The Center

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11

Did you know that in its literary structure that the Ten Commandments have as its center the Sabbath commandment?

It’s true.

Many years ago Dr. Jacques Doukhan pointed out to a class I was taking that the commandments could be divided into three groups according to the form of the words used to refer to God. Commandments one and two are written with God being referred to in the first person, using the pronouns “I”and “me” several times. In commandments three through five God is referred to in the second person, as if it was someone else talking about God. The second person pronoun “him” was used in commandment three referencing God. In the third group, commandments six through ten, there is no reference to God at all.

Of these three groups the sabbath commandment is in the middle group and it is the central commandment of that group. But here’s another exciting literary fact; the sabbath commandment, itself, has a literary structure, called a chasm, which gives it a center. Allow me to illustrate:

Center        The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God
3.                      Do work              Do no work
2   Six days you labor.             Six days God made
1     Sabbath day holy.               Sabbath day holy

So you see the center of the Ten Commandments is the sabbath commandment and the center of the sabbath commandment is the statement, “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God”, which makes this statement the very center of the Ten Commandments.

Whenever God uses this kind of literary device in the Bible he does so so that he can highlight the most important message in a list of important messages.

Many commentators have pointed out that the fourth commandment is the only one beginning with the word “remember”. Many others point out that the fourth commandment contains the words that are God’s seal of authority in the Ten Commandments. Friends, those words, and that seal, are the very center of the Ten Commandments. They are so located so that God can make it clear who he is and that he’s calling us to himself on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.

While men have tried to, God has never changed his word. He still calls us to himself every sabbath day. He loves us, he made us, he redeemed us and he longs for us. Will you remember and spend his sabbath with him?

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