The Sabbath: What It Is

The Hebrews celebrated the Sabbath as a day of rest. They proclaimed that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. On that day of rest, Hebrews ceased all activities and would give their animals and servants a rest also in observing that particular day.

Later on, the Hebrew tribes referred to the Sabbath as a shadow - a sign of God's future relationship with His people. On the Sabbath, the Hebrews visualized that God would appear and bring them to a state of holiness. Yet the Hebrew rulers would allow their servants to perform tasks on that day in addition to permitting their animals to work the fields, even though the Hebrew rulers still ceased working on that day.

So-called Christian institutional churches, because Christ rose on the First Day, began assembling on that day rather than the seventh day of the week. Their followers would also cease outward activity on the First Day.

First generation Friends on the other hand did not feel that God was calling them to observe a particular sabbath day - much to the consternation of mainline Protestants. Small wonder after their meeting for worship these Friends would open their businesses and serve their fellow humans with honesty and caring. These Friends were, in other words serving the Lord even though, government officials often arrested the true Christians for "breaking the Sabbath."

Yet these Friends understood that they were obeying God and following the commands of His beloved Son whose presence they acknowledged. That is why they understood their true sabbath was not celebrated on a particular day but pervaded their lives everyday. Christ is our glorious Sabbath who constantly ministers to us who welcome Him. When we submit to His presence, He provides eternal rest and refreshment. He overcomes our inner evil and fills us in His goodness. Through our obedience we become part of His heavenly body.

This sabbath pervades our souls when we begin to serve Him. Christ is our everlasting prophet who delineates right from wrong. This same Christ is our Shepherd who instills us with God's all embracing love. This Christ is the Bishop of our souls who expurgates our inward evil. And Christ is our rock whom we welcome in our lives.

This wonderful sabbath is God's gift to people who are willing to hear and obey that magnificent small voice in our souls. Small wonder we do not need to long for a particular day. He is present always.

Arthur Berk