And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.'"
The Sabbath was many things for the children of Israel. It was the first and most serious command God gave to His people. He wanted them to understand the meaning of sanctification in a very real way. And keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest, worship, and no work was a means to teach the value of the holiness of God. It was meant to respect God's Word and to set worship as the ultimate priority for life.
The keeping of God's Sabbath was the premiere command of the Law. God told Moses that Israel should value it above all. In it were the seeds for keeping the rest of the Law, for obedience in worship will honor the rest of God's Word. The Sabbath was meant to be a trans-generational commitment that clearly perpetuated God's truth. A day each week devoted exclusively to worship and devotion to the Word of the Lord would help center Israel on the covenant. It was serious and was meant to be attended to with serious commitment and devotion. The penalty for Sabbath breaking under Moses was death.
Just as an exercise in contextualizing, imagine what it would be like if ditching church on Sunday were a capital offense? I can't imagine executing people who chose to golf or fish or attend sports events rather than worship the Lord. And that is how far I have slipped from seeing God's worship as a serious commitment. No where in the New Testament is Sunday worship equated with the Sabbath of the Law. So I need to be clear that they are not the same thing. But the worship of the Lord is still vitally important.
Just thinking about the seriousness of Sabbath has me repenting of my casual approach to worship. I am spending time in reflection on this today. It will buest me out of my comfortable routine... but I thihk that is what the Sabbath was all about!