Heidelbergian Children's Catechism (age 8- 10 years)
Lord's Day 38
We have come to the fourth commandment. It says that we must remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Sabbath is another word for day of rest. When God had created the heaven and the earth in six days, his work was done. On the seventh day God could enjoy looking at the fine results. It became a day of rest. But not only for God; He gave this day of rest as a present to the people. After they had been working for six days, they were allowed to take one day off to rest. Israel had become God’s own people. God had given the Ten Commandments with his own voice. Among the commandments, the fourth received much attention. The Lord had said to Moses:”1 order this day of rest to show to Israel that they belong to me. During the six days of the week they look forward to the rest on the seventh day. They may also look forward to the rest in the promised land of Canaan, and the rest that the promised Messiah will bring,” The children of God will enjoy the nicest rest you can imagine, and that is why God told us to remember the Sabbath day. Therefore we don’t work on that day. Much work was done in the tabernacle on the Sabbath, and later in the temple. The priests and Levites were twice as busy on that day. Do you know why? On the Sabbath no daily work was done, but there was freedom and time to serve God. That is how it went in the time of the people of Israel. Now the church is the people of God. Every Sunday we hear the Ten Commandments, including the command about the Sabbath, the day of rest. But there are some changes. We no longer look forward to the birth of Jesus Christ, for He was born. What is more, He rose from the dead on the first day of the week. From that time on we read in the Bible that the people came together to worship God on the first day of the week. When you plan to make a long bike ride, do you go away on an empty stomach and eat after you have come back? I am sure you don’t. First you eat and then you go. In the same way, we are first nourished in the church from God’s Word, and then we do the work of the six weekdays. On the Sabbath, fathers did not go out to do their daily work. In our time, they don’t work on the first day, the Sunday. They go to church. They also enjoy a day of rest with their children. There is work that needs to be done on Sunday. People who are ill and the elderly must be cared for. And water and electricity must be available. The police have to work, and there are more examples of people who have to work on Sundays. The Lord thinks that is good. Do not forget to bring money for the needy people. We also need to collect money for people who have to work in the church, and for theological education, because we always need new ministers. The Sunday is a great present, and God gives it for free!