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The Gospels clearly show that Jesus observed the Sabbath day, teaching and demonstrating by example, the true purpose and intent of the Sabbath commandment. So, how do Christians observe the Sabbath and honour God in the 21st century?
To answer to this, we look to the Word of God and then apply it to our lives. First, Scripture is very clear we are to do no work on the Sabbath day: “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” (Exodus 20:8-10). This means a Christian observing the Sabbath refrains from working for pay on that day.
An important principle of Sabbath-keeping comes from Jesus Christ. He created the Sabbath in the beginning and knew exactly its purpose.
When God repeats the Sabbath command later He says: “The seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it” (Leviticus 23:3). A convocation is a public meeting or gathering. This means a Christian is to rest on the Sabbath and meet with other faithful Christians. God wants His people to assemble on His Sabbath to worship, to hear His Word preached, and to enjoy fellowship with one another.
These are the major points of Sabbath observance: Do none of your normal work, rest, and meet with others to worship. Normal work includes the chores and home projects like housecleaning, yard maintenance and other projects. This does not mean we cannot do simple chores like some meal preparation and clean-up. This type of work is still necessary, and it helps us enjoy the Sabbath as a day of rest.
An important principle of Sabbath-keeping comes from Jesus Christ. He created the Sabbath in the beginning and knew exactly its purpose. Yet He was often criticized for how He observed it. In one such instance when His disciples picked heads of grain for a meal on the Sabbath, the self-righteous Pharisees criticized. They said to Him, “Why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
Jesus answered them from Scripture and then declared, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). This is foundational to the Christian’s observance of the Sabbath day. God made the Sabbath for man’s enjoyment within the proper boundaries of His law. He wants those who obey the command to enjoy the time by being refreshed in their minds and bodies. By not working but resting on the Sabbath day, the Christian has opportunity for extra time in study and hearing God’s Word. There is more time to draw closer to God in prayer and meditation.
The Sabbath is a day for restful activities that complement a close relationship with God. Appreciating God’s creation in some easy, leisurely way is an inspiring activity quite appropriate for a Christian to do on the Sabbath day.
On the Sabbath day, the Christian rests from working for a livelihood. The Sabbath is a time for a Christian to study God’s word and spend extra time in prayer and meditation. God commands His people to come together on the Sabbath day to fellowship and to hear His Word expounded. All these are what a Christian should do to observe the Sabbath.
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