Reading Scripture: Exodus 20:8-10
Verse to Memorize: Exodus 20:8
Reference: Isaiah 58:13-14
Goal: to help believers understand how to keep the whole Sabbath which is one of the secrets of blessing, have true rest in the Lord, and enjoy good health both in spirit and body
The two most fundamental things a Christian must do are to keep the Sabbath holy and to offer the whole tithe and offering. Keeping the Sabbath is a deed of faith that recognizes God’s spiritual sovereignty over us and giving whole tithe and offering is an action that acknowledges God’s material sovereignty.
If you are God’s child who accepts God’s sovereignty over you by practicing the two fundamental things you will be protected from disasters, trials, and afflictions and receive blessing of good health both in spirit and body. Let’s first delve into what it means to keep the Sabbath holy.
1. The Origin of the Sabbath
Exodus 20:8-10 reads, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.”
The ‘Sabbath’ is a day when we rest in the Lord. That is, we set aside time to rest peacefully in the Lord. The Sabbath originated from God the Creator resting on the seventh day after the six-day Creation of the heavens, the earth, all things in them, and men.
Genesis 2:1-3 states, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
During the time of creation God worked for six days and on the seventh day He rested from all His work. For this reason He commanded His people to keep the Sabbath day as a blessed and holy day. ‘To keep the Sabbath’ does not just mean just not laboring on that day. It also means we should not fix our hearts on worldly affairs and business but instead we should offer up our hearts. By doing so we acknowledge God’s sovereignty over our lives. Accordingly, if we keep the Sabbath holy we are demonstrating that we are God’s children who revere Him.
2. What is the reason the keeping of the Sabbath on Saturday in the pre-New-Testament period became keeping Sunday Holy in New Testament times?
Originally, God rested on the seventh day of His creation. But as you know, most calendars now show the first day of the week as Sunday and Saturday is the last and seventh day of the week. In Old Testament times, Saturday was the Sabbath day. Since Jews do not acknowledge Jesus as their Savior, they still keep the Sabbath on Saturday.
But in New Testament times, we keep the Sabbath on Sunday. Why was the change made? Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday and on the third day, namely on Sunday, He rose again from the dead. In other words, He defeated death and resurrected at dawn on the first day of the week, that is, on Sunday. Sunday became a day when the Lord’s resurrection gave true hope, rest, and joy to mankind that had become sinners. Because it was Sunday when the Lord completed the providence of salvation and gave genuine and never-ending rest, those of us who have been saved by Him deem Sunday the Sabbath and keep it holy.
For this reason, the Sabbath is also called ‘The Lord’s Day’. This is because it is the day when we enjoy true rest in the Lord. The Lord’s Day is the day that God has made holy and He chose for blessing us. Thus, when we observe the Lord’s Day as a holy day it confirms our acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and that our spirit belongs to God.
Then, what does it mean that we enjoy true rest owing to Jesus Christ?
From the time that Adam, the first man, sinned, there had been no true rest for mankind. They became servants of sins and the forces of sin, the enemy devil and Satan, and due to the burden of their sins mankind has lived in hardship and under the authority of death. It is to redeem them from all sin that God sent His only begotten Son Jesus on this earth.
Jesus took all sins of men and died on the cross. But He overcame death and resurrected on the third day of His burial. Anyone who believes in Him and accepts Him as the Savior can be forgiven of their sins, become united with the Lord, and be a partaker in the resurrection. In other words, they can be set free from sins, gain true rest, and own hope for endless rest in Heaven. That is why it is said that we can enjoy true rest thanks to Jesus Christ.
3. To keep the whole Sabbath holy
For six days we shall labor and do all our work, but on Sunday we come to church, offer up worship services to God, and have spiritual rest. Only then can we have true rest. On Saturday, we clean our homes, do things like the laundry, take a bath, and tidy up things around us. We should also prepare clean clothing to wear on the Lord’s Day and prepare our offerings with our hearts as well.
On Lord’s Day, we must devout ourselves to keeping the Sabbath without watching TV, worldly recreational activities and things for personal pleasure. Also, we have to control our hearts and thoughts not to do evil. If we argue and get angry, or feel anxious about getting worldly things done, God is not pleased.
Some people think that if they keep the whole Sabbath just by attending the Sunday Morning Service, then later they go on a picnic or work in the afternoon. But it is not keeping the Sabbath holy. Even if we also attend the Sunday Evening Service, if we do not keep the whole day with a devout heart, then it is not keeping it holy.
In order to keep the Lord’s Day holy, we must worship in spirit and truth during services as written in John 4:24. We must neither doze off nor have idle thoughts. We should listen attentively to sermons, pray and praise with our hearts. We should prepare the service with prayer before it starts and we must not leave until it ends with the Benediction or the Lord’s Prayer.
In addition, the sanctuary is a holy place, so as long as we are in the sanctuary we must refrain from conversations about family affairs, business, shopping, entertainment celebrities, and deeds that belong to the world. Isaiah 58:13-14 reads, “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
When we keep the Sabbath holy, God prevents the wasting of money for unexpected expenses. Moreover, He protects our workplace and blesses us to increase our earnings. If we violate the Sabbath and work, however, we cannot be protected and blessed. It leads to reducing income or coming down with unexpected diseases, or facing with misfortune, accidents or disasters.
However there are some people who have to work on Sunday. They are soldiers, police officers, medical doctors and others who labor for citizens’ safety and security; those who work for restaurants or business of consumer sales; and workers who have to go on business trips.
In such cases, though they work on Sunday God does not say they are committing sins. Still, they have to do best possible to completely and wholly keep Sabbath. They may attend services via internet or recorded video service virtually anytime.
On the Lord’s Day/Sabbath, we must refrain from doing business for our personal profit and from buying and selling for personal convenience or advantage. But if you teach new believers not to work on Sunday and not to buy things, they will feel burdened and they might leave church. So, we should lead them wisely until they have faith and keep the whole Sabbath joyfully.
But there are some cases where it is permitted to buy and sell things on the Sabbath. If a church cannot offer meals for those such as choir members who practice on Sunday or Sunday School teachers, then the church may open a snack bar and install vending machines for the members’ convenience for those times. The profits should be used for souls’ salvation such as charitable works or mission works. Yet, it would be better for us to beforehand prepare for those on the previous day.
If we keep the Lord’s Day holy, God will take all things of us including life, health, children, and workplace under His responsibility. Then, we can gain true joy and rest. Furthermore, we can be protected from accidents, diseases, trials, and afflictions for a week and receive blessings (Isaiah 56:4-7).