Fri June 26 Q 180 The Rest of Servants
180. What do you mean by saying that this commandment is also given to provide for the relief of servants?
To give some relaxation to those who are under the power of others. And likewise, this tends to maintain a common polity. For everyone accustoms himself to labour for the rest of the time, when there is one day for rest.
It is of significance to see that within the Law God expresses his desire for all of his creatures to rest. This is his hope for his covenant people Israel, their children, their servants, and those who are aliens among them. This is his will even for all of their beasts (cf. Isa 11:6-9; 65:25; Hos 2:18). This is also the hope of God for all who are created in his image, for if the unregenerate were to hear of the fame of God’s name through the witness of Israel to the nations, they too could have come under the Law of God through faith. They too would come into the legislated Sabbath rest.
As human rulers never fully demonstrate the rule of God in justice, compassion, truth, kindness or faithfulness, those under human rule will tire of imperfect work scenarios. Labor, since the fall, is with great effort, rather than with the effortlessness labor that would have been Adam’s joy in the Garden (cf. Gen 2:15; 3:17-19). Work occurs in a fallen world rather than in a place of complete pleasure. All workers need occasional relief from this unredeemed work environment. The Law is a measure of God’s grace to his people.
In wisdom, the Creator and Lawgiver also provided the Law of the Sabbath so that we might be motivated to work. That is, by limiting the day of rest to one day per week, the habit and character that is to be formed in his people is that of working regularly, faithfully, and cheerful the other days of the week. Six days of work make us long for rest; one day of rest cultivates the practice of working. Ultimately relief from work will come to the servants of God through Christ, when he establishes his remaining Sabbath rest. To this our labors and rest point every week.