Many of us have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be. God never intended for the Sabbath to be difficult or confusing – that defeats His whole purpose for creating it.
The Ten Commandments are listed twice in Scripture, once in Exodus 20 and once in Deuteronomy 5. Interestingly, two different words are used to begin the Sabbath commandment:
- “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8)
- “Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Deuteronomy 5:12)
The Hebrew word used in Exodus is zakar, Strong’s #2142, and properly means to remember. The Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy (as well as Exodus 31:13-14, Leviticus 19:3 and Isaiah 56:4,6) is shamar, Strong’s #8104, which actually means to guard or protect. So, from these lists of the Ten Commandments, here are two basic instructions for how to keep the Sabbath:
- Remember to do it. Don’t forget, and don’t let it slip up on you. Look forward to it in anticipation.
- Guard the day. Protect it, and set it apart from the other days of the week. Being set apart is one of the primary meanings of the word “holy.”
What can you do to keep the Sabbath holy, set apart from other days? Both of these renditions of the fourth commandment tell us to rest; to refrain from doing work. In our society today, that may take a little time to accomplish. But make it your goal to do as little work as possible on the Sabbath. Why? First, because God said this is what you should do. Second, it is a great start toward the goal of making it different than other days.
Maybe you are fortunate enough to find a local congregation that observes the Sabbath. If so, join with them. Fellowship with others on this walk is important. If there is no congregation nearby, consider inviting others to your home for fellowship on the Sabbath. Sing some songs together, lead a Bible study, and of course have something to eat (preferably something you prepared the day before). Share what you are learning and what is going on in your life.
To bring an even more worshipful ambience to your meeting, consider adding liturgy. Don’t let the word frighten you; it is simply an orderly way to worship. I’ve developed a very simple Sabbath liturgy that includes just a little easy Hebrew to get started. You can view and download it for free here.
If you have no local congregation, you can probably find a Sabbath service online. Be careful, though, and try to check them out for sound doctrine. There are some way-out things floating around. One ministry I highly recommend, Jacob’s Tent, broadcasts its services live every Sabbath here.
Put on a little worship music, relax and enjoy the day. This is a time Yeshua (Jesus) said was made for you (Mark 2:27). Think about it – our loving Father set apart a special day every week, just so that we could rest in Him.
If you would like to share how you keep the Sabbath, leave a comment below.