Exodus 20:8 says “Remember the Sabbath to keep it Holy.” What does it mean to be “Holy?” It means to consecrate it, or to set it apart as special. So it may be expressed as “dedicated to God” or “belonging to God.” If you ask “what does it mean to be Holy” in Google, you’ll find this list of synonyms: sacred, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified, venerated, revered, reverenced, divine, religious, blessed, blest, dedicated.” But the key biblical idea of “Holy” is that it’s set apart. It’s different than anything else.

There was one special thing to the Jews that was exceptionally holy. It was holy, or different, from anything else in their life. That was the Tabernacle and later the Temple. When you read the description of the tabernacle in Exodus, you find that it’s built from the most luxurious and beautiful materials imaginable. Only precious metals: gold, silver, copper, brass. It had glorious colors: red, scarlet, purple, blues and yellows. It had incredibly creative images. There were angels sown into the curtains. There were bronze and gold and silver candle sticks and lavers and chalices. There were jewels and gems embedded throughout the ornate objects. And there was one other thing that truly made a difference in the Tabernacle. There was a smell. Yes, only the tabernacle could burn this special incense. Everything about the place where God was, was holy or different from everything else in life. In the drab world of the desert this was a place that looked different, felt different, and smelled different. It was holy! I really like what Ashby said in his commentary on this passage. He wrote, “Someone has called the Sabbath a ‘holy space, a sanctuary in time.’ It was as holy as the Temple, which was a sanctuary in space. Just as a holy place provides a space for celebrating God and praising him, so does a holy time.”

In the Old Testament economy, there was one day in seven that was to be dedicated to the Lord. It was a day when they were to remind themselves that they were not self-originating, self-sustaining, or self-authenticating. The idea of setting aside time to remind ourselves that God has done everything for us is crucial to a happy, wholesome, and healthy life. In our economy, that should be the Lord’s day, Sunday. We have six days to live in a world of sowing and reaping. We have six days to bear the burdens of life. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy. It’s not about what we’ve done, are doing, or will do! It’s all about what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do!