An important part of the fourth commandment is God’s instruction to work (Ex. 20:9), a point often missed. Legitimate work glorifies God and has eternal significance (Eph. 6:5-8) if done in balance with appropriate rest. That’s the underlying truth of this commandment.
Effective and God-honoring labor is impossible without rest. That’s why God ordained a rhythm of work and rest based on His actions during the 7 days of creation (Ex. 31:17). When we tamper with this pattern, we get in trouble. During the French Revolution when the 7-day week was lengthened to a 10-day week, even the horses got sick. Without renewal, the body breaks down.
But there’s a deeper spiritual significance to observing a day of rest. While we must avoid all legalistic attitudes and practices regarding it (Rom. 14:5-6), we need a regular time to reflect on our relationship with God—a rest not merely for physical renewal but for spiritual renewal. We must ponder what Christ has done for us on the cross and experience the rest that comes by trusting completely in His finished work (Heb. 3–4).
Do we need to take a new look at this old commandment about God’s rest day?
When we take time for fun and play,
For rest along life’s busy way,
And when we pause to kneel and pray—
We’ll be renewed from day to day. —DJD
Our rest day gives meaning to the rest of the week.