Stress is a serious matter. Although some stress may be healthy, too much is dangerous and, in some cases, even fatal. Stress is caused by an overdose of stimulation, a hectic life, traffic in large cities, noise, overload at home, at work, in school or in the personal sphere, etc. It includes the anxiety to fail and the fear not to be able to cope with what confronts us. Consequences include nervous mental blockages, aggression, depression, a weakened immune system, cardiac, circulatory, liver, and gall problems, etc. We need to protect ourselves against too much stress. Therefore physicians recommend that we relax and rest, exercise, and avoid the intake of alcohol, tobacco, and coffee.
However, long before the medical profession talked
about the benefits of rest and relaxation, God recommended
it. He has not only told us that we should rest but also how
we should rest. Our Creator has given us tips that can help
us–when we observe them–to function at our best. In addition
to daily devotional time when we focus on God, He has
given us one entire day per week for reflection, regeneration,
and communion with Him. In Scripture this day is called
“Sabbath.” God’s special blessing rests on this day.
THE SABBATH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Sabbath was installed when God created this world
including plants, animals, and humans. Creation was completed
with the Sabbath, and the Sabbath existed before sin
came into our world. Adam and Eve, the representatives of
humankind, celebrated the Sabbath (Gen. 2:1-3).
The Sabbath (modern Saturday) is part of the unique
law called the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments,
complete in their comprehensiveness, constitute
God’s unchangeable law. The term “remember” in the Sabbath
commandment points back to the creation account
The Sabbath was known even before the law was written
on tables of stone (Ex. 16:4, 19-29; see also Gen 26:5).
God wants all human beings to keep the Sabbath (Is.
The Sabbath is associated with the new earth (Is. 66:22,
THE SABBATH IN THE TIME OF JESUS
Christians follow Jesus, their Example. It was Jesus’ custom
to keep the Sabbath (Luke 4:16).
Jesus’ followers observed the Sabbath (Luke 23:56).
Jesus corrected a false understanding of the Sabbath and
rejected human traditions (Matt. 12:8-12).
Jesus did not abolish the Ten Commandments (Matt.
In the context of Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of
Jerusalem, which happened in 70 AD, Christians were urged
to pray that their flight might not be on a Sabbath. Jesus
wanted His disciples to keep the Sabbath even after His death
on the cross (Matt. 24:20).
THE SABBATH IN THE TIME OF THE APOSTLES
Paul’s practice was to preach to Jews and Gentiles on
Sabbath (Acts 13:42, 44; 17:2; 18:4, 11). Nowhere in Scripture
is the Sabbath done away with. Nowhere is another day
recommended which was to replace the Sabbath.
THE MEANING OF THE SABBATH
• The Sabbath reminds us of creation and the Creator (Ex. 31:17).
• The Sabbath reminds us of salvation and the Savior (Deut. 5:12-15).
• The Sabbath is a sign of our sanctification and relationship with God (Ex. 31:13, 17).
• The Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between God and His people (Ex. 31:16).
• The Sabbath has a future dimension (Ex. 31:16, 17;
Is. 66:22, 23).
The Sabbath is a wonderful gift of God through which we
can experience rest, time for reflection, fellowship with others
and especially with God, as well as joy and regeneration.
This day cannot be replaced by another day because God’s
special blessing rests on it. We can make the decision to
accept God’s anti-stress program and enjoy intimate communion
with the Lord.
Ekkehardt Mueller is an associate director for the Biblical Research
Institute at the General Conference World Headquarters. This article has
been reprinted, by permission, from Reflections, the BRI Newsletter.