“The Lord has appointed tomorrow as a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord.  On this day we will rest from our normal daily tasks.  So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow.”

Exodus 16:23

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.  On that day no one in your household may do any kind of work.  This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day.  That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”

Exodus 20:4 (This being the fourth of the Ten Commandments)

Do you ever think about the Sabbath?  Do you honor the Sabbath?  Have you thought about what it means? 

My Bible defines Sabbath as:  cessation of activity; a holy day sest aside to honor God

 God instructed the Israelites to conduct work and business as usual six days a week, but to rest on the seventh day, observing that day as Holy, the Sabbath.  Teaching the Israelites to honor the Sabbath was so important to God that he included it as the fourth of the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:4) In that Commandment He went so far as to instruct the Israelites on how to keep this law.  Not even animals were to work on the Sabbath! 

The Sabbath is mentioned many times in the Bible, mostly in the writings of Moses in the Old Testament, but Matthew and Mark mention the Sabbath in the New Testament, too, with Mark noting that the Sabbath was established for the good of man. 

“The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27

 God’s intent for the Sabbath was for man to take a day to rest and be refreshed.  In generations past, Sabbath days were spent by families going to church and then coming home to spend the day together.  Often they would spend the afternoon reading and studying the Bible.  Sometimes the male head of the household would read scripture to the family. 

Wow.  Can you imagine spending every Sunday at home together as a family – resting and relaxing? Can you imagine if we turned back to the times when businesses closed on Sundays and ALL families spent a day of rest together?  Seriously.  Think about that.  How might that change the face of the American family?  How might that affect our nation as a whole? 

When I was growing up, very few businesses were open on Sundays.  Traveling by car was tricky because many gas stations were closed.  The restaurants that were open on Sundays served only breakfasts lunch – serving church crowds – and closed by 2:00 so workers could spend the rest of the day with their families.  Sunday afternoons were quiet, restful days at home. 

I have to admit that, as a kid, Sundays were such boring days to me!  I appreciate them now, though, and look forward to my weekly ‘days off’. 

If the Sabbath was commanded by God, why don’t Christians still observe it?  Have we pulled away from honoring the Commandments?  Can we pick and choose the Commandments we’ll follow?  Or did the rules change when the first Christians emerged?  I’m no expert, but my understanding is that it’s a littel of both. 

Back in the days of Apostle Paul, as the first Christians and churches were being formed and Gentiles were also discovering Christianity, the legalistic Jews were offended by new Gentile Christians who failed to follow Jewish laws and customs.  Jews felt that Gentile Christians had to conform to Jewish ways before becoming Christian.  The apostles had a hard time explaining to Jews that even though their laws were important, following the laws wouldn’t lead to their salvation.  Even though Christ was a Jew, Christiantiy wasn’t about the Jewish laws.  The Jewish Council addressed this concerns and determined there were a few specific rules/laws Christians had to keep to be holy, but honoring the Sabbath was not one of them.  (Acts 15:19-21)

Most likely, Jews and Jewish Christians continued to honor the Sabbath as was their custom.  Possibly some Gentile Christians did, too, even though it wasn’t ‘required’.  Others might not have observed Sabbath. 

So what about us?  What are we to do?  Does God’s fourth commandment to observe the Sabbath apply to us or not? 

“In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike.  Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter.”

Romans 14:5

According to these words by Paul in the Book of Romans, whether or not you or I observe the Sabbath is a personal choice.  It’s ok if we do, and ok if we don’t.  However, we should make this decision based on personal conviction in our heart, not based on what our friends and neighbors do.  Consequently, because this is an individual matter, Paul also says this:

So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new-moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.  For these rules were only shadows of the real thing, Christ himself.”

Colossians 2:16-17

Personally, I do feel a conviction to honor the Sabbath. 1) It’s one of the Ten Commandments.  2) A friend in Bible study once shared her perspective that not honoring the Sabbath was like not trusting God to provide for our needs.  I agree with her.  If God can create the whole world in six days and be afforded a day of rest on the 7th, surely I can mange to do the same!  Besides, I like taking a designated day away from household chores (laundry esecially).  I rest, relax, and get up on Mondays refreshed and ready to start a new week.  Giving myself that ‘day off’ helps me to be a better wife, mom, and most importantly servant to Christ. 

What is God calling you do to do?  Talk to Him.  Ask Him.  He’ll direct your thoughts on the Sabbath to where they need to be.