If someone were to ask me, "Why do you keep the Sabbath?" I would have to say there are many different reasons. The simplest answer is Jesus kept Sabbath his entire life here on earth and I am following Him. As a Christian, my greatest desire is to be like Christ. Jesus tells us, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John14:15) Simple right?
There are more Sunday keeping Protestants than Sabbath keeping Protestants. Those who keep the seventh day Sabbath cherish that time. I know I do. Christians who go to church on Sunday are sometimes bewildered by the idea of keeping the seventh day holy. After all isn't the seventh day Sabbath for the Jews? Wasn't it nailed to the cross? Many believe that Sabbath keepers are simply legalistic and do not understand what is means to be saved by grace.
This is not necessarily true. I was not always a Sabbath keeper. I was raised going to Sunday School each week. So why did I make the change? When I began studying the Bible more thouroughly, I felt that keeping the Fourth Commandment was important then and now. Just as I believe that all Ten Commandmets are relevent to today's Christian.
The Sabbath was not set up at the time of God writing the commandment down for Moses. It was instituted at the time of Creation. "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seveth day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all His work which God created and made." (Genesis 2:2-3) This was 2000 years before Mount Siani. But you wonder if people were actually keeping the Sabbath before the Ten Commandments came down with Moses? "Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? ... So the people rested on the seventh day."(Exodus 16:26-30) Later when Moses went up on the mount to receive the Ten Commandments God said, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord Thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work... For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8-11) The Fourth Commandment refers to the Creation week. The commandment tells us that God hallowed the seventh day at Creation. This tells me that the Sabbath is for everyone. It is so amazing to think of God's hand coming down and writing the Ten Commandments! We know that Abraham obeyed God's laws as well. "Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (Genesis 26:5) Abraham was not a Jew. And if God's Holy Law had not been given until Moses received them, how did Abraham know what they were? And why would God tell the Jews to remember something they had never known?
I believe that the Ten Commandments were never abolished because Jesus never said they were. The New Testement tells us: "Sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4) and that: "Where no law is, there is no transgression."(Romans 4:15) Jesus said, "Think not that I come to destroy the law or the prohets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19) And if you continue to read on through verses 20-48 Jesus talks about the Ten Commandments. Verse 48 says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." God keeps His Laws perfectly, we can only strive to keep them and repent if we fail.
I do not believe that keeping the Sabbath or any other law perfectly will get me into heaven. Only by the grace of God and Jesus' blood can I ever be accepted. Jesus died so that each of us might have eternal life if we choose it. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Jesus shed His blood for us. The only way we can be saved is if we accept Jesus and repent of our sins. We know that: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Crist our Lord." and that "sin is transgression of the law."(1 John 3:4) The reason I keep God's commandments is because I love him. I want to obey him. Paul kept the Sabbath after Jesus' death as did Christian Gentiles. "And when the Jews were gone out of the synogogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God."
What about John sayig he was "in the spirit on the Lord's Day" (Revelation 1:10)? Doesn't that mean Sunday? No, it does not. In his previous writing, John refered to Sunday as "the first day of the week."(John 20:1, 19) The Bible tells us that: "The Son of Man is Lord even on the Sabbath day." (Matthew 12:8) and that: "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 the Lord's day. Notice also that we are not told that the Sabbath was made for the Jews, but that it "was made for man." When Jesus died on the cross he rested in the grave for the entire Sabbath and rose on the first day of the week. (Matthew 28:1) We commemorate the resurrection, not by worshiping on Sunday, but through baptism. "We are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should was in the newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
When you love the Lord with all of your heart, keeping the law comes naturally. "For I delight in the law of God..." (Romans 7:22) "Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Romans 7:7) "Thou shalt not covet..."(Exodus 20:17) is the Tenth Commandment, so the "law" Paul must have been talking about is the Ten Commandments.
Keeping the Sabbath holy should not be veiwed as a day of "can't do this and can't do that." Rather we should realize what we can do on the Sabbath and the things we don't have to do. For instance no work! A day of rest and relaxation and communion with God. If it is a chore to spend a day worshiping the Father, it must be a sad relationship we have with Him. It should be a delight to spend time with Him. "... call the Sabbath a delight..."(Isaiah 58:13) "But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." (Psalm 1:2) God promises us the desires of our heart when we worship Him."Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." (Psalm 37:4)
For me the Sabbath is a delight, a time I look forward to each week. I thank God for His wisdom in knowing that we would need a time each week set apart from the rest of the world; when our thoughts could turn away from all that we must accomplish during the week. What a wonderful Lord and Saviour!
"I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart."
Melissa Ringstaff is the Director of A Virtuous Woman, a non-profit ministry for women based on the Scriptures of Proverbs 31. You can reach her at www.avirtuouswoman.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.