To sabbath is to rest from one’s labor. The first Sabbath day was a Saturday and was enjoyed by God (Genesis 2:2). The first recorded command for humans to sabbath is in Exodus 16:23, and honoring the Sabbath is listed as the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11).
Regarding the particular day of the Sabbath, some have maintained that it should be celebrated on Saturday like the Hebrews did, the final day of their week. However, the early church abruptly changed the day of worship to Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus from death (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1–2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) on that first day of the new week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2), which was also called the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10).
Sunday remained a workday in the early church until Emperor Constantine instituted it as an official day of rest in AD 321. In America, there was a debate as to whether the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday or the Christian Sabbath of Sunday should be recognized, and the compromise was to keep both, which is why we have two-day weekends.
Sadly, for some, the Sabbath has become a religious idol. Attempts have been made to rob the Sabbath of its worship and joy by carefully mandating what can and cannot be done. However, Jesus seemed to have intentionally lived in public view in order to serve as a model of the Sabbath contrary to that given by legalistic teachers. For example, Jesus healed on the Sabbath, taught on the Sabbath, and promoted evangelism on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1–14; John 9:1–17; Mark 6:1–2; John 7:21–24). Furthermore, our true Sabbath is not found in a day but ultimately in a saving relationship with Jesus, where we can rest from trying to earn our salvation and find rest in his finished work (Matthew 11:28–30; Rom. 4:5; Col. 2:16–17). Therefore, the Sabbath is not a law for believers to obey but instead a grace to enjoy.
On a Sabbath day, you should do whatever replenishes, rejuvenates, and restores you. God loves you and knows that if you do not get a break, you will break. By taking a day off to enjoy God and the people and things He has given you, it is an act of faith trusting that God will hold the world together even when you are not trying to help.
In 2022, did you Sabbath? How can you Sabbath better in 2023?
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