The Day Off & Time Off: Sabbath

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. -Genesis 2:3 (ESV)

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” -Mark 2:27-28 (ESV)

The sabbath or rest day was given to us, from the beginning, as a benefit, as in, "you get a full day off each week"; and it was so important that it made it into the top ten laws ( 4th of the 10 commandments in the Jewish and most Protestant traditions, Lutheranism being the big exception).  By the time of Jesus life, the issue of sabbath keeping had gotten crazy and he had to get us back to God's original idea.

God's prescription for the well-being of his people, was for them to get a day of rest from their labors once a week..  Some Jewish people and Christians after them have made a tradition of worshiping on the sabbath, so much so, that in their thinking, worship services become the central point of the sabbath.  But worship, prayer, and fellowship are daily in the Bible.  Jesus made it his tradition or custom to attend services on his sabbath and did ministry, like healing people and casting out demons, while setting his hammer or chisel down.

God's original plan was for a set aside day of rest for his people.  Jesus refocused back to the original idea from God that the Sabbath was made for man.  His message was that the sabbath doesn't demand,  constrain, or punish, but is a gift to be enjoyed and experienced.

More details from The Bible:

  • We were designed to need rest from our labor(1).  
  • God rested on the seventh day and sanctified it after six days of creating(2).  
  • People who rest all the time, we call lazy(3).  
  • We are designed to be productive(4).  
  • The curse of the fall makes work painful(5), but it is meant to be enjoyable.  
  • The sabbath is so important in God's economy that he calls for the land to take a year off from being farmed every 7th year(6).
  • When we rest from our labors, we are humbling our selves and admitting that we are humans, submitted to God.  God is not mad at us, but God created order, and part of that order is that humans need rest.  When we rest by taking days off and time off from our productivity, we are acknowledging that, "God gives the increase"(7).  
  • God gives us the ability to prosper, but we must never forget to acknowledge God in our prosperity(8).

The picture above is Pastor Reid Olson, resting.

Bible references:  (CEB)

1. Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Keep the Sabbath day and treat it as holy, exactly as the Lord your God commanded:  Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Don’t do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your oxen or donkeys or any of your animals, or the immigrant who is living among you—so that your male and female servants can rest just like you.  Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That’s why the Lord your God commands you to keep the Sabbath day.

Exodus 20:8-11
 Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

2. Genesis 2:2-3

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

3. Proverbs 6:6-11

Go to the ant, you lazy person; observe its ways and grow wise.
The ant has no commander, officer, or ruler.
Even so, it gets its food in summer; gathers its provisions at harvest.
How long, lazy person, will you lie down? When will you rise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to lie down—
and poverty will come on you like a prowler, destitution like a warrior.

4. Genesis 2:15

The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it.

5. Genesis 3:17-19

To the man he said, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and you ate from the tree that I commanded, ‘You will not eat from it,’cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you will eat from it every day of your life.
Weeds and thistles will grow for you, even as you eat the field’s plants;
by the sweat of your face you will eat bread— until you return to the fertile land,
since from it you were taken; you are soil, to the soil you will return.”

6. Leviticus 25:4

But in the seventh year the land will have a special sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord: You must not plant your fields or prune your vineyards.

7. 1 Corinthians 3:7

 Because of this, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but the only one who is anything is God who makes it grow.

8. Deuteronomy 8:17-19
 Don’t think to yourself, My own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me.  Remember the Lord your God! He’s the one who gives you the strength to be prosperous in order to establish the covenant he made with your ancestors—and that’s how things stand right now.  But if you do, in fact, forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, serving and bowing down to them, I swear to you right now that you will be completely destroyed.