God gave us the Sabbath so that we would know that God sets us apart. God believes we are special, and He sets us apart from the rest of creation for a purpose.
God tells us exactly why He gave us the Sabbath: “I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy” (Ezek. 20:12, NIV). These words are echoes of God’s instructions to the Israelites from the mountain: “ ‘Say to the Israelites, “You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy” ’ ” (Exod. 31:13, NIV). The word “holy” means to be set apart. God gave us the Sabbath so that we would know that God sets us apart. God believes we are special, and He sets us apart from the rest of creation for a purpose.
He loves us. The Sabbath is a weekly reminder that it is God who protects and cares for us. It is God who created us. It is God who looked down on us and said, “It is good.”
When we join with God in His celebration of creation, God promises us a special blessing: “ ‘If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken’ ” (Isa. 58:13, 14, NKJV).
God wants to bless us, but there is a special blessing waiting for us when we join in God’s Sabbath celebration. He takes the Sabbath seriously. It isn’t an option or a suggestion; it’s part of our makeup. It’s part of our systems. He built it into our biological cycles. The Sabbath is part of God’s infinite, perfect kingdom, and when we celebrate Sabbath, we are taking a step closer to God. The closer we come to God, the more we are blessed. But in order to celebrate the Sabbath in a way that will bring us closer to God, we have to do it God’s way. We have to take the Sabbath seriously too.
Let us use the analogy of Christmas as it is celebrated in North America. When everyone is celebrating Christmas, the holiday doesn’t just descend on us. We must prepare for it! There is shopping to be done, decorating of the house, baking goodies, and setting up the Christmas tree. We have to write our Christmas cards, plan the dinner, and arrange what meal will be with whom. Even after the preparations are complete, if we sit in somber silence during the festivities, we will completely miss out on the Christmas blessing. We won’t enjoy ourselves. We won’t feel the warmth of family and friends coming together. If we refuse to join in with the Christmas carols, opt out of the gift exchange and sit by ourselves, we won’t enjoy the holidays in the least. It is the same with the Sabbath. We cannot enjoy the Sabbath blessing unless we join in on the celebration with God. We have to take the Sabbath as seriously as we take Christmas.
That doesn’t mean that we must spend large amounts of money. We need to choose to enjoy the Sabbath. We need to choose to make it a delight. We can’t allow ourselves to miss out! When we do that, when we make it as pleasant and beautiful as possible, God’s blessings will be ours.*