The Purpose of God’s Sabbath
By Gerald Flurry • June 4
What is the purpose of God’s Sabbath day? God places monumental importance on it. Do you know why?
The world is very confused about the Sabbath. They don’t know whether it’s Saturday or Sunday. Our predecessor, the late Herbert W. Armstrong, clearly explained the truth about the Sabbath in his booklet Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? (request a free copy). You will be amazed by what your Bible says about the Sabbath!
Not long ago, a high-ranking Christian leader of the world said:
Is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday? And to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.
This man is absolutely right that the Bible never advocates Sunday observance. But he’s talking about human beings sanctifying—setting apart for holy use—Sunday. Do we have the authority to make a day holy?
God’s Sabbath day is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. Jesus Christ Himself said we ought to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). This includes God’s perfect spiritual law. Christians must follow Christ. Christ preached on the Sabbath, “as his custom was” (Luke 4:16).
The Apostle Paul worked hard for six days, then preached to both Jews and Gentiles every Sabbath (Acts 18:1-4). He was entitled to live off the tithes of the brethren, but to avoid offending them he earned his own salary as a tentmaker during the workweek.
The word “Sunday” is never mentioned in the Bible, but the first day of the week is discussed eight times in the New Testament. Study Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? for a detailed explanation of all eight occurrences. You can understand exactly what the Bible says and doesn’t say about the Sabbath.
God’s Sabbath day is a blessing. If you delight in this day, you will ride upon the high places of the Earth! (Isaiah 58:13-14). God backs up this promise in powerful ways.
“And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). The Sabbath is Christ’s day! But He created this day for us!
What is the purpose of God’s Sabbath?
The Identifying Sign
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you” (Exodus 31:12-13). The Sabbath is the identifying sign between God and His people.
For example, a sign for the Ford Motor Co. identifies that company. Similarly, the Sabbath identifies those set apart by God. Notice, this passage places no time limit on the Sabbath sign. It lasts forever. God’s chosen nation, Israel, was commanded to keep it. God’s Church, even after Christ died, observed the Sabbath. Today, we are expected to uphold the Sabbath too.
Clearly, the Sabbath keeps us in the true worship of God. The whole world is deceived about this truth by the god of this world! (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
Only God can set apart a day or a group of people for a holy purpose! Only He is holy—until we let Him live in us and begin to build His holiness in us as well. The primary purpose of the Sabbath is to identify God, but this day also identifies the people of God. We must keep it the way the Bible teaches.
What is it worth to be set apart by God for holy use? This is only possible if we obey Him: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Exodus 31 repeats for emphasis that the Sabbath is a sign: “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (verse 17). This applies not just to the modern descendants of ancient Israel, but primarily to God’s Church today! (Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? will prove this to you.)
How could the eternal God rest and be refreshed on the Sabbath, as this verse states? He never gets tired or weary. He rested by putting His divine presence in the Sabbath after six days of rebuilding the heavens and the Earth and creating life on our planet (Genesis 1).
God “hallowed” the Sabbath day, meaning He made it holy (Exodus 20:11). We should remember this as we observe the Sabbath. The sin is in profaning what God has made holy.
“God has never made any other weekly day holy! Man has no authority to make a day holy. You cannot keep a day holy, unless God has first made it holy, any more than you can keep cold water hot—unless it has first been made hot! God made this space of time holy—He commands you to keep it that way!” (Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?). This is not true of the other six days of the week. God makes that very plain.
God is making the Sabbath day very personal to each of us. He’s saying, This is between you and me. He came down to Mount Sinai and delivered the Ten Commandments, including the fourth one about the Sabbath, to ancient Israel. The 2 million to 3 million Israelites were scared out of their skulls by the tremendous display of thunder and lightning on the mountain, so they demanded that Moses speak on their behalf. God established the Sabbath as a covenant between Him and us forever. The Israelites agreed to it. Do we?
For All Mankind
God felt refreshed after creating the Sabbath because He loves what this day is all about. He created humans on the sixth day of re-creation week, then created the seventh-day Sabbath for us! We possess the image (potential character) and likeness (appearance) of our Creator (Genesis 1:26). All the animals were made after their own kind (verses 24-25), but we were made after God’s kind! We look like Him—on a much lower, physical level—and can be fashioned after His perfect character. That’s what God is doing with His firstfruits today.
The creation of humans and the Sabbath occurred just a day apart. Re-creation lasted a full seven days—not six. The Sabbath was created not by work but by resting. On the Sabbath, God teaches us about Himself, our purpose and how to become His people. These are profound scriptures! The Sabbath is one of the most inspiring truths I have ever studied.
Keep in mind the Maker of the Sabbath. God created all things through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9), including the Sabbath for our enrichment (Mark 2:27-28).
The weekly Sabbath points back to re-creation week. Creation is the proof of God’s existence. God is refreshed on the Sabbath by looking back at creating us. He is recreating Himself in us. He gives us a remarkable vision on this day that will bring happiness and purpose to our lives!
On the Sabbath, we look back at creation. But we also look forward to the Millennium. It’s a vision of the past and the future. Soon, you will witness paradise on Earth!
How important is this day? Think about it. God wants us to be happy and prosperous, riding on the high places of the Earth. He taught the first humans, Adam and Eve, and has given opportunities to humans ever since to become His own people by keeping the Sabbath. How mesmerizing and monumentally wonderful!
Notice this powerful quote from Mr. Armstrong:
Then why did God make this special everlasting Sabbath covenant with Israel—and not with Gentile nations?
Simply because all Gentile nations had cut themselves off, totally, from God. All had gone into idolatry. None knew the true God.
Simply because God had taken a down-trodden slave people—yet a people of superior heredity through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Joseph—who were not inoculated with any religion, and made them His nation.
Simply because God then gave this called-out people that was His nation His right ways—and WHY?
To be a light to the Gentiles!
God did it to show other nations what BLESSINGS would follow obedience to His laws! To set an example to other nations!
God gave His right ways—and all His promises—including salvation through Christ—to Israel, so as to make these ways and blessings known and available to the Gentiles!
The Sabbath really is meant for all mankind! All mankind will soon choose to keep this day and reap the blessings! Today, humans rebel against God in just about every way. Only the Philadelphia Church of God, His one true Church, proclaims His Sabbath message and sets the example in this area.Read More