When God created the world, He also created the Sabbath day and blessed it. The Sabbath day came after He had finished creating the world. “And on the seventh day God ended His work which he had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.” Genesis 2:2. By observing the Sabbath day, we are following the example God set for us. 

The term “Sabbath” is taken from Hebrew “Shabbat” which means rest. The Jews observed Sabbath from sunset on Friday evening to sunset on Saturday evening. In the Old Testament days, Jews did not name their days of the week, but assigned them numbers. Friday is the only day which was not assigned a number. It was known as the 'preparation day.'

Sabbath was to be a day for everyone to take time off from their day-to-day work and focus on the creator. God reminds us to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy, Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” God knew that we needed limits even concerning work. We needed to be reminded to pause and take a rest. Keeping the Sabbath requires faith, faith that He will look after us, we do not have to feel as if we need to keep working on this day.

What Sabbath is not about

It is not a day to burden oneself 

Sabbath is a day set apart for the creation to enjoy rest. It is different from other days. As time went on, people forgot the meaning of the Sabbath. The leaders of that time added legalistic rules, which made the Sabbath a burden. Isaiah 58:13 says, “…the Sabbath should be a delight.”  The religious leaders of that day were so strict and often accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. They saw Jesus’ healing activities as work. When the meaning of the Sabbath is misinterpreted, people can lose out on blessings meant for them. Jesus came to correct this. He says in Matthew 12:8, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.”

It is not a day to steal our joy.

The people mentioned in Ezekiel 20:16 had gone after their idols and polluted the Sabbath. An idol is anything a person gives attention to. It is different for each person. Whatever keeps the mind occupied on a Sabbath and prevents one from focusing on worship is an idol. Sabbath should be a delight.

What Sabbath is

It a day to worship the creator and a day of fellowship.

Sabbath comes as a gift. We are reminded to pause and focus on the creator. Sabbath offers relief from day to day activities. The mind is renewed and ready to face the week ahead. It is a day of rest for all creation. 

It is a day of restoration.

In Mark 3:1-6, Jesus heals the man with a withered hand. In Luke 13:10-17, Jesus heals a woman with a back injury. In John 5:1-18, Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda. In John 9:1-34, Jesus heals a blind man. We see Jesus healing the sick on the Sabbath day. We can visit or pray for the sick on this day because Sabbath is a day of restoration.

It is a day to show gratitude for what the Lord has done. 

Sabbath is a time to do good. Instead of focusing too much on what not to do, it is better to focus on what to do. In Matthew 12:11-12 Jesus calls for the people to be helpful and not harden their hearts. Jesus taught that relieving suffering on a Sabbath is not work. By helping others you are thanking Him for what he has done for you. Deuteronomy 26:8.

It is a time to study the Word and pray.

Sabbath is a time to connect with the creator through prayer and also reading the Word. It is a time to deepen the relationship with God. One can read the book of nature, by spending time in nature reading the Word. In Acts 16:13, we see the believers meeting for prayer on a Sabbath.

It is a time to rest.

Resting is important. Making time to rest does not come easy in this busy world. It is good to stop and rest on this blessed day. The mind has to be refreshed and re-charged. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus continues the idea of rest “…I will give you rest.” 

Please share your ideas on how you spend your Sabbath.