What does God require in the fourth and fifth commandments?

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Fourth, that on the Sabbath day we spend time in public and private worship of God, rest from routine employment, serve the Lord and others, and so anticipate the eternal Sabbath. Fifth, that we love and honor our father and our mother, submitting to their godly discipline and direction.

Leviticus 19:3

Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.

Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

Commentary

The word of God…commands things against the grain which you don’t do. It tells you: Your God is one (Dt 6:4); worship one God. What you want is to put away the one God.… You are told to observe the Sabbath in a spiritual way, in hope of the future rest which the Lord has promised you.… But you, the reason you want to rest is in order to work, whereas you ought to be working in order to rest. You are told, Honor you father and mother (Ex 20:12). [But] you heap insults on your parents, which you certainly don’t want to endure from your children.

In the Holy Spirit, that is, in the gift of God, everlasting rest is promised us.… Of that we have already received the pledge. That’s what the apostle says: Who gave us the Spirit as a pledge (2 Cor 1:22). If we have received a pledge so that we may be at peace in the Lord and in our God…we shall also in him from whom we have received the pledge be at rest forever. That will be the sabbath of sabbaths.… So the…commandment about the Sabbath…we should acknowledge in a spiritual way.… God hallowed the seventh day when he had made all his work, as we read it written in Genesis…God rested from his works (Gn 2:2–3). It was not because God was tired that it had to say God rested from his works, but that word contains a promise of rest for you as you toil away.… God rested, to give you to understand that you too will rest…and rest without end.

Honor you father and mother (Ex 20:12). It’s your parents you see when you first open your eyes.… If anyone fails to honor his parents, is there anyone he will spare?… Change you ways. You used to love the world; love God. You used to love the futilities of wickedness, you used to love passing, temporary pleasures; love your neighbor.

Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine is considered a saint and Doctor of the Church by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions, his most known work, but he is also one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works with hundreds of separate titles (including apologetic works, texts on Christian doctrine, and commentaries) and more than 350 preserved sermons.

From “Sermon 9” in Saint Augustine: Essential Sermons, edited by Daniel Doyle, translated by Edmund Hill (New York: New City Press, 2007), 27–28, 30–32.

Further Reading

“Worship” and “The Family” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

Prayer

With Christ nothing is impossible. He can soften hearts which seem hard as a millstone. He can bend stubborn wills which for…years have been set on pleasing the self, on sin, and on the world. He can create and transform and renew and break down and build and bring to life with irresistible power. Let us hold to this blessed truth and never let it go…. Let us pray for a right understanding of the law of the Sabbath. Let us…keep the day holy and give it to God.

John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

From Luke by J. C. Ryle, series editor Alister E. McGrath (Wheaton: Crossway, 1997), 187.