THE SEVENTH DAY
One of the laws written in the Decalogue is the obligatory observation of the ‘Seventh Day of Rest’, taking as basis the narrative of Genesis, where God rested from his creation on the Seventh Day, on the first week of the planet.
(Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11).
According to biblical data, God blessed the seventh day from the first day of creation, and intended humanity to observe it, not as a day of worship, but as a day of freedom from the material worries and dedicate it to rest from activities.
It is understood that religious activities were not included, since God demands daily worship and praise, either in a personal as well as in a communal manner. It is also proven by internal information, that this principle was unknown to the people of God until the times of Moses, where the principle of the liberating rest was made a law within the mosaic legal system (Exodus 16:23). Nowhere before Moses, the keeping of the seventh day is mentioned or observed, religiously or otherwise.
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
When our Lord Jesus incarnated, he was born a Jew subjected to the mosaic law, which included keeping the seventh day of his week of rest in the synagogue (Luke 4:16); but also, Jesus started lifting the veil of the religious obligation from the command, making miracles and other activities on the seventh day (Matthew 12:1-2; John 5:8-10).
Jesus explained the real reason for the law of the sabbath (Matthew 12:3-5, 12; Mark 3:4; Luke 14:5). It was to free men from the load of work necessity or abuse had place him under, making into a law to release a man from all labor, to dedicate himself to recover and the betterment of his quality of life (Mark 2:27). The synagogue assistance on the sabbath was a custom, not a divine command.
However, its religious obedience got cancelled as all other religious laws given to Israel (Colossians 2:16-17); even though the first Christians remained keeping it (Acts 17:1) as well as Sundays (Acts 20:7; 1Corinthians 16:2) only for the sake of preaching to the Jews on their own ground. But the principle of a one day per week rest remained.
God is good, and all the laws he ever gave us, reflect his eternal goodness as well as his perfect holiness.
Through the grace he has given to humanity in Christ, the severity of punitive sentences has been temporarily waved, but they will be released in the Day of Judgement.
Besides the problem of determining exactly when is the original ‘seventh day’ of creation, considering the time in Jerusalem is not the same as in other continents, and that even the first day of the Jewish New Year changes every year, if we want to count seven days from that time; determining the Sabbath becomes relative, but the principle that God intended remains the same, one day per week of rest.
A day per week of rest, reminds humanity that our lives belong to God, and that all enterprise and duties we may have on Earth, are ultimately subjected to the will of God, who demands freedom from any duty, to dedicate time to the spirit and betterment of our lives. It is also a reflection of the redemption Jesus won for us.
When we stop working one day per week, we are free from obligations, worries and we are called to enjoy time of resting in the company of family and friends. We may also use this day to study the word of God and worship in community, having in our minds only the Glory of our Heavenly Father.
This represents not only the time God rested from creation, but also the time of our glorification, when we finally will have arrived to God’s kingdom and rest from all the worries we ever had in this world while we were on our way to God.
This nevertheless, is a godly recommendation, but not a law anymore. This ‘day of rest’ can be any day of the week, and has nothing to do with our traditional day of public worship.
But certainly, to keep a day of rest, will bring balance to our existence, while we are on our journey to our Father’s Home.