Should Christians Observe the Sabbath?

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Enjoy the Sabbath

In this short series on the Sabbath, we have seen that Sunday is not the Sabbath, that the early church did meet on Sunday, and that the church can meet any day of the week. The final issue before us today is whether or not Christians should observe the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is a Perpetual Covenant

There are some Christian groups that do observe the Sabbath with varying degrees. And remember, we’re not talking about Sunday, since Sunday is not the Sabbath. We are talking about observing the Sabbath on Sunday by refraining for work, or performing other Sabbath-day functions. The two main groups that do this are the Seventh Day Adventists and Messianic Jews. Both groups argue that since Exodus 31:13-17 refers to the Sabbath as a perpetual covenant to be practiced throughout all generations, that we should still be observing it today.

What people often fail to note is that the Sabbath is a perpetual sign of the Mosaic Covenant. It is not a sign for all people everywhere throughout time. It is only for those who commit to living under the Mosaic Covenant. As followers of Jesus, we live under the New Covenant, and so the signs of the Mosaic Covenant are not required of us.

So if you don’t want to observe the Sabbath, you don’t have to. It is not required of you.

However, this is not to say that we should not observe the Sabbath. Personally, I think we should observe a Sabbath.

Why You Should Observe a Sabbath

There is much wisdom behind the decision of God to provide the Jewish people with a Sabbath. Yet the Sabbath was never intended to be a burden or make life inconvenient for people. It was to be a gift. It was a way to force people to slow down, enjoy life, and love each other. The Sabbath day restrictions were not to rule over mankind, was was to be a blessing, to help us enjoy life more fully.

This is what Jesus implies in Mark 2:27 when He says that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man. By nature, people are generally workaholics, and God did not want life to be all about work. God wants us to enjoy life, and enjoy our families.

Does any of this sound burdensome? Does enjoying life sound bad? Of course not!

This is why it is a wise idea for Christians to observe a Sabbath. But since we are not under the Mosaic Covenant, we can choose any day we want. It does not have to be Saturday. It could be Sunday, or Tuesday, or whatever, as long as you are taking some time to enjoy life, love your family, and reflect on the many gifts God has given to you.

Tips for Observing a Sabbath

If you do choose to observe a Sabbath Day during your week, make it count! It is not to be a day where you sit around the house, twiddling your thumbs, and watching the hours slowly tick by. That is just wasting a day, which is not what the Sabbath is about.

The Sabbath is to be a day of delight, full of joy, sensual abandon, laughter, making memories, living out our redemption, and experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Spend the day with family and friends. Go do something enjoyable. Take a walk. Eat a sumptuous meal. Drink some wine. Celebrate. If you want to read more about this, one of the books I recommend is Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allender.

Sabbath Celebration

Do you observe a Sabbath Day of rest? If so, how do you do it? What do you do on that day? Do you have any suggestions?

This post is based on the Grace Commentary for Luke 6:6-11.


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Comments

  1. Ant Writes says

    Great article. I have a question for you. Since we are dirty gentiles and the Mosaic Laws don’t apply to us, how about Messianic Jews? A lot of them believe they are still under the law. (Yet they wear clothing made from more than one type of thread, and most aren’t kosher). They justify keeping the Sabbath because the covenant was to the Jews forever more. I think they’re released as well, but many of them have full denominations surrounded by Orthodox legalism. I happen to think it’s a comfort for most Jews or they’re doing it JUST in case they were wrong about the whole Jesus thing :)

    • says

      Anthony,
      That is a GREAT question. I think they are probably released from it as well, as they seem to have concluded in Acts 15;11.

      Of course, it never was for receiving eternal life anyway, and since much of the law cannot be followed since there is no Temple (or Tabernacle), I think it is only for comfort also, or because of some legalism, as you say.

      I would be curious to know how some of these Messianics understand the book of Hebrews.

  2. Manna for life says

    I totally agree Steve, Hebrews 4: 8 – 11 plainly says that ”

    For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

    9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

    10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

    11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

  3. Ed says

    I love God first and foremost. God has commanded people to do specific things.
    I see people can play games and dance around these things.
    Thank God for helping us to simply remember the Sabbath.
    I know I am not perfect but that does not stop me from loving God.
    Hallelujah

  4. Sis says

    While “the Law” establishes keeping the Sabbath day holy for the perpetual generations of the Hebrews, the DAY was made holy and God rested on it and sanctified it WAY before He handed the Law down to Moses. Jesus continued to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath Himself. Paul also continued to meet and teach in synagogues on the Sabbath.

    We have come far from observing any special time set aside for our Lord and Savior.

    • Troubleunderfoot says

      Good observations.

      And the sabbath is expressly communal.

      “In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.”

      ideas such as,
      “we can choose any day we want. It does not have to be Saturday. It could be Sunday, or Tuesday, or whatever, as long as you are taking some time to enjoy life, love your family, and reflect on the many gifts God has given to you.”
      have an individualism that is diametrically opposed to the spirit of the commandment. Perhaps this is why many Christians think nothing of going to the shopping mall and eating in restaurants on Sunday. As you say;
      “We have come far from observing any special time set aside for our Lord and Savior.” There seems to be a lot of difference between the concept of the sabbath and a sabbath.

      • Sis says

        “Perhaps this is why many Christians think nothing of going to the shopping mall and eating in restaurants on Sunday”

        Except that “the Sabbath” is saturday. ;-) The difficulty for me is in the fellowship part. I observe the Sabbath as best I can on my own on saturday. Our church meets on sunday. I have noticed a vast improvement in my sunday worship since I began observing the Sabbath.

        • says

          SIS,

          Yes. Remember what Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. It was a gift of God to humanity to help us relax and enjoy life. We can love God and love others so much better when we take our eyes of work and our “to do” list.

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