God commands His people to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8). Every seventh day of the week, God gives us a test as to how well we will obey this command. Obedience to this law and observing the Sabbath correctly will bring innumerable blessings and immense joy into your life.
In Mark 2:27, Jesus Christ said that the Sabbath was made for man! God created the Sabbath for you! When our loving Father creates something for His children, every aspect of it is designed to greatly benefit the recipients. God created and gave mankind His Sabbath to keep them in true knowledge and true worship of the one and only true God!
This subject is of the utmost importance to our Creator. God’s Sabbath was never done away with, as many believe. It is a perpetual, or everlasting, covenant between God and His obedient people (Exodus 31:12-17).
The proper observance of the holy Sabbath day identifies who and where the true, omnipotent Creator God is! It also shows where and who His people are! Astounding! Keeping the Sabbath the way God designed it to be kept will identify you as a follower and a specially-chosen servant of the Creator of the universe (Exodus 31:12-17).
Each week as the Sabbath begins we enter into God’s holy time! He tells us that the Sabbath is His holy day in Leviticus 23:2-3 and Isaiah 58:13. He instructs His people to honor it and keep the Sabbath holy.
“We honor God by keeping holy those things that He has made holy!” wrote Mr. Armstrong in Which Day is the Christian Sabbath? This is why it’s utterly vital that we observe this day the way God commands. We must continually strive to avoid interjecting our own thoughts and reasoning into our Sabbath observance. The creator and designer of the Sabbath did not leave it for us to decide how or even when we would like to observe the Sabbath. He tells us how He wants it observed in the Bible! God’s people must strive to follow these specific instructions to properly keep the Sabbath. Jesus Christ said in Mark 2:28, “the son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Christ is the Lord of and also the creator of the Sabbath, therefore Christ determines the rules and the guidelines for how to observe it (Colossians 1:13-16; John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9).
A Holy Convocation
One essential guideline of proper Sabbath observance as outlined by Jesus Christ, is our attendance at weekly Sabbath services. “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation ; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings” (Leviticus 23:3). God created the Sabbath as a rest, but not only a rest. The seventh day is also a holy convocation for God’s people.
Mr. Armstrong explained: “[A ]n holy convocation here in Leviticus 23:3 means a commanded assembly, at which our presence is commanded” (ibid). The New Webster’s Lexicon Dictionary defines convocation this way: A calling together … an assembly of representatives, an ecclesiastical or academic assembly. Furthermore, the Moffatt translation renders a holy convocation as a sacred gathering.
God instructs His people here in Leviticus 23 that they are to obediently assemble together on the Sabbath every week. It is a commanded assembly. These weekly services are an important aspect in God’s design of proper Sabbath observance. This Bible passage counters the belief in being a “stay at home” or “loner” Christian. God laid out the method for how one ought to worship Him.
Christ’s example also disproves this “loner Christian” belief. “And he [Christ] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16). Then, verse 31, “And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.” It was Jesus Christ’s custom to regularly attend Sabbath services. Any custom or habit of Christ is one that we must seek to follow (1 Peter 2:21). He lived a perfect life—that included His Sabbath observance. This example of Sabbath observance, from the Lord of the Sabbath Himself, is recorded in the Bible for a reason! He lived it for us to follow. In Acts 13:14, 17:1-2 and 18:1-4, we see that the apostles followed this example, as does God’s true Church today.
A Day of Instruction
This brings us to an important and vital purpose for Sabbath services: to be taught and instructed by God. As the living Head of His Church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:23), Jesus Christ is teaching and educating His people in truth—much of this is done during weekly Sabbath services (Luke 4:16). Christ’s custom of teaching and educating on the Sabbath day continues today. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Christ still teaches His Church on the Sabbath in this present day!
God’s use of the Sabbath day to instruct man began with the first Sabbath after man’s creation. “It is evident that the Eternal (who, in human flesh later became Christ) first preached to man on the first Sabbath. Adam was created on the sixth day of creation week. Evidently he was created in the late afternoon, since the creation of man was the last act of creation on that day. When the sun had set, immediately after Adam’s creation, God preached to him, offering him the gift of eternal life (through the tree of life), and warning that the wages of sin is death (Genesis 2:15-17)” (Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?). This is a wonderful truth revealed in your Bible!
God’s Sabbath services can be likened to weekly training sessions that enable the body of Christ to be educated and grow in God’s way. This is exactly what Christ began with Adam and Eve thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden.
Today, Christ teaches His Church every Sabbath through His ministers, who are given for the perfecting of the saints and edifying of the body (Ephesians 4:11-13). The word edifying in this passage means to “build up.” Christ uses and directs His ministers in the building up of God’s people. One major aspect of this process is the instruction received on the Sabbath.
Peter admonished the brethren to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). God’s people grow by being fed spiritually, and that is the purpose of weekly Sabbath services. The messages given each Sabbath day are for our spiritual growth. We desperately need this instruction, every week, so we can grow. If at all possible, converted Christians must attend these crucial Sabbath gatherings. These messages help us build the character of God! Sabbath services are vital for our spiritual development!
Every week when you congregate together for Sabbath services, you come into God’s divine presence. You show God that you want to receive His divinely-inspired messages designed to help you become God! That is one astounding purpose why God commands us to attend each week. The living Christ uses His ministers to teach His people, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13, New King James Version). That is a glorious purpose.
Exhort One Another
Another vital reason for Sabbath services is Christian fellowship. God’s people need contact with like-minded individuals to remain strong and steadfast in the faith. Once a week, God’s people have a wonderful opportunity to experience spiritual strengthening through true Christian fellowship.
As Paul wrote to the brethren, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). Paul warns the brethren not to neglect meeting together—apparently, some in the congregation were. Paul admonished them to come together so they could exhort one another. He told them they would need to do this even more frequently as Christ’s return draws near. This admonishment and instruction is for us today. Do we not see the day approaching? Contact with God’s people is a source of strength; if we neglect this contact, we will weaken spiritually.
We must live by the Apostle Paul’s instruction today and assemble together often. Then, when gathered together, set your mind to encouraging and strengthening other members of the body.
Paul also wrote, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (verse 24). One way to do this is to fellowship on God’s Sabbath day. Every week, God’s Spirit works in His people who are gathered together in true Christian fellowship. This is another tool God uses to build the body of Christ!
When Should We NOT Attend Services
It is important to always use wisdom in attending Sabbath services. Certainly in the event of illness or severe, dangerous weather, it is wise not to attend services. In fact, if we or our children are sick, God commands that we not attend services. (Study The Plain Truth About Healing for more information.)
Also, because there are so few in God’s faithful remnant today, many of God’s people live great distances from a local congregation. This makes regular attendance difficult. The finances required to travel such distances to weekly services must also be considered. (It would be wise to counsel about your personal circumstances with the minister assigned to your area, before making a final decision.)
Circumstances may not allow an individual to attend on a regularly; however, God evaluates our attitude toward this commanded assembly. Whenever possible, we need to attend Sabbath services. Remember the example that Christ set for us. Sabbath services are a part of our keeping the Sabbath holy and worshiping on this day as directed by God.
Blessings for Obedience
When we obey God’s command to assemble on the Sabbath, God promises us tremendous rewards. “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:14).
God also promises that if we do not pollute His Sabbath and we keep it as He commands, we will inherit an everlasting name (Isaiah 56:2-5). Our name will be better than that of sons or daughters because we will be the Bride of Christ. (For more information, read Gerald Flurry’s book, Isaiah’s End-Time Vision.)
When we obey the guidelines set by the Lord of the Sabbath for proper Sabbath observance, God promises to shower these wonderful blessings upon us. This is an absolute promise from the Creator of the universe!
Could we ignore the great God when He summons us together on the Sabbath? Each and every week the Sabbath comes. Each and every week we have the opportunity to express our obedience and love to God, by responding to the divine order to assemble together at Sabbath services!