Have you ever wondered why, in Exodus 20:8, God told Israel to remember the Sabbath?
He told them to “remember” it because He had already given the Sabbath to Israel years before.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota very day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily,” v. 4, 5 NKJV.
And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread,… Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none,” vs. 22, 25, 26 NKJV.
Some of the Israelites went out in the morning on the seventh day anyway. The LORD scolded the people, but nothing happened to them, vs. 27, 28. There was no punishment at that time.
Then, in Exodus 20, the LORD gave these instructions: “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:… 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,” vs. 8-11 NKJV emphasis added.
The Sabbath was given to the nation of Israel, not only as a day of rest, but also as a day to reflect. To remember that, in the words of Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth – in six days, not “millions of years”…. On the seventh day, He rested – not because He was tired, but because He was done. There was nothing more to do; the earth was complete.
There’s much more to “the Sabbath” than Exodus 20. The word itself occurs 155 times in the NKJV Bible.
Not only was there a Sabbath day, there was a Sabbath year. In Exodus 23:10-11, the LORD instructed Israel, “Six years you shall sow your land and gather its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow,… In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove,” emphasis added.
In addition, the Sabbath was given only to the nation of Israel. Some have tried to make it binding on the church, citing visions or dreams or revelation, but in Exodus 31, we read, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you,” vs. 12, 13 emphases added.
If God said it, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. The “seventh day” had nothing to do with anyone except the nation of Israel.
To show that God was serious in this matter, He said, “Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death,” Exodus 31:15, also 35:2, emphasis added. They couldn’t even light a fire on the Sabbath day, Exodus 35:3. Violating the Sabbath became a death-penalty sin (one of more than 40 such sins in the OT).
Why was Israel to be concerned about all these rules and regulations? To be sure, there were rewards and punishments involved, but the main reason, really the only reason: “I am the LORD.”
“I said so, that’s why.”
God said it and that settles it.
Israel was to “rest” on the Sabbath day; our rest as Christians, as believers, is not on a day of the week.
Our “rest” is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, who He is and what He did.
He took our place.
He suffered the wrath of God against our sin. He had none of His own.
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV.
“Nor is there salvation in any, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12 NKJV.
Do you know this One, or are you looking somewhere else? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.