And the LORD said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death.’”
Nothing can soften the severity of God’s penalty here in verse 14, but a familiar theme rises through this death sentence that feels especially pertinent in our profane day and age. Think of it, friend: no one can say exactly why God chose to create the world in six days and rest on the seventh, or why He wove the entire cosmos and the fabric of redemption around these two numbers. We’ve barely got a clue. Yet, what is clear is that if we as image-bearers don’t follow in our Father’s steps—we’re created to bear His likeness after all—then the result for us will be death, not life, whether that death comes swiftly or slowly.
To be with God is to be like God.
When God says, “don’t eat of this fruit,” it’s because He doesn’t eat that sort of fruit. When He says, “toil for six days and rest on the seventh,” it’s because He toils for six days and rests on the seventh. When He says, ‘thou shalt not lie’ and ‘thou shalt not covet’ and ‘thou shalt not bear false witness,’ it’s because He is truthful and contented and just in all His ways. The choice is ours. Either we can follow our Redeemer into deeper living, or we can follow the devil into deeper dying. We’ll never in this lifetime fully understand why keeping the Sabbath was the ceremonial law ‘above all else,’ or why it was the most sanctifying virtue of all for Moses’ audience to practice, but we don’t need to know all the answers in order to follow the Providence that bids us onward. The just live by imitation.
How tragic that men in their profane indifference choose to exchange their own everlasting, vibrant chapters in the chronicles of Redemption for a mere sentence as cold and dreary as Exodus 14. Which will you choose today, friend: the epic of discipleship? Or the epitaph of death?