Notes on Sabbath Use
In terms of how we are to celebrate the Sabbath day, God gives us five commands within the Pentateuch to guide our worship:
1) The Sabbath is given to us as a day to rest from our labors and reflect on their completion:
Gen. 2:1 ¶ Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and wall the host of them.
Gen. 2:2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.
Gen. 2:3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
2) The Sabbath is a day for the commemoration of God’s creative work;
Ex. 20:9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,
Ex. 20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
Ex. 20:11 For min six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
3) The Sabbath is a day that commemorates God’s setting apart of a people to himself as holy and set apart:
Ex. 31:12 ¶ And the Lord said to Moses,
Ex. 31:13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.
Ex. 31:14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
Ex. 31:15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.
4) The Sabbath is a day for the gathering of God’s people:
Lev. 23:1 ¶ The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev. 23:2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.
Lev. 23:3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.
5) The Sabbath is a day that commemorates God’s redemption of his people:
Deut. 5:12 “ ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.
Deut. 5:13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
Deut. 5:14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.
Deut. 5:15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
Jesus said of the Ten Commandments that not a yod or a seraph (smallest letter and smallest mark in Hebrew) would pass away until his second coming.
Matt. 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Matt. 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Matt. 5:19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
We still need the Sabbath:
1. The Christian Sabbath is still a needed rest from the labors of the week.
2. Not only do we commemorate God’s creative work, which was begun on a Sunday, but we anticipate God’s re-creative work in the new heavens and the new earth, which was secured on a Sunday, as it is Christ’s resurrection that secured for us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Peter 1:4).
3. We commemorate God’s election, setting us apart as a holy priesthood (1 Peter 1:14-16).
4. We gather as a people in the name of the Lord.
5. To commemorate God’s redemption of His people, not only through the history of redemption, but also in the saving work of Jesus, through which we have been redeemed from our bondage to sin and are being prepared for eternity with Christ in heaven. Because Christ is resurrected, we have the hope of resurrection as well (Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:18).