God established the Sabbath at creation (Gen 2:1–3), two thousand years before the emergence of the Jewish nation, and two and a half thousand years before His delivery of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Even after He chose a holy nation for Himself—a people who would enter into a covenantal relationship with Him (Ex 19:5–6)—He continued to extend the Sabbath blessing to those Gentiles who knew Him through their interactions with His people. This point is evidenced in the detail of the Fourth Commandment: “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates (Ex 20:10).
However, God’s ultimate will was for all of mankind to return to Him and to keep His Sabbaths. Therefore, the Book of Isaiah prophesies of a time when salvation would extend to the Gentiles:
“Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.
And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.
The apostle Paul describes this aspect of God’s plan as a mystery—one that was finally revealed to the early church, and which continues to be fulfilled to this day (Col 1:26–27). Therefore, far from being a redundant Jewish tradition, the Sabbath has become a blessing to “all flesh”, where people of different backgrounds come before God “from one Sabbath to another”.