Summary: Are Christians supposed to "Honor the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy?" Does Freedom in Christ mean freedom from everything? As Jesus expanded on the moral law, He also did so concerning "Sabbath".
The Sabbath Holiday
This past Monday was Labor Day in the US; Labor Day has been a National Holiday since 1894. As you probably know, the word “holiday” comes from the Old English words “HOLY-DAY”: a “holiday” originally referred to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school. Today is a holiday on the calendar too: It’s Grandparents Day in the US and Canada, so “Happy Grandparents Day” to all the Grandparents! (I guess that means that your grandchildren are going to do something special for you-maybe send a Hallmark card!)
The Creation Holiday
When was the first “HOLY-DAY” celebrated? God celebrated the first “holiday” in Genesis 2:1-3 ESV. In the first chapter you read the vast creative activities in which God created everything and then in Chapter 2 we read: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
The first HOLY DAY (HOLIDAY) in the universe was celebrated by God alone and God’s Word explains the CAUSE for this special day, how it was CELEBRATED, and NATURE of the Holiday. The CAUSE for the celebration was God’s Completion of Creation. The word in the Hebrew is Kalah (“kaw-law'”). The word is used in verses 1 and 2: God masterfully completed the creation of the heavens, the earth, and everything in them. In essence, God is making a similar declaration which Jesus made about His Redemptive Mission in the last words on the Cross; About His CREATIVE WORK, God declared: It is FINISHED.
God wanted to make it perfectly clear to mankind that it was God and God alone who created the earth and all that was in it in SIX DAYS and then God did what? He RESTED. (The Hebrew word is Shabath (shaw-bath'). He ceased from all of His Creative work. He celebrated a SABBATH…that’s what the word “sabbath” means: REST. The Seventh Day in world history was celebrated by God’s REST. In essence, a calendar was established by God, based on HIS WORKS: He established a cycle through the creative events from the beginning of time: Work six days…REST ONE.
The Command for Sabbath: Exodus 20
God accomplished all of His Creative work FIRST and then HE RESTED. The NATURE of this holiday is clear from verse 3: “So God blessed (barak-kneel or praise) the seventh day and made it holy: It was a HOLY Day. God made the day “Qadash”. He declared the seventh day in His cycle of creation to be sanctified, to be separated, to be set apart from the others, consecrated and hallowed. Why? Because it was God alone who created and fashioned all things, and He declared them ALL to be GOOD- (Everything passed the test of God’s perfect standard.) and so God declared the seventh day to be Holy and Hallowed to Him. Man did the same: He delighted in all that God had made. There was no work for him, no sin, no pressure, only joy in God and in His creation.
God did not COMMAND man to honor this day…but Man did disobey the ONE COMMAND that God gave in Gen 2:16-17: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Man was expelled from God’s Holy presence on account of his own disobedience. The entire world was destroyed by the flood because of man’s extreme sinfulness but Noah was saved by faith, finding grace in the eyes of God; but sin had not been destroyed. Abraham was called by God and saved by faith; Israel was established as a nation while in Egyptian captivity, etc.
Now I am not going to venture how many years the book of Genesis covers, but we know there is a lot of History; We know that the children of Israel spent around 400 years in captivity by the Egyptians, (the period between Joseph at the end of Genesis and Moses at the beginning of Exodus) and that Israel was miraculously led out of Egypt by the power and might of God.
Then in Exodus 20 on Mount Sinai, Moses received the law of God, written by God’s own hand in stone, and in Exodus 20:1-11, we read the first four commandments which explain man’s responsibility in life before the one and only Holy God: