Sunday: The Jewish Sabbath?

(Exod. 20:8-11)

Image © Pacific Press from

Image © Pacific Press from

Although many refer to the seventh day as the Jewish Sabbath, the Bible reveals that the Sabbath predates the Jews by many centuries. Its roots go back to the Creation itself.

Genesis 2:1-3 declares that after God had completed His acts of creation in six days, He rested on the seventh day and then blessed the seventh day and made it holy (NIV). This clearly shows the high place of the Sabbath in God’s creation. In addition to the blessing, the Sabbath was also made holy. In other words, God applied some of His own qualities to this monument in time.

Compare the two Sabbath commandments in Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15. In what ways do these relate to the theory that the Sabbath is not only for Jews?

The most notable difference between the two commandments is the rationale for Sabbath observance. Exodus makes a direct reference to Genesis 2:3 as it elevates the fact that God both blessed and made holy the Sabbath day. On the other hand, Deuteronomy 5:15 points to Israel’s divine deliverance from Egyptian bondage as being a rationale for Sabbath keeping. On the basis of the Deuteronomy text, many believe the Sabbath is only for the Jews. However, this argument totally ignores the fact that the Exodus text points to the Creation, when God established Sabbath for all humanity.

Furthermore, the Deuteronomy 5:15 reference to deliverance from Egypt is symbolic of the salvation we have in Christ. Hence, the Sabbath is a symbol not only of Creation but of Redemption, two themes that are linked with each other in the Bible (Heb. 1:1-3, Col. 1:13-20, John 1:1-14). Only by the fact that Jesus is our Creator could He also be our Redeemer, and the seventh-day sabbath is symbol of His work as both.

Anyone can claim to be resting in Christ. In your own experience, how does keeping the seventh-day sabbath help you to find that rest?



Sunday: The Jewish Sabbath? — 36 Comments

  1. According to Isaiah 58, proper Sabbath observance involves resting from our own thoughts,words and desires and giving our entire self to GOD that one day of the week. When we empty ourselves of self GOD purifies us and lives out HIS life in us to accomplish HIS will on earth. Isn't this the ultimate goal of our salvation?

    • Some believe that even ridding the bike or having sex on Sabbath is wrong. Are we to become so rigid on observing the Sabbath?

      • The sabbath was given that we may rejoice in the Lord and be renewed spiritually.if our thoughts are in harmony with Jesus we may have sex(married couples)but we must ensure that everything we do is done in the glory of God(1Corinthians10:31)

      • Having sex on sabbath is wrong that's what I believe too, though it maybe your marriage partner but what we do on sabbath is supposed to please God and the law it says we must stop from all our labour isn't sex greater than labour and isn't it more human pleasing than God's.

        • Oddly enough, Orthodox Jews believe that Sabbath is an especially blessed time for marital relations.

    • The Fast day in Isaiah 58 is a reference to the Day of Atonement Sabbath as I understand it from many commentaries, a Fast which we no longer observe in a literal sense. I would be careful applying the way it was to be observed (with fasting and abstaining from pleasure) to the 7th day Sabbath because it was a different type of Sabbath with different type of meaning.

      Still what you say is spot on! "When we empty ourselves of self GOD purifies us and lives out HIS life in us to accomplish HIS will on earth. Isn't this the ultimate goal of our salvation?"

      • Robert, it is true that many commentaries consider the entire chapter to be about the Day of Atonement but not all of them do. For instance Matthew Henry says:

        Great stress was always laid upon the due observance of the sabbath day, and it was particularly required from the Jews when they were captives in Babylon, because by keeping that day, in honour of the Creator, they distinguished themselves from the worshippers of the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth. See ch. lvi. 1, 2, where keeping the sabbath is joined, as here, with keeping judgment and doing justice. Some, indeed, understand this of the day of atonement, which they think is the fast spoken of in the former part of the chapter, and which is called a sabbath of rest, Lev. xxiii. 32. But, as the fasts before spoken of seem to be those that were occasional, so this sabbath is doubtless the weekly sabbath, that great sign between God and his professing people--his appointing it a sign of his favour to them and their observing it a sign of their obedience to him. Now observe here (Matthew Henry on Isa 58:13)

        One thing that I observe about verse 13 is that there is an article with the word Sabbath, in other words, it is THE Sabbath that the verse is talking about. In my BibleWorks program that I use they have an outline for the entire Bible and for Isa 58 it says, "False and True Worship" which seems to be far more general than about one day during the year. Furthermore, the NET Bible, in their extensive notes, says nothing about the Day of Atonement throughout the entire chapter. Beyond that Torrey, New Topical Text Book references the verse numerous times in conjunction with the Sabbath as does Schaff's Early Church Fathers and Rodkinson, The Babylonian Talmud. Nave's Topical Bible and Thompson New Chain-Reference Bible also references the verse under the Sabbath.

        In other works also such as The London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 22 "Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day" includes Isa 58:13 among their reference in paragraph 8. The Westminster Standards which is similar to The London Baptist Confession of Faith in chapter 21, paragraph 8 also lists Isa 58:13 in their references.

        Besides, at least during the first century A.D. fasting was obviously a common practice that was not confined only to the Day of Atonement:

        Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" (Matt. 9:14 NKJV)

        However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. (Matt. 17:21 NKJV)

        and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day (Lk. 2:37 NKJV)

        The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,`God, I thank You that I am not like other men-- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' (Lk. 18:11-12 NKJV)

        I think, therefore, it is quite reasonable to conclude that fasting was also common back in Isaiah's time as can be seen in many places in the Old Testament and that what Isaiah was talking about was what constitutes real worship.

        • Wow, it seems you always do your homework and present well thought out posts. This perhaps is one of those passages we cannot make any conclusive conclusions about as it can be well reasoned either way.

  2. For me...true Sabbath observance means disconnecting all that you know and that you are and connecting the plug with God and heaven. Its a day when we should walk and talk and think about that which God has done for us,that which He is and thus giving back the reverance and worship to Him. Remember we are observing firstly...the Sabbath as a crown of creation. This means we dwell on Him being our Creator. Oh what great work He hath done! Secondly as we look and Deuteronomy 5:15 it becomes also a reflection of our redemption. That the Lord God took us from captivity that we may Shabat. Our presence in the congregation should be one of worship because after all that He has done for us....we can only bow down in humbleness and praise Him.

    However brethren...I seem to be struggling the past week spiritually,I cant help but feel that I am not keeping the Sabbath in the way God requires. Am actually grateful the lesson came at a good time. Please help me pray,that God may reveal to me my errors not only with the Sabbath but in my life as a Christian. I am also in a relationship that is leading to a marriage,at times things require strength from a bible-grounded mind. Id appreciate your help in prayer. 🙂

  3. [Moderator's note: Please us full names when commenting. Thank you.]

    Keeping sabbath as holy is, but how can we keep? today we are not directly punished as Israelites! For example you can keep physically, apparentlly in our mind still in activities! thanks!

    • "A Holy Convocation" Leviticus 23:3. I dont refuse the fact that helping(in terms of raising money towards opharns n bereaved/harambee) is bad.
      After all it is a christian virtue!
      But i wanna believe Sabbath is not a mere church business day in which we try to insert all our duties which could be done in any other day.
      Once we try to put the many activities on the sabbath, even devil will want to create more activities for us.
      SO i call upon church leaders to be meek n willin' for correction(throwin off the clothes of pride n self inflate importance) It is ruining when leaders don't stand up for truth.
      In the long run you end up justifying yourself which is one of the most powerful weapons the devil uses to seize those who are reject the word yet are in darkness.

      But when you come to appreciate the need to keep it holy, the better

  4. For me to keep the sabbath holy is that we should leave everything that we have been doing all week the social networking like Facebook ect I do caring work and was at work on sabbath and I was feeling so drain that I said to myself don't matter what is happening am not working on the sabbath no more I just want that day to spend with God in a special way just relax and meditate on his goodness and give him that time where I can't just have a one to one connection I am asking for prayer as I don't know how my company will take this new as I have ask for the sabbath off before and have only been getting every other sabbath off

  5. Jewish Sabbath? I would not concern myself with that question.

    We have a Jewish Bible with Jewish Prophets who pointed to a Jewish Messiah who was followed by Jewish disciples.

  6. The Sabbath is a day sanctified, hallowed and Blessed by God. We should praise, honor and glorify Him and not take our burdens on the Sabbath but our praises and adoration for the great God of creation and redemption.

  7. the Sabbath explains the relationship between God and his people. so if we say that the Sabbath is for the Jews then God is for the Jews. we can not certainly say that. it is the Lord 's Sabbath.

  8. I often go through the Sabbath day and at the end sundown worship find myself praying for forgiveness for not keeping the Sabbath the way I believe The Lord requires. I've come to the conclusion that, I don't rightly know how to keep the Sabbath. The people I associate with during Sabbath hours talk about anything and everything, they follow the news, the discussion is mainly secular and I, want to change the subject I'm always drawn in and participate as well. I then find myself judging their actions and blaming them for my activities. I'm sure The Lord doesn't condone these activities and thoughts as proper Sabbath keeping, or does He? Am I a modern day Pharisee? I truly desire to serve The Lord, keep the Sabbath day holy and encourage others to do the same but I feel I am doing a poor job.
    Please pray for me for enlightenment, to develop a closer personal relationship with Christ.

    • Vychon, you have expressed my thoughts exactly. I too have come to realize that I really don't know the right way to keep the Sabbath holy. I try to focus my mind and actions on spiritual things, but at the end of the day I always feel that I have failed and need to ask for forgiveness. My parents thought it consisted of a lot of doing or not doing and although I tried not to raise my children that way, I found it very difficult not to do the same. I wanted so much for them to enjoy the Sabbath as God intended but how to make it the best day of the week was always a challenge. My desire is to honor and worship Him as my Creator and Redeemer but how do I do that for 24 hours? I've come to think that Sabbath keeping is very much an individual thing and that maybe I will always feel that I have failed to keep it the way God intended.

  9. For me, Sabbath keeping is not about what we can or can not do. It is all about my relationship with God, first, my family, second, and the world, third. It is a continuing surrender to the Lord's will and purpose for us, trusting in His providence to place us in positions where we may minister for Him to others. But because it is Sabbath, I enter into it with a much greater expectation of the Lord's presence and power in my life. He has promised that that day is a day of holiness and sanctification...these things are always God's doing...just because it is Sabbath it isn't all of a sudden up to me to be holy and sanctified...God has promised that as we surrender and observe Sabbath He will move within us by way of a greater blessing, both to us and to those to whom we minister and share the day with.
    As we remember the Sabbath to keep IT holy, God will keep US holy. If we focus too much on what we can or can not do, we may be in danger of making it a day of "works" rather than the "resting" in Him it was designed to be.

  10. Let's give thanks to God Almighty for given us eternal rest in Himself through His Son for redemption of our sins. Sabbath is indeed a true sign of our spiritual deliverace !!!

  11. our focus on sabbath as said should not be on what we can do, but to celebrate what the Lord as done for us, we are feable and imperfect, so there is no how much we can whatch our sabbath character except as we look upon sinless Savour, the more we do, the things of the world grow strangly dim, in the of His glory and grace

  12. Sabbath reminds as God our creator ( the idea which this world is losing), worship and holiness is different for different people. It is not about what we can and cannot do. It is about relationship between me and my God and yes it is physical rest too.

  13. I ask myself the question how do you keep something that you care about? Jesus said" He" the son of man is Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath was made for man. Its good to have a day to rest and worship God the creator of heaven and earth. He doesn't make us but He dose tell us to remember Him ,Lord of the Sabbath . Jesus Christ. I think that's what the 4th commandment is all about.

  14. My spiritual walk with God inspires me to share my love to those in hospitals and rest homes who rarely get visits.. It is so uplifting! Try it you do not have to know them just come near and see their awesome smile that somone has paid attention to them!! visit with them pray with them before you know it Sabbath is over and you have been so filled!!

    • Visit the sick in hospitals and rest homes, they rarely get a lot of visits and you will be so uplifted! time flies and you did something for others! you will feel fulfilled!

  15. Good-day brothers, and sisters. Their is a beautiful song that reminds of Gods love. It 's name is burdens are lifted at Calvary, as we speak with our Lord during the week, and asking him for forgiveness of our sins, asking for him to show us how to have that closer walk with, how to understand the sanctity, the keeping of his given day to keep it holy, and as we wait and listen for for that still small voice that speaks, and guides us daily, and remember brother and sisters that's a daily commitment that we give to him,( Jesus) every day. We really have to keep our eyes upon him. I have the same struggle on Sabbath-day to stay focus on him, sometimes the conversations move away from his blessed day that's given to us to hallow and santify. In my church we serve lunch, so I spend the whole day at church, so some of the things some of the members do is visit the sick and shut ins, we have bible classes, at this moment we are doing know your gifts, or your talents and learn how to put them to use. Sabbath on May 3rd, the youths and personal ministeries are taking to the streets for evangelistic mission, to pray with and for people, also handing out steps to Christ, and other books. For you see brothers and sisters in Christ, these are some of the thing that could help us to stay focust on the blessing of the day with him, and bring us closer by doing his work and spreading his word. So when we come on sabbath we could give praise and Glory and thank him for the days and week blessing for every thing that Jesus has done for us, just that day is put Aside for thanks pray and worship. Also if start all our worship from sundown Friday, an don't wait for exactly Sabbath morning, their our connection with Jesus begins and it will help through on Sabbath, keep praying, keep your on him, keep asking for guidence, and Jesus will keep answering our prays. Jesus said knock and I would answer, seek and he would find, let's have patients for his answers, for every thing is in his time not ours, as the team song in church goes, I don't mind waiting on The Lord. So let's wait in love and patience on The Lord. For he is mighty and patient, loving and kind.

  16. After God made Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:1-3, their first day was the Sabbath. God did all the creating in six days and then rested on the seventh. Adam and Eve did not help God with creation. They were created and then their first day was the Sabbath. So God worked and then rested and Adam and Eve rested and then worked. This order is important when considering the Sabbath in the light of Gospel and salvation.

    God rested on the seventh day of creation because all that He had created was “very good,” or absolutely perfect. Also, “the heavens and the earth were finished”. The reason God rested and set aside the seventh day was to commemorate a perfect and finished work.

    God created man to have dominion over all of creation. But he himself was to be totally God-dependent. Adam made no contribution to creation but was only its recipient. The Sabbath was made or set aside for man to be a constant reminder of this fact. When we live independent of God we are really breaking the Sabbath covenant.

    So today we rest on the Sabbath from our own works to show that we are dependent on God 100% and resting in God for salvation and everything.

    When we don't keep the Sabbath holy, it's a lesson for us that our connection to God isn't 100% dependent. I am grateful to God for His mercy, because He sent Jesus, who kept the Sabbath perfectly. With the faith He gave me, I believe in Jesus and His works and that is what matters. There will be a people someday who keep the law perfectly, but even then, it is Jesus' doing and dying that qualifies us for heaven.

  17. I really thank God for the privilege to be part of this discussion,you see, the true is, there is no way you can serve God with out obeying Him! If God will say we should keep the sabbath day holy, then how can the same God will change it to another day! What we should not forget is that, the fourth commandment was right from creation! Before Adam and Eve our first parent and the Jewish existence. The fourth commandment is there to reminded us about the creation story and His salvation to us God's children, and if you do away with the Sabbath, the fourth commandment, it then means that we did not believe that in six days God created heaven and the Earth and rested on the seventh day, Gen 2:1-3. When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He also reminded them of the fourth Commandment, "remember the sabbath day and keep it holy", (Remember and not forget!). Exodus 20:1-11 The text of the 4th commandment, basically says,
    - Dedicate the day to the Lord,
    - Don't do your business, or work
    - Don't have others do your business, don't hire others to work for you as Jesus rest and keep it holy that is what God is expecting from us as His people.

    Most Christians follow the first part of the commandment, not to work. But they neglect the 2nd part of the commandment, not to have others work for us. (Not conducting business.)
    Look carefully at Nehemiah 13:15-22 regarding Working, Buying and Selling on the Sabbath, even for the non-jews.

    Matthew 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
    18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
    19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    There are some decisions every Christian needs to make.
    1) either God's day is to be kept Holy, or Not. It's either a commandment or Not.
    2) And if you believe it is a commandment, and to be kept Holy, are you going to follow how the bible tells us to keep it Holy. Or do we get to decide ourselves how to keep it holy.
    I've come to the conclusion, just do what the bible says, regarding it, nothing more.
    God will help us.

  18. I have an uncle in Zimbabwe and lives in a village. I once asked him a question of why the whole family doesnt go to church together every sabbath. His reply was that he has livestock,and everyday someone has to take the livestock out into the forest so it can feed,then take it to the river to drink water and bring it back. So every sabbath they rotate within the family so that every sabbath one will always remain home doing that duty. His household is still doing work on a sabbath whilst the rest are at church,how best can I help him?

    • Hi Beverly,
      It sounds to me that your uncle has already found a good way to keep the Sabbath. Animals need to be fed and watered on the Sabbath. They cannot be let to starve and die of thirst!

      Taking turns makes it possible for all members of the family to enjoy Sabbath fellowship most of the time. The one who stays with the cattle on Sabbath can keep Sabbath right in the forest or by the river - by keeping his/her mind in communion with the Creator - thanking God for creating the forest and the river and meditating on His goodness.

  19. I love the concept of giving God 100% to be obedient in keepig the Holy Oricles also the example of the family with the animals they took turns on the Sabbath Day to feed their cattle


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