If God values nothing higher than our freedom, why has He placed right in the heart of the “royal law of liberty” (James) a command to remember the Sabbath? Is this possibly one instance where God has imposed an arbitrary requirement upon His people, just to show His authority and test their willingness to obey? But the whole message of Scripture is that there is no arbitrariness in our God. God’s laws were given to help us, to protect us in our ignorance and immaturity, to lead us back to trust.
Viewed in the larger setting of the great controversy over the character and government of God, the Sabbath was “made for man” (Jesus) after sin entered the universe. Repeatedly in the sixty-six books of the Bible, the Sabbath is connected with times of special demonstration of the truth about our God — the perfection and freedom of creation week, the freeing of His people from Egyptian bondage, the costly and convincing evidence of crucifixion week, the promise of peace and freedom in the earth made new.
The Sabbath is a monument to freedom. It sums up the good news about God. It reminds us of the everlasting truth that “sets us free” (Jesus) and will keep us free for eternity. It should always be a “delight” (Isaiah), to be enjoyed in the highest sense of freedom. Observed merely as obedience to an arbitrary command, the Sabbath could turn us against God – even lead us to “crucify Him once again” (Hebrews 6) — then hurry home to keep the Sabbath holy, as happened that sad Friday nineteen hundred years ago.
God’s laws were not given to be a burden or to restrict us. They were given to help us, to protect us in the days of our ignorance and immaturity, and to lead us back to trust and freedom. God values nothing higher than our freedom. When you go through all the sixty-six books and you come to the last one, the book of Revelation, you note that God is still asking us to remember Him as our Creator. When we keep the Sabbath we remember the Creator, who fashioned a beautiful world for us to live in and gave us the Sabbath so we could enjoy the creation. The Sabbath is a beautiful reminder of what God is like.
This completes my summaries of the first ten chapters of the book Conversations About God. We will take a break on this subject for about three months, so we can study the book of Revelation together through the Adult Bible Study Guides that I helped to produce. Then we will return to posting the full text of chapters 11-20 of Conversations About God over the year that follows.