“If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13-14)I have often wondered about the role of the sabbath day in the life of a Christian. Some people believe that it is essential for Christians to keep the sabbath, while some are not that strict. Some believe that a Christian should celebrate the sabbath on Saturday, while others prefer Sunday. This scripture clearly promises a blessing on those who keep the sabbath. So, how does a Christian keep the sabbath?
Paul, in the Book of Hebrews clearly identifies that, under the old covenant, God set aside the seventh day and declared it holy. “For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘and God rested on the seventh day from all His works.’” (Hebrews 4:4) For six days God worked and created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh day, He rested. God therefore declared the seventh day to be holy and a day of rest. God had rested and, on the seventh day of each week, He invited men to share in His rest. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Geneses 2:3) God had given the Israelites a day of rest that they may rest from their labors just as God had rested from His labors. God had given a promise of rest, yet because of their unbelief, the children of Israel failed to enter into His rest. “For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘as I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:3) The Israelites, living under the old covenant, were unable to enter into God’s rest. Therefore, when God established the new covenant, He once again made a promise of rest. “Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’” (Hebrews 4:6-7) What Paul is saying is that, under the new covenant, God has established a new day as the day of rest, and that day is “Today”.
For the Christian believer, their sabbath is “Today”. Each day we live with God by faith we are living in the sabbath rest of God. So what is a sabbath rest? “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10) When Jesus died on the cross, He cried out, “It is finished!” On the cross, Jesus brought and end to the power of sin in our lives. He brought an end to the demands of the law in our life. He brought and end to our own labors to live righteously. When we enter into God’s sabbath rest, we cease from our own works. This is in essence what this scripture in Isaiah is saying. The true sabbath rest of God is when we turn from our own pleasures to receive the joy and blessings of the Lord, when we turn from our own ways to live according to the ways of God, and when we cease from speaking our own words and fill our mouths and ears with the word of God. It is time to cease from our own labors and by faith enter into the rest of God. “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” (Heb 4:9, 11)