Why Rest on the Sabbath Day?
Do you know that God has a sign by which He recognizes His spiritual children? And do you know that only those having this sign will be born into His ruling Family?
That vital, overwhelmingly important sign is God’s Sabbath day!
Not a “Sabbath of the Jews,” or any “day” that seems more or less important to any man, or group of men—but the Sabbath of Almighty God Himself!
“But,” you might ask, “what does any ‘day’ have to do with entering into the happy, glorious World Tomorrow and the very Kingdom of God?”
It has a great deal to do with it!
To human beings using only fallible human reasoning, it may seem strange indeed that God would place stress and importance on a specific day of the week! “Why,” some might reason, “would God want me to rest on one day of the week more than any other?” “What real difference does it make anyhow?” ask others.
It makes a tremendous difference—to Almighty God!
God Blesses the Obedient
Noah “walked” with God (Genesis 6:9). They were that friendly! And because Noah “walked” in obedience to God, He saved Noah and his family from the great Flood that destroyed sinful mankind (verses 11-14). That was real friendship!
After the Flood, Abraham also became an obedient friend of God (James 2:23, 21). Abraham and Christ (Melchizedek) were very close friends (Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:1-3)—right here on Earth—at the present site of the city of Jerusalem.
And what was the result of this close friendship?
Because Abraham continued in this obedient relationship with God (Genesis 26:5), God promised him the greatest and most abundant blessings imaginable—this whole Earth for an inheritance, sonship in God’s Family, and eternal life with which to enjoy it!
But God blessed Abraham even more because of his loving obedience and mutual friendship! God placed before Abraham’s spiritual offspring—we who become his “seed” through Christ—the same opportunity to receive these same great blessings!
God is always the close, loving friend of those who obey Him. He says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).
It is within God’s plan to become a very close friend of all who lovingly obey His wishes. And God shows great love in return by doing wonderful things for them!
God is going to shower those of us who now learn our lessons of loving obedience with far greater blessings than we can imagine! He says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
God’s Purpose for Mankind
God is love (1 John 4:8). And the way of God’s love is giving and sharing. As our loving friend and Father, God wants to share with us the glory and riches of His Kingdom—His divine Family!
And so, God reveals His great purpose for mankind to His obedient friends: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …” (Genesis 1:26). And, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the [Spirit-begotten] sons of God …. [W]e know that, when he [Christ] shall appear, we shall be like him …”! (1 John 3:1-2).
God’s plan is to create Gods out of mortal mankind—very sons of God’s divine Family!
Notice Christ’s earnest desire to make friends of humanity so they may become God’s Spirit-born sons: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” Christ said (John 15:13).
Then Christ proceeded to show the extent of His great love for mankind by laying down His own life for the world—laying down His precious life for all who would become His obedient friends—for you and for me!
Christ is overjoyed to be the close Friend of us all and will do great things for us if we become His obedient friends. “Submit yourselves therefore to God [obey Him]. … Draw nigh [near] to God [as His obedient friend],” James was inspired to write, “and he will draw nigh to you [as your loving Friend and Father]” (James 4:7-8).
Sabbath Pictures Eternal “Rest”
In addition to Christ’s great sacrifice for us, what else did He say He would do? Notice:
Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden [be my obedient friends], and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). A gift! And what kind of rest is this?—“glorious” rest! (Isaiah 11:10).
As our loving Friend and Father, God wants to give each of us His greatest gift of all—eternal life—glorious, eternal “rest” in the Kingdom of God.
In the fourth chapter of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul plainly shows us that resting from our daily labors on God’s holy Sabbath day pictures our glorious future as Spirit-born sons in God’s Family! He shows that Sabbath keeping actually pictures rest from our struggles against sin which God promises to give His obedient children (Hebrews 4:1-11).
When born of Spirit, we will no longer suffer the downward pulls of our carnal flesh and sinful human nature. We will then possess the mind of God in full. We will have the ability to remain perfectly obedient to God’s will forever! (1 John 3:9).
And when born into God’s Kingdom—when we become very Gods—we will also possess the same kind of gloriously radiant and powerful spirit body that Christ and the Father now have! We will no longer be limited by our weak mortal bodies. For it is then that we will possess the powerful capacity for infinite accomplishment with our supremely efficient spirit bodies! Bodies that will be, by comparison to our weak mortal bodies, gloriously efficient and effortless!
God promises to give us all of this when we become His Spirit-born sons! Isn’t it astonishing what God will do for us if we now become His obedient friends and Spirit-begotten children?
Eternal Life Offered to All Mankind
God promises His gift of eternal life to all peoples of the Earth who become, spiritually speaking, “Abraham’s seed”—those who surrender themselves to the will of Christ and are spiritually begotten by the Holy Spirit. “[I]f ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
As Abraham’s “seed,” we become heirs of the same promise made to Abraham—the promise of eternal life and sonship in the Kingdom of God. But that is true only if we obey God and rest from all our labors on God’s weekly Sabbath that pictures this glorious future.
God reveals this great spiritual truth to those who have become sick of the pagan ways of this world and have begun to obey Him. He reveals it as a Friend to a friend.
But only those who continue to obey God’s command to keep the Sabbath will finally enter the glorious “rest” of God’s Kingdom and receive the gift of eternal, spiritual life!
No Sabbath Keeping—No Holy Spirit
God, who is the loving Friend of mankind, offers us the priceless gift of His Holy Spirit—a gift that imparts all the peace and joy the human heart really longs for. Yes, and ultimately eternal life—eternal “rest” from this carnal, mundane life!
But to whom will God give the precious gift of His Holy Spirit? What does God expect of those who are recipients of His Spirit? Notice the answer in Acts 5:32: “the Holy [Spirit] … God hath given to them that obey him“—obey His Ten Commandments, which includes Sabbath keeping!
To carnal man, there is seemingly no earthly reason to keep the Sabbath. Man, so he reasons, could rest as well on other days he would choose for himself.
But keeping, or not keeping, God’s Sabbath days reveals an attitude! Keeping them shows a willingness to forsake our own thoughts for periods of time specified by God. It shows a willingness to learn—to study, to think and to meditate on the really important matters of the universe—and an attitude toward development of God-like character!
And keeping God’s Sabbath reveals an attitude of simple obedience just because God says so! To the carnal, unrepentant mind, Sabbath keeping seems so unfathomable, unnecessary and sometimes annoying! (Although to the repentant, Spirit-begotten mind, the Sabbath is eagerly looked forward to every week.)
Sabbath keeping plainly is a test of our attitude to reveal whether we really want to obey and depend on God and receive His Holy Spirit!
If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to become a student of our Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course. Each month, you will receive a lesson that guides you in discovering the answers to life’s most important questions in your own Bible. Your enrollment has already been paid for. Sign up today! You may also be interested in our free booklet Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?