On today’s Episode we discuss God’s commandment to honor the Sabbath the Lord’s Day. This is the most fundamental aspect of a faith life and a life that seeks excellence. Make sure to understand and observe this commandment before proceeding to any other aspect of your faith life.
What is the Sabbath?
The Sabbath was celebrated on Shabat, the seventh day of the week, Saturday. The Israelites used this day to reflect on their relationship with God by: going to temple, praying special prayers, and abstaining from unnecessary work. This was one of the most strictly observed requirement of their faith because it was viewed as the cornerstone of the Jewish faith.
Why the Seventh Day?
The Sabbath began as early as the creation of the world. In Genesis, God created the world in in seven days. The first point to understand is: why seven days? A literal interpretation of the creation narrative is not something that was widely accepted within Christianity until the last couple centuries. The text itself does not support a literal interpretation because immediate inconsistencies pop out at the reader. A good example is the fact that God creates light on day one, but the sun and the moon don’t make an appearance until day four. I’m sure someone somewhere has figured out a way to reconcile that fact in their own mind to fit the ideology, but it would mean at best that the text was written obscurely and the Christian tradition does not support that understanding of scripture.
So it would then be necessary that the writer uses seven days to communicate something else to the reader. That is true. In those times, to swear an oath and make a covenant with someone was known as to “seven.” Seven was understood as the mark of a covenant. Using seven days as the timeline means that God has created a covenant, an oath with His people. Knowing that we are in a covenantal relationship with God is important because it means that we are His family. Conversely, the number six was always associated with evil. Even know the number 666 always brings visions of the anti-christ to us all. THis is because it stops short of seven. It rejects the covenantal relationship and says, “I am going to do it on my own.” That individualistic message is the exact sin of Satan and Adam and Eve. It is the same message we communicate with all of our sins.
The Sabbath in Christianity
So with all of this talk of seven, how does the Sabbath move to Sunday? The Church moved the Lord’s day to Sunday because it takes the place of Saturday as the holiest day of the week through one event: the resurrection. As we all recall from Easter, Christ dies on a Friday and rises on a Sunday. Because of that, we know revere every Sunday as a celebration of the event that makes our faith worth practicing. Without the resurrection, Christ is lost in history books. Additionally, Christ recreates the world and humanity with his rising. The original plan fails. Adam and man falls and never recovers. God descends from heaven to be one of us, and Christ becomes the new Adam in the new creation. Sunday goes from being the first day of the week to the eighth day of the week. The start of a new creation.
Though the day changes the requirement to observe remains. The most simple answer for why observing the Sabbath is a requirement in Christianity is because the Church has authority to proclaim it as so. To understand why though we only need to look back at the beginning of this article. By not observing the Sabbath you are stopping at six. You are rejecting the covenantal relationship with God and saying, “I am going to do this on my own.”
Observance of the Sabbath has multiple elements as I mentioned above: going to temple (church), spending extra time in prayer or study of faith, and resting from unnecessary work. In Christianity missing the going to church aspect has an extra element of deficiency. In church we now have the Eucharist, Qurbana, communion. The Eucharist is called the source and summit of Christian life. It is both the source of all of our strength and grace to live our life, but also the reason why we do everything we do. All sacraments are geared to receiving the Eucharist, and it is the literal embodiment of what we hope to do in Heaven one day. Worship and take in God with the whole Church. That is why it is not enough to say, “I will just pray at home.” You don’t have, and should not have, the Eucharist in your home, so miss out on the source of your faith.
If you are not respecting the Sabbath all else you do is for not. If you don’t respect the Sabbath by going to church, reflecting on God, and abstaining from work then stop every other discussion about faith, stop spending time in any other church event and figure out a way to start respecting the Sabbath.