Every time I read Scripture passages about keeping the Sabbath, I am convinced of the need to evaluate how we can be more obedient to this commandment in our present day and culture. Author Dan P. Allender wrestled with the same question and has presented his findings in a book simply entitled Sabbath.
Allender begins with a few well-grounded arguments. First of all, honoring the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, and yet it is the commandment most readily brushed aside. We treat it as if it is disposable. Secondly, Sabbath, like every other aspect of our faith, is not legitimate if it is suffocated by legalistic rules. Finally, most of us in Western society do not truly know how to rest and find true pleasure in life. Yet reality is that we are all desperately in need of true, regular rest.
Allender’s opinion regarding what Sabbath is, however, is shaky. He argues that because God did not truly require rest after creation, the word “rest” used in both Genesis and in the Ten Commandments must mean something more. (Note: There is no discussion of original language in Allender’s book – only the interpretation of the English word “rest” in these passages.) According to his interpretation, Sabbath “rest” means discovering the true depth of God’s grace through ultimate delight and pleasure. His perspective is not at all backed up Biblically. Although he does scatter Scripture passages throughout the sections entitled “Sabbath Purpose” and “Sabbath Performance,” they are not references that truly deal with the Sabbath in context.
Because his conclusions are personal opinion rather than being grounded in the Word of God, very few of Allender’s references to observation of the Sabbath involve direct communion with God Himself. There is a sense that we are to be indirectly connected with Him through nature, food, communion with other people, music, the arts, etc. But, direct interaction with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is almost discouraged as if it is too legalistic and unnatural for us.
One finally issue I take with Sabbath is that there is very little practical application. Allender presents several questions regarding the practicalities of the Sabbath such as when it should be observed, for how long, and in what specific manner. But, through the course of the book he does not directly answer any of these questions. He provides little more than vague reference to how he and his wife observe the Sabbath.
Ultimately, while reading Sabbath does give insight into the Emergent Church Movement, I would not recommend this book as a tool for learning more about a Biblical approach to the Sabbath. I am, however, more motivated to prayerfully search Scripture to determine how my family can truly be faithfully obedient to the fourth commandment.
This book was sent to me by BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.