The concept of the Sabbath Day is something which generates various opinions amongst professing Christians. In the Old Testament time, the day was observed on the last day of the week — Saturday. Early Jewish Christians likely continued the observation, but they chose to do their Christian worship on Sundays, the first day of the week (see Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2).
Growing up in a Christianized culture, I heard many opinions regarding the Sabbath. I recall stories from my grandparents in which they recounted how most stores used to closed on Sundays, the day which was commonly viewed as the Sabbath amongst American Christians. Small towns resembled ghost towns. My grandfather once told me the rules that his family followed on that day — he and his siblings weren’t allowed to play, and the family would never dream of going to a store or eating out.
There is nothing wrong with holding to some closely held personal beliefs concerning how one should observe his or her rest. However, we must be aware that the Sabbath was never intended to be a rule for Christians to slavishly obey. Through studying the Old Testament teaching (see Genesis 2:2) and the words of Jesus (see Mark 2:27), we learn that it is something which the Lord has given for our enjoyment. The term is based on a Hebrew word which simply meant “rest.”
In the New Covenant, Christians aren’t commanded to observe the Sabbath; however, the principle remains — they should engage in rest from time to time. Sticking with God’s original plan, resting one out of seven days is wise. Let’s observe three benefits of this practice.
You Will Be More Productive.
Unplugging from time to time will make you a more productive person. Common experience teaches us this; Scripture too (see Ecclesiastes 4:6). Don’t you feel more refreshed after observing an off day? Some don’t. They complain about needing a “vacation” form their vacation. This type of tiresome weariness occurs when we don’t truly rest. If we really disengage from work, we will receive refreshment which will recharge our batteries. We will then be better equipped to face life’s demands.
It Will Remind You That You Are Not God.
Sabbath rest has a way of reminding us that we are not all-powerful. We are finite and human. We can’t do it all. God needs no rest (see Psalm 121:4), but He rested at the onset of human history to show us that we do. His energy never expires, but ours does. That’s alright. There is only one eternal, self-sufficient being, and He is the Lord. Slowing down and setting aside time to rest can remind us of this reality (see Psalm 46:10).
It Will Remind You of The Gospel.
In the New Testament age, we have a form of rest which transcends that which was experienced by Old Testament believers. The author of Hebrews called our standing in Christ as its own type of Sabbath (see Hebrews 4:9-10). Pressing the pause button on life is an opportunity for us to reflect on the gospel which has saved us.
Dr. Patrick Latham