“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
In six days, God created the universe and everything in it. And on the seventh day, He rested for He had completed all His works of creation. God blessed and sanctified this day, the seventh day. Today’s Scripture passage is speaking of the seventh day of the Creation. After finishing His works, God rested on the seventh day. We are told that this day does not belong to the days of creation but is separated as God’s own day.
God created us humans in His image so that He may adopt us as His own children. The fact that God created us humans in His exact image implies the salvation through Jesus Christ. God accomplished salvation by completing us humans in Jesus Christ. That God rested on the seventh day means that God had finished His works of salvation. How then did God complete all His works of salvation?
If we skip ahead and read chapter 3 of Genesis, Satan tempted Eve to commit sin. However, we can read that God delivered Adam and Eve by clothing them with tunics of skin. Although Satan, the fallen angel, made the first human Adam fall into sin, God had perfectly delivered us in Christ. For that reason only was God now able to rest. It tells us that God rested because He had finished making us sinless. If this did not happen God would not have been able to take a rest. Has God not finished blotting out all our sins? Of course He has. God has accomplished that work flawlessly. God allowed us humans to be tempted by Satan. As a consequence, we fell into sin and committed sins because of Satan. Yet God has delivered us who had fallen in sin and raised our status to be His very own children.
God took His Sabbath on the seventh day. There are many passages in the Bible mentioning the Sabbath day. It tells us that we should rest and not work on the Sabbath day and that we will be blessed if we keep the Sabbath. It also tells us that whoever intentionally breaks the Sabbath will be put to death. The law of the Sabbath day is included as one of the Ten Commandments. For such a reason, the Pentateuch talks frequently about the law of the Sabbath day. Furthermore, prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel put great importance on the Sabbath day and rebuked the Israelites for not keeping the Sabbath day. Thus, we must come to know that God has not only instituted the Sabbath day but that He also assigned great spiritual meaning to it.
We are God’s own creation. Sin only crept into humanity after Satan injected sin into our ancestor Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” We unintentionally became sinners because we were born as descendants of the fallen Adam. Therefore we could not help but receive judgments from God. Yet God blotted out all our sins without a spot and granted the true rest to our souls. Thus the Sabbath signifies that God granted us the remission of our sins. Those who have not received the remission of sins cannot enjoy the Sabbath day.
What is the spiritual implication of the Sabbath day? Why did God rest on and sanctify the seventh day? The seventh day signifies God’s own day. From the first to the fifth day, God created the universe and all things in it. On the sixth day, God created us humans. In the Bible numbers have specific meanings. The number 4 signifies trials, 5 God’s Grace and 6 is man. The number of the beast is 666, which indeed is that of us humans, it shows us that there will appear a man who tricked himself to be a god (Revelation 13:18). But 7 is still the number revealing God. God gives us rest and blessings and He sanctifies us; He rested on the seventh day after finishing all His works in six days.
When God sanctified and rested on the seventh day, He does not talk about a specific day of the week. It tells us that God sanctified humans by delivering them from their sins. And that God gave humans the blessing to become His own children. God clothed us with His Grace and gave us the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. We are told about the Sabbath day so that we may be taught about these things: “I have given you many blessings. I have made you sinless. I have sanctified you. I have given you the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.” In order to tell this to us, He said, “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3).
In spite of all this, people are still ignorant and treat the Sabbath day as important. They think that designating a specific day of the week as the Sabbath day and not working on that day constitutes keeping the statute of the Sabbath day. The true meaning of the Sabbath day is revealing the God-given salvation. God’s institution of the Sabbath day includes all of the following truths: The remission of all our sins by our Lord, all the heavenly blessings from our Lord, and eternal life and the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet people treat only the time-based day of Sabbath as important. That is why people fall into spiritual legalism.
Not long after Christianity was first introduced in Korea, Korea was invaded and fell under the colonial rules of Japan. Many Christians were persecuted and martyred for not worshipping at the Shinto shrines where the Japanese rulers compelled Koreans to profess and believe in Shintoism. Also, early church leaders in Korea gave up their lives to keep the Sabbath day. They called Sunday their Sabbath day and were imprisoned and martyred to keep that Sabbath day.
However, their deaths were all in vain having nothing to do with the will of God who gives true salvation to them. This happened because Christian leaders of that time were spiritually ignorant. They did not know that God had sanctified us all, and that God had given us the Kingdom of God and had given us true rest. Because they were ignorant of such spiritual truth and legalistically believed that they would receive blessings if they literally kept the Sabbath day, they put their hearts and souls into outwardly keeping the Sabbath day holy by not working on a specific day of the week. However, their entire endeavors had nothing to do with the blessing of remission of sins that God desired to grant to us.
Of course, I am not saying that we should ignore Sunday, the Lord’s Day. It is right to rest one day a week and worship God on that day. Still we are not doomed for not literally keeping this day. Those who truly believe in the Truth are not reluctant to go to their businesses or travel just after they have worshipped. Of course, they don’t intentionally work harder on the Sabbath day, but in situations beyond their control they are not bound by the Sabbath day.
The original Sabbath day in the Old Testament is from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset in today’s calendar. On that day, people were not supposed to do any kind of work, buy or sell or even cook. Christians also keep the Lord’s Day in the same way. Long time ago Christians in Korea literally tried to keep the Sabbath day with their lives too. Thus there were many who were martyred because of their stubbornness to keep the Sabbath day. During the Korean War (1950~1953), the communist army gathered the civilians in the captured town on a Sunday to clean up the streets. At this, a deacon resisted. “Why on earth did you choose Sunday for street cleaning? I would have done as ordered on any other day but never on a Sunday.” That deacon resisted and was executed by a rifle squad. To this day, Korean Christians extol him as a great martyr.
These kinds of people think that they are committing a great sin and won’t receive either blessings or the remission of their sins unless they keep the Sabbath day. They are bound by a specific day of the week because they have not received the remission of their sins yet. However, as a matter of fact keeping the Sabbath day does not lie in keeping a specific day of the week. To give the essence of the statute of the Sabbath day, it is for us to remember and give thanks to God the Lord of the Sabbath day, who gave us the remission of sins, blessings and the eternal life.
Is it essential to keep the Sabbath day in the temporal sense? Right now, the Jewish and the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the likes, keep the Sabbath day from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset according to the concept of the Old Testament. However, most Christian denominations keep Sunday as the Lord’s Day and consider it their Sabbath day. But is it possible for us to keep the Sabbath day thoroughly? If we took a flight from Korea to the United States, it is possible that we might have to go to Sunday service twice on the same day because of the difference in time zones. On the other hand, if we took a flight from the United States to Korea, because of the difference in time zones, it is possible that we might miss a Sunday entirely. I am presenting you with these examples to remind you that it is not the specific day that is important in the Sabbath day. We must believe in the Word about the Sabbath day knowing that God gave us true and everlasting rest along with the blessing to become His own children. God rested on, sanctified and blessed the seventh day with the intention that we should not try to escape it but keep the rest God has given us.
It was not God’s intention to demand our zeal through the law of the Sabbath day. Through the law of the Sabbath day, God told us to keep the spiritual Truth. Yet people are spiritually ignorant and commit their lives to outward deeds. Thus, the Pharisees also made huge issues when Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath day and decided to kill Him. However, our Lord as the very Lord of the Sabbath has given rest to those who believe in Him by telling them, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We have truly gained rest through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:3 declares, “For we who have believed do enter that rest.” Still, many people to this day are unable to enter that rest and are enslaved by the letter. Those who still try to keep the law of the Sabbath day in a literal sense have not yet been born again. These people are unable to enjoy the rest that our Lord has completed and given to us.
It says in 2 Corinthians 3:6, “Who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The letter here indicates the Law. The Law only kills us, while the Spirit, which is God, gives life to us. Believing in the literal sense is indeed dying. Knowing and believing in the will and heart of God implied in those letters gives us life. Believing in the Law literally will indeed kill us. We should therefore believe in the hidden meanings behind those letters.
What good is there to fight over which day of the week is the correct Sabbath day? Who cares about what day? We just need to keep one day out of the week as our Sabbath day. God’s Word says that God rested on His seventh day. Thus, we cannot just know this in the literal sense. Those who believe literally insist that we should keep the Sabbath day on Saturday. They also insist that we must discover the real date that Jesus was born and keep that date as our Christmas, since the Christmas that we keep was originally a day to worship the Sun god. However, what difference does it make if we should somehow discover the precise date Jesus was born and keep it as our Christmas? It is enough for us to dedicate one day out of the year to celebrate Jesus’ birth and thank Him for the salvation He has accomplished for us.
All of God’s acts from the first to the seventh day are important. God’s plan for salvation is in all of these. Thus, we call God’s acts during these seven days “God’s blueprint.” Everything that follows reveals every hidden secrets of this plan in detail. And this blueprint was completed when God designated the seventh day as the Sabbath day. God is teaching us His completed plan for salvation after it has been drawn.
There are many hidden meanings behind God’s institution of the Sabbath day. First, the fact that God has given us rest indicates that God has blotted out all the sins in our hearts and given us the Kingdom of God instead. Although His creations committed sins, God gave them rest by blotting out all their sins through Jesus. And on that Sabbath day, God accepted us as His very own people and blessed us to be His own children. God’s blessing of turning us into the righteous who are pure and sanctified are included in God’s intention for instituting the Sabbath day.
However, people were only interested in questions relating to when the Sabbath day should be and how to keep it. Indeed, these matters have no relevance to God’s intention of instituting and blessing the Sabbath day. Believers during the early days of Korean Christianity did not buy or sell goods on Sundays. Some argued with issues such as whether to turn the light on or off during Sunday services. They insisted that if they turned on the electrical light they would make the workers at the power station work on the Sabbath day indirectly. We must realize how much they were bound by the letters. You couldn’t imagine how many rules there were to keep on the Sabbath day. Even to this day, numerous Christians still misunderstand why God rested on, sanctified and blessed the seventh day. They go to hell because they think that they are blessed and sanctified by literally keeping the Sabbath day.
Our Christian forefathers thoroughly kept Sunday as the spiritual Sabbath day. I know a senior pastor who woke up in the middle of the night to walk miles to preach just so that he would not have to ride a bus to attend church. Since he had to go to church to hear sermons and also to have fellowship on Sundays, all the while he kept the Sabbath day, he had no other choice but to walk. Back then, we used to measure a person’s maturity in faith by how well that person kept the Sabbath day.
I also tried very hard as a Presbyterian to keep the Sabbath for 10 years in the past. In order to keep the Lord’s Day holy, a person has to thoroughly keep watch from Saturday midnight to Sunday midnight. That person is not supposed to play or even watch the television. Yet, there were certain instances that did not provide the proper environment for me to keep the Sabbath day. Sometimes we just turned the television on out of habit and at other times we did some sort of exercise. Therefore, it was impossible for me to keep the Sabbath day in the literal sense.
It is living hell if we believe without knowing the Word. Hell is not in a place far away. On Sundays we are supposed to only go to Sunday worship service and eat whatever is necessary and do nothing else. But are we really able to do this? I was in agony because I had to do nothing else but rest on Sundays. If I set my fishing rod on a rock by the sea near my prayer center, fish as big as my arm were caught. And the rush of such a big catch was indescribable. But I was feeling anxious just because I was fishing on a Sunday, when I was supposed to keep the Sabbath day. My excitement died out when I wondered what my church fellows would think if they found out that their pastor was fishing while they were sitting in their rooms doing nothing.
When we are unaware of what God has done, we suffer much. Believers of the Seventh Day Adventist Church regard keeping the Sabbath day as the core of their faith. Hence, when they go out for street evangelism, they argue quoting the Bible passage from Jeremiah 17:27: “But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.”
If this be true for us, are we really capable of keeping the Sabbath day? What we truly have to keep is our hearts that believe in God who gave us salvation by blotting out all our sins. We have to keep this Truth of salvation in our hearts. It is not keeping a certain day that is important. God has made us all holy. God has sent Jesus to this world and made us believers into the righteous by making us born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We have to trust and keep the blessing that God adopted us as His own children.
Firstly, God gave us eternal rest. Secondly, God adopted us as His own children by giving us the remission of sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And lastly, God turned us into pure righteous people. These three blessings are entirely from God and cannot be achieved through human efforts.
Can a human being grant another person the remission of sins? Not only can a human not deliver another human being but neither of them can deliver himself with his own efforts. Our receiving of the remission of our sins which resulted in the enjoyments of new lives, were not gained by human might. We can enjoy eternal life only if God grants us new lives. Likewise, we can become the righteous only if God sanctifies us. We can become God’s own children only if God adopts us as His very own children. There is no sage that can become holy and receive blessings by his own means. To teach us that all these blessings are from Him, God rested on the seventh day. God has blessed us with holiness by finishing all His works during the sixth day.
Conservative Presbyterian faith tells us not to do any work on Sundays. Thus, if a Presbyterian goes outdoors for leisure after the Sunday worship service, others will consider him as a person destined for hell. In legalistic eyes, should you act like this, you would look as though you were spiritually corrupted.
However, we are not like this. We should believe the Bible in spirit. You must know the entire Bible to interpret any single verse. For example, let’s take a look at the following Bible verses: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2). We the born again interpret these verses as the very state of a sinner’s heart that is confused and empty because of their failing to receive the remission of sins. But those who have not been born again yet find such interpretations dubious.
The Bible is a Book about the salvation of humanity. The Bible talks about what God has done and what God will do in the future. Thus, people must know how God has treated us. On the sixth day of the creation, God created cattle and creeping things and finally man in His own image. Everything has come into existence as God intended to create: He had perfectly completed creating by the sixth day. But Satan brought sin into humanity, which God had created for Himself. Yet on the seventh day, God had blotted out even that sin. And God rested after He had finished all these works.
The word ‘Sabbath’ means to rest peacefully. Although God created man in His own image, Satan injected sin into humanity. If we were to remain sinful, God would not be able to rest peacefully. Why? Because God had created us, He would therefore not be able to rest if we were to remain imperfect. So, God rested after He had blotted out all our sins. In order to blot out the sins of this world, God sent Jesus Christ to this world and blotted out all its sins. From God’s side all our sins have been blotted out spotlessly. God has blotted out all our sins and He is now resting. All we have to do now is to believe in that gospel of salvation. And we must spread this Truth throughout the entire world.
My fellow believers, we must know exactly the true meanings of the Sabbath day. God has given us rest, His Grace and blessings. Yet those who have not been born again have totally misunderstood the meanings of the Sabbath day. Most Christians are legalistically bound by the law of the Sabbath day. We must share that God has given us true rest. And we must keep and protect the God-given rest so that Satan does not take it away. We gain true rest, when we keep protecting, be thankful for and praise God for the grace He has bestowed upon us.