Summary: The Sabbath day of the Old Testament is fulfilled in the work of the Lord Jesus in the New Testament. It is no wonder that Christians in the Early Church called the first day of the week, "The Lord's Day". The Lord's Day coincides with God's Creation.
“The Eternal Sabbath” Exodus 20:8-11
We have been looking at the Ten Commandments as part of the unfolding drama of salvation in the Old Testament. A short review from Exodus 20:1: “And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me.” God declares Himself to be the only true God and it is He, the Redeemer/Savior God who is deserving of the worship of our lives.
The Second Commandment in verse 4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” God is to be worshiped through “imageless” worship. He is Spirit and is to be worshiped in Spirit and Truth. He is jealous of His people and His own glory and will not tolerate “spiritual adultery.”
The Third Commandment in verse 7: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” The name of the Lord, or Yahweh, or Jehovah is not all that God has in mind here. In the Old Testament He was called “ADONAI” translated “Lord”, “YAH” and “YAHWEH” translated “LORD”, “I AM WHO I AM,” “I AM”, “EL” and “ELOHIM” translated God, and then many other variations describing the multitude of characteristics which our Almighty Lord God alone possesses. The manner in which we worship and live our lives before the Only True God of the entire universe is with awe, reverence, gratitude and humility.
Today we look at the Fourth Commandment in verse 8: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 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. 11 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.”
The Sabbath day
There are only four translatable Hebrew words in the fourth commandment and the command centers around God’s celebration of the seventh day of the history of the World. God created the world and everything in it in six days and He rested the seventh day; the seventh day is to be a Sabbath day. Creator-God rested after 6 days of creating. Sabbath means to cease from labor, to stop working and rest. God established a weekly pattern for mankind: work six days, rest one.
In the second giving of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, God includes reason this within the fourth commandment: In verse15: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” The Redeemer-God delivered Israel from the bondage of Egypt.
Later the Lord Jesus would be the Deliverer, Rescuer, Redeemer whom God had promised and pictured throughout Old Testament history. Jesus accomplished His life’s work on behalf of sinners, living a blameless life and then He died the death He did not deserve on the cross. Jesus was buried and He rested in the Grave, but praise be to God, when Jesus’ work was done and He had rested, He was resurrected from the bondage of death and the grave. Jesus rested and was resurrected after His work; He accomplished our saving work. The Early Church immediately recognized the significance of Jesus’ life-changing resurrection and systematically celebrated the first day of the week as a day of worship and rejoicing and called it, “The Lord’s Day”.
This was fitting because even before Jesus’ Resurrection, He declared: “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” (Matt. 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5) Jesus (the Son of Man) created all things. He is the giver of all life, and after He lived a perfect life, obeying all things, He certainly is Lord of the Sabbath. He became the fulfillment of the Sabbath. (More on that in a minute.)