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published: 10/8/13

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The 4th Commandment: You Shall Keep the Sabbath

What does "you shall keep the Sabbath" mean?


You shall keep the Sabbath is the fourth of the 10 Commandments.

Summary: "As the 1st commandment inculcates the unity of God and the 2nd His spirituality, so also the 3commandment guards His name against irreverent use and the 4th sets apart the seventh day as peculiarly His day, reserved for a Sabbath." (IBSE)

Scripture: 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)

Relationship focus: People and God

Prohibition: No

The Fourth Commandment

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.

The 10 Commandments

The 1st Commandment:
You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me
The 6th Commandment:
You Shall Not Murder
The 2nd Commandment:
You Shall Not Make for Yourself Any Graven Images
The 7th Commandment:
You Shall Not Commit Adultery
The 3rd Commandment:
You Shall Not Misuse the Name of God
The 8th Commandment:
You Shall Not Steal
The 4th Commandment:
You Shall Keep the Sabbath
The 9th Commandment:
You Shall Not Commit False Witness
The 5th Commandment:
You Shall Obey Your Parents
The 10th Commandment:
You Shall Not Covet


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