Most people cannot wait for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are days supposed to be for rest, relaxation and enjoyment. Although most stores are now open on Sundays, some people still go to church. Although Saturday is a big recreation day, other people still go to their synagogue or in some cases their church services. Why one in seven days? Why not one in ten? Is Sunday really a Sabbath?

God Rested

Even God rested on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:1-3). But of course, God's "days" are not man's 24-hour days. God "ceased from his own works" (Hebrews 4:10) and gave it over to his Son-according to Bible chronology-over 6,000 years ago. Since then, man has been toiling under the taskmaster of sin and death. The law of God originally written in man's heart became obliterated. The plan for rewriting God's Law in man's heart will not be finished till the end of God's seventh day when Jesus Christ turns back a restored perfected creation to his Father (1 Corinthians 15:27,28).

But from creation-for 2,000 years-God did not say anything to man about keeping a Sabbath. Noah was minutely instructed by God, but nothing was said about keeping a Sabbath. In all of Abraham's long life, nothing is mentioned about his keeping a day of rest. The Law of Sabbath

Not until it was time for God to deliver his special people Israel from slavery was there any ordinance or obligation to keep a Sabbath. Even the Passover, which was to be kept as "an ordinance for ever," was commanded before the Israelites left Egypt (Exodus 12:14). Likewise, while the first Sabbath was observed before the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai-it was also still considered part of the Law codified at Sinai. Thus, before they reached Sinai, they were then given the Law of Sabbath-and a very clear object lesson for observing it faithfully! Six days they could gather manna, but not on the seventh (Exodus 16:26-30). Eventually, at Mount Sinai the Law Covenant was formally inaugurated.

But in God's counting seven is not exclusively assigned to days. The seventh day, the seventh month, and the seventh year were, in fact, all prominent under the Law. The seventh day was observed as a period to cease from toil, a period of physical rest. In the seventh month, atonement for sin was effected that Israel might have rest from sin: "And this shall be a statue for ever unto you: in the seventh month. . .to cleanse you. . .it [the tenth day of the seventh month] shall be a Sabbath of rest unto you. . ." (Leviticus 16:29-31). In the seventh year, one might be released from the bondage of servitude (Deuteronomy 15:12).

Additionally, the grandest of all Sabbaths was the Jubilee when the Sabbath year was multiplied by seven and climaxed by the added fiftieth year. Then all mortgages, liens and judgments against persons and lands were canceled—actual real estate was returned to every family. Such equity was unheard of in all the histories of civilizations. Truly a GOD-given wonderfully fair Sabbath ordinance! The arrangement was designed to be a "shadow" or picture of the equity and rest of Christ's Millennial reign. The Jubilee Sabbath was a living pictorial of "the times of restitution [restoring] of all things [promised] which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets" (Acts 3:21). No wonder Jesus healed on the Sabbath!

Pentecost-the 50th Day

Israel's seventh day also found its fulfillment by another multiple of sevens. In this case the week was to be counted seven times with a special fiftieth day added. That fiftieth day was the Hebrew day Shavouth—better known to Christians as the Day of Pentecost. In spite of the uniqueness of this Law of Moses, that Law was a mere "shadow" of the beautiful reality God had planned. Since that special fiftieth-day Sabbath when the holy Spirit was given to the Christian church, there has been an inexpressible rest for the footstep followers of Jesus!

Some, however, in the early Christian church-predominantly those of Jewish background-experienced difficulty letting go of the regulations of Law of Moses. Issues such as circumcision, eating of certain meats, keeping Sabbath days, etc., challenged the teachings of the apostles who needed to emphatically advise that such observances were no longer acceptable to the Lord. "Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ" (Colossians 2:16).

Since Jesus opened up the new and living way, his followers of are in no sense of the word bound by the Jewish Law—either by the Sabbath days or Sabbath years. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" (Romans 10:4).

Lord of the Sabbath

Didn't Jesus Keep the Law? Yes, Jesus did keep the Law to which Israel was bound at Mount Sinai. Why? Born a Jew, Jesus was obligated to keep the Law—and that included keeping Sabbath. Although he healed on the Sabbath and was soundly criticized for that act of mercy, he pointed out the true purpose of the Sabbath. He also customarily taught on the Sabbath (Matthew 19:17). Jesus fully understood, "till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). He kept the Sabbath in "letter" and "spirit."

But Jesus went beyond keeping the Law. He fulfilled it. His death marked the beginning of the fulfillment of everything the Law pointed towards. "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). Once Jesus fulfilled it, from then on anyone who believed on him was no longer bound by the Law. Paul gives the logic: "Wherefore, my [Jewish] brethren, ye also are become dead to the law [of Moses] by the body of Christ: that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the death, that we should bring forth fruit unto God" (Romans 7:1-4).

But didn't the Lord of the Sabbath say, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments"? (John 14:15) What are Jesus' commandments? Jesus' commandments went beyond just loving God and one's neighbor, the essence of the Mosaic Law. Jesus gave us, his followers, a new commandment which goes to the extent of sacrificing one's life: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34 NIV; see also 1 John 3:15 NAS). Jesus was offering more than a day of rest from physical toil. He was proposing a rest of faith to those burdened with the weight of sin: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . ." (Matthew 11:28-30).

Witnessing on the Sabbath

Of course, the Apostles used the seventh day as an ideal time for preaching Christ, especially because on that day the Jews—their most likely hearers—met for worship and study (Acts 13:14, 26, 27, 43, 44; 16:13; 17:1,2; 18:4). However, when Apostle Paul was preaching to brethren who were already disciples, it is evident they were meeting for worship on the "first day" of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).

How significant that the disciples—as we might expect—chose to meet together on the "first day" of the week to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also, the first day of the week was the day Jesus' made his appearances to his disciples during the forty days after his resurrection. Sunday was not a new obligatory law on Christians, but it was merely a commonly cherished practice. Later, when Christianity became the state religion under Constantine, not only was the Bible canonized, but the observance of Sunday as a day of rest was instituted as a legal duty. But the Holy Scriptures were already the accepted Word of God-and neither a Roman emperor nor a pope needed to ordain Sunday for worship.

The Christian's Rest

All who believe in Christ may enter into rest, and thus keep a continual Sabbath, "For we which have believed do enter into rest" (Hebrews 4:3). As new creatures, we rest all the time. Each Christian-in proportion to his or her knowledge and faith-will have rest.

But the rest we have entered into is not our ultimate rest. A permanent rest awaits us: "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. . . .Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief" (Hebrews 4:9-11). Christians will enter into that rest when they experience their resurrection change, when they will enter into the joys of their Lord. In addition, so far as the world is concerned, the great Messiah's reign of a thousand years will be the Sabbath for the world in general. Their rest will also mean coming into complete harmony with God. What a sublime prospect!

For the present, Christians are thankful for any day set aside for the opportunity to worship God and fellowship with fellow Christians. The Christian Sabbath is not broken by physical labor. Nor is it dependent on physical ease. It is deep and lasting rest, only broken by doubt in Jesus Christ. The Christian Sabbath is Sunday through Saturday—all week, all the time.