Knowing about the sanctity and purpose of the Sabbath is vital because it concerns the basic concepts of time, life and relationships. Let's begin by noting how our Creator established this 24-hour period of time for mankind.
In the beginning of Genesis, where the creation week is described, we learn: "And on the seventh day [Friday evening to Saturday evening] God ended 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" (Genesis 2:2-3).
In Exodus 20 we see that the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments that God gave to mankind: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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 male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates" (Exodus 20:8-10).
When God explained to ancient Israel—and to all who would follow His ways thereafter—His special days of rest and celebration, the seventh-day Sabbath was at the beginning of the list (Leviticus 23:1, 3). This list has never changed, and God's instruction has never been revoked.
When Jesus came to this earth as a human being, He came to exalt—that is, to magnify, uphold and further explain—the law (which includes His command to keep the Sabbath) and not to destroy it (Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:17). This is why He observed God's Sabbaths (Luke 4:16), as did the apostles and members of the Church Jesus founded.
Those who observe the biblical seventh-day Sabbath demonstrate their love for Jesus by obeying His commandments (John 14:21).
Keeping the Sabbath
So how does one keep the Sabbath? This is a challenge in a world that doesn't like any constraints placed on a person's freedom to do what he or she wants, whenever he or she wants. God's intent for giving mankind time that is "holy" is to have a relationship with us.
He wants us to stop the frenetic pace of running to and fro and consider that life has a higher purpose. To keep God's Sabbath holy requires making the effort to rearrange our lives so we can attend a church service where we can participate in worship and Christian fellowship and listen to God's ministers explain His Word—helping us to better understand and remain mindful of His will for our lives (Leviticus 23:3; Hebrews 10:25).
Enjoy a day of rest
In addition to the spiritual purpose of the Sabbath, this day is a wonderful day of physical rest. In observing the Sabbath we don't follow our normal routine of going to work, attending secular classes or doing our own pleasure. Taking time to rest and reflect on life and where we are headed can be energizing and help us develop a deeper relationship with God.
God made the Sabbath as a gift of time to help us get to know more about Him. The more we realize about the miracle of life and the interdependence of life forms and how much we need air, water and all that is green and good, the more we come to realize that the Creator God was thinking about us from the very beginning. Take some time to enjoy this day that God designed specifically as a gift for mankind (Mark 2:27).
Since Jesus Christ proclaimed that He is "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28), we need to follow His instruction to observe the Sabbath. Take the time to enjoy the Sabbath and you will discover a wonderful gift from God!
To learn more, read our free booklet Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest. VT