bible study devotion

Sabbath: devotion

by Dr. Andrew C S Koh

Genesis 2:1-3

A photo of God creating Adam
The creation of Adam



1 The heavens, the earth, and all their vast array were finished. 2 On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because he rested in it from all his work of creation which he had done

Genesis 2:1-3


Genesis 1 is an overall account of the first week of creation. Genesis 2 zeroed in specifically on the sixth and seventh day of creation

On the sixth day, God created Adam, animals, birds and Eve. On the seventh day, God rested from His work of creation. He blessed the seventh day and made it holy.

The Hebrew word for God is Elohim. El is singular and Elohim is plural. The Hebrew word for blessed is baruch, which means praise, happy, favoured, or a good report. The number 7 is the number of completion. God completed His work of creation on the 7th day and rested. The Hebrew word for holy is qadesh, which means sanctified, set apart, or separated.


The 7th day of the week is the Sabbath day. Sabbath starts from sundown on Friday and finished at sundown on Saturday. In the Old Testament, the Israelites stopped doing work on the Sabbath as stipulated in the Mosaic law. The difficulty is defining what is work and what is not work.

but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates.

Exodus 20:10

The Jews today still keep the Sabbath by not doing any work.

If you are a Gentile Christian, you do not have to stop doing work from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown. The Jerusalem council of Acts 15, freed Gentiles Christians from keeping the Mosaic laws except for drinking blood and committing sexual immorality.

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality, from which if you keep yourselves, it will be well with you. Farewell

Legalism verses freedom

Acts 15:28-29

For Gentile Christians, the principle of the Sabbath is to take a rest from work one day out of every seven days. You can also take a longer rest from work if you wish. How about one week out of every 7 weeks or 1 year out of every 7 years? This is a principle to apply, not a legalistic law to enforce. The principle is to have time to rest from work so that you can seek the Lord in spiritual things. A regular rest from work is required to reflect, recollect, recharge, re-energise, and re-connect with God, yourself and others. A regular rest will prevent you from getting burnt out. If you do not rest, you will fall sick, and you will be forced to rest. Even computers machines requires a rest periodically for maintenance.

The Sabbath rest is an opportunity to be free even for one day. Freedom from work, from anxieties, from the tyranny of the urgent, from the routine of daily life. The Sabbath rest allows you to free your minds from the demands of the world to concentrate on spiritual matters and on God.

The Pharisees became so legalistic over the law of Sabbath-keeping to the extent of causing a burden to the people and to themselves.

The Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath because He healed people on the Sabbath. Jesus created the Sabbath for the benefit of people and not the other way around. As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus superseded the Sabbath. Jesus had the authority to set aside the demands of Sabbath keeping. Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath. Jesus frees you from bondage to sin and death. Jesus invites you to come to Him for rest.

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest

Matthew 11:28


Heavenly Father, You are the God of creation, the God of salvation, the God of redemption, and the God of reconciliation. You are wonderful, counselor, prince of peace, mighty God, and everlasting Father. You are Lord of the Sabbath. Help us to rest in You. Free us from bondage to sin, fear, anxiety, depression, and pessimism, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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