Sabbath is a time of rest as we remember that our Creator called us to rest in his goodness and grace. But how does Sabbath interact with the bigger picture of the gospel? Sabbath began at the creation of the world. God declared his power and authority over time and space by resting from the work that he had done. Adam and Eve followed this same pattern of rest in the Garden of Eden. There was wholeness in Sabbath rest because it created a set-apart time. This set apart time was declaring that man is given freedom from work through God’s rest. God created this sacred space and sacred time set apart from all the rest of time in order to bring wholeness to his creation.
God next gave the people of Israel the mandate to follow Sabbath as a gift and a provision for their tangible and spiritual needs. He gave them twice as much manna in the wilderness of Sinai so they could rest on Sabbath. This was not given to the people out of a religious “saved by works” mandate, but rather meant to declare His imminence and give the people of Israel the conviction that they were set apart as a nation for something more. They were to declare the goodness of the Living God Yahweh to the rest of the nations. They were to reflect this in their daily practices and new hearts in Yahweh.
Jesus in the Sabbath
When God became flesh and dwelt among us in the form of Jesus, He kept Sabbath. In addition to keeping the Sabbath, he performed miracles on the Sabbath, and taught and preached and cast out demons on Saturday. He was designating his power over Sabbath and his authority over time, just as he had when he created the world. He was showing us what life in the age to come would look like. Today, as followers of Jesus, keeping Sabbath is a practical expression of following God’s mandate of rest as well as living as Jesus lived.
Sabbath invites us to see gospel restoration. This leads to us adjusting our schedules so that we can be restored, and then extend that life to other people so that they can be restored. We are given the hope that someday we will rest in eternity with Jesus and be forever with him. Sabbath strengthens the hope that we will be resurrected and that His promise will be true.
Sabbath in History
Jesus’ disciples, His apostles, the early church and believers for centuries have all received the gift of stepping into this seventh day sanctuary. Today, we do the same. We do not celebrate Sabbath as some religious attempt to find God through it, but rather to see His lovingkindness in it. Sabbath is a moment in time when we cease from work and rest. We lay down the cares of this world, rejoice in the beauty of sharing life with others, and consider God’s goodness in our lives. All of this is a part of the bigger gospel story that God has been telling since the beginning of time: we were created to worship Him and enjoy Him forever. Sabbath is the loving provision God gave to us to see His goodness and kindness.