Sabbath Observance Myth Busters #1 Sabbath Afternoon Naps

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As Seventh-day Adventists continue celebrating the 150th anniversary of our name, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the Sabbath we observe and how we observe it. It must be important because it is in our name. The fourth commandment tells us to remember the Sabbath. Most of the world has forgotten it and thus has forgotten its Creator. Our name reminds the world that we have a Creator. However many myths exist about Sabbath keeping. Many times we have instituted our own traditions because we did not realize the true spirit of the Sabbath. This month I would like to address some of the myths about Sabbath keeping. I am in no way pretending to be an expert on Sabbath observance. I am only sharing what I feel to be true. If you disagree, please feel free to comment and say why. This blog covers myth number one.

Myth # 1: Sabbath is a time for sleeping all afternoon.

For years Adventist families have tried to abstain from doing things that would break the Sabbath, by just sleeping right through it. They figure you can’t do something wrong as long as you are asleep. Wrong! The Sabbath is a day for activity.

“…and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:10-12 NIV.


So the Sabbath is a day for doing good. We see this same thought expressed in Isaiah 58:13-14.

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
       and from doing as you please on my holy day,
       if you call the Sabbath a delight
       and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
       and if you honor it by not going your own way
       and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
       and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
       and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
       The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Growing up I heard these verses used to tell us that we should not just do as we please in worldly talk or entertainment on the Sabbath, but as you read all of Isaiah 58 you get the broader meaning. God is talking about people who are breaking the Sabbath by going to church and Sabbath School! That’s right! They go to church and debate theology in the Sabbath school and then they go to fellowship lunch and sit with their friends talking their own idle words, while they ignore the stranger at the next table. God tells His people that true Sabbath keeping is doing good to others, and helping the stranger and less fortunate. God gave us the tithing system to help us systematically overcome our selfishness with money, and He gave us the Sabbath to help us systematically overcome selfishness with our time. Please keep in mind that even though Jesus did good He also needed rest from time to time.

I am not saying the Bible teaches we should not sleep at all on the Sabbath or even visit with friends and family. I just believe it is more than just that. As in all things there is a balance.

“None should feel at liberty to spend sanctified time in an unprofitable manner. It is displeasing to God for Sabbathkeepers to sleep during much of the Sabbath. They dishonor their Creator in so doing, and, by their example, say that the six days are too precious for them to spend in resting. They must make money, although it be by robbing themselves of needed sleep, which they make up by sleeping away holy time. They then excuse themselves by saying: “The Sabbath was given for a day of rest. I will not deprive myself of rest to attend meeting, for I need rest.” Such make a wrong use of the sanctified day. They should, upon that day especially, interest their families in its observance and assemble at the house of prayer with the few or with the many, as the case may be. They should devote their time and energies to spiritual exercises, that the divine influence resting upon the Sabbath may attend them through the week. Of all the days in the week, none are so favorable for devotional thoughts and feelings as the Sabbath.” {Counsels to the Church p. 270.4}



  1. No, I think you fulfilled the “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”. Someone who was not familiar with the Sabbath and maybe not even God was in need of help, and it helped you establish a connection, a friendship with them, that could have blossomed into an opportunity to share Jesus with them at a later time.


  2. Ditto. Helping is doing good, no matter what form “helping” takes. You did nothing to “increase” yourself. What you did was to honor God’s love for all his children.


  3. doing good on the sabbath is always right. one might follow up with a nice loaf of homemade bread and a simple tract about your beliefs with an invite to a church fun time program like vespers and game nite.


    1. Illuminating post indeed. When I try to click the link for sabbath activities it leads nowhere. Is it still working?


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