May 7

Rev Gav

Should I keep the Sabbath on a Saturday or a Sunday?

What does it mean to keep a Sabbath and how can we achieve this in contemporary culture?

The concept of a seven day week goes back several millennia, and in Judaism, the seventh day of the week was designated as the Sabbath. This was based on the book of Genesis where, over six days, God made the world and all that is in it, but on the seventh day God rested. So, how come most Christians do not keep Saturday as their Sabbath but choose Sunday?

The resurrection of Jesus on a Sunday meant he rose from the dead after the seventh day of rest. This was hugely symbolic, because if the original Genesis creation was represented with seven days, then the eighth day signified the new creation that Jesus came to inaugurate. In other words, Jesus was the firstborn of a new creation that started with his resurrection and we too are part of that new creation. The early Christians wanted to retell the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection every week, and as Jesus died on Friday and rose on the first day of the week, a Sunday, they aligned themselves with the resurrection, and they began to celebrate and gather on the resurrection day.

Christians have historically had a habit of appropriating the days that honoured other gods, and as the resurrection of Jesus took place on a Sunday, the Roman emperor Constantine, who was a Christian, appropriated the day of the sun god, Sol Invictus, and declared that Sundays should be a public holiday. This firmly secured Sunday as the Christian day of rest or Christian Sabbath.

The fourth Commandment states, ‘Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy’, therefore does this mean Christians are breaking one of God’s commandments by not keeping the seventh day a Sabbath? Not at all.

Jesus himself came to fulfil the law and the prophets, including the Ten Commandments, summed up as ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.’ The Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people by God at a specific time and for a specific reason. Now, that, of course, does not mean they are irrelevant, however, we do not follow many of the Laws of Moses — both those in the written and oral law. Why? Because we are no longer under the law. Jesus fulfilled it so that we do not have to — not in a salvation sense. In other words — none of us could keep the law perfectly, but Jesus did!

So, for example, the law says that all males should be circumcised but not all Christians do that! The law was there for people to follow to be made holy, however we are now made holy through Jesus Christ. Yes, there are morals found in the law that we keep today — absolutely — they are the eternal morals of love, for example, the sanctity of life, respectfulness, generosity, kindness, and so on. And these are morals that stem from our relationship with Christ, as we allow the Spirit to transform us — from the inside out!

Therefore, the day we keep for a Sabbath is not what we call ‘salvific.’ Our salvation does not depend on it, and it is not a life or death matter if you choose to keep the Sabbath on a Saturday or a Sunday or any day for that matter. The Jewish law commands that a Sabbath be kept, but as Christians are no longer under the law but under grace, the important thing is not the specific day of the week, but observing a holy day of rest. Keeping a Sabbath is important for our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing. It is about putting down work and having a complete day of rest — and yet this is something most of us, including Christians, struggle to do.

The wonderful thing about Christianity is its ability to be relevant to any culture or in any circumstance. For me, like those who work in care professions, I work on Sundays and Sunday can never be my Sabbath, therefore I make another day in the week my Sabbath and this day is much more than a day off or a day of rest, for God’s command is that we keep the Sabbath holy. This means that on a Sabbath we engage in those things that draw us closer to God and put down those things that draw us away from God. For each of us, those things we need to shelve for 24-hours will be different. For me, one of the things I lay down is my phone and the constant distraction of social media. The phone goes in a drawer and I spend my Sabbath with my loved ones, out in nature, and enjoying beautiful locations and yummy food — all things that, as I give thanks, draw me closer to God.

Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for humans and not humans for the Sabbath.” In other words, the Sabbath is for our benefit and to work with how we, as human beings, are wired. Keeping a Sabbath is not a legalistic requirement, but designed to bless us, enrich us, and draw us deeper into a relationship with God and God’s creation.

In our fast paced culture that sometimes puts the demands of work over ourselves, our family, and God, let us strive to keep a Sabbath, a holy day of rest, to stop, recharge, and reconnect with the source of our very being.

Amen.

Lisa-Dawn Johnston May 7 15:28pm

Amen! 🙏🏾
I need to remember to continue what starts in church and extend it throughout the rest of my day…..

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