I confess: I haven’t always been a pastor.
I know that is hard to comprehend, but it’s true. At one time, I even asked and wondered over the very subject matter (and question) that is in the title bar. In fact, I just didn’t ponder it – I almost tried to find, locate, and prove that the Sabbath wasn’t as important as thought. It was in that period that, among other things, when God showed me just how foolish, and wrong, I really was.
For the purpose of this blog, I won’t consume our time with those details. Just know it was very targeted, and God got my full attention. Yes, I was a “babe” in Christ; just learning the elementary things of the faith; dipping in the waters of Christendom and faithful followship. But within 6 months, my whole perspective began to shift.
Hard to admit: That was nearly 20 years ago, now.
Today, I am obviously at a much different place. People tend to view me as among those who work on Sunday. Others probably conclude that it’s part of my “job” or “responsibility” to promote honoring the Sabbath, so of course I am going to do that. Right? Well, I can say with the utmost transparency here: No matter what it is the Lord would have me do, inside or outside His Church: I will always be a proponent for His Word, His Will, and His Sabbath. It was His idea and He is the Creator of the Sabbath. That is precisely why I see it as important.
Here are 5 Reasons why I believe the Sabbath is essential, necessary, and non-negotiable. [There are probably more reasons, and you can add to the list. But for me, these are the Top 5]:
- It is a command. We do well as people and as believers to know the difference between commands and recommendations; to know the difference between orders and opinions. From the very earliest period in the Creative Order decreed by God, to the giving of the 10 Commandments, to the prophets challenging the people to “honor it,” the Sabbath Day is a command given to God’s people. Within the very framework of all of this…we are even shown the benefits of honoring it and the consequences of dishonoring it. [See Genesis 2; Exodus 20; Jeremiah 17 for the references).
- If offers you…you and I…the opportunity for both refreshment and rest. The actual word, “sabbath,” is translated as “rest.” As such, the 4th Commandment commands people to take a break from work, from work-related activities, from labor, and from the daily grind in order to pause and focus on God, His presence, and a much needed reset. In this way, it is a day that is promised to contain these things if we will simply receive it: He will give rest to those who are His (see Exodus 35).
- Jesus kept the Sabbath (I hope this is not news to you). For those that thought Jesus just overturned and voided out all the Old Testament commands: He didn’t. As we turn the pages over from the Old Testament to the New, the Gospel records are clear: The Lord honored and observed the Sabbath, in His own life and ministry (see Luke 4). He went so far as to claim that He was “the Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12, v.8); and He taught that the day itself was made for us (see Mark 2, v.27). I believe if for no other reason, every believer and Christ follower ought to honor the mandate because Christ Himself showed how important it was.
- The Lord transformed the Sabbath, through His death and resurrection, to the 1st Day of the Week. Jesus was raised on the first day of the week. When He was raised on that Easter morning – the old system of sacrifices and sinfulness died too, and He ushered in a new way to honor His resurrection. Sunday marks a new Christian Sabbath, or commonly called, “The Lord’s Day” as He defeated evil and sin and gave us new life.
- Over and over again in the New Testament…the Lord shows that the 1st Day of the Week is now the new Holy/Worship Day for His Church and His followers. Consider the following examples:
- When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, Thomas is not present. To overcome the doubt, Jesus comes to him 1-week later, on Sunday, and Thomas worships His risen Lord (see John 20, vv.24-28).
- The Day of Pentecost is the day when Jesus sends forth the Holy Spirit, in all of His fullness, to the Church (see Acts 2). In the Old Testament, Pentecost was a feast celebrating the harvest, deriving it’s name from the number 50. By arriving 50 days after Passover, it is clear that Pentecost fell on the 1st day of the week. The Holy Spirit coming on the 1st day of the week is significant for understanding the intent it had on worship, and preaching, and sharing (in the Church) on this specific day.
- The early church began meeting on this day, regularly, for sharing the Gospel, for worshiping the Lord, for giving, and for prayer (see Acts 20; 1 Corinthians 16). It was never altered, changed, corrected, or rebuked. No where in Scripture, after decades of the Church going into the world, was there a reset by our Lord or in the apostolic teachings.
Yes, we are 2,000 years past this. People do have careers, jobs, and responsibilities that require them to work on Sundays (on the sabbath day) that are often difficult to get out of. But in other things, life can get in the way (and all too often, we allow it to). Sundays get occupied with sleeping in, lazy breakfasts, day travels, kid’s sporting events, and shopping. It’s a good day, some will reason, to catch-up…to relax…to breathe from the highly occupied week, and to do what I want to do. I know. I’ve been there, I’ve heard it, and I’ve believed it before.
My only request would be for you to seek God in it if you have a choice. To really glean His heart and His Word. Let us be a people after His own heart, and really acknowledge in the depths of our own lives: He has our best interests, at heart, always. He has. He does. He always will.