If you ask people what they think about the word Sabbath they usually will say something about a day of rest or something related to the Jewish people. However, for many Christians the Sabbath is more than just a day of rest. In order to fully understand the Sabbath a short Bible lesson on the fourth commandment along with its life application is important.
What is the definition of the Sabbath?
The fourth commandment reads like this:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).
What does the word Sabbath mean? The common definition of Sabbath is (1): 1. A day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday. 2. A supposed annual midnight meeting of witches with the Devil. Origin: Old English, from Latin sabbatum, via Greek from Hebrew šabbāṯ, from šāḇaṯ ‘to rest.’ From this common definition, we see that the word Sabbath has differing definitions, some holy, some not so holy, but the origin brings the focus on the word rest.
What is the Sabbath?
The Sabbath was instituted by God in Genesis 2:1-3  when God “rested” from his work. Some people erroneously believe that God rested on the seventh day because He was tired. This was not the case at all. God rested, or ceased working, from His work of creating everything. It was not to recuperate. It was simply an ending of the work. God also blessed the Sabbath Day and sanctified it, which means He made it holy.
Why was the Sabbath made holy?
The reason God made the Sabbath holy goes to the heart of the Sabbath. We find two immediate reasons. The first is in Exodus 20:1, which tells us that Sabbath was a reminder that the LORD created everything. This reminds us that the LORD was our creator. The second is from Deuteronomy 5:15 as follows:
And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:15).
This verse tells us that the second reason was that God delivered the Jews from their bondage in Egypt. This reminds us that the LORD also delivered us from the bondage of sin. The important factor is that the LORD was the one who did it and He had a purpose.
What is purpose of the Sabbath?
In the Old Testament we saw that the Sabbath was a day of rest and worship (Leviticus 23:3). However, Jesus brought the purpose of the Sabbath to light by what He did on the Sabbath as follows:
- Jesus allowed the hungry to harvest food (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)
- Jesus allowed a man with a withered handed to be healed (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11)
- Jesus allowed those who rejected His teaching to witness miraculous healings (Mark 6:1-6)
- Jesus allowed a man to be delivered from demonic possession (Luke 4:31-37)
- Jesus allowed a woman disabled for 18 years to be healed (Luke 13:10-17)
- Jesus allowed for the caring for animals (Luke 13:15-16)
- Jesus allowed a bedridden man to be healed (John 5:1-18)
- Jesus allowed a blind man to see (John 9:13-34)
We see a definite pattern here. Hungry people were fed. Disabled people were restored. Disbelieving people were witnessed to. Demonic afflicted people were delivered. Animals needing care were cared for. Blind people were given sight. Jesus did not use that Sabbath to restrict people. He used the Sabbath to free people because of His love.
What does the Sabbath represent?
What the Sabbath represents is explained in Hebrews 3:1-4:16. Here we learn that the Israelites who did not enter the Promised Land and died in the desert did not do so because they broke a commandment. They died in the desert because they did not enter into the rest provided by God through faith. Our Sabbath rest is not in the day of the week (Romans 14:4-23); Our Sabbath rest in Christ!
Christ demonstrated that the Sabbath was for the good of man. Notice in each account we find that there were religious people that were offended. They had twisted the Sabbath into a mindless religious observance. Jesus upset their thinking because he was not focused on the day he was focused on people. The religious people cared more about the day than they did about the people in need. Jesus’ actions made them mad enough to want to kill Him. He had the authority to do these things because He was the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5).
When we trust Christ  as our Savior, He provides our Sabbath rest. He makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10) and delivers us from the bondage of sin (Galatians 4-5:1). By resting in Him, He feeds us, He restores us, He delivers us, He cares for us, He gives us sight, and He frees us from the bondage of the law and sin. Romans 14:4-23 tells us it is not the day of the week we worship or foods we eat that makes us right before God. It was by faith in what God said that makes us right. Anything, even the day we set aside to worship, is sin if we make the focus the day and not God or others (Romans 14:6).
Should we not keep the Sabbath?
If we keep the Sabbath as it was defined in the Old Testament, then we are obligated to keep all 734 Old Testament commandments (Galatians 5:1-5). If we break one commandment we have broken them all (James 2:8-13). Without getting into the argument of keeping a certain day, we should take at least one day to worship, fellowship with believers, serve others, and whatever God inspires us to do to demonstrate our love by faith. In doing so, we will demonstrate that we have faith that He provided a Savior to inspire us to demonstrate our love for Him and others with sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
The Sabbath was instituted by God as a day when He ceased from His works of creation. He made the day holy to remind us that God is our creator and deliverer. Jesus demonstrated the purpose of the Sabbath was to serve as a time to focus on demonstrating our love for God by loving and serving others. The Sabbath rest represents the rest we have in Christ, who is the Lord of the Sabbath and serves as our inspiration to love God and our neighbor. We should set aside some of our time each week from our work to focus on demonstrating our love for God, not out of obligation, but because of our love for others.
More reading here: Sabbath Saturday or Sunday? 
Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Google. (2014). “Sabbath”. Retrieved from Google: https: //www. Google .com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=sabbath