How to keep the Sabbath?
“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
This is probably the most important concept to understand when it comes to “how” keep the Sabbath. My previous article on “when” to keep the Sabbath talks a bit more about the reasons for why the Sabbath is to be kept on Saturday and not on Sunday.
The scripture in Mark 2 is widely misunderstood. I have heard people (from an evangelical background) using this very scripture to try to disprove the Sabbath. Their logic was along the lines of: “Since man wasn’t made for the Sabbath, it can’t be that important for us.” By blindly twisting the words of Christ, they justify their Sunday-worship and neglect the fact that they are in reality offspring of the biggest Sunday-worshipping church – the Catholic Church.
What, then, did Jesus mean with “The Sabbath was not made for man”? He simply meant that we have a higher purpose than to reduce our existence to the observance of a holy day. However, the first part of the sentence makes clear that the Sabbath was indeed created for a special purpose: We are to benefit from that special day. An analogy could clarify this understanding of mine: Since most humans are born with eyesight we can conclude that “eyes were made for men”. What for? To be used, enjoyed and profited by. Those who don’t have functioning eyesight usually wish they had it, because it is of great benefit and advantage to be in possession of eyesight. Now we are not made to purely rely on our eyes, other senses also exist that help us live our lives – hearing, smelling, tasting and touch. All those senses were made for a special purpose. And so is the Sabbath: It was made for us to be enjoyed and as a help.
In practical terms: How to keep the Sabbath then? Of course it is to be kept without pressure, force and negative feelings. It is a day of joy (Isaiah 58:13), a day of rest (Deut. 5:12-14 / Exodus 23:12) and a day of spirituality and fellowship (the day when Jesus and the Apostles went into the Synagogues to either preach or listen to the word of God being read out).
In even more practical terms: The Sabbath is the day where I spend more time reading my Bible, praying to my Heavenly Father and meditating (thinking about) His truths. It is also an opportunity to spend time out in nature, to delight in God’s creation and to enjoy the company of loved ones – immediate family and Church brethren. On the Sabbath I eat nicer food, have better, deeper conversations and treat myself to beautiful music or simply some quiet time on the couch.
What it means to rest on the Sabbath is this: I don’t work in the sense of earning money, but also house work is reduced to an absolute minimum (no lawn-mowing or washing dishes); cooking is best done before sunset Friday night (when the Sabbath begins, see Leviticus 23:32) and any other task that can be done any other time (shopping, checking your bank account, replacing a broken light bulb, playing sports etc.) is not to be performed on God’s Holy Day.
Why? Because it takes our mind off God and His plan. When we begin to do little tasks during the Sabbath, soon we won’t see the point why not do some online shopping or have the carpenter come over on the Sabbath to fix a broken window. It is adamant that we focus on God rather than on worldly matters. This is why I don’t watch TV on the Sabbath, play games or read non-religious literature. The Sabbath is holy (set apart) and therefore stands out from all the other days of the week.
The Sabbath hence is a day of relaxation, learning from God’s word and making an extra special effort to stay pure. It also is a day of doing good deeds as in visiting somebody sick or lonely. Most of all, the Sabbath should be used to strengthen our relationship to our God in Heaven and to our brethren in the Spirit. Going to Church, if you have a Sabbath-keeping Church in your area that preaches God’s truth, is important and not to be neglected either (Hebrews 10:25).
There are many more principles concerning the Sabbath. These are the most basic and important ones in my understanding. For more details, just send us a little note.
It is now on me to say: Happy Sabbath!