keeping the sabbath – burden or gift?

Written by Crystal Rowe

Crystal has a heart for making the church and the Christian faith real and relevant to the world around her and is passionate about serving others in the name of Christ. Crystal is married to her perfect match, D and is Mommie to A and the two sweetest kitties on earth.

March 3, 2011

The topic of sabbath seems to be coming up in my life over and over again. It seems as though the world is moving at a faster pace each day. It increasingly becomes harder and harder to take a break. We work 60+ hours a week, have family obligations to attend, housework to complete, meals to make, sleep to catch up on, and the list goes on and on. Even if we love what we do, we still get worn out just from all the doing.

Did you know that the Bible mentions the word sabbath more than 140 times? Approximately 2/3 of the references are in the Old Testament. 1/3 of them are found in the first five books of the Bible – otherwise known as the Torah, or the law.

God tells us over and over again to observe the Sabbath. We are to use it as a day to remember all that he has done and glorify him. And then Jesus comes in the New Testament and everything we’ve learned about the Sabbath gets turned on its head. No wonder the Pharisees were confused!

As I spend time in prayer over this topic, I keep coming back to two related questions:

Why did God tell his people to to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy?

Was it because He wanted honor and glory? Or was it a gift to keep us healthy? Growing up, I remember being taught that Sunday was “the Lord’s day.” Sunday was for going to church. Stores and restaurants were closed. It was a time to reflect on how great God was and to give him honor and praise. Sunday wasn’t about me – it was about God.

And then, in Mark 2:28 Jesus says to the Pharisees:

The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath.

What exactly did he mean?

We love rules. They create a black and white society where we always know what’s right and wrong. The Pharisees were simply following the rules – no work on the Sabbath. End of story. But as Jesus points out, they had become slaves to the law. They were missing the point.

The whole purpose of the Sabbath was to give us time to rest. God knew we needed time for rejuvenation. It’s only through finding time to rest that we are able to find the strength to continue on. God never intended for the Sabbath to be just one more thing on our to-do list.

Remembering the Sabbath allows us to rest in God and to remember what he has done for us. It allows us to break free from the busyness of the world around us and simply be in his presence. It’s not a burden. It’s a gift.

How will you remember the Sabbath this week?


  1. Megan Willome

    This Lent marks nine years of sabbathing (on Wednesdays, because that works for me). It’s very non-legalistic. Once a week I get to ask God, “So, what would You like me to do today?” Yesterday, He said, “Sleep!” And I did. And it was good.

    • Crystal

      Megan, I love that image! I am working to find my own weekly Sabbath … and am finding more and more that it is indeed good.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • @bibledude

      I love that Megan! I really need to write a full post about this, but my wife and I were talking about the idea of sabbath, and we struggled to figure out how to fit it into our schedule… but I guess that’s the point of it, right?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Jaja

    Isn’t sundown Friday to sundown Saturday the Sabbath, according to the Bible.?

    • @bibledude

      The term ‘sabbath’ comes from the root ‘shabbat’ which means ‘to cease’. So while observation of the sabbath by the Israelites in the Bible was during that time, I think that sabbath is more defined by the act of ceasing/resting than it is by a period of time. But yes… that is the time (I understand) that the Israelites would observe the sabbath.

      Thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion!

  3. Elliott Marsh

    How does burdens hurt Sabbath keep eta ?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

keeping the sabbath – burden or gift?

by Crystal Rowe time to read: 2 min