Learning from the Sabbath

Learning from the SabbathText: Exodus 20:8-11

The Sabbath day was given as a day of rest each week. Christians are not under the Sabbath law today, but it was part of the Old Testament that was written for our learning (Romans 15:4). What principles do we find in the Sabbath law that we need to take and apply today?

Remember Your Creator

  • When we talk about the Sabbath, we usually think of REST [we will discuss this later] – yet the PRIMARY reason for the Sabbath law was for them to remember God
  • The law was patterned after God’s work in creation (Exodus 20:11; Genesis 1:31-2:3) – they were not just to REST, they were to remember God and His work
  • The Bible begins with God creating the universe (Genesis 1:1) – the creation proves that God is not an invention of man (Psalm 100:3); it shows what a privilege it is for God to care for us (Psalm 8:3-4); and it shows that God’s love and favor actually matter (1 John 4:8; Jonah 4:2) more than man’s (Proverbs 29:26)

Do Not Conform to the World

  • They were to remember the Sabbath day and keep it HOLY (Exodus 20:8) – they were to do this as God’s own special, HOLY people (Deuteronomy 7:6); this set them apart since no other nation observed the Sabbath like the Israelites did
  • Today, we as Christians are God’s special people (1 Peter 2:9) – be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16); this means we are to be different from the world (1 Peter 2:11; Romans 12:1)
  • We are to stand out from the world (1 Peter 2:12) – the world scoffs at the gospel and obedience to God’s will (1 Corinthians 1:18; 15:32); we must be willing to be different and believe and obey the gospel anyway (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

Plan Ahead in Your Labors

  • The Sabbath law required them to plan ahead in order to rest on the seventh day (Exodus 16:5, 22-30) – after they reached the promised land, this would apply to their regular labors/responsibilities
  • This shows the importance of planning our labors (Proverbs 21:5) – requires a willingness to work hard, often for long hours (Ecclesiastes 9:11; 11:6)
  • This helps keep our necessary labors from unnecessarily infringing upon spiritual activities – we are to put spiritual things FIRST (Matthew 6:33); do not let work crowd out God (Luke 12:16-21); sometimes conflicts arise that are out of our control; but many times, we just convince ourselves that they’re out of our control

Make Time for Rest

  • They were to observe the Sabbath each week (Leviticus 23:2-3) – this was EVERY Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36); even during busier seasons, they were to do this (Exodus 34:21)
  • God created us (Genesis 1:26-27) and knows we need rest – He rested (Genesis 2:2); not because He needs to rest (Isaiah 40:28), but to set an example for us because WE need rest; work is tiring physically (Ecclesiastes 4:6), mentally (Ecclesiastes 12:12), and sometimes emotionally (Exodus 18:13-18)
  • Work is never done (Ecclesiastes 2:23) – therefore, we must intentionally take time to rest (Ecclesiastes 2:24; Mark 6:31)

Work Precedes Rest

  • When God made the Sabbath law, He made the day of rest at the END of the week (Exodus 20:9-10) – again, this was what God did in the creation week (Exodus 20:11; Genesis 1:31-2:3)
  • In our physical labors, we must work before we take time to rest (Proverbs 6:6-8; 20:4) – resting first is a sign of laziness (Proverbs 26:14)
  • Also in our spiritual labors, we must work for the Lord before we receive the promised rest (Revelation 14:13) – labor diligently for the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58); be DILIGENT to enter REST (Hebrews 4:11)


  • We are not under obligation to observe the Sabbath law today – but there are important lessons in it
  • Let us remember our Creator, be different from the world, and labor diligently in order to receive the promised rest

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