Faith & Wisdom

Sabbath Day: When Is It and What It Means For Christians

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Date Published:
August 20, 2021

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Summary

We can all benefit from a day off.

Times in which we don’t have to worry about work or other stresses can be rare. 

The good news is that God planned for this from the very beginning of the world.

As God created the universe in six days, He established the Sabbath on the seventh. 

In the beginning, God proclaimed this seventh day to be a period of rest. Even before the world was polluted by sin and work became a burden, there was a time to rest thoroughly.

Today, these blessings remain exactly how God created them eons ago. While allowing us to grow closer to Him, the Sabbath can be a refreshing break each week that gives us a renewed sense of purpose and growth through productivity.

But what does the Sabbath really mean? 

In this article, we’ll talk about what the Sabbath day means for Christians.

What is the Sabbath day?

In Hebrew, Sabbath means rest, which is also where the word sabbatical comes from. Sabbath day was the day of rest God took after He finished creating the world. God gave His children this day to show the covenant between Father God and us. 

Primarily a Jewish holiday, it’s also celebrated by certain Christian sects.

In the Old Testament, it’s said that God created the heavens and the earth over six periods, which He called days: “And on the seventh day God ended his work, which he'd made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work, which he'd made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:2–3). 

The Sabbath is observed every seventh day of the week, typically on a Saturday. As God had ordained, it’s a day of rest and worship from daily hardships.

a menorah in the middle of a paper

However, we must remember that even though the Bible says God "rests" on the Sabbath, that doesn’t mean He was tired. 

As he rested, God looked upon His creations and enjoyed them. 

To understand this, let's look at the Sabbath's root word. The word “sabbath” comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat, which means “to cease.”

We don’t often take a day off after completing a major project or achieving a great accomplishment in our daily lives. Our bodies, unlike God, do get tired. But after finishing something meaningful and beautiful, we don’t stop afterward just to rest and appreciate what we’ve done. 

The Sabbath day invites us to rest and celebrate God's achievement in creating the world and the humanity that lives in it. Taking notice, learning more, and giving thanks to our Creator are all parts of the process.

God's rest on the seventh day serves as an example to us all.

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Sabbath day in the Bible

The Sabbath day in the Bible is complex and not what one might expect. Although it seems in the Bible, Christians don’t often celebrate it. 

In the New Testament, Jews and those who converted to Judaism attended synagogues on the Sabbath. The Sabbath day was obviously the ideal day to hold a worship service in the Jewish faith since work isn’t allowed. Yet, in the New Testament, the Sabbath isn't specifically mentioned as a day for worship. 

The Christian church at that time was, under the New Covenant, based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, no place in the Bible mentions that Christians observe the Sabbath as a day of worship. 

In Exodus 20:9 it is a part of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." 

As far as the Scriptures are concerned, Christians have only met on the Sabbath as part of their evangelistic efforts to reach out to Jewish synagogues, which met on that day. 

In Acts 2:46, early Christianity was reported to have met every day, instead of just on Sabbath day. 

Several Bible verses mention Christians meeting on the first day of the week, including Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2. According to the New Testament, the apostles and early Christians of the New Covenant did not observe the Sabbath as the appointed day of worship. Instead, Sundays have traditionally become a day where Christians worship as a community in celebration of Christ's resurrection, which occurred on a Sunday. 

But we must also remember that Sunday isn't the commanded day of corporate worship, either. Saturday and Sunday aren't specifically prescribed as days of worship in the Bible. As Christians, we have the freedom to observe any day as a special day, as per Romans 14:5-6 and Colossians 2:16

Even though the Sabbath day is considered the Lord's day, we should worship and serve God every day, not just on weekends or holidays.

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How it’s celebrated today

In Judaism, the Sabbath occupies a central position and is symbolized by various legends and adages found in both traditional and interpretative literature, such as Talmud and Midrash. 

It's also celebrated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is a Protestant Christian Sabbath denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday.

God's acts of creation, God's role in history, and God's covenant with Israel are some of the basic teachings of Judaism, affirmed by the Sabbath. 

Additionally, the Sabbath is the only Jewish holiday spelled out in the Ten Commandments. While not a specific holiday like Passover, the seventh-day Sabbath is seen as a day of worship. 

According to Mosaic law, Jewish people are compelled to sanctify the Sabbath at home and in the synagogue. 

man laying on rocks in the middle of a lake

To make the most of this sacred day of rest each week with family, friends, and fellow believers, we can:

  1. Worship in church
  2. Rejuvenate our souls through quiet reflection
  3. Find refreshment through time spent in nature 
  4. Deepen our relationship with Christ through Bible study
  5. Strengthen our relationships through time spent with family and friends
  6. Rest our weary bodies 

Rabbis made good use of the Sabbath-day leisure hours by promoting intellectual activity and spiritual renewal among Jews. The Jewish Sabbath inspired other days of rest, such as the Christian Sunday and the Islamic Friday.

Some Christian groups view the Sabbath as the day for attending church or worship services. Some of these groups emphasize the importance of the "day of worship" over the "day of rest." 

Whether you view the Sabbath day as a holy day of worship or reflection, it should always be a day for rest. We must always remember God's words, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery" (Exodus 20: 2).

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Remember the Sabbath day

There's simplicity and complexity to the observance of the Sabbath. 

The day of rest is a wonderful gift, giving us time to recharge and remind ourselves of God's love and creativity. 

Though it wasn't called the Sabbath rest when God made it holy, it was this seventh day that was set apart for His creation. God made time for appreciating and enjoying this world, and He calls us to do the same regularly.

While God didn't need rest, He rested as a means of shifting focus from making things to savoring them. When life is difficult and tiring, often the best gift a person can receive is permission to stop and rest. 

For more on Sabbath day, download the pray.com app in the iOS App Store or Google Play.

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