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The Sabbath Meets the Real World

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The Sabbath Meets the Real World

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Tabitha is a 15-year-old who has grown up in God’s Church. She has kept the weekly Sabbath her whole life. Her current friends know all about her and her beliefs, but as a new school year begins, it brings new classes, new teachers and most likely new friends. It’s the first day of her sophomore year, and Tabitha sits down in her first class of the day. She looks around the classroom but doesn’t recognize anyone. The person next to her starts up a conversation and over time the two become friends.

They start hanging out after school. Then one day, her new friend asks if she wants to go to a party that Friday night. Now Tabitha is faced with a challenge. As someone who believes in the Sabbath she doesn’t go out to parties on Friday nights. Actually, there are quite a few things Tabitha does differently on a Friday night than most of her classmates. So how does Tabitha respond to her new friend?

Let’s pause this scene and see if we can try to help Tabitha decide what to say by reviewing why the Sabbath should be observed, the purpose of the Sabbath, the benefits of the Sabbath and different approaches Tabitha can take to answer her friend.

Why observe the Sabbath?

  • The first mention of the Sabbath is in the beginning, during creation. After creating the earth and everything in it, God rested on the seventh day and sanctified it (Genesis 2:2-3 Genesis 2:2-3 [2] 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. [3] 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.
    American King James Version×
    ). Importantly, it was God Himself who created the Sabbath and rested on it! This is His example to all of humanity to follow.
  • Another time that the Sabbath is mentioned specifically, it is being reaffirmed in the Ten Commandments where we are told to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, and to do no work on it (Exodus 20:8-11 Exodus 20:8-11 [8] Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: [10] But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
    American King James Version×
    ). Then he commanded His people Israel to keep the Sabbath. But that was in the Old Testament, and some would say things changed when Jesus Christ came to Earth. But did the Sabbath change?
  • Jesus and His disciples kept the Sabbath. In Luke 4:16 Luke 4:16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
    American King James Version×
    Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and read as was His custom.
  • Jesus stated: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28 Mark 2:27-28 [27] And he said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: [28] Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • In Acts 17:2 Acts 17:2And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
    American King James Version×
    Paul went into the synagogue on the Sabbath to tell the people about Jesus. Based on these scriptures we have proof that the Sabbath was created to be observed by the true believers and that it continued to be observed in the New Testament.

Purpose of the Sabbath

God commands us to keep the Sabbath, but what is one major purpose of the Sabbath? What does God want us to focus on during the Sabbath?

  • God wants us to call the Sabbath honorable and a delight. He desires for us to honor Him by not doing our own pleasure, not doing our own ways and not speaking our own words. Instead He wants us to delight ourselves in Him (Isaiah 58:13-14 Isaiah 58:13-14 [13] If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: [14] Then shall you delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.
    American King James Version×
    ). God is constantly doing so much for us and He tells us for our own good that we take 24 hours out of 168 hours each week to focus on Him and put aside our own pleasures. So the purpose of the Sabbath is to delight in God by focusing on Him, putting aside what we want to do and spending time with God.

Benefits of the Sabbath

We’ve reviewed why Sabbath keepers observe the Sabbath, one of the purposes of the Sabbath, and we’ve identified some things that are done differently on the Sabbath, but what about the benefits of the Sabbath?

  • The Sabbath reserves time in our busy lives to have a relationship with God and to focus on Him.
  • Sabbath keepers do not work on the Sabbath, which means they are forced to rest. Most people go to work or school five days a week, but everyone knows teachers give homework, exams come up and housework needs to be done. If God did not tell us to take a break, we would run ourselves into the ground. Think about not being able to stress over an exam, not working at a job and not doing housework for 24 hours. This means no stress, just relaxation, so it is good for our mental health as well.

God is constantly doing so much for us and He tells us for our own good that we take 24 hours out of 168 hours each week to focus on Him.

Responses

Now Tabitha is armed with scriptures about Sabbath observance, the purpose of the Sabbath and some of the rewards that accompany keeping the Sabbath. So what are some ways Tabitha can respond to her friend?

  • “Sorry I’m not available Friday nights—I have another commitment.” Surely the friend will be wondering what commitment is so important to Tabitha even if she doesn’t ask about it now.
  • “I keep the weekly Sabbath (Saturday) so I don’t go out to parties on Friday nights.” Eventually if friendship grows, Tabitha and her friend will want to share their beliefs. What should Tabitha say if her friend wants to know more about the Sabbath? (See accompanying box about “Why Keep the Sabbath?” and “Benefits of Keeping the Sabbath.”)
  • “I’m busy on Friday nights; could we try a different night?” This shows that she would really like to be with her friend and would be good for whichever response Tabitha makes.

These are just a few ways Tabitha can answer her friend, and perhaps you can think of other options. As fellow Sabbath keepers we’ve all been in a similar situation as Tabitha or we will be eventually.

How would you respond?

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