender to him, and asking him to sit on the throne of your heart, you became associated with his name!
  • Deut 28:9-14 The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you.
  • In other words, whenever people entered into a relationship with God, they take on the responsibility of bearing God’s name. And just like this was true in the Old Testament, it is also true today! If you call yourself a Christian, you are someone is identifies themselves with Christ!
  • Now back to our text, Ex 20:7 "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.
  • The word vain means emptiness, nothingness, worthlessness. In other words, live your life as if God does not exist! To take the name of God in vain, means to treat him, his name, his character, and his reputation as nothing!
  • Meaning that the true meaning behind this third word, goes far beyond just using it as a swear word, which is how most people interpret this! This command is calling us to authentic faith.
  • You see, God doesn’t want you to merely say that he’s number one; he actually wants to be number one. He doesn’t want us to just sing about lifting his name on high unless we’re really living our lives in such a way that is name is actually lifted up and praised! In other words, from God’s perspective, all the words in the world don’t matter much unless there is reality behind them.
  • Making this commandment a good reminder that Christianity is not about words, rituals, or even religion; it’s about having a relationship with God in such a way, that we reflect Him with how we live our lives. That we walk our talk!

 

3. Why this is so important to God?

  • Because Gods name is meant to bring hope, deliverance, and freedom from sin and healing to others. When we live other than Godly lives, Gods name gets used scornfully and with contempt!
  • We hear it said, again and again, well if he or she is a Christian and acts like that, then I don’t want anything to do with their God!
  • No doubt this is behind Karl Rahner findings! Karl was a German theologian, regarded by many as the foremost Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th century. And it was his conclusion that the number one cause of atheism is Christians. How sad is that?
  • Point being, whether we live for God or live like he doesn’t exist, our lives impact those around us far more than we think! This is why Jesus says this:
  • Matt 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

 

Fourth Word: Staying Close to God!

  • Ex 20:8-11 "Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, 10 but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any kind of work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. NLT
  • Christians hold a wide array of beliefs about the Sabbath. They range from, “Christ fulfilled it, so we don’t have to think about it AT ALL.” To: “If you don’t make the Sabbath a day of complete rest (and you’d better stick to Saturday, not Sunday) then you’re probably going to go to hell.”
  • So, what is God after here? How do we apply this to our lives too day? This is not as easy to discern as some of the rest of the commandments, simply because we have a built in bias against this word due to our culture.
  • When you think of the significance that the other commandments have on society:
    Honor your parents… Don’t kill… Don’t steal… Don’t commit adultery… Don’t give false testimony.
    It’s easy to understand how all of these things fall under the Great Moral Law of God. But, “Take a day off”?  I mean if you were making a “Top 10” list of laws – would this really have made the cut?
  • Yet God is deadly serious about this command. He said that the penalty for breaking this command was to be death (Exodus 31:15).
  • That puts this command right up there with “Thou shalt not murder” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
  • The first test case came along not long after the commandments were given. One day, a Jewish man went out into the wilderness to gather some sticks for a fire. Nothing wrong with that except for the fact that he did it on the Sabbath. He was spotted doing it and was confined to quarters until Moses could consult God about it.
  • God said that the man was to die, and so the community took him out and stoned him (Numbers 15:32-26). And you thought your mom’s punishment for playing ball on Sunday was severe!

1. On the surface we are called to rest!

  • First, let’s take this at face value. The word Sabbath means to cease from work, take a break, take five and kick it back and relax.
  • Did God give this command because He was against work? No. From the time that Adam was in the garden, work was a part of God’s plan for our lives. In fact, work was considered a gift!
  • But He is against work consuming our lives. He is against us escaping into work so that we don’t have to face life. He is against us finding our significance and self-worth in our work. He is against us filling our lives so full of work that we don’t have time for Him or other people. He does not want us to think that work is all that there was in life. Because if you do, it will wreak havoc in your life!

2. Going deeper, we are called to worship!

  • (10) but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.
  • What this means is that this time is to be set aside to worship God
  • Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. . .”
  • Isa 40:29-31 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
  • This verse talks about the fact that even the strength of young men wears out. But they that wait upon the Lord, trust in Him, rest in Him, will find their strength renewed!
  • One of the fall outs of being so busy is that we fail to stop and worship God. We don’t take the time to let Him heal our spirits and refreshes our souls.
  • You see, the “rest” that God speaks of here on the Sabbath, is more than just physical rest. It was meant to be both emotional and spiritual rest as well.

 

3. Going deeper yet, we are called to work!

  • Let me begin by saying this, while the first half of the 4th commandment is “Keep the Sabbath day..” the second part is “Six days shall a man work…” In other words, part of this word is an exhortation for us to work. As I said earlier, work is actually a gift from God, a good thing, something we all need!
  • Therefore, the full value of being a human being as God intended cannot be experienced without both WORSHIP and WORK.
  • And please take note here, work was a part of Adam’s humanity BEFORE he sinned! Meaning, we were created to be productive and fruitful. (See Gen. 2:15)
  • In other words, Man was not created to JUST worship, but to worship and work! We need both to experience satisfaction in life as he designed it to be.
  • And the relationship between these two concepts is remarkably interesting. Something I just learned recently is that worship creates the context for our work.
  • Remember the Genesis account where God created man on the sixth day? Question, what did man do on his first day after being created? He spent it with God on the seventh day of rest which is a picture of the Sabbath.
  • After this he went to work. This is significant because most of the world teaches just the opposite! The world teaches us to first work, and then you rest from your work (if you have time of course)! That our priority is to work, work, and work and then take some time off if we can find time.
  • But the biblical pattern is just the opposite! Your priority is to rest first, and work comes out of our rest.
  • We see Jesus doing the same thing after his baptism and before he did any ministry. First, he went out into the wilderness to seek God for 40 days. After that he started his ministry, his work.
  • This became an ongoing pattern for ministry. He got up early to just to hang out with God and rest before he went out to work!
  • Before every big decision or before a big day of ministry, he went alone into the wilderness or up into the mountains to be alone with God to rest and seek his face.
  • Jesus taught us in the book of John, John 15:5-6 He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  Meaning that the key to being fruitful is learning to abide and rest  in Christ first!

4. Going really deep, Christ is our rest!

  • Interestingly, nowhere in the New Testament are we encouraged to observe the Sabbath! But that doesn’t mean that Sabbath isn’t talked about in the New Testament.
  • Col 2:16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
  • Don’t get me wrong, the principal of setting aside a portion of the week to rest is biblically sound. Setting time aside to worship God to get your spiritual batteries recharged is biblically sound. Living our life base on the same pattern Jesus did, to rest first, then work, is biblically sound. Yet there is something more for us yet to understand.
  • What this scripture is saying; is that the Sabbath was a shadow of something that was to come, something that would be found only in Christ!
  • While a shadow is not real, it does paint a clear picture of something that is coming.
  • So, the question becomes, in what way does the command “not to work on the Sabbath” foreshadow Jesus?
  • Heb 4:7 “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”… for there remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following Israel’s example of disobedience.
  • Here is the revelation of God’s fourth word; In the middle of law, there’s Grace! Meaning the changes that God brings about in our lives is not a result of our own effort, but by the grace of God that he so generously pours out on us through Christ, as we respond to his voice with a soft and obedient heart!
  • The Sabbath reminds us of something Philip Yancey says in his book, What’s so amazing About Grace. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more; there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” We can only receive it or reject it: We can only live in it or live without it. We can only walk in it or walk away from it… the choice is yours.  
  • You see, the point of the Sabbath, is to draw close to God through Christ, resting from our own efforts and putting our complete faith in his! It’s only here that we can find the strength that we need to love others as we love ourselves!
  • Loving others now becomes the focus of the next 6 commandments.