Can you name the Ten Commandments? In order?
Don’t worry, I am not going to ask you to confess whether you did or not.
The truth is that many people (particularly Christians) talk about the Commandments, but that doesn’t mean that they know them.
But here is something I bet many people who know a few of the Commandments will know. What are the first two words of most of the Ten Commandments.
Of the ten, eight start with “You shall…” Seven of those eight begin with “You shall not…” The eighth says “You shall have no…” which has the same effective meaning.*
The other two are:
Honor your father and mother…. and
Remember the Sabbath.
*As based on the list in Exodus 20.1-17. The list in Deuteronomy 5 is almost the same, but the command for the Sabbath begins with “Observe.”
Why would God have to command us to remember?
Because we remember what we want to remember and not necessarily what we need to remember. Think about it; many times we need a reminder.
For instance, perhaps you set an alarm to remind you to do something. Even before smartphones, people set timers to know when food was ready. Now some, like my wife, set an alarm on their phone for nearly everything.
Because we do not want to forget to do something…to watch something…to go somewhere. Etc. We know we need to remember, so we do what we can to aid us – so we don’t forget.
But does anyone have an alarm (or any kind of reminder) to remember when to observe the Sabbath?
Of course, the Sabbath was (is) considered to be sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, but even apart from that, most people do not take time to remember to rest.
For some rest comes at a designated timed. “Oh, it’s xxxx o’clock. Time for bed.” But, that is not a hard and fast rule for most, it is just an approximate time to acknowledge the end of the day has come.
For others, rest comes when they are tired. Some days that may be early. Others it may be late. Sometimes a nap can help bridge the difference.
But both of those ideas are about sleep. Of course, sleep is a part of rest, and thus should be a part of Sabbath, but Sabbath is more than sleep…it is REST.
But do we take time to REST? Do we remember to truly REST? I know I have struggled with this. That is, I have forgotten. Or to use the language God used in giving the command, I have not remembered.
So, now, I am looking to rest. I am trying to REMEMBER to REST. And I think the more I do it, the more likely I will be able to remember. Of course, I cannot be certain, but rest can be a habit. Thus, Sabbath can be a good habit to incorporate into my life. And yours.
This past Saturday, I remembered the Sabbath for the first time after 450+ days. It was a good day. It was a little strange at time, perhaps for my wife more than for me. She kept expecting me to be on my computer or phone. I wasn’t other than for a while when I learned that one of our church members had died. And the funeral will be this Saturday, so I will not get a full Sabbath that day either.
But those things will happen. And I can still honor my commitment to rest, even in the midst of serving others. After all, that is what Jesus did when healing in the synagogue.
I do not know if my Sabbath will be on Saturday long term, but that is the day for now. As long as I remember! And that is a part of what this journey is teaching me…not only what it means to Sabbath, but why it is important. And if I remember the WHY, then I will do, and enjoy the WHAT.
Because when we forget the Sabbath, what we are really forgetting is the peace of God – the peace He wants for us, the peace He has for us, and the peace He offers us.
And that is why He commanded us to remember. He desires for us to have His peace.
In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, many people are finding more time for themselves and their families. But I hope that we can all find more time to truly rest (REST) as well – not because we need to, but because we REMEMBER the benefit for us.
After all, God did not need to rest after He created the world in six days. He was not tired; He was done. We need to allow ourselves to be done, if for only one day of the week.
We need to remember what peace is. We need to remember how to find it. We need to remember God. And thus, we need to follow His command to REMEMBER the SABBATH (Exodus 20.8).
My encouragement to you is that even if you cannot take a day, take an hour, or even a minute. But do it intentionally. And do it for God. And REMEMBER not only WHAT you are doing and WHY, but WHO has asked you to do it. And then say, “Thank you” to God for the reminder.