Sabbath is…

The subject of Sabbath came up somewhat tangentially in our bible study on Sunday, so I’m finally posting this list of observations about what the Bible teaches about the Sabbath. I don’t have the time to unpack all the implications–and can’t pretend that I have come anywhere close to mastering the art of Sabbathing well. But here are some initial impressions.

#1 …a day of rest.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (Genesis 2:2)

#2 …part of the creation order.
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day… (Exodus 20:11a)

#3 …a fractal reality.
But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. (Leviticus 25:4)

#4 … a holy day.
Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11b)

#5 …a day of Biblical teaching.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read… (Luke 4:16)

#6 …a vital ingredient of healthy family life.
Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. (Leviticus 19:3

#7 …a local celebration.
the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. (Acts 1:12)

#8 …an opportunity for hospitality.
On the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and began to teach… As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. (Mark 1:21,29)

#9 …a matter of social justice.
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15)

#10 …a form of true fasting.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?…
“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…

(Isaiah 58:6,13-14)

#11 …a covenant privilege.
Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. (Ezekiel 20:12)

#12 …a catalyst for righteous government and national revival.
“And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully,” says the Lord, “to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, 25 then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever. 26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the mountains and from the South, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, bringing sacrifices of praise to the house of the Lord.
(Jeremiah 17:24-26)

#13 …a secondary sign that points to primary priorities.
If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? (John 7:23)
“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? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:11-12)

#14 …a day of deliverance.
Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:17)

#15 … a delight not a duty.
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. (Romans 14:5-6)
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)

#16 …a deadly serious matter.
“They found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day… Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” (Numbers 15:33,35)

#17 …to be defended with zeal.
“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.” (Nehemiah 13:15-21)

#18 …a loss to be mourned.
The LORD has caused to be forgotten
The appointed feast and sabbath in Zion…

(Lamentations 2:6)



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