Is the Sabbath God’s gift for all people, or is the Sabbath just a commandment for the Jews? What does the Bible say?
Opinions abound on whether the Sabbath commandment is still in effect for Christians today. Some believe it is no longer necessary to keep this commandment. Some think it is only for Jews. Others think the day has been changed from the seventh day, Saturday, to the first day, Sunday. Some think the New Testament calls keeping the seventh-day Sabbath bondage and that Christians are now free to observe any day of their choosing.
The truth is, the Sabbath of the Bible is on Saturday. It has never changed.
The Sabbath is a gift
In giving the children of Israel the miracle of manna to eat, God instructed them to gather a sufficient amount to eat each day since it would spoil if kept overnight. On the sixth day, however, they were to gather twice as much because on the seventh day there would be none, and on this night, unlike the other nights, the manna would not spoil. God said that this was a test to see if Israel would walk in His law (Exodus 16:4-5).
When some of the people went out to try to gather it on the seventh day, “the LORD said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day’” (Exodus 16:28-29).
From this passage we see that God gave them the Sabbath. It was a gift! Jesus Christ added, “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath is a gift for all people—not just the Israelites. Listed among the feasts of the Lord—the days upon which God’s people are to assemble to worship Him—we note that the seventh day is “the Sabbath of the LORD” (Leviticus 23:3). It is God’s day—not the exclusive day of a single group of people during a particular time.
While some may bristle at the idea that God commands us to do anything other than love Him, the Bible reveals that God gives us these commands for our good.The fact that God intended the Sabbath to be a blessing for all is illustrated in that God told the Israelites that the Sabbath was to be a day of rest for all the members of their households, their servants, the foreigners living with them and even their animals (Exodus 20:10). So the Sabbath is clearly a gift from God that was intended for everyone!
The Sabbath is a command
In addition to being a gift, the Sabbath is also a command. In Exodus 20:8, God told the ancient Israelites and us today: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).
While some may bristle at the idea that God commands us to do anything other than love Him, the Bible reveals that God gives us these commands for our good. As God explained to ancient Israel: “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
Obeying God is how we show our love for Him. As Christ said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The apostle John added: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Jesus, who is in complete agreement with the Father (John 10:30), said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Obeying God is not optional for those who wish to be in His Kingdom.
In summary, the Sabbath is both a gift and a command. Because keeping the Sabbath shows love to God, it is an enduring expectation of God for those who seek Him.
For further study on the Sabbath, read the article “How to Keep the Sabbath as a Christian.”