Reading Time: 4 mins

Old Testament: Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (Pentecost 2: Series B)

Reading Time: 4 mins

Through His Word, Jesus is fashioning and forming us to be His disciples who follow Him. It is important on this first Sunday after Pentecost that we remember to put worship (sabbath) first.

Our reading from Deuteronomy, in which Moses shares for the second time the Ten Commandments (specifically, the commandment to observe the Sabbath), feels like an impossible text to preach on. The key to developing the Gospel in this text will be in utilizing the “fullest sense” of a key word from the verses and employing biblical typology to get us there. The key word will have to be REST, and the type/antitype will be the idea of the Sabbath itself.

When Moses brings Israel together in Deuteronomy 5, he makes clear that the covenant God has made with Israel forms their life together as a community of hope living in trust in God’s Word and presence. They are a community entering into a different lifestyle than they lived when they were slaves in Egypt. Every seven days they are reminded of their freedom from slavery and the God who gives them rest from their labors. The total institution of slavery does not define them. Rather, living by faith in relationship with their God characterizes them. Contrary to the individualistic readings we often bring to the Ten Commandments, the life it describes makes sense only when a group of people live that life together in relationship with their God.

The liturgical setting for our preaching is important in how it develops the significant connection from our text’s context to how it informs the life of the congregation receiving this word today. The Sundays after Pentecost make up the longest portion of the Church Year, just as the book of Deuteronomy concludes the longest portion of God’s people living together in the wilderness. Here in the season of Pentecost, just as Israel in the wilderness, we focus on growing together in the life of the community around God and His Word and Sacraments. Pentecost is a time to grow in godly wisdom. Through His Word, Jesus is fashioning and forming us to be His disciples who follow Him. It is important on this first Sunday after Pentecost that we remember to put worship (sabbath) first. This is because faith forms life, just as the commandments form life, but what gives life is Jesus Himself who fills and fulfills this Word. Jesus is our “rest giver” and Jesus is our “sabbath peace” with God.

The key word we are going to focus on for this sermon comes from verse 14. It is the key term REST. In our text, this word means to cease from work on a specific day, and it is clearly law. But this word also calls to mind the Gospel as well. For instance, Jesus declares in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST.” Also, the author of the book of Hebrews reminds us that the “little r” REST we take down here on earth prepares us for the good news “big r” REST we receive in Heaven:

“For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s REST has also rested from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:8-10).

Jesus is our “rest giver” and Jesus is our “sabbath peace” with God.

Furthermore, that same section of Hebrews teaches us Jesus is the Sabbath REST we need. Finally, in Revelation itself (Revelation 14:13), we receive the beatific vision of Heaven where all the saints take rest because of the Lamb who conquered and reigns over all the people of God.

A nice structure to work with the text and how it finds meaning and significance for your hearer’s lives is the Text Application Structure:

“This structure organizes the sermon on the basis of two experiences most parishioners have as they open up the Scriptures: a desire to understand what the text is speaking of in its own historical context and a desire to hear how God speaks through this text to shape the lives of His people today. With an eye toward these two experiences, the preacher shapes the sermon with a text-application structure.

The preacher divides the progression of the sermon into two portions. After an introduction that raises interest in the text or in a life situation for which the hearers desire a Word from God, the first part of the sermon offers textual exposition for the hearers. The second part of the sermon applies the text to the hearers.

In the first section of the sermon, the preacher spends time with the text. As the preacher develops the text, he is careful to focus on those details which are important for later application of this text to the lives of his hearers. Often, the preacher will be identifying teachings of the faith within his exposition of the text for that further application.

In the second section of the sermon, the preacher examines God’s present work in the lives of the contemporary hearers. In doing this, he could be working with the teaching of the text, the function of the text, or the intention of the writer. Any of these approaches can yield fruitful results in terms of how this text functions among the hearers today. Sometimes, preachers may find it helpful to move sequentially through the four types of discourse in the tapestry of preaching as they move from text to application. These are:

  1. Textual exposition.
  2. Theological confession that names a teaching in the text.
  3. Evangelical proclamation that centers that teaching in Christ for us.
  4. Hearer interpretation that names our lives in relation to that teaching.

The biggest challenges in this sermon structure are finding an appropriate balance between textual exposition and hearer application (for example, avoiding a sermon that is long on textual study and short on application) and maintaining hearer attention during a prolonged section of textual study or application.”[1]


Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Deuteronomy 5:12-15.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Lectionary Kick-Start-Check out this fantastic podcast from Craft of Preaching authors Peter Nafzger and David Schmitt as they dig into the texts for this Sunday!

Lectionary Podcast- Dr. Walter A Maier III Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Deuteronomy 5:12-15.