What Is the Sabbath Day?
The word Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning day of rest. It commemorates God’s day of rest after he finished the Creation.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had crested from all his work which God created and made. From the beginning of earthly time the tradition of a sacred seventh day has been observed among various people throughout history.
When Moses was given the commandments the 4th one was about the Sabbath day
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
God Further instructed Moses in Exodus 31:13:
13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.
Observing the Sabbath day as a holy day is one of the signs of God’s covenant people. For the Israelites, this day was equivalent to our Saturday, and you still see many Jewish people today worshiping on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Israelites, as time passed, some Jewish leaders made many unnecessary rules about what could be done on the Sabbath. They decided things like how far people could walk, what kind of knots they could tie, and so on. Of course we all know how Jesus rebuked them for these unnecessary rules. One such example is the story commonly known as the ox in the mire.
1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
6 And they could not answer him again to these thing
Purpose of the Sabbath Day
Jesus had to remind the Pharisees of the purpose of the Sabbath.
27 And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
The purpose of the Sabbath is to give us a certain day of the week on which to direct our thoughts and actions toward God. It is not a day merely to rest from work. It is a sacred day to be spent in worship and reverence. As we rest from our usual daily activities, our minds are freed to ponder spiritual matters. On this day we should renew our covenants with the Lord and feed our souls on the things of the Spirit.
In the Book of Mormon we can also see that the Nephites observed the Sabbath day according to the commandments of God
. . . and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord . . .
Before the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he and his disciples honored the traditions of The Jews with the seventh day being the Sabbath. After his resurrection, however, Sunday became sacred as the Lord’s day because of his resurrection occurring on that day. Evidence of this is in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 were Sabbath day activates are recorded as commencing on “the first day of the week.”
From this time on, Jesus’ followers have appointed the first day of the week as their Sabbath. In either case we see six days of labor and one for rest and devotion towards God.
Even recently, The Lord has again repeated his commandment that we should remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
29 And the inhabitants of Zion shall also observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
The Sabbath is the Lord’s day, set apart each week for rest and worship. God’s covenant people have always observed the Sabbath every seventh day. Because the Sabbath is a holy day, it should be reserved for worthy and holy activities. Those who merely lounge about doing nothing on the Sabbath fail to keep the day holy. In a revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1831, the Lord commanded: “That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; for verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:9-10).
Blessing of Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.
Does the Lord love and bless those who keep the Sabbath day holy? I testify that he does in eternally meaningful ways. I further testify that when we eventually see things through the proper perspective of eternal truth, we will be amazed at how much we were blessed in important—though often unperceived—ways through keeping the Sabbath holy; and to our sorrow we may sense how many blessings we kept from ourselves by not consistently keeping the Sabbath day holy.
In the October conference of 1989 President Hinckley told of how the pioneer’s observed the
Sabbath. He said:
“On July 24, 1847, the pioneer company of our people came into this valley. An advance group had arrived a day or two earlier. Brigham Young arrived on Saturday. The next day, Sabbath services were held both in the morning and in the afternoon. There was no hall of any kind in which to meet. I suppose that in the blistering heat of that July Sunday they sat on the tongues of their wagons and leaned against the wheels while the Brethren spoke. The season was late, and they were faced with a gargantuan and immediate task if they were to grow seed for the next season. But President Young pleaded with them not to violate the Sabbath than or in the future”
I learned to observe the Sabbath day from my parents. I grew up on a large farm where we had animals to feed and care for, cows to milk, and vegetables to pick, harvest, and market. It would have been very easy for our family to break the Sabbath day. Although we attended to essential chores on Sunday—such as feeding the animals, milking the cows, and taking the water turns when they came—we never did farmwork on Sunday that could be done at other times during the week. Our tractors were turned off, and no plowing, planting, or cultivating were done on the Sabbath. We never hauled in the hay before a coming storm. My parents had a very simple philosophy: “The day we violate the Sabbath day and have to miss our Sunday meetings to care for the farm is the day we sell the farm.”
Observance of the Sabbath is not a restriction but a source of strength and protection
“turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy
day; and call the sabbath a delight”