When we look into the reason for the Sabbath, we find that it was in God’s original plan to have a day of rest (Genesis 2:2-3). God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden giving them instructions on how to keep the seventh day holy. He instructed them in the way to keep eternal life. They were not afraid until Satan entered the picture with his lies and deceitfulness as told in the third chapter of Genesis.
The word Sabbath means rest or to cease from an activity. The seventh day was called the Sabbath (Exodus 16:23-30). because in it God rested from all His labor and He instructed the children of Israel to do the same. All work should be done in six days and the seventh day should be a day of rest (Leviticus 23:3). Failure to obey this commandment would cause serious consequences to fall upon Israel. The Fourth Commandment is still a part of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses on two tablets of stone written by His own finger. It was to be a sign for His children throughout all generations for a perpetual covenant which means “never ending” (Exodus 31:13-17).
In an attempt to distance itself from Jewish customs, the early Christian (Catholic) Church attempted to redefine the Sabbath and shift the observance of it to Sunday. Paul’s instructions to the church in Corinth has been used to demonstrate taking up a collection on the day of worship (1 Corinthians 16:2), but the fact is overlooked that back then the giver did not simply write a check and drop it in the plate as it was passed, but “gathering” involved a lot of work. Note that Paul expressed the desire that “there be no gatherings” while he was there because he didn’t want the congregation working during his visit. If gathering was enough to interfere with Paul’s plans while he was in Corinth, it was certainly too much work for the Sabbath.
Jesus kept the Sabbath during His ministry and the Apostles observed it long after His ascension. When Jesus was 12 years old He was in the temple talking with the doctors and they were astonished at His understanding and answers (Luke 2:46-47). It was His custom to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath Day (Luke 4:16, 31). There are numerous occasions described in the Bible of the apostles and others worshipping on the Sabbath. Paul was invited to preach in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14-16). When clarification of doctrine was needed in the Christian Church and the Jerusalem Elders were asked to provide it, the statement was made that Moses was preached every Sabbath (Acts 15:21) indicating that the Christian community was familiar with most doctrine and not everything had to be addressed. Take note: the Christian Elders at Jerusalem in directing their instruction to the Christian churches elsewhere said that the doctrines were preached every Sabbath, indicating that the Christians met on that day, not Sunday. Another incidence of Paul’s Sabbath keeping is when he was in Phillippi on the Sabbath and he went to a place beside a river where prayer was often made and sat down and joined the women worshipping there (Acts 16:12-13). In Thessalonica Paul reasoned with them for three Sabbath days, as his manner was (Acts 17:2), in other words, it was his usual custom to preach on the Sabbath (Acts 18:4). Paul was attacked by the Jews for his position on circumcision (Acts 21:21) but no scripture mentions his being attacked by the Jews or anyone else for breaking the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was established at Creation for the benefit of man. Man was not created for the Sabbath, as Jesus pointed out (Mark 2:27-28). It is also worthy of note that Jesus declared Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath, not Lord of the first day of the week. We are to observe the Sabbath by ceasing from work (Leviticus 23:3). It is a holy convocation in which we are to meet together on that day and strengthen each other’s faith and share our spiritual growth for the betterment of all the brethren (Hebrews 10:25). It is prudent to develop the habit and character of honoring the Sabbath now in this life because we will surely continue to honor it in the coming Kingdom of God (Isaiah 66:22-23).
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Acts 13:27 The prophets are read every Sabbath day.
Acts 13:42 The Gentiles requested that these words be preached to them the next Sabbath.
Acts 13:44 The whole city came to hear the word of God on the Sabbath.