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Article Info:
published: 10/8/13

You Shall Keep the Sabbath

The Fourth Commandment

You shall keep the Sabbath is the fourth of the 10 Commandments that God gave the Israelites through Moses. The Sabbath sets apart the seventh day of the week as belonging to Yahweh. People are to observe the Sabbath by resting from work, just as God rested from work on the seventh day of the creation account, as recorded in the book of Genesis. On the Sabbath, people are to worship God as they recover from the previous week's work and prepare for the next week's work. The Sabbath has been observed throughout history in Judaism and Christianity, although observance can vary in branches of Judaism and branches of Christianity. This commandment continues to be observed in the Jewish religion.

What is the Scripture reference? Exodus 20:8-11, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 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: 11 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" (KJV)

What is the relationship focus? People and God (commandments 1-4 emphasis people's relationship with God)

Is the commandment a prohibition? No (the commandment is saying what "must be" done as opposed to what "must not be" done)


According to Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and on the seventh day, he rested. This is the Biblical origins of the week. God blessed the seventh day of the week and made it holy.

The next mention of the seventh-day Sabbath rest was after the Israelites had left Egypt and were travelling through the desert complaining of hunger. God provided manna for them each morning for the first six days of each week.

They were not to save any manna from one day to the next. But on the sixth day, they were to collect enough manna for two days, so that they would not have to go out on the seventh day--the Sabbath.

Some disobeyed God's instructions so The LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” So the people rested on the seventh day."

When God later gave them the 10 commandments on stone, Israel was commanded to remember the creation Sabbath and keep it holy by not doing any work and allowing the whole household (see also proselytes) to cease from work.

This was in recognition of God’s act of creation and the special status that God had conferred to the seventh day during the creation week.


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