The Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy

Being Instructed by the Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Throughout the school year, students are required to remember many dates, definitions, names, numbers, facts, and figures. The voice of the teacher resonates in the minds of the students. Remember to read the next chapter. Remember to take notes. Remember to turn in your homework assignment. Remember to study for the test. Remembering the correct dates, definitions, names, numbers, facts, and figures is the key to getting good grades.

As the baptized children of God, we are disciples, that is, students of Jesus. We are learning to remember His Word to us. He is the Key to the knowledge of salvation. As those who have been saved His blood, we are beginning to talk and walk like our Teacher. We are learning to listen to Him.

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. In fact, the Sabbath day in the Old Testament was a type and shadow of the reality that we find in Jesus. In Jesus, we have rest and renewal. He teaches us to walk in newness of life. In Psalm 86 we are taught to pray, “Teach me Your way, O Yahweh, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.” We speak in prayer and He listens to us. He speaks in the external Word of God and we listen. He leads. We follow. He instructs. We grow.

His Word gives life. God created all things by His Word in six days. Then on the seventh day, God rested. Therefore, Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:11). The seventh day is the Sabbath, that is, a day of rest. The Sabbath is a sign that God makes us holy with His Word. Yahweh instructs Moses declaring, “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, Yahweh, sanctify you” (Exodus 31:13). His Word sanctifies. God makes us holy through the work of the Holy Spirit with His holy Word. Therefore, we do not make the Sabbath holy; instead, the Sabbath is a time of rest in God’s Word that makes us holy. Keeping the Sabbath holy means to regard God’s Word as holy.

In the First Commandment, we are instructed in true worship which pleases God. True worship is done in faith and with God’s Word. Without the Word of God, we do not have Christ, forgiveness, life, or salvation. Christ is our Advocate with the Father. In the Second Commandment, we are instructed in calling upon God’s name in prayer. Without faith, we cannot pray. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot walk in newness of life. The Holy Spirit is another Advocate. The Spirit of God is given to us in, with, and under the Word of God. In the Third Commandment, we are taught to rejoice in the Voice of God. When the Word is heard, God speaks to us and fills us with His Spirit. In turn, we speak to God in prayer. Thus, God initiates a divine dialogue. As we hear God, He hears us. However, we are warned that if we refuse to listen to God, He refuses to listen to us. When we reject the Word of God, we resist the work of the Holy Spirit. To despise God’s Word is to despise God.

The Devil is the despiser of God’s Word, and we saw that in the Garden of Eden. The Devil tempts us in order to lead us astray from God’s Word and away from God. The ancient serpent wants us to forget the Sabbath and neglect God’s Word. The evil foe draws ears to hear other voices in the wilderness. The cacophony of the Devil, the world, and our sinful nature call us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. They do not want us to hallow God’s name. They do not want the Word of God taught in its truth and purity. They do not want the children of God to lead holy lives according to it. They do not want God’s Kingdom to come to us or anyone else. Remember, “God’s Kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.” (Small Catechism, Lord’s Prayer: 2nd Petition) Again, notice that it is God’s holy Word. Through the holy Word of God, the Holy Spirit is continually given to us. The Holy Spirit makes us holy.

Apart from God’s Word, there is no life. All things were created by the Word of God. Apart from God’s Word, there is no redemption. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. We cannot separate God’s written Word from the incarnate Word of God, Jesus. He is also the incarnate Will of the Father. When we hear the Holy Spirit in the preached Word of the Apostles and the Prophets, we hear Jesus. When we hear Jesus, we hear the Father. Apart from God’s Word, there is no sanctification. The Holy Spirit works through the external Word of God to “sanctify us and keep us in the true faith.” (Small Catechism, Apostles’ Creed: 3rd Article) In the Third Commandment, we are learning to remember the Sabbath day, that is, to gladly hear and learn God’s Word. To remember is to recall, contemplate, and mediate on the instruction of Jesus, our Teacher.

Rev. Brian L. Kachelmeier serves as pastor at Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, Los Alamos, NM

Created: April 18th, 2017