April 10 – Fourth Commandment / SC Qs 57-62
Q. 57. Which is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (Exod 20:8-11Deut 5:12-15).
Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself (Exod 31:13, 15-17Lev 19:30Deut 5:12-14).
Q. 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?
A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath (Gen 2:2-3Exod 20:11); and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28Acts 20:71 Cor 16:1-2Rev 1:10).
Q. 60. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day (Exod 20:8, 10), even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Exod 16:25-28Lev 23:3Neh 13:15-19, 21-22Isa 58:13-14); and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship (Exod 20:8Lev 23:3Ps 92 (title); Isa 66:23Luke 4:16Acts 20:7), except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt 12:1-13).
Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required (Ezek 22:26Amos 8:5Mal 1:13), and the profaning the day by idleness (Acts 20:7, 9), or doing that which is in itself sinful (Ezek 23:38), or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations (Neh 13:15-22Jer 17:24-26Isa 58:13).
Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments (Exod 20:9; 31:15-16), his challenging a special property in the seventh (Lev 23:3), his own example (Exod 31:17), and his blessing the Sabbath day (Gen 2:3Exod 20:11).


A Reflection on Sabbath R’s – JMT

As God rested from his creative and redemptive works on the Sabbath, so must we rest in the Lord and keep the spirit of the Sabbath. Many Christians live below their privilege and neglect this grace-gift to their own spiritual and physical detriment.

Rather than looking for loop-holes to get out of obeying God’s Law, we ought to look for truer and better ways to delight ourselves in God’s Law and obey it from the heart — even the command to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.

Many of us work hard on the Lord’s day of rest. Between setting up and prepping for worship, attending Bible class, worshiping, breaking down chairs and equipment after worship, preparing lunch, and participating in MC, it seems there is little time on the Lord’s day for actually resting. Part of the reason we feel that way is because we tend to confuse resting with vegging out and doing as little as possible. In reality, whatever works we do on the Lord’s day ought to help others — as many as possible — rest in the Lord. Such altruistic works may be considered works of mercy and necessity, and as such they are part of resting in the Lord of Sabbath.

In sum, we must stress what Jesus stressed regarding the Sabbath. The Sabbath is God’s gift to you. It is grace for resting your body and refreshing your soul, for remembering the creative and redemptive works of God, for renewing covenant, for rejoicing in worship, for relieving the sick, the poor, and the lonely, and for repenting of our sins. These are the R’s of Sabbath-keeping.

Unlike our culture, we do not worship rest and recreations, rather we worship the Lord who gives rest and recreates all things. What some consider a total waste of time we consider true way of redeeming the time.

May God grant you peace to rest in Christ by grace through faith.


Recommended Resources:


Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade (p 192-209) Her thoughts and tips really make Sabbath-keeping attractive, desirable, and enjoyable.

Westminster Shorter Catechism for Study Classes by G.I. Williamson (Chs 41-42)

Calvin’s Institutes 2.8.34

Online Articles

Why I am Sort of a Sabbatarian by William Evans

Work and Rest by Tim Keller

The Power of Deep Rest by Tim Keller


Lord of Sabbath – Pastor Marq Toombs

Work and Rest – on iTunes


“If too much stress has been given to the ban on recreation, too little stress has been given the insistence upon works of mercy. Visiting the sick, taking care of widows and orphans – altruistic displays of the love of Jesus – these are proper displays of Jesus’ own approach to the Sabbath  (Luke 4:16; 13:10-17; 14:1-6). The point is that our time belongs to Jesus, not to ourselves. We are stewards of the time God gives us and he asks for a day that is set apart for him, punctuated by the rhythm of pubic worship. Satan wants every minute of our time and secular society squeezes every last minute of our energy for little lasting reward. Make no mistake about it, a world without a Sabbath is tyrannical and unforgiving. It has no gospel.” Derek Thomas on Westminster XXI, 8

“God liberated his people when they were slaves in Egypt, and in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, God ties the Sabbath to freedom from slavery. Anyone who overworks is really a slave. Anyone who cannot rest from work is a slave – to a need for success, to a materialistic culture, to exploitative employers, to parental expectations, or to all of the above. These slave masters will abuse you if you are not disciplined in the practice of Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a declaration of freedom.” Tim Keller on Sabbath as Freedom

Noon,_rest_from_work_-_Van_Gogh sabbath

Image: Noon, Rest from Work by Van Gogh

All our Missional Communities are exploring the Ten Commandments. We are using the Shorter Catechism as a study guide.