Keeping the Sabbath Day: A Biblical Perspective
The Sabbath day is a special day of rest and worship that God commanded his people to observe. The fourth commandment states: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 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.” (Exodus 20:8-11 NIV)
The Sabbath day is a reminder of God’s creation and his sovereignty over all things. It is also a sign of his covenant with his people and his grace toward them. By resting from our work and dedicating the day to God, we acknowledge that he is our Creator, Provider, and Lord. We also express our gratitude for his salvation and his presence in our lives.
The Sabbath day is also a blessing for us. It gives us an opportunity to rest from our physical and mental labor, to enjoy God’s creation, to spend time with our family and friends, and to worship God with other believers. It also helps us to avoid stress, burnout, and idolatry of work or money.
The prophet Isaiah described the benefits of keeping the Sabbath: “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” (Isaiah 58:13-14 NIV)
The New Testament affirms the importance of the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship. Jesus said: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27 NIV) He also demonstrated that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, such as healing the sick or helping those in need. (Matthew 12:9-14 NIV) The apostle Paul taught that we should not judge one another on how we observe the Sabbath or other special days, but rather honor God in everything we do. (Romans 14:5-6 NIV)
The writer of Hebrews also pointed out that there is a deeper meaning to the Sabbath rest. He said: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[a] just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV)
This Sabbath-rest refers to the eternal rest that God has prepared for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. It is a rest from our sin and its consequences, from our striving to earn God’s favor by our works, and from our troubles and sorrows in this world. It is a rest that we can experience now by faith in Christ, and fully enjoy when he returns to make all things new.
Therefore, keeping the Sabbath day is not only a commandment but also a privilege and a joy for God’s people. It is a way of honoring God as our Creator and Redeemer, of receiving his grace and peace, and of anticipating his glorious kingdom. May we remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.