Among American Gods: Sabbath


For Meditation

From Nan Clarke:

This week we’ll be looking at the Fourth Commandment. I’ve been a Christian for over fifty years and I must confess that I have a rather complicated relationship with the idea of the Sabbath. So preaching on it has been a welcome opportunity to dig deeper and seek to understand what it means to observe the Sabbath. I look forward to sharing with you some of the things I’ve learned as I’ve read and studied.

Last summer we were visiting our daughter in Chelan, Washington.  Chelan in on the east side of the cascade mountains and is a small town on a big lake. When you look in any direction, your perspective is limited by the surrounding mountains and buttes. My son-in-law offered to take me up in his ultralight – basically a motorcycle that flies. It was an exhilarating experience and the best part was that we were high enough that my whole perspective on the landscape changed – I could see the snow-covered cascades to the west, the wheat fields on the plains to the east, and the Columbia river gorge to the south. What I’d like to do on Sunday morning is take you on a flight over the different landscapes in Scripture with the hope that we’ll gain a richer and fuller perspective on why and how we might observe the Sabbath. We’ll stop in three places: the OT world, where we’ll look at what Sabbath meant for the Ancient Israelites; then we’ll fly over to the first century world and look at what Jesus had to say about the Sabbath in the gospels; and finally we’ll take a short hop to the epistles and consider what the early church thought about Sabbath observance. 

Our weekly worship guide can be found here once finalized. 

Exodus 20:8-10

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.

Genesis 2:1-4

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Matthew 11:28–12:8

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Hebrews 4: 1-10

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.

Revelation 21: 1-4

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bridebeautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”