Obeying the Sabbath

The Sabbath was established by God to rest from working (Genesis 2:2–3). Observing the Sabbath is considered so important to God that it is the 4th commandment (Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus spent the Sabbath healing people (Matthew 12:1-14)

What actually is the Sabbath, though? First, why don’t we review the 2 scriptures that we’ve already cited. I really like the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, so I will use that.

Genesis 2:2–3:

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Exodus 20:8-11

[And God spoke all these words:] “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Matthew 12:1-14

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

So it seems as if the Sabbath is a day of rest and Jesus found helping others restful.

Before the apocalypse of 2020 my roommate liked to have sunday brunches. We would have all of our friends come over, make bacon and eggs, and have mimosas. We found it very restful to be in each others’ company. We would often express the challenges of life that were difficult for us and we were able to give and get support for these things. It was a great way to spend a Sunday, and I often felt invigorated for the week.

So, was I breaking the Sabbath by having brunch with my friends? I would say I wasn’t, because I was resting and wasn’t forcing others to work for me. I believe that even this can go a step further. Do you find church restful? Awesome, go rest there. Do you find church stressful? Awesome, go find another way to rest on the Sabbath. The whole purpose of the Sabbath is to relax.