Rule 7 - Spiritual Revitalisation

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We commit to one day-a-week free of work and given to spiritual revitalisation

Over my lifetime, Christian views on what was traditionally known as ‘Sabbath observance’ have changed considerably. When I was young, there were no shops open on a Sunday, there was limited programming on TV, and only a few people had to work (my father was one of them as limited Sunday rail travel allowed repairs to be undertaken). Fast forward to today, and it is a different world. This is not just because church attendance has dropped, but we now have a 24-hour society with types of work undreamed of 50 years ago. This rule is an attempt to marry the importance of ‘the day of rest’ with the realities of modern society and employment. 

first day of the week

First of all, let’s look at the Sabbath. This is a Hebrew word from the Old Testament which means ‘to cease’. Genesis 2 tells us that God ceased from creating on the seventh day. The 4th commandment commanded Israel to cease from all work on the seventh day:
Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work (Exodus 20:9-10)

It seems fairly clear that following the Day of Pentecost the church changed Sabbath observance from the seventh day, Saturday, to the first day of the week, Sunday, the ‘Christian Sabbath’:
On the first day of the week, we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people
(Acts 20:7)
This day also became referred to as The Lord’s Day as Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week:
On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet (Revelation 1:10)
It is good to note that as the gospel spread throughout Europe, that the Christians would have met societies that did not recognise the Sabbath. Work would have carried on every day. The Lord's Day was a development to help the Christians practise their faith together, meaning they could meet for worship, teaching and encouragement.


The Sabbath was also known as the day of rest. The Letter of Hebrews looks at this in some detail. Here is the main principle:
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:8-11)
The ‘Sabbath-rest’ here referred to was clearly more than just one day a week. Joshua was meant to lead the people into their own land in which God’s laws would be followed. The occupation of the land of Israel was to be their rest. But the writer points out, that the Sabbath was an indicator of something more than just one day free of work: it meant that God’s people no longer needed to earn their salvation by their good deeds (works) but by faith. He made this point earlier in this chapter:
but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.  Now we who have believed enter that rest (Hebrews 4:2-3)

Going back to the creation events, was anything happening on the seventh day when God was resting? What was happening was that Adam and Eve were in a garden called Eden (the land of rest) where they walked with God. The point of bringing Israel into their own land, was that it was the nearest thing possible to restoring humans to an Eden. By obeying God’s commandments, His people would be able to walk with Him again. Studying the Hebrews letter explains why this did not work out. 

the Kingdom

So, what is our Eden, our land of rest? It is experiencing the Kingdom of God together as we live in the Holy Spirit. This is clearly intended to be more than just one day per week: it is to be a lifestyle. The problem with strict Sabbath observance was that it recreated a huge list of rules which only applied on one day of the week. These then  became religious observances rather than life in the Spirit. Jesus pointed this out on many occasions when he argued with the religious leaders of His time. His views on Sabbath observance were one of the reasons which made them plot his death. This exchange explains it well:
Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27-28)
People are meant to benefit from the Sabbath; it is not meant to be a tiresome burden which becomes inhumane in its demands.

The rule being proposed here is a genuine attempt to bring these principles together for our benefit. The principles are these:
The Sabbath should benefit us as humans who need to rest from work
It should help us learn how to walk with God in the Holy Spirit
It creates a special opportunity for God’s people to meet together 


There are some occupations now which require working on a Sunday. If this applies to you, then you can still choose to set aside a different special day. If you cannot meet with God’s people, then you can still use this day, free of the usual pressures of life, to seek the Lord and listen to the Holy Spirit. We are trying to make the Sabbath principle work for us as a time of spiritual revitalisation. As an illustration of the Sabbath being made for man, here is a moving story.

Eric Liddell was a British Olympic athlete who was made famous in the film ‘Chariots of Fire’. The main focus of the film was that he wouldn’t race in the Olympics on a Sunday because of his religious beliefs. But even so he won a Gold Medal in a race he hadn’t trained for which was on a different day of the week. What is not so well known is how he put aside his Sunday Sabbath rule to show humanity to others. After the Olympics he went on to become a missionary in China, but was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese. The youngsters in the prison camp played football, but kept arguing because there was no referee. So, after some conflict in himself, he ignored his rule about sport on Sunday and refereed their games to keep the peace. He eventually died in that camp of a brain tumour.

The Holy Spirit creates humanity in us to show the Kingdom of God to others. We need to order our priorities and, if necessary, put people before our own personal religious rules. But to make sure we always have something to give, we must also take time to revitalise our spiritual lives as we learn to walk with God.

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