Deuteronomy 5:15 “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”
Why keep the Sabbath? The children of Israel had been wandering in the wilderness for forty years when Moses reviewed the 10 commandments with them in Deuteronomy chapter 5. There were any number of events the Lord could have commanded them to remember to drive his point about Sabbath-keeping home. He could have told them to remember how he had sent poisonous snakes to punish them when they grumbled. “So keep my command about the Sabbath now, or else.” He could have reminded them how they had made him so angry at Mt. Sinai when they worshiped the golden calf that he was ready to destroy them all. “See what happens when you mess with my worship.”
Instead, the Lord asked them to remember that they had once been slaves in Egypt. They had no rest, no relief from their work there. But the Lord delivered them. He set them free. He gave them rest. They were helpless to do anything about their slavery in Egypt, so the Lord stepped in, drove Pharaoh to his knees, and delivered them. On the Sabbath day they could set their worries aside, and their minds could be at ease, because they remembered that they had a God who cared. A God who did this much for them must be a God who loves them, a God they could trust, a God who would take care of their needs.
That is what the Lord still wants for us with the third commandment. Which day is not important. He knows what life is like for us. He knows how often we break his laws. He knows many times others hurt us. He knows how we hurt the people we know. He understands the slavery we live in, because we sin and suffer from a sinful world. His prescription? It’s the same one it’s always been: Get plenty of rest. Off load your guilt on Jesus. Come to church and be assured that Jesus has set us free. Remember the cross. Remember that Jesus did everything to win forgiveness and heaven for us. There is nothing left for us to do. And be assured that such a God who loves us this much is with us every step of the way. He stands beside us through good times and bad, holding us up, keeping us going, moving us on. This is the rest that we find each Sunday at church, in Bible class, or in our Bibles at home.
This is the reason the words “Remember the Sabbath day” still have meaning for us. God still wants us to gather around his word, where he still gives us rest for our souls.