The real meaning of the Sabbath

TEXT: ISAIAH 58

In isaiah's day, the Sabbath had become a time when Jews became more concerned with ritual than personal fellowship with God.

 
What is the Sabbath, anyway? The Sabbath was ordained by God - not by the Jews or any other nationality. Put simply, the Sabbath is a day to honor God. We rest from our labors, and all of our actions on that day and all of our thoughts are directed to him in worship. Not just during Church or Synagogue service on that day.
 

It was to be a holy memorial of Creation and the Creator. Because God rested from all His work on the Sabbath, He placed a special blessing (for Man) in the Sabbath day and also asks mankind (not just Jews) to rest from all his work, on that day, and to remember to worship and thank God, especially on that day, for all that He has done for man.

The Sabbath will always be remembered - as long as there is a Creation and a Creator.
 
For the record, there were no Jews at Creation nor in the days of Moses. The first time the word "Jew" is used, is in the days of Esther - about 1,000 years after Moses. Even so, today's Christians, who observe the Sabbath on Sunday, are required to observe it. Why? Because God's order to observe His Sabbath day of rest is issued to all mankind to observe.
 
In Isaiah 58:1-5, we see the Jews observing the Sabbath outwardly, but not inwardly. So, what God is saying though Isaiah is that He wants the Sabbath to come from the heart, as an honor to God. We see, instead formalities and precise observances and faked delight in God Himself.
 
God, in effect, calls for a lifestyle change (Isaiah 58:6). What is that lifestyle like? We see it in Isaiah 58:6-7 that it includes: Loosing the bands of wickedness, undoing heavy burdens, freeing the oppressed, sharing bread with the hungry, providing shelter for the poor and homeless, feeding the naked and taking care of your kin folks.
 
In Isaiah 1:13, we see that there apparently a point where God just grows tired of ritual, when he said: "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting."
 
Is God's attitude any different than what we see in Matthew 5:23-24? It says there, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
 
The common thread in both Isaiah and Matthew is that God is more concerned with the heart than with ritual.
 
In the New Testament, we see Jesus teaching the same principles - and, by extension, His apostles. We are advised to do similiar things, in a lifestyle very similiar to what we see here in Isaiah. Christians are charged with feeding the poor, providing heat for those who are cold, feeding the hungry, visiting those in jail - and more. Why is that? Because Jesus is the same God who told Isaiah to tell his People to worship him in, essentially, "spirit and in truth." (REFERENCE: John 4:20-24).
 
The extent to which Isaiah was taken can be seen in Matthew 12:1-12, when Jesus was confronted by the Pharissees after allowing His disciples to eat corn from a field because the disciples were hungry. All the Pharisees, together with the Sadducees and scribes, had left was ritual; they had long ago lost their personal fellowship with God - even though they, no doubt, prayed every day, perhaps seveal times a day.
 
We can logically conclude that the people in this passage to whom Isaiah was speaking had lost sight their personal fellowship with God. you can see God calling them back to that fellowship in Isaiah 58:8-14. He tells His people what they need to do, and then tells them their reward for doing it will be bountiful.
 
Why is fellowship with God on a personal level important? Because, if it is lost, we begin to drift away and then grow cold. And if we grow cold, we could grow callous. In short, loss of fellowhip is a separation between us and God, and once we get into that territory, we have lost the compass for our lives, and are in danger - in the end - of becoming ritualistic without meaning.
 
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: 
  • How much of your Sabbath do you give to God? Just Sunday School and church services?
  • Do you carve out 3-hour swaths of time to watch pro football games or other sports?
  • How much do you think about God and how good He has been?
  • Do your family members go their separate ways for most of the day? Does their thought life dwell on the Lord's things?
  • Do you love God? Do you tell Him?
  • How much time do you and your family spend with God, or at least talking about Him among yourselves?

THE BOTTOM LINE: In its simplest form, the Sabbath is a special day for the Creator and His Creation to fellowhip, whether Jew or Christian.