Deuteronomy 5:15 – ‘And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: THEREFORE the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.’
Ever wonder why God commanded the keeping of the Sabbath? This verse directly explains why. We could sum it up in one word: TESTIMONY.
There was a time in the history of Israel that the people were slaves to the Egyptians. Think of it – an entire race of people kept as slaves; not large quantities of a nation sold into slavery, but the whole nation. The Jews were (all of them) a race of slaves under the oppressive hand of Egypt.
One of the worst things about being a slave (and there are many) is simply this: NO DAYS OFF. Nothing can spoil your hope like working arbitrarily day after day, endlessly without even the prospect of a day off to recouperate. Imagine never having a weekend to look forward to. The Egyptians you work for get days off, but you have never had a day off in your life, neither has your dad, or grandfather, or anyone in your race for the past three, or four hundred years.
After veritable centuries of work with no days off, God saves the Hebrews from slavery and makes a primary rule for them: TAKE A DAY OFF. Wow! YOU ARE FREE – from now on, you always get at least one day off a week. And guess what, it was a command. Does that seem like a command to rebel against? I wouldn’t want to!
Rebelling against a command like that shows total in-gratitude for the one who made you free.
Why was it a command? So that you would always remember God set you free, and gave you a chance to rest from your labors. There was a time in Israelite history when they never had a day off. Now, take a day every week forever so that you’ll always remember, you didn’t used to get this priviledge.
‘Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt… …THEREFORE the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.’
We must not forget what God has done for us; when God established the nation of Israel, many of the commands were for the express purpose of reminding them of what God had done for them: testimony.
Deut 6:12 – Beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, FROM THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE.
Deut 15:15 – AND THOU SHALT REMEMBER THAT THOU WAST A BONDMAN IN THE HOUSE OF EGYPT, AND THE LORD THY GOD REDEEMED THEE therefore I command hee this thing today.
Deut 16:12 – AND THOU SHALT REMEMBER THAT THOU WAST A BONDMAN IN EGYPT: and thou shalt obseve and do these statutes.
These are just a few verses that reveal that Israel was commanded to remember their bondage. Why remember their bondage? Gratitude – just like the Sabbath, are we going to be set free, and then CHOOSE to live like we are still slaves?
If we do not remember what God has done for us, or if we live as though He did nothing for us our hearts will become callous to God in ingratitude. If we are ingrateful to God for what He has done in our past, we will not be able to recieve what He wants to do for us now.
The law and the prophets ceaselessly reminded the people to remember God’s work in their behalf… further, it COMMANDED them ceaselessly to remember. But let me show you now something interesting from the New Testament.
John 8:31-33 – ‘Then Jesus said to those Jews which believed on him, If he continue in my word, the are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
And they answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, AND WERE NEVER IN BONDAGE TO ANY MAN: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?’
I’ve read right over this passage for years, and never really caught this until recently. These are the people of God speaking to their God who has come down to them in the flesh face-to-face. He declares that He wants to set them free. What is their response to that?
‘…we were never in bondage to any man…’
Wait… didn’t we just read three or four passages in which God commanded them to remember that they HAD BEEN in bondage?! Imagine being from a race of people enslaved whom God delivered from bondage, and commanded never to forget that you HAD BEEN slaves before He rescued you. Now imagine that the very God who rescued you, and commanded you never to forget came to speak with you in the flesh, and you tell Him to the face that you were never a slave to begin with. Do you see the height of ingratitude?
It is immediately kin to saying: “Listen, God, we’ve never needed you before, and we don’t need you now.”
Having now been so long delivered from Egypt, they had forgotten that they had been bondmen there… yet they sought also to school Jesus on the importance of observing the Sabbath-day! What was the reason for the Sabbath? To always ensure they would remember that God brought them out of the labor of their bondage, and into the rest of freedom.
But now, they had forgotten the bondage that God saved them from, and become entangled with a different Master: THE LAW. Remember: the Law was set in place so they would remember the Truth. But now they had forgotten the Truth, and served the Law.
Deut 6:12 – BEWARE LEST THOU FORGET THE LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
The man who was speaking to them [Jesus] was He who brought them out of the land of Egypt. He was the pillar of cloud, and the pillar of fire that led them forty years in the wilderness. He had brought them out of bondage in Egypt, and He was now arrived to them again to bring them out of bondage to the Law.
Galatians 4:4 & 5 – But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, TO REDEEM THEM THAT WERE UNDER HE LAW, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Yet, having forgotten to honor God for what He had already done for them, they were unable to recieve the salvaton He now sought to give them. The forms, and shadows of religion overshadowed the reality of where they had been, and of what God had done for them.
What has God done in your life? Are you seeking Him for a fresh move? Do you need His help today?
Call to remembrance what He has done for you; declare His work in your life.
Psalm 77:11-15 – I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thh doings.
Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.
Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.