Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. (Ezekiel 20:12 ESV)
…and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. (Ezekiel 20:20 ESV)
People in the church today are so confused as to what the sabbath day is all about. “Is Sunday the Sabbath now and not Saturday? Did Jesus fulfill the Sabbath so we no longer need to keep it?” But before any of those questions even matter, we must ask a more fundamental one? Why the Sabbath?
Ezekiel gives us a great perspective on this. The Sabbath is a sign for God’s people. Like the rainbow in the clouds reminds us that God will not destroy the earth again by flood even though we still deserve it; like circumcision was once a sign that God would fulfill his promise to make a people for Himself through Abraham’s seed; the Sabbath is a sign. It is a sign of two things. First, verse 20 above shows us that it is a sign given that we might know that God is our God. The Sabbath is a gift, given to a people to rest from their labor. When it was given to the Israelites they had just come out of slavery and had not experienced a day off in centuries. They were being worked to the bone, ground down, as it were, and burned out. The Sabbath was a promise of renewal and refreshment won them by the great and mighty arm of the Lord who broke the armies of Egypt. Second, verse 12 shows it as a sign that it is God who sanctifies them. That is, it is God who sets them apart as holy. No other people were given the Sabbath as a sign. Israel was set apart. At the same time it is God who is making them holy. That too is a work of God’s grace. Man’s part on the Sabbath is to rest in Him, not work for Him. It is to rest as God does the work to make us holy.
So, the next time that keeping the Sabbath is a difficult thing for you, stop and remember it as a sign. You may find yourself greatly blessed!