Many Christians live with a personal conviction and desire to attend church every week. It’s what many of us do in attempt to keep the Sabbath, which is the first of the appointed feasts God declared (Leviticus 23) as well as one of the ten commandments. We’ve already posted about the establishment of the Sabbath from the beginning of creation.
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 20:11 (NIV)
However, if we’re all being honest with each other and ourselves, how many times have we let a Sabbath go without remembering or keeping it holy? Here’s where many Christians get defensive and start by deferring to the fact that it was an old testament law that was fulfilled by Christ, therefore, I am not bound to keep to the law. Some have even said that Jesus actually broke the Sabbath, therefore, the Sabbath law no longer applies. Well, the first group is only slightly right and the second is just plain wrong!
Jesus was born into a Jewish family and observed the Sabbath faithfully. God was the author of the Sabbath, therefore, His son Jesus would not have gone against a commandment. In fact, He embraced the observed holy day knowing much more deeply it’s significance past, present and future. What Jesus did do on a Sabbath was shatter man’s additional laws, thoughts, and practices that were amended by their own will. God tried to make it simple…work six days rest on the seventh and lo and behold, men created several rules and restrictions because God was apparently too vague. So, yes in that sense Jesus broke man’s concept of the Sabbath, but He was showing that He was keeping with His Father’s command.
The Sabbath was given after the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. As slaves they did not have such a thing as a day off. The Sabbath was a gift given to them as a reminder that they are now a free people…free to worship the one true God.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.
Exodus 8:1 (NIV)
So, now the question begs to be asked, are we suppose to keep the Sabbath? Simply, yes! If we want to become like Christ, we would do well to follow His example and that means keeping the Sabbath holy. If you try to dodge the command by claiming we no longer live by the law, we actually have something better than the law…we have the Holy Spirit.
For by one sacrifice he [Jesus] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
“This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”
And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
Hebrews 10:14-18 (NIV)
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17-20 (NKJV)
In light of these scriptures, it would be accurate to say that Christ fulfilled the law, we are no longer judged by the law and no longer have to make sacrifices, but because we have been given the Holy Spirit we are to live with a holy passion to regard the law until heaven and earth pass away and the law would no longer need to reminder us that we are sinners.
When we try to do away with the law rather than see it as foreshadowing of things past and things to come, we loose sight of the richness of God’s plan and purpose for mankind. His redemption for mankind did not end on the cross…it made a way. God’s redemptive work is still ongoing and will only come to close when this heaven and earth pass away. Until then, we are to declare His glory and delight in His ways. Every time we observe the Sabbath by keeping it holy and set apart, we declare ourselves a holy and free people.
Discussion Questions for Thought or Comments*:
- Does it matter which day of the week you keep the Sabbath?
- What do you do on your Sabbath?
- What consequences, if any, have you noticed if you miss a Sabbath?
- How does a stay-at-home mom keep her Sabbath holy? (No it’s not the beginning of a joke!…Jenn has been thinking a lot about this question and what it looks like in her life?)
*Please be respectful of participant comments and experiences. We (John & Jenn) reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments. Thank you to those who participate!
– John & Jenn