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The Sabbath Blog

More than a Good Idea

More than a Good Idea
In a recent article titled “Why do we keep Sabbath?,” Kris Haig, a former Presbyterian pastor, suggests that the Sabbath helps us deal with our “frantic lifestyles and chronic inattentiveness to the presence of God.” Haig writes that the “stewardship of time and labor has always been difficult” in human history. “The Bible speaks plainly to these concerns in the Fourth Commandment: ‘Remember the Sabbath.’ And why are we to keep Sabbath? Because of who God is and what God desires for humankind.”

Haig then discusses the two versions of the Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20:1–17 and Deuteronomy 5:1–21, explaining how one points to the creation and the other to the exodus. In the first, “we are invited to participate in God’s own rhythm of creating and resting, taking time to savor the goodness of what has been made.” In the second, “Sabbath is a living testimony to the God who seeks to free us—from literal enslavements and from all forms of compulsive behavior.”

There is no doubt that the Sabbath provides us with health benefits and can help break our bondage to excessive work. But when we focus exclusively on the personal paybacks of Sabbath keeping as the reason for obeying the fourth commandment, might our rationale be too self-focused? Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Christ did not say, “If you love yourself, keep My commandments.”

Many Sunday keeping churches highlight the individual returns Sabbath keeping can bring to the Christian, but in so doing the fourth commandment may slide into being merely a fourth suggestion, a fourth general principle, or a fourth good idea. This is often seen when one of God’s original Ten Commandments is called the “Jewish” Sabbath, as does the above-mentioned article. We don’t think of the other nine commandments, such as not stealing, or honoring our parents, as “Jewish” laws only for Jews.

Whether or not taking one day off a week will help our blood pressure go down, God has commanded us, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8–10, emphasis added).

There are many good reasons to keep the Sabbath, but when we determine when we will keep the Sabbath holy, it is no longer a matter of obedience, but simply an issue of selfish preference.

Listen to this audio clip from Bible Answers Live for more information.