Why do you think judgment is an unpopular concept among many Christians today?
Judgment today is often seen as cold and harshly legal. Courts are places you want to avoid, if possible. But in the biblical sense, judgment is something for God’s people to look forward to. It is a time when all the wrongs of earth will be made right. If there is no judgment at the End, there will never be any justice in this world.
But biblical justice is as much positive as it is negative. It is the basis of reward as well as negative consequences. Jesus said that even something as small as giving a cup of cold water to a child will be remembered in the judgment (Matt. 10:42). It provides great meaning in this life to know that every good deed, every kindness shown, matters in the ultimate scheme of things.
Why does the Sabbath play such a central role in the final events of earth’s history? What difference could a day of the week possibly make in the ultimate scheme of things?
God placed the Sabbath at the center of all His mighty acts as a remembrance of Him. When we keep the seventh-day Sabbath we are reminded of creation (Exod. 20:8-11). God created us free, at great cost to Himself (we were free to rebel), so we could truly love Him back and also each other. Not only the Sabbath, but the whole of the Decalogue was designed to promote freedom (Jam. 1:25; 2:12). So the creation side of Sabbath reminds us of the loving, freedom-giving character of God.
The Sabbath also reminds us of the Exodus (Deut. 5:15), God’s great act of salvation for His people. He is a gracious God who acts mightily in behalf of His people. The Sabbath also reminds us of the cross. Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath between His death and His resurrection. The cross is the greatest revelation of God’s character and the Sabbath is a reminder of that.
The Sabbath also looks forward to the future salvation at the End (Heb. 4:9-11). Those who truly trust God find in the Sabbath a down payment on the rest from sin that the whole universe will experience in eternity.
So the placing of the Sabbath as an important issue in the final crisis is a constant reminder of all that God has done and will do for us. And for those who appreciate the substitutionary role of Jesus Christ in salvation, Jesus kept the Sabbath perfectly throughout His time on earth and His perfect Sabbath-keeping is ours by faith. Jesus never kept Sunday or any other day of the week, so His faithfulness does not complete our Sunday-keeping. The Sabbath, therefore, is not legalism, it is a reminder of the gospel of what Christ has done for us.