Summary: Many often associate the Sabbath with the Old Testament covenant and don’t think much of it because Christians today are not under the Old Testament. Many as a result miss out in understanding its true and rich value for us today.
Significance of the Sabbath
Theme: How the Sabbath rest affects Christians today
A. Many Christians have a good working knowledge of the Sabbath.
1. The seventh day of the week, which was a commanded day of rest.
2. This commandment was given only to the house of Israel.
3. Thus, we can soundly reason that the Sabbath is no longer binding upon Christians under the New
B. What some of us fail to grasp, however, how the Sabbath indirectly affects us as Christians today.
1. Some in pondering this might not see any significance of the Sabbath for Christians today.
2. Others might place too much in the Sabbath and bind a New Testament version of the Old
Testament Sabbath on Christians today.
C. For this reason we shall:
1. Review Old Testament teachings regarding the Sabbath and its associated principles.
2. How those principles help Christians better understand our New Testament relationship with God.
I. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SABBATH FOR THE O.T. HEBREWS
A. Sign of the Sabbath.
1. Prior to God’s deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians there was no formal practice of the
Sabbath revealed by God.
2. Yet, God made it clear that the Sabbath itself was a sign between Him and the children of Israel
for them to celebrate throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. Exo. 31:12-17
3. Reason for the sign: that the Israelites might know that it was the Lord who sanctified them.
Exo. 31:13 (cp. Ezek. 20:12)
B. Sanctification of the Sabbath.
1. Establishing His covenant with Israel God told them to “remember the Sabbath day, keep it holy.”
2. It was holy because God sanctified and hallowed it. Gen. 2:2-3; Exo. 20:11
3. The Israelites – by faith – were to keep the Sabbath holy.
a. It was a day of complete rest. Exo. 20:10; Exo. 31:15
b. The only work was that of the priests: daily sacrifices; lamp trimmed, bread replaced.
Lev. 24:8; Num. 28:9
c. The Israelites would use this day to devote to the worship of the Lord. Ezek. 46:3
4. Penalty for not keeping God’s sabbaths.
a. God’s people would be sent into captivity while the land enjoys its rest. Lev. 26:34-35 (cp. 2
b. If God’s people would turn from defiling the sabbath, and take delight in it, then God would
also turn away from His wrath against them. Isa. 58:13-14
C. Shadow of the Sabbath.
1. As implied by scripture and explicitly defined: sabbath simply means to cease or desist.
2. Through an understanding of the word and the evolution of the Sabbath rest as used in the Old
Testament, we should be able to learn the significance of this rest as taught in the New Testament.
II. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SABBATH FOR N.T. CHRISTIANS
A. The Old Testament Sabbath was made for Israel but represented a shadow of another “day” of rest to
come. Col. 2:16-17
1. Physical creation.
2. Sabbath day rest.
3. Land of rest (Canaan).
4. Spiritual Canaan.
B. The significance of the Sabbath shadow. Heb. 4:1-9
1. Let us fear, lest we come short of entering the eternal rest. Heb. 4:1
2. We need to make the good news profitable by living faithfully… being holy (separate) from the
bondage of slavery to sin. Heb. 4:3-5 (cp. Rom. 6)
3. The true rest did not come through Moses or Joshua, but through Jesus Christ. Heb. 4:6-7
4. Ultimately (in contrast to the shadow): the one who has entered into His Sabbath rest has also
rested from his works, just as God rested from His (from the foundation of the world). Heb. 4:8-13
A. We may not be living under the Law of Moses in keeping the Sabbath.
B. But the shadowy principle under the Law directly affects all Christians today to live a holy life (being
separate unto God) that we may enjoy the true rest He has promised through the Good News