Some Qualifying Statements

Sabbath Study, Part 3

There is a lot to be said about the Sabbath, but before we go any further I want to make clear a few things I will NOT say in this blog series.

First, I am NOT going to say that the true Sabbath is on Saturday. Later on in the study (when we get to the end of the gospels), we’ll look more in-depth at the “Saturday vs. Sunday” debate. Until then, I’ll just say that I think the Saturday Sabbath as the Jews knew it has ceased and that the Christian Sabbath rests (no pun intended) on Sunday.

Second, I am NOT going to say that God’s acceptance of us is influenced by how we observe (or neglect) the Sabbath. God accepts us solely because of Christ (Eph. 1:6), whose imputed righteousness is the only basis on which we have a right standing with God (Phil. 3:9). We can obtain God’s acceptance through observing the Sabbath no better than we can obtain God’s acceptance by obeying any of the other commandments in Scripture.

Finally, I am NOT going to say that we need to add an extra and unnecessary burden to our schedules. Granted, that may sound like a blatant contradiction to my main purpose—namely, to show that the fourth commandment is still in effect today, making the Sabbath observance a necessary aspect of the believer’s life. However, the reason I am not contradicting myself is that the Sabbath observance was created for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). In other words, the fourth commandment was designed in part to relieve the very burden that we accuse it of creating.

It is one thing to take the premise of Sabbath rest as an occasion for forcing men into bondage (as the Pharisees did). It is quite another to adhere to certain divine ordinances so that we might partake of the wonderful provision of rest found in the Sabbath. In fact, the Sabbath, Biblically defined, is a liberating provision. Without it, we are tempted to live life in Fast Forward with no Pause button in sight. Indeed, true bondage belongs to the life dominated by a rigorous schedule with no room or hope for repose.

Let me conclude the introduction to this blog series with one more quote. In his book Simplify Your Spiritual Life, Donald Whitney describes a life of observing the Sabbath. His conclusion on the matter is encouraging and inspiring.

Imagine living to age seventy and spending every Lord’s Day in the ways I’ve suggested. You’d experience ten years of worshiping the Lord with His people, reading great literature, playing with your children or grandchildren, taking walks, enjoying fellowship, and taking naps. Does this sound like a burden to you? Most people dream of a life like this. It’s the kind of life you can enjoy when you delight in the Lord’s Day.

As we progress through this series, I hope we can all grow to delight more in the Lord by delighting more in the Sabbath (Is. 58:13, 14).


Joshua said…
The quote at the end is well played; there is nothing so convincing as the unspoken thought that most people have with the sabbath (namely that it would be a waste of time and we're too busy) and compares it with the quality interaction in Christ and with God, that can only happen when we have a day like this, and that is the first piece of encouragement that I have. The second is the aspect of the sabbath being a liberating even that believers can take in to the lives that God has allotted them and use it for His glory and their good! Love it love it love it.
Shannon Stewart said…
I love Donald Whitney's quote at the end; it really points to the fact that the Sabbath relieves us of burdens rather than adding them. The activities Whitney mentions are what get cut most quickly from busy weeks. But God has provided a day for us to drop "the daily grind" and enjoy extended family time, books about Him, and guilt-free naps - things I always wished I had more time for anyway. Like the other Ten Commandments, the fourth seems to be an expression of His mercy toward us: a time set aside for what truly matters!
Kyle said…
Just now catching up with you, now that we have internet in the house.

I'm glad you paused to make this clarification at this point. I think I mentioned to you a while ago that I had gotten the idea that you were one of those hard-line sabbatarians who forbid recreation in the name of "biblical" rest. I was gearing up to resist you on every point.

What you describe here sounds much more like the kind of sabbatarianism I can believe in. I hope that you keep up the tone of rest as rest throughout the series. :)