This matter has actually been a sticking point amongst sabbatarians and the rest of the Body of Christ for a long time … yet it should not be. When studying the exegetical evidence, we find that the Holy bible is incredibly clear on this subject. Let’s ignore for a moment concerning Constantine, or that the Sabbath was a sign between God together with the Israelites (Israel’s Sabbath) of their covenant and concentrate on God’s intention for the Sabbath; God’s Sabbath.
Let’s start off in Genesis …
The word “sabbath” means “rest”. This isn’t the sort of rest we require after a good exercise. The word literally indicates ‘the ending of activity’. God really did not rest on the 7th day due to the fact that He was tired. God had actually completed creating the whole world, therefore He stopped. He didn’t pick up where He left off when the weekend break was over … He was done.
Let’s move to Exodus …
God’s covenant with the children of Israel involved a great deal of religious activity, involving the creation of a tabernacle, sacrifices of animals, and so forth. This activity merely ceased on the Sabbath. Now, don’t forget: the Sabbath isn’t about being tired … it has to do with being finished with your work. The priests could not stop working the way that God did in Genesis. They took a day of rest and went right back to it the following day. Why? Simply because the work had not been completed. They did the very same things day in day out, every year. They were also prohibited to have chairs in the tabernacle due to the fact that taking a seat would suggest that their work was done!
Let’s keep visiting the New Testament …
The Exodus Sabbath was a symbol of God’s rest in Genesis. It told the children of Israel that they would certainly someday be able to stop working … to cease sacrificing for their own sins. When Jesus died and rose again, that day had ultimately come. In Hebrews 10:11 -12 we see the contrast between the Jewish priests and Jesus:
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
Jesus finished His work and rested, just as we see God doing in Genesis.
What about us?
How then should we view the Sabbath? God rested when His work was done, and Jesus rested when His work was done. The ancient Jews never enjoyed that rest, but it’s available to us today, as the following Hebrew verses tell us:
For we who have believed do enter into the rest, as He said, “I have sworn in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest;” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. – Hebrews 4:3
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. – Hebrews 4:9-10
Let’s look at Colossians 2:16-17, which should erase any doubt about the nature of the Sabbath:
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
From all of these verses we can see that the Sabbath clearly isn’t a day of the week. It’s neither Saturday nor Sunday! We enter into the Sabbath rest when we stop working, and that only happens when we accept that Jesus’ sacrifice was for each of us. His work is done, and He invites us to join Him.