Many believers don’t realize how often they ignore one of the foundational pillars of the old covenant – the observation of the Sabbath. While some argue that all the practices of the Old Testament have been discarded and do not apply to believers in the “new” covenant, Jesus not only supports the old covenant in His ministry, but also declares Himself Lord over it (Mark 2:28).

The commandment to observe the Sabbath, though often overlooked in western culture, emphasizes the importance of rest:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

–    Exodus 20:8-11

Some Christians argue against observing the Sabbath by pointing to the clash between Christ and the religious leaders of His day, the Pharisees. The Pharisees accused Christ and His followers of breaking the Sabbath by healing the sick (Deuteronomy 5:15) and picking grain to eat as they walked (Luke 6:1-2).

Jesus had come to fulfill the Law of the Prophets (Matthew 5:17), not to break it. As the Son of God, He would be going against His nature to do so. Christ did not break the Sabbath, but He did go against the rules that man had established in their harsh interpretation of the law. These man-made rules served to control and bind. In response, Jesus said of the Sabbath, “…[it] was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:24-28). Christ worked to undo the legalism of religion and share God’s heart with the people. And for this, the Pharisees despised Him.

God gave mankind the Sabbath as a gift. Reserving one day a week for rest meant that people could spend the day with their families, relax, worship, and spend time away from the stresses of work and responsibility. This would also give their bodies, minds, land, animals, etc., a chance to recuperate from the weeks’ work.

For some, setting aside the same day every week may not be plausible. Emergency services, military, trucking, and plenty of other occupations may take you away from home or require irregular schedules. What’s important is that you set aside time for rest, relaxation, family, and above all, the Lord. We must work to pay the bills and to keep the world running, but we can never forget the things that matter eternally. Enjoy this gift from God without guilt, knowing that the Lord is pleased when you honor the Sabbath.

–    Jennifer Ann Turner, Staff Writer

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