Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

04 – Sabbath


Remember the Sabbath
This is a series on the “Decalogue” or “Ten Commandments” these are found in the second book of the bible Exodus in chapter 20. Moses receives these words from God on top of the mountain and he receives the commands on two tablets. The first tablet contains the instructions for man’s relationship with God. We pick up the account in the eighth verse of chapter twenty where we see the fourth of the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:8 (ESV) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, 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. 11 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.

Remember the Sabbath

In order to fully appreciate what God was commanding here you have to look at where the children of Israel had come from. They had just escaped a Superpower at that point; they were rescued by a deliverer (Moses) who was guided by God. They escaped some of the worst conditions where they had an intolerable, backbreaking workload from the rising of the sun until the sun set was their working hours and conditions were that of a slave.

They worked long hours, ate barely enough and never had things that we take for granted such as days off, paid vacation, healthcare, benefits, they were not fired if they didn’t meet their quota, they were beat!

This eventually came to a dramatic rescue on the banks of the Red Sea where they were pinned against God’s very own creation and God himself showed up and made a path for the Israelites to walk through before bringing the self-same waters crashing down on the pursuing Egyptians.

This is the background and heart of God in this matter, God gives an example of a literal seven day creation as an example of how they are meant to conduct their week. (More on that later)

This command is one of the most over analyzed pieces of scripture, the Pharisee pondered such things such as by picking corn on the Sabbath, he broke it my harvesting, shearing and then breaking it. (Jesus was accused of such when he fed his disciples on the Sabbath) The amateur Psychologists among us won’t be surprised as man has a tendency to look towards rules and either over apply them, or look for loopholes.

Let’s look at what Jesus was accused of and how he responded:

Luke 6:1 (ESV) On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” 3 And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” 5 And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

You will see a correlation to what I explain later and what Jesus states here, he is admonishing them for trying to correct the Son of God when in all reality he was the only one who kept the commandments in the spirit that God intended, he was also the only one who was able to. These words jump off the page to me and make me want to ask “Do you know who you are talking to?”

Keep it Holy

We are commanded to set aside the day, to sanctify it to God, to take a rest. In our modern, western society we do not get this as it has been a long time since a 6 day working week was commonplace. People who work what is called a “regular schedule” will work on the days Monday through Friday and normally have Saturdays and Sundays off.

As Christians we have a day to day communion with God through our mediator Christ Jesus. Do we only pray on Sunday? How about reading your Bible? How about corporate praise and worship with your family? It is both beneficial to study the Bible independently as well as on an individual basis. I recommend a balance between Bible reading and Bible study. (I recommend the Inductive Bible Study method by Dan Frinfrock)

Get some rest!

This part is often overlooked, that EVERYONE got a rest, you, your son, your daughter, your servant or your slave all got the day off. Everyone was regarded; this was a radical concept in a day and age where slaves had no rights. God displayed the loving father that he was that he was displaying great humanity that he was keen that everyone be rested on a Sabbath.

This is very encouraging for the “man of low degree”. Speaking as a man who got precious little education and I do not consider myself a smart man, I work in a job that you could really train anyone to do. I have precious little discernable skills that are marketable and as such I am not among America’s 1% of richest folks. Materially I am not rich, however in the LORD I am a millionaire as I have something that money can’t buy. A future and a hope in Christ Jesus.

You see, I am not special because I am a Christian. Truth be told God will take anyone! We have to come to him with a repentant heart and a contrite spirit. I am special in the fact that I now know my worth in Jesus Christ, but I am not more spiritual than you, I just have confessed my sins and repented of my wrongdoings. We have our Sabbath rest in the LORD of the Sabbath.

The creation example

Exodus 20:11 (ESV) 11 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.

One of the most common arguments against the creation account in Genesis is that it is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. That of course is not true, the creation account is that important that God put it into the Ten Commandments.

God used the Creation week as probably the finest example. As stated in our Creation part of this website God did this as an example of what the week should look like. God did not have to rest and he could very well have completed the task with one spoken sentence, but he chose to create it in a seven day cycle in order to give us an example.

Which day should it be?

Traditionally Christians have celebrated this on a Sunday, there are historical reasons for that and if I was to go in to this in any great depth it would certainly derail the article and perhaps I will look into this further in a blog article dedicated to this subject.

There are two groups that are associated with Christian beliefs that celebrate services on a Friday night/Saturday morning and these groups are The Seventh Day Adventists and the Messianic Jews. Some Seventh Day Adventists believe that the Government will institute a Sunday Law mandating a Sunday worship schedule. Personally I would doubt that, as on recent evidence Governments do not tend to be very friendly towards Christians and their beliefs.

I would resist such legislation also as I believe in a man’s right to choose what he believes and that it should never be mandated on a state or national level. God requires obedience but no man should be coerced into a belief that he does not want to have.

One of the issues with the “Sabbath only” believers is that they hold this one commandment above all others; if they were as fervent about keeping all other letters within the bible then they would be awesome Christians. Sometimes they are so fervent about keeping that commandment that they remove their hearts from God in order to keep what makes them different and the Sabbath worship becomes their God.

What do the epistles say?

The epistles refer to the Sabbath in two different passages, these are written below.

Galatians 4:9 (ESV) But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Paul writes to the Galatian church to correct the practice or holding one day higher than another. The epistles were written to churches that were made up of people who used to be Jewish people who converted to Christianity but also there were folks who came from all manner of humanistic, atheist and sorcery coming from a non-theistic or polytheistic culture.

Paul also writes to the Colossian church:

Colossians 2:16 (ESV) Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

You will see “My take on the Sabbath” as well on other parts of the article I state that the day observed is not as important as the heart behind it.

My take on the Sabbath

My view is that we are commanded to take rest; modern medicine has caught up with this and is now recommending a balance in life that allows for down time, time to rest and relax. Where they miss the balance is that they do not factor time for God in the “recharging metaphor”.

True rest and peace is found within a relationship with Jesus Christ and a daily communion with your creator. We have the opportunity to have that day to day communion, I go to church on a Sunday but there is nothing stopping me having time for God in a daily basis.

Really what I am trying to say is, is that you may have to work when your church has its service and I don’t believe for one second that a loving God who can see the heart of a believer will punish someone because they have to dedicate a Tuesday rather than a Saturday or a Sunday to the LORD as that is the only day they get off. If you are approaching the Sabbath with the right heart then God will accept your worship.

It is all about the heart and I pray that you approach it like a Berean and investigate it thoroughly so that your actions and deeds be worthy of your Christian walk. It is okay if you do not agree with me on certain things, it is important though to fully examine the word of God and draw what the LORD is impressing on your heart.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.

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