Text: Deuteronomy 5.1-22 (Read it here.)
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5.15, NIV)
Rules for Rest in the Lord
Author: Rob Anderson
Have you ever purchased a new power tool? With every purchase, you get a manual listing all of the “Do’s and Don’ts” along with instructions for use. Typically, the first couple of pages in this manual include “Rules for Safe Operation.” Things like:
- Keep guards in place.
- Keep the work area clean.
- Always wear safety glasses.
- Disconnect power tools before servicing.
Have you ever actually read all the way through this list? Start to finish? Too often we assume (and probably are right) that we know most of the safety guidelines given. (What tool does NOT include the directive: Always wear safety glasses?) We also understand that these lists are typically things not to do in order to keep us safe.
Many people think that same things about the Ten Commandments. We see them simply as a good, general collection of rules and things not to do in order to keep our life successful and in “working order.”
- Do not make anyone or anything else a god in front of me.
- Do not commit murder.
- Do not steal.
- Do not covet your neighbor’s things, especially his wife.
We have heard these so often that we may even skim over the list, thinking we have seen them before.
Right in the middle of the list found in Deuteronomy, however, is not a prohibition, but a reminder. “Remember,” Moses says, “that you were slaves in Egypt… and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Dt. 5.15).
If we view the Ten Commandments as a list of things not to do and list so familiar there is very little need to rehearse its contents, we are prone to miss this word of comfort. Yes, it is a word of comfort. Not a command to keep by avoiding sinful acts, but a blessing to be embraced by remembering the power of God. Not a prohibition to restrict our actions, but a reminder that the reason we keep the Sabbath is because God, the God who created the world and who loves you, rescued you. You can have rest when it is the Lord who provides it.
The Ten Commandments are the stipulations of the covenant that God made with the Israelites, giving instructions to the Israelites as to how they are to live their lives in relationship with God. When you look at the list of these “10 Words,” what stands out to you? What surprises you or causes you to wonder as to the reason for their inclusion?
How do these commandments compare to what you might have given to a group of people who were going to be “your people?” What might have you added that was not included in this list?
Why do you think the Sabbath was an important part of this list of ten commands? What does Moses, the narrator of this passage in Deuteronomy, say is the reason the Israelites should consider the Sabbath day important? In what ways does the Sabbath remind you of the ways you were enslaved and God rescued you?