I am not an expert in theology. I have never been to seminary. But studying the 10 commandments I am pretty sure I can make a good guess at the commandment least followed by Christians. Most of us do not have an inclination to murder someone, so that is probably not it. Stealing is also not at the top of my list of things to do. The fourth commandment, however, is to remember the Sabbath day, and to keep it holy.
As a follower of Christ I have made so many excuses of why I do not have to follow this commandment. One of them I used was Matthew 12:11 "He said to them, 'If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?'" I extended this verse to my homework that I would wait until Sunday night to finish, and to the cleaning of my room that just had to get done. I made excuse after excuse, but I have recently realized that God gave us the Sabbath day for us to rest. For us to do the bare minimum on the Sabbath and to rest in His presence. Not to finish the job you just could not get done during the week. If your dog needs to be fed to survive, then feed your dog. Just as Jesus healed on the Sabbath you can do the things that are necessary. But do not vacuum the house because you think it is dirty. If you do not vacuum for one day, no one will be die. I know that for a fact.
I am currently roommates with a Messianic Jewish man from Washington State. A Messianic Jew believes that Jesus is the Messiah, but still follows a lot of the Jewish traditions that Jesus himself followed while on earth. For example, the celebration of the Passover and especially the keeping of the Sabbath. Last Friday night through Saturday night I kept the Sabbath with my roommate Steve. (Jewish people keep the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening because on Genesis 1:13 "And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day." Because of this verse the Jewish people see a new day starting on evening not in the morning).
We began the night by cooking enough food for the Sabbath before the sun set on Friday. Exodus 16:23 "He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.'" Cooking is work and is therefore not done on the Sabbath. We also started a fire in our wood burning stove before Sabbath because of Exodus 35:3 "Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day." Making a fire is also seen as work.
Next is to prepare for the Sabbath dinner. First, the Sabbath Candles were lit which symbolizes Moses' request to see God's glory. Next we sang a traditional Sabbath song "Shalom Aleichem." This is done to welcome the angels of the Most High to attend our Sabbath celebration, to bring peace to us and our household. Also to invite them to enjoy the shalom (peace) of the Sabbath with us. Next there were key chapters we read from Psalms 92, 95, 121, 122, 128, 146. The next in the order of events were the "Blessings Upon the Family." Each member of the family has verses that are read to bless them. To bless the Wife (Proverbs 31:10-31), To bless the Husband (Psalm 1 and Psalm 112), To bless the single adults (Psalm 84:4, 5, 11, 12 and Hebrews 84:5, 6, 12, 13), To bless the Sons ("May God establish you like Ephraim and Manasseh"), To bless the Daughters ("May God establish you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah"), and the Final Blessing over All (Numbers 6:22-24). Depending on what sect of Judaism some more things are added and some things are removed, but this is the basis of what happens. We then ate the dinner after washing our hands.
It was an amazing way to start the Day of Rest. As we read the scriptures, I also thought about how often we read scriptures around the table in most Christian families. The amount of Scriptures we read together this one Friday night is more than most Christian families read together in a year or even a lifetime.
The next morning when I woke up, I did everything that NEEDED to be done. I fed the sheep and the dogs and that was about it. I did not clean the cages or finish the projects that could wait until tomorrow. At the end of this Sabbath I felt rested and I also felt like I had really kept the commandment given to Moses by God to keep the Sabbath Holy.
I am not writing this to preach to anyone or accuse anyone. I am writing this to show you how Jewish people celebrate the Sabbath and remind you of the fact that we need to have a day of rest as well. In Genesis, it does not say that the seventh day was a Saturday or a Sunday. But it is pretty clear that God rested on the seventh day. So whether your Sabbath is a Monday, Sunday, Friday, etc. you need to rest. If God needed rest, than we need it all the more.
Have a great day and Shabbat Shalom!!
P.S. I will be spending the night in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. I am so excited and there will be more details to come as Christmas gets closer!