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 iron on Sunday.” How would you respond to that? How does the Sabbath apply to us today since we are no longer under the Mosaic Covenant? I want to address some questions I’ve been asked about the Sabbath rest.
1. Should we still observe the Sabbath and make that 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. But 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. So 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.
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. Pastors who preach for four to eight hours on Sundays would probably not consider that a day of rest. Most pastors and many church staff 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. What works best for me may not work for you. Choose a day that you can set apart as a day of rest, a day to pull away and be refreshed for work on the other six days.
I’d love to hear what works best for you in taking a day of Sabbath rest.