The middle verses explaining the 4th commandment, Exodus 20:9-10, say, “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, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.” Just as an interesting observation here, the Hebrew word “Sabbath” is also the world for “seven.” That comes from the creation account that the day God rested was the seventh day. There might be something to the fact that Moses lists exactly seven things or people that should not work: 1) you, 2) your son, 3) your daughter, 4) your male servant, 5) your female servant, 6) your livestock, and 7) sojourners. This was a common literary device used to aid in memorization. No one had their own copies back in those days and this served their memories. This was probably even more important here because the commandment in verse 8 begins with “remember the Sabbath.” Matthew uses a similar device recording Jesus’ genealogy (a discussion for another time).

It seems to me that God desires all the hustle and bustle in and around us to just stop for the day! You have six days to live in the world of sowing and reaping, meeting deadlines and expectations of employers, teachers, parents and everyone else in the world. Let that be enough and step off the treadmill for a day and focus your attention on the work that God has done for you.  Don’t ask anyone around you to do work either! We don’t make the Sabbath Holy by not doing any work, though. The Sabbath is already Holy because God “ceased” all His work on that day in the creation account. It’s already Holy! We can “keep it holy” by resting in the finished work of God.

We can’t make the Sabbath Holy, but we can defile it. We do that by doing those things that we should do on the other six days. “Six days you shall Labor and do all your work.” That too is a command. Do your work on those six days and then take the Sabbath rest to reflect on the greatness, fullness, and completeness of God’s work. When our “works” become the focus on our Sabbath day, we defile the Sabbath day. It’s no longer “Holy” for us if our attention is upon trying harder in life to be a better person, or doing more good deeds, or giving more for good causes, or on anything that we “do” as opposed to what God has done for us. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, it’s not of works lest any man should boast. It is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9).