KEEPING THE SABBATH:
The Sabbath is the most detailed of the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments are a unilateral covenant given to man.
What is the purpose of the Ten Commandments?
They identify what sin is.
They are rules for the happiness and prosperity of mankind.
Keeping the Ten Commandments pleases God;
(Ecc 12:13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
God is merciful toward those who keep them;
(Exo 20:6) …And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
We know this is referring to 'keeping' the Ten Commandments, because this verse is part of the second commandment!
God has made the need to keep His commandments, self-evident within the commandments.
You could almost say they are self-sustaining, without need of any other supporting Scripture.
Keeping the Sabbath Holy is the4th commandment.
The Sabbath is the period of time from Saturday sunrise to Sunday sunrise; which commemorates the 7th day of creation week.
[Read full study on when a Day starts here: When does a Day start ].
So, how do we keep the Sabbath Holy?
What does the Bible teach us about how to keep the Sabbath Holy; so that we do not sin against this commandment?
Let's start with the actual commandment;
(Exo 20:8-10) "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.
The Sabbath commandment is repeated in Deuteronomy. It uses 'observe' (shamar) the Sabbath day, rather than 'remember' (zakar), as found in Exodus.
It also adds on one extra point;
(Deu 5:12-14) 'Observe the Sabbath day …that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.
The Sabbath rest is not only for you, but for anyone who you would have serve you. We are not to part-take in business activities or labour associated with our usual work;
(Lev 23:8) …The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.' "
(Jer 17:21-22) Thus says the LORD: "Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.
God took this seriously;
(Num 15:32-35) Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day….They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp."
So far, we can extract the following points;
(1/ DO NOT GATHER STICKS ON THE SABBATH!!!!)
1/ No work is to be done on the Sabbath.
2/ You are not to have anyone work for you on the Sabbath.
3/ You are not to work any cattle or other animals on the Sabbath.
The verses we have looked at so far would expand to the point that we shouldn't buy or sell on the Sabbath.
If you sell products or services, either you (or your servants) are working.
Similarly, if you pay for products or services, they become your servants, and are working for you.
The Bible reinforces the point that buying and selling is forbidden on Sabbath;
(Amo 8:5) … "When will the New Moon be past, That we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, That we may trade wheat?…
(Neh 10:31) if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, …
(Neh 13:15) In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.
(Neh 13:16) Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
(Neh 13:17) Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, "What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day?
(Neh 13:18) Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath."
(Neh 13:19) So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day.
(Neh 13:20) Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.
(Neh 13:21) Then I warned them, and said to them, "Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!" From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath.
We see from the above, that participating in, or attending markets for commercial reasons on the Sabbath is also forbidden.
This would include spending money at fairs or shows, for your own pleasure.
The Sabbath day is God's day;
(Isa 58:13-14) "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;…
So we shouldn't;
1/ Do our own things (ways):
ie, wash the car, mow our lawns, paint the house, or sow the vegetable garden.
2/ Seek our own pleasure:
ie, participate in sports, attend a show, a circus, the movies, or watch secular television.
3/ Speak our own words:
ie, plan or discuss financial or business matters.
What about cooking?
(Exo 16:23-30) …This is what the LORD has said: 'Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.' "
….See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." So the people rested on the seventh day.
Two points from the above verses.
1st Point/ On Friday, Moses said; "Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil".
This suggests that these cooking activities were not to be done on the Sabbath. Food preparation, which can be done, should be done before the Sabbath.
This includes shopping. This is why the preceding day is referred to as 'preparation day';
(Luk 23:54) That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.
The concept that cooking shouldn't be done on the Sabbath is reinforced with the following verse;
(Exo 35:2-3) Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day."
During these times, fire was required for baking and boiling. The fact that no fires were to be kindled on the Sabbath, reinforces the point that they were not to bake or boil their food on the Sabbath.
Today we are fortunate to be able to flick a switch to heat our food. Nevertheless, as already covered, the preparation shouldn't be done on the Sabbath.
If you have pre-made a soup or similar, reheating it to eat appears allowable. Preparation of non-food items should be treated likewise;
(Luk 23:55-56) And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
2nd Point/ On the sixth day God gave food for two days, so they would 'remain in their place'.
It appears this was to teach the people not to harvest their food on the Sabbath.
We get clues from other Scripture, that this lesson was not about keeping everyone at home;
(Luk 4:16) …And as His (Jesus) custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
Leaving your home is OK on the Sabbath, provided it is for the right reason, ie, for God's cause;
(Mat 24:20) And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
We see from Jesus' example that worship service, Bible study and the like are allowable. We also find visiting or helping the sick, feeding and seeing to the care of cattle is also allowable;
(Mat 12:11-12) Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
(Luk 14:3-4) And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go.
Back to the comment in Exodus, which said; "Let every man remain in his place".
Along with many other regulations regarding the Sabbath, the religious leaders formulated an allowable distance which they were permitted to travel from their homes (about 1 mile?).
(Act 1:12) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey.
It seems this was from man and not God. As we have already seen from Jesus example, the intention of the Sabbath is not for us to 'remain in our place',
provided our travel is for the 'right reason'. More on than soon.
More Sabbath facts
Just as the rainbow is the 'sign' of God's unilateral covenant to never again destroy man with a global flood; the Sabbath is the 'sign' of God's unilateral covenant, the Ten Commandments.
(Exo 31:13) …'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.
God takes this covenant seriously;
(Exo 31:14-15) You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Just out of interest, circumcision was the 'sign' of God's bilateral covenant with Israel. People neglecting the 'sign' of this covenant, were treated likewise;
(Gen 17:14) And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."
The Sabbath is really all about faith. For many people, there is no visible or logical reason why we need to cease from work on that day.
The common mentality is "Who does it hurt if we work?"
Because the Sabbath is the 'sign' of God's covenant, God can clearly see from our intent and actions, who has willingly submitted to His authority - by faith!!!
More Sabbath lessons from Jesus;
(Mat 12:1) At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
(Mat 12:2) And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!"
(Mat 12:3) But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:
(Mat 12:4) how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?
(Mat 12:5) Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?
(Mat 12:6) Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.
(Mat 12:7) But if you had known what this means, 'I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE,' you would not have condemned the guiltless.
(Mat 12:8) For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
So it seems that not picking grain or fruit (for the purpose of eating it on the spot), was another commandment of man.
The statement; 'I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE holds some important information for us.
Notice Jesus quotes it again;
(Mat 9:10) Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
(Mat 9:11) And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
(Mat 9:12) When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
(Mat 9:13) But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
We find this same phrase is quoted in Hosea;
(Hos 6:5) …I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; And your judgments are like light that goes forth.
(Hos 6:6) For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
The word mercy (chesed); means kindness, good deed, mercy.
This word is used in other places; sometimes referring to mercy between God and man, and in others between men.
The word sacrifice (zebach); refers to slaughter of an animal.
What this appears to be saying, is that God desires kindness and merciful actions between God or our fellow man;
rather than the required atonement for sinning, through not having these attributes.
It is all about having a heart change;
(Psa 51:16-17) For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart- These, O God, You will not despise.
And what should the heart change involve;
(Psa 40:6-8) Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened….
I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart."
Our heart now desires to do God's will.
The important thing about the Sabbath is its intent.
The purpose of the Sabbath is spending time with God and getting to know him better.
The how is not as important as the want.
As we saw earlier, Isaiah puts it well;
(Isa 58:13) "If you turn away your foot from (i.e.your feet from breaking) the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
Most people's lives are so busy, that they have to try and fit God in where possible.
The Sabbath fixes that, it gives you the time to devote to him.
Notice the following;
(Mat 25:35) for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
(Mat 25:36) I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
The Sabbath gives you the time to do these things for God.
(Mat 25:40) And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
One Sabbath, when Jesus healed a woman, the rulers of the synagogue said;
(Luk 13:14) …"There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day."
(Luk 13:15) The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?
(Luk 13:16) So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound-think of it-for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?"
Although in the eyes of the leaders this was work, it was God's work; a work which is permitted on the Sabbath;
(Joh 5:5) … a certain man…had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
(Joh 5:6) …Jesus…said to him, "Do you want to be made well?"…"Rise, take up your bed and walk." …And immediately the man was made well,
(Joh 5:16) For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.
(Joh 5:17) But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working."
So working for God is OK.
For the early Christian church, the Sabbath was the preferred day for worship, preaching and teaching.
We are given many examples of this;
(Act 13:14-15) But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on."
(Act 13:27) For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him.
(Act 13:42-44) So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. …
On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.
(Act 15:21) For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."
(Act 16:13) And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.
(Act 18:4) And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
The Sabbath is a good time to sing praises to God;
(Psa 92:1-3) A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night, On an instrument of ten strings, On the lute, And on the harp, With harmonious sound.
Give your Sabbaths to God, and reflect on the wonders He has done for you at the end of each week!!!
The wisdom behind God's Sabbath is plain; if all man-kind kept it Holy, no-one would forget their God.
Home | More Studies | Contact Us