Are police officers (and other emergency workers) allowed to work on the Sabbath?

    I am a Police Officer and I’m required to work Friday and Saturdays. I try to spend my downtime reading scripture and being mindful of Yahweh. But I understand it’s not exactly the way we are supposed to honor the Sabbath. What does one do in a situation like this where I don’t have the option of being off on the Sabbath?

   While we certainly respect our law enforcement, believers should not be working on the Sabbath. The same would also apply to those in the medical field. The only option is to receive a waiver or look for a position that would allow you to correctly observe the Sabbath.

It’s important to realize that the Sabbath is a sign between us and our Heavenly Father. In two places we find this confirmed:

“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am Yahweh that doth sanctify you” (Exodus 31:13).

“I am Yahweh your Elohim; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am Yahweh your Elohim” (Ezekiel 20:19-20).

The Sabbath is not only a sign solidifying our relationship with Yahweh, but it’s the only sign of this kind. In other words, no other command is called a “sign.” This honor is given only to the Sabbath. Therefore, when we work on the Sabbath we are not only breaking an important commandment but diminishing the relationship between us and Yahweh.

When it comes to work on the Sabbath, Yahweh is incredibly strict. Below are two examples:

“And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And Yahweh said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as Yahweh commanded Moses” (Numbers 15:32-36)

“Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And Yahweh said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that Yahweh hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:26-29).

In the above examples, Israel was punished for the breaking of the Sabbath. In the example of the man picking up sticks, based on the Hebrew, it’s possible the word “sticks” refers to lumber and referred to construction work. Regardless, both accounts show the seriousness of breaking the Sabbath.

It should also be remembered that the Sabbath is a day of rest, worship, and convocation (coming together), Exodus 20:8-11 and Leviticus 23:3. It’s also a day that we’re not to spend focused on our hobbies or pleasures outside of the Word. Isaiah 58:13 reads, “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 Yahweh’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.”

Some might question Yahshua the Messiah’s actions in the New Testament. The fact that He healed and said that it was okay to do good on the Sabbath, does this give those in critical, life-saving positions, the grace to break the Sabbath. While Yahshua certainly showed that it was permissible to do good on the Sabbath, these actions were not part of His employment and were done only when absolutely required. As believers, we should not be purposely pushing our “ox in a ditch.”

Even though law enforcement and medical staff serve important functions in society, this does not give believers a free pass to ignore the Sabbath, especially when there are many non-believers willing and able to do the work. This latter point is critically important to remember. The bottom line, Yahweh established the Sabbath in the beginning (Genesis 2:3) and it serves as a sign between Him and us.

We pray that you found this Q&A helpful, For more answers to common questions please visit the Q&A page.

For more information on the topic discussed here please check out our free Booklet on the issue.

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John AC Forster
John AC Forster

I find your answer to be in contrast to what Yahshua said and meant. You are taking the hard line position on this issue, in much the same way as HWA whom Yahweh has called the foolish shepherd. Today and even perhaps in the world tomorrow, aged people in nursing homes, the sick in hospitals, and yes even the police, protect and provide loving care. Even Yahshua admitted that the priests break the Sabbath, which clearly shows that those in these positions, should seek to get alternative Sabbaths off, rather than taking an unwise position. You need to rethink your… Read more »

Linda Giles
Linda Giles

This is indeed an interesting discussion; one I just had with my son. My daughter is a CNA and she is required to work every other Sabbath. So went our discussion. But a gentleman in the comments makes a valid point, so now I still have a question. What if one of us were in need of medical care and it was a Sabbath? Would we call 911? I am certain I would.

Eberhardt Huhn
Eberhardt Huhn

Matthew 7:5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Luke 7:9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Do you think that centurion worked on Sabbath? I’ll bet you that he did: “The centurion in the infantry is chosen for… Read more »