God commanded the seventh day Sabbath as a statute to be kept for all time, but how should it be kept so as to fully please God?
Question: I’ve just learned that the weekly Sabbath starts at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday, according to the Bible. What steps should I take to “keep it holy,” as commanded in Exodus 20:8?
Answer: Far from being a time of restrictions, the Sabbath is about freedom from the relentless grind of daily life, giving us a chance to refocus on what truly matters. It’s a day that God designed to replenish us. Jesus Himself clarified, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27–28).
So, why do we observe the Sabbath? It’s a fundamental practice rooted in the Ten Commandments and a divine directive Christ embraced and passed on to His disciples (Matthew 19:17). Scripture guides us explicitly: “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” (Exodus 20:8–11). Here, we find a clear blueprint for six days of work and a day of rest, a rhythm of life instituted by God Himself at creation (Genesis 2:1–3).
When the Sabbath arrives, we step back from our labors and the consumption of entertainment, whether it be sports, TV shows, or online distractions—things that divert our attention from the important to the mundane. Instead, the Sabbath is a day dedicated to deepening our understanding of God and expressing our reverence through worship.
The Bible also commands us to fellowship with true Christian believers on the Sabbath, generally meeting with them in person if we are physically able and live within a manageable traveling distance. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together… but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25). Christians are to inspire and encourage one another as we anticipate Christ’s return.
Furthermore, Jesus explained that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12). A person who helps someone with an urgent need on the Sabbath is not violating it; Christ healed the sick on the Sabbath, for which the Pharisees plotted to destroy Him (vv. 13–14). However, Christians must examine themselves to be sure they aren’t misusing Christ’s command; it is right for a Christian to provide a needed service on the Sabbath, but it is not right to earn money on the Sabbath with the excuse of “helping” people.
Observing the Sabbath isn’t just about adherence to a rule; it’s also about experiencing the profound blessings the Holy Day offers. Isaiah poetically underscores the joy and spiritual nourishment that come from honoring the Sabbath: “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath… then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father” (Isaiah 58:13–14). It’s a promise that those who honor this day will know the delight found in a close relationship with God.
Each weekly Sabbath serves as a time of joy—of physical and spiritual refreshment. “When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise” (Psalm 42:4). This psalmist’s reflection captures the essence of the Sabbath experience—a stirring journey toward a deeper relationship with God, filled with joy and praise.
The Sabbath is a divine gift, a weekly respite to recalibrate our lives and align them with God. It’s a day each week when we pause, reflect, worship, and are spiritually rejuvenated. Embedded in God’s word and practiced by Jesus Christ, it gives us a blueprint for living that balances work with restorative rest, engagement with reflection, and individual practice with communal worship.
To learn more about the significance of the seventh-day Sabbath, request free copies of Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? and The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan. And if you are interested in finding a nearby congregation of the Living Church of God—sponsor of this magazine—or in speaking with a local representative, contact our Regional Office closest to you right here at TomorrowsWorld.org.