In this short series on the Sabbath, we have seen that Sunday is not the Sabbath, that the early church did meet on Sunday, and that the church can meet any day of the week. The final issue before us today is whether or not Christians should observe the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is a Perpetual Covenant
There are some Christian groups that do observe the Sabbath with varying degrees. And remember, we’re not talking about Sunday, since Sunday is not the Sabbath. We are talking about observing the Sabbath on Sunday by refraining for work, or performing other Sabbath-day functions. The two main groups that do this are the Seventh Day Adventists and Messianic Jews. Both groups argue that since Exodus 31:13-17 refers to the Sabbath as a perpetual covenant to be practiced throughout all generations, that we should still be observing it today.
What people often fail to note is that the Sabbath is a perpetual sign of the Mosaic Covenant. It is not a sign for all people everywhere throughout time. It is only for those who commit to living under the Mosaic Covenant. As followers of Jesus, we live under the New Covenant, and so the signs of the Mosaic Covenant are not required of us.
So if you don’t want to observe the Sabbath, you don’t have to. It is not required of you.
However, this is not to say that we should not observe the Sabbath. Personally, I think we should observe a Sabbath.
Why You Should Observe a Sabbath
There is much wisdom behind the decision of God to provide the Jewish people with a Sabbath. Yet the Sabbath was never intended to be a burden or make life inconvenient for people. It was to be a gift. It was a way to force people to slow down, enjoy life, and love each other. The Sabbath day restrictions were not to rule over mankind, was was to be a blessing, to help us enjoy life more fully.
This is what Jesus implies in Mark 2:27 when He says that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man. By nature, people are generally workaholics, and God did not want life to be all about work. God wants us to enjoy life, and enjoy our families.
Does any of this sound burdensome? Does enjoying life sound bad? Of course not!
This is why it is a wise idea for Christians to observe a Sabbath. But since we are not under the Mosaic Covenant, we can choose any day we want. It does not have to be Saturday. It could be Sunday, or Tuesday, or whatever, as long as you are taking some time to enjoy life, love your family, and reflect on the many gifts God has given to you.
Tips for Observing a Sabbath
If you do choose to observe a Sabbath Day during your week, make it count! It is not to be a day where you sit around the house, twiddling your thumbs, and watching the hours slowly tick by. That is just wasting a day, which is not what the Sabbath is about.
The Sabbath is to be a day of delight, full of joy, sensual abandon, laughter, making memories, living out our redemption, and experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Spend the day with family and friends. Go do something enjoyable. Take a walk. Eat a sumptuous meal. Drink some wine. Celebrate. If you want to read more about this, one of the books I recommend is Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allender.
Do you observe a Sabbath Day of rest? If so, how do you do it? What do you do on that day? Do you have any suggestions?
This post is based on the Grace Commentary for Luke 6:6-11.
Sandor Balog says
The writer of this article and I seem to be on the same wavelength. My article entitled “Sabbath AND Sunday” at http://www.faithreaders.com/article-details.php?article=19066 is quite simmilar to this one, and I’m glad to note it. I went a little further in my most recent writing “Should Christians Celebrate Easter as a Moveable Feast?” available at http://www.faithreaders.com/article-details.php?article=19070.
Jeremy Myers says
Thanks Sandor. I read the article in the other blog post where you posted it.
Ant Writes says
Great article. I have a question for you. Since we are dirty gentiles and the Mosaic Laws don’t apply to us, how about Messianic Jews? A lot of them believe they are still under the law. (Yet they wear clothing made from more than one type of thread, and most aren’t kosher). They justify keeping the Sabbath because the covenant was to the Jews forever more. I think they’re released as well, but many of them have full denominations surrounded by Orthodox legalism. I happen to think it’s a comfort for most Jews or they’re doing it JUST in case they were wrong about the whole Jesus thing 🙂
Jeremy Myers says
That is a GREAT question. I think they are probably released from it as well, as they seem to have concluded in Acts 15;11.
Of course, it never was for receiving eternal life anyway, and since much of the law cannot be followed since there is no Temple (or Tabernacle), I think it is only for comfort also, or because of some legalism, as you say.
I would be curious to know how some of these Messianics understand the book of Hebrews.
Manna for life says
I totally agree Steve, Hebrews 4: 8 – 11 plainly says that ”
For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
I love God first and foremost. God has commanded people to do specific things.
I see people can play games and dance around these things.
Thank God for helping us to simply remember the Sabbath.
I know I am not perfect but that does not stop me from loving God.
While “the Law” establishes keeping the Sabbath day holy for the perpetual generations of the Hebrews, the DAY was made holy and God rested on it and sanctified it WAY before He handed the Law down to Moses. Jesus continued to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath Himself. Paul also continued to meet and teach in synagogues on the Sabbath.
We have come far from observing any special time set aside for our Lord and Savior.
And the sabbath is expressly communal.
“In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.”
ideas such as,
“we can choose any day we want. It does not have to be Saturday. It could be Sunday, or Tuesday, or whatever, as long as you are taking some time to enjoy life, love your family, and reflect on the many gifts God has given to you.”
have an individualism that is diametrically opposed to the spirit of the commandment. Perhaps this is why many Christians think nothing of going to the shopping mall and eating in restaurants on Sunday. As you say;
“We have come far from observing any special time set aside for our Lord and Savior.” There seems to be a lot of difference between the concept of the sabbath and a sabbath.
“Perhaps this is why many Christians think nothing of going to the shopping mall and eating in restaurants on Sunday”
Except that “the Sabbath” is saturday. 😉 The difficulty for me is in the fellowship part. I observe the Sabbath as best I can on my own on saturday. Our church meets on sunday. I have noticed a vast improvement in my sunday worship since I began observing the Sabbath.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes. Remember what Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. It was a gift of God to humanity to help us relax and enjoy life. We can love God and love others so much better when we take our eyes of work and our “to do” list.
This is something that is troubling me, to me your explanation makes sense. I recently recommitted my life to the Lord, and I want to please Him, do the things He is calling me to do. Lately I’ve been seen a lot of posts on this subject, some telling me we are suppose to keep the sabbath(Saturday), no one had ever mentioned it to me. Of course I have read the Ten Commandments but I am unsure if we are to keep it, if you can please send me to the right website or verses explaining would mean a lot.
Jeremy Myers says
I will be writing more on this within a month or so, when I post a sermon on Luke 6:6-11. You could probably find an older version of this somewhere on the internet…. just search for “Jeremy Myers – Luke 6:6-11” or something like that. I think the sermon is called “Jesus gives a hand on the Sabbath.”
So, what you are saying is that there is no correlation to God resting on the seventh day of creation in Genesis 2:2 ? Are you saying that the 10 Commandments can basically be obeyed or not, because I am pretty sure ALL of them were given to ALL men. The scriptures you are using to justify your theory are out of context. You are using Gods Word for confusion and a snare.
Jeremy Myers says
Actually, the 10 Commandments were not given to all men. They were given to the Israelites after God led them out of Egypt. And there were lots of other laws and commandments that were also given to them.
This does not mean that we can disregard the 10 commandments. It just means that it is not as easy as saying, “It’s in the Bible, so I have to do it.”
If the Ten were not given or applied to all men, then you are not a sinner. Jesus Christ came in vain then. Do you understand the gravity of your words. Be careful of what you decide to post
Jesus did not abolish the law, he came to fulfill and glorify the law (Matthew 5:17-19). The Law said do not commit murder, Jesus detailed the thought that could lead to commit such action at the first place (for ex Matthew 5: 22 being angry at your brother or sister). He added what was missing (mercy) (Matthew 5:43-47) to the law and gave us the Holy spirit so we can accomplish the works of the law that we were unable to do on the flesh. It was a burden for them without having to experience the love of God in grace and in mercy. The law is now writing on our heart, not on stone. You are not saved by doing the works of the law. You are saved by accepting the Son of God and because of that you will love the Son and keep his one commandment which is to love one another (John 15:12) along with other commandments that he gave. The way you can love one another is to love God (1 John 5:2). To love God is by keeping his commandments (1 John 5:2-3). That is why the love of many went cold. Nothing can’t separate you from the love of God, but Jesus said to those who do not practice the least of the commandments but teach other to do will be called the least on the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:19). What would happen to those that disregard the commandments and teach others to do the same?
Michael W Cuber says
Everyone on this blog needs to look at the things that the Lord will restore when Messiah returns (Ezekiel ch 44 sums it up pretty well).
Paul said we “establish the Law.”
The Law including the Ten Commandments was given to Israel and the alien sojourners attatched to them; there was one standard.
In the New Testament there is one standard for Jew and Gentile.
Colassians ch 2 actually says not to let anyone be your judge for doing Jewish things. This scripture was horribly twisted and has been standardized as a common anti-nomian retort.
Paul in Romans said “do we nullify the Law that grace might abound, may it never be!”
Read that passage in Colossians carefully from the beginning of the chapter and you’ll see that the Colossians were “also”circumcised, v 11-13 referring to Jeremiah 4:4, “circumcise yourselves to Yahova, that the foreskin of your heart may be removed.”
It is only when we surrender to Him completely, that the Holy Spirit can begin to do that circumcision of the heart, His standard has never changed!