Sabbath Rest

Dear Reader,

I have had the opportunity lately to have a few discussions on if we as Christians are still commanded to rest on the Sabbath. The topic is still percolating in my mind but here are some of my preliminary thoughts/observations:

For the biblical evidence, this is what I see:

1. The Sabbath is a big deal in the OT. We are commanded to rest on it and to keep it holy which can but does not necessarily refer to worshipping on that day.
2.The reasons given for the Sabbath in the OT are creation, God’s bringing the people out of slavery, and God’s covenant.
3. The Sabbath is put with the moral law (ie the 10 commandments).
4. Jesus does not do away with but rather extends and deepens the rest of the 10 commandments.
5. Jesus does not do away with Sabbath-keeping. He does contradict wrong Sabbath-keeping practices enforced by the Pharisees.
6. The NT seems to be strangely silent on how the early church kept the Sabbath beyond worshipping together.
7. Other similar issues are specifically dealt with (circumcision, eating unclean foods). These things we are told the Gentile Christians need not do.
8. The Colossians passage seems to be the main, if not only one, to support the not-resting position. It is not unambiguous however. Many scholars take the “Sabbaths” in this passage to be referring to other holy days and not to the weekly Sabbath. It does seem like a strange way to refer to the weekly Sabbath day to me but I am not a Greek scholar.
9. Hebrews says that the Sabbath continues. This is clearly meant in a more over-arching way, that Jesus is our Sabbath rest. It is not so clear if it also means that we should still observe the Sabbath here and now.
10. Hebrews does, however, make it very clear that other things, the priesthood and sacrifices, have passed away, so its silence on this point seems significant.
 
The issue reminds me of that of infant baptism. There are godly people on both sides of it and a lot of our debate comes from scripture’s lack of explicit instruction on the issue. I also think in both cases the silence is because for the NT church it was probably not an issue; they knew where they stood on it. They dealt with lots of issues like eating unclean foods and generally keeping the law but the Sabbath doesn’t seem to have been a sticking point for them. This alone is probably an argument that we should be keeping the Sabbath as the OT commanded, that is by resting from our work of the rest of the week. I do think that given the basis of the Sabbath in creation and God’s covenant and its place in the moral (not civil or sacrificial) law that the burden is on those who wish to do away with it as a day of rest and I think their case rests solely in Colossians.
 
What do you think? Do you try to keep the Sabbath as a day of rest? And if so, do you do so because you believe it is still a binding commandment or because it is a good practice?
 
Nebby
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