The Sabbath: What Day is The Sabbath Day In The Bible

There was a time that prominent scientists believed that the world was flat. There was a time that intelligent people believed that the earth was the center of the universe. There was a time that health-care practitioners believed that inhaling tobacco smoke was good for the lungs. Corporate belief by a large body of people doesn’t make something true.

As we delve into our study of the seventh-day Sabbath, keep an open mind. Don’t take my word for it. Rather, analyze the evidence. Scrutinize the Scriptures. Ask “What is the Bible saying?” And be honest with yourself. God may have a surprise for you – a surprise package that will deliver sweet inner peace. A rest assured.

The first record of the Sabbath in Scripture is found in Genesis 2:1-3, at the close of Creation week. “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the Seventh day from all His work which he had done. Then God blessed the Seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

After carefully fashioning the earth in six days, God rested on the seventh day. He took a break from His work. Why? Was He tired? Hardly. On that first Sabbath God rested because of a perfect sense of fulfilment. He’d done everything possible to ensure Adam’s and Eve’s happiness. He rested with the joyful anticipation of an intimate relationship with the creatures He’d made. By resting on the Seventh day, God was setting and example for Adam and Eve. He planned a celebration for them – a day on which they stopped their work routine and rested and worshiped. As the recently published Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), which became an overnight best-seller, so rightly states: “God’s action is the model for human action. If God ‘rested’ …on the seventh day, man too ought to ‘rest’ “(2172).

The Sabbath is also included in the only document recorded directly by God’s hand, the Ten Commandments. Note the fourth commandment: ” Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the Seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).

Again the new Catechism of the Catholic Church says: ” The sabbath is at the heart of Israel’s law” (348). It was a perpetual reminder of His supreme authority and creative power. It’s a memorial of Creation. Again the latest catechism, featuring a special introductory message by Pope John Paul II, properly observes that  “in speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation” (2169). In our modern age in which science speaks of evolution as proven fact, the Sabbath calls us back to the worship of our Creator. It’s a weekly remembrance of the loving God who formed us from the dust of the ground and breathed into us the breath of life. We’re not merely a random collection of chemicals by chance.  God made us! We’re created in His image! And each week we have the opportunity to rest our tired minds and exhausted bodies and unite with the  One who is responsible for our existence.

Furthermore, the Sabbath is a call to spend time with our families. It’s possible to become so busy during the week that family members hardly see each other. In some cases meaningful dialogue is nonexistent. One study indicates that the average American father spends less than one hour per week in personal communication alone with his children. However, the Sabbath is a time set aside by God for families to commune with Him and with each other.

The Sabbath brings a sense of security to all of life. It ‘s a reference point in the week. It constantly reminds us that a loving Creator cares for us more than we can imagine.

God established the Sabbath as a sign between Himself and His people. “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them” (Ezekiel 20:12). “Hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me an you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God” (verse 20).

I’ve met people who have said, “One day is as good as the next. It really doesn’t make much difference which day you keep, as long as you keep one in seven.” Yet notice the clear teaching of the Bible. Which day did God sanctify? The seventh day. In six days He worked – He created His masterpiece – then He rested. He established a memorial of His great work, and then He sanctified it as a “sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.”

If it’s important to God, certainly it should be important also to you, should it not? God is interested in your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Each seventh day He personally invites you into His palace in time to renew your tired mind and fatigued body. The Sabbath provides the spiritual glue for a bonding experience  with your heavenly Father. This weekly fellowship will recharge your spiritual batteries and lift your spirits. On Sabbath you can soar like an eagle into God’s presence.

Jesus Himself faithfully kept the Sabbath, as the 1994 Catholic catechism emphasizes: “Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day [the seventh-day Sabbath]

The Sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day honor God” (2174). Luke reports: “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read” (Luke 4:16).

The biblical record indicates that God was particular about the Sabbath from the moment of Creation. He sanctified it. He regarded it as a sign between  Himself and His people. If He’d decided to alter His covenant, certainly Jesus would have known. He would have mentioned if during His lifetime. He would have given us some clue, at least a hint of a change. Yet during His 33 years on this earth Jesus regularly observed the Sabbath. He never mentioned a change.

Even the events surrounding Jesus’ death on the cross were woven around the Sabbath hours. “That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tom and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according  to the commandment. Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared” (Luke 23:54-24:1).

The Christian world is basically united as to which day Christ died. We call it Good Friday. And what about the day Christ arose? No problem identifying it. Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday.  So the three days in succession are: the day Christ died, Friday; the day Christ was in the tomb, Sabbath; and the day He arose, Sunday. The Sabbath is between Friday and Sunday, or the day we now call Saturday.

As a matter of fact, Jesus mentioned the Sabbath when He discussed he destruction of Jerusalem, an event that would take place in A.D. 70, approximately 40 years after His death. “And pray that your flight may not be in winter of on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20).  This would suggest that Jesus didn’t anticipate any change in the Sabbath after He returned to His Father in heaven.

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, kept the Sabbath. “And when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached  to them the next Sabbath….And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:42-44). Here we read that the early Christians, “almost the whole city,” came together on the Sabbath day. So the commandment was still in effect after the cross, even during the early days of Christianity.

Because Isaiah clearly prophesied that the Sabbath would be kept during the restoration of God’s people, we can infer that the Bible indicates that Sabbath observance will continue right into eternity. ” ‘And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all fresh shall come to worship before Me, says the Lord” (Isaiah 66:23).

I expect to be surprised in heaven. Surprised by the significance, surprised  by the beauty, surprised by what Jesus has prepared. But worship on the seventh day won’t come as a surprise. god established this practice at Creation. In the Ten Commandments He reminded us to keep the Sabbath. Jesus Himself observed the seventh day. Early Christians worshiped on the Sabbath. And I infer form Scripture that the practice will continue right into eternity.

Until then God invites you and me to find rest each Sabbath in His loving presence – respite for our frayed nerves and restless anxiety, as well as from life’s deepest tragedies.

The Sabbath isn’t a legalistic requirement. It isn’t a cumbersome burden. It’s and invitation from the heart of a loving heavenly Father for you to find rest and security  in Him.

I haven’t always observed the Sabbath. As a matter of fact, I spent my youth in a parochial schools and as an altar boy, known by name in the rectory. But when the truth was presented to me, when I heard God’s call, when I analyzed the evidence. I felt I had to follow God’s will. I immediately responded and turned my life over to the Creator of the seventh-day Sabbath.

Mark Finley, Thirteen life-changing secrets, Rest Asssured, pages 80-87