Israel is camped on the eastern side of the Jordan. They had taken possession of the lands of the king of Bashan and two kings of the Amorites. Once again, at this crucial moment, Moses calls Israel together and reminds them that the covenant made at Sinai was not just for their parents but for them, too. He then goes on to repeat the Ten Commandments, again for their benefit.
Compare Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15. What is the difference in the way the Sabbath commandment was expressed in them?
In Exodus 20:8, the commandment begins with the word “Remember.” Deuteronomy 5:12 begins with the word “observe” (NKJV). The word “remember” comes a bit later in the commandment itself (Deuteronomy 5:15). In this verse, they are told to remember that they were slaves. Although this generation has grown up free, they would all have been born into slavery were it not for the miraculous rescue. The Sabbath commandment was to remind them that the same God that was active in the Creation story was also active in their deliverance: “the LORD, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 5:15, NABRE).
This truth fits the then-current circumstances of the Israelites, standing for a second time at the border of the Promised Land, some forty years after the first generation failed so miserably. They were as helpless in conquering this land as their forefathers were in escaping from Egypt. They needed this God who acts with a “strong hand” and an “outstretched arm.”
The Sabbath is about to take on an added dimension. Because God is the God of liberation, Israel is to keep the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:15).
Of course, creation is not far away from the Sabbath commandment, even in Deuteronomy 5, despite the added reason to keep it: the liberation of Israel. In a sense, the liberation of Israel out of the land of Egypt is the starting point of a new creation, similar to the Creation story in Genesis. Israel, as a liberated people, is God’s new creation (see also, for example, Isaiah 43:15).
And because the Exodus is seen as a symbol of freedom from sin, that is, Redemption, we can find in the Sabbath a symbol of both Creation and Redemption. Hence, in a very real way, the Sabbath points us to Jesus, our Creator and our Redeemer.
|Read John 1:1-13. What do these verses teach us about Jesus as our Creator and Redeemer?|