God's Ten Words at Sinai and the Ten Things God Said at Creation—Four Through Six
This article will study the fourth, fifth, and sixth of the "Ten Words" from Exodus chapter 20, otherwise more commonly known as the Ten Commandments, and connect them with the ten things God says in the creation account.
The more literal rendering of the "Ten Commandments" as "Ten Words" is not meant to imply that these ten things God spoke are simply suggestions. Instead, it adds concreteness to the understanding that what God speaks is of supreme significance and every created thing, but humankind obeys His Word. When God speaks, everything is supposed to listen.
"He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast."
— Psalm 33:9
The summary of the first three Words and Sayings set a firm foundation of the revelation of our need for an established relationship with God through the delivering work of His one and only Son. A necessary element of that relationship includes a setting apart of ourselves for Him by having no other gods, distinguishing Him above all else, and exalting His name rather than tearing it down by representing Him in the way we speak and live.
The Fourth of the Ten Words
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
— Exodus 20:8-11
I find this one to be somewhat intriguing in that it is ranked before, "You shall not murder," and yet it is one that most typically is "considered" optional of all the things God spoke. Maybe that is why God punctuated this Word by beginning it with "Remember" The following portion of Scripture clearly shows what it is that God wants us to remember.
“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end—then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.
— Deuteronomy 8:11-19
By not observing His Word to observe the Sabbath, we won't remember what He did or why He did it. We will, inevitably, begin to think that our power and might has saved us and gotten us where we are.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
— Ephesians 2:8-10
I sincerely believe that the importance and value of the fourth "Word" to observe the Sabbath is relative to resting in the completed work of Christ on the cross and further exampled by the children of Israel's entrance into the promised land of milk and honey. Their entry to the land was a forward glance at our eternal rest with Him. Recall when they entered into the land under Joshua's leadership, God reminded them that they did not work for it. In the same way, we have not earned our salvation nor eternal position by our own works, but instead by the work of God alone. Jesus is our Joshua leading us to that eternal rest.
"I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’
— Joshua 24:13
Notice the mention of vegetation as we will be connecting this with the fourth thing God said.
The Fourth "And God Said"
“Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth.”
— Genesis 1:11
God provided vegetation as a symbolic type of resting in God's works and provisions and not our own in the very beginning. Notice the trees, on the first day, were all edible, symbolizing provision.
I also note that all of these elements are green. Scientifically speaking, green is the most "restful" color to the human eye, according to Gretchen Reynolds, a "New York Times" blogger, in an article she wrote titled "Easing Brain Fatigue With a Walk in the Park"1.
PBS also hosted a special about ergonomics. The presentation showed how, in specific work environments, green was strategically used as eye relief. They visited a watch repair shop that used green countertops to alleviate eye strain as repairers focused on their intricate work. They also noted some hospitals were using green surgical gowns for the same reason.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
— Genesis 1:8-9
When Adam and Eve left the garden (communion with God,) they lost their provision.
Cursed is the ground for your sake (because of you); In toil you shall eat of it . . . In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
— Genesis 3:17,19
In Genesis chapter two, God instructs Adam to "tend' and "keep" the garden. The Hebrew word "tend" is most typically translated in the Bible as "serve," which is primarily tending to someone else's work. In terms of the "Garden," It was God's work that Adam was to serve Him. This Hebrew word is also the same as the word for "serve" as it pertained to the priests in God's temple.
We see in Genesis three, after Adam's disobedience, that man's life will now depend on the earth from which he came and require sweat and toil for his physical existence.
Observing the Sabbath for us includes remembering and recounting that. Unless God had done what He did in sacrificing His one and only Son, and His Son's willingness to do it, that is all we would have; a life of toil for absolutely nothing, and the final result would be eternity without Him.
Jesus also references plant life as totally dependent on God for its growth and success in His discourse to those who follow Him to not worry about the things of this life but to be totally dependent on the God who truly cares for them.
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.
— Matthew 6:28-29
Paul uses the analogy of planting and growing as he addresses the problem of some early "churchers" who wanted credit for "their work." They were attempting to "grow" in status via their associations rather than through God
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
— I Corinthians 3:5-7
In this study, I hope we can see that the Sabbath is about so much more than church attendance. It's about genuinely considering who He is, what He has done, and setting Him apart for a whole day in our mind and our heart, expressing our faith in the activity of rest that He is the source of our salvation and success.
That is where we truly grow and can reproduce.
Some Additional Notes and Fascinating Facts Relating to the Seven Day Sabbath Cycle
The following information was gathered and presented by Vibrantlife.com. I am condensing the information that is relevant to this topic.
Franz Halberg of the University of Minnesota, the father of chronobiology," became interested in the subject when observing Physician friends of his parent's practice that patients with pneumonia either recovered or died in seven days.
Further research discovered that the human body seems to follow 7-day cycles such as heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature, urine chemistry, and volume. Even the common cold follows a 7-day pattern.
Malaria and pneumonia peak at seven days, chickenpox most usually appear 14 days after exposure. An increase in swelling occurs in surgical patients both on the 7th and 14th days after surgery.
Fifth of the Ten Words
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you."
— Exodus 20:12
This "Word" is also recited in the New Testament, with the observation that it comes with a promise.
“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
— Ephesians 6:2-3
To honor in Hebrew means to give weightiness and value and to esteem highly.
"Living long on the earth" is our connection to the next thing, "God said."
The Fifth "And God Said"
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.
— Genesis 1:14
At first glance, you may wonder what the connection is here. The Bible's beautiful thing is it will often explain itself because its messages, themes, and symbols are always consistent. As we will see, the connection finds its explanation in the story of Joseph.
Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
— Genesis 37:9-11
As is shown in the above verse, God uses this connection and comparison of the heavenly bodies with family. This same symbolic meaning is exhibited in the account of Abraham.
"blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore . . . "
— Genesis 22:17
God shows us that our earthly relationships are directly related to our spiritual, heavenly relationship with God. Our relationship with God strongly influences how we treat all others. This thought is a reminder that we are more than just earthly beings. We are spiritual.
The Sun represents God, and the moon His bride, the church, and the stars depict the children that they produce. And the heavens themselves background this picture with the infinity of eternity.
This father, mother, child relationship was always to depict God's relationship with His people and the blessed fruit that comes from that union.
God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply.
— Genesis 1:27-28
The phrase "That you may live long on the land" connects with our eternity with God as well as our length of days on this earth.
Is it possible that all of our relationships are technically transactions with God and spiritual? Honoring our mother and father is a mirror to honoring our creator God.
Sixth of the Ten Words
“You shall not murder."
— Exodus 20:13
Interesting that this is the "sixth" Word, considering that, according to biblical numerics, six is the number of the life of man. The sixth letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is the letter "vav," which represents the image of a nail. Nails, as Scripturally referenced, were an instrument of the crucifixion of Christ's innocent death. He was "led as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53) for our transgressions.
In John chapter eight, Jesus confronts the religious rulers of the day who were seeking to kill Him and refers to whose commands and ways they are obeying.
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning.
— John 8:44
Although we understand that Christ's death was part of the plan of salvation, we see how He pointed to its source.
It is valuable to reflect as well that we can kill in other ways besides physical killing. We can assassinate someone's character with our words. We can kill their hope with our negativity. We can annihilate one's soul with an insult.
Our life inside and out is precious and significant to God.
The Sixth "And God Said"
“Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens."
— Genesis 1:20
The sanctity of life is depicted here as originating from God. It is the first time living creatures appear in the creation narrative. More importantly, the living creature "man" (created on the sixth day) contained the breath of life God gave Him.
"the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."
— Genesis 2:7
Human beings contain the image of God (spiritual).
Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.
— Genesis 1:26
Physically we bear the image of our parents. Genetically we are made up of two sets of chromosomes, one set from our father and one set from our mother. The sanctity of life isn't just about respecting "breath," but regarding the image we were all created to reflect.
In conclusion, we can summarize that we are to remember and value God as the creator and the source of life (Word four) and image our understanding of this in our family relationships by valuing and respecting our earthly creators/parents (Word five). We are to respect the sanctity of life (Word six).
Create Again ~ Aaron Shust
© 2013 Tamarajo