Why should we keep the Sabbath?
It is one thing to do something but the reason for doing it is most critical. Your reason for doing it will determine how far you will go in sticking to doing it. Such is the issue that is now being contemplated in relation to the Sabbath. Why should we keep the Sabbath? It is one thing to keep it, but why should we keep it? Our answer will determine whether or not we will keep it when doing so might place us at variance with the powers of this earth even to the point of possibly losing our lives.
Speaking of the creation, the Bible says:
“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh 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.” – Gen. 2:2, 3.
God did something special in relation to the seventh day of creation week. He blessed it and sanctified it or set it apart for holy use from the very first week of creation. But does that make it necessary for us to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath every week? What if we decided that it was a good idea to keep it but it was inconvenient in the present circumstances so we will keep Sunday instead or keep no day at all? Would we be at odds with God? Could we, for example, lose salvation for it?
Does it have anything to do with our salvation?
Modern theology would say that we are saved by faith alone, that salvation is a free gift and it has nothing to do with our actions because we are not saved by works. So, if we have accepted Jesus, can we then forget about the Sabbath? Some theologians would say that we keep the Sabbath because we are saved; we do not keep it to be saved. But that does not answer the question. If we are saying that once you are saved, you will keep the Sabbath, what then are we saying about the billions of people who claim to have accepted Jesus but they are not keeping the Sabbath? Is it that they are not saved?
Oh, we would promptly say that Sabbath-keepers are not the only Christians, and we are right. But that is inconsistent with the idea that you will keep the Sabbath if you are saved. Is it that some people keep the Sabbath because they are saved while others who are equally saved choose not to keep it? Is keeping the Sabbath therefore optional?
If keeping the Sabbath is optional, then what is the value of insisting that people keep it even if it is inconvenient? If they will not lose salvation for not keeping the Sabbath, then why insist upon it? And certainly, the matter of going to jail over it or losing your life over it would be a ‘no-brainer’, as some would say. In other words, that question would not even arise, as it would seem foolish to risk that much. So, the question remains, why keep the Sabbath?
The answer is simple. God said we should keep it! God spoke from heaven audibly and wrote with His own fingers on tables of stone in what we call the Ten Commandments, saying:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, 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, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” – Ex. 20:8-11.
God’s command is unequivocal! In the same way that He says we should not murder people or tell lies on them (bear false witness), He says we should keep the Sabbath! Now, some people would say that since Jesus came, it is a new dispensation and we are no longer required to keep the Ten Commandments, and it is only the things that Jesus specifically commanded that are important, which, to them, does not include keeping the Sabbath. How convenient, to explain away keeping the Sabbath! But, not so fast!
Jesus foretold that Jerusalem would have been destroyed, and this would be after He would have been resurrected and would have ascended back to heaven. In warning His disciples to flee from Jerusalem before the destruction Jesus told them to pray that their flight would not be on the Sabbath. He said:
“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” – Matt. 24:20.
Obviously, if the Sabbath was not going to be important at that time, there would be no need to mention it. Any mention of it, if it was no longer going to be important, would have seemed to make more sense if the advice was that they should not worry themselves whether or not they had to flee on the Sabbath. But that was not the advice. Rather, they were told to consider the Sabbath important to the point of them needing to pray over the matter, that they would not need to flee on the Sabbath.
And lest someone thinks that that is not sufficient to establish the continuing importance of the Sabbath, it is clearly stated that those who will overcome the Mark of the Beast crisis in the last days would be those who “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). There are no commandments that could better qualify to be regarded as the “commandments of God” more than the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath commandment is the fourth of the ten. So, God’s instruction that we keep the Sabbath still stands.
So, back to our main question: Why should we keep the Sabbath? We should keep the Sabbath because God says we should keep it. Now, people can say that we are not saved by keeping the commandments and insist that our works do not save us, but the more critical issue is: Can we choose to disobey or ignore God’s instructions and dare to think that God will welcome us into heaven? Think again!
We must ask ourselves whether we do good service to the billions of people who claim to have accepted Jesus but are disobeying God’s instruction to keep the seventh-day Sabbath when we tell them that we are saved by grace alone and that our salvation is not in any way dependent on what we do. When we tell people that we do not keep the commandments to be saved, that we only keep them because we are saved, are we speaking the honest truth or are we playing games? Since we are already saved without needing to commit ourselves to keep God’s commandments, can we then choose to ignore them? We must ask ourselves whether keeping the Sabbath is just a good thing to do or whether it is something that God also requires of us. And finally, we must ask ourselves whether we can claim a place in God’s kingdom if we choose to ignore an explicit instruction from God to keep the seventh-day Sabbath.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” – Acts 17:30.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
- Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)
Previous presentations can be found at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/