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In the Gates

A Covenant Forever

The Fourth Commandment


Exodus 31.12-17

And the LORD said to Moses, You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”

Thus, the Lord’s Day is a perpetual covenant between the Lord and His people. God defines the terms of this covenant, intending it for our good, but guarding it with sanctions of discipline for those who fail to keep covenant with Him. The Lord’s Day is meant for our refreshment in Him. We can be sure that, if we fail to keep this day holy unto the Lord we will suffer. Our souls will not be refreshed, and we will not have the spiritual strength to seek the Kingdom and righteousness of God throughout the week. Thus we will lay ourselves open to temptation and sin, until it pleases God to bring us under His discipline.

The weakness of the Church today is directly traceable to our low regard for the Lord’s Day. This is not a “free day” for us to do with as we please. If we take this attitude toward the Lord’s Day, we will be the losers, for we will not know the refreshing power and presence of God like we might if we practiced remembering and guarding the Lord’s Day with all vigilance, week after week.

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to and click on our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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