Many believers are asking, “Should Christians keep Sabbath on Saturday?” The answer is simple. Here’s a verse used to promote Saturday Sabbath-keeping:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)
What God meant by the rule
The people of Israel were not to earn an income or spend time on trivial jobs on Saturdays. They were to take the day off and worship the Lord. Beginning at sun-down on Friday, they had a special meal and worshipped the Lord. During the Sabbath day, they would meet for prayer and discussion of the Torah. This sacred day ended at sun-down.
Sabbath-keepers are wrong
Some Christians think they are approaching spiritual nirvana by keeping the Law of Moses. Since the Ten Commandments say to observe the Sabbath, they think they are getting closer to God by reserving Saturday as the day to have church.
The first flaw with this thinking is the assumption that the Law of Moses was for everyone. Only Israel was required to keep this covenant. Through the prophets, God made it clear that He worked with other countries differently. In the new covenant, OT Law, circumcision, and the keeping of Sabbaths amount to nothing (Colossians 2:16-17). In fact, these religious traditions prevent people from finding the fullness of Christ. Throughout the New Testament, Christ and Moses are contrasted against each other, not as pursuing the same goal (John 1:17). Moses’s legality drove Israel to the mercy of Christ’s cross (Galatians 3:24-25).
The second error here is thinking that we know which day is the Sabbath. Although Saturday was the original Sabbath, we do not know we have the exact record of this day on our calendars. When Israel went into exile, they had to live by the calendar of countries with who did not follow God’s calendar. In fact, a group of Jews attacked another sect of Jews in the first century and won because of this confusion. One group kept Saturday as Sabbath, the other kept Friday as Sabbath because they claimed to have the right day by their chronology. Since a Jew could not fight on a Sabbath, the Saturday-keepers defeated the helpless Friday-keepers.
Third, you simply cannot keep the Sabbath. You have to do work of some sort. Jewish farmers still had to milk the goat and feed the donkey on Saturdays. Any Sabbath-keeping religion eventually goes legalistic with what can and cannot be done on a Saturday (or Sunday). Some say you cannot work on the Sabbath, but if your job requires you to come in to work on that day, make sure you put the full day’s paycheck in the church offering.
Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Even though He kept Sabbath as a Law-abiding Jew (the only person ever to keep the whole Law and so fulfill every letter of it), He did not let the legalists guilt Him out of breathing on the holy day.
Sunday is not the Sabbath
Knowing that Christians should not have to keep Saturday as Sabbath, some demand that Sunday be a day of rest and worship. They may think they get this from the Bible. However, they borrow it from Catholic decrees. God did not make Sunday the Sabbath, the Roman Catholic Church did. Generation-old “blue laws” enforced this cultural tradition.
Yes, the first believers did meet on the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection. However, Jews always met on the Saturday Sabbath. Paul and other apostles used this to their advantage in evangelizing the Jews on their holy day without conflicting with the church’s own schedule of worship. No apostle or church member, however, thought of Sunday as the Sabbath. They were not trying to keep Sabbaths or any other Jewish holiday.
Non-Sabbath-keepers are wrong, too
So, we see that Christians should not keep Sunday or Saturday Sabbath. Some believers say we should not keep Sabbath at all. This is wrong, too. God wants us to keep Sabbath, but is far different and better than just a “day” of rest.
God wants us to enter His rest (Isaiah 28:11-12; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4). The rest He now offers is life in the fullness of His Spirit. It is not a rest from physical labor, but from slavery to the Law. We cannot work out our own righteousness. We enter His righteousness by His blood, His name on our lives through baptism, and the heavenly gift of His Spirit in us.
It is important to let your body rest one day of the week. It is important to set aside a day for worship and reflection on God’s goodness. It is far more important to live every day in the abundance of His Rest as He flows in your life with righteousness, peace, and joy.