The Third Commandment
If thou turn thy foot back from the Sabbath, from doing thine own delight on the day of My holiness, and shalt call the Sabbath a delight to the Holy One of Jehovah, honorable; and shalt honor it, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah, and I will cause thee to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken.
TCR 301. ... In the natural sense, which is the sense of the letter, [the third commandment] means that six days are for man and his labors, and the seventh for the Lord, and rest for man from the Lord. In the original tongue ‘Sabbath’ means ‘rest.’ With the children of Israel the Sabbath, because it represented the Lord, was the holy of holies. The six days represented His labors and conflicts with the hells, and the seventh His victory over them and consequent rest. And as that day was a representative of the close of the whole of the Lord’s work of redemption, it was holiness itself. But when the Lord came into the world, and in consequence representations of Him ceased, that day became:
- a day of instruction in Divine things,
- and thus also a day of rest from labors
- and of meditation on such things as relate to salvation and eternal life,
- as well as a day of love towards the neighbor.
That it became a day of instruction in Divine things is evident from this, that on that day the Lord taught in the temple and in synagogues... That that day was made also a day of love towards the neighbor is evident from what the Lord did and taught on that day... [healing and helping people]. From all this it is evident why the Lord said, That He is Lord also of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5); and because He said this, it follows that that day was a representative of Him.
TCR 302. In the spiritual sense, this commandment signifies man’s reformation and regeneration by the Lord, "the six days of labor" signifying his warfare against the flesh and its lusts, and at the same time against the evils and falsities that are in him from hell, and "the seventh day" signifying his conjunction with the Lord, and regeneration thereby... For the Lord reforms and regenerates man and renders him spiritual in the same manner in which He glorified His Human and made it Divine; and this is the meaning of the command to "follow Him"...
TCR 303. In the celestial sense, this commandment means conjunction with the Lord, followed by peace, because of protection from hell. For the Sabbath signifies rest, and in this highest sense, peace. Therefore the Lord is called the Prince of Peace, and He also calls Himself "Peace," as is evident from the following passages...
Moreover, the state of peace into which men are to come from the Lord is treated of in Isa. 65, 66 and elsewhere; and those will come into that state, who are received into the New Church which the Lord is establishing at this day... From all this it is also evident why the Lord called Himself "Lord of the Sabbath," that is, of rest and peace.
TCR 304. Heavenly peace, in respect to the hells, is that evils and falsities shall not rise up from them and break forth. This peace may be compared in many respects with natural peace; as with peace after war, when everyone is secure from enemies and is safe in his own city and home and living in his own fields and garden. This is as the prophet said when he spoke naturally of heavenly peace: “They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid (Micah 4:4; Isa. 65:21–23). It may also be compared to recreations of mind and to rest after severe labor, and to the consolation felt by mothers after childbirth, when their parental love... manifests its delights. It may also be compared with serenity after tempests, black clouds, and thunders; also with spring, after a terrible winter has passed, and with the gladdening influences from the new growths in the fields and the blossoming in the gardens, meadows, and woods...
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- What do you suppose the Lord means in Isaiah 58 about not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, but instead honoring the Sabbath?
- TCR 301 lists three purposes of the Sabbath day since the Lord’s coming in Person. What applications do you see of making the Sabbath a day of love toward the neighbor?
- The Lord leads us into warfare against the flesh and its lusts and at the same time against the evils and falsities in us from hell. He asks us to take up the cross and follow Him. Then His kingdom comes and His will is done. Why is there a struggle involved? What’s good about that?
- The Lord’s goal for each of us is the peace of heaven. The Sabbath is partly designed to keep reminding us of this goal, and of the Lord, who actually does the work for us if we let Him. How can our habits on the Sabbath day do a better job of these purposes?
- The Lord is the Lord of the Sabbath, and heaven is a perpetual Sabbath. The Lord never actually rests, and His kingdom is a kingdom of uses. So although the literal sense, the abrogated part, emphasizes doing no work, the spiritual sense emphasizes taking the "work" out of the uses we do, making them a joy instead. We can act according to the instruction we receive— especially that the Lord is the One who does all good things—and out of love for the Lord and the neighbor, as opposed to the "fire" of loves of self and the world that we might kindle.