I recently heard a radio preacher commenting about the Creation this way: it’s easy to understand why God set up a 365-day year, because that’s how long He established one revolution of the planet around the sun. And the same for a 24-hour day: that’s one complete rotation of the earth on its axis. But why a 7-day week? There’s no astronomical reason for that—it came right out of the heart of God. Interestingly, that pattern has prevailed all down through history.
Which brings us, at the end of every week, to the Sabbath. God’s seemingly arbitrary pattern was six days of labor, one day of rest. He established this plan for His own reasons, regardless of sun, moon, or stars. And the Sabbath is the culmination of it all.
This got me thinking. The Sabbath, said Jesus, was “made for man.” Then in keeping it according to the Creator’s pattern, there should be something unique about it, something specially adapted to our needs. The most obvious blessing, of course, isn’t hard to understand: God “rested” and so do we. The importance of such rest for body, soul, and spirit would be hard to overemphasize.
But there’s more. We have far greater needs than mere rest, and God uses this Day to address those needs, too. The prophet Ezekiel put it this way. The Sabbath, he said, was given as a “sign” between Heaven and earth, or more specifically, between God and Israel. (So yes, there’s more to Sabbath-keeping than resting.) The sign, he went on, was this: “that they might know that I am Jehovah that sanctifieth them.” And later, “that ye may know that I am Jehovah thy God.”
This Day of days, then, has something to do with our relationship with our holy Creator God. In His desire to enjoy our earth-bound company, so to speak, He provides a way in His holiness for His people to be holy too: He “sanctifies” us. He does this, of course, through the blood of the New Covenant, by faith: it’s not Sabbath-keeping in itself that sanctifies. But Sabbath-keeping signifies something: His offer of that holiness, and our acceptance of it!
This makes Sabbath-keeping more than a ritual: it’s a statement. Every week, as the sun sets Friday evening, we cease our six days of labor in order to turn our attention to Him. Doing so, we’re making a statement: this world is not our home. We turn our backs on all its sordid and mundane distractions, and we turn our faces directly toward our loving Creator. We enjoy His smile. He is the focus of our attention. He is the only One that matters. In Him “all the fullness dwells.”
So when we observe the Sabbath, there seems to be a special drawing together of hearts between us and Him. This is also why we take pains to apply the blood of the New Covenant in prayer as we begin this Day: it’s the only way to gain that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” But once that holiness is embraced, the door to fellowship opens wide!
Thus the Sabbath is God’s built-in “brainchild,” established at Eden as a weekly retreat from the profane—a time to enjoy the sacred. It’s like a temporary reprieve from the Fall—an echo of the Edenic condition when Adam and Eve, however briefly, enjoyed fellowship with their Creator. Better, it’s also a foretaste of the Millennial condition “when man walks with his Creator, and is every whit made whole.” (See Warrior Songs, No. 212.)
So let’s not yield a moment of it to the frenetic demands of a godless world outside. What a privilege is ours! Let’s revel in this weekly “sign” that our Lord has sanctified us through His shed blood, and that thus we can truly enjoy heart fellowship with Him. It’s not quite Eden yet, but each Sabbath reminds us that that Day is dawning. Praise be to God, it is “sure to come.”