Celebrating Life

The Sabbath

“The Sabbath was made for man, Not man for the sabbath.”

MARK 2:27

“The Creation,” by Nathan Greene, ©, All Rights Reserved, Used by Permission

Sabbath: Seal of the Living God

“The Sabbath was placed in the decalogue as the seal of the living God, pointing out the Law-giver, and making known His right to rule.”

Signs of the Times, May 3, 1886

Fresh out of the seminary, the young, ministerial intern showed up every couple of weeks at a little country church to share a Sabbath-day message. Trained in homiletics, his sermons captured the attention of a loyal congregation of elderly Christians who lived their beliefs.

Two or three years later, at the close of his sermon, he announced casually, “Today will be my last time with you, as I will be leaving to continue my education.” As he stood at the door saying “good-bye”, he was surprised to be greeted with unusually warm handshakes and to see tears running down wrinkled faces. 

When later he realized he had given only his head as their pastor, while these dear dedicated Christians had given him their hearts. It changed his life forever. More than giving an intellectual nod of respect to the creation Sabbath, these dear ones worshiped the “Lord of the Sabbath” with the emotion of love flowing from their hearts, souls, and every fiber of their being.

Creation Sabbath is not just another secular holiday or an intellectual ritual promoted by a religious institution. “The Sabbath is the sign of a relationship between God and His people, a test of their loyalty to Him.” Signs of the Times, May 3, 1886

Knowledge of Almighty God and finding our relationship with Him begins with acknowledging, embracing, honoring, and keeping the sacred Creation Sabbath. The power, glory, majesty, and justice of the living God overwhelm human comprehension. An awed David put it in words, “What is man, that you are mindful of him.” Psalm 8:4

When Christ said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” he implicitly recognized circadian rhythms that require human physical rest every 24 hours. The Sabbath guarantees a spiritual opportunity to converse with God and a physical break from stress every seventh day. 

Unlike the sun, and non-living, pagan deities, the seventh-day Sabbath symbolizes the seal of the living God. Inert matter cannot create any form of life. It never has, it never will—even in billions of years of deep time! 

Jesus,
"Lord of the Sabbath"

The first humans, created in the “image of God,” enjoyed regular, direct communion with their Creator. The Sabbath preserved a moment in prime time for that sacred visit. Satan, the arch deceiver, used his cunning to cut off that direct communication. The Sabbath became a prime target.

The Bible doesn’t define the time lapse from creation week until Adam and Eve fell for the Devil’s lies and bit into the forbidden fruit. At that instant, the first couple stepped onto the road to death, bringing with them an ecological decline and a global flood that destroyed a world wallowing in sin’s debauchery and drunkenness. 

The faithful Noah, along with his family, survived the deluge. His descendants provided a royal line of believers, loyal to God and the creation Sabbath. To avoid misunderstanding, God inscribed ten rules for better living on stone tablets. Creation Sabbath anchored the ten.  

The Decalogue translates God’s perfect character of love and justice into language understandable by recently emancipated Egyptian slaves. God does not change. Nor can His Decalogue change. The Ten Commandments exist in perpetuity, despite Satan-inspired tinkering attempts to change times and laws.

The Decalogue, with the Creation Sabbath at its core, stood at the center of God’s master plan to give humanity a second chance to walk with God and be judged “righteous.” But even the true Sabbath of creation was so loaded with onerous, ritualized burdens by God’s chosen people, that it lost its purpose of personal communion with the Creator.

Pagan powers of Egypt and Rome dominated after-flood cultures for centuries. Each propagated a counterfeit religion worshiping the sun—a non-living created object exhibiting the power to sustain–but never actually capable of sustaining–life. 

A patient God sent His “only begotten son” to Earth to demonstrate God’s character and to fulfill the promise of a Messiah and His plan of salvation. During His ministry, Jesus observed the Sabbath of the Decalogue faithfully.

He “went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day, He went into the synagogue, as was His custom.” Luke16:4 While ignoring restrictions imposed by religious leaders, He asserted “the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” Mathew 12:8 and reminded accusers that the Sabbath “rest” was “made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27 

Christ reminded followers of His mission, declaring “my kingdom is not of this world” John 18:36 and “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Mathew 5:17

Once the Messiah fulfilled his mission, the temple ceremonies pointing to the promise of His coming had no further purpose. Christ’s sacrificial death fulfilled the promise of a Messiah and deliverance from evil but did not abolish the weekly Sabbath of the Decalogue–honoring the Creator and fulfilling His plan to redeem sinners.

Paul’s familiarity with the Jewish faith offered unique insight into God’s plan of salvation for all sinners. Rituals such as circumcision had no relevance to Christianity. Led by the Holy Spirit, Paul shared the big picture of Christ’s ministry built on God’s perfect character of love and justice–Sabbath keeping.

“On the seventh day, God rested from all His work…It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in because of their disobedience. Therefore, God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today’…” Hebrews 4:4, 6, 7

“To whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed?” Hebrews 3:18 “Since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it…Now we who have believed, enter that rest, just as God has said.” Hebrews 4:1, 3

“There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest, also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that, no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active…” Hebrews 4:9-12

Worshipping God “Today” becomes a growing in grace Sabbath “rest” by walking in the footsteps of Christ, 24/7. When God’s commandments come alive in the human heart, the ten laws inscribed on tablets of stone are not abolished or replaced but are animated dynamically in Christian lives.

Ever since Lucifer (Satan) rebelled against God and was banished to Planet Earth where he introduced sin by deceiving the first humans, the Sabbath became one of his prime targets.

For nearly three centuries after Christ’s death, Christians kept the true, seventh-day Sabbath. When perceived to be affiliated with rebellious Jews, Christians faced martyrdom by pagan Rome. Persecution became particularly intense for a ten-year stretch from 303-313 AD, during the reign of Emperor Diocletian.

The “Iron Monarchy” had no such thing as a First Amendment guaranteeing religious freedom, but when Emperor Constantine succeeded Diocletian, one of his first actions was to issue an Edict of Toleration.

In 321, this astute politician sought citizen unity by mandating Sunday observance as an official day of rest. He intended to bring together Christians honoring Christ’s resurrection with pagan Romans who worshiped the sun. Nearly three centuries after Peter and Paul’s leadership, many Christians greeted respite from persecution with relief by abandoning the Sabbath of the Decalogue.

By the time the Roman Empire began to crumble late in the sixth century, Gregory, the Bishop of Rome, assumed the civil power of the state, and the Papacy was born. Sunday observance had become a substitute for the Christian Sabbath, backed by the power of the state. The stage had been set for the tyranny of the “Dark Ages.”

By the time of the end, Christian scholars would discover the words of John reminding Bible believers of the sacred Sabbath of the Decalogue and the promise of life eternal to all who obey the “commandments of God and remain faithful to Jesus.” Revelation 14:12

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