The Blessings of Sabbath Keeping
Marvelous blessings have been promised for each one who keeps the Sabbath holy.
When the Sabbath was instituted in the Garden of Eden after six days of creating this earth, there was great joy in heaven. The next day, the seventh day, was set aside as a day of rest, a weekly reminder given to man as a blessed day in which he could honor his Creator in the form of worship. In Job 38:4–6 God asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who determined its measurements? Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone?” God here is referring to the time when the Sabbath was instituted. Notice verse 7: “When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Here it is made plain that there are many intelligences in the universe beside those in this world. Revelation also gives reference to these intelligences in other worlds: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!” Revelation 12:12.
This world is the only one in God’s creation that has fallen into sin and because of that, we are quarantined from the rest of the universe. God has put a wall of separation between us so that we cannot visit unfallen worlds. But the day is coming for those who are saved when it will be possible to travel all over the universe and visit unfallen worlds.
God’s Creative Power
At the conclusion of creation week, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [made it holy].” Genesis 1:31; 2:1–3. God Himself marked the beginning of the first Sabbath which came at the end of the first week of creation. The Bible does not teach that this world came into existence through long ages of time but came into existence in the literal seven days of creation. Psalm 33 tells how the world was created: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” Verses 6, 9. The creator God is the One we worship.
That same creative power was demonstrated when Jesus was here on earth. At the tomb of Lazarus when Jesus spoke, “Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43), and he who was dead came forth.
There are approximately one trillion cells in our body and each one of these cells has a spark of life, an electrical charge, which changes when a person dies. When Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth,” a trillion cells came to life. That same power was involved in the creation of the world, which the Sabbath commemorates.
The Christian religion is a miracle religion. The Sabbath is a sign, first of all, that you worship God as the Creator. Our world is marred by sin which has fractured our relationships, not only with God but also with each other. People are living in broken homes with broken hearts and with broken relationships. If there ever was a time when the human family needed a Creator, one Who can speak and change people’s lives, it is today. The Sabbath is a sign, a sign of a relationship. It is a sign of worshipping God as the Creator. All of the patriarchs kept the Sabbath—Adam, Noah and Abraham, even before the commandments were given to Moses on the mount. The Sabbath commandment begins with, Remember (Exodus 20:8). The Sabbath was not instituted at Sinai, but rather a reminder of something that was established at creation. God has placed a limit on human work. He says that six days are for you to do all your work, but you are not to work on the Sabbath. Verses 9, 10. In His wisdom, God knew there would be some workaholics who would work eight days a week if they could and expect the same of their children or employees, but no one could be happy spending all their life working. He, therefore, placed a limit on work and said to do it all in six days, but on the seventh day you need to rest.
Keeping the Sabbath changes homes and also marriages. There are many people today who never spend much time together. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence and He placed a check on the separation that selfishness would bring into families. In many families, the husband and father is gone from home all week and He said, There is one day a week that you are not to be out doing your work and gaining your livelihood—you are to rest.
What are we to do on this day of rest?
“Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” Exodus 31:13–18.
The Sabbath is a sign of relationship, a sign that we worship God as the Creator and that we honor His law and government. It is also a sign that God will sanctify and make us holy and obedient. In the book of Numbers we see some of the blessings that God has promised to those who keep the Sabbath. If we are keeping the Sabbath, we can claim this promise for ourselves, and it is one of the most wonderful promises that God has ever laid in record in His holy book.
“This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.’ So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:23–27. That promise is only for Sabbath keepers. Another promise given to those who keep the Sabbath is, “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” Deuteronomy 28:9–13.
In Psalm 95:1–7, we find a call to worship on the Sabbath. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hand formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.” (Compare verses 7–11 with Hebrews 3 and 4.) If you keep the Sabbath, God is your Shepherd and you are the sheep of His pasture; He has promised to take care of you. Some of the most wonderful promises found in the Bible are given to those who keep the Sabbath.
The world, influenced by the man of sin, has sought to tear the Sabbath from its place in God’s law and replace it with a common working day. A breach has been made in God’s law, as was foreseen in Bible prophecy. Daniel 7, 8 and 11 make it very clear that it was the Roman power that made a breach in God’s law, but the Bible also predicts that there will be some people in the last days who will repair this breach. “Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The restorer of Streets to Dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12. Notice who is going to be the repairer of the breach: “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Verses 13, 14. Those who keep the Sabbath and call it a delight will be the repairers of the breach. God wants the Sabbath to be a delight. We can never get out of the Sabbath that delight, if we are trampling on it; if we are doing our own ways, finding our own pleasure, or speaking our own words.
Relationships where little attention is shown to each other causes separation. Spend more time with the Lord and get to know Him. He has set aside one day in seven each week. The Bible says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11. If you want joy in your life look at the last part of verse 11: “At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” If you want joy and pleasure in your life then spend time with the Lord.
God has set His seal upon His royal requirement and the Sabbath is going to be the issue in the great conflict soon to take place in our world. Soon, Sabbath observance will be the sign of obedience to God’s government. The sign of rebellion or the mark of the beast will be Sunday observance. The Bible predicted thousands of years ago that Sabbath keeping will be the issue at the end of the world.
Blessing for Home and Family
The Sabbath is truly a test of faith. Many are concerned that they will not be able to provide for their families if they cannot work on the Sabbath, but Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:25–33.
If you keep the Sabbath and put God first, He has promised to supply your every need. This is not always accomplished in the way in which we expect, and many people have lost jobs or been threatened to lose them because of keeping the Sabbath, but God has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. He has access, not only to the resources of this world, but also to all the resources of the universe, and more. If necessary He can create resources to supply your need. Millions of Israelites were fed in the desert for forty years with Moses leading them. There were no gardens, no supermarkets, no stores, no orchards, no grain fields, no farms—nothing but desert, yet none of God’s people went hungry. God stands behind every promise that He has made and it is impossible for Him to lie (Hebrews 6:18).
Genesis 1:5 says that, “The evening and the morning were the first day.” So is the evening and the morning the commencement of the seventh day, the Sabbath. “From evening to evening [sunset to sunset], you shall celebrate your Sabbath.” Leviticus 23:32, last part. The idea that the day begins at midnight is not Biblical and came from the pagan Roman Empire.
How do we get ready for the Sabbath?
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8. The only person who can keep the Sabbath holy is a person who is holy. We do not have holy flesh, but we can develop a holy character—one that is in harmony with God’s law. Thus a spiritual preparation is involved in getting ready for the Sabbath, for we cannot keep it holy if we have any sin on our conscience.
Before the Sabbath, review your actions over the past week and confess any wrongs, encouraging family members to do the same. As any differences are confessed and forgiven, all grudges will be let go and love and acceptance will be experienced in the family circle benefiting all. Once you have chosen to obey God, to do His will and confess any sins, you can be certain there is One in heaven who is your Advocate. “These things I write unto you,” John said, “that you sin not, And if any man sin, we have an Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I John 2:1. He is willing to forgive and cleanse, making you clean and then you can keep the Sabbath holy. “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16.
In many of our families today, healing is needed because hearts are broken and relationships are fractured. The Sabbath was given as a sign that God is our Sanctifier, that He will re-create our lives and make us holy. It is when we are made holy that we become happy. Confessing sins done one to another before the Sabbath mends broken relationships and changes everything.
The Sabbath is a memorial of creation and a weekly reminder of the re-creation of the new man who has been born again. That, to my understanding, is the most important preparation for the Sabbath. We must be sanctified to keep the Sabbath holy and this must be prepared for by confessing our sins and praying for one another that we may be healed.
Friday, the sixth day of the week, is the special preparation day for the Sabbath. “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ ” Exodus 16:23. Cleaning homes and food preparation is to be done the day before. This does not mean that it is wrong to warm food on the Sabbath. God commanded a Sabbath rest for all and by preparing food beforehand allows all to worship freely without any burden.
How To Present Ourselves on the Sabbath
Sabbath, as we read in Psalm 95, is the day God ordained that we should come into His presence for worship. If one had an appointment to talk to the United States president or the British monarch at 9:30 in the morning they certainly would not wear the same clothes they had just worn while changing the oil in their car. In fact, they would put on the best and cleanest that they had available. So, when we come into God’s presence to worship, it is the most special event and we should be neat and trim, pure within and without.
“On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 355.
Let all bitterness and wrath and malice be expelled from the soul before the Sabbath begins. The mind as well as the body should be withdrawn from worldly business. To keep the Sabbath holy means eternal salvation. By putting away all bitterness and malice and being reconciled to our brethren, either in the church or at home, we are coming into harmony with the God of creation. We are preparing for our eternal home where there will be no strife, or bitterness or malice. There will be no hatred, animosity, or cold, hardhearted feelings. Heaven is a place to be desired. The Sabbath was given even to sinful man as a reminder of what heaven is like and as an encouragement to prepare to be ready for that place. “Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever’; but now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.’ ” 1 Samuel 2:30. This is a wonderful promise that you can claim. If you have ever been in trouble and had a problem in your home, in your marriage or with your children that seemed to be totally unworkable unless a miracle should happen then claim this promise, “Those who honor Me, I will honor.” Divine power will come to your rescue and heal your life. The Lord says, “Those who honor Me, I will honor.” That promise is for the Sabbath keepers.
The Sabbath a Family Day
The Sabbath was designed to be a family day, a time we spend with the Lord and with each other at home. First, as already mentioned, if we have sinned, we need to confess to each other. After this come together in family worship to begin the Sabbath. Worship can be one of the happiest times in your family. Read stories from the Bible, making it age appropriate, and sing praises to God. Encourage the playing of instruments if available. These special family worship times bond families together. When Jesus was on earth He was often found singing praises to His heavenly father. And don’t forget to pray; communication with heaven is the lifeline of power in the Christian.
On Friday nights, do not go to bed late so you will not wake up fresh and alert Sabbath morning for the special blessing that the Lord has for those who worship Him on His holy day. It is always easy and a temptation to lie in and have a lazy day on Sabbath but this is not what God intended. Consider Who is present when you come to the house of worship on the Sabbath day. The Lord of glory is present to bring His blessings, accompanied by His holy angels. How offensive would it be in the presence of Jesus to fall asleep and miss the blessing of the Word preached that day.
A Delightful Day for the Children
Children need to be helped to keep the Sabbath with enjoyment. Family worships should be kept interesting and not too long that they overrun the attention span of the children. Encourage them to bring their Bibles to worship, allowing them to read one, two or three verses. Sing a song that is familiar and that they enjoy, and have prayer together. By yourself, you can pray as long as you please, but if you have a family and children, keep prayers short and specific, not to weary the children, and should be no longer than the example that Jesus gave. Study this model prayer in Matthew 6:9–13 and pattern your prayer after it.
The Sabbath is a time to spend with our children and families, or if we do not have a family of our own, it is a time to spend with the family of God and with our friends. It can be one of the happiest and most blessed times of the week.
The Sabbath in Heaven
What a happy thought and one of my favorite topics to think about. Consider the number of relatives and friends who you cannot visit on Sabbath because they have died. In heaven all are going to come together, every Sabbath, to worship the Lord (Isaiah 66:22, 23). We are going to be organized there as families. It is going to be a wonderfully happy and blessed time.
When I was a child growing up, on Friday nights my father would pray for our family that we would all be saved without the loss of one. God wants to save all of our families, without any losses. For that to be the case we all must be there. It is important to be saved so that in heaven your family will not be short even one. The Sabbath is a family time to be together with those you love best and those who love you best and would just not be the same if one were missing.
God created the Sabbath after the six days of creation. A time was set aside for the study of what He had made. This is a wonderful occupation for the Sabbath, especially in pleasant weather to study creation and the Creator who made it.
There are many different aspects of nature to enjoy that appeal to each one’s interest. Some enjoy observing birds, while others enjoy studying the stars. Watch the new growth in spring and enjoy the fragrance and beauty of the flowers in summer. Point out the amazing diversity and describe to the children God’s great work of creation, that everything was created holy and beautiful for our enjoyment.
The Sabbath is a time when we can explain to our children the plan of salvation. Tell them that God so loved the world that when sin entered He had a plan already prepared so that we could be redeemed. He sent His only begotten Son to save us because He loved us so much. Tell the children the story of Bethlehem, the story of the child Jesus and how He behaved while still a child—that He was obedient to His parents and an example of obedience to all who will be saved in the kingdom of heaven (Luke 2:51). Teach them that Jesus knows about all of their trials, temptations and struggles and is ever ready to help them.
Children love stories, so tell them Bible stories and how Jesus has worked in your own life and family. We have nothing to fear for the future unless we forget the way the Lord has led us in the past. Make the Sabbath the most enjoyable day of the week for yourself and your family, a time of delight. In that way our homes and our hearts will be healed and we will have the joy that was given to the first human family.
This world at present with all its crime and debauchery is a nightmare. Sin has brought disaster and unbelievable unhappiness which has ruined everything, but God has a plan to remake this world the way He originally designed it to be.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Isaiah 65:17.
Notice what Isaiah 65:18–20 says: “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.” These next verses refer to the new earth. “They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” Verses 21, 22.
That is a place to be desired. “ ‘They shall not labor in vain, Nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, And their offspring with them. It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,’ Says the Lord.” Verses 23–25.
Do you want to be there? The Sabbath is a foretaste of what heaven will be like. “ ‘For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:22, 23.
I want to challenge you today to make a decision and say, “Lord, I am going to follow—I am going to obey You and I am going to be there.”
Sometime ago I was visiting a man in prison whose mother had died when he was very young. This man was not a Christian but I asked him the question, Would you like to see your mother again?
He said that he would and that his mother had been a Christian. I told him that someday soon Jesus is going to come in the clouds of the sky in the same way that He left. When He comes, He is going to look down on this world with His hands outstretched and say: “Awake, Awake, Awake, you that sleep in the dust and arise.” When He speaks those words every child of God who has died will come back to life. Millions and millions of people, from all generations all over the world, will instantly come to life. It will be one of the greatest demonstrations of divine power that has ever been displayed in all eternal ages. Jesus has already demonstrated that power once when He raised Lazarus.
I told this man that when Jesus speaks those words his mother will wake up and she will look for him.
Someday soon when Jesus comes, there is going to be somebody, maybe several people, looking for you. They are going to look for you and be so happy if you are there and you will be able to spend eternity together. You will keep the Sabbath forever with all of God’s children, but if you are not there, they will be sad.
God created us to be sociable creatures and not just to exist as separate little atoms. When one chooses to follow God in the way of obedience by keeping His Sabbath, it will have an effect on other people in the family, on friends and it will also influence other people to be obedient to God and to be ready for His soon appearing.
Who will be looking for you on that great day? Don’t disappoint them.
Remember, eternal salvation is involved in keeping the Sabbath holy. The Sabbath will be a time of great delight throughout eternity. Make sure you are there!
Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: (316) 788-5559.