“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.” (Exodus 31:12-13)
Keeping the Sabbath was a sign of Israel’s commitment to God. It would serve as reminder to them that they were God’s people and that it was God that made them holy and fitted to be in his presence from generation to generation. Hebrews 10:24-25 Church attendance has a similar effect on the Christian, reminding him of his relationship with God. Hebrews 10:24-25 instructs, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” While church attendance, like keeping the Sabbath, can become mere ritual, it will still remind us of our relationship to God if there is any teaching of God’s word involved.
“Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 31:14-15)
The Sabbath was to be a day wholly devoted to the Lord. It was not to be devoted to daily chores like other days. Even gathering the manna for food was forbidden. Any one who broke the Sabbath was to be executed. Nevertheless, Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man’s benefit, not man for keeping the Sabbath. Later we find that the need to water the livestock or rescue an animal were excluded from that death penalty. They were to avoid nonessential work on the Sabbath so they could be free to focus on God.
“Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:16-17)
Observance of the Sabbath was to be a permanent contract or covenant between God and Israel. It was not part of the covenant with Abraham, nor is it part of the contract with the Christian. When the Apostles stated what was required for Christians in Acts 15:19-29, keeping the Sabbath was not included as a requirement. Though Paul frequently preached in the synagogues on the Sabbath, or Saturday, the Christians met on Sunday, the first day of the week. Taking time to go to church reminds us of God’s claim on our life and demonstrates our recognition of that claim, just as observing the Sabbath did for Israel.
“And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” (Exodus 31:18)
Both papyrus, or paper and parchment or animal skin decay, and most inks fade. God wrote the terms of his contract with Israel in stone so they would not fade and be forgotten, and he wrote it out himself so there would be no question as to their source. Later, Moses destroyed even those stone tablets. The covenant with the church was not written on stone tablets but in the Christian’s heart, according to II Corinthians 3:3. “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.”