The fourth commandment is a wonderful commandment about rest. In it, the Israelites were called to reflect on the work of creation, particularly the One who created everything. They were to reflect on it and allow that reflection to shape their present way of life. According to one theologian, man is commanded to remember things 100 times in the scriptures; 69 of those times God or his saving acts are the objects to recall.
So what does the Sabbath teach us about God’s saving work in creation? First the Sabbath is about resting, its about stopping, particularly about stopping trying to be holy. A few chapters later in Exodus God makes this clear when he gives Moses a message for the nation,
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’ (Exodus 31:13).
As Christians, we know that the fulfillment of this teaching is found in Jesus Christ. The Sabbath didn’t make anyone holy, nor did its observance. And the same is true today, but Jesus can and does make people holy. He alone can make us holy. Jesus allows us to rest from trying to be acceptable to God, because he invites us into his fully acceptable life, the life with which God is well pleased. Reflect on these verses which speak about our holiness in Christ,
“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — their Lord and ours:”(1Corinthians 1:2).
“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”(1Thessalonians 3:13).
“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”(Hebrews 2:11).
“And by [God’s] will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”(Hebrews 10:10)
Jesus is our Sabbath, the one who makes us holy and the one who allows us to enter into the rest of God.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:1-11)