Does God still require Sabbath-keeping of Christians?

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Does God still require Sabbath keeping today of christians? That’s the question we just want to briefly touch on today. And it comes on the heels of my message earlier this week about what Genesis and scripture has to say about our work as well as rest and how those were created as good things by God. And so we looked at the Genesis one and two and three narrative about God’s work, and then God entering into rest after he finished that work. And so we talked about what work really means from a biblical standpoint, and we talked about what rest means.

And if you missed that sermon, I do encourage you to go back online and to be able to look at it. But it brings us back to this question, what does God require of christians today when it comes to keeping the Sabbath? We talked about the sermon about how that word Sabbath comes from a hebrew word Shabbat, which is first seen in Genesis two, when it says that after all the work that God did, God rested. God Shabbat. And that’s the word from which we get our word Sabbath.

And that has been handed down to us. And the 21st century is a word that Sabbath often for us, means going to church. And that’s a good way to spend a Sabbath. But there’s a lot more to that term. But ultimately is how do we keep the Sabbath?

The fourth of the ten Commandments is that we are to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. So that’s in the Old Testament. Are we still required to do that in the New Testament? And what do we think about that? Well, one of the reasons why I think that this is an interesting question is because I think the concept of keeping the Sabbath has been handed down to us in such a way that we look at the confrontations in the New Testament that Jesus often had with the religious leaders of his day over things about keeping the Sabbath.

And they didn’t like how Jesus seemed to ignore the Sabbath or didn’t keep it in the way that they thought that he should. And so we hear about those confrontations and we say, oh, how legalistic, how rule oriented the Sabbath is, so therefore we shouldn’t keep the Sabbath, and it’s not a good thing anymore. But nothing could be further from the truth about the goodness of God’s creation of the Sabbath. It’s actually a really quite beautiful thing that God initially created for people to remind his people that all time belongs to him. And so we should cease from the hustle and bustle of our life to reorient ourselves around the fact that God is king and that he rules and that he reigns and has dominion over all things.

So it’s not simply a matter of I get six days and God gets one. It’s really this beautiful thing, again, about taking time to reflect on our position in God’s kingdom and God’s rule and control over all things. It’d be sort of like this idea of how a family creates rules and, you know, how do we work together as a family? Well, we say, please don’t one another, we should share with one another. We don’t yell at one another.

And it would be totally missing the point to think about those things and say, oh, how legalistic you guys must really, really be. No, the idea behind it is that we love this thing so much that we want to honor it precisely by keeping it and protecting it. And we want to protect this idea of, again, setting aside time for us to be still and know that God is on the throne and in control of all things. So yes, we have added things to it, and there are things that have been added to the idea of Sabbath over the years.

But initially it’s a really, really good thing and it still is today.

This idea of us needing rest physically. But even more than that is what the Sabbath was pointing us towards. And that is how Jesus is the one who fulfills our need for deep soul rest. And so there was this confrontation that we read about in Luke chapter six that you can go take a look at. We won’t really look at those verses, but Jesus and his disciples are walking through the fields and picking heads of grain there in the fields and eating them.

And the religious leaders freak out because that considered doing work in that day. And so they’re saying, you know, Jesus, you’re not honoring the Sabbath. And notice if you read that passage there in Luke six, at no point does Jesus say, hey, I came to do away with the Sabbath. Sabbath. Or actually, that’s a dumb idea.

The Sabbath is a bad thing. He doesn’t say it. What he does say to them is about himself, I am lord of the Sabbath. And what that means, at least what it means, is that Jesus is saying, I am the one who the Sabbath is all about. I am all about the Sabbath.

I am the one that the Sabbath from the Old Testament was pointing towards, the one who can provide this deep soul rest that you will ultimately need. It’s not that the keeping of the Sabbath day or gathering with other people at church is unimportant and we don’t need to do it anymore. Again, that’s missing the point. And it’s also missing the point to say, oh, just. That’s so legalistic.

Again, it’s this beautiful thing about us recognizing the deep soul rest that God provides to his people. So rest is a good thing, as is work, of course. Now, ultimately, there are a couple passages in the New Testament that I just want to briefly read that give us some instruction. Colossians 216 17. It says, therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration, or a Sabbath day.

These things are a shadow of the things that were to come. The reality, however, is found in Christ. And then in Romans 14 five, one person considers one day more sacred than another. Another considers every day alike. Each of these should be fully convinced in their own mind what this is saying.

I think ultimately to us today in the 21st century, about how do we keep the Sabbath? And are we required to keep it? It’s not so much that it’s a command. Again, it’s a good thing for us to gather together. We are called as God’s people to gather together, to worship together, to fellowship together, to share things in common with one another.

And it’s a good way to sort of order our week around those practices. But ultimately, how we keep the Sabbath and what do we add to it, or what do we not do, and what is work on the Sabbath? What the New Testament seems to be saying is that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, and he fulfilled this ceremonial law through his death on the cross, and provides for us a deep soul rest that the Sabbath was ultimately pointing us toward, and that this keeping of the Sabbath between christians is really a matter of personal spiritual freedom and something that is a matter between you and the Lord as a believer and your conscience.

And if the Lord has convicted you that you are to keep the Sabbath in a particular way, but hasn’t convicted your christian brother or sister that they should do exactly the same things as you do. We’re not to let these things divide our unity that we have in Christ.

This is not an unimportant thing, but it’s not a primary thing about which we should divide our fellowship with one another. So I hope that chewing on these things has been helpful. I hope that what you’re hearing from me is that keeping the Sabbath is a good thing, that the Sabbath of getting rest is a wonderful thing. By all means, honor the Sabbath, remember it. But at the same time, let’s not let how we as christians today keep the Sabbath, break our fellowship, and let’s keep leaning into the Lord for how we are to work, but also, yes, how we are to rest.

Well, thanks for joining us today. I hope that this has been helpful to.