Sabbath Rest #1 - My Personal Story
This is a detailed study about whether Christians should still observe a day of the week as a Sabbath rest and on a Saturday rather than a Sunday.
I now believe that we should, which God began to reveal to me in 2017. I then began a study and whether we see from Scripture if this is the right thing or not to do.
If I had a choice outside of what I now believe God has prescribed, I would make it Sunday, if at all. After all, that is the most convenient and reflects modern-day Christianity and the Church's weekly pattern.
But I now understand that the seventh day of the week, a Saturday, is a blessed day that God had set even before it was written into the Ten Commandments and that we are the ones who suffer for not acknowledging God in this way.
Mainstream Christianity’s Take on the Sabbath
I have found that modern Christianity generally takes one of two positions about this notion of taking the weekly day of Saturday as a Sabbath rest.
Firstly, this is no longer applicable after Christ died and was resurrected under the New Covenant. He fulfilled all of the law, with no need to comply with this particular one of the Ten Commandments. As Christians, we now have a 24/7 rest in Christ without needing to take a day off every week.
Secondly, the weekly Sabbath rest is still applicable and is a good habit of resting anyway. However, the day of the week changed to a Sunday rather than Saturday after Jesus was resurrected on Easter Sunday, which the early church began adhering to. Therefore, modern Christians and church services mirror this pattern around celebrating Christ’s resurrection on a Sunday.
I appreciate these positions entirely, from being part of church gatherings on a Sunday from being a child to active involvement and leadership in local churches for over 40 years.
This is why it has taken time to prepare this study; to make sure it’s grounded in absolute conviction and Scripture and to present the case for Saturday-Sabbath observance to the best of my God-given abilities, for people to then make their own decision on the matter.
I have therefore still referred to this traditionally assumed stance of either no or Sunday observance as much as possible to give a balanced view, technically called non-Sabbatarianism.
Here are some available online resources that I’ve found helpful, including people’s experience and lay person’s understanding of this rather than just in-depth theological research.
- There are various resources on Wikipedia, including Sabbath in seventh-day churches, Sabbath, Biblical Sabbath, and Sabbath in Christianity.
- The first of two good debates on YouTube between someone pro- and against Saturday-Sabbath observance (Doug Batchelor & Steve Gregg). Plus, follow-up talk by one party here and another one here.
- The second good debate is between two opposing parties (Chris Rosebrough & Jim Staley).
- There’s a clip from Oprey Winfrey here realising that Saturday is the correct Sabbath day.
- TD Jakes acknowledgement of the Saturday being the Sabbath is here, even though he assumes every day is like a Sabbath rest now.
- There is an explanation of how additional rules were added to God's original Sabbath commandment in this video.
- There are good points about the Sabbath in a Youtube interview here, although assuming a Sunday position.
- Another Youtuber first created a video here with general principles about the Sabbath, then a more controversial one here and debate with someone here.
- Here are some videos here and here with good general explanations of the Sabbath, even though they come to different conclusions on the day and applicability.
- There is a website with resources on the Sabbath at www.sabbathtruth.org.
My Four Happenings
Over a few years, four specific instances highlighted to me the importance of this weekly Sabbath rest on a Saturday.
While some people may put this down to coincidence or over-emphasis on details, for me, these are more personal and meaningful as a Christian having faith in Christ.
They make the matter simpler and surer for myself, providing peace and a clear conscience about the subject.
As we’ll discover, there is no black and white instruction on the matter in the New Testament, with both sides of the issue coming up with convincing cases and points.
Everyone individually needs to study this and seek God themselves.
For myself, such a Sabbath rest is now a pleasurable and Godly experience, not just following rules and regulations for its sake.
Therefore, here are four significant instances where I believe God revealed the importance of this weekly Sabbath day’s rest to me:
1. The Confirmation Big-Talk
The first Sabbath day that I took seriously was Saturday 26th August 2017.
On this particular August bank holiday, I was due to go to the annual One Event – a Christian summer camp conference in Lincoln, something I had done every year since 2004 with churches that I was involved with. I usually took the following week off as a holiday, as a restful marker between summer and autumn.
However, no one from my current church (which meets on Sunday) was going other than the Pastor and his family, and I couldn’t even find anyone willing to go for a day trip on Saturday or Monday as per previous years with myself driving.
Therefore, I planned to go on the Bank Holiday Monday and stay in the West Midlands for the weekend to attend church on Sunday and have a relaxed day on Saturday preparing for the week’s holiday. That is when I thought I’d give this Sabbath rest a try.
Looking back now, I had a basic appreciation of the weekly Sabbath rest on the assumed Sunday and greater adherence to this in my childhood years. I completed a study on the Sunday day of rest in a church year-out in 1996 as UK Sunday laws were being enacted and even looked into a new Christian-retail website not being live on Sundays to deter usual trade on this day.
In the mid-nineties, I also had a good Christian friend back at university who was a Seventh-day Adventist who observed the Saturday Sabbath.
Therefore, I figured it was worth checking out for 24 hours in its purest sense.
I rested after work on Friday night to take the official evening-to-evening time slot across a Saturday. I didn’t do any work or emails or shopping, took time to rest and spend quality time with God in prayer and study, and attended a local Seventh-day Adventist church in the morning, including a lunchtime meal, just 15 minutes walk from where I live.
This Seventh-day Adventist church denomination is known for observing the Sabbath on a Saturday, and I had attended one of their Saturday morning services for the first time a few weeks earlier in August after a friend recommended it. I had discovered that this denomination still held a Historicist view of End-Time beliefs that all the Great Reformers accepted, as I was looking that year into the 500th year celebration of the Reformation (more details here in the study on the book of Daniel).
On this first Saturday, I remember turning up in a casual t-shirt and jeans and feeling a little out of place with the more formal dress code; however, touched by the gathering's simplicity and godliness.
In short, taking this whole Sabbath day from Friday evening to Saturday evening felt strange but good. Oddly, there was such a feeling of peace with this, and almost emptiness and reflectiveness of life in general, particularly in the afternoon without the distractions of daily life and simply snoozing and ‘being’.
After years of serving in a church on a Sunday, Saturdays were often a day of chilling anyway before hectic Sundays; therefore, this seemed a natural rhythm of rest from a Friday evening after the working week until Saturday evening and the batteries being re-charged.
I then attended my local church on Sunday and drove up to Lincoln on the bank holiday Monday on my own. After running late, I rushed into the morning session in the big marquee as the worship time was finishing, and the morning main-stage speaker was about to preach – Jake Clifford, from Tearfund.
I expected a talk on something like Social Action or Evangelism and Mission; however, I was speechless when he began to reveal how God had been making it “abundantly and painfully clear” for the last six months about a subject now dear to his heart – taking a weekly day’s Sabbath rest (full talk available here on YouTube, or below).
There are two things to note here. Firstly, I had never heard any speaker or preacher give a whole sermon on a weekly day of rest in my forty-odd years of exposure to Christianity, and certainly not at a large Christian festival in front of thousands of people who would be expecting a more glamorous subject.
And secondly, this was just 48 hours after I had personally taken my first ever day of Sabbath rest seriously.
This was one of the most God-timed incidents in my life. I remember it being a hot day, one of the hottest bank holiday Mondays in August in the UK, and simply wandering around the festival afterwards, realising this Sabbath thing was something far more profound than first impressions.
And even the talk from Jake was one of genuinely coming to an appreciation and enjoyment of this special day of rest and trust in the Lord, rather than just a theoretical and doctrinal point – a day blessed by God and made for man.
I purchased a recording of his talk afterwards, had it transcribed, which you can see here, and am still blessed every time I read or hear this and how I believe God revealed this with such perfect timing. I couldn’t help but email Jake afterwards to explain this to him and encourage him.
2. The Camper Conversion
A few months later, on the 11th of November, I went to a Classic Car Show at the NEC In Birmingham on a Saturday.
My father had pre-booked it, without my realisation of a Saturday Sabbath rest, and the week before he fell ill and wasn’t able to make it.
Therefore, I wasn’t going to attend but then realised that I might as well with being pre-paid and enjoying a relaxing day and taking photos of old vehicles my father would have loved.
I then came across a kit car company selling a new VW camper conversion kit, not something you’d immediately expect at this event, which caught my eye. This was a unique new design that was just being released.
Afterwards, I looked into a small business idea to convert a base van with this kit and sell it. To cut a long story short, I ended up completing this in 2018, and although a steep learning curve and did not sell until later in 2019, I then bought the actual conversion business at the beginning of 2022.
There’s a Youtube video of this particular van when it was sold and full details on Camper Escapes' website.
Although this isn’t a textbook testimony of a perfect Sabbath rest, I was touched by how God had brought the opportunity as I was simply resting in this prescribed way. As a result, I never did or wanted to do any work on the Sabbath period throughout the whole conversion.
3. A New Church Opening
One obvious consequence of taking Saturdays as a Sabbath rest is attending a Seventh-day Adventist church on Saturdays rather than the majority of other churches on Sundays.
However, in reality, there were two issues with this.
Firstly, I was heavily involved with my current church, which I had sensed God call me to many years ago.
Secondly, there are unusual doctrines within the Seventh-day Adventist church beyond just Saturday observance (there is a separate post here of the five core differences I now see and which I believe can all be genuinely arrived at from Scripture).
Therefore, I kept things simple; I continued observing Saturday rest alongside Sunday church attendance until God made things clearer.
Also, before any of this Sabbath revelation, I sensed that a personal change was coming for me anyway, with a potential new location, job, and church.
I still kept in contact with the local Seventh-day Adventist Church, which had helpful bible studies on the book of Daniel in the bible, with an invite on the 15th of December 2018 to attend a weekend-long special conference.
I saw that the special speaker, Dwayne Lemon, had a non-Christian, therefore non-Adventist background, and with being near a long two-week holiday planned over Christmas, I went along.
Considering that doors may open for me to re-locate back to Derbyshire anyway, I then decided to visit another Seventh-day Adventist church in Mansfield that I spotted online.
After such a good and challenging weekend with this special event, I looked to go along to this new one the following weekend at the start of my Christmas break.
Therefore, on Saturday, 22nd December, I turned to the address to find a sign outside saying they had moved to a new building (here’s the photo I took of it).
Therefore, I drove to the new address, a large property that happened to be the first day they took occupation and met on a Sabbath day.
Not only did I sense good fellowship with Christian believers here, but how I had been led there on the first literal day of a new location was similar to what had happened to me previously with God confirming a new fellowship.
This Sabbath rest was now affecting natural- and church-life in a very personal way.
4. The Family-Blessed Confirmation
On Sunday, 29th March 2020, in the early morning hours, my father, unfortunately, passed away from terminal cancer, something that I was present for. He was diagnosed only a month earlier and was coincidentally timed with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another unusual coincidence was his graveside remembrance on Thursday, 9th April 2020; the appointed local church vicar carried out the first official one since the last bubonic plague outbreak in 1666, which the village is famous for (details online).
Saturday 28th March, the previous day was my parent's 50th golden wedding anniversary. By this stage, he was bed-bound, and it was simply a case of myself and my sisters being at our parents’ home to celebrate this milestone and not realising how quickly it would be before he departed.
Going through past photos at the time, I noticed that their actual wedding day was 28 March 1970, which coincidentally was not only just a Saturday but the one on an Easter weekend. And here we were 50 years later celebrating this marriage, coincidently on a Saturday and the day before he passed away.
To myself, as someone then observing the Sabbath rest on a Saturday, this was a humbling set of circumstances.
A Visual Display
I like to visualise something to appreciate it thoroughly, and ideally, something three-dimensional that I can make.
Therefore, I have come up with something called the 'Sabbath Camper' to help picture this principle of a weekly Sabbath-day rest.
A toy VW-camper van symbolising the Sabbath rest; I know this may sound crazy, but bear with me as I try to explain.
I now see this special day of the week that God has blessed as a great experience with Him, something that I genuinely look forward to and not see as a bunch of dos and don’t regulations.
I also like VW campers; therefore, it’s like comparing it to your ideal day off or holiday; mine is driving around in a camper van to go surfing.
I have then extended this example to look at how this Sabbath route has been ordained by God right from the beginning of creation to heaven at the end of time and then plotted this out with milestones and explanations along the way.
Of course, there will be all kinds of potential theological flaws and contradictions the more you look into such an example; but it's a simple way that I've found helpful to piece this whole Sabbath subject together.
Therefore, as we go through this study through what the weekly Sabbath rest means, this study's ten sections match ten features of this visual display.
This first one is simply about my experience and the sense that God has revealed this personally to me, as symbolized by this toy camper.
It is a unique ‘place’ where God invites us to rest with Him every week, that He has blessed.