The 4th Commandment
By anyone’s standards, Joseph Smith taught many unique and incredibly brilliant religious concepts which were new to religion in his time or in any time i.e. spirit matter always existed, eternal families, salvation of the dead, the relationship between Christ, truth and light, etc. One such teaching is simple but obvious to a thoughtful mind:
20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (DC 130: 20-21)
This being true, how would you like to be the recipient of the following blessings? In order to receive them, however, you must keep the commandment upon which these blessings are predicated. Remember, the following specified blessings are symbolic in nature. For example, the beasts, fowls, orchards, gardens, fruits, crops, increase, and threshing represent what your labors produce, regardless of your profession. As a rancher, I take them literally too. The evil beasts and enemies could easily represent your trials or weaknesses.
16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
20 And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. (DC 59: 16-20)
4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
Imagine your success in life when the fullness of the earth is yours and you receive these blessings. The law upon which all these blessings are predicated is the 4th Commandment. When the Lord revealed the 10 Commandments, he focused the first 4 on your love of God, the last 6 are focused on love for your neighbor. The 4th Commandment is: Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. (Exo. 20:8) It is the commandment that came into existence after the creation (Gen. 2:2-3), long before Adam was commanded to dress and keep the earth, not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the to multiply and replenish the earth. (Moses 3: 15, 17, 24)
A few years ago I was serving as Young Men President in my home ward. I had some great boys. One Sunday morning at the start of the Priest quorum lesson, I pulled out of a sack a bowl and some containers of ice cream. I put a scoop of ice cream in the bowl and told the boys we were eating ice cream sundays in class today. They whooped and cheered. I then pulled toppings out of the sack – and proceeded to place catchup, mustard, horse radish and mayonnaise on the ball of ice cream along with a green olive on top. The boys groaned thinking I had lost my mind. None of them would eat it.
We then had a wonderful discussion about the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day can and is meant to be a spiritually sweet, rewarding, rejuvenating and satisfying; a tasty day, if you will. A good Sabbath is like eating an ice cream sunday. We studied the promised blessings listed in DC 130 and Lev 26 to those who keep the Sabbath day holy, and we also talked about activities and things we can put on our sundays that ruin the day and withhold the blessings.
At the end of class, I pulled out more bowls but this time with the fudge, caramel, fruit toppings and cherries. We made ice cream sundays and ate them in class, as a representation of what happens when you properly remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy and what a tasty treat that can be. The boys never forgot their lesson, in fact, they frequently asked me if I would reteach them about the Sabbath day.
I never took the Sabbath day seriously until I served a full time mission. For example, in the fall, I hunted deer and pheasants on Sunday. The ring neck pheasant was plentiful in Flowell up until raccoons were introduced to the area a number of years ago. The pheasant hunt began on the first weekend in November each year and was about the most exciting event of the year. I have had 3 roosters come up at the same time flying opposite directions and have brought all 3 down. Friends and relatives of people in the community always returned from where they may have been living at the time to hunt pheasants in Flowell. My local friends and I always hunted on Sunday that week. I remember once my mother telling me that the sacrament was prepared and past by visitors in my home ward because no local boys were present on the pheasant hunt Sunday. My mission changed all that for me. As the months on my mission clicked by, I gradually tried to cleanse myself of my wrong doings that I could think of. Making the commitment to not hunt on Sunday was one of the last vices I gave up. I have stayed pretty true to myself over the years since then.
The following guideline will assist you to determine appropriate Sabbath day activities. Activities should probably be avoided if they distract from feeding your souls with the things of the spirit.
“Jesus taught that the Sabbath day was made for our benefit (Mark 2: 27). The purpose of the Sabbath is to give us a certain day of the week on which to direct our thoughts and actions toward God. It is not a day merely to rest from work. It is a sacred day to be spent in worship and reverence. As we rest from our usual daily activities, our minds are freed to ponder spiritual matters. On this day we should renew our covenants with the Lord and feed our souls on the things of the Spirit.” (Gospel Principles, Chapter 24)
You live in a bubble on a mission. The Sabbath is easy to honor here because of your controlled environment. But, someday you will go home. Now is the time to make your commitments regarding the Sabbath and what you plan to do throughout your life.