Holiness on the Sabbath Day

In six days, the Lord made the heavens, and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.

After this grand masterpiece; the creation of all things by the power of His word, and sustaining them by the same; He rested.

Did He need rest though?

Well, He did rest anyway, and the bible doesn’t tell us if God was ‘tired’, but I trust He did this in good fate, to set the perfect example for the times to come when men will need the same ‘time out’ physically; because they really needed it. Even though this would have meaning beyond the physical meaning of rest; He started it with a physical observance by the Israelites. If we study God carefully by the authority of His word which teaches us His character, one of the things we would notice is that He never does anything without a reason.

By this, we understand that God had a reason for resting.

While it took men hundreds and maybe even thousands of years to first receive this command to ‘rest’, we must only believe that it came at the appointed time for man to observe this ‘rest’.

God gave His people, the Israelites this command saying;

“8. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

10. but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger within your gates.

11. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

– Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV

When God gives a command or an instruction, we must understand where He is talking from. No matter how His instructions look, they are always for our own good because He loves us, and the command of the Sabbath is no different. God taught them to rest physically, so they would a picture of the spiritual rest.

Two things that come with the command to observe the Sabbath: rest and blessing.

The children of Israel were given the observance of the sabbath as a part of the old covenant that God made with them in the wilderness on Mount Sinai when He gave them the Ten Commandments.

This instruction came to them through Moses the Prophet. It was one out of the many laws that God had given them to obey, and it was to be for their own good.

Why did God give the law of the Sabbath?

Clearly, we see the intention of God in giving this instruction. He (God) explains to the people how the observance was founded, and why also it would benefit them.

11. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

The idea God has always had behind the Sabbath is that it should be a day of rest from every and any activity that wearies us. Just as He had to take the day off, not because He was sick, or because He was tired and couldn’t keep up anymore. No, the Sabbath was to be a mark of the completion of a round of activities. A day to reflect on the journey so far, and in our case, a day to dedicate ourselves unto God and say, “Thank You Lord for everything”.

While the children of Israel were on their journey through the wilderness, they needed rest. They would walk for long periods, and they would need to rest and worship God for His goodness.

It was important for them; their health and their strength would need to be replenished on this journey and for the journey ahead.

The Sabbath was a day of worship. It was referred to as the Lord’s Day.

Much like what we have as Sunday worship today. The Sabbath is the first day of the week in the Jewish calendar.

This was a day of worship and complete dedication to God Almighty.

“Observe the Sabbath to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.”

  • Deuteronomy 5:12 NKJV

The observance of the Sabbath was so strict that a man could be killed for not keeping the ordinance. [Numbers 15:32-36]

Now, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. What do these words of Jesus really mean?

“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.’”

  • Mark 2:27 NKJV

The Jewish authorities were always at loggerheads with Jesus because their understanding of the Sabbath was not what God intended.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath. This illustrates the second intention of God for establishing the Sabbath; for blessing His people.

This time Jesus told them in a manner of speaking that the things you think of the Sabbath, which you have observed for centuries is not even fully understood by you. The intention of God is not only that men rest on this day, but also that they be blessed.

Today, we have the same opportunity to rest and be blessed of God as we observe the Sabbath. Not observing it with stiff minds and unhealthy traditions, but with the understanding of God’s intention of this special day.

The book of Hebrews comes with another revelation of the Sabbath, which is called rest in this text. Speaking in the third and fourth chapters of Hebrews, our eyes are opened to see a spiritual meaning to the Sabbath.

Not only is it to rest from physical work, but it is also believing in the power of God, and obeying His word; hence a spiritual rest. [Hebrews 3:18,19]

God wants us to believe in Him and in the power of His word to perform what He says He will do. That is a spiritual rest He wants every believer to experience.

We see the disciples and the apostles doing marvelous things as they teach in the synagogues; healing the sick and also breaking bread on this day ordained by God. [Acts 13:44; 15:21; 16:13; 18:4]

This is God’s true intention for the Sabbath; that we be blessed and rested.

He wants us to stop all works; both spiritual struggles and physical ones, so we can give Him our undivided attention as we receive blessings and strength for the work ahead.