I have always liked the number seven. As a kid I competed with teammates over uniforms numbered seven. I have no idea where the notion came from but I thought number seven was special. After all, the great Mickey Mantle wore number seven. John Elway also wore number seven. I read that if you stop and ask people to choose a number between one and ten, more often than not, they will choose number seven. Superstition says seven is the luckiest number. We even have a seven day week. Consider Seven-Up! Name another drink named after a number. Need I say more? Seven is special!
Seven also has special Biblical significance. In Genesis 2:2-3 we read that after six days of work, God rested on the seventh day. At creation God established a precedent and a pattern that would be reinforced numerous times. In the early days of the exodus from Egypt, God again revealed the pattern when He commanded the Israelites to collect a double portion of manna the sixth day because the seventh was to be a day of rest. (Exodus 16:22)
So after demonstrating the pattern, God later commanded His people to remember to take a “Sabbath” or rest on the seventh day.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11
I can’t help but wonder what blessings we have forfeited because of ignoring essential principles found in this Old Testament commandment.
For example, Israel was to remember the rest day. Sabbath means rest. “Remember the sabbath day,” means, “Don’t forget to take a day off.” How many studies have revealed the dangers of stress related to working all the time?
What about “Keep it holy?” That means we are to set aside a day from all other days as special “to the Lord.” The rest is not to be aimless. We are to engage in God-centered rest. Our attention is to be directed to God in a way that is more concentrated and steady than on ordinary days.
Verse 9: “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.” The pattern prescribed in the Ten Commandments is work six and rest one. I believe we should note that this command does not say the sabbath (“rest day”) has to be the last day of the week or the first day of the week. Every seventh day should be a sabbath.
God knows how our minds work so He also said servants and animals are also to rest. The last part of verse 11 reveals the main point, “therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.” “Hallowed” means to be made Holy. This means God set the day aside for special focus on what is holy, namely, God and his holy works. God made the seventh day a source of blessing, and He made it to focus on himself. God has promised to those that honor this commandment, the seventh day will be a time of rich blessing. I told you seven is special!