12 And the LORD told Moses, 13 “You are to speak to the sons of Israel and tell them, ‘You must keep my Sabbaths, because this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, so that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. 14 You should keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it should be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul should be put to death from among his people. 15 Work should be done six days, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of sacred rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day should be put to death. 16 Therefore the people of Israel should keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'” 18 And when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, he gave to Moses, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
the sign day
The Sabbath was a sign day. Every Saturday, an Israelite under the Mosaic covenant was to cease all unnecessary labor for the entire day. Notice what this sign day was a sign for:
- The LORD is the One who sanctifies Israel (13).
- The day is holy for Israel (14).
- Israel’s LORD rested and was refreshed on the seventh day (17).
This message and command was vitally important for those within the covenant being established. It did not apply to those outside the Israelite community. While taking a rest once a week is a good idea for anyone, this sign was specific for the Israelite, and is not an obligation for Gentile Christians.
The Sabbath was a unique way of linking the people of Israel with the LORD who rescued them. It was a regular break in the normal routine that specifically reminded the Israelites that they were created by God, and that this same God who created them redeemed them from bondage. Taking the day off of work was not done under Pharaoh, because under him the work was never finished. The Sabbath reminded the Israelites that they are under new management.
LORD, thank you for the rest we have in Jesus. Thank you that we need not work for our salvation, but can rest from our labors, trusting in the finished work on the cross.