The Sabbath principle has at its very heart (in terms of its application), man’s chief end, in other words, the purpose for which man was made. The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question #1 states: “What is the chief end of man?” The answer goes as follows: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Even this is rooted in the very nature and character of God who takes great delight in glorifying and enjoying Himself. So the Sabbath serves to remind all men (Christians and non-Christians) of the very purpose for which God created them, “to glorify and enjoy” Him. When we observe the Sabbath, we do it primarily for this reason.
Special Application to the Christians
But while the Sabbath principle applies to all people, it has a very special application to Christians because of the redemption that they have received through the Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason, believers are certainly obligated to observe the Sabbath not only because that is more consistent with God’s nature and character, but also because it is consistent with their new nature and character in Christ as His redeemed ones. Christians are to be in the forefront of honoring the LORD God with their time.
1. We Are to Work Diligently, Six Days a Week
Positively, as Christians, we are to work diligently six days a week as God has commanded us. We are not to be lazy and idle. We are to make the most of the time that God has given us to work. We need to teach our children the same. But after we have done our work, we need to learn to stop regularly and observe the Sabbath. This is good and necessary for us for we too are prone to forget God in our pursuits. It is therefore important that we take the time to plan our weekly activities in accordance with the Sabbath principle. Every Christian and every Christian family is to build their lives and weekly activities around the Sabbath. This means leaving the Sabbath exclusively for the worship of God in the gathered assembly of His people (at your local church). This could also mean being ready to do good works towards others as we remember God’s goodness to us in Christ. The whole day is to be devoted to the worship of God.
2. The Need to “Remember” Because We Are Prone to Forgetting
God knew that as his creatures, we need to be reminded of Him as our Creator lest we forget and begin to live our lives apart from Him. Just as the Lord’s Supper helps us to “remember” the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), the Sabbath helps us to “remember” God who made us for His own glory and the eternal rest which awaits us all in Christ. In this broken world, our lives are often fragmented and we easily lose focus on the main and important things of life. Sometimes, our lives are going so fast that we forget the obvious truths of life. The Sabbath reminds us that in and of ourselves, we are hopeless but in Christ, we have eternal hope. The Sabbath reminds us that Christ alone is our righteousness and that apart from Him we are eternally condemned. This strengthens our faith and dependence on Him.
3. Christ Resurrection Refocuses the Sabbath
We are to rest on the Sabbath because on this Day, Christ finished the work of redeeming us from the “curse of the law” according to the Scriptures. After His death, Christ was buried in the grave according to the Scriptures. But He did not remain in the grave. He rose again from the dead according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15). Christ has now entered His own rest. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is the apex of all history. Everything points to Him. All of the Old Testament finds its meaning in the redemptive work accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ in His life, death, burial and resurrection. Christ’s work of redemption and especially His resurrection has therefore refocused the day. No longer are we required to rest and worship on the Jewish Sabbath as was the case before Christ’s resurrection. The true Christian Sabbath now has shifted to Sunday (the first day of the week) because that is when Christ rose again from the dead (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).
Therefore, as the redeemed of the Lord, created to love, serve and honor Him, we must “remember” the Sabbath day until the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when the work of redemption which He has begun in us will be fully complete. When we shall be gathered before His Throne: pure and blameless; without any spot or wrinkle; “clothed in His righteousness alone” with all of His people from every tribe, kindred, nation and tongue. Then we shall truly rest from the power as well as the presence of sin. Until that day, let us make every effort to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:11) for there still “remains a Sabbath rest for God’s people” (Hebrews 4:9). AMEN!