Five Solas


Rousas John Rushdoony The Institutes of Biblical Law IV. 3

Rousas John Rushdoony The Institutes of Biblical Law IV. 3

IV. The Fourth Commandment

Rousas John Rushdoony

The Institutes of Biblical Law: A Chalcedon Study, Nutley, N.J.: Craig Press, 1973, pp.128-158

1. The Sign of Freedom
2. The Sabbath and Life
3. The Sabbath and Work
4. The Sabbath and Authority
5. The Sabbath and Law


The sabbath is God’s covenant sign with man, declaring God’s grace and God’s efficacious work unto salvation, so that man can rest, “forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). (pp.146-147)

It must be remembered that an important aspect of the fourth law-word is this, “Six days thou shalt labour,” i.e., six days are set aside for work. There is a positive command, therefore, to work. The creation mandate declared to man, “Be fruitful, multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; bear rule over the fish of the sea; over the birds of the air and over every living, moving creature on earth” (Gen. 1:28, Berkeley Version). This mandate was declared before the fall. The duties of fertility, work, and dominion were established thus before the fall; they continued after the fall, but with a serious impediment. Without regenerating grace, man cannot keep God’s law and discharge his duties. The redeemed man’s work is not an attempt to create a paradise on earth, but to fulfill God’s requirements within the kingdom. The redeemed man is a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and he abides by the laws thereof: this is his work, his duty, and his path to dominion. The fact of the sabbath presupposes the fact of work. (p.147)

The relationship between the sabbath and work is one that brings all things into relationship to God and in dedication to Him. Nothing can be, nor can be deemed to be, outside of God. Not only covenant man but all his work must be circumcised in a sense, or baptized, into the kingdom. The custom of the first-fruits was an aspect of this. But another law bears even more plainly on this matter: (p.147)