Does it really make any difference whether we keep the day God blessed and made holy? Can we substitute another day? Do we have to keep any day at all? Must the Christian respect what God makes holy?
God records a plain but effective explanation in an experience in Moses' life. Moses had been raised from a baby as a prince by Pharaoh's daughter, but he had killed an Egyptian guard who had been beating a Hebrew slave. He was forced to flee for his life to the land of Midian. There, after some time, he had married a daughter of Jethro the priest of Midian.
One day, leading a flock of sheep, Moses came to Mount Sinai, where he saw a large bush burning, yet the flames did not consume it. While pondering this strange sight, the Lord called to Moses out of the burning bush: "Moses, Moses! . . . Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground" (Exodus 3:1-5).
Why did it make any difference whether Moses took off his shoes—or where? Because the ground where he stood at that moment was holy! God required him to treat holy ground with a respect he did not treat other common plots of ground. Why was this ground holy? Because God's presence was in it! God is holy, and His presence in the bush made the ground around it holy.
In the same way, God's presence is in His Sabbath. He rested on the seventh day of Creation to put His presence in that day, making it holy time. Four thousand years later, when this same Being, the Word, lived in human flesh, He was still putting His presence in that same weekly recurring Sabbath: He went into the synagogues "as His custom was . . . on the Sabbath day" (Luke 4:16)!
God commanded Moses to take his shoes off that holy ground. Likewise, the same God commands mankind to take his foot off from trampling and profaning His holy time. God requires His children to treat that day with a respect not required of other time. Notice Isaiah 58:13-14:
We honor God by keeping holy those things that He has made holy—and only God can make things holy! We dishonor Him when we speak our own words, saying, "Well, I think the ideas and ways of men must be right. I'd rather do as they do, and have them think well of me."
God commands: "Take your foot off My holy time. Quit trampling all over that which is holy and sacred to Me! Quit profaning My holy things." The sin is in profaning what God made holy.
God has never made any other weekday holy. Mankind has no authority to sanctify a day. One cannot keep a day holy, unless God has first made it holy, any more than one can keep cold water hot unless it is hot in the first place! God made this period of time holy, and He commands us to keep it that way!