About the Episode
This week, we pick up the conversation about if Christians should observe Sabbath. We’re answering the questions: if we observe Sabbath, are we being legalistic? Didn’t Jesus get rid of the Sabbath? Sabbath applied only to Jews, right? Are we missing something if we don’t practice Sabbath? Let’s dig in to part two of this conversation.
Click for Transcript
You’re listening to episode 36 of the Simply Sabbath podcast.
Rest doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. If you feel like you’re about to break from exhaustion. Let me invite you to Simply Sabbath, a podcast for the burnt-out Christian mom, who longs to get back to the core of who she is and to reclaim the deep joy and stabilizing peace Jesus has for her in her every day– without the mom guilt that often accompanies self-care practices.
Hi, my name is Rachel Fahrenbach and I help busy moms just like you add a simple restful family Sabbath to their week. So they can experience a refueling that gives them exactly what they need to live the life that God has called them to. I’m so glad you’ve joined me today. Let’s get to it.
So last week, we started to have a conversation about the question, trying to answer the question. Should Christians observe Sabbath? And, um, I suggested in last week’s episode that when somebody comes to me and they ask the question, should a Christian celebrate Sabbath or observe Sabbath practice Sabbath, what they’re really asking me is one of three questions. They’re either asking me: If I observe Sabbath, am I somehow being legalistics and am I disregarding the gospel of grace? Or they’re asking me: isn’t Sabbath given to the Jews? Wasn’t Sabbath given to the Jews? Isn’t it a law thing, isn’t it a cultural thing. So either one, once again, are we being legalistic? Or two are we participating in cultural appropriation? Because this is the culture of the Jews. So there’s that question. And then there’s three, this, um, Question of like should we observe Sabbath. Like, are we missing something? Like, have we forgotten this is this like the church’s messing up. Like we’re supposed to be every day occurrence in our in our Christian walk or not every day, but you know, every weekly occurrence, um, have we gotten this wrong?
Last week, I got going on the first question if we observe Sabbath, are we participating in legalism and disregarding the gospel of grace? And in that episode, I tried to paint you a much more holistic picture than I think most of us who have grown up in the Christian faith have been given. I am not bashing the church for this. I am not bashing any Sunday school teachers or anything like that because honestly it’s a really complex conversation. Even within scripture, it’s really complex. And then also within the bigger historical concept of just different things that have happened over history that have influenced this conversation and the move away from observing a weekly Sabbath to participating in a Sunday morning worship service. Like there’s been just. It’s been hundreds and hundreds of years with political and both within the secular world and within church politics, political things that have happened and occurred that have impacted the observance of Sabbath.
So that’s really hard to just kind of like summarize into one podcast episode. But my hope with last week’s conversation was that, you began to see a little bit more, um, from the beginning of Genesis all the way through the story of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection, how that there’s this very beautiful symbolism, there’s this very beautiful just bigger thing that is happening within humanity’s relationship with God. Within the creation of the world within our purpose as human beings. Within our relationship with Jesus. Within our salvation through Jesus’ work on the cross. Within all of that, there is this beautiful thread of Sabbath woven.
And I’ve pointed out that Sabbath with a concept given long before the law was given. That within the 10 commandments the command to observe a Sabbath is really a pivot command… It’s the one command that talks about both your relationship with God and your relationship of community. And so it kind of links the first three commands with the following commands after it.
And so, we talked about that. And then we also talked about the fact that no, we’re not saved by our observance of Sabbath, just as the Jews were not saved by the observance of Sabbath. And so by observing it, if you were observing it with the idea that you’re going to be saved because of your observance, then you’re being legalistic. But just observing Sabbath is not legalistic and it is not disregarding the grace of God. If anything, I would argue that it deepens our understanding of our salvation. It deepens our understanding of our purpose. It deepens our understanding of our connection with God and our connection with humanity as whole. It deepens our understanding of what it means to rest in provision that comes not from within ourselves, but from the faithfulness of God. And so I covered all that in last week’s episode. If you want to go listen to that, I encourage you to do so. I will link to it in the show notes.
Today, I want to answer the remaining two questions. So the first remaining question is wasn’t the Sabbath given to the Jews? Isn’t this something for them? Not for us. Isn’t this, something that is just kind of. It’s part of the culture. Isn’t there some appropriation happening. If we, um, cultural appropriation happening, if we observe Sabbath. Are we trying to put ourselves back under the law? Okay. Then there’s the question should this be a regular part of our Christian faith?
So right off the bat, I’ll just say. My answer for both questions. One: no, I don’t believe Sabbath was only given to the Jews. Yes, I do believe it’s part of their culture. No, I don’t believe we’re appropriating their culture, and I’m going to explain a little bit more why in some future episodes.
Should it be part of our regular rhythm? I believe that practicing Sabbath is not only a wisdom principle for life. Resting once a week. Scheduling in rest time. A significant chunk of rest, is not only wise, it is also a beautiful foreshadowing of the coming new heaven, a new earth, right? When all things are restored, when the Lord returns that second return of Christ. I think Sabbath points us to that much as much of it pointed Israel, and the world truly, to Jesus’s arrival.
Observing Sabbath forces you to practice resting in God’s provision. On that end, I would say. It doesn’t hurt to practice Sabbath. Is there any clear verse prescriptive verse in the new Testament that would say, now on the side of the cross, we should practice Sabbath? No, there’s not, I can’t point you to a specific verse that says do it. I can point you to, versus that. I think. Allow for it. But I don’t, I can’t find any verses yes, you must. But it won’t hurt you. It won’t nullify your salvation. It will not hurt your understanding of your salvation and it’s not sinful to observe Sabbath.
Is it a beautiful way to live? And is it a beautiful way to point people to Jesus. Yeah. It is. So, that’s my answer to that.
Okay, so let’s get into some scripture. I want to point us to Acts chapter 15. In Acts chapter 15, we see the council of Jerusalem taking place. There had been a lot of conversation as the gospel spreads from Jerusalem and outward. There are now people of other cultures, Gentiles becoming saved. And the question has become, how much of the Jewish law do they need to observe? How much they need to do in order to be saved. And this question is, um, being hotly debated. Everybody is involved and everybody has an opinion. And some of the Pharisees are concerned that there needs to be circumcision taking place and that the law of Moses need to be kept. And others are saying, no, that’s not necessary, but what exactly is necessary? And they’re all debating it. And Peter stands up and he makes the statement: ” in the early days, God made a choice among you that by my mouth, the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us.”
That was verse eight. In verse nine, “he made no distinction between us and them.” Meaning the Jews and the gentiles. ” He made no distinction between us and them cleansing their hearts by faith. Since this is the case, why are you putting God to the test by placing upon the necks of the disciples a yolk which neither our fore fathers nor we have been able to bear. But we have believed that we are saved through the grace of the lord Jesus, just the same way as they also are.”
And this is such a bold and courageous and powerful statement from Peter considering just five chapters earlier in acts chapter 10. Peter has to be convicted by the holy spirit. He sees the vision in which a sheet of unclean animals is placed before him and God is commanding him to eat. Now people take this verse out of context and they will say that it has to do with being able to eat any different kind of food. But Peter actually in verse 28 gives us the reason for this vision that he received, what the Lord was, teaching him through this vision. He explained that the Lord used this vision to show him that God doesn’t have favoritism. In fact, God responds to him during the vision when peter says I have never eaten anything impure unclean I’m not about to do so right like he’s like I’m not going to do this lord I’m not going to eat the stuff. And God talks to him again and he says “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” God is using this vision to convict Peter that God is the one that purifies the heart. And so in acts chapter 15, he is reminding everybody gathered that they are all saved by grace through faith and that God reveals this work being done in the heart of a believer through the fact that he takes up residence with them and he dwells with them And God can not dwell in a place that is unpure. God cannot dwell in a place that is not covered by the sacrificial blood of the lamb. The fact that the holy spirit was evident in the lives of these Gentile believers was the determining factor, their stamp of approval In the eyes of the council at Jerusalem And so .They became all in agreeance with this They wrote a letter they sent it out to these churches and said, hey, we’re not going to burden you with anything else because God’s already taken up residence with you in the form of the holy spirit and you have been purified in his eyes and there’s nothing else you need to do to be purified. But here’s a few things to do to um to just live in a right way right and so they gave a couple of things.
Which i will point out here, the Sabbath is not one of them. And that’s why i said earlier i can’t point you to a prescriptive verse. Sabbath is not included in this list. Now there’s some arguments made that there was just kind of an assumption, because sabbath keeping was part of like a rhythm of life. They were Assuming that there would be a gathering together a studying of scripture, of breaking a bread together, doing life together. That assumption was being made pretty regularly, but the term sabbath is not used in the list that they give.
Now And that’s acts chapter 15. And that sets us up for what i believe happens in Colossians chapter two. So need Colossians chapter two, people will often use this scripture to show that we don’t mean to observe sabbath and it’s almost like you shouldn’t observe sabbath. But they use this verse and they kind of use it out of context as well as people do in chapter acts chapter 10 and even acts chapter 15. So in Colossians chapter two, verse 16, it says “therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food and drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day things which are only a shadow of what is to come but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Okay, people refer to that verse and they’ll say see you’re not supposed to, not supposed to observe these things, right? Like i said they’re kind of taking it a little bit out out of context because if you see there it just says let nobody judge you. It doesn’t say that you can’t do those things, it doesn’t say that observing them negates your salvation or becomes legalistic, it’s just says don’t let people judge you for it. Because, and this is where we really have to be careful about remembering who the intended audience was. In the book of Colossians is a church that is at a in a cultural melting point area. They were near a pretty major highway and so a lot of different people traveled through that place. A mixture of gentiles Jews and Gentiles from a couple of different cultures. And so there is actually there’s different things influencing the church at the time. There’s different theories on what exactly was influencing it. So there’s a lot of false teaching happening in this in in the area And it’s influencing the church that Paul is writing to And So we can’t look at this and say oh this is showing us that we’re not supposed to practice , It’s that’s not, that’s not Paul’s purpose here. What Paul is trying to do here is remind the Colossians that they are saved by grace through faith. That it’s all in Christ it’s all about Christ it all points back to Christ. He’s reminding them not to let people point them away from this this core truth of their salvation. That’s his purpose, he’s not saying it’s bad or wrong.
So I think what you can see throughout the new Testament, not just in Acts chapter 15 or Acts 10, or Colossians 2, it’s just, you know, the early church was having to navigate what had become a, kind of a new concept for them, the fact that God was no longer dwelling with them in a temple and within a nation that has specific laws that allowed that dwelling in the temple, but now God had taken up residence in the heart of man and in doing so he purified them through their faith, in the work of Christ on the cross. And so it didn’t matter if you were a Jew or Gentile. God taking up residence with you in the form of the holy spirit meant that he had purified you, that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was enough to do that. And that your faith in that provision that sacrifice was enough to bring you into God’s family.
So bringing us back to the question at hand: Should Christians observe Sabbath?
I think there’s a beautiful truth in Sabbath. I think it points to something bigger than us. And I think that it deepens our understanding of our salvation. Our understanding of God dwelling with us in the holy spirit. I can tell you that by practicing Sabbath week after weekend, really understanding what it meant, the importance that God placed on it again and again and again, in the old Testament. The fact that Jesus shows them that he is their sabbath rest. And then in other. You know, versus pointing to the fact that an ultimate Sabbath coming in the restoration of all things and a new heaven and a new earth. And where God dwells with us you know, fully holistically, like he did with us in the garden.
I. I mean, I, can’t not say to you. Like, should you observe it in order to fully grasp all that? Yes. Yes. You should! But do you have to, no. And so I think that’s where I’m going to leave you. Is in that understanding that Sabbath in and of itself is not legalistic. It is, it’s so much more. It’s something so beautiful. Such a privilege. And it’s a bigger thing than just a weekly day of rest. Sabbath is God’s dwelling with humanity. And it’s a gift.
I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this idea of should Christians observe Sabbath? Let me know, let me know what you think. Send me a message on DM. I. Um, I love hearing from you guys. I love having conversations with you. So please do do that and let me know what your thoughts are. You know, what did I miss? What do you want to know more about? Uh, let me know those things, I’d appreciate it.
And before we go, I just want to take the question that we’ve been talking about for the last two, this episode and past episode, and kind of flip it a little bit. And instead of asking the question, should Christians observe Sabbath? I want you to ask yourself, should I observe Sabbath? Is this something that God is calling me to, to do as a way to rest in his provision once a week, to reconnect with him once a week, to reconnect with my community once a week. To rest my body, my mind, my spirit, once a week. As a reminder of God dwelling within me, humanity first in the garden. Then in the temple and then in the man of Jesus. And in the holy spirit. And one day when he returns and makes right all things.
Should I observed Sabbath? That’s the question. I hope you ask yourselves. And prayerfully, you know, dialogue with God about it. And see where he leads you.
I’ll talk to you next week. Bye.
Hey, I just want to say thank you for joining me for today’s conversation. I know many things demand your attention. I don’t take lightly the privilege it is to share your time. I want to make things as easy and simple for you. So I’ve linked to all the resources mentioned in the episode in the show notes, and you can always find the link and more helpful information on my website, www.rachelfahrenbach.com.
As we say our goodbyes, let me remind you that what we’re talking about in this podcast is not just another thing to add to your to-do list. This is not another expectation for you to live up to. It is a gift out stretched from the hand of your creator. An invitation to press pause on walking alongside Jesus in all the things He’s called you to do. And instead the down, across from Him and just be with Him.
It is an invitation to Simply Sabbath.
Bible Verses Referenced
Acts 10:10 & 10:28
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help busy moms add a simple, rest-filled family Sabbath to their week. If that sounds like something you want for your week, but don’t know where to start, grab this free how-to resource: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath.