Exodus 20:8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do.
But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don't do any work - not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town.
For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day. (Message)
God sets the example in the creation. He makes the whole word in 6 days and then stops. I read this morning...
Genesis 2:3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he ceased all the work that he had been doing in creation. (NET)
I like that the NET uses ceased instead of rested. it's not that God stopped because he was tired. The word has more than the idea of rest. in their note on Exodus 20:8 they inform us, "The word “Sabbath” is clearly connected to the verb שָׁבַת (shavat, “to cease, desist, rest”)." God stopped working on the creation, like a good artist. However, Jesus has been doing some work over the past 2 millenia. He is preparing a place for us in heaven, John 14:2, and that's real exciting if he only spent 7 days on this universe and has spent 2000 years on preparing rooms for us in heaven.
God adds an addendum to the command a few chapters later.
Exodus 31:13-14 "Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. "'Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. (NIV)
We encounter yet another commandment with a death penalty. This was enforced during the wilderness wanderings in Numbers 15
30 "'But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the Lord and must be cut off from their people. 31 Because they have despised the Lord's word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.'" 32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses. (TNIV)
Before the commandment was given, there was a foreshadowing of this in the manna collection, in Exodus 16:23-30
He told them, "This is what the Lord has said: 'Tomorrow is a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you want to bake, and boil what you want to boil, and everything left over set aside to be kept until morning.' "
So they set it aside until morning as Moses commanded, and it didn't smell or have any maggots in it.
"Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the Lord. Today you won't find any in the field.
For six days you may gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none."
Yet on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they did not find any.
Then the Lord said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep My commands and instructions?
Understand that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day He will give you two days' worth of bread. Each of you stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day."
So the people rested on the seventh day. (HCSB)
to be continued...