If you notice closely the two places in the Old Testament where the 10 Commandments are listed, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, you will see the reason we are to keep the Sabbath is different in each place.
In Exodus 20:11 we read it is because God made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them in six days.
In Deuteronomy 5:15 it says we are to keep the Sabbath as a reminder that God brought His people out of slavery in Egypt with a mighty hand.
So the Sabbath is actually a memorial both of creation and deliverance.
Today let’s discuss the first reason—keeping the Sabbath as a constant reminder of God as Creator. That reason hearkens back to the original institution of the Sabbath in Genesis 2:1-3, where it speaks of God blessing and sanctifying the seventh day, because in it, He rested from all the work He had done.
Therefore we keep the Sabbath to remember that God is the Creator of the whole vast universe we see around us—the stars, the planets, the earth, the trees, the grass, the mountains, the oceans, the animals, and of course man.
In this modern, technological age with so many people living in big cities, cut off from the land and soil and nature in general—it is very easy to forget who gave us these things. The Sabbath is always there to remind us of who produced all these things.
The Sabbath is a day for us to renew our appreciation of God’s awesome creation. Our thoughts should turn to these things on that day.
What are some of the things we should be thinking about on this day—and also be teaching our children?
First of all we need to think of the awesome size and grandeur of the universe. There are good books available, with amazing pictures, in brilliant color, showing the wonders of outer space — the rings of Saturn, the great spiral nebulae, etc. Remember what David said in Psalm 8:3-4, when he penned: “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him?” These things can humble us, as they did David.
Another thing we can think about is the astounding, seemingly miraculous, properties of plants. Look at the tremendous variety of trees. Consider the mighty redwoods of California for example. A study of these giants can be very rewarding.
But how about small plants and flowers? Look at the amaryllis? It can start as a little shoot about four inches tall, nestled in a little pot of dirt, sitting on your kitchen table. Within a couple of weeks it can grow to about two and one half feet tall, and soon after you will see it burst out on top into gorgeous, brightly colored flowers! Amazing!
When you watch something like that you are made to think of Matthew 6:28-29, where Christ said: “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
So we can see spiritual lessons even in plants.
How about animals? Psalm 50:10-11 tells us that all the animals belong to God. The variety He has created is astounding. We don’t even know all the species that are in existence. There are things under the ocean that man has never even seen, yet God knows about them and cares for them.
The Bible talks a lot about animals, and we can learn spiritual lessons from them. We are told to go to the ant to learn about diligence and hard work. We also read about the nature of lions, and how Satan’s nature can be reflected in them. We can learn from pets. Many of us have dogs or cats. We can marvel at the skills and personalities God has put in these creatures.
The Bible also tells us how God feeds the creatures of the wild, and shows us that if He does this for them, He will certainly take care of our needs.
Have you ever studied migratory birds? We marvel at their ability to travel thousands of miles to a designated spot every year, using a navigational system better than any humanly devised GPS.
The Sabbath is a great time to read about these things and talk to our children about them. There may even be some nature shows that can be appropriate for your children to watch on the Sabbath, with parental guidance.
And God is an artist! He loves beauty. He creates the beautiful sunsets. One interesting fact I had pointed out to me years ago is that in nature colors do not clash. If you see a horse or a herd of cattle out in a field—no matter what color they are—they never clash with the background of vegetation. But put humans out there with their different colored clothing, or with their different colored vehicles, and there is a good chance they will clash with the background.
And then, of course, we should think about the gorgeous fall foliage God provides in many parts of the world. And how about the wild flowers that come out in the spring? We see acres or miles of awe-inspiring colors that God freely gives to man.
One natural phenomenon that I really enjoy is clouds. Maybe it’s because I have always been interested in weather and even started majoring in meteorology in college at one time.
There is something glorious about clouds. I always loved to see the morning stratus clouds that come up off the Gulf of Mexico in the US State of Texas in the spring and summer months. They move very swiftly on the wind, and then at about mid-morning they have what is called the “morning breakup.” There may be just a few drops of moisture, and then the sun breaks through, lighting up the clouds as they billow up in their full glory—so big and so close you feel you could reach up and touch them.
Learn about clouds. There are many types. There are lots of picture books on the subject. Teach your children about weather phenomena. The Sabbath is a good time to do that.
God uses weather phenomena in the Bible as spiritual symbols. Rain is pictured as a blessing. Water is a type of the Holy Spirit—and so is wind. And yes, clouds are used as a symbol of glory in the Bible. There will be clouds surrounding Christ’s second coming. Just look at Matthew 24:30: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
And then, lastly, what about snow? One fascinating aspect of snow, of course, is the beautifully designed snowflakes that we can observe with their almost infinite variety. Another thing about snow is how its beautiful, pure whiteness covers everything. This is used in Isaiah 1:18 to typify God’s forgiveness, where we read: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
Yes, God uses all these things in His physical creation to teach us spiritual truths—if we will only take time to observe and study them. And the Sabbath day is a great time to do this, because this day was instituted to keep us ever mindful of the great God, who created all the things we see around us.
by Bill Eastburn