Thoughts on the Sabbath
- The Sabbath is one of the The Commandments. In my view, this sets the Sabbath apart from ceremonial and civil law, since it is placed within the context of moral law. Because we would affirm all of the other 10, we should be extremely careful about tossing it out.
- Within the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath is set aside not merely as a day, but as a statement of our individual and communal trust in Yahweh. Sabbath is more than a 24-hour time period. It is a statement or proclamation that we can rest in God as He provides for our needs. In the original context — where survival depended upon the thin thread of animals and crops — not working one day was a shocking state tent of trust.
- While we might doubt whether we need to observe the Sabbath today, the origin of the Sabbath resides within the nature and work of God. If God needed to rest after creation, and if we ar made in His image, and if the commandments reflect not merely a decree but His nature, then we would be compelled to observe Sabbath rest.
- When Jesus spoke of the Sabbath, we must carefully determine whether He was abolishing the Sabbath (rendering it null) or whether He was redefining the Sabbath (or more accurately clarifying the original meaning of the Sabbath). In my view, Jesus is not abolishing, but fulfilling the Sabbath in Himself.
- Some might say that Jesus’ fulfillment of the Sabbath makes it void or unnecessary for us; I take the position that our worship practices, of which the Sabbath would be included, were never intended as an end in themselves, but to point us to Christ.
- Ultimately, Jesus teaches that the Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around. In my interpretation, this means that the Sabbath is intended to be life-giving, not burdensome. Jesus blasts wide open our concept of the Sabbath, so that it’s not merely about sitting in church all day, but far broader than that.
- In constrast to legalistic views, such as the Orthodox Jewish prohibition of cooking or driving on the Sabbath, Christians are liberated to experience all of God’s life giving peace and restoration, in whatever form that may be. As it says in Colossians 1, all things were made by, through, and for Jesus Christ, so all of creation is opened up to us, even if that means walking around town, teaching, picking grain, helping those in need, and so forth.