Pastor's Desk - Are You a Sabbath Keeper?

Jun 02, 2024

Do you set aside a 24-hour period each week in which you stop your work and rest? “Sabbath is a time to rest, reflect, and renew our spirits.” 1 When we hear about the Sabbath, however, we often immediately think about the Seventh Day Adventists and the seventh day. Jesus, however, insisted that the Sabbath is for all humanity, which He clearly states in Mark 2:27, which reads, “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for humankind and not humankind for the Sabbath,’” (NRSV).

The Sabbath is a day God gave and commanded in the Decalogue to be observed. The Israelites were reminded of the need to keep the Sabbath holy as it was given to them by God on their release from oppression in Egypt. Observance of the Sabbath, then, is to demonstrate obedience to God and it is to honour God by accepting His gift.

Observance of the Sabbath is not a legalistic religious practice, demonstrating the superiority of one faith practice over another. As strict as the Pharisees were, Jesus had serious issues with them and no other religious group could rival them for their legalism. So, do not begin to believe you are an inferior Christian “product” if you do not engage or observe Saturday as your Sabbath day. It is not so much about which day, but that you honour God on that day whether Saturday, Sunday, or Friday.

As indicated, it’s a gift of a 24-hour period given by God to stop, rest, delight, and worship. Most people think only of rest and worship, and that’s ok. However, it includes all these actions.


Are you comfortable letting go of your responsibilities on Sabbath, fully trusting God to run the world without you? This is essentially what it says, to cease from your labour, all work, paid or unpaid, done by yourself or through an employer. The ability to work is itself a gift from God. It reflects human dignity, creativity, and purpose, evidenced at the beginning of creation and preceding the fall.

However, after work comes rest, hence the need to stop. Stopping suggests that there is more to life than work. It expresses a willingness to be free from those cultural imperatives which make such a demand on one’s life. It could also be interpreted as a protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money. 


“Work is a gift but so is rest. Embrace the Sabbath to restore balance in your life.” 1 Rest is essentially what that is - restoring balance in our life by intentionally withdrawing from work to relax, sleep, read, and play. It includes going for a walk, taking a swim, visiting an art gallery, or just relaxing in a safe park. In Deut., God reminded the Israelites of the importance of keeping the Sabbath when He implored them to, “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” (Deut. 5:15, NRSV). It is clear the see that, “In the simplicity of the Sabbath we discover that true peace comes not from external circumstances but from within.” 


God ceased his creation and took delight in what he had done and declared that it was good. God could only have made that observation because he paused long enough to admire and appreciate all of creation. That’s part of the delight in honouring the Sabbath, it is to honour God and to celebrate the creation. It is to delight in God’s creation, animals, nature, and human beings. What a difference it would make if even one day in the week, we remember that God said after He created mankind that it was good. Therefore, can we see others through God’s eyes, as created in God’s image and, therefore, good?

Another aspect of delight is just our focus on God. The prophet Isaiah puts it well,

If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests or pursuing your own affairs, then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.(Isa. 58:13-14).

Delighting in God could include, a silent retreat for part of the day, journaling what you hear the Lord saying to you, listening to and sharing in music and songs honouring God.


“Through acts of worship on the Sabbath, we open our heart to receive the love, grace and transformation that God offers.” Many Christians use this day to pause and worship God, especially with family and friends. Do remember it’s a day to let God have first place; therefore, there can be no place for picking a fight with neighbours, criticizing the organist or the caretaker; but practicing holiness. What a revolution this would be in our lives and church experience if we deliberately choose to honour God and all God’s people on His Sabbath. Hence, let us, “Be still on the Sabbath and listen to the voice of God, who longs to speak to your heart and guide your path.”

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