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Posts Tagged ‘Third Commandment’

Today’s Old Testament reading is Exodus 31: 1-18.  I reflect on verses 12-13:

12 And the Lord said to Moses, 13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.”

The Lord alone is holy and He alone sanctifies, makes us holy.  By keeping the Sabbath, I do not sanctify me.  By keeping His Sabbaths, the Lord sanctifies us  as through means, the means of grace, His Word and Sacraments. If I could make myself holy by my spiritual works and ways, I would stay home on a Sunday morning.  But by His grace, I know me, I would not so work to be holy!  

There is no ‘spiritual self-help’, as our help is in the Name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.  The Lord sanctifies us by His Word because the Lord knows, I need sanctifying. If I stay home on a Sunday, it is to evade His Word on His Sabbaths. His Law will show me that I am not holy and His Gospel will offer us the Holy One of God:  Jesus Christ in the work of the Holy Spirit so by faith we receive His grace, mercy and peace.  I think the reason people  stay away from His Word is the Old Adam and his lord, Satan, for he knows that the Lord will sanctify and lead in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Such is the Lord’s almighty and gracious will. It’s a pretty simple encouragement:  go to Church.  Hear His Word rightly preached and taught.  Be fed (Matthew 4:4John 6:51).

“You shall observe the worship day   That Peace may fill your home and pray,  And put aside the work you do, So God may work in you.”   Have mercy, Lord! (‘These are the Holy Ten Commands #581, hymn by Martin Luther, Lutheran Service Book)

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Indeed, how did ‘our‘ Sundays get so crazy?!  This article in the 8/28/11 Parade magazine has  7 or so steps you can do to “take back YOUR weekend” (emphases my own).  The article points out that so many activities and chores are shoved into Saturday and Sunday. ‘Church’ is even listed at the end of the list as one of the activities. And of course, that is the last mention of ‘church’ in the article.

This article points to  the 3rd Commandment:

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

In his teaching on the Commandment, Martin Luther says that the general worker needs a day of rest, but that’s all it becomes.  Even worse for all sorts of folks who, “…sin against this commandment who grossly misuse and desecrate the holy day, as those who on account of their greed or frivolity neglect to hear God’s Word or lie in taverns and are dead drunk like swine.”  Sadly, the difference between the 16th and 21th centuries are not all that difference due to the sloth of the Old Adam. I have a copy of a New York Times ad which states (from memory): The New York Times :  What Sundays are Made For. AARGH!  No. Truly, then ‘our’ Sundays become crazy, all upside down, not right in the head or the heart.

But Luther asks and answers the question:  What makes Sunday holy?  Answer:  the Word of God.  The Lord’s Word is the only way that Sundays do not become crazy!  For this article, the opposite of crazy is holy. It is His Word that makes holy the day but even more, by faith, the Word of God makes holy, or sanctifies you and I.

  • Personally, I think it significant that in other languages, such as Spanish, the 1st day of the week is called Domingo, the Lord’s Day. But Luther points out that during the week, as the Lord’s Church, we can come together for instruction in the Scripture and those hours are also Sabbath, rest, resting in His Word. Nevertheless, I think something is amiss when a day is considered ‘mine’, as in, “my Sunday”. It’s a day to remember that “without aid He did make us” (hymn verse)  and without our aid He did  redeem us.
  • I also think it is significant that the Lord’s Day, the Third Day in which He rose again from the dead, is the 1st day of the week, NOT MONDAY!  First things first to properly put into peace, not craziness, the work week:  His Word of Law and Promise.
  • I think it is significant that the commandment right after the 3rd (yeah, I know the 4th!) is “Honor your father and your mother”.  The Lord’s day is for the family in Christ and all the households therein.
  • It is also significant that  on the first day of the week, the same day the Lord rose again, the Lord created light by the light of His Word. If it’s own ‘lights’ by which we think we see then the darkness is great indeed! (see Luke 11:34-36)  But by the light of His Word we walk: “Thy Word is lamp unto feet, and a light unto my path”.  (Psalm 119:105)

And there is another level craziness to “what happened to OUR Sundays” when, as Luther taught, “… that other crowd, who listen to God’s Word as to any other trifle, and only from custom come to preaching, and go away again, and at the end of the year know as little of it as at the beginning.”  And again from the Large Catechism:  “Likewise those fastidious spirits are to be reproved who, when they have heard a sermon or two, find it tedious and dull, thinking that they know all that well enough, and need no more instruction. “  In our day and time those fastidious spirits want religious entertainment on a Sunday, not engagement. We want to satisfy the flesh, not have it crucified and so all the contemporary worship mania (see the funny video below).  And Luther calls this  need for no more instruction by the deadly sin of  sloth.  “…a malignant, pernicious plague with which the devil bewitches and befuddles the hearts of many so that he may take us by surprise and take the Word of God away from us.”  The Church becomes a religious club in which the Word is read but then ignored or debated or “dialogued”.  Sundays have become crazy in many churches looking calm.   From the conclusion of Luther’s explanation of the 3rd Commandment:

For let me tell you this, even though you know (the Word) perfectly and be already master in all things, still you are daily in the dominion of the devil, who ceases neither day nor night to steal unawares upon you, to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against the foregoing and all the commandments. Therefore you must always have God’s Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle, and the Word does not sound, he breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware.101] On the other hand, such is the efficacy of the Word, whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but creative, living words. 102] And even though no other interest or necessity impel us, yet this ought to urge every one thereunto, because thereby the devil is put to flight  and driven away, and, besides, this commandment is fulfilled, and [this exercise in the Word] is more pleasing to God than any work of hypocrisy, however brilliant.

“And celebrate the worship day                                                                                                    That peace may fill your home, and pray,                                                                              And put aside the work you do                                                                                                     so that God may work in you.                                                                                                      Have mercy, Lord!”

(“Here is the Tenfold Sure Command, by Martin Luther, #331, Lutheran Worship

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