The Lord God gave Moses ten commandments. A commandment is an order given by an authority, so the Ten Commandments are given to us by the ultimate authority—God. They are for our good, and God’s Word tells us that obedience results in prosperity, security, longevity, occupation of the land, and many more blessings. Keeping Shabbat (or the Sabbath) is listed in the Ten Commandments.
If God’s commandments are orders given to us for our good and release blessings (not to be confused with working for salvation), we must consider why keeping Shabbat matters for Believers today.
The Law Reflects God’s Character and Love
God’s Son, Yeshua, came to earth and fulfilled the law. Yet, while He took away the law’s curse, we are still meant to follow God and His ways, including behavioral choices like those in the Ten Commandments. We have the Holy Spirit, and He equips us to follow God’s heart and reflect His character depicted in the law.
Hebrews 10:16-18 says…
- “‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
Keeping Shabbat, or any other commandments, reflects God’s character. Keeping the law positions us to live like God, as ambassadors of Christ, showing the nations who He is.
Matthew 22:34-40 says…
- “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”
Love is the key to following God’s law. It is the answer to why God forgives us when we stumble along the way. Love is one of the beautiful reasons God gave us behavioral boundaries because He, like any good parent, wants the best for us. He does not desire to see us fall into harm.
This is why a parent tells a child they should not put their hand in a fire; it is out of love, not bondage or restriction. The same is true when God gives us boundaries like the Ten Commandments. He does it not from a desire to put us in bondage or restriction but out of love.
The Ten Commandments
Most agree with God’s Word that we should not allow actions like murder (the sixth commandment). But keeping Shabbat holy (the fourth commandment) seems to fall through the cracks.
God put the Ten Commandments in place intentionally. Each provides and protects us and God’s Kingdom. Each honors God through our obedience and releases blessings in our lives…
- Do not have other gods.
Having no other gods keeps us aligned with the Father’s heart.
“‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’”—Exodus 20:3
- Do not have idols.
Having no idols keeps our eyes focused on what the Father has called us to do, protecting the legacy He wants us to leave.
“‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.’”—Exodus 20:4-6
- Do not take God’s name in vain.
Not taking His name in vain protects us from the accuser of the brethren holding words against us in the Courts of Heaven.
“‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.’”—Exodus 20:7
- Keep Shabbat.
Remembering and keeping Shabbat holy protects us from “burnout” and keeps us close to God. We must trust Him to provide, not our work and efforts.
“‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.’”—Exodus 20:8-11
- Honor your father and mother.
Honoring your father and mother reflects honor for the Lord. This commandment comes with a promise of living “long in the land.” Honor is the currency of Heaven that brings life.
“‘Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.’”—Exodus 20:12
- Do not murder.
Not murdering protects us from giving a curse a place to light (see Proverbs 26:2).
“‘You shall not murder.’”—Exodus 20:13
- Do not commit adultery.
Not committing adultery protects our hearts and minds, keeping us clean and pure and protecting us from ungodly soul ties.
“‘You shall not commit adultery.’”—Exodus 20:14
- Do not steal.
Not stealing allows us to walk in honor, honesty, and purpose.
“‘You shall not steal.’”—Exodus 20:15
- Do not lie.
Not bearing false witness keeps us from defiling the whole body (see James 3), as the power of life and death are in the tongue.
“‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’”—Exodus 20:16
- Do not covet.
Not coveting what others have protects us from charges being brought against us in the Courts of Heaven, as coveting means to desire something earnestly but not legitimately.
“‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.’”—Exodus 20:17
Keeping Shabbat Keeps Us Aligned
It is interesting that eight of the Ten Commandments tell us what not to do, while two tell us what to do. Furthermore, keeping Shabbat holy is one of the first that we lean toward not observing or thinking is important. When it is forgotten or disregarded, the others also fall aside.
Does this mean you will murder or commit adultery when you don’t keep Shabbat? Not in the sense most of us think. However, Jesus clearly said…
- When we hate others, talk poorly of them, or despise them, we are committing murder in our hearts (1 John 3:15).
- When we lust in our hearts, we have committed adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).
Therefore, keeping Shabbat is a way to soak in the presence of God, asking His Spirit to renew and fill us, protecting us from all the voices that come at us day and night.
The Blessings of Keeping Shabbat Holy
Hebrews 10:24-25 says that we should not forsake assembling, and all the more as we see the Day of our Messiah’s return approaching…
- “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”—Hebrews 10:24-25
Assembling together and keeping Shabbat blesses us when…
- We hear the Word of God taught to us
- We hear the testimony of fellow Believers
- We speak of God and His ways
- We are reminded that others follow God
- We invite God’s Presence in
- We provide kindness, love, and support
All of these work together to shape us—and one another—into God’s image. Each provides a strengthening of faith that is necessary for the days ahead because every moment, we draw closer to the return of our Messiah and see the Day approaching.
- “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”—Matthew 24:42
Assembling together is a key part of keeping Shabbat holy. It is not the only aspect.
Echo His Pattern
We echo the pattern of God when remembering and keeping Shabbat.
He established a pattern of working for six days and resting on the seventh for us to follow (Exodus 34:21). This is the same pattern God used to create the world, universe, and everything within (Genesis 2:3).
When we observe the Sabbath, we choose to be like our Father. We are honoring God through our obedience to His will and ways. We accept and believe that He knows best; we trust Him and know He will not let us down.
Learn and Wait
Keeping Shabbat allows God to guide and teach us, providing lessons only available when we are still enough to listen. He teaches us to wait upon Him.
God uses Shabbat to protect us, restoring our mental, physical, and spiritual health, making us whole. He aligns us with His will and ways so we can be in tune with His life.
God uses Shabbat to improve relationships with Him, family, and friends. Keeping Shabbat builds love and drives out bitterness, anger, resentment, and estrangement. It builds character and hope, bringing us laughter and joy.
When We Have a Day of Rest
When we observe and honor Shabbat, we walk in obedience.
- We answer the fourth of the Ten Commandments.
- We find ourselves refreshed and renewed in all areas.
- We are empowered to enter the week ahead with joy, determination, and love.
We can accomplish more than we ever could without keeping Shabbat. And we are rewarded through edifying and deepening our relationship with God.
Is Keeping Shabbat Legalistic?
Nearly anything can become legalistic if we allow it. Legalism is a form of entrapment in our thoughts. It happens when something good is misrepresented to the point that it becomes a heavy weight and a burden.
Shabbat was never put in place by God to be a burden. It was never to be a heavy load we were meant to bear. Instead, God created Shabbat for our good, to benefit and bless us.
When keeping Shabbat is about resting in the presence of God and drawing near to His heart, it becomes a thing that brings new life to us. It becomes a catalyst for everything we are called to do!
Keeping Shabbat is about freedom and empowerment. Jesus and His disciples did not cease doing God’s will on Shabbat. Yeshua healed people on Shabbat! He worked. But the key was that He did what His Father wanted Him to do. He was empowered.
Seasons of Shabbat
- There are Shabbats where God has us stay home and rest.
- There are Shabbats where God has us visit with friends.
- There are Shabbats where God has us volunteer.
The key is listening to God and following His direction, not going off in our way or will, but accepting God’s.
Whatever the Lord directs us to do on Shabbat, it is always the best choice. Keeping Shabbat holy in God’s way is a catalyst for His perfect will to be manifested in our lives.
So then, let us find rest on Shabbat in the way God leads. Let us rejoice in the beautiful commandment that brings restoration and draws us nearer to our Father. And let us remember and keep Shabbat holy God’s way.