A Day to Worship: From Saturday to Sunday: In the Old Testament, God created for six days and rested on the seventh. He also blessed this seventh day and made it holy (Genesis 2:1–3). Later, God commanded Israel to remember the Sabbath day by setting it apart for rest and worship, “a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8–11; cf. Leviticus 23:3). This day was also to be a sign of God’s covenant with His nation (Exodus 31:12–17).
In the New Testament, the church had a day for worship as well. In keeping with the day of Jesus’ resurrection, this day was the first of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1–2; cf. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). This day was “the Lord’s day” in that it belonged to and should be characterized by Him (Revelation 1:10). Believers must not forsake the assembly as they gather to worship Him on this day (Hebrews 10:24–25).
Sunday Is Not the Christian Sabbath: The New Testament never calls Sunday the Christian Sabbath. It never says that the first day replaced the seventh in terms of worship or rest. In fact, Paul denied that the church had a corporate responsibility to honor the Sabbath and explained it as a matter of personal choice. One could honor the Sabbath if he felt he must do so, but one could also treat the Sabbath with indifference (Romans 14:5, 22a). He even told believers to dismiss the judgment and condemnation of others who insisted that all should honor the Sabbath (Colossians 2:16; cf. 2:18). Believers should assemble on Sunday to worship, but this is not the same as saying Christians should see Sunday as the new Sabbath.
The Sabbath Rest Pointed to Eternal Rest in Christ: In speaking of regulations about food, drink, festivals, new moons, and the Sabbath, Paul identified these matters as a shadow of things to come, things that would find their fulfillment and greatest expression in Christ (Colossians 2:16–17). These matters were mostly or wholly based on Mosaic Law (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11), a Law that pointed to greater things to come (cf. Hebrews 8:5; 10:1).
The Sabbath rest pointed to “a [greater] Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9), a rest that Christ has won for us. Just as the Father created for six days and rested on the seventh, so also Christ lived a life of perfect works and entered God’s heavenly rest (Hebrews 4:10). We presently enter His rest by faith (Hebrews 4:3) and “strive to enter that rest” which lasts forever in heaven (Hebrews 4:11).
Israel: A Good Example for Worship and Rest: Israel provides a good example for joining worship and rest in one day. As Sunday belongs to the Lord, so also we should prioritize the assembly and rest from whatever activities would distract or limit our ability to gather and worship on this day.