The Fourth Commandment

May 16, 2015

Part – 5
Rest for all people because He knows our nature:

Moses the prophet said, "See, the Lord has given you the Sabbath". Great! It is then a gift or a reward from God, not a burden or a heavy load. Because God created us, He knows our nature and that it needs one day’s rest every week. So, keeping the Sabbath is useful for you; you cannot work every day. Your body is like a machine which has a certain capacity; if you run it at a greater capacity it will be damaged. Your body is the same, its capacity is to work six days a week. If you make it work seven days, it will be damaged. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. " (Mark2:27).

Many people work continually… weeks pass without their taking any rest. Some are taken by heart failure, others by angina, pectorals or nervous breakdown. So, God gave you the Sabbath as a gift for rest, and you should thank Him for it. "you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, … And remember that you were a slave … " (Deut. 5:14-15).

Here the spirit of mercy and equality is clear in the Law. It is not proper that the master takes rest while the servants go on working. It is not proper that the old take rest while the young go on working. All must take rest as the Scriptures say, "… that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you." (Deut. 5:14). Even the livestock need rest because they have bodies as well.

Some may think that the donkey, for example, does not get tired and they say, "Donkey work"! But the Scriptures say something different, "Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.” (Ex. 23:12). How merciful God’s heart is!

 Even the solid land takes rest:

God gave rest even to the solid land, He said: "Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow.” (Ex. 23:10-11).

 In our days, we complain that the crops are weak. There are many reasons among which are that the land takes no rest. God created the earth with its land and knows its nature; so He commanded that it should take rest every seven years, to enjoy its Sabbath as well. We are not wiser than God!

We cultivate the land unceasingly and it does not yield all its power. You may say, "I cultivate it for seven years to have yield?" But I say to you: Even if you cultivate it for six years only, it will give you much more yields. “We should not forget that when God ordered to rest the land the seventh year, He gave His blessing in the sixth year so that the land yielded a crop for three years" (Lev. 25:20-22).

This is God’s way in giving rest to someone or something. He gives more fruit. By this He teaches us that coveting for worldly matters destroys us spiritually, physically and financially. Take, for example, a person who works the whole week; his health gets worse, his nerves and spirituality break down. He cries to the Lord, but the Lord replies, "I have given you the Sabbath, but you did not obey!!"

Blessings of Keeping the Sabbath:

If you keep the Lord’s day, you will benefit physically and spiritually and moreover you will have a blessing according to the Lord’s promise, "Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,… and hold fast My covenant, these I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of Prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar… I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off, …" (Is. 56:2-7), and also, "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable, …Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,…" (Is.58:13-14).

To be continued …

Source: H.H. Pope Shenouda III, 1997.Contemplations on the Ten Commandments: The fourth Commandment, Volume I.