It is commonly taught, without any scriptural authority, that the Ten Commandments were abolished at the cross. Proponents of this never stop to realize that, if there is no law, there is no transgression—as Paul plainly states in Romans 4:15. This would mean that no one has sinned since Christ's death, and therefore, we would have no need for a Savior!
Yet, even if this perverted and deceptive argument were true—if God had abolished all ten of His commandments at the cross, and then brought back nine of them in the New Testament, in order to get rid of the Sabbath—people are still without excuse! Why? God made the Sabbath a special and separate covenant, binding forever.
God added nothing further to the Ten Commandment law (Deuteronomy 5:22). It is complete. Any other law or covenant that came later is not a part of it but a separate law or covenant. Paul makes this plain in Galatians 3:15: "Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it."
The Old Covenant was confirmed, as described in Exodus 24:4-8. It cannot be added to. Later, after both the Ten Commandments and the Old Covenant had been made complete, God made another separate and eternally binding covenant with His people throughout the ages, the Sabbath covenant.
God never does anything in vain. When He does anything, or makes anything, we can be sure there is an important purpose. God, through the Word (John 1:1-3), the One who became Jesus Christ, made the Sabbath for a specific purpose.
Jesus Christ said the Sabbath was made for man, rather than man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28). At that time, He merely told for whom He had made it, but not for what purpose. That is why this special, separate Sabbath covenant is important: It reveals the basic purpose behind the Sabbath commandment.
The Sabbath Covenant is found in Exodus 31:12-17: "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep. . . .'"
Again, notice which day is "the Lord's Day." God calls the Sabbaths "My Sabbaths." The Sabbaths, weekly and annual, are His; they do not belong to us, nor are they "Jewish Sabbaths" or "Gentile Sabbaths." The Sabbath is a space of time. That time, whenever it arrives, is not ours but God's. If we appropriate it for our own use, whether for work or pleasure, we are stealing that time from God! In Exodus 20:8, He commands us to "keep it holy." God made it holy time, and commands us to keep it holy rather than profane it.
"Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you" (Exodus 31:13). Here, then, is the purpose of the Sabbath: ". . . it is a sign." A sign is a badge, symbol, mark, or token of identity. Webster's Dictionary defines a sign as "a display used to identify or advertise a place of business or a product. Something indicating the presence or existence of something else."
The word Moses wrote in Hebrew is 'owth, which means "a sign, signal, distinguishing mark, banner, remembrance, warning; a token, ensign, standard, miracle, proof" (Brown, Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon). A banner or flag identifies a nation or group. A signal like a beacon announces the existence of something, like a rocky shore, that others need to be warned about. A token is a visible sign that serves to make something known, such as a white flag is a token of surrender.
God commands His people to keep His Sabbaths as a sign. It is a sign between God's people and God: "It is a sign between Me and you." It is a badge or token of identity, advertising, announcing, or proclaiming certain identifying knowledge: ". . . that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you."
The Sabbath is the sign that identifies to people who their God is. It is the sign by which we may know that He is the Lord. It identifies God, and by so doing, it identifies who His people are as well.