Game time, or holy time?
In the northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter, the evenings are getting cooler, and—in case you haven’t noticed—it’s football season!
For many across the United States, American football is a fervent passion. Lives are planned around the big games, with rituals like wearing school colors, carrying symbols of team mascots, and “tailgating” with food and friends. It all comes together to make football “Saturday’s religion” for millions.
Football season is big business as huge crowds generate revenue for hotels, restaurants, and party venues. Broadcasts gain large audiences as fans devour the details of each game. Players are scouted from an early age as coaches seek talent for college-level play. Colleges fiercely compete for top talent to ensure winning teams. The game brings a lot of joy and excitement to the lives of the players, their families, and fans.
So, what could be wrong with this popular sport?
As usual, timing is everything. King Solomon of Israel wrote, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There is a time for work and a time for play—and there should be a time for worship.
One of God’s Ten Commandments plainly states, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work… for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8–11).
The biblical Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. Was that all changed in New Testament times? Actually, the New Testament confirms the observance of the Sabbath day in word and deed. Jesus Christ observed the Sabbath and declared Himself its Lord (Luke 4:16; Matthew 12:12; Mark 2:28). After He ascended to the Father, the Apostles and newly baptized believers faithfully continued to observe the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days.
Those who look to the Bible as their standard and guide recognize that the Sabbath is the day of the week set aside by God as holy time. What does that have to do with beloved football traditions? Everything, if you want to please God. The Sabbath is a “holy convocation,” meaning a time to assemble for worship (Leviticus 23:3). The Apostle Paul explained in Hebrews 10:25 that we should not abandon this assembly.
Isaiah gave clear instructions when he wrote, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord” (Isaiah 58:13–14).
While there is nothing inherently wrong with football, when and how it is played is important if one wants to live in harmony with the biblical commandments and to enjoy the blessings promised to those who do. This also applies to other leisure activities, such as fishing, hunting, going to concerts, playing golf, and more. Ceasing these activities on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, puts one out of step with mainstream society. Will Saturday be your “game day,” or will you seek to worship God as He plainly instructs in His word? This important decision, while not easy, is life-changing in many wonderful and positive ways.
To read about these principles of living in detail, request your free copies of The Ten Commandments and Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? from the regional office nearest you or read them online at TomorrowsWorld.org.