Question: “Why do millions of Christians around the globe observe a day of rest and worship on Saturday instead of Sunday?”
The short answer is that they are convinced from the Bible that the seventh day of each week is the true Sabbath, the day God himself set aside for rest and worship.
Many more reasons could be given, but here is our countdown of the top ten reasons for keeping Sabbath.
10. The Bible consistently calls the seventh day of the week (Saturday) the Sabbath. The first day of the week (Sunday) is never called the Sabbath. Rather, Sunday is the day after the Sabbath (Matthew 28:1).
9. The seventh-day Sabbath dates from the beginning of time. God established it during Creation week:
- He “rested” (ceased) from His work on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2).
- He “blessed” (conferred favor or approval) on the seventh day (v. 3).
- He “sanctified” (set apart for special use) the seventh day (v. 3).
8. The Sabbath is fourth among the Ten Commandments, stated twice in Scripture. In Exodus 20:8-11 Sabbath is the memorial of Creation — a time to honor God as Creator: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work . . . 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.”
In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, Sabbath serves as a symbol of redemption — a time to honor God as Redeemer: “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy . . . and remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
7. Jesus taught that the Sabbath was a Creation ordinance given for the benefit of humanity, not just for Jews: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Thus the Sabbath is much more than a law; it is a gift of God’s care for everyone. God rested at the beginning, not because He was tired but to set an example for us who need the rest.
6. Sabbath became a key symbol of redemption in Jesus’ ministry and teaching. As God gave the Hebrews rest from Egyptian bondage, so Jesus gives rest from sin’s slavery to those who trust Him: “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). To illustrate this, Jesus did seven recorded miracles of healing on the Sabbath, setting captives free and delivering us from a regulation-dominated view of this blessed day (Matthew 12:1-12). He could do this because He was Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28).
As the Sabbath reminded the Hebrews of their deliverance from Egypt, so it reminds Christians of their deliverance from sin — the work of God and not of human beings. The symbol of Sabbath teaches us to lay down our labors and rest in Christ: All the redemptive work is done in Him.
5. The Sabbath is a preview, a type, of the coming kingdom of God, when believers will enjoy eternal Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:1-11; v. 9 speaks of future rest awaiting the people of God). Each weekly rest day now is an earthly foretaste of heavenly rest, peace, and fellowship to come.
4. Jesus’ custom of weekly Sabbath observance, according to the Decalogue, is an example for us (Luke 4:16). Apostle Paul and the early church, Gentiles included, also met every seventh day for worship, preaching, prayer, and evangelism (Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; 17:2-4; 18:1, 4, 11). This custom of theirs never changes in Scripture.
3. Sabbath promotes human wellness via physical, mental, and emotional rest. The seventh day of each weekly cycle liberates us from the tyrannies and tensions of modern life: the clock, overtime, rushing to and fro, business and busy-ness, buying and selling, producing and consuming, work and worry. It’s a day to be free from the requirement of doing, in favor of just being. This day of Divine rest for human restlessness is a gift that refreshes both body and soul.
2. The Sabbath offers the added benefit of time to restore and cultivate human relationships. Our lives are most valuable and satisfying through contact and interaction with others. Due to hectic schedules, however, the very relations essential to our human existence are often neglected. Sabbath slows us down to touch other lives in lasting ways. It affords quality time to bond with family, with friends, and with brethren in faith. It also invites us to reach into the community-at-large, helping others by meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, as Jesus consistently did on Sabbath. Our Lord is the one who taught us, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12).
1. Sabbath regularly links us with the Lord, His Word, and His church in a way that little else can. These are the most important relationships of our lives!
Our human tendency is to rush through the week, offering God a fleeting nod here and there. The Sabbath, on the other hand, calls us to an intentional choice — to cease from other activities and focus attention on Him. Through extended time with God and His people, we learn again that the whole of our existence is wrapped up in our Creator, Savior, and coming King. Observing the Sabbath well, we become sensitive to the truth that we belong to God. It’s not the Sabbath we worship but the God who set the Sabbath apart at Creation. The Sabbath is a memorial in time, a useful tool to help us focus our attention on our Source and destiny. As we look to Him, everything else finds its proper place, and we are better prepared — for time and for eternity.
For those who don’t know Him, we recommend Jesus Christ as the one true friend who invites you to Himself for authentic rest in time and eternity. For those who do know Jesus as Savior and Lord, we recommend the enduring gift of His Sabbath.