The Real Sabbath

These days when people think of the Sabbath they think of a day where they don’t work and they go to church; a day of rest to commemorate the Lord. Or do they really see it that way? I know a lot of people that have kids in sports on Sundays and plenty more that usually can’t wait to get out of church so they can go home and get ready to watch the day’s game. I don’t have anything against sports, and I don’t really have some kind of a vendetta against football or whatever other sports take place on Sunday. I simply want to express the difference in views about the Sabbath.

Consider that when Yahweh explained the Sabbath to Moses the Israelites were in the desert by themselves, or at least it was them and whoever was living with them. The idea of this is they were living as a faith community.  They were not some kind of minority amongst a group of people trying to set themselves apart. They were a group, a rather large group, who shared common views about God and His will for their lives. They all toiled and played together. Watched over each other and worked hard to make sure they were all provided for. They were people that were probably forced to work just about every day of their lives while they were in captivity in Egypt. When you consider the fact that every moment of their lives was spent together working, the section found at Exodus 35, verses 1-3 starts to take on an interesting, new meaning…


“Then Moses called together the whole community of Israel and told them, “These are the instructions the LORD has commanded you to follow. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the LORD. Anyone who works on that day must be put to death. You must not even light a fire in any of your homes on the Sabbath.”


See, when we think of the Sabbath we think of a day set apart from the usual business to focus on God. We work all week long at our (usually) secular jobs and with (predominantly) secular people and then once Sunday comes along we take the time to get away from that and go to church where some of us actually still do a certain amount of work and then we run around getting lunch, doing the grocery shopping, bringing the kids to some practice or another, preparing a meal for the friends coming over or cleaning the parts of the house that haven’t been touched since last Sunday or some long-past Sunday whose date you don’t recall anymore. Point being, we view the Sabbath now as a day to not be as secular, but the fact is that still doesn’t necessarily mean a day of rest. When God gave the Sabbath, he gave it as a day of COMPLETE rest. Not a day to go to the temple, the people were always together in the presence of God. Not a day to prepare a giant meal and have a bunch of church acquaintances over, but a day to rest completely and relax from any form of toil. God wanted the people to take time off to rest so seriously that He said, “Anyone who works on that day must be put to death. You must not even light a fire in any of your homes…” That’s pretty crazy if you think about it.

I don’t mean all this from a legalist perspective, I just want to shed light on the fact that the Sabbath is taken out of context quite often, and I think we do ourselves a disservice because of it. God wants us to take a day to completely “unwind” and relax. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attend church, but more that your community with fellow believers should be such that you don’t rely on seeing each other’s faces on Sunday in order to feel you have a relationship with other people who profess similar things that you do. We are to be a community who interacts day in and day out so that we can truly take a day to just relax with our families while still being connected to the family of God.

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1 comment
  1. Laura said:

    They talk about the Sabbath a lot here at school. However, the Sabbath does not necessarily have to be on Sunday. Because think about a Pastor, He works on a Sabbath, therefore his cannot be that day. He would have to pick another day. It’s all about getting alone with God, not even so much resting, IMHO. Rest is good, but if you are not resting in Jesus than it is pointless really. You could spend your Sabbath napping, watching movies and “feel” rested, but are you spiritually recharged? Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man. God knows that after a long week we need to be refreshed by His presence in order to face a new week. Our Sabbath could be any day we have the opportunity to get away with Him.

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