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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 31

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verses 12-13

SABBATH KEEPING

‘And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep,’ etc.

Exodus 31:12-13

From the moment in which He created man, God required that one day in seven should be consecrated to Himself; and however this requisition may have formed the basis for much that is peculiar in the Jewish economy, the requisition itself must belong to all ages.

I. The Fourth Commandment differs from every other in the Decalogue in that it is not the authoritative publication of a law which might have been ascertained by natural religion. It is a sign, high, clear, and beautiful as the rainbow, that God is not unmindful of this earth, and has made known to it His will, and watches over its history.

II. The keeping of a Sabbath was a sign or symbol by which the Israelites might know what God they worshipped, even a God that could sanctify His worshippers.

III. The Commandment decides the proportion of time that we are to devote to God. After every six days of labour there is to be a solemn rest.

IV. By keeping the Sabbath the Israelites acknowledged Jehovah as Creator, and commemorated their deliverance from Egypt. We do the same in keeping the Christian Sabbath. As amongst the Jews the Sabbath was made to fall on the day of their deliverance from Pharaoh, so amongst the Christians it should fall on the day when their redemption was completed. With the Jews the Sabbath was a sign that their God had vanquished the Egyptians, divided the Red Sea, and led the nation to Canaan; with us it is a sign that our God hath defeated Satan, cleft the waters of death, and opened a way to the heavenly Canaan.

Canon H. Melvill.

Illustration

(1) ‘The rest-day gives us the time to take our bearings, and discover our latitude and longitude; to let the dazzle pass from our eyes, that we may see the eternal forms that rise majestically around our little life. To worship, to think, to pray, to help others, to hold converse with the great past and greater future, these ought to have a place in each Lord’s Day.’

(2) ‘That we now keep the first day rather than the last is in commemoration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and the practice of the Early Church, as evidenced in the Acts and the Epistles, is a certain indication of the Divine sanction for the exchange. Of old, men passed from work to rest, now we go forth from rest to work.’

(3) ‘Let preachers boldly declare that the Fourth Commandment still binds. The pulpit has given an uncertain sound in many places, and it has been given forth that the Fourth Commandment only applied to the Jews. But “the Sabbath was made for man,” Christ said, not for the Jews. We need a great deal more instruction on that point.

“Again, the whole principle of the Sabbath day has been misunderstood. People say that every day ought to be holy to the Lord, and so it should be; but six days a week we glorify God in work, and one day in rest.” ’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 31". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-31.html. 1876.
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