There is much conversation on how Christians should relate to the ten commandments. Some believe that the ten commandments often referred to as the “moral law”, still bears spiritual weight today as these commandments are derived from the heart of God for all time. Others believe that the ten commandments are under the umbrella of the old covenant and therefore the Christian has no need to adhere to its demands. The debate rages on when discussing one commandment amongst the ten prescribed. Should Christians keep the Sabbath? Most Christians will agree that the New testaments speaks clearly on all other 9 commandments, but what does have to say about the Sabbath?
What Is The Sabbath?
The word “Sabbath” is the Hebrew word Sabbat which means “to stop or cease”. The first time we see this word mentioned is in Genesis when God rested after 6 days of work (Genesis 2:2-3). Then when God established a covenant with His people, Israel, He incorporates keeping the Sabbath within the 10 commandments. (Exodus 20:8-11). Interestingly, God connects this law to the Seventh Day in which He rested from His work (Exodus 20:11). This law declares that when the Israelites rest from their work they image their Creator who rested from His. Moreover, in resting the Israelites declare that God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things apart from their work. Observing the Sabbath was a non-negotiable and breaking the sabbath resulted in death (Exodus 31:14, 35:2, Numbers 15:32). Why such harsh consequences? Well, breaking the sabbath proclaims two lies: 1) God is not in control and 2) my provision comes from my work. Observing the Sabbath severs the temptation to believe these lies but also allows for delighting in God – the One who creates and saves (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
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How Do I Sabbath?
Before the Sabbath was a command, it was promise. The Sabbath wasn’t given for mankind to attain but to observe the work of God. When observing the Sabbath, the Israelites were to remember the work of God in saving them from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). Christians observe the Sabbath by remembering what God has done for us in Christ (Hebrews 4:9-10). God invites us to enter the same rest He enjoyed on the seventh day, every day. Paul makes it clear in his writings that the setting aside a day to observe the Sabbath is a matter of personal conviction (Romans 14:5, Colossians 2:16-17). Whatever you decide, you should not use your conviction in such a way that violates the liberty of others when considering disputed issues (Romans 14:1, 13). Neither should you hold the notion that Sabbath is a burdensome chore that must be obeyed strictly or avoided vehemently. Jesus reminds us that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). When considering how you will observe the Sabbath, remember that the Sabbath isn’t a challenge for you to complete but a gift for you to enjoy. God wants us to rest from the spiritual and physical toils of life that we attempt to root our identities in. The seventh day is the only day that doesn’t end (Genesis 2:1-2). The implication here is that God’s rest hasn’t ended and is available for all those believe in His work. If you’re tired and weary, working harder won’t save you – enter God’s rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
Whether you decide to observe a particular day or time, know that to Sabbath is more than just taking time off your busy schedule. To Sabbath is to tell God, yourself, and others; that I’m not in control. To Sabbath allows us to enjoy God as the Creator, Sustainer and Saviour of all things. So, will you Sabbath?