The one commandment that is a major stumbling block to the human mind is the command to keep the Sabbath. Many of the other commandments are reasonably accepted as part of a civil society and the concepts have been built into the rule of law of western society. But the Sabbath is a law that gets in the way. The prophet Amos brings that attitude to our attention. “Saying: when will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat?” (Amos 8:5). The Sabbath got in the way of their all-important personal activities.
The seventh day needs to be important to God’s people because it is important to God. Over the years we have seen the approach to Sabbath keeping wax and wane as God’s law came under attack. More recently new pressures have developed as we all deal with the effects of a pandemic which prevents the assembling of ourselves together as we have been used to.
There are two main attitudes toward the Sabbath in the Bible – God’s and man’s. To put it in a nutshell, man approached the Sabbath as his time that he is donating to God, as though he has control of how the day is designated and kept.
When the prophets were sent to Israel, they commonly referenced Israel’s Sabbath keeping as, “… her feast days, her New Moons, her Sabbaths – all her appointed feasts” (Hosea 2:11). The prophet Isaiah mentioned them in a similar manner. “Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My souls hates …” (Isaiah 1:14). This would include the fact that days had been changed and pagan aspects had been incorporated, as we see in the time of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12). God makes His attitude very plain – they are your appointed feasts, not mine.
The Sabbath is God’s day. “… but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God …” (Exodus 20:10). Through Moses God further declared, “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep …” (Exodus 31:13). Again, in Isaiah chapter 58 God stated the Sabbath is “… My holy day.”
When God created mankind, He created the Sabbath for man. Immediately after creating man God provided this powerful connection for man to the Creator. Christ, the One who created all things, also created the Sabbath and said pointedly, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
John, as he wrote of the role of the Word – the One who became Christ – said that, “All things were made through Him … in Him was life, and the life was the light of the men. And that light shines in the darkness …” (John1:3-5). The Sabbath is as a light shining in the darkness. It reveals God to man and, by its observance, it reveals who His people are. It is a sign.
It is a deep privilege to be able to know and keep the Sabbath. It is holy time given to us as a perpetual covenant that we, “… may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Exodus 31:13).
Our world is a very dark environment. We have not all been able to meet congregationally on the Sabbath for a long time and now we are being told that the worst is yet to come. Has the lack of formal services had any effect on your Sabbath observance? Have we perhaps let some things slip so that it has become more our day than God’s day?
The Sabbath is God’s day, given to us to strengthen our reconciled relationship with Him.
Let’s be sure to sanctify the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord our God has commanded us.