There was a time when many in the Christian world were opposed to the Ten Commandments in general. And there was a time when many in Christendom were opposed to the Sabbath commandment in particular. Author Robert Morris, the senior pastor of Gateway Church, a multicampus church in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, indicates a change in sentiment. “Right in our New Testament, the author of Hebrews declares that a Sabbath rest is ‘still waiting for the people of God.’ . . . That means there currently is a rest that you and I can and should enter” (7, 8). “I had come to the realization that honoring the Sabbath is on the same list as not killing people. There is no logical or biblical reason to honor one and disregard the other” (12). “God declares the observance of the Sabbath to be a ‘perpetual covenant.’ Perpetual means there’s no expiration date on it” (97).
Morris elevates the healthful benefit of the Sabbath, sharing how goal-oriented and success-driven ministry led him to the brink of collapse, to be saved only by the good news of the Sabbath. “Our good, gracious, loving Father God designated the Sabbath for good. He wants us to enjoy it. Rest is part of God’s good plan for you. A Master Designer created you that way” (25). “One of the powerful and important aspects of a full day of unplugged, disconnected, undistracted Sabbath rest is that you can actually hear God” (144, 145). “Look again at the promises of the Lord regarding the Sabbath—provision, abundance, refreshing, wisdom—and remember that He gave you this day as a gift” (147).
Morris touches on the Creation aspect of the Sabbath. “God had very explicitly commanded that the seventh day of the week be set aside for rest because He rested from His creative labors after the sixth day. . . . The Seventh-day Adventist denomination felt so strongly about it, they put it right there in their name!” (19). Yet Morris stops short of endorsing the seventh-day Sabbath. He actually states, “It doesn’t matter what day of the week that is. I picked Monday as my weekly Sabbath” (20). I believe Morris has embarked upon a journey of truth and God has not finished with him, or any of us, yet.
Indeed, Morris affirms the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. “It seems we often act as if we believe that we should keep nine out of the Ten Commandments. For some reason, the fourth is the only one that we think we can freely ignore without incurring negative consequences for ourselves and others. We say, ‘That’s legalism! That’s not for today.’ As I learned, the wisdom embodied in God’s fourth commandment is for today” (12). If Morris continues his study of the Sabbath, he may yet follow on to see the beauty of the seventh-day Sabbath uniquely calling us to remember Christ as Lord through His creation.
Take the Day Off: Receiving God’s Gift of Rest is a wonderful example of new Sabbath insights being made by Christians from different backgrounds. But the undoubted strength of the book lies in the author’s transparency regarding his pastoral stress. Light for his path lay in a willingness to admit he may not have it all together and an openness to receive new truth. The book contains an unintended illustration of this.
Morris enumerates that between 500,000 and 670,000 Americans died between 1918 and 1920 in the Spanish flu pandemic. He then says, “Thankfully, in the century since those terrifying days, science and technology have gone a long way toward eliminating those kinds of appalling death tolls by disease” (xvi). The book was published in 2019. Little did Morris know that COVID-19 was just around the corner. Truly, “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18, MEV). Light for our path lies in a willingness to admit we may not have it all together and an openness to receive new truth.