Above All


Exodus 31:12-17 (ESV)

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.’”

Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths. Above all? What? Is He with the union or something? Why would giving everyone a day off every week be above all?

Note, this does not contradict Matthew 22:37b, where Jesus names the greatest commandment. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (ESV)

In fact, this is part of it; honoring the Sabbath is essential to loving God.

The Sabbath structures all of our lives – even those of atheists. There are lots of folks who want to erase any hint of Judeo-Christian tradition from our culture. Fine, let them promote an eight day week.

Good luck with that. The concept of a seven day week – with a work week and a weekend – is so central to the structure of civilization that it never occurs to anyone to rebel against it.

OK, so we all get that, but many Christians don’t realize how important honoring the Sabbath is. It’s essential to loving God because it structures our lives.

Each day is known by its position relative to the Sabbath. If we treat the Sabbath as just another day, the whole week loses its bearings. We may honor God for a moment but that stops being the pattern.

Actually, my description of the Sabbath as “a day off,” is offensive. It’s a day of rest, but so much more. Those who do not honor the Sabbath are acting as if they consider themselves more qualified than God to determine how it should be spent.

If He really is the Lord of our lives, we should live like it. Sabbath worship in the morning is not enough; the whole day should be set aside and made holy.

“Holy” means “separate to God.” That’s what the Sabbath is.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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