Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Labor is Good, Rest is Commanded!

Meditation for the week of September 4, 2011

"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. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
(Exodus 20:8-11)

We have celebrated Labor Day once again this last weekend.  Labor is commended in the Bible.  Even before the fall, Adam was to tend the Garden of Eden.  I would suspect that involved some labor.  But after partaking of the forbidden fruit, tending turned into toil.  However, God always commends those who labor so long as they also remember to rest.

The question is often asked, “If we are to keep the Sabbath, do we keep Saturday or Sunday as the day of rest?  Jews religiously keep Saturday while Christians somewhat carelessly keep Sunday.  Who is right and how do we “keep the Sabbath” and get our rest as Christians?

I believe that the Sabbath has never changed.  It is still the seventh day and it is still Saturday.  Most calendars that we use agree with me.

Some say that we are to keep the ten commandments as Christians.  Nine of the ten are brought into the new testament as moral truth for our day.  As a matter of fact the requirements of the new testament are higher than that of the old.  For example, murder becomes hate (see 1 John 3:15).  However, we are not under the law and when we say that we keep the ten commandments we give ourselves a problem with the one requiring us to keep the Sabbath. The Lord kept the Sabbath but not as the Jewish tradition required since they had added extra Biblical regulations.  He kept it as He Himself designed it, and He kept it as a Jew.  In Acts 15, the Gentiles were admonished to keep four things from the Jewish law and tradition.  They were to abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.  Keeping the seventh day or Saturday was not one of the things mentioned. So as Christian Gentiles (non-Jews) we are not bound by the Sabbath.  What about Jewish Christians?  Should they keep the Saturday Sabbath?  The book of Ephesians would make it clear that there is not a Jewish church and a Gentile church.  There is just one church, so what was required of Gentiles would be the same thing that is required of Jews in the church.

New testament teaching concerning the Sabbath is that when we believe we enter into the Sabbath rest of God (Hebrews 4:3-4).  The old testament Sabbath is an illustration of the new testament truth that we don’t work to be saved,  Rather we “rest” in the work of the Cross (Matthew 11:28).  It is also a picture of the millennial rest of God that will be ushered in when the Lord sets up His physical kingdom.

Why do Christians "keep the Sabbath" on the Lord’s Day or the first day of the week?  I personally do not.  I think that the Lord has given us a principle that we should dedicate a day to Him, and it should be a day of rest.  None of us actually keeps the Sabbath on Sunday since we cook, buy gas, and go to restaurants which would all be prohibited under the Sabbath rules of the old testament. But because the Lord was raised from the dead on the first day of the week, that day seems to be the day that early Christians used to remember Him and worship Him  (See Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2). The Sabbath is still Saturday and Sunday is the first day of the week or the resurrection day.  That is the day Christians use to worship corporately, and they dedicate this day to the Lord. We do not put new wine into old bottles (Matthew 9:17), that is, we don’t worship in this dispensation using the rules of the old dispensation which didn’t work for the Jews and won’t work for us. So I personally try to give Sunday to the Lord, but I do not consider myself to be keeping the Sabbath when I do.

Labor day reminds us that summer is pretty much gone.  God says our labor is good, but he also says rest is necessary.  God labored more than He rested.  We should labor more than we rest.  However, the best rest of all is when we rest in the truth that Christ died for our sins.

Bruce Collins

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