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Sabbath and the Church

What should Gentiles do about the Sabbath? 

What are Gentile Christians to do? It is really a matter of personal conscience, guided by those verses in Romans 14 about not placing stumbling blocks in front of others. Whatever you decide to do, it doesn’t mean that everyone else is wrong, unbiblical, to be condemned. If you feel God is directing you towards a Saturday Sabbath, it should be in the attitude of personal guidance rather than a universal rule, although the concept of a day of rest is thoroughly Biblical. Yet if you are to be consistent with Scripture and with the activities of the Church in Acts, then the Sabbath is not simply a day when we conduct a church service, but rather a time of restorative rest with God and family. A Hebraic attitude would be to celebrate Sabbath in whichever way is right for your particular circumstance and where you are certain God is leading you, which may not be where God is leading others. If you take the Greek attitude of transforming your particular experience into some sort of doctrine or ritual, then you will slip into a judgemental attitude about others who ‘just don’t get it’! This is not a righteous path and would only serve to feed those ‘on the outside’ who are suspicious about the motives of those who keep the Sabbath, reinforcing the view that they are ‘judaizers’.

If your conscience directs you to meeting with God on a Sunday (i.e. the traditional model), you must be aware of the historical origin of this custom, as described earlier. The danger is to fall into the trap of dualism, considering that a few hours of ‘God time’ is sufficient to satisfy your ‘spiritual needs’ and is the only obligation you need to make to your Maker and Redeemer. Yes, by all means meet with God in church on a Sunday, but don’t neglect Him the rest of the week!

There is a danger concerning Gentile Christians and the Saturday Sabbath. If we revisit those eulogies by the rabbis, there’s a danger that we too can start to consider this holy day in ways that are unbiblical. Just with those three examples given, which are representative of the Jewish orthodox community, Sabbath is “a day for the soul and not the body, that it radiates its aura into all aspects of life and that it represents God’s presence in the world.”

Can you see the implications? The Rabbis may have had a certain spirituality but one thing they didn’t have: the fulness of the Holy Spirit living in their hearts as a result of their submission to Jesus their Messiah. These eulogies can be seen as a substitute for Messiah. Perhaps this is why the writer of the Hebrew wrote the following?

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)

This could be a reminder that the Sabbath, rather than being a substitute for Jesus, is an attribute of the rest that our Messiah has brought to us. But does this mean that the Sabbath Day is no longer valid for us? As I said earlier, it really is a matter of personal leading from the Lord. On a personal note, the Lord has given me a passage that is very pertinent to the Foundations ministry that He has called me into:

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:12)

Yet … the very next verses:

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13-14)

This is some promise! As I have stressed before, the Lord has different callings and functions for us all. It may seem that I am currently balancing on the fence regarding Sabbath, but, in all honesty, Monica and I are still on a journey with this issue and we want to be true to ourselves in any decision we make, as there will be no going back. One thing is certain, you’ll know when we know.

This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp

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