|Since the law is spiritual, there is no escaping the fact that the holy Sabbath is a spiritual institution. It was a day of "holy convocation" (Leviticus 23:3). The joyful quality of the day is expressed by David in Psalm 42:4; "When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, which a multitude that kept holyday."
The fact that the Sabbath was to be devoted entirely to the Lord, the fact that it was to be spent as a day of joy and praise, proves that the provisions of the fourth commandment contributed more toward making man spiritual than any other commandment of the ten. To deprive man of the spiritual advantages of the Sabbath, the enemy has always sought to lead man to profane the Sabbath day?" "What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day?" (Nehemiah 13:17). To profane the Sabbath day was, in the eyes of the Lord, an evil thing.
The thought that the Sabbath is a spiritual institution is beautifully brought out in Isaiah 58:13, 14: "If thou turn away they foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord." The Sabbath was always to be a refreshing time when men were in a special sense to delight themselves in the Lord.
A verse found in Acts will explain the spiritual advantages the Lord intended the Sabbath to bring to those who in spirit observe it: "On the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither" (Acts 16:13).
We see from this statement that, just as in Old Testament times, so also in the days of the Apostle Paul, the Sabbath was a day of gathering for prayer and worship. Supporting this thought, we read that "the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath." Paul agreed to this, "and the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God" (Acts 13:42-44). Thus we find that, in apostolic times, the Sabbath was looked upon as the day for coming together "to hear the word of God."
The Sabbath is the Lord's appointed day for laying aside all thoughts and activities of a secular nature and for coming together to hear the Word of God. So when Paul said, "The law is spiritual," he included the institution of the Sabbath, which was to be devoted exclusively to things that are spiritual. We inquire: Was that gathering when almost the whole city came together to hear the Word of God of "intrinsic value" to those who were present? We find here - and there is no escaping the fact - that the same use was made of the Sabbath in New Testament times as in the days of the ancient prophets. The New Testament references are as clear and plain as those which we have cited from the Old. The institution and its purpose continued. It was not Sabbath rest, but man-made regulations as to how it should be kept, that was the yoke of bondage.
To the uninformed, certain attacks on the Sabbath day tend to breed a feeling of contempt and disregard for it, and that is just what Satan wishes. But it is the Lord's will that we call the Sabbath a delight. The word "delight" as here used suggests something that brings spiritual joy and happiness. This being the case, how it must displease the Lord of the Sabbath day to hear it belittled, denounced, and set at naught!
- The Law and the Sabbath, Allen Walker, p. 57, 58