April 9, 2024

What Does it Mean to Desecrate the Sabbath?

Exodus 31:14
You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people.


Sarah Blount

Lead Pastor

What does it mean to profane, defile, violate, or desecrate the Sabbath and why was the penalty for profaning the Sabbath death?

To profane the Sabbath means to negate it or to treat it like any other day.

In Exodus 31 God has just finished giving Moses very detailed blueprints for the construction of the Tabernacle. The Israelites are to make the Tabernacle in the same way that God engaged in making the world. Just as God rested on the seventh day of creation, he commanded the Israelites to rest from their work every seventh day. Even though they had a beautiful Tabernacle to get to work on, they were not to negate the Sabbath by treating it like any other work day.

This is not the first time the Israelites were commanded to keep the Sabbath day. Remember in Exodus chapter 20 when God gives his chosen people the Ten Commandments? The fourth commandment is about remembering the Sabbath, and it takes up more textual landscape than any of the other commands. If the Ten Commandments were a pie chart, the command to Sabbath would take up thirty percent of said pie chart. There is more detail about remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy, than any other command. Why does God care about this day of rest so much?

The Jewish religion has many special rituals and traditions, but the Sabbath is the only ritual we find in the Ten Commandments. This almost surely means that the Sabbath is the most important ritual in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and therefore in the Jewish religion. (Prager)

It’s been said that more than any other Jewish ritual, the Sabbath (or Shabbat) has preserved the Jewish people. Wow. That is very powerful to contemplate when considering everything the Jewish community has endured throughout the ages.

The commandment to remember and keep the Sabbath holy is the only command with a reason tied to it. God didn’t want this day of rest to be an empty ritual, he wanted all who obeyed to know the reason behind why they were to rest from all work for 24 hours each week.

We can infer many reasons of our own- rest is good, time to connect with family and friends is good, but the monumental reason God gives is found in Exodus 20:11. God says no one is allowed to work on the seventh day because in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

The monumental reason for the Sabbath was to announce every week that God created the world, and just as He rested from his work on the Seventh Day, so do we.

The 7-day week that the world lives by is unrelated to the movement of the sun or the moon. Each 24-hour day corresponds to one complete rotation of the earth on its axis. Each month corresponds to one cycle of the moon’s phases. But, the 7-day week is rooted in the supernatural, in God’s creation of the world. By observing the Sabbath every seven days, the Israelites were affirming the existence of a God who is above nature and who created it. The Sabbath is a weekly public announcement that God created the world.

Resting on the Sabbath not only affirmed God created the world, it also affirmed that Israelites were free people, solely because God liberated them. While they were slaves in Egypt they could not rest once a week, but God brought them out of slavery and into His rest.

In keeping the Sabbath, the Jewish people also affirm they have a covenantal relationship with God. Before the Ten Commandments were given, circumcision served as the sign of covenant. But circumcision was not unique to the Jews; it has been practiced all over the world. And while circumcision does remain a major cornerstone in Judaism, it the the Sabbath that serves as the chief sign of the unique relationship between God and Israel. Also important to note, circumcision only applied to males, the Sabbath applies to men and women. And, circumcision is a one-time act, while the Sabbath was to be observed weekly. Meaning a seventy-year-old Jew has spent ten years observing the Sabbath! Ten years spent doing anything will certainly have a significant impact on your life.

The Sabbath affirmed God as creator of the world, as the great liberator of his people, and served as a sign of the covenant. This special day distinguished Israel from all other nations. So important was its observance that any Israelite who failed to observe it by working instead of entering into God’s rest died

Those who did not keep the Sabbath were negating God as Creator, profaning God as Liberator, and desecrating God’s covenant sign.

One commentator notes, that by not keeping the Sabbath, the Israelite was showing that he or she was not interested in 'know[ing] that I am the LORD.’
What does this mean for New Covenant People? Should we obey the command to Sabbath? If you believe, as I do, that the Ten Commandments should serve as the basic moral code for every civilization, then yes, your week would include some form of the Sabbath. But it’s important to remember that Jesus taught that we were not made to serve the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made to serve us. It’s a gift, like 52 “snow days” every year!

A 24-hour weekly retreat from work and the world has been one of the most life-giving practices for our family. There is something so sacred about slowing down each week and declaring God is the Creator of the world, our Liberator from sin, death, health, and the grave and receiving the body and blood together as we remember the new covenant together in communion.

Our increasingly godless world needs people who will observe the Sabbath- and invite others to celebrate it with them. Consider this your invitation.

Exodus - God, Slavery and Freedom by Dennis Prager
Dr. Constable’s Expository Bible Study Notes
The Life With God Bible Message on Sabbath

· 5 min read
What is a Kinsman Redeemer?

The book of Ruth is a fascinating and enthralling narrative - one drawing us into the story of redemption and the grafting of Gentiles into the family of God. It begins with the family of Naomi, an Israelite woman who finds herself in a tough situation, as both her sons and husband pass away. Left with no family, and in a foreign land, Naomi decides to leave the country of Moab and head back to Bethlehem. She heard the LORD had come to the aid of her people in Bethlehem by providing food and decided to make the journey back home with her daughters-in-law.


Tonderai Bassoppo-Moyo

Associate Pastor

· 6 min read
What Are We Looking For in the Tabernacle?

The construction of the tabernacle found in Exodus can be one of those sections of scripture that can be easy for us to simply skim through, as a new covenant believing American Gentile. We are thousands of years removed from the culture, tools, materials, and measurements. What does acacia wood look like? How many feet are in a cubit? I didn’t even know you could weave thread from goat hair. Furthermore, the significance of the fixtures and furniture commanded by God to be constructed for consecration and worship are incredibly alien to us who worship God in renovated buildings with screens and speakers. In light of all this, we tend to exegete, or interpret the meaning or application of these chapters in Scripture, in one of two ways:


David Terry

Executive Worship Pastor