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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 31 2020

Ten biblical purposes for the Sabbath

God’s creation of the weekly Sabbath was intended to draw us nearer to our Creator, reminding us of our redemption and heightening our anticipation of Christ’s return as our ruler in the Kingdom of God.

by Mario Seiglie

The Sabbath benefits mankind and in this article we look at 10 reasons God created this day of rest for us.

When the Sabbath was first established by God, we find three of those purposes explained: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work...Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3).

1. We are told “God blessed the seventh day” (Genesis 2:3), indicating the observance of the Sabbath was intended as a blessing for mankind.

God promises physical and spiritual blessings now and in the future to those who honour the seventh-day Sabbath. As Isaiah 58:13 says, “If you turn back… from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight... and shall honour Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father...” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

2. The second purpose for the Sabbath is its sanctification, meaning it is a day set apart by God for holy use. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:3).

This principle is enshrined in the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work . . . 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).

3. The third purpose of the Sabbath found in Genesis is that it’s a day of rest. “And on the seventh day . . . He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3). God wants us to recuperate from our labours on the Sabbath: “Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed” (Exodus 23:12).

4. A fourth purpose of the Sabbath is that it is a covenant sign between God and His people. It is the only one of the Ten Commandments singled out this way as a sign or a marker. As Exodus 31:16-17 says: “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever.

God set the Sabbath as a sign to identify His people. It is a perpetual covenant or lifelong agreement and relationship between God and the person who keeps the Sabbath.

5. The fifth purpose of the Sabbath is as a reminder of God as our Creator and Maker. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy . . . For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them . . .” (Exodus 20:8-11).

It is a monument to God’s awe-inspiring power to have brought into existence all we see around us—including ourselves!

6. The sixth purpose of the Sabbath is about redemption, the paying of a ransom. God is not only our Creator, but also mankind’s Redeemer—by making salvation possible through His Son’s sacrifice and releasing us from spiritual slavery.

God began His plan of salvation with one nation, Israel, but has now extended redemption to all people who respond: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus... There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).

7. The seventh purpose of the Sabbath is as an appointed time to gather together for worship. “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:3).

8. The eighth purpose of the Sabbath is to fellowship with others of likemind. The term “convocation” means a commanded assembly. So, when possible, we are to meet together on the Sabbath. “‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation...” (Leviticus 23:3).

9. The ninth purpose for the Sabbath is for us to receive instruction from God’s Word. The Sabbath day is not only for fellowship but for spiritual learning. In addition to Jesus teaching on the Sabbath day (Luke 13:10), we also see the apostle Paul teaching on the Sabbath: “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4).

10. A tenth purpose for the Sabbath is as a reminder of the glorious future rest and restoration of the earth. Hebrews 4:9,11 tells us: “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God...Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (English Standard Version).

Sabbath-keeping, therefore, also points to the future and not just the past or the present. It is a reminder of the past as we honour God for His Creation. It reminds us in the present of God as our great Redeemer. And it looks to the future as we anticipate the coming millennial reign of the Kingdom of God on earth—with Jesus Christ as King of Kings.

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