May 5th, 2021 – Exodus 20:8

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:8 –  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 

In the last Daily Devotion we looked at not taking the Lord’s name in vain in our conversations or actions.  Today we will look at the fourth commandment which states, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 10:8.  The Israelites under the Mosaic Law were to remember that no work could be done on the seventh day of the week, which falls on Saturday. It covers the time period of sundown on Friday until sundown Saturday.  And this requirement not to work applied to all in Israel, men, women, children and servants.

The reason and basis for this is found in verse eleven.  “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:11.  The word Sabbath has the meaning ‘day of rest’ or ‘intermission’.  Because God finished His work of creation in six days and rested, or took a day of intermission, on the seventh. And He blessed this day upon completion.  “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:3.  This was a day in which he took delight and pleasure, having finished all his works, and resting from them, and looking over them as very good.  And looking at the focus verse, He commanded the Israelites to ‘remember’ the Sabbath Day.  God conferred on the seventh day a specific honor and gave special privileges above those of the other six, being separated from common use and dedicated to sacred service.

The four-word phrase, ‘to keep it holy’ is actually a single word in Hebrew meaning ‘consecrate’ or ‘sanctify.  As stated above, this day was to be dedicated to the Lord.   The priests were to double the daily sacrifices on the Sabbath.  “Then on the sabbath day two male lambs one year old without defect, and two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and its drink offering: This is the burnt offering of every sabbath in addition to the continual burnt offering and its drink offering.” Numbers 28:9-10.  This marked the day with increased sacred activity.  The rest of the Israelites were to mark the day with decreased activity—no work at all—in honor of the Lord. 

And finally, later in the Book of Exodus, the Sabbath Day is also a sign between Israel and God of a covenant between them.  “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” Exodus 31:13.  And then a couple verses down, “So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.” Exodus 31:16. 

As Israel kept the Sabbath set apart, they were reminded that they were also being set apart.  As believers today who are under the New Covenant, we are not bound to keep this sign of the Old Covenant.  However, we are also set apart to be holy.  “As obedient children do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1 Peter 1:14-16.  We may not be called to keep the Sabbath, but we should remember it and  keep in mind that we are called to be holy as He is for it is a sign to us of our relationship with God and it is He who calls us to holiness because He says to us as well, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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