Sabbath

<<seventh day of the Hebrew week>>

God rested on the seventh day of creation and used this model for His creation (Gen 2:2,3). He instructed His people to rest one day in seven, with the intention of the fourth commandment being to provide ample time to worship Him, and for them to relax and be refreshed (Ex 20:8-11). During the desert period when the Israelites were en-route to the Promised Land God miraculously provided manna for six days each week, while the seventh day was to observed as a ‘no work day’ (Ex 16:23-30). Death was to be the penalty for breaking it (Ex 35:2,3).

Jesus performed several miracles on the Sabbath and He showed that observance of the Sabbath was not to override attending to pressing needs and helping others by doing good (Mt 12:12; Lk 13:10-17, 14:1-6). He said, He was Lord of the Sabbath (Mt 12:8).

Today it is easy to let the pressures of work, recreation and family responsibilities crowd Him out of our busy schedules. The Sabbath was created for our benefit and not the other way around. This day off from many of life’s demands helps to refocus our priority on Him – the source of our life – regain true perspective and maintain balance as we

Do I take time-out to worship God                              and be refreshed?

are restored spiritually and physically by involvement in religious instruction and devotional exercises (Mk 2:27,28). The Bible states that blessing that will result when this ‘day of being God-focused’ is correctly observed by pleasing Him and treating it as Holy rather than just pleasing ourselves (Neh 10:31; Isa 56:2-7, 58:13,14).

In the OT the Sabbath was the last day of the week, observed from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. After His resurrection, (which took place on a Sunday), Jesus showed Himself to His followers several times on the first day of the week (Mt 28:9; Lk 24:18-31,34; Jn 20:19-23).  Christians began to assemble on that day to worship the risen Christ and Sunday continues to be observed by most countries today (in varying degrees) as the day Jesus rose from the dead, and a day of rest. It is also called the “Lord’s day” – not to be confused with the “Day of the Lord” when Christ returns at the end of the world as we currently know it (Rev 1:10).

In His instructions to the Israelites God extended the Sabbath practice of resting to the land as well as the people. Every seventh or Sabbatical year the land was rested and left without cultivation (Lev 25:2-7). Then after seven lots of sabbatical years (49 years) there was a year of Jubilee, in which property reverted to it’s original owners, debts were cancelled and slaves were set free.

In the NT the principle of Sabbath rest is applied metaphorically to being at peace with God (now) because we are in right relationship through Jesus and this will continue into eternity (Heb 4:8-11).

Today the related term ‘sabbatical’ refers to university lecturers and other teachers taking a period off from regular duties to further their own study.

See also: rest, Sunday.

 


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