What is the Sabbath?

The Sabbath was established at the end of the creation week—the seventh day—after God created the heavens, the earth, and the first humans. He “blessed the seventh day and made it holy” because He rested from all His work (Genesis 2:2-3, ESV).

We find the Sabbath referenced again in Exodus 20, when God writes the Ten Commandments. He asks us to remember this sacred day to keep it holy, ceasing from the work of the week and reflecting on what He has done for us. To fully understand the meaning and significance of the Sabbath, let’s learn more about:

  • What is the Sabbath and where it came from
  • Why God made the Sabbath
  • The Sabbath as the Fourth Commandment
  • On what day to celebrate the Sabbath 
  • The Sabbath’s significance in the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination


After the six days of Creation, the gracious Creator rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God’s kingdom. The Sabbath is God’s perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God’s creative and redemptive acts. (Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 20:8-11; 31:13-17; Lev. 23:32; Deut. 5:12-15; Isa. 56:5, 6; 58:13, 14; Ezek. 20:12, 20; Matt. 12:1-12; Mark 1:32; Luke 4:16; Heb. 4:1-11.)

The Sabbath is a day of rest, reflection, enjoyment and worship for God’s people. It dates back to the seventh day of the creation week when God stopped His work and took time to rest and savor it.

In six days He created the world we live in (Genesis 1:1-26). From the blue sky to the fluffy white clouds to the food we eat…He created this world with each of us in mind.  It was on the sixth day of creation that God formed man and woman in His own image. 

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7, ESV).

Then God looked around at all He had made and saw that it was “very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31, ESV).

He had made everything necessary for humans to live and thrive here on this earth. But He wasn’t quite finished with the whole creation process. 

On the seventh day God created the Sabbath. His last act of creation was to sanctify this day and make it holy. Then He rested. 

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:1-3, ESV).