Keeping the Sabbath Day Rest


Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8)

The seventh day of the week is Saturday. In the Bible it’s called the Sabbath day, meaning rest. It recalls the day God completed His work of creation. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done (Genesis 2:2). God didn’t rest because He was tired, but because He’d completed His work of creation; it was finished.

God commanded the nation of Israel to keep the Sabbath. Both people and animals were to cease from all their physical labors on Saturday as a reminder that everything, including time, is a precious gift from God (Exodus 20:8-11).

The command to keep the Sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated in the New Testament for Christians. Some groups still keep Saturday as their day of worship, believing that they have replaced Israel in God’s plan of redemption and Saturday worship earns favor with God. So why doesn’t God command Christians to keep the Sabbath day?

Early Christians gathered on the first day of the week because it was the day Jesus was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-6; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-6; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). They called Sunday the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10). It signaled the resurrection of Jesus and the spiritual rest found in Jesus through faith.

See, the Jews were never able to find rest because they were never able to keep the Law given by Moses (Hebrews 3:7-11). But in the death of Jesus, we receive spiritual rest (Hebrews 4:9-11).

With His final breath on the cross, Jesus cried out: It is finished. By His death, Jesus finished the work of a new creation. He became spiritual rest from sin and its curse for all who would trust in Him (Galatians 3:13).

The Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. We throw ourselves upon God’s unlimited grace and rest in Christ’s work to both save and keep us. Rather than calling us to stop working, walking, and wrestling from earthly cares, the Lord calls us to Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest … and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28, 29).  Jesus is our Sabbath Day, and in Him we rest.

8 thoughts on “Keeping the Sabbath Day Rest

    1. The Book of Hebrews is a marvelous revelation of the superiority of Jesus and the new covenant through His blood by faith. He is greater than the prophets, angels, Moses, the Aaronic priesthood, the Mosaic covenant, and the Jewish sanctuary and its sacrifices.

      When God ceased from His creative work on the 7th day, He did not do so because He was physically tired. He is not a man that he should get worn out. He gave Israel that commandment to rest as a symbol of rest found in Him salvifically.

      You raise Hebrews 4:9 as evidence that Christians are to keep the Sabbath commandment which God gave specifically to the descendants of Israel (Jacob). If one believes that Christians are the physical descendants of Jacob, the commandment to physically rest 24 hours per week on the 7th day most certainly applies; If the Church is a distinct and separate spiritual body from Israel, then our Sabbath is also spiritual.

      Christ’s call in Matthew 11:28-30 sums up the spiritual rest of the Christian. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The rest Christ offers His disciples is not physical, but for the soul. The Sabbath rest is met spiritually through salvation in Jesus by grace alone through faith alone.

      You can refuse to travel, cook food, write an email, or wash your clothing on Saturday until the proverbial cows come home. Resting on the 7th day does not bring one closer to God, save the sinner, sanctify the saint, nor produce spiritual fruit. The people of Israel rested physically by physical Sabbath-keeping, yet still didn’t enter God’s rest because that Sabbath resting was a sign to point them to faith in Christ for salvation.

      To paraphrase the Apostle Paul regarding Old Testament symbols of spiritual truth: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision (Sabbath-keeping) nor uncircumcision (non-Sabbath-keeping) avails anything, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15).

      1. Thank you for the great discussion. Some would ask/argue:

        1. Where in the Bible is Saturday-keeping commanded by God upon all peoples of every place and every time?

        2. Paul separates Jews from the Church in places like 1 Corinthians 10:32 (Jews, Gentiles, and the church of God) and Galatians 6:16 (“them” who “walk according to this rule” and “the Israel of God.”)

        3. In Romans 11, Paul mentions that Gentile branches are grafted into the “root” of the tree (Rom 11:17), not into the branches of “Israel.” The root and tree is Christ Jesus rather than the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel is branches; Gentiles are branches. Branches are grafted not into each other, but into the tree (vine) of Jesus (John 15:5).

        4. The Ten Commandments were given specifically to the physical descendants of Jacob, the Jewish nation, those “brought out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex 29:3; 20:2, 22; Deut 5:1; Rom 9:2-5).

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