The Sabbath

I was recently asked what I think about Sabbath keeping.  While I know what I do regarding the Sabbath, I\’ve never gone through scripture and documented the whys of my behavior.  So that I won\’t forget, and so you\’ll have something to refer to later, here are my thoughts on Sabbath keeping.

The Cross Changed Things

One of the harder things to grapple with in the Kingdom is understanding that some things ended at the cross, some things were modified through the cross, and some things didn’t change by the cross.

The 10 commandments were not touched by the cross – they didn’t change.  But the Levitical and the sacrificial system didn’t survive the cross. 
Faith was not touched by the cross, but the temple was changed through the cross: the veil was rent in two, and the temple itself moved from a physical place into us. 
Therefore, when we review or see OT precepts being re-treated in the NT, what we may be seeing is a clarification of the original idea. The Greek word for Sabbath is used 63 times in the NT. But it’s not always translated, rather sometimes interpreted.  In an example, one of the favorite ways King Jimmie’s translators interpreted sabbath was “the first day of the week.” 
If ever you thought there was a verse in the Bible you should just mark out with a Sharpie and re-write it, then Acts 20:7 is at the top of the list. It should actually read, “And upon the first of the Sabbaths …” which is in reference to the seven-week count to Pentecost. The same interpretation is used in 1 Cor. 16:2. 

Liberty in the Sabbath

First, Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath (Matt. 12), which means He transcends the Pharisaical idea of restriction and blesses the Sabbath with liberty: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). 

Working on the Sabbath is Okay

Secondly, to do good on the sabbath is wholly lawful – whatever that good may be. In an example, our jobs provide blessings and honor to our families, therefore working on the 7th or 1st day of the week is not forbidden, nor is it sin.

But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?\”

Notice that Jesus said the best day to heal (to do good), was the Sabbath. (Luke 13:15)

Sabbath is for Man, not Man for the Sabbath

Third, the Sabbath was made for man, to provide him rest from his work, just as God rested. It was not made to bind man to a law so that God could accumulate the goodies for us and count the baddies against us.

Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

You are not to Judge one According to the Sabbath

And finally, since the prevailing wisdom was to do no work on the 7th day, Holy Spirit adds clarity to the idea of Sabbath being made for man by reminding us that we’re not to judge others in regards to how they keep the Sabbath (Col. 2:16).

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us … Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—  things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Col. 2:13-14, 16-17)

Traditions of Men

The prevailing wisdom taught in many of our churches regarding “don’t work on Sunday,” is clearly a tradition of men. They’ll call you a sinner if you don’t rest and go to church on that day, but neither do they have any qualms about making others in the hospitality industry work for them by serving them meals while they complain about the food, the service, and ungraciously don\’t leave tips.

In Summary

The most important thing to remember about the Sabbath is to recognize that rest was designed for us by God. He intends for us to rest. Without vacations, periods of rest and relaxation, we will burn out, get sick, develop heart disease – or worse.

But we must also remember that doing good on the 7th day, is not a sin. Neither do should we force ourselves to be bound to the 7th (Saturday) – Sunday usually works better for me.