Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even in plowing and harvesting seasons, you must rest.
I. A COVENANT RENEWED. Mark how in connection with this there is -
(1) A new command to ascend the mount.
(2) A new command that the mount shall not be touched.
(3) A new manifestation of the Divine glory. Yet how different!
(4) A new giving of the law.
(5) A new rehearsal (in summary) of the "rights."
(6) A new fast of forty days and forty nights.
II. A COVENANT RENEWED ON THE BASIS OF INTERCESSION. We have even more than this - we have a "shadow of the Cross" (ch. 32:32). Peace made by
The bestowal of the blessing on this ground -
1. Prevented the people from looking lightly on sin, or from imagining that God looked lightly on it.
2. Conserved the Divine honour.
3. Gave a higher value to the gift.
4. Put honour upon Moses.
5. Taught that blessings can be won from God by intercession. - J.O.
Thou shalt rest.
"Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest"; that is, you shall not violate the Sabbath-day because it is harvest. I have heard persons say, It has been six days very wet; the corn is standing, and Sunday happens to be a bright sunny day; and they say, We ought to go and cut down the corn on the Sabbath-day. Here is a provision for this very possibility. God says, Even in harvest and earing time you shall still keep the Sabbath sacred to God. And I have noticed, although I admit my observation has been very limited, that that man who has cut down his corn on the Sunday in order to get it in well, did not succeed one whir better in the long run than he that observed the Sabbath as holy, and waited for sunny week-days in order to do his week-day work. I admit that there are works of necessity and mercy that are proper to be done on the Sabbath-day; and I can conceive the possibility that a time may come — an autumn may come when, even upon the Sabbath-day, you should be obliged to cut down the corn in consequence of unfavourable weather on the week-days; but you should first be well satisfied that there is no prospect of sunshine during the six days that are to follow. Do not forget that God said — not as ceremony but morality — that in earing time, and in harvest even, thou shalt rest, or sabbatize, or keep the Lord's day.
I remember one time, many years ago, I was standing out for Sunday, but the owners could not bear the thought of the smacks laying to for the Sabbath. Well, the owner I sailed for wanted me to work on Sunday. I felt I could not, so I had to leave my berth. I walked about eight weeks after that in search of employment. Several owners asked me whether I wanted a situation. I asked them whether they wished me to fish on the Lord's day. They said, yes. I had to decline. Well, the money was getting short, and I used to go in the dark places on the sands to lift up my heart to God to help me to stand against this fierce temptation. I had no help at home. My wife, not loving my Saviour, could not understand my objection, and I have often seen her crying to think that she and the two little children would have no bread to eat. My faith told me that my Father in heaven would not let them be without bread and water — that would be sure. At length the time came when I had to take my watch to pledge to get bread. I started with a heavy heart, and when I got to the shop I could not gain, courage to go in for a long time. I walked up and down praying to God to keep ms strong and faithful and able to part with everything rather than to betray my trust. At last I went in, and there stood one of our Church helpers behind the counter. 'Hullo,' says he, 'Wilkinson, has it come to this?' He was a dear young Christian, and has been a minister of the gospel for many years now. He asked me what I wanted there. Then I told him I had come to pledge my watch to get bread for wife and children. The tears stood in both our eyes. At last he asked, 'How much do you want on it?' I said, 'I don't know; give me enough to get something to eat to-day; and to-morrow, perhaps, God may see fit to give me something to do where I can still serve Him.' Well, he gave me some money, and he shook hands with me, and said, 'Have faith and courage; keep trusting in the Lord, and He will bring you through.' And so He did. The next week three smacks had to be sold, and a Christian man bought one. He asked me to go as skipper of her. He told me, before I went to sea, not to do anything on Sundays if I could help it. That is twenty-six years ago, and that is how the Lord brought me through.
Observe the feastI.
THAT SEASONS FOR REJOICING WERE COMMANDED. Let those who think that the Old Dispensation was gloomy remember that there was Divine injunction for joy and feasting three times a year.
II. That these seasons for rejoicing WERE CONVENIENTLY APPOINTED. Not in winter, but —
1. In spring, Passover.
2. Summer, First-fruits.
3. Autumn, Ingathering.
III. That these seasons for rejoicing HAD A RELIGIOUS BASIS.
1. The feasts were "unto God."
2. Were in remembrance of Divine services which made rejoicing possible.
IV. That these seasons for rejoicing WERE CONNECTED WITH RELIGIOUS ACTS (vers. 17-19).
1. Personal dedication.
V. That seasons of rejoicing MUST NOT ENGENDER SLOVENLINESS AND UNCLEANNESS (ver. 18).
VI. That seasons of rejoicing MUST NOT BE DESECRATED BY UNNATURAL OR SUPERSTITIOUS CEREMONIES. "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk"; an outrage on nature and connected with witchcraft. In conclusion, if Judaism was a religion of joy, much more so is Christianity. The latter —
1. Was inaugurated as "glad tidings of great joy."
2. Its leading fact and doctrines are grounds of joy (1 John 1:1-4).
3. Its great central and fundamental principle is an occasion of joy (Romans 5:11).
4. The "fruit of the Spirit is joy."
5. It provides an eternity of joy.
6. But remember the joy of the Lord's your strength, and it is only in the Lord that we can rejoice evermore (Philippians 4:4).
Thrice in the yearWe will —
I. Draw your attention to THE INSTITUTION RECORDED IN THE TEXT. Consider —
1. Of what nature this appointment was: partly political, and partly religious.
2. What care God took to guard against the objections to which it was liable.
II. SUGGEST SOME OBSERVATIONS FOUNDED UPON IT.
1. The service of God is of paramount obligation.
2. They who serve the Lord shall be saved by Him.
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