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“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”  Exodus 20:8

Let’s not dictate Sabbath observance today.  The point of the Sabbath is a dress rehearsal for a future eternity of glad rest in God.  So, for now, every one of us can work out the details personally.  But in our frantic modern world, the Sabbath offers wisdom that has lasted since the beginning (Genesis 2:2-3).  It is not written on our calendars as much as we are built into its calendar.  It seems to be part of the God-created rhythm for weekly human flourishing.

If we did set apart one day each week for rejuvenation in God, we would immediately add to every year over seven weeks of vacation — and not for “whatever” but for worship, for community, for mercy, for an afternoon nap, for reading and thinking, for lingering around the dinner table with good jokes and tender words and personal prayers.

How else can we find quietness of heart in today’s crazy world?  If anyone has a more biblical (and more immediately beneficial) place to begin, I’m open.  But raising hermeneutical objections to the Sabbath principle doesn’t in itself actually help any of us.

I wonder if the very concept of “the weekend” is biblical.  It seems to me that “the weekend” turns Sunday into a second Saturday.  Home Depot may gain, but we lose.  It turns Sunday into a day to catch up on what we didn’t do Saturday or a day to ramp up for what’s ahead on Monday.  It hollows out our whole week, because it marginalizes God and church and sermons and all the other vital things that happen in our lives only when we make the vital things also the central things.  If we accept the concept of “the weekend,” we risk “fitting God in” rather than centering our every week around him.  We risk living soul-exhausted lives, and wondering why God isn’t more real to us, why we’re exhausted and grumpy.

If we want to find our way back into quietness of heart and reality with God, the first step might be simple.  Bold, but simple.


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4 thoughts on “Is the Sabbath still relevant?”

  1. George Brodie says:

    Extremely well written, culturally relevant position on the Sabbath. Biblically (not legally) convicting.

  2. Howard says:

    Why are Christians so willing to set this commandment aside while insisting on the other nine are still applicable? Remember the Sabbath .. not a Sabbath or your Sabbath. The only rationale I can understand for changing the day of observance would be “so we can be not Jewish.” Is there another?

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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