What is God's PURPOSE for His weekly Sabbath? Why do so few understand that keeping
the Sabbath brings special BLESSINGS? Let's learn HOW and WHY New Testament Christians
are to keep God's
Sabbath day holy.
Does it really matter on which day of the week we worship God? Is the observance
of any day of the week in
honour of the Creator equally acceptable? God commands us to "Remember the Sabbath
day, to keep it holy. Six days shall thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh
day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shall not do any work" (Ex. 20:8-10).
But why should we observe God's holy Sabbath day? What purpose does the seventh-day
Sabbath serve in
the space age? And how does one keep it holy?
CREATED BY JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ is the member of the God Family through whom God created all (Eph. 3:9;
Heb. 1:1-2). But did
you know that Christ, the Word (John 1:1-3, 14), also "made" the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28)
and later kept it
as a human? After finishing His work of renewing the face of the earth and creating
all physical life upon it in six days, the Word "rested" on the seventh day (Gen.
2:2-3; Ex. 20:11). By resting on the seventh day, He "sanctifies" it, setting it
apart for a special purpose. The word "Sabbath" means rest in Hebrew. God intended
the seventh day to be a period of rest and relaxation from our regular work of the
previous six days. And so God set the example for mankind by ceasing from all work
on the seventh day of what is commonly called creation week. By so doing, He made
the Sabbath and set apart every future seventh day as a time of rest for man.
But the purpose for keeping God's Sabbath goes far beyond simply resting from our
labours every seventh day.
WHY THE SABBATH?
When God does anything, or makes anything, there is a reason-an important purpose.
God created man and
put him here on earth for a purpose. But mankind has lost the knowledge of that great
purpose. God, through the Word, made the Sabbath. But why? What purpose does it serve?
Mankind has lost knowledge of that important purpose, too! Jesus Christ said the
Sabbath was "made for man" (Mark 2:27), but He did not then say why or for what great
purpose the Sabbath was made, except to serve and benefit man. God revealed that
important purpose to His chosen people about 1,470 years earlier, shortly after delivering
them from slavery in Egypt.
After God spoke the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai and His covenant with Israel had
been made complete,
God made a totally separate and eternally binding covenant with His people (Ex. 31:12-17).
Notice the conditions of this special covenant: "And the LORD spoke 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 generation; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify
you" (verses 12-13).
Here, then, is the purpose of the Sabbath. It is a "sign." A sign is a badge, symbol
or token of identity. God
commanded His people to keep His Sabbath as a sign to identify WHO is their God!
God gave man His Sabbath for the purpose of keeping mankind in the true knowledge
and true worship of
the true God. The Sabbath points back to the creation of the present physical world
(Ex. 20:1 1; 31:17), and
creation is proof of God's existence. The very day God set aside for assembly and
worship points as a memorial to WHOM we are to worship-the Creator and Ruler of all
But that is not all.
SABBATH IDENTIFIES GOD'S PEOPLE
The Sabbath was also given as a sign to identify who are the people of God. Not only
does the special
covenant say, "...that ye may know that I am the LORD...... but "...that ye may know
that I am the LORD that
doth sanctify you" (Ex. 31:13).The word "sanctify" means to set apart for a holy
use or purpose. On the seventh day of creation week, the Eternal sanctified-that
is, He set apart for a holy use-the Sabbath day. The special Sabbath covenant also
reveals that the Sabbath is a sign that the Eternal sanctifies His obedient people-
sets them apart from other people-for His holy purpose. In Old Testament times, God's
people were the tribes that composed the nation of Israel. In New Testament times,
God's people are spiritual Israelites (Gal. 3:28-29) - those of His own Spirit-led
Church-His Spirit begotten children. And they are being prepared by God for a holy
For these "first fruits" (James. 1:18) of God's Master Plan, the Sabbath foreshadows
the completion of God's
spiritual creation in them. It pictures their being BORN into the Kingdom or Family
of God to be rulers and
teachers of His Word in tomorrow's world (Rev. 5:10).
THE TEST COMMANDMENT
In Exodus 16 we find that Sabbath keeping was a test of the Israelites obedience
to God. God told Moses He
was going to "prove them, whether they will walk in my law" (verse 4). God's sign
is one we accept voluntarily. But how many do you know who keep the seventh day Sabbath?
It is obvious to the world when one keeps God's Sabbath. But most people don't want
to be identified as being different from the world.
Many professing Christians are willing at least to acknowledge that the other nine
commandments should be
kept, but the one commandment they reject and refuse to keep is the Fourth! Therefore
it is the crucial test of obedience, for it identifies those who have truly surrendered
to God-who obey all of His commandments regardless of persecution or cost! God commands
us to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex. 20:8). God is giving us a
TEST-an examination relevant to our entrance into eternal life in His Kingdom-every
week! What kind of grade is God giving you?
Let's begin an in-depth study of this most important day of the week to make sure
we are passing God's test.
GOD'S SPECIAL CREATION FOR MAN
The seventh-day Sabbath was a unique creation. It was not until God's physical creation,
including man, was
complete that the Creator brought the Sabbath into existence. The plain truth about
God's holy Sabbath day begins in the second chapter of Genesis.
1. On which day of what is commonly called creation week did God rest? Gen. 2:1-3;
Ex. 20:11. Did God rest because He was tired from all the work He had done during
the previous six days?
Comment. God is composed of spirit and therefore never becomes tired. God created
or "made" (Mark
2:27) the Sabbath by resting, whereas all else was created and made by working. By
resting on the seventh
day, God also set an example for mankind to follow.
2. What did God do to the seventh day? Gen. 2:3.
Comment: Notice that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. By resting on
the seventh day of
creation week, God put His divine presence in it, making it holy. Therefore He set
it apart from the other six
days of the week for a holy use. In so doing, He also made every future seventh day
of the week holy!
God established the Sabbath as the time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Each
week when that time
arrives, we are in holy time! It is GOD'S time, not ours. God made it holy, and in
the Fourth Commandment
He commands us to keep it holy!
3. Which member of the God Family made that first Sabbath? Col. 1:13-16; Mark 2:28.
Is the seventh day
Sabbath one of the Creator God's Holy Days? Isaiah. 58:13.
Comment. As we have proved conclusively from our studies with previous lessons, Jesus
Christ was the
Lord God who revealed Himself to ancient Israel throughout the Old Testament. God
the Father created all
things through Him. Jesus Christ is therefore "Lord of the Sabbath" because He made
it. So the seventh-day
Sabbath is the real "Lord's Day"!
4. For whom did Jesus say the Sabbath was made? Mark 2:27. Who would that include?
especially verse 10.
Comment: "The Sabbath was made for man," declared Jesus. Every seventh day from creation
set apart by God as time to be specially observed by mankind, regardless of race
or nationality. The Sabbath
was made for Adam and all of his descendants, including everyone today! The seventh-day
Sabbath was to
benefit all who would ever live-if they would keep it as God intended.
5. How did God intend the Sabbath to benefit mankind? Deut. 5:14; Ex. 23:12. (Notice
the words "rest"
Comment: The word "Sabbath" means rest in Hebrew, the language in which the Old Testament
Scriptures were written. Physical rest and mental relaxation after a busy week are
obvious reasons for keeping
the seventh-day Sabbath. God knew humans would need periodic rest and change from
work. But the purpose for keeping God's Sabbath goes far beyond simply resting on
it and being refreshed physically.
6. Is the Sabbath also a reminder of God's creation? Ex. 20:8-11, especially verse
Comment. Keeping God's seventh-day Sabbath every week reminds us that God is the
Creator of all that
exists, including all of humanity. Thus the Sabbath is a memorial of God's creation,
which includes God's great
spiritual purpose for creating mankind. As we will learn later in this lesson, the
Sabbath also pictures our
eventual spiritual birth as members in God's divine Family! God set aside a special
or hallowed one-seventh of the week to be a reminder of Him as Creator and of His
purpose for our existence. The Sabbath is time in which we can be spiritually rejuvenated
by having close spiritual contact with God. It allows us time to think more about
God, to pray to and worship Him (both in private and in fellowship with others),
and to study the Bible to understand more about His awesome purpose for our lives
and how to achieve it!
SABBATH DAY MIRACULOUSLY REVEALED TO ISRAEL
From the time of creation week until the Exodus (more than 2,500 years later), we
find no specific mention of
the Sabbath in the Bible. Obviously, however, "righteous" Abel (Heb. 11:4), Enoch
(who "pleased God"-
verse 5), Noah (a "just man" and a "preacher of righteousness" Gen. 6:9; 2 Pet. 2:5),
Abraham (the father of
the faithful- Rom. 4:16), Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and others kept God's Sabbath. These
men were righteous in
God's sight, and righteousness is keeping God's commandments (Ps. 11 9:172).
Let's especially notice the example of Abraham.
1 . Are we told that Abraham kept God's law, which would have included His seventh-day
Sabbath? Gen. 26:5.
Comment: The patriarchs knew and kept God's law. God would not have inspired Moses
to write that
Abraham kept His commandments, statutes and laws if he had kept the wrong day for
the Sabbath or had not
kept it at all!
2. Was God confident that Abraham would teach his children to keep His law? Gen.
Comment: Isaac kept the seventh-day Sabbath, since Sabbath keeping is a part of God's
law-His way of life. Jacob
(whom God later renamed Israel) also kept the Sabbath, following in his father Isaac's
footsteps. However, by
the time of Moses, their descendants, the Israelites, had lost much, if not most,
of the knowledge of God's
way. Recall that after the death of Joseph, the children of Israel became slaves
in Egypt, a land in which time was
not measured by weeks, but only by months and years. The Israelites were forbidden
to worship the true God
and forced to work seven days a week. For about a century, they were not permitted
to keep the Sabbath.
But shortly after delivering them from Egypt, God made it absolutely clear to the
Israelites exactly which day is
His Sabbath by specially revealing it to them.
3. One month after leaving Egypt, and about two weeks before arriving at Mt. Sinai,
where God thundered
out the Ten Commandments, what did God promise to give the Israelites? Ex. 16:4.
What did they call this bread? Verse 15. (Be sure to read all of this chapter before
going any further).
4. Was the raining of this bread from heaven also to be a test of the Israelites'
willingness to obey God? Verse
4, last part. (Notice that God's law existed before He spoke the Ten Commandments
at Mt. Sinai.) Were they told not to save manna overnight for the next day? Verse
19. What happened to the manna the disobedient ones saved for the following day?
5. Were the Israelites to gather twice the normal amount of manna on Friday morning?
Verse 5. Was this double portion to be enough for both Friday and Saturday, the seventh-day
Sabbath? Verse 23.
6. Did the manna saved for the Sabbath stink and breed worms, as it did if saved
overnight for any of the
previous six days? Verse 24. Was that because God withheld manna from falling on
the seventh day, and
miraculously preserved the portions saved for the Sabbath? Verses 25-26.
7. But did some of the people disbelieve Moses and disobey God by trying to gather
manna on the Sabbath?
Verses 27-28. Did God again command them not to work on the Sabbath? Verse 29. What
did the people
finally do on the Sabbath? Verse 30.
Comment. The absence of manna on the seventh day identified exactly which day was
the Sabbath on
which the Israelites were to rest from all their labours. Thus God miraculously revealed
His Sabbath day to
them! Notice that God performed several miracles every week to point out the exact
day of the Sabbath to the
Israelites. He miraculously gave the people manna on the first six days of the week,
including a double portion
on the sixth day. And He preserved the leftover portion of Friday's manna so it could
be eaten on the
Sabbath, since there would be none to gather on the seventh day, thereby giving the
people rest from working
on His Holy Day. Every week God vividly reminded the Israelites of His seventh-day
Sabbath. He performed these miracles week after week for forty years (Ex. 16:35).
This clearly shows how important Sabbath keeping is to God!
A SIGN OF IDENTIFICATION
God has a special sign that identifies His people. That sign of identification is
His holy Sabbath day. Let's
understand how it identifies true Christians today.
1 . In addition to commanding the Israelites to keep the Sabbath, revealing by the
miracles of manna which day
it is, and shortly thereafter including it as one of the Ten Commandments, did the
One who later became Jesus
Christ make Sabbath keeping an additional and separate covenant or agreement with
His people? Ex. 31:12-
16, especially verse 16. Was this covenant to be binding forever? Verses 16-17.
2. Was the Sabbath to be a "sign" between the Creator and His people? Verses 12-13,
17. Would He sanctify-set apart for a holy use-the Sabbath keepers? Verse 13, last
Comment. A sign identifies. A sign may advertise a business's name and the nature
of the business. A
sign may also proclaim certain other information. What knowledge does the Sabbath
advertise? "That ye may
know that I am the LORD" who "made heaven and earth" (Ex. 31:13, 17). The Sabbath
identifies who the
true God is. It is a reminder of the Creator of the heavens and earth! God wanted
ancient Israel to be sure to remember that He is Creator, and Supreme Ruler over
all His creation. So He singled out Sabbath observance as the one great sign by which
they would always be reminded of who He is. But this special Sabbath covenant of
Exodus 31 reveals that the Sabbath does more than identify the Creator. It is also
a sign that identifies the true people of God: "That ye may know that I am the LORD
that doth sanctify you" (verse 13). The Sabbath was to point out who they were-His
chosen people. It was the one commandment that would make Israel especially stand
out from all other nations. As stated earlier in this lesson, most people do not
want to be identified as being different from the world. Most simply will not keep
the Fourth Commandment unless they truly want to obey all of God's commandments.
Therefore it is the crucial test of obedience today, just as it was to ancient Israel
(Ex. 16:4), because it identifies those who have surrendered to God-who obey all
of His commandments. And so God doubly commanded Sabbath observances by making it
a separate covenant with His people after the covenant commonly called the Old Covenant
(which included the Ten commandments) had been completed ratified, and put into force
and effect. This special Sabbath covenant was to be an everlasting agreement. It
was to be the sign that would identify the people of God of all generations, including
"spiritual Israel" today-Spirit begotten members of God’s Church.
3. Does the Bible reveal that a real Christian, regardless of race or nationality,
is one who has become a
spiritual Israelite-one of Abraham's "seed" through Jesus Christ? Gal. 3:28- 29,
Rom. 4:16; Eph. 2:11-13, 19.
Comment. God made the special Sabbath covenant with Abraham's physical seed-the nation
of Israel. It
was to be obeyed throughout their generations. Today, all Spirit-begotten children
of God-true Christians
(Rom. 8:9)-regardless of race or national origin, have become Abraham's spiritual
descendants, and therefore,
keep God's Sabbath! They have been set apart ("sanctified"-Ex. 31:13) by God as His
However, most religious groups that profess to keep God's seventh-day Sabbath do
not keep all of God's
commandments. Therefore they are not part of the Church of God, which is composed
children of God. Jesus said that His disciples would keep all of His commandments
(John 14:15, 21). And
God gives His Holy Spirit only to those who obey Him! (Acts 5:32). God's special
Sabbath covenant reveals another important reason why true Christians keep His Sabbath
today. Let's further understand why God wanted to sanctify the Israelites.
4. What were the Israelites to become if they obeyed God? Ex. 19:5-6. Were they to
set an example of
obedience for the Gentile nations? Deut. 4:5-8.
Comment. Israel was to be set apart as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. They,
by their example of
obedience, were to lead the Gentiles to obedience to God so they could also receive
the blessings that would
result from keeping God's law. God called the ancient Israelites out of slavery not
only to fulfil His promises to the patriarchs, but also so that through the Israelites
He could reveal Himself to the world-to show that He is the Creator and ruler of
the universe-and to reveal His laws, commandments, promises and blessings to the
rest of mankind! So the keeping of God's Sabbaths was to also be a sign that the
Israelites were selected for this purpose.
5. Did the physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac become a holy nation and
kingdom of priests?
Ezek. 20:13. (Notice the word "rebelled".) Did they keep God's Sabbaths? Same verse.
Comment: The nation or Congregation of Israel was a physical type of God's spiritual
Church today. Had
the Israelites obeyed God, they would have become a holy nation, fit and able to
teach other nations. But they
failed to keep the Sabbath holy. Therefore they failed to remember the true Creator
God and failed to become
a holy people and a light to the world.
6. Today, for what special purpose are Spirit-begotten Christians-spiritual Israelites
especially set apart from
this present evil world? I Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 5:10; 20:6. Are they the light that
ancient Israel failed to become?
Matt. 5:14, 16.
Comment: As we learned in Lesson 16, the Israelites under the covenant of Sinai failed
to respond to their
calling because they did not have the Holy Spirit to help them recognize or understand
this call and carry it out.
But we, if we are converted spiritual Israelites, do have the perception and power
through the Holy Spirit to
recognize our calling and obey God. It is we who keep God's Sabbath day holy and
keep His commandments who will become God's "holy nation" and "kingdom of priests"!
We will become this holy nation when we are born into the Kingdom of God at Christ's
soon coming. Christ will then have made us "kings and priests" unto Himself and His
Father (Rev. 1:6). As members of the ruling Family of God, we will be prepared to
teach, serve and save the world throughout the Millennium and beyond!
TRUE CHURCH KEPT GOD'S SABBATH
Jesus, our perfect example, kept the seventh-day Sabbath properly. So did the Church
He founded. The
example set by Christ and His apostles is recorded in the Bible for us to follow
1 . Did Jesus set an example of how we are to live? I Pet. 2:21; 1 John 2:6.
Comment: Jesus taught His disciples how to live the Christian way of life. He also
showed how He, as
Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), intended the Sabbath to be kept. And Jesus shows
us today, by His
recorded example and teaching, how the Sabbath is to be a great joy and blessing.
2. How do we know Christ kept the Sabbath? Luke 4:16, 31.
Comment: Jesus regularly attended religious services on the Sabbath day "as His custom
was." He obeyed
His own command to meet every Sabbath (Lev. 23:3). This is the day He would naturally
because He is the One who made the Sabbath and ordained that it be kept holy!
3. Did the women who came with Jesus from Galilee observe the Sabbath a few days
was crucified? Luke 23:55-56. Was the first day of the week (Sunday) still a regular
work day? Luke 24:1.
Comment: Notice the words "according to the commandment" in Luke 23:56. Writing this
30 years later, Luke knew the Sabbath commandment was still in effect.
4. Was it also the Apostle Paul's custom to keep the Sabbath? Acts 17:1-2. Did Paul
keep the Sabbath
because he felt like it, or because Jesus Christ dwelt in him through the Holy Spirit?
Gal. 2:20. Does Christ's
will remain the same forever? Heb. 13:8.
Comment: It is quite plain that the Apostle Paul observed the same day Christ did.
And if Christ lives His
life in us today through God's Spirit, we will also be keeping the same day Jesus
kept-the seventh-day Sabbath!
5. Was the Apostle Paul specially taught by Christ in preparation of his ministry?
Gal. 1:11-12, 17-18.
Comment: Christ trained Paul for his ministry to the Gentiles, apparently during
the three years he was in
Arabia. Had Christ done away with any of His Father's laws or changed the Sabbath
to some other day, He
certainly would have revealed it to Paul. But no changes were made. Paul taught the
Church of God exactly
what Christ taught him to preach, as the Bible clearly shows! Notice further.
6. Did Paul, even in a predominantly Gentile city, observe the seventh-day Sabbath?
Acts 1 8:1-4, 6, 11.
Comment: For more than 18 months in Corinth, Paul laboured during the first six days
of the work as a
tentmaker. Then he preached every Sabbath-on Saturday, the seventh day! Notice how
the Sabbath was regarded by Gentile converts in the early Church.
7. On one particular occasion Paul preached to both Jews and Gentiles on the Sabbath
After the Jews left the synagogue, did the Gentiles ask Paul to preach to them again
on the next Sabbath?
Verse 42. On the next Sabbath, how many came to hear Paul? Verse 44
Comment: Notice that it was the practice of many Gentiles to meet with the Jews on
the Sabbath. And
because these Gentiles were interested in Paul's message, they asked him to speak
about Jesus again on the
very next Sabbath. Even though this would have been a good opportunity to do so,
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, did not tell them to cease assembling on the Sabbath
If we could find even one text in the New Testament giving us as strong authority
for Sunday observance as
these do for Sabbath keeping, we would have Scriptural authority for observing the
first day of the week. But
it just isn't there! The phrase "first day of the week" is found eight times in the
New Testament. But in not one of these eight texts is there found any authority for
changing the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday. (A future lesson will cover the details
of how men, not God, changed the Sabbath to Sunday, the first day of the week.)
8. Since Paul followed the example of Christ who dwelt in him, what did he command
the Gentile Christians
at Corinth? I Corinthians. 11: 1. Did he command the Philippians to do likewise?
Comment: Paul taught the converted, Spirit-begotten Gentile Christians to imitate
his obedience to God, even as he imitated Christ's obedience. The Christian Gentiles
of the early Church of God always assembled on the Sabbath day, just as Christ did
while in the flesh, in order to keep the day God commands in His Word.
In like manner today, all Spirit-begotten children of God imitate Jesus Christ and
the Apostle Paul by keeping
the seventh-day holy!
9. What did Christ say that indicates His Church would still be keeping the Sabbath
even at the time of the
end, just before His Second Coming? Matt. 24:20.
Comment: Christ clearly shows here that His Church would continue to keep His Sabbath
The early Church of God fled from Jerusalem before the city was destroyed by the
Romans in A.D. 70. True
Christians were keeping the Sabbath at that time. But this prophecy is dual, and
its main fulfilment is yet in the
future. It shows that God's people will then still be keeping His Sabbath! For more
than 1,900 years, God's true Church has continued to keep the commandments of God,
including the seventh-day Sabbath! (Rev. 12:17; 14:12).
WEEKLY CYCLE REMAINS UNCHANGED
Would God set apart a certain day of the week, put His blessing on it, make it holy
time, command that it be
kept holy forever, and then let that holy time become "lost" so we would not know
when to keep it today?
Absolutely not ! God has seen to it that the knowledge of when to keep His holy Sabbath
day has been preserved.
1 . What did God entrust the tribe of Judah-the Jews-to preserve? Rom. 3:1-2.
Comment: Paul shows that God used the Jews to preserve the Hebrew or Old Testament
Scriptures ("oracles"). God caused the Jews to preserve this revealed knowledge for
His New Testament, Spirit-begotten Church!
2. What did Jesus say that shows the Old Testament Scriptures had been preserved?
Matt. 5:17-18; Luke
16:17; John 5:46-47.
Comment The Jews carefully preserved God's Word. Jesus plainly indicated it was intact
in His day and
dogmatically stated it would NEVER BE LOST! That of course, applies to the written
word of God. They
also preserved the weekly cycle and the true Sabbath day, but unfortunately departed
from the calendar they
kept at the time of Christ in the 4th century, so that now their annual festivals
rarely fall on the correct day.
3. Can we be absolutely certain that the Jews preserved and observed the right day
for the Sabbath up to the
time Jesus lived? Luke 4:16.
Comment. Notice again that it was Jesus' "custom" to keep the same Sabbath day the
The One who made the Sabbath would not have been keeping the wrong day! Clearly the
Jews at that time
knew which day of the week was God's Sabbath. Notice also that Jesus gave His official
approval of the Scriptures the Jews used by reading aloud from them in the synagogues
on the Sabbath day! But could time have been "lost" between then and now? After the
destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the Jews eventually migrated to all parts of
the world. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Jews in China had no way of communicating
with the Jews in Africa. Nor could the Jews in Europe communicate with other parts
of the world. If the weekly cycle had been changed or mixed up, the Jews in one part
of the world would be observing one day for the Sabbath, while the Jews in another
part would be observing another day. But everywhere, in every nation on earth, we
find that the Jews have always been observing the same day Jesus kept-the seventh
day, Saturday! This practice of the Jews is proof that we have not lost the right
day for God's Sabbath. Even though the Jews in general have lacked spiritual understanding
and have disobeyed the Scriptures (John 7:19; Rom. 3:3-4), and although they became
overly strict in keeping the Sabbath by adding many of their own customs and traditions,
the Jews have faithfully retained the knowledge of the correct day for God's Sabbath.
FORESHADOW OF THE MILLENNIUM
God has ordained a period of 7,000 years in which to accomplish His spiritual creation
of mankind. The time
pattern for God's little-known plan is revealed in the first two chapters of Genesis.
It is the seven-day week.
Besides being a memorial of creation and an identifier of the Creator and His Spirit-begotten
children, the Bible
shows that the weekly Sabbath is a type or foreshadow of the coming millennial "Sabbath"-the
millennial "day" in God's 7,000-year "week" for the working out of His plan for mankind.
1 . Is a thousand years as a "day" to God, and vice versa? 2 Pet. 3:8. Is the time
Christ and the resurrected
saints will rule over the earth specifically called a thousand years? Rev. 20:4-6.
Comment: In God's plan for man, a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years
of human civilization is as one day in His planned "week' of seven 1,000-year "days"
! God intended the weekly Sabbath day to foreshadow or picture the coming 1,000-year
period known as the Millennium. ("Millennium" literally means "thousand years.")
The Millennium will be a time of rest and peace for the entire world-a 1000-year
"Sabbath" of rest from Satan's influence and the resultant discontent, strife and
warfare. It is during this thousand-year Sabbath that the knowledge of God's great
purpose for mankind will spread throughout the world (Isaiah. 11:9). All mankind
then living will be taught God's ways and given the opportunity to be begotten by
God's Spirit, and the vast majority will eventually be born into the Family of God.
The first six days of creation week clearly correspond to the 6,000-year period of
human civilization that we are now nearing the end of. Since Adam chose to follow
Satan's way of "get" instead of God's way of "give," God has allotted mankind 6,000
years in which to learn that disobedience to Him results in nothing but suffering
and death! God has permitted Satan to exercise dominion over mankind for 6,000 years.
"Six thousand years," God said in effect to Satan, "you may labour and do all your
work” -in this case Satan's work of deception and influencing man to sin- “but the
seventh thousand-year period is My Sabbath; in it you will not do any work” (compare
with Exodus 20:9-1 0). Thank God we are near the end of the six working "days" allotted
to Satan. God's thousand year "Sabbath" is about to begin!
SABBATH PICTURES THE KINGDOM OF GOD
In Hebrews 3 and 4, Christians are exhorted to continue keeping the seventh-day Sabbath
in light of an interesting and important analogy. A comparison is drawn between ancient
Israel's entrance into the Promised Land and the Christian's entrance into the Kingdom
of God We need to understand and be sure we're heeding God's warning!
1 .What does God warn all His Spirit-begotten children about entering His "rest"
? Heb.3:7-13,16-19; 4:1-2.
Was rebellion, especially Sabbath breaking, the reason God did not allow an entire
generation of Israelites to
enter His " rest"? Ezek. 20:12-13, 15-16.
Comment: The word "rest" in the mentioned verses in Hebrews is translated from the
katapausin, which is defined as "rest" or "place of rest'. As used in Hebrews 3:1
and 18, it denotes the ancient
Israelites' rest from their wanderings in the wilderness by entering the Promised
The "rest' Israel finally entered (Josh. 1: 1 3) is symbolic of the Christian's spiritual
"rest' (Heb. 4: 1) of entering
(being born) into the divine Kingdom or Family of God and living forever! The Israelites
were headed toward
the Promised Land, even as God's Spirit-begotten children today (spiritual Israelites)
are aiming at the goal of
entering God's Kingdom. But because Israel had become rebellious and polluted God's
Sabbaths during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, God did not allow
the generation of adults that came out of Egypt to enter the Promised Land.
2. Was it primarily because of their unbelief that the Israelites disobeyed, and
therefore were prevented from
entering God's "rest" for them-the land of Canaan? Heb. 3:19; 4:1-2.3.
Comment: Because the Israelites did not believe God, they "hardened their hearts".
They profaned God's Sabbaths even though He had made Sabbath keeping the very test
of their obedience (Ex. 16:4). Therefore God said of that generation, "They shall
not enter into my rest" (Heb. 3:11). And none of that generation, except faithful
Joshua and Caleb, entered the Promised Land. But the next generation born during
the 40 years in the wilderness, and those under 20 years of age at the Exodus, did
enter with those two men. God had originally promised this land to Abraham and his
descendants and, whether or not the Israelites obeyed, God was bound to keep his
3. If New Testament Christians believe and obey God, may they enter their "rest"-eternal
life in God's
Kingdom? Heb. 4:3, first nine words. What does Hebrews 4:4 refer to? Gen. 2:1-3.
Comment: Hebrews 4:4 plainly speaks of God's rest after finishing His work of creation.
This verse refers
directly to the first weekly Sabbath day as a type of the "rest" chapters 3 and 4
in Hebrews are speaking of.
And so the Sabbath day was symbolic of God's "rest" for ancient Israel-the Promised
Land they entered. And
both are symbolic of true Christians entering the Kingdom of God at Christ's return!
4. Will God's Spirit-begotten children be keeping His Sabbath day as a weekly foreshadow
of their future
"rest" in His Kingdom? Heb. 4:9-10.
Comment: The meaning of verse 9 has been obscured by the word "rest" in the Authorized
Everywhere else in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 the word "rest" is translated from the
Greek word katapausin.
However, in verse 9 of chapter 4, "rest" is translated from Sabbatismos, which literally
means "keeping of a
Sabbath"! Most English translations have correctly translated Hebrews 4:9. Even the
margin of the Authorized Version renders it: "There remains therefore a keeping of
a Sabbath to the people of God." The Moffatt translation
renders this verse: "There is a Sabbath-Rest, then, reserved still for the People
of God." The Lamsa translation
really makes it clear: "it is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the
Sabbath." So there still remains a sabbatismo-the KEEPING of the Sabbath day-for
God's people today. And Spirit begotten Christians (spiritual Israelites) will enter
the future "rest" (katapausin) of God's Kingdom even as they now keep the weekly
Sabbath, which points to it! But why would the Kingdom of God be pictured as a "rest"?
Because being a divine member in God's Family will be a rest from sin. When born
of God's Spirit, we will be free of our present struggles against sin. We will then
possess the fullness of the mind and character of God and thus be able to remain
sinless forever! (I John 3:9). And when born into God's Kingdom-when we become eternal
members of God's divine Family-we will each 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 present weak, mortal bodies that tire so easily. We'll then possess
for tireless, never-ending accomplishment (Isaiah. 40:28, 31). This is what we can
look forward to when we enter God's "rest"-when born into the eternal Family of God!
RESULTS OF POLLUTING GOD'S SABBATH
The Sabbath is so important to God that He included Sabbath keeping as one of His
part of the first four, which explain what our relationship to God should be. Let's
understand just how important Sabbath keeping really is in God's sight.
1. After delivering His people Israel from slavery in Egypt, did God promise them
tremendous blessings if
they would keep His commandments? Read Leviticus 26:3-12. Which commandments did
mention? Verses 1-2. How else would God bless Israel for obedience to Him? Read Deuteronomy
2. But what terrible curses would result it the Israelites would not keep God's commandments?
Leviticus 26:14-39. Was national defeat and captivity one of the curses? Verses 31-33,
What else would God do to the Israelites if they would not obey Him? Read Deuteronomy
Comment: God warned that tragic curses would befall the people if they would not
commandments, especially the Fourth, which was the great sign identifying Him as
their God and them as His
3. Did the House of Israel obey God? 11 Kings 17:16-17. What did God eventually do
to the people because of their disobedience? Verse 18. Were they removed to a foreign
land? Verse 23.
Comment: In the days of their last king, Hoshea, the northern ten tribes were invaded
conquered, removed from their land and made slaves. The reason for the punishment
was the same reason
God punished Israel in the wilderness-for rebelling against Him, and specifically
for polluting His Sabbaths !
(Review Ezekiel 20:12-24). They also committed idolatry which would not have happened
had they kept the
4. But the House of Judah also polluted God’s Sabbaths and therefore came under His
curse. More than
100 years after the House of Israel went into captivity, what did God do to Judah
for not keeping His holy
Sabbaths? 2Chron. 36:5-7, 16-19, 21. What happened to those who were not killed?
Comment: The sacking and destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon,
captivity of those who survived, was the fulfilment of God’s warning to Judah (Jeremiah.
17:21-25, 27). God was patient with the Houses of Israel and Judah, but after their
persistent disobedience, He finally allowed them to be militarily defeated and taken
5. Was Nehemiah well aware that the main reason Judah had been punished was for
breaking God's Sabbath, which the Jews were beginning to profane again in his day
? Nehemiah. 13:15, 17-18.
Comment: The punishments that befell ancient Israel and Judah were types of the same
prophesied to befall their modern descendants, who will be punished for the same
sins - Sabbath breaking and
GREAT BLESSINGS FOR OBEDIENCE
When God made the Sabbath by resting on the seventh day of creation week, He intended
His holy Sabbath to be a blessing to all mankind. Not only would people be refreshed
physically by keeping God’s commanded rest day, they would also be blessed materially
I. Does God promise to bless the individual who keeps His Sabbath? Isaiah. 56:1-2.
What did Jesus say a true
Christian will inherit? Matt. 5:5. What does He, as Lord of the Sabbath, promise
those who keep His
Sabbath properly? Isaiah. 58:13-14.
Comment: The "heritage of Jacob" is the inheritance God originally promised to Jacob's
righteous Abraham. God promised us- if we have become Abraham’s obedient spiritual
Christ (Gal. 3:16, 29) - eternal inheritance of the earth (Romans 4:13), as well
as great spiritual blessings!
Let’s notice further.
2. Recall the tremendous physical blessings God promised the ancient Israelites if
they would keep His
Sabbath and other commandments. Are the Blessings of Leviticus 26:11-12 also promised
Christians? 2Cor. 6:16-18. Upon what conditions? Verse 17.
Comment: These blessings are clearly conditional both for the ancient Israelites
and for spiritual
Israelites-God's Church today. God's blessings come as a result of obedience to Him,
not rebellion or apathy.
Verse 18 shows us one of the greatest of God's blessings: becoming Spirit-born members
of the divine Family
of God! Those who obediently keep God's Sabbath spiritually draw closer to their
Creator. They are reminded of and grow in the understanding of God's great purpose
for them. They are cooperating with God in perfecting the spiritual character He
is creating within them in preparation for their eventual birth into His Family.
3. In the very next verse, what is the Apostle Paul's exhortation to all Christians,
which they must follow before
they can receive God's spiritual blessings? 2 Corinthians. 7:1
4. What name does God promise to give those who obey Him, faithfully observing His
Sabbath every week?
Isaiah. 56:4-6. Will God make them His joyful Sons with positions of ruler-ship in
His own house, His Temple-the
seat of His world government? Verse 5 and the first part of verse 7; also Revelation
Comment: God specifically promises that if we do not pollute His Sabbath, but keep
it as He commands,
we will inherit an everlasting name-the family name GOD! Our incredible potential,
as we learned in God's Word through previous lessons, is to become sinless, powerful,
Spirit-born members in God's divine Family! Our spiritual birth into God's Family
will make us SPIRIT BEINGS like the Father and Jesus Christ! Tremendous spiritual
blessings await those who have the sign of obedience to God that distinguishes them-sets
them apart-as ones destined to inherit God's incomprehensible riches-glorious eternal
life filled with never ending joy and accomplishment in the universe ruling Kingdom
THE FAITH TO OBEY
Keeping the Sabbath sometimes requires considerable faith. It is not always easy
to obey God in a world that
lives diametrically opposite to God's way. But as we have just seen, the blessings
are very great for those who
have the courage to step out in faith and obey God, regardless of any pressures or
obstacles that appear to be presenting them from keeping the seventh-day Sabbath.
Let's review a few facts about the help God promised to give us if we sincerely desire
to obey Him in all things.
1 . Does God plainly show that we must have faith before He will give us eternal
"rest" membership in His
Kingdom? Heb. 4:1-3, 6. (Notice the words "faith" in verse 2, "believed" in verse
3 and "unbelief" in verse 6).
Comment: "Unbelief" is a lack of faith, resulting in disobedience to God. We are
exercising faith when we
obey God by resting on His Sabbath day. Notice further.
2. Must obedience accompany one's faith to make it acceptable to God? Rom. 3:31.
Also read James 2:14-
26. How does one demonstrate his faith? James. 2:18. What does one's faith become
if not accompanied by
works? Verses 17, 20, 26.
3, What further encouragement are Christians given about entering God's eternal "rest"?
Where may they go for the help-the faith-needed to obey God? Verses 14-16.
Comment: This whole chapter is about keeping God's Sabbath. And it closes by telling
us to go to Christ
for the help we need in overcoming all obstacles in our path that may be hindering
us from obeying God.
4. Is the faith through which we are to please God and receive salvation a gift from
God? Eph. 2:8. Is this
faith an attribute of the Holy Spirit that all true Christians must possess? Gal.
5:22. Whose faith, in reality, is
it? Rev. 14:12.
Comment: In Revelation 14:12 is a description of the true Church of God. Those in
God's Church have
the "faith of Jesus". It is not just their faith in HIM, but HIS faith placed in
them and acting in them!
God's Spirit can impart to your mind real saving faith. That faith-the very faith
of Jesus Christ by which He
Himself obeyed God-will enable you to obey God! (Be sure to review in Lesson 12 the
section "You Can
Overcome!" It explains in much greater detail the faith necessary to obey God, and
how we can receive it).
REJOICE IT’S GOD'S SABBATH DAY!
1. Is the keeping of God's Sabbath commandment a grievous burden to Christians?
I John 5:3.
Comment: God's Ten Commandments, including the Fourth, are a blessing to keep, not
Through a complete misunderstanding of the Scripture is a great curse to mankind!
Let's completely dispel this
2. Was man made for the Sabbath, or was the Sabbath made for man? Mark 2:27.
Comment: The Sabbath, as we have learned, is holy time. Yet, it was made for man
to be a great
BLESSING to all mankind. The Sabbath is one of the greatest blessings the Creator
has bestowed upon the
human family! The true observance of the Sabbath would keep man in contact with God.
Without that contact, he cannot know the tremendous purpose for his existence or
understanding the law that govern success in life. He is cut off from the understanding
of what he is, where he is going and how to get there. However, as a result of God
having caused the House of Judah to be taken into Babylonian captivity for polluting
His Sabbaths, many of the Jews who were allowed to return to Jerusalem by Cyrus,
king of Persia, became very strict in observing the Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisee
of Jesus' day had a list of about 65 activities defined as "work" that they prohibited.
These uninspired prohibitions made Sabbath observance a "yoke of bondage." These
additions went far beyond the spirit and intent of the Fourth Commandment. Jesus
Christ rebuked the self-righteous Pharisees for their traditions and swept those
human regulations aside!
3. Did Jesus show it is permissible to obtain food on the Sabbath if one is hungry
Matt. 12:1-8; Mark
2:27. How did He show it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath? Mark 3:1 4. Did the
Lord of the Sabbath
acknowledge that it was proper to rescue an animal that had fallen into a ditch on
the Sabbath, and thus by
implication handle other genuine emergencies that cannot wait until after the Sabbath
to be resolved? Luke 14:5; Matt. 12:9-13. Could one water an animal, and by implication
feed it, on God's day of rest? Luke 13:10-17, especially verse 15.
Comment: God wants us to use honest, sound judgment in applying the spirit an intent
of what we can or
should not do on His Sabbath day. Christ taught balance and wisdom and having the
right attitude in observing
the Sabbath. The Jews, steeped in physical rituals, could not understand the spiritual
application of the Sabbath
commandment. They would rescue an animal from a ditch on the Sabbath, but condemned
Christ for healing
an unfortunate human being on that day! By adding their own traditions and interpretations,
they had made the
Sabbath a burden to keep.
4. Should we pursue our own interests and pleasures on the Sabbath? Isaiah. 58:13.
5. The Sabbath belongs to God. He made this 24-hour period holy time Employment,
shopping, mowing the lawn and home maintenance are to be done on the previous six
days of the week. Neither is the Sabbath the appropriate time for indulging hobbies,
sports and other special interests. Such activities take our minds away from God
and the entire purpose for His Sabbath.
6. In His instruction to ancient Israel, what principle does God reveal for Christians
today in regard topreparing for the Sabbath? Ex. 16:22-23.
Comment: The Sabbath is intended to free us from as many physical labours and job
activities as possible. God told the Israelites to prepare ahead by doing any heavy
cooking or baking the day
before the Sabbath. Christians today should plan to have their work completed before
sunset on the evening
of the sixth day (Friday). The house should be cleaned, the dishes washed, and any
heavy cooking or baking
done before sunset so that the entire family can begin the Sabbath in an atmosphere
of rest and worship-that
it may be a day truly kept HOLY to God!
6. Are we to delight in God's holy Sabbath day? Isaiah. 58:13. How do we do this?
7. The Sabbath will be a day of gladness and joy-a delight to those who honour and
worship God. Resting from our work and mundane pleasures on God's day gives us an
opportunity to spend much more time in prayer to God, and in studying, discussing
and meditating upon His Word.
FELLOWSHIP ON THE SABBATH
The Sabbath is a day of physical rest and spiritual refreshing. It is also a day
for holy convocation and
fellowship with other Christians, with God the Father and with Jesus Christ. It is
very important that we
understand the truth about Christian fellowship.
1. Did God command the Israelites to meet together for worship on the weekly Sabbath?
Lev.23:3. Did Jesus
obey this, His own command? Luke 4:16.
Comment: Jesus Christ, who set the example of how we should live, taught by His own
practice that a holy convocations commanded assembly-of God's people is to be held
on every Sabbath. It
is a day for the united worship of God by His called and chosen people. It is a time
for God's ministers to
preach and expound the principles of God's living laws from His inspired Word (Eph.
2. What are New Testament Christians admonished regarding the assembling of themselves?
10:24-25. Just how important is Christian fellowship within the body of believers
that comprises the Church
of God? I John 1:3, 6-7.
Comment: Christ's presence is in His Sabbath day, making it holy. When the Father's
children, each joined to Christ (John 15:1-5)-each walking with Christ in harmony-assemble
on His Holy
day, they actually have fellowship with Christ. He is there, in their midst, in spirit!
And Christ joins them
together through God's Spirit in fellowship with Him and the Father!
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth"
There is only one body of true believers-Spirit-begotten Christians-empowered by
God and carrying out
God's great commission to preach the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world
as a witness (Matt.
24:14). It is faithfully keeping all the commandments of God (Rev. 12:17) with the
help of His Holy Spirit. It
is, as Jesus said it would be, a "little flock," persecuted, despised by the world.
God's people truly rejoice in His Sabbath and enjoy fellowshipping with each other
on His weekly Holy Day.
They are learning what a pleasure and great blessing it is to keep God's Sabbath
holy-the day that reminds us
of the Creator God and His stupendous purpose for mankind!
Properly understood and properly observed, God's holy Sabbath day is one of God's
given to mankind. It is an identifying SIGN between true Christians and their Creator.
"Remember" it-"keep it