It’s an interesting hermeneutic. Within the 10 Commandments, the only commandment that has taken on expanded nuance under the New Covenant is No. 4: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it (set it apart as) holy.“
According to the Old Testament Law, the Sabbath was Saturday, which is why the followers of Jesus asked if they could take Jesus’ dead body and quickly place it in a tomb before the Sabbath began. And, until Jesus rose on Sunday, Saturday was the day Jews assembled in the synagogues to “have church.” The Seventh Day Adventists still rigidly hold to Saturday being the Sabbath.
All the gospel writers record stories of the religious leaders being infuriated at Jesus’ approach to the Sabbath. “How dare he ‘do stuff (even miracles) and live life as normal’ on the Sabbath!? We’ve got rules!!” The religious leaders had made the Sabbath more like bondage, creating absolutely ridiculous ‘addendums/rules’, informing people what they could, and couldn’t do, on the Sabbath.
But, Jesus made it clear to the religious leaders that they had completely misinterpreted the 4th Commandment. And, they were furious that he would dare challenge them, even setting himself up as God, claiming to be ‘Lord of the Sabbath.’
This is precisely why Paul, from prison, reminded his readers,
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. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
The early church in the book of Acts began meeting together on Sunday (the first day of the week) since Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday.
But, the idea of Sunday being a “day of rest?” That ship sailed a long time ago, with many having children involved in sports, and many others having to work on Sunday.
So, what exactly is biblical sabbath? And how can I still keep it holy?
Biblical sabbath is a lifestyle. Sure, we must set aside time to allow our bodies and minds to refuel and recharge; and set aside time to worship Christ, allowing him to renew our minds. But, biblical sabbath is more than that. Much more.
Years ago, I read Mark Buchanan’s ‘The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath.’ Buchanan observes,
“Most of us feel utterly ransacked. We are waylaid by endless demands and stifling routines. Even our vacations have a panicky, task-like edge to them. We’ve forgotten the ancient wisdom of Sabbath, rooted in God’s own rhythm of work and rest. Sabbath restores our bent and withered parts. The gift of Sabbath is essential to our full humanity and faith. Knowing that, God made it a command. We’ve neglected it anyhow. We’ve lost the rest of God.”
Sabbath does not necessarily insinuate inactivity. Personally, I typically walk around when I pray. During times of leisure (which may even include work), we can still experience Sabbath, taking moments to focus on Christ and meditate upon his Word. **For a wonderful testimony to this truth, read Practicing the Presence of God by the 17th century, French monk, Brother Lawrence.
Oswald Chamber wrote,
“Solitude with God repairs the damage done by the fret and noise and clamor of the world.”
My mom was a single-mom, raising three kids and working two jobs. Try telling moms like her, “You really need to find some time to rest.” Their response might not be so kind as they say something like, “I’m trying to!”
As I stated above, sabbath doesn’t necessarily mean inactivity. Here’s the way Paul put it:
We can do that regardless of what we’re doing. Our spirit and mind can rest, even if our body is moving at a rapid pace.
The old adage is true: “What’s in the well comes up in the bucket.” Is your bucket empty? Is your reservoir bone-dry? Do you suffer from chronic exhaustion. Rediscover Sabbath in your life – the rest of God.