Speaking to the Soul – January 21

The Sabbath day

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God… Honour your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:8-10, 12

Here are the first two positive commandments. The first three declared that we shouldn’t put any other gods in front of the true God, shouldn’t make idols and shouldn’t blaspheme. Having established those foundational principles, we are given positive guidance on how to build a secure, God-focused society. The first is by ordering our time properly, and the second is through building strong families.

Respect for the Sabbath is far more important than merely having a day off each week. That is undoubtedly a wise and healthy thing to do but the principle reason for respecting the Sabbath is that, by so doing, we put God in the place that is rightfully his. The Sabbath day is dedicated to the Lord. It’s a day when we worship him together and declare his greatness and power, and through it we are refreshed and strengthened in our faith for the other six days of the week. God has given us plenty of time to do our work, and the seventh day enables us to refocus our lives on God and on the things that matter most.

The Jewish celebration of Sabbath is an intensely family occasion and so it isn’t surprising that the next foundational commandment was one concerning parents. Honouring parents was so crucial that God declares that, if the people obeyed it, they would live a long and full life. Everything hinges on the family. In days when many families are dispersed and rarely see one another this is a challenge but this does nothing to erase the importance of this commandment.

It has been wisely observed that God didn’t give ten suggestions but ten commandments. We disobey any of them at our peril. Ordering our time and family life in a godly way are not options but absolute necessities.

In what ways do your Sundays help you to refocus on God?
Loving Father, thank you for the gift of the Sabbath and of my family. Help me to treasure them more and more. Amen