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Remember the Sabbath

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The Sabbath is obviously important to God because it was the first holy day observance He mentioned in Leviticus 23.

“Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.”   Leviticus 23:3 (NKJV)

Every family and individual was to make a difference between their observance of the Sabbath day and all the other days of the week. All business and civic duties were to be abandoned for the sole purpose of observing the Sabbath rest.

There was a purpose in the instruction God gave the people. The Sabbath was to be a reminder of the spiritual rest found only in God. The Hebrew word “Sabat,” from which our word “Sabbath” is derived, means “to cease from labor; to bring an end to work.” The observance of the Sabbath was a gift from God to man. The weekly observance of Sabbath rest was to give the people a set time to draw aside from the demands of the other six days of the week in order to rest and fellowship with God. It was to be a rest from the normal routine; a time to recover from the demands of the week; a delight to the people.

But because of the legalism that crept into the Jewish hierarchy, what was established as a joyful worship experience eventually became a ritualistic observance filled with rules and regulations. God had reminded the people that they were to keep the Sabbath day holy (Exodus 20:8) and the rabbis took it upon themselves to prescribe ways in which to ensure that commandment was kept. Some historians estimate that they added about 1,500 additional laws to interpret and enforce how to keep the Sabbath holy. They filled volumes with their legalistic writings about what they thought would be acceptable Sabbath day practices. The synagogue leaders distorted God’s intent for the Sabbath day of rest. The Sabbath became a day that was far from delightful. It became a burden. The observance became so warped that people began to believe they were created just so the Sabbath would be honored.

But when Jesus came, He shattered that notion. He corrected the Jews by saying that the Sabbath was created for the sake of man, not the other way around. Jesus confirmed that the Sabbath rest was a gift from God to be enjoyed by man and was not to be regulated by traditions and man-made laws.

“And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”   Mark 2:27 (KNJV)

Jesus wanted to lead His disciples back to God’s original plan for the Sabbath; a day to give rest and joy to His followers. He wanted them to celebrate the Sabbath because it was a vivid picture of the ultimate rest that would come by abiding in Christ, the promised Messiah.

If there has ever been a lesson that modern day Christians need to learn, it is the lesson of the Sabbath. It is not so much a lesson about how to behave on Sundays as it is a lesson about life. Setting aside a day each week to abandon the normal routine and focus on worship is still as important for Christians as it ever was. It is one of God’s most precious gifts to us and it can bring us incredible joy to be an active member in a local church family.

But when we look closely at the observance of the Sabbath for Christians, the focus is not on the local church or a weekly worship service. For the New Covenant believer, the Sabbath is not merely a weekly observance. It is a continual observance. It is not just a reminder to rest one day every week. It is a reminder that the fulfillment of the Sabbath means that we have entered a life of rest!

The Sabbath is not for the purpose of looking forward to something that the Sabbath symbolizes… For us it’s to celebrate what we already have.

A life of resting in Christ is already our possession. Enjoy it!

Debbie Childers

About the Author

Debbie Childers is the co-founder of The Reality Group (www.therealitygroup.org), a speaker, and the author of numerous Bible Studies. She finds great humor in the fact that all through her school years she got in trouble for talking and now she gets paid for doing it! She is married to Tim, her college sweetheart. He has recently retired from being a pastor and they have now entered a full time ministry of speaking, teaching, and writing. They have recently moved back to their home in Austell, GA, near their kids and grandkids. They have two grown children – Clay, who is married to Candi and they live in Dallas, GA with their son Cash. Her daughter Amy, is an artist with Glory Haus and is the creator of “Burlees” seen in gift shops all over the world. Amy is married to Sam, an educator, and they have 5 children!! Debbie’s SIX grandkids are the cutest children in the world. They have brought incredible joy to her life and made her old before her time!!