While in school we had to take tests periodically. But do you realize everyone of us is being tested regularly? God is testing us every week.
What kind of grade is God giving you?
As we have learned in previous ministudies, God is planning to restore His government to the earth through His divine Kingdom. God's government is based on His law, which is the basic spiritual law of love. It is love toward God and love toward fellowman. God's love is further magnified by the Ten Commandments. And one of these 10 is a test commandment.
There are many today who are willing to admit that the Ten Commandments should be obeyed, except one — the fourth. Most do not want to keep the Sabbath commandment!
Let's understand the truth about God's Sabbath day, and why it is so important that we pass this test commandment every week.
1. On what day of creation week did God rest? Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:11. Did God rest because He was tired from all the work He had done during the previous six days? Isaiah 40:28.
God is composed of spirit and never becomes tired, as do physical human beings. Therefore, He had no reason to rest except that by the very act of resting, God made the Sabbath and set an example for humans to follow. (The seventh day of the week is the day we call Saturday. For more information read our free booklet Which Day Is The Christian Sabbath?)
2. Who in the God Family made that first Sabbath? Colossians 1:13-17, Mark 2:28.
Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath because He made it! As other scriptures prove, He was the Lord of the Old Testament and the actual Creator of all things. (This is explained in more detail in our free reprint article Is Jesus God? You may have this article with no obligation.)
By ceasing to do any labor on the seventh day of creation week, Jesus Christ set apart that 24-hour period (beginning at sunset on the evening of the sixth day and ending at sunset on the evening of the seventh day — see Leviticus 23:32) and every seventh day afterward for a special and holy use.
3. For whom did Jesus say the Sabbath was made? Mark 2:27. Who would that include? Exodus 20:8-10, especially verse 10.
"The Sabbath was made for man," declared Jesus. Every future seventh day from creation was singled out by God as time to be specially observed by mankind. It was to benefit all who would ever live.
4. How did Jesus Christ intend the Sabbath to benefit mankind? Deuteronomy 5:14. (Notice the word rest.)
The word Sabbath means "rest" in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament. Physical rest and mental refreshment after a busy week are obvious reasons for keeping the Sabbath. God knew humans would need periodic rest and change from work.
But the purpose for keeping God's Sabbath goes far beyond merely resting on this day. The seventh-day Sabbath has to do with God's great purpose for creating mankind.
Man desperately needs this time each week to have close spiritual contact with God. The Sabbath gives us time to think more about God, to pray and worship Him (both in private and in fellowship with others) and to study the Bible to understand more about God's purpose.
5. Should we pursue our own interests and pleasures on the Sabbath? Isaiah 58:13. Will God bless the faithful Sabbath keeper? Verse 14, Isaiah 56:2-7.
God made the seventh day of the week holy, and He commands us to keep it that way. The Sabbath, then, is holy time. Employment, shopping, hobbies, special interests, sports and other recreation are for the first six days of the week. The Sabbath is special time God claims — puts His name upon — and then gives back to us entirely for our own good. God promises us blessings now and eternal life in the resurrection for faithfully keeping His Sabbath.
6. Was the observance of the Sabbath day to be a special sign of identification between God and His people? Exodus 31:13,16-17. Did God also make Sabbath observance a separate covenant with His people? Verse 16.
So that ancient Israel would especially remember that the eternal God is Creator, Sustainer and Supreme Ruler over all His creation, God singled out Sabbath observance as the one great sign by which they would always be reminded of who He is and who they were — His chosen people. It was the one commandment that would make Israel especially stand out from all other nations.
And so God doubly commanded Sabbath observance by making it a separate covenant, or agreement, with His people Israel. (The Sabbath was already one of the Ten Commandments God gave them earlier.) It was to be an everlasting covenant — the sign that would identify the people of God of all generations.
7. Does the Bible plainly reveal that a real Christian is one who has become a spiritual Israelite — one of Abraham's "seed" through Jesus Christ? Galatians 3:28-29, Romans 4:16.
God made the special Sabbath covenant with Abraham's physical seed. It was to be obeyed throughout their generations. Today, all Spirit-begotten Christians have become Abraham's spiritual seed and therefore keep the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is a reminder of our Creator, who not only created the universe, but who is also creating His holy, righteous character in Spirit-begotten Christians — character that will endure forever when they are born into His divine Family. Thus the Sabbath reminds us every week of the Creator God and His wonderful purpose for mankind.
8. Was Sabbath keeping also a testing point to see if the Israelites would obey God? Exodus 16:4-5, 22-23.
How many do you know who keep God's seventh-day Sabbath? It is obvious to the rest of the world when one keeps God's Sabbath. That is why few do! Most people do not want to be identified as being separate from the world. Most are willing to acknowledge the other nine commandments, but the Sabbath command is the one they definitely reject.
Therefore the Sabbath command is the crucial test of obedience, for it identifies those who have surrendered to God — those who obey God regardless of persecution or cost.
9. Did Jesus Christ keep the Sabbath? Luke 4:16,31.
Jesus regularly attended church (synagogue) services on the Sabbath day "as His custom was." He obeyed His own command to meet for services every Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3). This is the day He would naturally have observed, because He is the one who made the Sabbath and ordained that it be kept holy.
10. Was it the apostle Paul's custom to keep the Sabbath? Acts 17:1-2. What other evidence is there that the early New Testament Church of God observed the Sabbath? Acts 13:13-15, 42, 44, 18:1, 4, 11.
There is no question that the early true Church observed the seventh-day Sabbath. Those who are striving to obey God today will also be keeping the same day Jesus, Paul and the entire Church kept.
11. What is God's warning to us in Hebrews 3:8-13, 18-19? (Notice the word rest in verses 11 and 18.) Was rebellion, especially Sabbath breaking, the reason God did not allow an entire generation of Israelites to enter His "rest"? Ezekiel" 20:12-13, 15-16.
The land of Canaan — the promised " rest" into which Israel finally entered (Joshua 1:13) — is spoken of in the Bible as a type of the Christian's spiritual "rest" — of being born into the Family of God and living forever.
12. If we believe and obey God, will we enter God's "rest" — eternal life in God's Kingdom? Hebrews 4:3, first nine words, and verse II.
The equation is clear: Real belief in God equals active obedience. Those who really believe God will be keeping His Sabbath.
God's Sabbath is not to be treated lightly or forgotten. We are commanded: "Remember the Sabbath day" (Exodus 20:8) because it is a memorial of God's restoration of the earth and the creation of man. And the Sabbath pictures the coming eternal "rest" that true Christians will enter when born into the Family of God as literal, spirit-composed children of God.
13. Did God command the entire nation of Israel to meet together (a "convocation") on the Sabbath? Leviticus 23:3. What are New Testament Christians admonished regarding the assembling of themselves? Hebrews 10:25.
Today's God's people attend weekly Sabbath services of the Worldwide Church of God in more than 50 nations around the world. Every Sabbath, they meet together to receive spiritual instruction from the Bible, taught by the ministry of God's Church (Ephesians 4:11-13).
God's people rejoice in His Sabbath and enjoy fellowshipping with each other on this day. They are learning what a pleasure and great blessing it is to keep God's Sabbath holy — the day that reminds us of the Creator God and His stupendous purpose for mankind!