“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
(Deuteronomy 5:15 ESV)
During the season of Lent, we’ve been focusing on the Ten Commandments at Prince of Peace. This last week, we looked at the Third Commandment. However, there’s another aspect of this command that I did not bring out.
We see the Commandments listed for us a second time in Deuteronomy 5. And the above passage is connected to this Commandment. We’re told in this passage that the Sabbath reminds us of our redemption.
As he commands the people of Israel to remember the Sabbath and to rest on this day, he reminds them of their bondage in Egypt. It's taught by many that this explained to them the reason for allowing rest even to their servants on the Sabbath. However, although this is true, I believe it's for something more.
He goes on to remind them that God brought them out of captivity by his power. The people, themselves, had played no role whatsoever in their salvation. And, for this reason, he says, they’re to remember the Sabbath.
This day of rest, then, did something more than simply provide for them a day of physical refreshment. It reminded them that their redemption from Egypt was an act of grace on the part of God. He had done everything necessary to free them from their bondage. They had done nothing to accomplish this great blessing.
The Sabbath also gives the same reminder to us. We weren’t saved from bondage in Egypt, like the Israelites. However, we were freed from the bondage of sin and death.
And, just like the Israelites, we played no role in this great work. God accomplished it all. He alone did everything necessary that we might have the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.
It was God who sent Jesus into the world to save us. It was Jesus who died on the cross, paying the penalty of our sin. And it was Jesus who rose from the dead, defeating the power of death.
We receive this great blessing through faith in Jesus. Yet, even faith is not something that we do by our own power. We are brought to faith, faith is created in our heart, by the work of the Holy Spirit.
For this reason, as we take a day of rest each week, we’re reminded of this important truth. We’re reminded that God did the work of redeeming us from our sin. We’re reminded that, if we’re to be saved, we must simply rest in him.
This truth is brought out also in Hebrews 4:10, which says: “…for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” As people who have received the redemption provided by Christ, we no longer strive to earn our salvation. We are, instead, able to simply enjoy the result of this great work of God.