Keeping the Sabbath holy

The commandment

[Ex 20:8] “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. [9] Six days you shall labor and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. [11] For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Blessings for those who keep the Sabbath

(Isa 56:2 NIV)  Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Christians today, who are actively serving God, sometimes do not observe the Sabbath or designated rest that God demands. Rest is absolutely necessary and is not an option. Failure to rest means that we cannot sustain our ministry for long periods of time. That is the reason why people who are active in ministry suffer from burnout. We must remember that our ministry is a marathon race, not a 100 m sprint.

The Bible says that we will be blessed if we keep the Sabbath.

On the other hand, there are severe penalties for not observing.

[Ex 31:14] “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.

Enjoying the fruits of our labour

By resting on the Sabbath we are following none other than God who rested after six days of creative activity. God enjoyed the fruits of His work and rested.

(Gen 1:31 NIV)  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.

(Gen 2:1-2 NIV)  Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. {2} By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

This tells us that we should take time to enjoy the fruits of our labour. No point working so hard ‘if we don’t have time to enjoy.

[Ec 5:19] Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.

The woman deserves her day off

[Ex 35:3] Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

By prohibiting the starting of fire, God was saying that women should have their rest as well.

Husbands, are you giving your wife the rest that is prescribed by God? Does you wife have the day off when she does not need to do household duties?

Rest is an indication that we trust God

[Ps 23:1] The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want

[2] He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

[3] he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

If we trust In God as our Shepherd and provider, we can rest. We allow ourselves to be led to lie down in green pastures.

The Bible goes to the extent to say that the Sabbath is a covenant between us and God.

(Exo 31:16 NIV)  The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant.

We all know that circumcision was a sign of the covenant during the OT days. Few know that the Sabbath was also a sign of the covenant.

Through the rite of circumcision, the Israelites set themselves apart as God’s people. They were also to be set aside as God’s people because they keep the Sabbath. Through the Sabbath, people will know that they are God’s people. They can rest because they trust in God.

How Jesus kept the Sabbath

Jesus did not keep the Sabbath in a legalistic way. We did not read that He took one day off doing nothing. However, we read that Jesus had His moments of rest and recreation.

When we keep the Sabbath today, I don’t think it means keeping it in a legalistic way and not do anything for a whole day. I think it means being conscious that we need rest and laying aside time in our busy schedule for rest and recreation.


Is keeping the Sabbath still necessary for Christians today?

Readers should examine the following points and come to their own decision as to whether Christians today are still bound to observe the Sabbath.

Arguments why Christians today should still keep the Sabbath?

Counter arguments to why Christians today no longer need to keep the Sabbath

Arguments why Christians today no longer need to keep the Sabbath?

Counter arguments to why Christians today should still keep the Sabbath

​Keeping the Sabbath is part of the 10 commandments. These commandments are not ceremonial laws but based on moral principles. No one would argue that any of the other 10 commandments would no longer be applicable today. ​All the other 9 commandments have clear new testament references to perpetuate their validity except the 4th commandment to keep the Sabbath. Therefore, it is possible that this commandment is no longer valid.
​The Bible teaches that doing good supercedes observing the Sabbath (Mark 3:4). Doing good happens to be Jesus’ work so He kept on doing it. But all other creative work has to cease (like God ceased from His creative work after 6 days). ​Jesus continued to do good, healing people on the Sabbath. He did not cease from His normal work.
​God instituted the Sabbath because rest is necessary for our well-being.
​Rest is an indication of our faith in God.
​The Sabbath rest was meant to be a type pointing to eternal rest. No type is superceded before the actual comes.
​We are the spiritual descendants of Abraham. The Sabbath can continue to be a sign of Chritians’ covenant relationship with God. ​The Sabbath was meant to be a sign of Israel’s covenantal relationship with God and is therefore no longer valid today.
​Actually the word is in the plural “Sabbaths” and probably refers to the many holy rests in Jewish customs. Should the apostle Paul want to indicate the Sabbath Day, the singular would have been used. ​Col 2:16 says that we no longer need to observe the Sabbath