Bible Answer

How should a Christian approach the Sabbath?

Since God rested on the Seventh day of Creation (before the Law of Moses was even given), doesn't that mean all people, including Christians, are required to observe a Sabbath Day?

In Genesis 2, we see God resting on the seventh day from the work of Creation, but the commandment for men to imitate God by observing a weekly a Sabbath rest was not instituted at that point. In fact, there is no record of any man in Scripture observing a Sabbath rest prior to the giving of the Law through Moses.

The Sabbath was given to the nation of Israel as a perpetual observance (Ex 20:8-11) in the Law. According to the Law, the Sabbath occurs from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown (the seventh day of each week). To explain the meaning and importance of the Sabbath commandment, the Lord reminded Moses of the Lord's own rest on the seventh day of Creation. Nevertheless, the requirement for men to observe a Sabbath rest was not established by God until the Law was given to Israel. 

We must acknowledge, therefore, that the Sabbath is a commandment for Jews alone according to the Law given at Mt. Sinai. Gentiles are not expected to keep a Sabbath, and there is no Sabbath commandment found in the New Testament for the New Covenant believer, whether Jew or gentile. 

The Sabbath day rest was a picture or shadow of Christ. Just as God did all the work of Creation and then rested, likewise He has done all the "work" necessary for our salvation, and therefore we now rest in Christ's work through His sinless life and death on the cross. This is why we can say that Christ has become our perpetual rest and thereby our true Sabbath. Today, a believer enjoys a spiritual Sabbath rest everyday as we rest in Christ's work perpetually (see Heb 4:10).

For any believer who has accepted Christ as His Savior, he now enjoys this Sabbath. He has ceased from his work in trying to achieve righteousness, and instead he may see every day as one to serve Him through the grace of the New Covenant. Therefore, he need not observe an earthly Sabbath, which merely pictured the greater spiritual Sabbath.

Christians are under no obligation to observe a Sabbath day of physical rest nor any "Sabbath" ritual since the Sabbath commandment was given to Jews in the Mosaic Law and that law has been fulfilled in Christ on our behalf. We can now rest in His work through faith. Every believer enjoys the freedom that comes from this liberty, so you may use everyday of the week in any way you see fit in serving the Lord. You may chose to set one day aside for rest or none. No man is to be your judge concerning these things, since all believers are free to exercise any patterns for living they chose (Col. 2:16-17).

We encourage you to read more about observing a Sabbath day in the following article.

If you would like to learn more about the Christian's relationship to the Law, please read our two-part article On Law and Liberty.