Everyone loves gifts. We all love giving and receiving them.
Have you ever received something made especially for you? You probably kept it safe and treated it with great care. You likely didn’t hide it; you were happy to display it.
Why was that gift so special? Because someone was thinking of you and put forth the energy to create something just for you! They thought of something that you could especially enjoy. Not only are such gifts especially cherished, but they make the person who made it for you more special to you.
God has made many things for man to enjoy. He re-created the Earth to sustain human life. His thoughtfulness didn’t stop there. Mark 2:27 tells us of another thing the Creator made specifically for you: “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
God made the Sabbath for man—or humankind. God didn’t create the Sabbath first and then man came along later and had to learn how to fit in to that special time frame. God made man; then said, What I am about to make is FOR YOU!
Do you treat this gift like other things made especially for you? Do you cherish it, treat it with care, display it for all to see? Does it make the gift-giver—God—more special to you, because He was thinking of you specifically when He created it?
Or do you find it hard to accept the Sabbath as a “gift”?
Imagine being on the giving side of a handmade gift, and you expend all this creative care and thought only to find that the person you gave it to just pretended to be excited about the gift; now it sits in the back of his or her closet or, worse, in the garbage bin.
How would that make you feel? How does God feel about the way you cherish, keep and guard His special gift to you? Do you count down the minutes until the Sabbath is over? Or, do you count down the minutes until the Sabbath starts? We all need to see the Sabbath as a special gift that benefits our lives. We get this gift every week!
Neglecting the Sabbath is one of the biggest temptations of teens in God’s Church. It can seem a burden to teens, an obstacle in their week, a point of controversy and perhaps even embarrassment among their friends.
How is the Sabbath a blessing? How is it a benefit? Let’s see how the Sabbath truly is a great gift from our Creator God!
Genesis 2:3 says, God “blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” The word blessed can also mean to praise, celebrate or adore. This was to be an especially exciting day!
He also rested on this day and sanctified it, or set it apart for holy use. The seventh day became holy because God’s presence was in that day.
Exodus 16:29 states, “… the Lord hath given you the Sabbath.” It was a gift, a day given to God’s people for rest.
God commands us to work the other six days of the week (Exodus 20:9), giving us six days to do what we want to do. Then He commands us to rest on the seventh as a blessing for all of the work we have done the other six days.
Exodus 31:13 says, “[M]y sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” A sign identifies. The Sabbath identifies us as God’s people, setting us apart from the world, making us holy.
Here are three benefits from the Sabbath, outlined in this verse:
1. It identifies us as God’s people. Perhaps you don’t think of that as a benefit, especially when the teenager’s tendency is to try not to stand out as different. Hopefully you are learning, however, what a joy it is to know God’s way of life. As you will see, being on God’s side when it comes to this command brings marvelous rewards.
2. It sets us apart to make us holy and more like God. What an amazing Being created us. He is so loving, merciful, kind and powerful. Who would not want to become more like God?
3. It helps us to know God. God becomes more real to us when we observe the Sabbath properly.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in the May 1967 Plain Truth: “We don’t see God! We are far more prone to get out of contact with God, whom we don’t see …. Having our minds and interests too closely on material cares, duties, interests—unaccompanied with sufficient prayer, and Bible study, becomes a form of idolatry—putting material things before God.”
In that paragraph Mr. Armstrong gave us another benefit:
4. The Sabbath helps rid us of materialism. When we observe the Sabbath, it helps us keep our minds focused on God and the things of God instead of the cares of this world—which fade and pass away. That leads to another benefit:
5. The Sabbath gives us understanding of God’s mind and thoughts. You have access to this great mind of God, the Creator of everything from the colossally large majestic universe to the infinitesimally small sub-atomic world.
“Proper Sabbath-keeping helps us think like God!” editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in A Living Hope. “We labor spiritually on the Sabbath to etch this vision into our minds. … If we don’t keep the Sabbath properly, we’ll never think like God, we will never be able to complete the job He has given us. … We must always keep ourselves focused and thinking like God. The Sabbath is the primary way to do that in the week, as it gives us more time to do the spiritual work that keeps us looking to God and looking toward the future. It fill us with His hopeful vision.”
There is another benefit:
6. The Sabbath gives us a vision of the future, where we can see a rest from all peer pressure and persecution from this world. Also, we can understand the purpose for man’s existence.
7. The Sabbath gives us a different perspective of time.
We need this gift every week so we don’t get stuck in this present evil world. “Have a bad Sabbath and you’ll have a bad week. Have a good Sabbath and you’ll think of 1,000 years as a day!” (ibid.).
Exodus 31:17 states: “[F]or in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” What a benefit it is to have a day set apart to be refreshed. God was inspired and encouraged by the way He kept the Sabbath. It refreshed Him by having a day to look back on His creation and see the future of mankind.
The Hebrew word for “refreshed” means to take a breath. God doesn’t need to breathe, but He knew there needed to be a pause in His week. Why? Because God made the Sabbath for us. We need the Sabbath like we need air! Spiritually, we cannot survive without it! We need to take that weekly “breath” to recharge our batteries.
Which brings us to another benefit:
8. The Sabbath prevents burnout.
Guard the Sabbath
If you were given a gift with all those deep and eternal benefits, how would you treat it?
God tells us how to treat it. He says to “keep the sabbath … for it is holy” (Exodus 31:14).
Now, how did God make the Sabbath holy? By putting His presence in it. For example, when Moses approached the burning bush (Exodus 3:5), he had to take off his shoes because it was holy ground. God’s presence was in that bush, making the ground around it holy.
“You cannot keep a day holy, unless God has first made it holy, any more than you can keep cold water hot—unless it has first been made hot! God made this space of time holy—He commands you to keep it that way!” (Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?).
Mr. Armstrong painted this picture in an April 1980 Good News article. “Suppose you were invited to visit a royal king in his sumptuous palace. On entering you are filled with awe at the shiny polished floors, the rich rugs, the ornate ceilings and plush and luxurious chairs and tables. Suppose you enter with muddy shoes from a rainy day outside, and track mud all over his beautiful polished floors and carpeting. You whip out a jackknife and begin carving your initials on his finest cabinets, tables and chairs. Now the king has seen to it that all these things are in perfect immaculate condition, and he wants you to keep them that way! Would you not expect the king to be angered when you besmear and destroy the beauty of his palace? You would expect to be thrown out!”
If there were a physical place where God put His presence, you would have to treat that place differently than you would other places. What about a period of time in which God put His holy, majestic presence?
Though the Sabbath is a gift for us, the time belongs to God and is holy. That word “keep” in Exodus 31:14 literally means to guard.
God commands us to remember the Sabbath day and guard it!
And when you consider all those benefits from the Sabbath, would you not want to guard it with your life? We should guard it more than we would guard a special gift handcrafted for us. How do we keep it? How do we guard it? Do we let any of our friends talk bad about this special gift God made for us?
More Gifts Coming!
Understand and enjoy these rich benefits from the Sabbath. If you do, you will call the Sabbath “a delight.” Isaiah 58:13-14 show what multiple benefits God puts on top of the blessings that the Sabbath already brings: God says that if you refrain 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.”
No physical activity you might do on a Friday night or Saturday can top the benefits that come from keeping the Sabbath holy. Nothing can top the blessings that follow the Sabbath-keeping blessings.
God promises that if you keep that gift of the Sabbath right, He will bless you with even more gifts.
Can you imagine that? More handcrafted gifts from the Creator of the universe!
Treat God’s Sabbath gift as the blessing and delight that it truly is and watch God tailor-make more gifts and blessings just for you!