Author Topic: The Sabbath  (Read 1136 times)

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Offline Deborah

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The Sabbath
« on: December 26, 2015, 08:53:28 AM »

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What sort of image does the word 'Sabbath' evoke? Maybe one of the early scenes in the film Chariots of Fire, where we see the devout Christian athlete Eric Liddell telling off some young boys for playing football on a Sunday. (As the film also showed, he himself refused to run a Sunday heat in the 1924 Olympics, thus forfeiting an almost certain place in the 100m final). For most people, the Sabbath has only negative connotations: no work, and no play either.

Originally the Sabbath was the most sacred day of all, because it belonged to God. It had to be a day of complete rest; all forms of work (even the preparation of food) were forbidden (Leviticus 23:3). But it also became a day for worship and for study of the Law. It was intended as a 'sign' - one of the things that made Israel distinct from all other nations (Ezekiel 20:12). This would have been especially obvious during the 'Sabbatical year' every seventh year, when no agricultural work was to be done at all and the land itself would have a chance to rest (Leviticus 25:1-7).

The Sabbath was also a prophetic sign (Colossians 2:16,17); it was a foretaste of life in the age to come (Hebrews 4:9,10), pointing forward to the 'rest' that all believers will enjoy in Christ. It was a regular reminder that our lives are ultimately not in our own hands, but in God's - and thus it is a rebuke to all 'workaholics', secular or spiritual (Psalm 127:1,2). To keep the Sabbath requires us to 'lose' a day's labour and income, to resist the pressures of commerce and the lure of overtime. This makes it not a negative exercise but an positive act of faith in God - the God who will look after those who honour Him.

The Christian Sunday is not exactly equivalent to the Jewish Sabbath. It began not as a day of rest but as a day of celebration - a weekly reminder of the Resurrection. The first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2) was the day on which the early Christians met together (if they were Jews, they usually went to synagogue as well, the day before - Acts 18:26). In time, the day of rest was moved to join the day of worship. But there is no New Testament rule about this. Even in the early Church, there were differences of opinion - and Paul urged believers to be 'relaxed' about it (Romans 14:5,6).

So should we Gentile Christians observe a Sabbath? I think we should. Firstly, when Jesus declared, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath' (Luke 6:5), He was surely affirming the Sabbath, not abolishing it - and if we observe it, we do so in His honour.  Secondly, human nature has not changed since God created us, and our need for physical rest and refreshment is as great under the New Covenant as under the Old. Why do people complain so much about busy, stressful lives? If you work continuously with no Sabbath break, then you are a slave.

So yes - we need a day off once a week, and for the same reasons that the Israelites did: it's good for us, it's a witness to unbelievers, and it gives us opportunity to cultivate our relationship with God. And it gives us space in an otherwise full week to have meaningful interactions with other people (such as our families).
"Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble." (Proverbs 28:14)

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TJ

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Re: The Sabbath
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2015, 12:43:49 PM »
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What sort of image does the word 'Sabbath' evoke? Maybe one of the early scenes in the film Chariots of Fire, where we see the devout Christian athlete Eric Liddell telling off some young boys for playing football on a Sunday. (As the film also showed, he himself refused to run a Sunday heat in the 1924 Olympics, thus forfeiting an almost certain place in the 100m final). For most people, the Sabbath has only negative connotations: no work, and no play either.

Originally the Sabbath was the most sacred day of all, because it belonged to God. It had to be a day of complete rest; all forms of work (even the preparation of food) were forbidden (Leviticus 23:3). But it also became a day for worship and for study of the Law. It was intended as a 'sign' - one of the things that made Israel distinct from all other nations (Ezekiel 20:12). This would have been especially obvious during the 'Sabbatical year' every seventh year, when no agricultural work was to be done at all and the land itself would have a chance to rest (Leviticus 25:1-7).

The Sabbath was also a prophetic sign (Colossians 2:16,17); it was a foretaste of life in the age to come (Hebrews 4:9,10), pointing forward to the 'rest' that all believers will enjoy in Christ. It was a regular reminder that our lives are ultimately not in our own hands, but in God's - and thus it is a rebuke to all 'workaholics', secular or spiritual (Psalm 127:1,2). To keep the Sabbath requires us to 'lose' a day's labour and income, to resist the pressures of commerce and the lure of overtime. This makes it not a negative exercise but an positive act of faith in God - the God who will look after those who honour Him.

The Christian Sunday is not exactly equivalent to the Jewish Sabbath. It began not as a day of rest but as a day of celebration - a weekly reminder of the Resurrection. The first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2) was the day on which the early Christians met together (if they were Jews, they usually went to synagogue as well, the day before - Acts 18:26). In time, the day of rest was moved to join the day of worship. But there is no New Testament rule about this. Even in the early Church, there were differences of opinion - and Paul urged believers to be 'relaxed' about it (Romans 14:5,6).

So should we Gentile Christians observe a Sabbath? I think we should. Firstly, when Jesus declared, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath' (Luke 6:5), He was surely affirming the Sabbath, not abolishing it - and if we observe it, we do so in His honour.  Secondly, human nature has not changed since God created us, and our need for physical rest and refreshment is as great under the New Covenant as under the Old. Why do people complain so much about busy, stressful lives? If you work continuously with no Sabbath break, then you are a slave.

So yes - we need a day off once a week, and for the same reasons that the Israelites did: it's good for us, it's a witness to unbelievers, and it gives us opportunity to cultivate our relationship with God. And it gives us space in an otherwise full week to have meaningful interactions with other people (such as our families).

I have been trying to put this across for years.

Although of course having the True rest also means I can walk out of it/Him


weewillie

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Re: The Sabbath
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2016, 02:15:28 AM »
Hi Deborah, I'm weewillie, a new member.

I spotted your post and, as it's a subject that interests me, I zoned in to read further.

What's the first thing that comes to mind regarding the question of the Sabbath? ......We've got the day wrong.

Honest, I really do believe that,  in fact,  when I was in business I wouldn't trade on the Sabbath. (Saturday)

Yes,  Saturday.  I'm not Jewish, (neither is my wife) I'm not weird, I'm not a religious nut,  I'm not a freak,
at least I don't think I am.   I just happen to believe Saturday is the Sabbath.
It's a huge subject to get into as you know however,  that's what came to mind when  I read your post.

 You know, in all my travels,  I can't remember anyone ever bringing this subject up,  and unless I'm specifically 
asked,   I never raise the subject ,  so  it's refreshing,  a big 10 + 10 > 4 > U.
(and I don't mean that in a patronizing manner.)

Best wishes
weewillie. 

TJ

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Re: The Sabbath
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2016, 02:23:36 AM »
I always said "I would never work on a sunday"

Funny cos "sunday" is my busiest day

Offline Deborah

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Re: The Sabbath
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2016, 09:56:03 AM »
Hi Deborah, I'm weewillie, a new member.

I spotted your post and, as it's a subject that interests me, I zoned in to read further.

What's the first thing that comes to mind regarding the question of the Sabbath? ......We've got the day wrong.

Honest, I really do believe that,  in fact,  when I was in business I wouldn't trade on the Sabbath. (Saturday)

Yes,  Saturday.  I'm not Jewish, (neither is my wife) I'm not weird, I'm not a religious nut,  I'm not a freak,
at least I don't think I am.   I just happen to believe Saturday is the Sabbath.
It's a huge subject to get into as you know however,  that's what came to mind when  I read your post.

 You know, in all my travels,  I can't remember anyone ever bringing this subject up,  and unless I'm specifically 
asked,   I never raise the subject ,  so  it's refreshing,  a big 10 + 10 > 4 > U.
(and I don't mean that in a patronizing manner.)

Best wishes
weewillie.

Hi Weewillie

You're not a freak; all the Seventh Day Adventists would agree with you. And technically, so would I - Sunday isn't really the Sabbath, but Christians made it into a Sabbath very early on in order to distinguish themselves from the Jews.

Here's a bit of linguistic trivia: in Russian, the word for 'Saturday' is 'subotta', i.e. 'sabbath'. Sunday they call 'resurrection day'. So they make the distinction very clear.
"Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble." (Proverbs 28:14)

Offline John

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Re: The Sabbath
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2016, 10:15:27 AM »
What is the Sabbath? there are two answers.
1. it is the 7th day of creation, the day God rested from creating. This rest is also a spiritual rest that we as believers can share in.
2, A day of rest and recreation. For Christian we have move from the 7th day to the 1st day of the week to mark the day Jesus rose from the day. It is a symbol of the 'new creation' that all Christian are.
Does it matter.
God made us for a relationship with him, part of that is time away from working for a living and spending time in worship and other recreational activities.
Paul wrote about those who stress the importance of 'sabbaths and new moons' and reminded them that worship is a spiritual activity.
It has an importance as a form of witness to an unbeleiving world.

Online davetaff

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Re: The Sabbath
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2016, 04:21:29 PM »
Hi
Jest wondering is not the celebration of the Sabbath part of the law of Moses and we are not under the law but under grace. Should we not be celebrating the death and resurrection every day in prayer and meditation by all means come together to do it but dose it have to be a Sunday.

Love and peace
Dave   

Offline Deborah

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Re: The Sabbath
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2016, 05:11:50 PM »
Well of course it doesn't "have" to be Sunday.

But imagine for a moment that you are a Christian in the first century, before the invention of the 'weekend'. If the churches are going to agree to meet on one day of the week (and remember that in the secular world, every day is the same), which one should they pick?

They decided on Sunday because it was a day of significance for them - the day of resurrection. And that is the tradition we have inherited.

Why change it? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"!
"Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble." (Proverbs 28:14)

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