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Shorter Catechism

Q. 61 What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission, or careless performance, of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.1

  1. Nehemiah 13:15-22

    In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them on the day when they sold food. Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

    As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. But I warned them and said to them, “Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.

    Isaiah 58:13-14

    “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
    and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
    if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
    then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
    I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

    Amos 8:4-6

    Hear this, you who trample on the needy
    and bring the poor of the land to an end,
    saying, “When will the new moon be over,
    that we may sell grain?
    And the Sabbath,
    that we may offer wheat for sale,
    that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great
    and deal deceitfully with false balances,
    that we may buy the poor for silver
    and the needy for a pair of sandals
    and sell the chaff of the wheat?” (ESV)

Larger Catechism

Q. 119 What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?

The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required,1 all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them;2 all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful;3 and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.4

  1. Ezekiel 22:26

    Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. (ESV)

  2. Amos 8:5

    saying, “When will the new moon be over,
    that we may sell grain?
    And the Sabbath,
    that we may offer wheat for sale,
    that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great
    and deal deceitfully with false balances,

    Acts 20:7

    On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.

    Acts 20:9

    And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.

    Ezekiel 33:30-32

    “As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it.

    Malachi 1:13

    But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. (ESV)

  3. Ezekiel 23:38

    Moreover, this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and profaned my Sabbaths. (ESV)

  4. Jeremiah 17:24

    “‘But if you listen to me, declares the Lord, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it,

    Jeremiah 17:27

    But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.’”

    Isaiah 58:13-14

    “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
    and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
    if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
    then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
    I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (ESV)

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Based on Calendar of Readings in the Westminster Standards by Dr. Joey Pipa. Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.