What is the Seventh-Day Sabbath?
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: Most people can understand the reasoning behind nine of the Ten Commandments—don't kill, don't lie, don't steal. But what about the Sabbath Commandment? Why would God give such a law? Why should we follow it?
 
 

The Sabbath of the Ten Commandments and the Sabbaths of the ceremonial law distinguished Israel from all other nations. The Sabbaths bound them to God as His covenant people. God called the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments a sign between Him and His people forever, because it was He who sanctified them (Exodus 31:17).

The Ten Commandments are a reflection of God’s character. They show us how we can live to honor God and become more like Him in our attitudes and actions. The first four commandments pertain to our relationship with God and the last six commandments pertain to our relationship with people. Taken together they can be summed up with the words of Jesus:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

Taken individually, there is an inescapable logic to nine of the Ten Commandments. It is obvious why we should not kill, and why we should not lie to each other or steal from each other.

However, the Fourth Commandment, or Sabbath Commandment, is different from the other nine. There is no implicit logic in this Commandment. There is no specific reason why we should keep the seventh-day Sabbath, other than that God specifically commanded it. More than any other Commandment, the Sabbath is a test of faith. Read about how the Sabbath Commandment also contains the elements of an unchangeable royal seal

The Origin of the Sabbath

In order to understand the significance of the Sabbath, we have to turn to its origins. The seventh-day Sabbath is not a Jewish institution, but was established at Creation (Genesis 2:1-3). The Sabbath commandment serves as a reminder of God’s creative act (Exodus 20:11). And in Deuteronomy 5:15, the Sabbath serves as a sign of God’s redemptive act:

And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day (NKJV).

All humans are slaves to sin, and God in Jesus Christ brought us out of sin with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. The Bible teaches us that Christ Himself is the Creator (Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2). The seventh-day Sabbath, therefore, is a test of obedience and an everlasting memorial of Christ’s goodness.

The significance of the Sabbath as a test cannot be overestimated. God could have chosen any memorial to His creative act, but He chose a memorial set in time: a weekly day of rest. Time cannot be eliminated in the same way that a physical memorial, such as a city or holy place, could be.

The knowledge of the seventh-day Sabbath has been preserved by God through the centuries since the days of Jesus and has been observed in many areas around the world. Never has there been a time in which God's people somewhere did not observe the seventh-day Sabbath.

If Christ Himself instituted the Sabbath day of rest for us (Mark 2:27), would He change it? Jesus kept the Sabbath day faithfully. The disciples of Jesus likewise kept the Sabbath day (Acts 13:14, 16:13). The seventh-day Sabbath is taught throughout the Bible, while Sunday sacredness is not mentioned once. If Christ or the apostles did not change the Sabbath, who did?

Read what Colossians 2 has to say about the Sabbath

Read about eight Scripture verses commonly used to counter the seventh-day Sabbath

Ahead to The Royal Seal

This article is adapted from Truth Matters by Professor Walter J. Veith, an international speaker who has studied Biblical issues in-depth in his quest for truth. His popular series Genesis Conflict brings the debate between Creation and evolution to a new climax as he dissects the arguments with a scientific eye. His highly-acclaimed series Total Onslaught sheds light on the state of the world today as we move to a one-world government and an anticipated apocalypse.
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