This week we will continue our review of how God’s Ten Commandments impacted the laws that this nation was founded upon…we may also see how man has tried to twist their meaning so as they have been effectively removed from the laws that govern our nation and the morays of our society. So let’s start with the Fourth Commandment.
Fourth Commandment –“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor the stranger that is within your gates: for in six days the Lord made Heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord rested the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
Going back in time I can still remember how it used to be at my grandmother’s hometown of Narrows, Virginia. When I was a kid…some say I still am… all businesses were closed on Sunday. We could hear church bells ringing, summonsing all to come to church. In the afternoon we might take a drive to the country to visit my aunt and uncle who lived on a farm. We didn’t bother to lock our home, it wasn’t necessary. My, how times have changed.
In the Fourth Commandment God requires us to remember the times He has set apart for Him and rest in His providence. This rest from our labors in one of seven days is in following with the Creation pattern that God Himself observed. This rest is required of all God’s creation. It is this spiritual rest, along with proper physical, mental, and emotional rest, that enables us to be productive as we labor for God on the earth. We are to worship God everywhere, at all times, and in spirit and truth. Man can be engaged in duties necessary to life and also acts of mercy. (Matt. 12:1-13). The Bible speaks of three Sabbaths: Creation Sabbath, Hebrew Sabbath, and Christian Sabbath. The Christian Sabbath superseded the Hebrew Sabbath…hence penalties under the Hebrew Sabbath laws are no longer applicable today. In the New Covenant we are to enter into a complete rest in Him where we trust in His care and provision every day. The pattern for the Creation Sabbath of working six days and resting one is still applicable for mankind. Creation was the work of God. God’s work (Creation) reveals Who He is; it reveals His attributes, power, and nature. Likewise, our work reveals who we are; it reveals what is inside of us. Paul exemplified the necessity of working hard. He taught that we are to work hard, as unto the Lord, so that we might provide for all our needs and those under our care. The Bible teaches that we are to benefit from the fruit of our labor. (1 Cor. 9:9-10). Paul writes that if you don’t work you don’t eat. (2 Thess. 3:10). Conversely, the harder you work, the more you should benefit. Labor is the title deed to property. This principle is true for acquiring external property (such as land, goods, houses) but it is also true for acquiring internal properties (ideas, truth, knowledge, peace, etc.). Man has a God-given right to work and rest. Not that everyone is guaranteed a job by the government, but each man should be free to produce needed goods and/or services that enable him to provide for himself and others under his care and fulfill his Godly calling.
In my research I ran across another commandment that was not among the Ten Commandments specifically but could be summarized as the Second Table. It is stated as; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Known also as the Golden Rule, it states that we are to treat others as we would want them to treat us. If we live according to this commandment of Jesus, we will not treat our fellow man contrary to any of the last six commandments; hence, we will live in obedience to the Commandments.
Fifth Commandment – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (This commandment has nothing to do with the size of a whiskey bottle.) We are to honor our parents in heart, in word, and in willing obedience to their words and commands. This commandment covered a whole spectrum of violations where serious penalties could be initiated. However, God built flexibility into His law to make it restorative. (Ezek. 18). Unfortunately, that flexibility has been forgotten or intentionally ignored in today’s world. God’s law also recognizes the victim’s rights: they must press charges and with some capital crimes there was discretion in penalties. Israel had many capital crimes that do not apply to us today. Some Old Testament laws, and their penalties, have been altered or modified by the New Covenant. These include ceremonial laws such as violating the Sabbath. They were superseded by the sacrifice of Christ. Regarding the specific crime of striking or cursing a parent, this was not a minor offense where a child merely yelled at his parents, but dealt with a child whose life and actions had so degenerated that parents could do nothing to bring about change. The parents themselves had to bring charges and were also part of those who executed the penalty. This was no small matter. Under Roman law and many ancient law systems, parents could put their children to death…sort of like today where women have the so-called right to ‘murder’ unborn children. In Biblical law, parents do not have the right to take the life of their children.
The Fifth Commandment is the first commandment with promise. In a sense, parents are God’s voice on the earth. Children should take care of parents in old age, assisting them as needed as they face declining health or other challenges of aging. Since parents are to lay up an inheritance for their children, there should ideally be enough finances saved by the parents throughout their productive life to provide for themselves in old age. Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for excusing people from caring for their parents if they made a contribution to the Temple. (Mark 7:9-13). Parents are those primarily responsible for all aspects of the life of their children. Parents are to provide education, sustenance, care, shelter, and all that is necessary to train up a child to fulfill God’s plan for that child. Teaching and training children in a Biblical way of life is of foremost importance for parents. Therefore, they should teach and demonstrate God’s Word everywhere and at all times. (Deut. 6:5-9). Parents have the obligation to train children in the way they should go. (Prov. 22:6).
Because the Fifth Commandment is so inclusive in all it covers, we will continue its coverage next week. Then we shall look at the value of marriage, of family, of formal education, and of our responsibility to honor those in authority. In today’s world these have become difficult subjects to address because standards have moved so far away from the original standards of the commandments.
“Help me to see where you are in my decision making. Help me to weigh the consequences of my choices. I want my allegiance to You to be beyond doubt. Help me to choose wisely.” Encounters with Jesus by J.R.