Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . the Sabbath

A Wet Sunday Morning  by Edmund Blair Leighton

I am a Sabbath keeper.

I don't talk about it much online because, well, it doesn't come up a whole lot. But it's something I make sure those I work with know, since they're unlikely to have their questions answered by me on Saturday, but will find me hard at work on Sundays. Today, though, I want to talk about it.

Last Saturday, my dad (pastor at my Seventh Day Baptist church), preached on the Sabbath. He doesn't do this often, but it's a topic we've discussed quite a bit in church for obvious reasons, and I was curious what else he could find to say about it. His message really intrigued me. And made me want to proclaim that yes, I keep the Sabbath.

He read from Exodus, but not the part I expected. Before, we've focused our attention on the verse in the Ten Commandments. This time, he read from a later section of Moses's tenure on Mt. Sinai, in chapter 31.


Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you.

I've read Exodus quite a few times, but I'd never noticed that before. And I loved the context Dad gave it. Back in that day, the sun was the center of worship in nearly all major religions. The chief god of most pantheons is represented by the sun. So from the dawn of time, more or less, there was a day named after it, the first day of the week. That was the day when most people in the ancient world worshiped.

God wanted something different for His people. He wanted them to be set apart. So worshiping instead on the last day of the week was an outward sign. It was a clear statement that they belonged to the living God. The God who is not represented by the sun, but who created it. That's pretty cool, right? The Jewish day of worship is a testament, and a covenant. It's a sign not just for man, but between man and God. It's His people saying, "Yes, Lord, here I am to worship!"

I've heard a lot of reasoning for why Christians worship on Sunday, and most of it comes down to tradition. In the first church, most of the believers were still Jewish, and they would still go to the temple on the Sabbath. They would therefore gather with the Christians the following day. Okay. I'm totally cool with that. But as with many of our holidays, it became the "official" day of worship when Constantine made it the official Roman religion. He wanted it to palatable to his people, so he said they shouldn't change their day of worship.

Now, I'm the first to say that our day or worship is by no means a matter of salvation. That starts and ends with belief in Christ. I totally understand that we live in a society that really doesn't care anymore about religious days, and we could lose our jobs sometimes if we insisted on a particular day off. I understand that for most people, the thought of changing from Sunday to Saturday just doesn't make sense in their heads. Isn't Sunday the Lord's day? The day Jesus rose from the dead?

Yes, it's the day He rose from the dead. But the disciples still called Saturday "the Lord's day." But didn't He free us from those laws and rules?

He freed us from the judgment of them, yes. And redefined the ceremonial laws. But the order to keep the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments. I'm not sure why Christianity has decided to toss number 4 out the window but insist that the other 9 must be followed out of loving obedience. We don't think murdering or adultery is right...so why do we forget the one the we were told to remember? It's not a ceremonial law, it's a moral one.

And as I sat in church last Saturday, I realized why it's a moral one. Because it marks us as God's. That's something I wouldn't trade for the world.

Now, I know this post is unlikely to change anything for anyone, LOL. Most Christians will still go to church on Sunday, and that's totally fine. Again, it's not a matter of salvation. I certainly don't judge anyone for following centuries-long tradition. But I just wanted to publicly claim my covenant with God. I am choosing, now as I first did ten years ago, to remember the Sabbath. I am choosing to keep it holy. Because He is the God who sanctifies me, and this is the day He set aside.

I am a Sabbath keeper.

6 comments:

  1. Well said. It is sometimes hard to "go against the flow". To speak out on an unpopular topic. Bravo !

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  2. Very awesome, Roseanna. I really admire and appreciate that you shared this. It's a wonderful thing, and sadly, even one holy day a week is something most of us don't have any longer.

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  3. PS, I love the painting you shared!

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  4. I am definitely going to have to check out that sermon. As someone who was raised Jewish, I'm absolutely intrigued! Fairly certain I wont be changing my habits - but you've got me curious for sure.

    Another thing - though I haven't studied it in depth (really, really should), is that I don't believe there id much if any reference to WORSHIP for the Sabbath in the OT. Rest - yes. Worship? Not so much.

    Thanks for this post, my friend!

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    1. You know, I've wondered about that, Joanne. There definitely seems to be only rest on the Sabbath in the OT, you're right. By the NT times (if I'm recalling correctly) it had become a day of teaching and learning in the temples. Although I think OT worship wasn't quite what we define it as today. I know that I've found that worship is PART of resting for the Lord. Whether I'm in church or at home, if it's the day I'm resting--not because I'm tired, but for Him--I'm doing it with thought. And with thought of the Lord comes that worship.

      According to a Catholic friend, in the first centuries the early Christians still rested on the Sabbath and then gathered on the first day. He said the early church didn't CHANGE the Sabbath, just the day of worship. To which I replied, "And what about today? We're lucky to get people to set aside ONE day for the Lord. And tell me, which one are you more likely to keep holy, if not the one that begins with worship?" It was the one time he had no ready answer for me, LOL.

      It was an interesting conversation, to hear him grant that Saturday was indeed the Sabbath, but still insist we ought to go to church on Sunday. I have nothing at all against going to church on Sunday. But I know that when I did, I didn't really give any thought to it being a day of rest. It was JUST a day of worship. When I studied out the Sabbath, I realized it must be a deliberate choosing to rest.

      And historically speaking, when people DID rest on Sunday with that kind of deliberation, what did they call it? The Sabbath! So in effect, Christianity HAS tried to change the Sabbath. We seem incapable of separating day or rest from day of worship. And so, I will choose the original day of rest.

      (Goodness, that was rambling and probably only half coherent. Need more coffee!)

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    2. DEFINITELY more than half coherent - though I'm not arguing about the rambling part ;).

      And I agree that resting is MUCH easier once you've worshipped first. If nothing else, it gets your mind in the right place. I will also admit that I don't rest as much on Sunday as I likely should.

      I also have a personal "sensitivity," for lack of a better term, to ritual for ritual sake - beause, for the most part, that is how I expressed my Judaism when I was practicing. Recited prayers in Hebrew and didn't know what I was saying. Performed rituals without thinking about why I was doing it.

      I WILL be listening to that sermon :)

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