Blog / Does the Sabbath Still Matter? Part 1: The Biblical Reason

By Cory Welch
Monday, June 15, 2020

 Commandments  Holy  Sabbath
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In North Carolina it is illegal to use an elephant to plow cotton. That’s disappointing.

In Minnesota you can’t cross the border with a duck on your head. That quacks me up.

Sometimes laws are created for a specific situation or time period and no longer apply. Consider the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, ESV). Does it still matter today? There are two typical responses:

1.The Sabbath is a legalistic rule that doesn’t apply anymore.

The Pharisees made hundreds of rules about the Sabbath. On the Sabbath it was a sin to:

                   -- clip a head of grain with your sandal.

                   -- spit in the dirt because it created mortar.

                   -- carry possessions from home to a public place.

To get around this last rule, orthodox communities even set up a system of poles and strings to create one large “dwelling” so people could carry things where they wished!

Jesus knew God’s laws were being abused and misapplied. In one confrontation with the Pharisees about the Sabbath He said: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, ESV—emphasis mine).

The Sabbath wasn’t intended to be a burden. It was a gift. God gave the Sabbath and its rule because of His love FOR us. Consequently, this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3, ESV).

God’s commands were given for you, not done to you.

2.The Sabbath?  Oh yeah…that.

Quick Sunday school quiz here:

How many original commandments were there? How many do you agree with?

Don’t murder? Please tell me you agree with this one.

Don’t commit adultery? Here’s hoping your spouse agrees too!

Don’t steal? Hey! Hands off.

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy? Meh. Isn’t that a suggestion?!

God knew we would have a tendency to ignore the Sabbath rule, hence the first word of the commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

The sheer presence of this commandment among the original ten emphasizes its importance, but the word itself even stands out: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

Notice that Sabbath is capitalized? Even in Bible college they taught me, when something is capitalized that means it is a proper noun. It isn’t just any thing; it is a specific thing. What God was instituting and commanding wasn’t intended as an adjective add-on, so don’t make an adjective out of what God meant to be a noun.

Like most names and other proper nouns, the word doesn’t even have a direct definition. Sabbath isn’t a vocabulary word to study. It’s something to know and experience.

Here’s why I think the Sabbath still matters: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” It doesn’t say to make it holy. It says to keep it holy. Someone else made it holy. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation (Genesis 2:3, ESV—emphasis mine).

God made it holy. Our job is to keep it that way.

That’s the (abridged) biblical reason you need the Sabbath. Part 2 will highlight our need for the Sabbath personally.

Cory Welch

My wife and I both grew up in Tyler and attended Dallas Baptist University. Christ became my Lord and Savior at a VBS when I was 8 years old and He began to call me into ministry when I was 14. I earned a degree in Business Management from DBU and went on to receive a Masters of Divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. I served at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie from October 2003-October 2006 before I was called to Purcellville Baptist Church in Purcellville, Virginia as Youth Pastor. I officially transitioned into the Executive Pastor role in February 2012 and have received more opportunities to preach and teach as the years have passed. My passion for ministry is to lead people to know Jesus as both Savior and Lord and to discover the purpose for which God created them. My favorite places to be are on the floor playing some variation of “climb on dad” and at an ice cream shop with my kids…partly because the kids like ice cream, mainly because I like ice cream. Natalie and I have been married since February 2008 and have 3 children.
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