Why Do Adventists Worship on Saturday?

Though most Protestant Christian denominations observe “The Lord’s day” on Sunday, Seventh-day Adventists observe Saturday—the biblical seventh-day Sabbath God established when He rested to reflect upon the work of creating the world during the previous six days (Genesis 2:2-3).

Adventists observe and celebrate the seventh-day Sabbath from Friday evening (sunset) to Saturday evening. This is to acknowledge God as their Creator, grow in their relationship with Him, and rest from the cares of everyday life. They often gather for Sabbath worship services on Saturday mornings.

To understand how this all began, let’s look back at how God set Saturday apart as a special day to reconnect with Him and reflect upon His creation.

We’ll start by looking in the first book of the Bible.

Why is Saturday special?

Saturday is special to God because it’s the day He sanctified and set apart in the Garden of Eden.

The Bible tells us that:

“God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3, NKJV).

The “seventh day” refers to Saturday, according to both Hebrew and traditional Christian calendars.

The fact that God sanctified this day is significant. He made it holy and set it apart as a special day where people would rest from their work, just as He rested from His.

The Bible also tells us that Sabbath is meant to be a sign between us and God of our devotion to him (Ezekiel 20:20). Adventists believe keeping the Sabbath also serves as an acknowledgment of the creative work God did in making the Earth before He rested on the seventh day.

The verse about God establishing the seventh-day Sabbath at creation also tells us that celebrating Sabbath on Saturday wasn’t specifically created for only the Jews, but for all humanity.

There is a circulating assumption that the seventh-day Sabbath was done away with by the creation of the New Covenant. But the truth is, God’s command to keep the Sabbath wasn’t a part of the mosaic law or Jewish tradition, but a part of God’s unshakeable law—the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments aren’t an arbitrary list of rules. They show us what it means to love God (the first four) and love others (the last six).

The fourth commandment about worshipping on Saturday is no different.

It’s a law that explains how we can express our love and devotion to God—by setting aside the day He declared holy.

God intended for Saturday to be a time for us to put aside our regular work and rest from our labor (Exodus 20:8-10). He did this so we can instead focus on spending time with Him, enjoying the world He created for us.

Side view of a man sitting on church sanctuary steps, hands folded, contemplating why do SDA worship on Saturday.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings” (Leviticus 23:3, NKJV).

“Work” or “labor” in this context refers to our trades, the day-to-day business we participate in to make a living and support our households. It doesn’t mean we refrain from anything that takes any physical or mental effort. That’s not the focus.

One way to look at it is that we set aside “business” on the Sabbath.

That’s a big part of what “solemn rest” means. It’s not just catching up on sleep or taking it easy. It’s tapping into the profound rest God participated in after creating the world. He switched gears from “create” to “enjoy, reflect, appreciate.”

This kind of rest also makes it ideal for gathering together as family, or as a church family. Enjoying one another as fellow creations of our Creator God. That’s what’s behind the mention of “holy convocation,” or gathering together for a divine purpose.

All in all, Seventh-day Adventists worship together on Saturdays and observe the seventh-day Sabbath because it is a demonstration of our love to God.

Why is Saturday special to Adventists?

Saturday is special for Seventh-day Adventists because it was created by God for our benefit, and to regularly enrich our relationship with Him. It reminds us of God’s role as our Creator, and we take that weekly opportunity to focus on Him and what He’s done for us while resting from the stress of the daily life.

Adventists observe the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening because, if you’ll notice in the creation account, God counts a full day as being from evening to evening (Genesis 1:31; Genesis 2:2). This means that Sabbath begins as the sun goes down on Friday, and ends as the sun goes down on Saturday.

Seventh-day Adventists typically attend church services and Bible study (Sabbath school) each Saturday. But we also believe in worshipping God every day of the week, from Sunday to Saturday. God calls us to live lives of worship, bringing glory to Him in all the things we do.1

This daily worship can take various forms, such as personal devotions in the morning, evening worship with family, or even taking small moments during the day for reconnection through prayer.

Many Seventh-day Adventist institutions such as academies, universities, businesses, conference offices, and media outlets have worship with their co-workers before the work day begins.

There are Adventists churches that meet together in small groups for prayer on Sundays, Wednesdays, Fridays, or every day. Some church members gather in each others’ homes for worship or Bible studies during the week.

There are countless ways we can worship God. Our very lives can bring glory to Him as we’re led by the Holy Spirit.

But we believe worship on the Sabbath should be special. God told us to keep it holy, and so we observe the Sabbath by abstaining from work and focusing our attention on growing our relationship with God.

In a way, regularly abstaining from work is like a statement that says we are not made holy by our own works, but by relying on God. He is our sustenance. And it is through Him that we experience true rest.

The founders of the Adventist Church learned the truth of observing Saturday as the true day of worship in the 1840s from the Seventh-day Baptists. They helped us understand that it was still important to set aside a day devoted to worshipping God.

And the early Adventists’ continual, collective study of Scripture confirmed that truth. The seventh-day Sabbath was observed by Jesus Himself (Luke 4:16), and by His believers all throughout the Bible (Mark 15:42-47; Acts 13:14-17; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4).

Is keeping Sabbath considered works-based?

Observing the seventh-day Sabbath is part of God’s law, the Ten Commandments. We keep the Sabbath described in the fourth commandment just like we’d keep any of the other nine.

Keeping God’s commandments isn’t about “works” unless one keeps them for the purpose of earning salvation on their own. Just as we keep the other commandments out of love for God and in recognizing His wisdom and guidance, keeping the Sabbath is not about “works” but about remembering who He is. It’s about resting in Jesus and His grace.

God wants us to keep the Sabbath because we love Him and trust that His laws are only designed to enrich our lives and bless us. He never wanted us to keep it out of obligation, fear, or to “appear” holy.

And yet, many have misunderstood what the Sabbath is truly about. Some have even twisted its meaning as a way to control their communities and make themselves feel more holy than others:

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees made strict rules about how their fellow Jews should keep the Sabbath. This caused a lot of people to see the Sabbath as a day of strict religious ceremony, instead of a sacred and joyful occasion to spend time with God.

But Jesus explained that God never intended for Sabbath to be kept with the staunch legalism of the Pharisees. He told them that the Sabbath wasn’t meant to be a burden but a blessing, stating that the Sabbath was created for man, not the other way around (Mark 2:27).

When we keep the Sabbath as God commanded, we recognize the Sabbath isn’t something we keep to earn favor from God. It’s something God gave us for our own benefit, so we could grow in our relationship with Him.

In fact, one of the main reasons God created the Sabbath for us is so we could grow in our relationship with Him and others. In this way, Saturday can be an opportunity for us to serve others, spend time with loved ones, and commune with fellow believers at church.

He also created it so we could rest from the cares of everyday life.

And besides simply being pleasant, He knew this rest would benefit us in numerous ways.

Resting helps us recuperate after six days of work. It gives us the opportunity to refresh our strength, relax our minds, and put aside the pressure and stress that comes with our busy lives.

The Lord calls for anyone who is weary and burdened to come to Him for rest (Matthew 11:28).

In Hebrews 4:10 we read:

“He who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (NKJV).

Overall, Sabbath rest reminds us that in Jesus we have rest—we are saved by His righteousness and not by our works. And because we are saved by His righteousness alone, He gives His people grace and power to keep His commandments in the very way He asks us to.

Does it matter which day is the Sabbath?

Yes, the Sabbath day was specifically instituted by God to be on Saturday, the seventh day of the week.

To keep the Sabbath on any other day than Saturday is to deny what the Bible has to say about the subject. It is to reject God’s sanctification of Saturday at creation, and God’s commandment to keep that day holy.

Think about a husband and wife who celebrate their anniversary every year. Every day of the year, they show love to each other but they recognize that their wedding anniversary is a special day. They celebrate on that day as an expression of their love and devotion to each other.

Now suppose the wife decided that she wanted to change the anniversary date. Instead of celebrating on September 17th, she changes her anniversary date to September 18th. Despite her preference or reasoning, her anniversary would always be on September 17th.

At the end of creation, on the seventh day, the Bible tells us that:

“God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because He rested from all His work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3, NASB).

The Bible is clear. God set apart Saturday as His special Sabbath. He consecrated it, asking us to keep it to honor and spend time with Him so we could enjoy the blessings that come with Sabbath rest.

Would you like to learn more about what this special day is like? Check out, “Rest and Reconnection: What it Really Means to Keep the Sabbath.”

[1] Psalm 34:1; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonias 5:16-18 [↵]

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