THE SABBATH DAY AS A COMMAND & A GIFT
Folks like Charles Spurgeon and the Puritans spent a lot of time writing about the importance of the Sabbath Day—that it is both a command and a gift to God’s people. Or consider the Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle’s chapter on the Sabbath in his classic Knots Untied (1874). Ryle believed that his father’s own financial ruin was due, in part, to his conscious decision to ignore the Sabbath and to pursue a lucrative business seven days a week. God calls us to worship and rest one day in seven—it’s a matter of obedience and a gift to His people. We are to be a “peculiar” people as the King James puts it in 1 Peter 2:9.
Consider these two passages from God’s Word:
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 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.”
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Many people ask, “Wasn’t the Sabbath merely part of the Old Testament Law, and haven’t we been liberated from the Law?” The key word in Exodus 20:8 is remember. In other words, the Sabbath was not new. It was not merely part of the Mosaic Law, showing up first in Genesis chapter 2. This means that it is part of God’s rhythm: He worked six days and rested for one day. He tells us we are to do the same. This is why honoring the Sabbath is an issue of obedience.
Jesus certainly criticized the Pharisees for misusing the Sabbath and adding all kinds of baggage to it. In Mark 2:27 we read, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” This was Jesus’ way of reminding us that the Sabbath is a gift, not bondage to man-made rules. Beyond the Old Testament Jewish aspects of the Sabbath, the Rabbis and Pharisees had added even more “rules” for keeping the Sabbath and Jesus rebuked them for this. But notice: Jesus never abolished the principle of one day in seven…nor did Paul…nor does the New Testament. Instead the Bible reminds us that we are to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. We are to rest our bodies and minds. We are to model this for our children. There are serious consequences for the disobedience of breaking this command. Honoring the Sabbath is both an obedience issue and a gift from our Loving Heavenly Father. Are you helping your children learn to love this wonderful day?