The Christian Sabbath

Many people disagree about which day we should worship God. Why is there so much disagreement? Weekly worship of God is actually one of the Ten Commandments. It is an inexorable law that is binding upon all of us. The Bible makes it clear that God is going to judge us eternally on this observance, so we need to prove this to ourselves one way or the other.

Almighty God holds the keys of life and death, and He says that what day you keep and how you keep it is very important and has everything to do with your eternal life or death.

Notice Mark 2:27-28. Jesus Christ Himself said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” The God who became Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9) made this weekly observance, and He made it for us!

God made this weekly observance for us, and He made it a law. God defines transgression of His law as sin (1 John 3:4).

Why did He make it for man? Why is He the Lord of it? Why did He make it an important law? What is it supposed to achieve? What is its purpose?

The God who became the Father created the universe through the God who became Jesus Christ. The very first chapters of the Bible focus on that creation and the renewing of that creation on Earth. That process led up to Genesis 1:26-27, in which these God Beings said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” and put everything they had created on Earth under his power. God made human beings to physically resemble Himself, and He gave them minds that could potentially choose to resemble His mind, developing His character with His help.

This is where the Sabbath comes in.

“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. And 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 2:2-3).

Notice that God stopped working, yet He did not stop creating! He rested on the Sabbath day, and that is how He made the Sabbath. Isaiah 40:28 shows us that God does not get weary or faint. Resting made it a different day and a different kind of creation than what He had created the previous six days. This day refreshed Him.

God is still creating! He is creating His own character in man. And the Sabbath is the key!

God Himself is uplifted, inspired, motivated and moved by this day because it represents His master plan, the masterpiece of His creation: creating man in His own image!

“It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the [Eternal] made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:17).

God placed His divine presence in that day by resting. He looked back at the six days of work He had done for the re-creation, leading up to the physical creation of man. And on the seventh day, He began teaching man and creating man in His own character, the culmination of His master plan, which will ultimately go on for all eternity—and He was refreshed! He was refreshed because of this great vision that the Sabbath gives us. It refreshed God as well as man!

God blessed this special day, hallowed it, sanctified it, set it apart for a holy purpose, forever. Men or groups of men or governments of men cannot make something holy, but God can, and He made this period of time holy.

That space of time connects God and man. It is holy to God and will make man holy like God, if he keeps it the way God does. At the end of every week, He wanted man to be refreshed by His Word and His master plan, which inspires us and uplifts us and fills us with hope!

The Sabbath is a fundamental part of creation itself. It is for all mankind. He commands us to keep it holy because it is such a wonderful blessing to us and helps us fulfill God’s incredible master plan for us!

God later included this precious observance in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). People rejected it, nations rejected it, even His chosen nation, Israel, largely rejected it. But He said that whoever obeys Him and keeps it is keeping a sign that they are His people (Exodus 31:17).

How do you keep the Sabbath holy?

The God Being who re-created the Earth in six days for man and was refreshed on the seventh day was called the Word. About 4,000 years later, He became Jesus Christ, and God became God the Father. Luke 4:16 highlights that Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath in the synagogue regularly. It was his custom, every week, to keep the Sabbath, even those weeks when He was not at that synagogue. That is how the Lord of the Sabbath kept it holy.

Hebrews 13:8 states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Romans 8:9 states that if Christ does not live in us, we are none of His, we are not actually Christians. So it is very important that we live the way Christ lived when He was on this earth.

It takes effort to not profane the Sabbath and to actually keep it holy. It is not an easy thing to do.

Isaiah 58:13 is a very interesting scripture that says a lot about how to keep the Sabbath day: “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 [Eternal], honourable, and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.”

God tells us to “turn away thy foot,” much like He told Moses to be careful where he stepped and to take off his shoes when he was in God’s presence. He is telling us to be careful how we walk, how we conduct ourselves, on His Sabbath day. That is holy time, and we must not walk on it like we would walk the other six days. There is something we have to do in this holy time, and we must be careful how we live.

By obeying God and keeping the Sabbath holy and humbling ourselves, we have a right relationship with our great Creator, and we can grow closer to Him and He can build His character in us! He can make you more and more “in our image, after our likeness.”

God commands us to keep the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, holy—for this great purpose. He did not sanctify the first day or the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth. He did not command us to keep one of those days holy. They are not holy, and you cannot keep them holy. It would be like trying to keep cold water hot—you can’t, because it never was hot. God made the seventh day a holy space of time to make men holy like God. He uses it to make human beings more perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

God has never changed that holy period of time, and men are incapable of changing it. Keeping it makes you quite different from other people who don’t keep it. It is a different day, and it does take effort to keep it holy. But God promises us that if we do keep this test commandment, this sign, that He will make us “ride upon the high places of the Earth.” Your life will have meaning and success you haven’t even dreamed of if you will keep God’s command and really delight in the Sabbath, sacrificing your own pleasure, your own ways and your own words and concentrating your mind on God’s pleasure, God’s ways, God’s Word.

I can tell you that God does honor that. I can tell you that it works! I know, because I have done it. I have kept the Sabbath all my adult life, just about. I have seen that, in a way, keeping the Sabbath holy is the key to everything.

Now you could say, I don’t really see it that way and keep the day you want to keep, and keep it the way you want to keep it. But you had better look closely at these scriptures, because we are all going to be judged by them! You had better consider that God prophesies in Isaiah 66:23 that in the future all flesh is going to come and worship on the Sabbath.

Jesus Christ told us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and the other blessings of life will be added to us. In other words, start by getting the Sabbath right, then you will understand about the Kingdom. The Sabbath is a type of that Kingdom, the refreshing, the eternal peace that God will usher in. The Sabbath is a vision not only of the past re-creation in preparation for man but also of the future, when God will complete in us His spiritual creation! That will be a wonderful, wonderful, indescribable time of peace and refreshing when we are fully made in God’s image, after His likeness.

“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the [ETERNAL]; 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 [Eternal] hath spoken it,” (verse 14). God has spoken it. He will do it. We must do what He commands and honor the Sabbath by keeping it holy.

What a beautiful part this plays in man’s success, in his spiritual excitement and growth. It all revolves around the Sabbath.