A Day of Rest

A Day of Rest

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?

  1. Thanks for writing this, Crickett. I do NOT take a day of rest, and it shows. This is something I need to think/pray about.
    I’m with you that it doesn’t have to be Sundays, but if someone feels convicted about it, I think it’s great for that person to observe a full day on Sunday. I also think “rest” means different things for different people. I love to cook, so I find it restful and enjoyable to prepare a nice, leisurely meal for my family on Sunday evenings. Others might think that’s work.
    I completely back you on people in ministry having a different day to rest. My husband used to say he got paid to go to church.

    • Carole, thanks for sharing! I laughed at your husband’s comment about being “paid to go to church.” And I remember Tommy Nelson saying he liked to do yard work on Sunday afternoons because that was relaxing for him. So, you’re totally right. Different things bring rest for different people. I think the key is to take a break from things we fill the other six days doing every day as our “work.” Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Great post. As I’ve studied Sabbath, I’ve come to understand that rest is both a discipline we practice and a way of life for the Christian. We live out of the rest Christ made possible on the cross, and the discipline of rest is a declaration of our trust in God’s sovereignty.

    • Leigh, you said it well – “rest is both a discipline we practice and a way of life for the Christian.” If we don’t make it a discipline, it gets pushed aside. I see that in my own life. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. So timely, Crickett, as we enter the summer months where many of us will be looking for places of rest and relaxation. Also, our associate pastor preached on The God of Rest yesterday! Thank you for your thoughts and great sound advice. We were not made to do life alone, and we certainly cannot do life well without resting in the presence of Christ consistently. He is our Source of Strength and the Thirst Quencher for our souls. Blessings!

    • Thanks, Melanie! I’m still learning how to rest, and you’re so right – “we cannot do life well without resting in the presence of Christ consistently.” We have to be intentional about slowing down and letting Him refresh us. Thanks so much for sharing!

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