“The Sabbath Was Made for Man:” Global Perspectives on Sabbath-keeping

The Sabbath is central to Seventh-day Adventists; in fact, it is so important that it is part of our name! From the very beginning of time, God set the Sabbath apart as a day of rest and restoration: physical, mental, and especially, spiritual. When Jesus spoke on this topic, He emphasized what a gift the Sabbath is, saying, “…The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27, KJV). God knew how busy we would become and how desperately we would need time to reconnect and refocus. How do you feel about the Sabbath? Does it help you to deal with stress? Are you glad you received this gift? Let us explore how Adventist church members worldwide feel about the Sabbath.

Blog May 18, 2022

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Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. KJVAnd God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.(Genesis 2:1–3, KJV)

The Sabbath doctrine is central to Seventh-day Adventists; in fact, it is so important that it is part of our name! We see that, from the very beginning of time, God set the Sabbath apart as a day of rest and restoration: physical, mental, and especially, spiritual. When Jesus spoke on this topic, He emphasized what a gift the Sabbath is, saying, “…The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27, KJV). Our omniscient God knew how busy mankind would become and how desperately we would need time to reconnect and refocus.

The True Sabbath

The 2017–18 Global Church Member Survey asked members around the world how strongly they agreed with the statement, “The true Sabbath is the seventh day (Saturday).” In all world Divisions, almost all church members (96.6%) agreed to one degree or another with this statement. The remaining three percent included those who had doubts or disagreed. Respondents in the Euro-Asia Division were most in agreement (99.6%), while respondents in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division were least in agreement (90.3%); however, they had also broken the 90% ceiling.

2017-18 GCMS Q42.14, Total n= 57187, ECD n= 7220, ESD n=2092, EUD n=3738, IAD n=4452, NAD n=1693, NSD n=2756, SAD n=14033, SID n=5003, SPD n=3118, SSD n=6874, SUD n=2828, TED n=1190, WAD n=2190


Overall, it is encouraging that most members worldwide cling tightly to the central Adventist doctrine of the seventh-day Sabbath.

Keeping Priorities Straight

2017–18 GCMS respondents were also asked to respond to the statement, “Keeping Sabbath helps me understand what is important to me.” While there was a strong agreement with this statement worldwide (91.4%), survey respondents in the Euro-Asia Division (96.0%) were most likely to agree with this statement. Respondents in the Southern Asia Division (72.4%), Southern Asia-Pacific Division (85.0%), and North American Division (88.9%) were least likely to feel that the Sabbath gave them clarity on their priorities and what is important. Nevertheless, a strong majority in these Divisions also agreed.

2017-18 GCMS Q38.4, Total n= 57768, ECD n= 7159, ESD n=2104, EUD n=3718, IAD n=4632, NAD n=1743, NSD n=2829, SAD n=14221, SID n=4981, SPD n=3140, SSD n=6874, SUD n=2862, TED n=1227, WAD n=2278


Sabbath Helps with Stress

Finally, GCMS 2017–18 respondents were asked to what degree keeping Sabbath helped with stress. Overall, most respondents (87.7%) agreed that if one faithfully keeps the Sabbath, he/she is better able to cope with the stresses of the week. Members in the East-Central Africa Division (92.1%) and West-Central Africa Division (91.6%) most agreed to one degree or another with this statement. Interestingly, only two-thirds (66.8%) of respondents in the Southern Asia Division agreed that faithfully keeping Sabbath helped them manage stress better; this number is much lower than all of the other world Divisions.

2017-18 GCMS Q38.1, Total n= 58169, ECD n= 7157, ESD n=2099, EUD n=3721, IAD n=4646, NAD n=1744, NSD n=2844, SAD n=14526, SID n=5005, SPD n=3161, SSD n=6874, SUD n=2881, TED n=1227, WAD n=2284


Thus, the research shows that although there is overwhelming support for the Sabbath doctrine worldwide, it differs from place to place. Church members in some Divisions experience some difficulties in practical application of this belief and do not fully experience its blessings. 

When we faithfully keep the Sabbath, we can see positive fruit in our lives: we might be more rested and less stressed, we might have better relationships with our family, or we might enjoy nature more. However, the biggest benefit of true Sabbath observance is that we are simply given a weekly opportunity to bathe in the goodness and wonder of our God . . . and it doesn’t get any better than that!

To learn more information on the Sabbath and Sabbath-keeping in the Adventist Church, see the Division Reports on our website.

Here are some of our previous blogs that cover the subject:


Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry

Published by ASTR on 05-18-2022