(Article for publication week of 3-3- AD 2016)
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 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 in thy gates: 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" (Exodus 20:8-11).
The first thing that we learn from the Fourth Commandment is that our time is not our own. God created us for His glory, not for our own glory. Every man belongs to God by creation. Since we are His property He has the authority to command us in every aspect of our lives. The Christian is doubly the property of God because we have been purchased with the blood of Christ, and redeemed from the ruin of Adam's Fall (I Corinthians 6:20). This is a lesson we will do well to learn soon, and the sooner the better. It is a terrible sin to imagine that you can do whatever you want without regard to what God has commanded. Every day, and every moment of our lives are lived under the gaze of Jehovah God who created us, and now sustains us. "In Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
Our catechism asks us the question, "what is the chief end of man?" Our prescribed answer is "the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." The Fourth Commandment teaches us to consider our purpose in life, and the proper motive for everything that we do. If you do not desire to glorify God, then I am quite certain that you do not now enjoy God. And if you do not now enjoy God, I am sure you will not enjoy Him in eternity. The Fourth Commandment requires us to seriously reflect on the very purpose of our existence. Unconverted people in reality have no real purpose in life. Dear reader if your only purpose in life is to seek temporal pleasure, then you are of all men most miserable. Right now is the beginning of forever, and it behooves us to begin right now glorifying God and enjoying Him with our time.
Note well, the Fourth Commandment not only commands us to rest one day in seven, but it also positively commands us to work six days a week. The command to work six days a week is of equal importance with the command to rest the seventh day. Our work should prepare us for our worship, and our worship should prepare us for our work. God created Man to work (Genesis 2:15), and the Fourth Commandment reminds us of our original creation and the purpose of our existence. We are to give glory to God in our earthly callings by labouring with a sense of duty to our Great God. So , you see we may break the Fourth Commandment as much by idleness, as by unlawful labour on the Sabbath.
The inspired Psalmist, Moses, prays in Psalm 91:12, "so teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." If you will learn to rightly number your days, then honour the Lord with your time, by remembering the sabbath day to keep it holy, and by being faithful in your vocation. You are not your own, and your time is not your own. Submit yourself to God and His precepts in all that you do, every moment of every day. This is the underlying principle of the Fourth Commandment.