The Sabbath And Why Going to Church Is Important
What is the Sabbath ? Why is it important to go to church regularly ? Many people these days take going to church much more casually than in years past. For many people it is not that big of a deal to miss a Sunday or two or three…
Why you go to church will be a big factor in how regularly you go. Many people attend church because it is the right thing to do in a religious way. Or they go because going to church is what good Christians do. If you go to church because of religious or legalistic reasons, then chances are you are missing what God has for you. And you are missing the whole point of why God wants you to go.
Bible Verses About The Sabbath
So what does God say about the Sabbath and going to church in the Bible ? We will start in the Old Testament to see what God intended the Sabbath and going to church to be.
The Sabbath is important enough to God that He included it in the 10 Commandments. The first 4 commandments deal with our relationship with God. The remaining commandments deal with our relationships with others.
Exodus 20:8 – “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”.
What does the sabbath day mean ? In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, this is how the Sabbath is defined:
a. The seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening, as a day of rest and worship by Jews.
b. Sunday observed among Christians as a day of rest and worship.
This is a religious definition. While it is technically somewhat correct, this definition does not nearly come close to showing the true meaning of the Sabbath. Nor does it show why it is important to God, and why it should be important to us.
The First Part of What The Sabbath Means
The original Hebrew word for Sabbath used in Exodus 20:8 means to rest. So when God says to “Remember the sabbath day, this the first part of what the sabbath is. God is saying “don’t forget to take a day of rest”
The Second Part of What The Sabbath Means
In the final part of Exodus 20:8, God says to “keep the Sabbath holy“. What does “keep it holy” mean ? The word holy means “set apart”. God is saying “the Sabbath is a special day set apart from all other days”
God is telling us in the first 2 parts of what the Sabbath means that it is a special day, set apart from all other days of the week, for rest. But there is more to what the Sabbath is and why it is so important to God.
It’s All About Our Relationship With God
Exodus chapters 20-23 are what is called The Book Of The Covenant. God gave His people clear instructions on having a right covenant relationship with God. In the Old Testament, before Jesus Christ, God had a covenant relationship with His chosen people. The Covenant Promise was originally given to Abraham in Genesis 12. God would bless Abraham (and His people), and make them a great nation and a blessing to all other nations. If God’s people did their part, then God would fulfill His part of the covenant promise.
The Book of the Covenant included the 10 commandments in Exodus 20. Exodus 20:8 is the 4th of the 10 commandments that God gave Israel His chosen people. The first 4 commandments deal with our covenant relationship with God. The rest of the commandments deal with our relationships with other people.
So the sabbath is just not about our need to rest. Ultimately, and most importantly, the Sabbath is about our relationship with God.
Exodus 20:9-10 is a continuation of God’s 4th commandment about the Sabbath. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of (to) the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
Verse 10 says “the seventh day is a sabbath of (or to) the Lord your God. Half of the common Bible versions use “of the Lord” and the others use “to the Lord”. This may not seem like much, but this is significant and the 3rd and main part of the sabbath.
The Third Part of What The Sabbath Means
The 3rd part of the Sabbath is that it is the 7th day and it is a sabbath “from or to the Lord”. This means it is a special holy day of God- centered rest, and is dedicated to the Lord and to our relationship with Him. Attention is to be directed to God in a way that is more concentrated and focused than on ordinary days. We keep the day holy by keeping our focus on holy God.
God and our personal relationship with Him is to be the main focus of the sabbath. So it is much more than just a day of rest. When you combine the 3 parts of what the sabbath is, you end up with: it is a special holy day of rest, set apart from other days, dedicated to the Lord and our relationship with Him.
The 4th commandment is continued in Exodus 20:11. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
Who created and blessed the sabbath and made it holy ? The Lord. There are many people who have no problem not observing the sabbath. In their view or opinion it is not a big deal. They miss the point that God has ordained this as a special holy day, set apart for rest and special attention on God and on our relationship with Him.
When we are careless about honoring the Sabbath and our church attendance, we are being careless about God and our relationship with Him.
More Bible Verses About The Sabbath & Church
Deuteronomy 31:12-13 “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. And their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”
When we are assembled together in church, the key things we need to focus on are to hear from God, and to learn to fear the Lord. Fear the Lord does not mean to be afraid of Him, but to have great reverence for God. Notice in verse 12 that the Sabbath and assembling together in church is meant for the whole family.
Hearing God and humble reverence for God are key parts to having a close and right relationship and intimacy with God
Be Focused & Be Careful to Listen to God
Ecclesiastes 5:1 “Guard your steps (be careful and be focused) as you go to the house of God and draw near (draw near to God) to listen (hear God speak) rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools (people that are going through the motions and doing the outward religious things but are far from God in their hearts); for they do not know they are doing evil.”
In the Bible listen means to humbly & reverently hear God speak, with the intent in your heart of doing whatever God says. In the Bible there is a big difference between hearing God and listening to God.
The Sabbath Is To Be Observed Throughout All Generations
Exodus 31:12-13 “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.”
What is God saying to His people, and to us ? That we need to be careful to observe God’s sabbath. It is a sign of our covenant relationship with God. And it is to be observed throughout all generations (forever from then on). And it also shows that we are people sanctified or set apart by God.
What Day Is The Correct Day for The Sabbath ?
Exodus 31:15 says “For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord.”
This verse says you can work for 6 days, but the 7th day is a sabbath rest day. Most people in the world have Sunday in their calendar as their 7th day. Is it wrong then to have services on Friday night like the Jews ?
The Jewish calendar is different than our Gregorian or western calendar. A day begins at sunset & the appearance of 3 stars, not at midnight, and ends the next sunset. Also, Sunday is the 1st day of the week, not Monday; and Friday sunset to Saturday sunset is the last or 7th day of the week. The Jewish Shabbat (sabbath) is observed from sunset on Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night, which is the 7th day.
Is It Wrong to Have Saturday Services ?
The 7th Day Adventist church has services on Saturday, following the Jewish calendar for the 7th day. And some large churches have multiple services on Sunday, and also some on Saturday for space reasons. Is this wrong ?
In Exodus 31:15 it says to work for 6 days, but the 7th day is a sabbath rest day with no work. No Bible verses say that the 7th day has to be Sunday. There are also no Bible verses that say the Sabbath has to be on the 7th day of the week, like our Sunday or the Jewish Sabbat on Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. The Bible only says that there can be work for 6 days, and the 7th day is the Sabbath day of rest.
Typically the Jewish religion celebrates the Sabbath on the 7th or last day of the week, which for them is Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. And the Christian tradition is to have worship services on the 7th day of the Gregorian or western calendar.
The New Testament – A New Covenant Relationship with God Through Jesus Christ
Since Jesus came to introduce a new type of covenant relationship with God by faith in Jesus, is the Old Testament requirement for honoring and observing the Sabbath voided ?
Remember in Exodus 31:13 God says “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations.” God is saying that He wants us to observe this holy set apart day throughout all generations, or forever from then on.
“Do Not Forsake Assembling Together”
Hebrews 10:19-25 tells us “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place (God’s presence) by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart (draw near to God with a sincere heart) in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day (the day of Jesus’ return) drawing near.
Verse 25 tells us to not forsake assembling together. Even though Hebrews is written after the new covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus Chrsit, God still wants us to have and observe the Sabbath. A special and holy day, set apart from all other days, for God-centered rest. To focus on God and on our relationship with Him. And to focus on hearing God’s voice and then doing what we hear God say.
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