Spirit of the Sabbath

“The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath”—Mark 2:27

In Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth in six periods of time, which he called days:  “And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:2-3).  The seventh day was set apart by God as a sabbath since the beginning of creation.

In time, God’s creative act was recorded in the Ten Commandments.  This command declared that God’s people must “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.”

Keeping the sabbath was also a sign that the Israelites were the people of his promise.  When the Pharisees criticized Jesus for allowing his disciples to pluck corn or for healing sick people on the sabbath, Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath…”

Under the New Testament, believers today are not bound to keep the Old Testament-based sabbath.  But in principle, we learn that it’s important to make time in our life for God.  Why?  The purpose of the sabbath is to give us one day of the week that will allow us to direct our thoughts and actions toward God.  It is not a day to simply rest from work.  It’s a sacred day to be spent seeking God’s will and way with us.  As we rest from our daily activities, our minds are freed to meditate on spiritual matters.  On this day, we should renew our relationship with God and feed our souls on the things of the Spirit.