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In the Gates

A Sign Between Us

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.’”

It seems that, from the beginning, God intended one day of each week to be kept holy unto Him, for the purposes of remembering His redemption and contemplating His sovereign goodness. The Sabbath – now the Lord’s Day – is a “sign” between God and His people, one that He intends to continue through every generation of His children.

What does the Lord’s Day “sign”? The Lord Himself tells us: He intends to “sanctify” His people, to make us holy. He wants us to know that this is His purpose for us. In our busy lives, with all the distractions and enticements the world has to offer, we can all too easily lose sight of God’s sanctifying purpose for us, that we should be increasingly remade into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:12-18). In His grace, God set the Lord’s Day aside, one day in each week, for us to meditate on Him, His grace and might, and His sanctifying purpose for our lives.

Honoring this day as God intends can make all the difference in how we live during the other six. The low regard into which the Lord’s Day has fallen in our day – mornings for God, the rest for me – helps to explain why there is so little manifest holiness in the Body of Christ when we are dispersed throughout the world during the remaining six days of the 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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