All the commandments are repeated in some form by the New Testament as applicable to believers today except for one – the Sabbath. Nowhere in the New Testament is a believer commanded to observe the seventh day or any single day as holy. Paul, in fact, suggests that the best attitude is to regard every day as holy to God (Romans 14:5). He also warned against letting anyone judge the Christian in regard to Sabbath days (Colossians 2:16,17).
But doesn’t the Law given through Moses apply to the Christian? Yes and No. The Law of Moses does not have any legal claim on the Christian because we are under a new law, the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:20-21). Many of its laws are identical to those given to Israel, but some are different. Because Jesus rose on Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and because the church is a body somewhat distinct from Israel, the Saturday Sabbath is no longer required. The exception to this would be the Jewish believer who still comes under the covenant God made through Moses and whose identity is shaped by that covenant, as well as, now, the New Covenant.
The Law of Moses still has and should have a place in the Christian’s thinking, however, because it still reflects the mind and heart of God. There are principles in the Sabbath law that we should reckon with and internalize in our lives.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
Several principles come out of this. First, work is a responsibility given us by God, as well as a privilege. By working we imitate God. Second, a day of rest is a responsibility given us by God, as well as a privilege. Because God “rested” we too should rest. God established this pattern at creation. If there were no day set aside each week to rest, life would become an unbearable monotony. There would be no stopping point for looking back over the days of work to evaluate whether they were good or bad. There would be no time to plan for making things better. But most of all there would be no test of our faith. Can we really afford to take a day off? If we trust in God’s provision the answer is ‘Yes.’
So should we observe a Sabbath day as Christians? Since the resurrection of Christ on the first day of the week, Sunday, the church has met on Sunday. Is that our new Sabbath? Paul says the Sabbath was a shadow of things to come (Colossians 2:16,17). In this age every day is holy to God. However, the principle of a day of rest is still valid. Each one is free to choose how he or she observes it. Jewish believers should still observe Saturday, the original Sabbath.
Do you observe the Sabbath? Do you trust the Lord to take care of you or do you feel the need to work all the time as if your life depended on it?