I am often asked this question by sincere Christians. Their inquiry stems from their personal interactions with the Holy Scriptures where, at least for the Israelites, ongoing Shabbat observance seems to be presumed. However, usually Christians do not ask the Jewish Shabbat question (How must I keep Shabbat?) but rather they ask the Christian Shabbat question (On which day must I worship?).

These concerns are caused by the western mindset that prizes the corporate (joined) worship that occurs for most Christians one day per week, usually on Sundays. Coming out of this mindset, a Christian logically asks on which day he or she must worship to be pleasing to God in Christ: Sunday or Saturday? For a Jew, however, even for the one steeped in western culture, this is never the question. For the Jew, “corporate” worship is an everyday practice and not a once-per-week occurrence. A Jew prays a lengthy set of prayers 3 times per day, often in the company of other Jews. This is why observant Jews wouldn’t drive to a place of worship 15-40 minutes away (as most Christians do), but would only attend something local. Not only must the synagogue be reached by foot on Shabbat (when driving is off limits), but it also must be very near for everyday community functions.

On Shabbat, Jews engage in some worship activities which differ from regular daily worship, but most prominently, they cease from the creative life in which they engage during the rest of the week. (For example, a Jew can read but must not write on Shabbat, charging his or her creative strengths to be unleashed during the six days of work). This central Jewish idea of the once-per week physical, emotional, and psychological rest is almost completely absent in Christian practice, where emphasis is placed on worship.

Committed and involved Christians often come out of Sunday feeling physically tired from one or two services and possibly even a church related function. Obviously, this description is not at all universal and does not apply to all Christian practice, but I think it is a fair characterization of the general tendency in Christian communities. The words of Jesus that, “a man is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is made for a man” (Mark 2:27) would then make perfect sense in their own Jewish context. (For my thoughts regarding Gentile Christian observance of the Feasts of the Lord, please, click here).

Humans, for thousands of years, divided times and seasons differently. The week as a period of time did not always exist, and a week did not always contain seven days. The seven-day week was one of the great gifts that was established by the God of Israel and given by the divine-human culture of Israel to the entire world. That is to say, whether the Christian worships corporately with others on the first day of the week (Sunday) or on the seventh (Saturday), he or she already worships in accordance with the Jewish seven-days-per-week cycle, with or without recognizing it.

Obviously, there is a lot more to this discussion, but this is where any responsible thinking should begin.



  1. "a week did not always contain seven days"
    Great observation. The naturally-occurring and easily observable spans of time would be daylight, dark, a "day", half-month, month, and year.
    I suppose a quarter-month might be observed and correlated to a seven-day cycle, but there would be no reason to do so.
    • I mean "no reason to do so" except if we were told by someone (YHVH) to make special recognition of that span of time (a repeating seven day "week"). Thus, his people were set apart from the worshipers of creation who did not acknowledge him.
  2. God set aside a day as a remembrance that He is our Creator. He commanded we share that Day of Rest with Him as a Holy day. He picked the 24 hour period and said it was to be celebrated every 7th day. Jesus kept the same day. Never changed.
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  3. It shouldn't matter what faith or religion anyone is. God created Shabbat and all who descend from the first human Adam, should honor the Creator's day of rest.
  4. It's time to build the Third Temple so Father can come home and tell us himself. The High Priest will give one answer, and the world will know. Have you read 1 Sam 2:35? You have just heard from the Faithful Preist. Still waiting on Elijah, though. Rev 11.
    • I see nowhere in the Bible where it actually says there will be a third temple built? I do read in Ezekiel about the rebuilding of the temple, which Ezra and Nehemiah did?? No, did they not? Far as I know there is no need of another temple?

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    • Jesus is the Temple. There will be no need to rebuild the earlthly temple and begin sacrifices again. Jesus was and is the only acceptable sacrifice for sins. The entire OT points us to Jesus (road to Emmaus) and tells of the coming sacrifice/temple on earth....our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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  5. Todos los días debemos vivir para Dios, el señor dijo venid a mi los trabajos y cargados y yo los haré descansar. Quien acepto a Cristo entro en el descanso verdadero. Todos los días son para él.

    Every day we must live for God, the Lord said come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give them rest. Who accepted Christ entered into true rest. Every day is for him.
  6. JESUS said, the sabbath is for man, NOT man for the sabbath. We can work ANY six days, and Sunday is NOT the first day of the week. This is based on jesus rising on Sunday, but there was an extra sabbath that week and Jesus rose OVERNIGHT Saturday.
    • Hi Bernie, thank you for posting. So, you wrote that Sunday is not the first day of the week (about which Merriam-Webster would disagree). Did you mean to say that the resurrection was not on Sunday? Anyway, thank you for reading the article!

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    • Although it may not be clear which day of the week Jesus was crucified, it is clear from Scripture that Jesus was first seen on the first day of the week, early dawn, by the women; later that same day, by the disciples on the way to Emmaus, also by Simon Peter (Luke 24:1,13,36) Several witnesses see Him and recorded by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, on the first day of the week. Resurrection , even if the evening or sometime during the night, still seems to be first day of the week, reckoning by Jewish time keeping. I really do not understand how a sabbath resurrection makes sense Scripturally.

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    • Jesus was placed in the tomb late on the Passover with the next day being the First day of Unleavened Bread an Annual Sabbath. The next day the women purchased and prepared their spices. Then rested on the weekly Sabbath. Raised before Sunset on the Sabbath. NOT ON 1st day

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  7. Great article. Hashem is worshipped everyday, including Sunday.

    Problem is with Christians who don’t rest on the Sabbath. It is sometimes easy to forget that Yeshua gave the Sabbath to man (meaning all, not exclusively to Jews) for resting.
  8. Shalom Dr Eli

    Allow me to ask the correct question. How must I keep the Sabbath? Today, I went to church with the purpose of worshiping Hashem, but I came home exhausted. I did not experience rest.

    • The Bible says to rest from all forms of work on the seventh day, and to focus on God as our Creator and Redeemer. This can take many forms, like strolling outdoors, studying the Bible together or enjoying a festive meal, but this is the Spirit of the Sabbath.

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    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with Exodus and The New Testament or The Stories of the Jewish Christ: First Century Diversity. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!
    • We know that Jesus went to synagogue on sabbath, that He taught on that day, that He cast out unclean spirits, that He healed , that He walked and talked, that He was served after healing Peter’s mother in law, meaning she served on the sabbath ( assuming food) . We know that those who served the synagogue , ie priests were considered to be working but excused for doing so. Maybe they took a different day to not work? For some people, being in a social gathering is exhausting, for whatever reason. If you are among people all week, perhaps a more individual time with God would be more refreshing. Yet a “body” is a corporate thing, as Paul explains it. We are called to corporate fellowship at some point in the week. We need the encouragement of interacting with other believers. Or possibly, the time is too lengthy. It doesn’t seem possible to centre our whole week around group prayers in a meeting place in western society, as Dr Eli describes in Jewish life. As he says in his article, we are to worship every day, of course! And our work is also worship. In Ezekiel, the temple servers are said to not wear wool so they won’t sweat. To me, that is a symbol of working in rest, not striving. We are to follow Christ’s example in that. We are to rest in the knowledge He has assured our salvation through His work. We can then do our work without striving Or worry. Maybe the question to ask the Holy Spirit, what aspect of this day is exhausting to me and why? What could I change to make it restful? He will meet you in a compassionate way to address your need. The whole purpose of a day of rest though is to be refreshed, not exhausted.

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