How To Keep The Sabbath. Well, it’s very easy: The Sabbath is not and should not become a burden! The Sabbath relieves man of the burdens of life and frees us to enjoy our Father God completely.
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How To Keep The Sabbath: I set this study up a little differently, as there is a wonderful amount of content. So, in order to make it easier to understand on how to keep the Sabbath, I didn’t post all the verses- just the references. This way they can be quickly read, and then referenced when desired. In this format, we can quickly know how to keep the Sabbath in the fastest way possible!
Quick Sabbath Fact:
Did you know out of the 39 Old Testament Books, there are 93 Bible verses mentioning the Sabbath?
Of the 27 New Testament Books, there are 62 verses that mention the Sabbath!
- If it can wait till after Sabbath, it should wait.
- Whatever you do, let it be focused on God and His ways.
- Refrain from speaking of that which does not glorify or involve God.
- Don’t work or cause other people to work on your behalf within your gates.
- Enjoy the freedom of the Sabbath Day to reconnect with God and Family.
It’s best to think of Sabbath in this manner: as most people understand paying tithe, which is 1/10 of the top of your income, given to the church of God. Sabbath is a “tithe” of time of sorts. It’s 1/7 of your week. A time given to God to please Him. Another way to think of Sabbath is as a “Fast” of your own will. Just as in fasting you refrain from eating, drinking, or both, Sabbath is a fast of personal desires and wills. To focus on God and let Him be our chief concern and desire.
In short, Sabbath is a day to empty ourselves of our own will, and fill ourselves with God and His will. Not unlike going on a date with God. As if courting Him, attracting Him, and singing love songs to Him. We don’t want to do anything to divide our attention the best we can. The Sabbath is the “Sabbath unto the Lord our God,” He is still our God and it is still His Sabbath. Unlike all the other ceremonial “Sabbaths,” those were Sabbaths for sacrifices and commemoration, the 4th Commandment Sabbath instituted at Creation is a permanent everlasting celebration of God, His power, and His beauty!
Jesus shows us How To Keep The Sabbath:
He said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6:5)
The following are examples given to us by Jesus on How To Keep The Sabbath. These permissible activities presented by Jesus were in opposition to what the religious leaders of the day said was okay. Often you will find that these corrective lessons by Jesus made the leaders mad, so much so that they wanted to kill him for “Breaking the Sabbath!” They failed to understand the Spirit of the Law, and focused on the letter of the Law. The Sabbath is empowered by God to relieve burdens from mankind, not add them. This ability is instilled into Sabbath so we can focus on God in worshipful awe. The following examples of permissible activities free us from the legalistic dictates of the religious spirit. Then we will cover the burden breakers- the prohibited activities that bring a burden into the Sabbath. In all this, be mindful that the power of the Sabbath is to relieve the burdens of life for everyone small and great!
“He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
As we explore how to keep the Sabbath, there is no better example than Jesus. We see in His actions the true spirit of Sabbath keeping. Often people tend to look at the Sabbath as a list of “don’ts” instead of being freed from the burdens of life. Here we see that the Sabbath empowers us to actually “do” many wonderful things.
How To Keep The Sabbath in the ways Jesus did!
Jesus picked and ate food in a field on the Sabbath to meet their needs for that moment. He didn’t gather for later.
“At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the grain fields. His disciples were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.” (Matthew 12:1)
Matthew 12:1-8 + Mark 2:23-28 + Luke 6:1-5
Jesus teaches us that it is lawful to do “good” on the Sabbath, like helping the injured or needy. (Human & Animal)
“And behold there was a man with a withered hand. They asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” that they might accuse him. He said to them, “What man is there among you, who has one sheep, and if this one falls into a pit on the Sabbath day, won’t he grab on to it, and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day.” (Matthew 12:10-12)
Matthew 12:9-14 + Mark 3:1-5 + Mark 6:2 + Luke 6:7-10 + Luke 13:10-17 + Luke 14:1-6 + John 5:5-9 + John 7:19-24 + John 9:6-16
Go To Church
Jesus went to Church and worshipped on the Sabbath.
“He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” (Luke 4:16)
Jesus taught people about God on the Sabbath.
“They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught.” (Mark 1:21)
Mark 1:21-22 + Mark 6:2 + Luke 4:31-32+ Luke 6:6 + Luke 13:10
Jesus engages in Spiritual warfare and cast out demons on Sabbath.
Jesus engages in Spiritual warfare and casts out demons on Sabbath.
Immediately there was in their synagogue… “Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.” (Mark 1:25-26)
Mark 1:23-27 + Luke 4:33-36
Go To A Friends House For Fellowship & Food
Jesus goes for visits at other people’s houses to eat on the Sabbath.
“When he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching him.” (Luke 14:1)
Gathering Your Immediate Belongings
Jesus instructs that it is okay to carry your belongings with you on Sabbath, if immediately necessary. Like carrying your Bible, potluck dishes, baby bag, etc. The possessions you need for the day.
“Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.”
Let’s take a quick look at the Disciples of Jesus after His resurrection:
The disciples of Jesus can also give us examples on how to keep the Sabbath.
The Disciples still gathered on Sabbath
“But they, passing on from Perga, came to Antioch of Pisidia. They went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down.” (Acts 13:14)
The Disciples preached on Sabbath
“Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures,” (Acts 17:2)
Acts 13:44 + Acts 17:2 + Acts 18:4
On Sabbath, they traveled outside of the city to enjoy the countryside and pray. (Also known as “nature walks”.)
“On the Sabbath day we went outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together.” (Acts 16:13)
The Sabbath is full of positive and empowering Commands to help break down burdens and enhance our enjoyment of the Sabbath! As we learn how to keep the Sabbath, let us remember that we are not being deprived of anything at all, yet being empowered to the fullest so we can enjoy God’s presence. God presence is “How To Keep The Sabbath.”
Do Remember The Sabbath To Keep It Holy.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)
Do Observe The Sabbath.
“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Yahweh your God commanded you.” (Deuteronomy 5:12)
Do Remember That God Saved You Out of Slavery to the World.
“…and thou hast remembered that a servant thou hast been in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God is bringing thee out thence by a strong hand, and by a stretched-out arm; therefore hath Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the day of the sabbath.” (Deuteronomy 5:15)
Do Your Work In 6 Days.
“You shall labor six days, and do all your work,” (Exodus 20:9)
Do Protect The Blessing Placed Upon The Sabbath.
“For in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:11)
Do What Is Pleasing In God’s Sight.
“For so says Jehovah to the eunuchs who keep My Sabbath, and choose things that please Me, and take hold of My covenant;” (Isaiah 56:4)
Do Join With God, Love God & His Name.
“Also the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh, to serve him, and to love Yahweh’s name, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant;” (Isaiah 56:6)
Do Be Joyful In God’s House Of Prayer.
“I will bring these to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7)
Do Incline Your Ear To The Lord And Receive His Instruction.
… on the Sabbath day. .. “They didn’t turn their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, and might not receive instruction.” (Jeremiah 17:22)
Do Call Sabbath A Delight & Holy To God.
“and call the Sabbath a delight,…” (Isaiah 58:13a)
Do Call Sabbath Honorable.
“And the holy of Yahweh honorable;…” (Isaiah 58:13b)
Do Honor God On The Sabbath.
“and shall honor it,…” (Isaiah 58:13c)
Do Receive The Blessings Of The Sabbath.
Isaiah 58:13-14 -In Full-
“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of Yahweh honorable; and shall honor it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: then you shall delight yourself in Yahweh; and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father:” for Yahweh’s mouth has spoken it.”
A song for the Sabbath day:
*Notice the focus on the works of God, as God rested and celebrated His work on Sabbath.
“It is a good thing to give thanks to Yahweh, to sing praises to your name, Most High; to proclaim your loving kindness in the morning, and your faithfulness every night, with the ten-stringed lute, with the harp, and with the melody of the lyre. For you, Yahweh, have made me glad through your work. I will triumph in the works of your hands. How great are your works, Yahweh! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man doesn’t know, neither does a fool understand this: though the wicked spring up as the grass, and all the evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever. But you, Yahweh, are on high forever more. For, behold, your enemies, Yahweh, for, behold, your enemies shall perish. All the evildoers will be scattered. But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox. I am anointed with fresh oil. My eye has also seen my enemies. My ears have heard of the wicked enemies who rise up against me. The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in Yahweh’s house. They will flourish in our God’s courts. They will still produce fruit in old age. They will be full of sap and green, to show that Yahweh is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
The following are key concepts to understand how to keep the Sabbath:
The Sabbath is the 7th day of the week- Saturday.
“On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because he rested in it from all his work of creation which he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3)
Sabbath Starts on Friday night and Ends Saturday night.
“God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night”. There was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1:5)
As you see here, the Biblical day starts at sunset and ends at the next sunset.
“When evening had now come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,” (Mark 15:42)
Preparation Day: The day before Sabbath, starting at sundown on Thursday night until Friday at sunset. On this day we are to finish up any work, chores, and burdensome cooking. In doing this, we set the stage for a worry-free Sabbath. The goal is to anticipate any need you might have on Sabbath, and accomplish it beforehand. Not unlike preparing to go on vacation.
As for me and my family, we do cook food on Sabbath-if it is food to be used on Sabbath. We do not cook or heat up food that would be for another time, not even for when after Sabbath ends.
Sabbath Days Journey
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.” (Acts 1:12)
This is not given by God, but was tradition. Yet, I would suggest is a good tradition. How restful would Sabbath be if you had to spend the entire day travelling? It wasn’t only meant to prevent long trips. I would say it was also to prevent other people from being forced to travel by their masters and rulers. They could say “I can’t do that, it’s beyond 2000 paces”. Thereby freeing them of this burden-forced exertion. There is no rule of thumb for the modern believer. I would keep this key concept in your heart and mind. If traveling great distances on the Sabbath becomes a burden or chore, then it should be avoided on Sabbath. Especially if you would have to stop and buy gas.
Before we begin, we must remember the Sabbath is meant to relieve the burden of life, so we can focus on our relationship with God. We must also guard ourselves from robbing those around us from being free of their burdens. God has graciously provided some simple things to keep in mind on how to best relieve these burdens and focus our heart, mind, and time upon our Heavenly Father. These prohibited activities are “Burden Prevention 101”, from God our Father. A lot of people who start Sabbath-keeping can get an “I can’t” attitude. Taking what God intends for positives and burden prevention, and turning them into negatives. If we can get our mindset fixed upon the understanding that it’s a blessing, freeing us from life’s burdens and distractions, then the following information will create a sense of relief. That being said, let us continue to learn how to keep the Sabbath.
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Let’s review the History of the Sabbath through the Bible:
Genesis 2:1-3 (At Creation)
“The heavens, the earth, and all their vast array were finished. (2) On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. (3) God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because he rested in it from all his work of creation which he had done.”
Exodus 16:23-30 (Before The Commandments)
“He said to them, “This is that which Yahweh has spoken, ‘Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.’” (24) They laid it up until the morning, as Moses asked, and it didn’t become foul, and there were no worms in it. (25) Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to Yahweh. Today you shall not find it in the field. (26) Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath. In it there shall be none.” (27) On the seventh day, some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. (28) Yahweh said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? (29) Behold, because Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” (30) So the people rested on the seventh day.”
Exodus 20:8-11 (See Also: Exodus 31:12-18 & Exodus 35:1-3)
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (9) You shall labor six days, and do all your work, (10) but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; (11) for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.”
You might not know that the Commandments are given by God in Exodus, and in Deuteronomy. Let’s read the recap in Deuteronomy and see if you can spot the difference in the emphasis.
“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Yahweh your God commanded you. (13) You shall labor six days, and do all your work; (14) but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God, in which you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. (15) You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahweh your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
You will notice as God solemnized the Sabbath in Exodus, He really stressed creation and the reason for the Sabbath being made Holy. In Deuteronomy, the focus is placed upon remembering our burdens in life. Giving them the examples of being slaves in Egypt, telling them to remember how horrible this was. Contrasting slavery in the world and the Sabbath rest given by God. This glorifies His name as the One who provides peace and rest. In Deuteronomy 5:14, it specifically demands that all get to rest as you have received rest. God insist this “burden prevention” is provided for all living creatures- human and animals, forever! In the Deuteronomy retelling, we are told it is a privilege provided to us by God to enjoy freedom from bondage of being servants in the world, be it our jobs, relationships, or the like. The followers of Jesus can never be made to be fully subjected in the world as Our God has granted us a permanent release from perpetual servitude in the world. This is found in celebrating God’s creation and creative power by keeping the Sabbath. This is truly how to keep the Sabbath.
We see that in Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus,the Sabbath institution andthe Command to observe has been consistently restated and empowered by God. Yet, in Leviticus we see an even greater connection between the Body of Christ and the Sabbath of God.
“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a Holy convocation; you shall do no kind of work. It is a Sabbath to Yahweh in all your dwellings.”
Interesting Point: The Sabbath is called a “Holy Convocation”. The word used here for “Convocation” means “Called Out.”
Strong’s Concordance H4744: מִקְרָא= pronounced “miqrâ’” (mik-raw’)
The Definition is as follows. Something called out, that is, a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal: – assembly, calling, convocation, reading.
The Sabbath is a Convocation, or “calling out” of God’s people. In the New Testament, the word used for “church” is “Ekklēsia”, which means: “Called out ones!”
Strong’s Concordance G1577: ἐκκλησία=pronounced “ekklēsia” (ek-klay-see’-ah)
The Definition is as follows. A calling out, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): – assembly, church.
What we have is an undeniable parallel of the Sabbath Convocation, or a “calling out” of God’s people. And the Church being made up of those who are called out from the world. The “Called Out Ones”, or Church, is called out into the Holy Convocation of the Sabbath. In short, the true church and body of Christ are called out into the Holy Sabbath Day of God. The only people on earth that would keep the Sabbath of Yahweh, are the people of God. We are called out into this Holy and special meeting with God every 7th day. To be truly called out and be the Church as the Body of Christ, we must keep the Holy Sabbath Convocation of God! If you are called out, then you are called into the Sabbath Rest.
The following is a list of “Burden Breakers” that God has given us to free us from the burden of life and the world. By being faithful to God’s ways, we can keep the Sabbath Holy and truly unlock the blessings of God’s Holy Day. We must utilize the burden breakers as we learn how to keep the Sabbath:
Don’t Work, As God Rested From His Work.
“But the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, …” (Exodus 20:10a)
Don’t Make Anyone Work On Your Behalf (Including kids & strangers.)
“But the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant,” (Exodus 20:10b)
Don’t Make Your Animals Work (Yes, even animals get to keep the Sabbath!)
“But the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates;” (Exodus 20:10)
*Side note: Even the land is given a Sabbath year by God. See: Leviticus 25:1-7
Don’t Do Your Own Pleasure On Sabbath.
“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day;…” (Isaiah 58:13)
Don’t Speak Vain Words On Sabbath.
“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of Yahweh honorable; and shall honor it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words:” (Isaiah 58:13)
“Let no foreigner, who has joined himself to Yahweh, speak, saying, “Yahweh will surely separate me from his people.” Do not let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For Yahweh says, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast to my covenant:” (Isaiah 56:3-4)
Don’t Buy Food On Sabbath.
“And if the peoples of the land bring wares or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and that we would forego the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.” (Nehemiah 10:31)
Don’t Sell Food On Sabbath.
“In those days saw I in Judah some men treading wine presses on the Sabbath, bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys; also with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; and I testified against them in the day in which they sold food.” (Nehemiah 13:15)
Don’t Bring Any Burdens Upon The Sabbath From The Outside World.
“It came to pass that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. I set some of my servants over the gates, so that no burden should be brought in on the Sabbath day.” (Nehemiah 13:19)
Don’t Carry Forth A Burden Out Of Your House On The Sabbath.
“Don’t carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day. Don’t do any work, but make the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.” (Jeremiah 17:22)
Don’t Pollute/Profane/Harm the Sabbath.
“Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath without profaning it,…” (Isaiah 56:2a)
Don’t Practice Evil.
“Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath without profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” (Isaiah 56:2)
The following are very practical questions on “how to keep the Sabbath”:
Q) If I’m not supposed buy, sell, trade, or make others work on the Sabbath, then am I breaking the commandment by using electricity, phone service, and water on Sabbath?
A) I believe we find the answer in the commandment, let’s read: Exodus 20:10 “but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates;” As you see, it’s what happens within your gates that is the dividing line, as the electric company and all other utilities are outside of your gates/property. And you are not on a daily payment arrangement, but on a monthly payment cycle. I believe you are still faithful in Sabbath-keeping. Yet, I have known some people to turn off their electricity and unplug their phones on Sabbath. Though, this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. As they are still buying the services- since they are on monthly payment arrangement. Plus, if you are renting or buying a house, you are still incurring an expense every day, though you pay for it once a month. So, I don’t see how you could be freed from this. Not to mention property taxes, etc. The take away is, if the services are being produced outside your gates/property, and you pay for them monthly or bi-weekly, not daily, then I believe you are faithfully keeping Sabbath. With that being said, do as the Lord leads you to do!
Q) Are we not allowed to heat our houses on the Sabbath? In Exodus 35:3 it says, “You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.”
A) As we read, the prohibition was not against having a fire to keep warm. It was against the work of wondering around trying to find wood to make one. (See: Numbers 15:32-36) And this should and could have been done 6 days a week by anyone in the family. On top of that, you could also go and enjoy the warmth of a neighbor’s fire. We see in the Temple every Sabbath, they had fires for the burnt offering. (See: Numbers 28:9-10) Therefore, every Sabbath they had fires going. The fire was not the issue. It was the labor of getting one started. This is why we have a “preparation day”- to prepare everything in advance.
Q) Do Ministers of the Gospel Break the Sabbath by working on The Sabbath?
A) No. It is lawful “to do good” on the Sabbath. Just as Jesus and His disciples custom to teach on Sabbath. The priesthood still had to work in the Temple. So, for the minister of the Gospel, there is no day when he cannot minister.