Several years ago a godly woman reprimanded a friend of mine for ironing on a Sunday morning. She was told, “Today is the Lord’s day, and we don’t do any work on the Lord’s day. So you shouldn’t be ironing on Sunday.”
I used to work in open-heart surgery and would often get called in for an emergency on a Sunday. One day a friend told me I should find another job because it was wrong to work on Sundays.
How does the Sabbath apply to us today since we are no longer under the Mosaic Covenant? A few years ago, I took some time to study what the Bible had to say about rest and the Sabbath. It helped me gain perspective as I tackled these questions:
1. Should we still observe the Sabbath and make it a day of rest?
The Sabbath command, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8) is the only one of the 10 commandments that is not repeated in the New Testament. It was a sign of faithfulness to the Mosaic Covenant, so it doesn’t relate to us today in the same way as it did to the Israelites. We are not bound to it as a law. However, Sabbath rest is a principle, and we would be wise to apply the principle of taking one day out of seven for rest.
2. Is the Christian Sabbath now Sunday instead of Saturday, and if so, why?
The Israelites observed the seventh day as the Sabbath (Saturday). As we look at the early church, we see that the weekly day of rest and devotion was changed from Saturday to Sunday. However, it is not commanded anywhere in the New Testament.
There are only two explicit references in the New Testament that seem to relate the Sabbath to Sunday rather than Saturday as they refer to believers gathering together on the first day of the week: Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2.
The reason why the church came to count the first day of the week as the day of rest and worship is because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. It is fitting that we worship on the day commemorating His resurrection.
3. Sunday is our day of worship, but does it have to be our day of rest?
It makes sense to have Sunday as a day of rest because it’s the day Christians come together to worship the Lord. But we often pack our Sundays full of meetings and events, and some feel that Sundays have become just as busy as the other days of the week. For me, working on staff at a church makes it hard to rest on a Sunday.
Nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to rest on a certain day of the week, but the principle of rest is still important to apply in our lives today. Most pastors and many church staff (including myself) take another day of the week to rest.
We need to look at our own situation to determine the best day of rest for us. The important thing is to set apart a day to pull away and be refreshed for work the other six days. For more on this topic, check out my Bible study, The Gift of Rest.
Are you taking a day of rest each week? If so, what works best for you?