The Most Ignored Commandment

It's one of the Bible's most well-known commandments. So why aren't we following it?

A recent poll of 2,000 pastors in North Carolina revealed that less than 10 percent are keeping a regular Sabbath.

Think about this for a moment. If 90 percent of pastors announced from the pulpit that murder (or stealing, or adultery) is OK, don’t you think it might raise a few eyebrows in the pews, let alone the press?

It’s true: Jesus freed us from temple and ritual laws, but nowhere does He say we get a pass on moral laws. Of all the moral laws, Christ is especially clear that we must honor the Top Ten.

In fact, he ups the ante: if the law says don’t commit murder, Jesus says don’t get mad at the person who just sent you a snarky text. If the law says don’t commit adultery, Jesus says don’t even surf the Internet looking for racy pictures.

The Ten Commandments are engraved twice in the walls of the Supreme Court building. Why? Even for people who don’t believe in God, they serve as the bedrock of morality. The Ten Commandments help keep civilization civilized.

For those of us who believe in the Creator, the Ten Commandments are gifts from the very hand of God. The first three commandments are about our relationship with the Lord. The last six are about our relationship with humanity. The fourth commandment is a bridge: it connects heaven and earth, God and people.

Once a week, God walks out on the Sabbath bridge to meet us. But most of us are no-shows; we unapologetically stand up the Creator of the universe, week after week.

Once a week, God walks out on the Sabbath bridge to meet us. But most of us are no-shows; we unapologetically stand up the Creator of the universe, week after week.

Time Debt

Our generation is the first in 2,000 years of church history that is on the go 24/7. But this experiment in Sabbath-less living is taking a huge toll. It’s called time debt. We overcommit. We multi-task. We stay so busy we don’t have enough time for relationships with family and friends, let alone God.

The result? Nonstop stress. When I asked my husband Matthew, a physician, about the physical consequences of stress, he gave me a mini-lesson on the endocrine system. If your body never knows when the next Stop Day is coming, it sends out stress hormones. These hormones are commonly known as the fight or flight response. If you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction, a shot of adrenaline can save your life. A few hours later, however, you will feel utterly exhausted, like you’ve been run over by a truck.

Matthew went on to explain that when we are under stress long term, our bodies produce another stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol production contributes to a host of medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, acne, depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, digestive problems, and memory and concentration impairment. The bottom line: constant stress doesn’t just make us tired and grumpy; it makes us ill.

So if you’re ready to start attempting to keep a Sabbath, here are a few ways you can start:

Block off Sabbath Time on Your Calendar.

Here’s a simple truth: It won’t happen unless you schedule it. For most people, Sabbath is celebrated on Sunday. For church leaders, hospital workers and people who provide emergency services, Sabbath might have to be moved to another day of the week.

Because our ministry requires frequent travel, I use Google calendar to schedule our Sabbaths at least four months in advance. This lets our staff know when we will be offline and allows them to plan accordingly.

Prepare Joyfully.

In today’s 24/7 world, Sabbath-keeping is countercultural; it doesn’t just happen by default. If you long to lay down your heavy burdens, you’ll need to be more intentional about your time the other six days of the week.

On Sabbath eve, I clean out my email inbox, finish chores and run errands with an almost giddy joy. I also plan ahead for holy fun, seeking out new places for a hike or picking out a book to read aloud with my husband.

Figure Out What “Work” is for You.

Scholars have argued for centuries about how to define rest. Here’s a simple definition: decide what work is for you and don’t do it on your Sabbath.

For people engaged in sedentary work during the week, puttering around in the garden on the Sabbath might be restful. For people who do manual labor, holy rest might mean taking a nap.

Pray and Play.

Eugene Peterson, one of my theological heroes and author of The Message, once said that there are only two rules for Sabbath: play and pray. Now in his eighth decade of life, Peterson also believes Sabbath-keeping is the best thing he ever did for his marriage, his children and his ministry.

In today’s 24/7 world, Sabbath-keeping is countercultural; it doesn’t just happen by default. You’ll need to be more intentional about your time the other six days of the week.

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My family and I have been keeping the Sabbath for the past dozen years, and all I can say is “Amen!” Now grown, our kids kept the Sabbath throughout high school, college, medical school and now residency. The Sabbath gave them something almost none of their peers had, even while attending a Christian college: a day off. No homework, no chores, no shopping—just time with family, friends and God.

Find a Sabbath Buddy.

My husband I run a nonprofit together. We both have workaholic tendencies. We both love our work. This is a dangerous combination. Yet no matter what deadlines are looming, my husband and I do not work on the Sabbath. When one of us begins to “talk shop,” we gently remind each other to give it a rest.

Sabbath is best practiced in community. So find a Sabbath buddy. Help each other to create a Sabbath plan: what you’ll need to do to get ready, how you’ll celebrate, and what you’ll avoid on your day of rest. Then check in and encourage each other.

Giving Up Busyness for Lent.

Here’s my challenge for you: this Lent season, engage in a Sabbath experiment. Resolve to spend one day in seven resting and restoring. Praying and playing. Being still and knowing God.

Come Easter, you will not only celebrate the risen Lord; you will celebrate a renewed you!

Top Comments

Marcelo Plioplis


Marcelo Plioplis replied to Adam Brewster's comment

Why does the Sabbath need to be associated with the law? It was hallowed during creation week, it was set apart for eternity. Isaiah also prophecies that we'll gather from one Sabbath to the next on the new earth, once this world is made new.

So I choose to celebrate Sabbath because apart from law, it's been a holy day ever since the first week in creation. I don't get saved from keeping or not keeping, but I rejoice in the finished work of creation. "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy because in six days I created..."

He was done on the seventh. All you and I can do is rest. Everything else is done.

I'm also reminded as the Jews are, every Sabbath, that God told them to remember the Sabbath and be merciful to their slaves and workers, as God had been to them. "You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.…"

On the Sabbath, we are reminded that the Lord worked and got them out of Egypt by His hand. The Israelites did nothing except go along and follow him. They had no part in their own deliverance from slavery. They simply rest and remember.

Finally, the Sabbath reminds me that Christ finished His work of redemption on Good Friday. All was done. I have to do nothing except believe. I simply rest, as He did on the tomb.

Now, to go back to the article, why are we supposed to "choose" a day? When it's clear from Scripture that the seventh day is the Sabbath?

Great article, but I'm puzzled about the casual choice of any day that is convenient...

Tammy Andrews


Tammy Andrews commented…

All in all a good article, except for this statement, “So if you’re ready to start attempting to keep a Sabbath”. In the bible “Sabbath” is most often preceded by “the” or “my”. The few times it is preceded by “a” there is a clear distinction as to what is being referenced. It is never left open ended for the reader to decide to what day the “a” is referring. More specifically the Ten Commandments say “the Sabbath” not “a Sabbath”. The fourth commandment makes clear what Sabbath it is talking about, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week or what we now know as Saturday.


Nathan Smith


Nathan Smith commented…

"It’s true: Jesus freed us from temple and ritual laws, but nowhere does He say we get a pass on moral laws."

First off, Jesus broke the Sabbath multiple times.

And yes, we are free from the law, all of it. This is abundantly clear through most of Paul's writings.

That doesn't mean we don't act morally. That's why Jesus lives through us though.

And as it pertains to the Sabbath, every day, every moment, every breath is a Sabbath, in Jesus. That's kind of the deal right!

Jason Ericson


Jason Ericson commented…

Fun fact: the Sabbath was so important to God that he actually commanded the Israelites to keep a Sabbath *year* (Lev. 25:1-7), so every seventh year they would do no work and the land would provide for them.

Another fun fact: the Israelites rarely, if ever, followed this commandment, so God eventually had the Babylonians capture the Israelites and raze the land, so that Israel was forced into "Sabbath years" for around 70 years to make up for all the ones they skipped. (2 Chron. 36:17-21)

We can argue all day about what Old Testament laws we're "supposed" to follow now, but if you study the Old Testament to learn more about the heart of God (which I think is the best way to study it), you'll find that Sabbath was extremely important to him. How exactly that looks may be different now, but it's something he cares about a lot.

Jessica Luis


Jessica Luis commented…

HOW I GOT MY HUSBAND BACK!!! i want to say a very big thanks and appreciation to Dr Dros for bringing back my husband who left i and the kids for almost two months. i am very much grateful to Dr Dros . I pray God almighty give you the strength and wisdom to help more people having similar problem like mine. for help you can reach him on his email address:

Eliud Spencer Nhari


Eliud Spencer Nhari commented…


Neither the Ten commandments nor the 4th commandment about Sabbath keeping existed before Moses.. The first case of Sabbath keeping was in Exodus 16 at Mt. Sinai. Here Jehovah God gave Moses the "Ten Commandments", for the first time. This means Adam never kept the Sabbath, nor did Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph or anyone while in Egyptian bondage!

The Sabbath day keeping and some ceremonial Regulations for cleanliness was a SIGN between Jehovah God and the nation of Israel including foreigners who became citizens of Israel which they were to observe forever (Exodus 31: 16-17). “The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”

New Testament believers in Christ Jesus (Christians) are neither required to observe the Sabbath as in the Old Testament nor keep the 10 commandments as per Old Testament. They are to obey only the commandments of Jesus which commands are exactly the same as the 10 Commandments given to Moses. The only difference is that they are no longer 10 but 9 Commandments because the Sabbath keeping law not being moral law was taken out of them. Jesus, inconspicuously left out the Sabbath observance commandment when He re- stated all the other 9 Commandments in Matthew 5:21-43 and Matthew 19: 18 -21.

“Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “WHICH ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honour your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’]” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

In short, the Old Covenant (the 10 Commandment) were nailed to the Cross of Jesus and as such abolished, fulfilled OR became obsolete. The fulfilment of the 10 Commandments ended with the Cross but continued until the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. This event effectively put a stop to animal sacrificing there in A.D. 70. Paul, therefore, speaks directly to us when he says, “do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day;” an obvious reference to the Jewish ceremonial laws.

Paul further explains how the Old Covenant (10 commandments) had been abolished, “14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (2 Colossians 2:14-16).” Who then is the liar? It is the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.…
Accordingly, to insist that one goes back to the Old Covenant and keep the Sabbath as per Old Testament is to deny the Cross and thus trampling the Son of God underfoot, treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, as well as insulting the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29).

Nichola Brown


Nichola Brown commented…

Fantastic! I share about this concept in my book, Sabbath Season: A Call to Rest! God is call us back to Him. Rest in Him. Be blessed!

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