Thursday, October 21, 2010

What Should We Do About the Sabbath?

(Warning: this will not be some sort of groundbreaking post with many new ideas. If you have thought through this issue, then feel free to stop reading right now.)

So, what should we do about the Sabbath mentioned in scripture? How ought we handle it as members of the New Covenant?

The following are two bible passages that can inform our thinking:

Romans 14:5-6, "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks."

Colossians 2:16-17, "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."

We can learn a few important things about the Sabbath which should help us make solid decisions about it:

- Followers of Christ will have different but valid views about the Sabbath.

- We must each be convinced about the significance of the Sabbath and then act on what we believe.

- Let us do whatever we do to please the Lord.

- The Sabbath is similar to other ceremonial aspects of O.T. law.

- The ceremonial aspects are shadows of Jesus Christ. Christ has fulfilled them all.

- We should not be judged by others or judge others about the Sabbath.

What then is the application for us today? I can see four key things:

1. We have freedom regarding the Sabbath (and let's be honest; none of us keeps the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening anyway).

2. We should not judge anyone else or be judged by anyone else if we differ in beliefs regarding the Sabbath.

3. Jesus Christ is our Sabbath rest.

4. Let us do all to please Christ.


Jeffrey said...

I wonder about the scope of the application of these passages beyond the immediate context. Since the writers mention widely disparate issues such as food, drink, new moons and Sabbaths, I tend to assume that other issues might be in scope. In my opinion, as believers mature from the point of salvation, until they pass into the kingdom, their understanding of the scriptures should reasonably be expected to evolve. They should therefore be expected evolve in their practice (assuming that they modify their practice to fit their understanding of scripture--perhaps a stretch). I think these passages are saying that we should be true to our current understanding of scripture, even though we recognize that our understanding may be flawed. This is a pretty huge concept, if I have it right. It implies that we need to constantly re-evaluate both our understanding of scripture and our practice. It also implies that we should treat others with grace and respect, because their understanding and practice may be superior to ours. Even if their understanding (and perhaps practice)is "inferior" to our own, they are hopefully being true to what they know.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that scripture has one, and only one, correct interpretation. It is not subjective, or relativistic. Our understanding of it, however, is imperfect, thus we should show grace.

I'd really like some feed-back on this.


Eric said...


This is an interesting issue that does go beyond the Sabbath.

We would agree that there are scriptural truths that are not up for negotiation. However, there seem to be other areas where we can legitimately disagree based on conscience. In a sense on these issues, we can both be correct even if we disagree. I have a hard time with that in my mind, but scripture seems to make it so.

I agree that over time our understanding of scripture will evolve. I sure hope mine does. We are in trouble if we ever think we have all things figured out.

I agree also about showing grace to those who disagree with us. Since we are all tarnished by sin, none of us will understand things fully until we are actually with Christ.

So, yes, I think there are many issues related to Christian liberty where we will have disagreements. In those cases, we will have to go with conscience. Hopefully, we will all listen to one another and allow ourselves to be shaped by one another as we all grow closer to Christ.

Randi Jo :) said...

isn't it interesting though that the majority now consider "Sabbath" to = Sunday. This Jewish commandment of sabbath was on Saturday though right? when did it switch to sabbath = sunday = "go to church"

the new testament church gathered together every day - every day was to gather & worship right?

but some of them kept the Jewish tradition to have an even MORE special day to worship/gather/praise/rest -- but that was not meant to be the ONLY day to gather... and it wasn't even Sunday until ____ later on.

what started out as something so pure and good for both God & us both... is now just another way to help us have a checkpoint, something to be legalistic about and for us to have a guideline to measure up to or not.

Thanks for this entry - I was literally JUST thinking about this and this was a great resource, thank you!! :)

Eric said...

Randi Jo,

The Sabbath is an interesting one. I have no idea why we, on this side of the cross, think that we have to observe it. Like you said, no Christians hold to the Friday-Saturday Sabbath anyway. For whatever reason, some Christians seem to want to go back to the O.T. in some areas. I have no idea why.

Greg Hetrick said...

I have been seeking God about the Sabbath for along time... I still have no solid conclusions. I could post a very long post that would argue both sides of the coin. My thoughts are as follows but are not thus says Greg!

The Sabbath is one of the ten commandments. It is the only one that we dismiss today. God made the Sabbath has His day. He created it after 6 days of Creation. Jesus, His disciples and other foreigner's observed and kept the Sabbath. Just because we feel the Sabbath which is Friday sundown to Saturday sundown is not "convenient" to culture would be only an excuse to not keep it. God's kingdom is not of this world. The Sabbath is a great concept that God created. I mean think about it- 24 hours of complete rest, turning our heart's to the Father and keeping us true to His way's. The Sabbath is not a time to watch sports or movies all day but a time to thank Him for his beautiful Creation and reflecting on Him. I must say how important it is to not do this out of condemnation or fear. It's not burdensome to keep the Sabbath.
Just my thoughts about keeping the Sabbath. To me it just makes good sense and is a good guide to follow. Sunday is DEFINITELY NOT the new Sabbath. I have more to say but this is a quick snapshot of my Sabbath study.
One of my main questions is why do we follow the other 9 commandments and not this one? I would love to hear your response to this Eric, and others as well. I like to learn things through a community of believer's.

Eric said...


I do not believe we have to follow any of the Ten Commandments. I believe they were given as part of the law to OT Israel. We are free from the law as members of the New Covenant.

That said, I believe we are to follow the teachings we see in the NT. The interesting thing is that if we follow we we see in the NT, we will end up following nine of the ten commandments (the Sabbath being the one exception).

The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ himself is our Sabbath rest. Therefore, as believers, we keep the Sabbath 24/7 because we are always in Christ.