Considering the Sabbath: Are You Free or a Slave?
Don’t be a slave to the Law or to legalism, but be free to accept Sunday as a gift from God
The fourth of God’s Ten Commandments tells us to not work on the seventh day of the week and to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8-11). Nowadays, some people make an attempt to follow this command, albeit with adjustments. However, many people dismiss this as outdated, as irrelevant in our modern, on-the-go, 24/7 reality.
Though many people do not actually go to work on Sunday, to them it is a day like any other, and they may do as they please. It is enough if they happen to squeeze church into their Sunday schedule, but the rest of the day is theirs to do whatever they wish.
They point out that Jesus comes to fulfill the Law. He says so. Consequently, the Ten Commandments and all of Moses’s Law no longer apply. But in the same breath, Jesus first says he does not come to abolish the Law (Matthew 5:17). Therefore, perhaps the Law still stands.
Which is it?
Consider the timing of when God gives all these rules to his people.
They have been slaves for many generations. He releases them from their servitude. He provides them with rules to guide them as a free people. One of the instructions is to not work on the seventh day and to keep it holy.
As slaves, the people worked every day and never got a day off. They had no weekend. They enjoyed no rest. Their masters (that is, their slave drivers) saw to that.
Then they become free and God gives them a day off, a day to rest where they don’t have to work. And to guide them in this day off, he shifts their attention from endless labor to him. Make this day holy, he teaches.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man,” (Mark 2:27). It’s so we can rest as a free people.Legalistically, some people don’t work on Sunday. They’re slaves to the Law, not free in Jesus. Click To Tweet
In our practice, we shift the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first, the day we call Sunday.
Some people are slaves (either in actuality or in practice) and must work on Sunday. Other people are slaves to the Law. Out of legalistic fervor, they don’t work on Sunday.
The people who are truly free navigate the middle ground.
We are not slaves to work or slaves to legalism. Sunday is a day of freedom for them. We are free to rest and to have a day that is different from all others. We are free to worship God and honor him on a day set apart, a day that is holy.
How to do that is for us to decide. God gives us the freedom to do so.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.