What Does It Mean to Honor the Sabbath Day?

When it comes to the Ten Commandments, eight begin with the phrase “you must not.” There are two, however, that don’t begin that way. They tell us what to do rather than what not to do. The first of those two commandments speaks of the Sabbath day. And if we’re being honest, it is the one commandment that tends to get overlooked.

What Does It Mean to Honor the Sabbath Day? | alyssajhoward.com

*This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.


Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” – Exodus 20:8-11

This commandment regarding the Sabbath confused me for many years. Most Christians have no problem with the other nine commandments, but this one has stirred up quite the controversy… and everyone seems to have their own opinion on the matter.

Are we required to keep the Sabbath day under the New Covenant?


Arguments for:

– Jesus not only honored the Sabbath throughout His life and ministry, but some denominations teach that He, in fact, rested on the Sabbath day when He was in the tomb. (He rose again on Sunday, the third day, after resting on Saturday.)

– Many in the early church honored Saturday as the Sabbath. The disciples regularly spoke in synagogues on the Sabbath day. And the fact that Paul still calls it “the Sabbath” in his letters shows that he still honored the day as such. History tells us that the early believers would honor the Sabbath as well as hold celebratory meetings early on Sunday mornings. (Mind you Sunday was the first day of their work week so their services were probably held in the wee hours of the morning. How’s that for an “early service”?!)

– The Sabbath pre-dates the Law of Moses. The Sabbath was instituted at Creation – not the Law. Even the commandment in Exodus states that we are to honor it because God rested on the seventh day of Creation. He blessed it and made it holy long before a single Jewish person roamed the earth. So to say that we don’t have to honor the Sabbath because we are no longer “under the Law” is sort of an irrelevant argument.

– The New Testament has very little to say about the Sabbath. I actually find that somewhat interesting considering that several other essential Jewish laws are in fact mentioned. For example, circumcision was a hot topic throughout Paul’s letters. If the Sabbath was no longer seen as “required” like circumcision, wouldn’t that have been a topic for debate as well?


Arguments against:

Colossians 2:16-17 tells us not to let anyone condemn us for the days (or Sabbaths) we choose to honor or celebrate.

– Nowhere in the New Testament does it tell us that we need to honor Saturday as the Sabbath. Like I stated earlier, the New Testament is rather silent on the issue one way or another. The early believers still called it the Sabbath day, but we really don’t know whether or not they honored it in the same way they once did as Jews.

– The Sabbath was indeed a major part of the Law of Moses, and the Law was fulfilled (and made obsolete) by the cross. The other nine commandments are all addressed throughout the New Testament, but the Sabbath day is not. This is why many believers today believe that we are no longer called to observe it.

– While some believers teach that we are no longer required to honor the Sabbath day, some denominations believe that we simply honor it in other ways. We honor the Sabbath by taking time to spend with the Lord or we honor it by going to church on Sundays. They believe that it doesn’t matter when we choose to honor the Sabbath (many of us even have jobs that require us to work on weekends), but rather it’s more important that we make the time to rest in the Lord.


Regardless of your viewpoint on the Sabbath Day, there is no doubt that it is important to God. The real question is how it applies to us today.

God has been working in my heart lately regarding the purpose behind the Sabbath rest and what it means for believers under the New Covenant we have in Christ Jesus. I truly believe God had much more in mind than simply a rule to follow.


Click here to read part 2 of this series… 4 Reasons for God’s Sabbath Rest in the Old Testament


For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. - Exodus 20:11


*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

**Photo by Marta Pawlik on Unsplash



I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on the Sabbath day. Feel free to comment below!

(And please remember that we are all part of the body of Christ. We are here to learn and grow as believers, not tear each other down. Thanks!)


Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts


  1. I keep the Sabbath because Jesus did, and it’s one of the 10 Commandments, not the 10 suggestions. Jesus loves me so much that He wants me to rest and to spend time with Him on this special Day. If I love someone, I want to please them. Wouldn’t I want to please the One Who died so that I might be with Him in eternity? I am not saved by keeping any of the Commandments. I do, however, want to obey and please my Lord, Who also claims to be Lord of the Sabbath Day.

    1. I too believe that the Sabbath was a gift of love. That’s why Jesus condemned the Pharisees concerning it because they had turned a day of rest into work and obligation. They made it about outward obedience instead of having a heart that truly longed to please God.

  2. I will be very interested to read “part 2” of your series Alyssa. I am working to honor my Savior every day that He allows me to see and I am excited to have found a Bible teaching church to join. I thoroughly enjoy my time with my brothers and sisters in Christ. May God continue to bless you and yours as you seek to glorify Him in sharing His word. Visiting from Jennifer Lee’s site. Have a great week!

    1. Thank you! I believe you hit the nail on the head when you said, “I am working to honor my Savior every day…” It’s what the Christian walk is all about. 🙂

  3. Hi, Alyssa, nice to meet you. 🙂 Well, that was a great “hook,” because I’m now looking forward to hearing how God’s been working in your heart with regard to the sabbath. Interesting topic. 🙂 It seems to be one of those things folks don’t find “grey” too often. Seems like it’s either black or white, usually. (I’m in the grey camp. 🙂 ) God says sabbath was made for man, not man for sabbath, and I love affection He shows through that. His heart is for our well-being. He’s such a good God. 🙂 So glad we’re linkup buddies at Jennifer’s place this afternoon, I’ve enjoyed my visit here. ((grace upon grace))

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I too have found that this issue tends to be either black or white with most people. But I have also found a great deal of confusion. My Bible study dove into the life of Moses last year. When we reached the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath was a hot topic to say the least. Everyone had thoughts and opinions as well as questions. I’m really excited to share what I feel God has laid on my heart. 🙂

  4. Alyssa, I belong to a large group of Sabbath Keepers around the world, a group called the Sabbath Society which Shelly Miller began.
    I keep Saturday as a Sabbath, but believe it can be aby day of the week when we can take a REST from our labours.

    Since keeping one day in seven as a Sabbath, I have not become overwhelmed with the pressures of life.
    It is like a safetly valve.
    It is good self-care.

    Yes Jesus kept the Sabbath but He was under the Law still.
    BUT if God needed to rest one day in seven and we are made in His image…it seems to me that we will be much better off if we do take a Sabbath, even if it is not a requirement of the Law, which we are no longer under

    I look forward to your next post on this,.

    1. Thank you, Mary. 🙂 I must say that I have yet to meet a person who keeps the Sabbath (Saturday or not), and hasn’t found that it completely changed their life for the better. I’m so happy to hear that God is working in your life and bringing you His rest. 🙂

  5. Hi Alyssa, Lovely to meet you through your blog home. I was alerted to your post through some of my Sabbath Society peeps. I love the way you are wrestling with the topic of Sabbath and sharing your thoughts here without a nice neat little bow to tie it up. It is exactly because of people like you that I wrote a book about the subject that is due to release in the fall — Rhythms of Rest — available for pre-order on Amazon now (I know, shameless plug). Actually, the Sabbath is mentioned in the Gospels and in the book of Hebrews. Three years ago I started the Sabbath Society which is now a group of hundreds who want to make rest a rhythm of life. If you want to find out more here is the link: http://redemptionsbeauty.com/sabbath-society/, You would be most welcome in the community.

  6. I like your approach to this topic Alyssa. I’ve grown up observing the Sabbath on Sunday but I’m coming to a place where the Sabbath is not so much a day as it is a state of being for me now. We still faithfully attend church Sunday & Wednesday, but for me the Sabbath is about rest & peace. In Christ we are given both so He is my Sabbath everyday. Great article! Thanks for linking up #lifeislovely

  7. I find it interesting that the early Christians kept the Sabbath, and only after Constantine declared that the church must not “Judaise,” was Sunday made the day for rest.

  8. I believe God give us the commandments and the Sabbath day is a Saturday and God showed me to keep it holy ,when you do something and its not in Gods will he does something to git your attention he is showing you not to do it again.

    is to be holy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.