Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Sabbath - What is it?

I've been putting off writing about the Sabbath for awhile, and I originally intended this to be just one post.  But as I got started, the thoughts kept coming.  I'll be breaking it into a few separate posts, so I would appreciate your feedback after this first one, as I'd love to tailor my thoughts to what you're thinking.

The Sabbath - What is it?
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)
There you have it.  The Sabbath clearly explained.  Take a day off.  Don't work for one day each week.  This was one of the Ten Commandments given to the nation of Israel.

Think about taking a day off in their cultural context.  Food and water weren't the easiest to come by: You had to work for them each day.  (They received this commandment in the desert after all!)  But God was telling them to follow his example and rest for one day each week.  Whether they thought they needed the rest or not was irrelevant.  Also irrelevant was their perceived need to work to provide their necessities (even real necessities, not just desires).

So a Sabbath is a day off.  Resting.  Not doing any work.  It's so simple, yet I see hardly anyone actually doing it.  Be honest with me:  When's the last time you literally and completely did ZERO work for a whole day?  (This includes work work, at-home work, church-organization work, etc.)

Your answer should be less than 7 days ago... shouldn't it?

Now I know Jesus didn't repeat this commandment, and in multiple instances he "broke" the Jewish rules of the Sabbath by healing, allowing his disciples to eat, etc.  But while he didn't repeat this commandment, he also didn't reverse it by telling us to work seven days a week.

And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27 ESV)

Possible Future Sabbath Posts...*
More Scriptures on the Sabbath

What does a Sabbath mean for today?

Why take a Sabbath?

What does a Sabbath look like practically?

*I reserve the right to edit and alter all of these potential posts.


  1. Pheaney, this is a great post and a topic that I have thought about/struggled with a lot over the last few years. Is this one of those Old Testament laws that we are no longer bound to under the grace of the new covenant or is it pertinent and applicable to Christians today? I'm not really sure?

    I would say it definitely takes a great deal of faith to take a sabbath and give one day completely to the Lord. A personal example from my own life would be; this Monday I have a final exam in my microbiology course. Taking a day of rest would require me to put my trust in God that the work I had done throughout the week was sufficient and that he would provide for me in honoring Him with a day off.

    It's a tough concept and is one that I am continually learning about/trying to figure out. Thanks for the post!

    1. Great points Ben. I'm glad this struck a chord and I'll try to dive into the topic a little deeper over the coming weeks.