Law, Freedom and the Sabbath (12:7)

There’s just one commandment that doesn‘t seem to fit in to this picture. Can the seventh-day Sabbath be regarded as a guarantee of freedom? Isn‘t the Sabbath a restriction of our freedom? That was a key point in Chapter Ten of this book, entitled “The Reminder of the Evidence.“ If the Sabbath is an arbitrary test of our obedience, it doesn’t fit in to this good news we have been talking about. But, in fact, the purpose of the Sabbath is to remind us of the freedom given to us in the Garden of Eden, to remind us how God set His people free from Egyptian bondage, and how Jesus died on crucifixion Friday. The Sabbath sets us free more than any other commandment, by telling us there is no need to be afraid of God. Understood in this way, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath does fit in to the larger picture, for we need to be reminded of these truths that are the basis of our freedom.

God gave the Sabbath to help us, not to test our obedience. Look at Isaiah’s understanding of the Sabbath:

If you cease to tread the Sabbath underfoot, and keep my holy day free from your own affairs, if you call the Sabbath a day of joy and the Lord’s holy day a day to be honoured, if you honour it by not plying your trade, not seeking your own interest or attending to your own affairs, then you shall find your joy in the Lord (Isa 58:13-14, NEB).

Joy is one of the gifts of the Spirit of Truth. And what is the truth that makes the Sabbath a day of joy? It is the truth about our God. God invites and urges us to take time to listen, to remember, and to consider all the truths about God that the Sabbath represents. Then we will find the joy that comes from knowing this truth about our God. That’s the kind of joy we will have for the rest of eternity. That is how the Sabbath fits in to the larger picture.

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