Observing The Sabbath

The Sabbath is:

Being a holy day, this whole 24 hour period (from sunset on friday through sunset on saturday) is set apart for holy use.

Being a day of rest calls for all work, chores, school work, bills, shopping, etc. to be completed before the Sabbath begins, or set aside to be completed later after the Sabbath ends.

This rest is not only for you and your family, but also for those who would labor for you (Exodus 20:10). This would mean if you are a business owner, you should not be having your business open on Sabbath (Jeremiah 17:21,22; w/ Nehemiah 13:15-19) , or having others work for you in any way. Nor should you have the cable guy, lawncare people, installers, handymen, etc, come do any work for you on Sabbath. In a similar vein, you should not go shopping or to restaurants on the Sabbath day (Nehemiah 10:31), as this would again have others working for you (See Should We Go Out to Eat On the Sabbath?).

You may be familiar with the term "preparation day" (Matt 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54)--it is reference to the day before the Sabbath. This designation most likely comes from Exodus 16:

Exodus 16:4-5 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

Here we see that God commands the gathering of food (verse 4 -- be it, gathering it from the field, or gathering it from the store) to be completed before Sabbath. This is part of Sabbath preparation. Another part is to prepare (i.e., cook) the food itself (verse 5) in advance of the Sabbath so no food preparation is done on Sabbath.

Exodus 16:5 And on the sixth day they are to make ready what they get in, and it will be twice as much as they get on the other days. (BBE)

Exodus 16:5 But on the sixth day of each week they must gather and cook twice as much. (CEV)

This is further expounded in verse 23:

Exodus 16:23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

Exodus 16:23 Moses said, "This is what GOD was talking about: Tomorrow is a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to GOD. Whatever you plan to bake, bake today; and whatever you plan to boil, boil today. Then set aside the leftovers until morning. (The Message)

From verse 5 and verse 23 here, we see that they were to gather and prepare (baking, boiling, etc.) twice as much manna on preparation day---which would serve as meals for both preparation day and Sabbath, but all prepared on preparation day.

Being a day of holy convocationcalls for assembly with the saints (i.e., fellow believers) for worship, study, and fellowship.

Leviticus 23:3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

The Hebrew term translated "convocation" in many translations is miqra' (pronounced " mik-raw' "), which Strong's lexicon defines in part as "something called out, that is, a public meeting." Here is a short sampling of translations wherein the meaning is clearly displayed:

Leviticus 23:3 You have six days in which to do your work, but remember that the seventh day, the Sabbath, is a day of rest. On that day do not work, but gather for worship. The Sabbath belongs to the LORD, no matter where you live. (Good News Translation)

Leviticus 23:3 You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week is holy because it belongs to Me. No matter where you live, you must rest on the Sabbath and come together for worship. This law will never change. (CEV)

Leviticus 23:3 "For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of complete rest, a sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; it is a Sabbath to the LORD wherever you live. (HCSB)

The Sabbath assembly is a holy gathering--a sacred assembly. It is a time, as stated above, for worship, study of God's holy word, teaching and exhortation, and godly agape (love) fellowship.

It was Jesus' custom to assemble on the Sabbath with others, to read the Scriptures and teach:

Luke 4:16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Mark 1:21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught.

Mark 6:2 And when the Sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue...

It was the custom of His day, to read the Law and the Prophets, and to share words of exhortation:

Acts 13:14-15 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

Acts 13:27 ...the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day...

Acts 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.

Acts 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures...

All this, brethren, is the core of wholly keeping the Sabbath holy: Rest from all labors, don't have other labor for you, prepare your food in advance, gather with others in a holy assembly to spend time in the word--reading, reasoning from, and exhorting one another therewith, that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Further questions concerning various nuances of proper Sabbath observance may arise (feel free to contact us with your questions), but this should help you get started in keeping the Sabbath holy.

Authored by Brian C. Hoeck

©2009 Truth On The Web Ministries: All the articles originated by Kenneth M. Hoeck and/or Brian C. Hoeck may be freely distributed or mirrored as long as presented in their entirety (including this statement), attributed to Truth on The Web, and proper author credit given.