Q. I have a question about Isaiah 56:1,2 and 58:13,14. What is profaning the Sabbath and how can we, as believers, apply these passages to our lives?
A. Both of these passages in Isaiah speak to the necessity of keeping the Sabbath. The Old Testament commandment to keep the Sabbath was meant to remind His people that God rested from His work when the creation was done. It’s the only one of the 10 that’s not specifically repeated in the New. In Hebrews 4 we learn why. The Old Testament prohibition against working on the Sabbath was also meant to remind New Testament believers to rest from our work after becoming a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). In other words, for us the Sabbath rest is spiritual, not physical. It begins on the day of our salvation and lasts for the rest of our lives because the work of salvation is done.
Therefore New Testament “believers” profane the Sabbath by continuing to work to earn or keep their salvation after they’ve finished their work by accepting the Lord’s death as payment for their sins, which is the only work of salvation we can do. It’s a sign that they don’t really believe the Lord did it all, so they have to finish the job themselves. If pursued to its ultimate conclusion, this profanity leads to spiritual death just like physical work in the Old Testament led to physical death, because it means they’re really trying to save themselves. You can’t mix grace and work. If you don’t believe He did everything necessary to save you, the only option is to save yourself, and that’s impossible .