In the beginning, before sin, the Sabbath was given to Adam and Eve when God rested on the seventh day, blessed it, and sanctified or set it apart as holy (, ). This day was a weekly memorial of God’s creative power and His love in giving them life and a perfectly beautiful natural world. On that first Sabbath, “the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them” ( ), “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” ( ). As the human family continued in their walk with God, their love for Him increased, and this Sabbath experience became even more meaningful and delightful.
After sin, the Sabbath took on an even deeper significance, it became a beautiful memorial of the plan of salvation. The fourth commandment tells us that we are to “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (). But what does it mean to keep the Sabbath holy? Speaking to His people, God says “Ye shall be holy . . . and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God” ( , ). Through the prophet Isaiah, God tells us that true Sabbath observance involves refraining “from doing any evil” ( ). We also read in the New Testament that God desires us to be holy “in all manner of conversation [or behavior]; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” ( , ). If we are to truly keep the Sabbath holy, we must be holy in our character and actions. Here we encounter a problem!
Our sinful heart or mind, is “deceitful above all things,” “desperately wicked.” It is at “enmity against God,” and “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (; ). This condition is evident in “evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness,” as well as “idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings . . . drunkenness, revellings, and such like” ( , ; , ).
How can we ever possibly keep the Sabbath holy in such a miserable and unholy condition? We need to experience another divine act of creation! This is the creation David spoke of when he pleaded, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (). When we trust in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us and accept the new heart He offers (See , ) to give us, we can be sure that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” ( ). The evil thoughts and actions listed above are replaced by “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” ( , ). Once we experience this spiritual recreation, the Sabbath reminds us of the Creator of the world and the Creator of our new heart, “created in righteousness and true holiness” ( ). The fourth commandment not only tells us to keep the Sabbath holy, it also directs our attention to the powerful Creator, the only One who can make us holy ( ).
When the commandments were repeated in Deuteronomy, God again instructed His people to “keep the sabbath day to sanctify it” (), but this time He also said, “Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” ( ). So, the Sabbath was also a sign of God’s power in delivering His people from Egyptian slavery and bondage. But how does this deliverance from slavery relate to me?
Like the Jews of Christ’s day, we may proudly say that we “were never in bondage to any man!” (), but Christ plainly states, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” ( ). He then went on to say, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” ( ). The same Deliverer who brought His people out of Egyptian slavery offers to bring us out of slavery to sin with a “mighty hand” and “stretched out arm.” What wonderful love and power!
When you give your heart to Christ, the Sabbath becomes a memorial of His work as your Creator and Redeemer. God gives the Sabbath to all who accept Christ and receive the new heart, as “a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them” (). Keeping the Sabbath is not a way to be holy, it is a sign that you have been made holy by accepting Christ. The Sabbath is not meant only for the Jews, but for all who accept Christ as their personal Saviour, from Adam until today. Christ Himself taught that “the sabbath was made for man,” and, “the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” ( , ). For those who have been redeemed, the Sabbath will extend into eternity as we worship and praise our Saviour and King: “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord” ( ).
Now that I have a deeper understanding of the Sabbath, and have accepted Christ as my Creator and Redeemer, the Sabbath is more than just a commandment! It is a day when I can reflect on His love, the power in His Word, in nature, and in my personal experience. I also use the Sabbath to share Christ’s love with others, so that they can have the same experience. The Sabbath is like an anniversary of my relationship with Christ. Of course, I can think about Him every day of the week, but on the Sabbath, I receive a double blessing! Even better than an anniversary, the fact is that the Sabbath comes not just once a year but once a week! I am so grateful to Christ for His creation and deliverance in my spiritual life, but I know that you can have this experience too!
You may ask, how can I accept Christ as my personal Creator and Redeemer? All you must do is pray, confess your sins, and ask Him to create a clean heart in you and deliver you from the slavery of sin. Then, trust in Him for power to live in harmony with His holy law and ask for a new heart each day. Next time the seventh day of the week comes around, lay aside your secular work, studies, and leisure activities, and be prepared to enjoy the rich blessings of the Sabbath as a memorial of Christ’s love and power in your life!