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In the Gates

Keep it Holy

The Fourth Commandment

 Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy


Deuteronomy 5.12-15

“‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.’”

In both of these givings of the fourth commandment the purpose is the same: to keep the day holy. Whatever is holy is “set apart” for a particular purpose, and that purpose is defined by the holy God, and not ourselves. God is holy, and He has expressly declared how He intends that we should use this one day each week. Do we dare to suppose that we know better than He how to “set apart” this day?

The Lord’s Day is kept holy when the Lord’s people embrace His holy purposes – remember and guard the Sabbath as a day to rest in God’s creation, providence, and redemption. There is nothing tedious or “boring” about this – unless, of course, being in the unobstructed presence of the Lord is somehow not a delight to you.

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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