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What is the Sabbath, and what does it mean for us today?

Am I allowed to work Sunday if the work is relaxing?

Postby Lax » Mon Jun 20, 2022 4:37 pm

Am I allowed to work Sunday if the work is relaxing?

Hey I am an entrepreneur and I love working its relaxing and is fun to do for me. Am I allowed to work on Sundays if work is relaxing and fun or does it still count under work?

Re: Am I allowed to work Sunday if the work is relaxing?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Nov 06, 2022 10:39 pm

The Sabbath was a means of recognizing God’s place in the cosmos and giving honor to him, a recognition of YHWH as the one who rules and brings order. Nowadays this command might be expressed as "Set aside time regularly and often to turn your attention away from your own needs and take stock of God’s role in the big picture of your life and world." It doesn't matter if the work is light, heavy, enjoyable, or a burden. The point was that people were to recognize God’s authority by refraining from attempts to control their own lives on the Sabbath, and hence the command to not work.

At least one purpose of the Sabbath was an occasion to restrain our economic drive. The command of the Sabbath encourages us to trust in God in a way that no other activity can. So much more could be accomplished by adding another day of labor, especially for an entrepreneur, but the Sabbath requires us to trust that God will provide for all our needs and that he will continue to manage the world without our help. The clear intention of the Sabbath was that it was to be different from other days. Working all the time can foster materialism and greed, as well as contributing to the breakdown of relationships. The Sabbath is a practical reminder that we are completely dependent on God.

Jesus was opposed to any legalistic approach to the day, however. He obeyed the OT law, but not all the petty laws that people had put on the day, which pertains to your question of, "Can I work if I enjoy it?" Of course you can. This isn't about rules. What you do with your time is between you and God, but what God expects, it seems, is that sometimes (regularly) you won't work because you're thinking about God rather than about your business and your work, even if it gives you pleasure.

We need to think about the Sabbath the same way we think about all law in the OT, and it has nothing to do with rules and nothing to do with its treatment in the NT. The Sabbath reflects a way of thinking about creation (Ex. 20.11) and about the release from Egypt (Dt. 5.15). The common denominator between these two associations is the concept of order. The former concerns order in the cosmos, and the latter concerns order for the Israelite community. Both concern God’s rule over an ordered system (Isa. 58.13-14).

None of these passages indicates that the Sabbath has to do with physical rest (leisure, downtime, naps, etc.). The premise instead is that God rules over this ordered system. On the Sabbath we are to set aside our own attempts to bring order to our world by our own efforts. God is the one who is the source and center of order. Therefore one day a week we are to focus on what should be undergirding our lives throughout the week: participation in the order of God’s kingdom. The Sabbath reminds us of this basic principle. We are the people of God, and as such we are partners in the plan and purposes of God. We participate in God’s rule (rather than joining him in relaxation). We should not approach the question of the Sabbath through the paradigm of rules to which we are obliged; we should approach the Sabbath as part of our participation in God’s kingdom purposes and perspectives. God asks that we refrain from working and focus on something else for one day a week.

The Sabbath is a day to honor God and recognize His place in the cosmos, to step back from our normal schedules, to cease the work schedules of the rest of the week, and to participate in God's kingdom purposes. Let's get away from any notion of making rules about the Sabbath and enjoy it the way God intended it to be enjoyed.

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