“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).
The Sabbath was and is a sign for man to “remember.” The use of the word remember can serve various functions. First, to remember something implies looking backward, looking to the past. In this case, the Sabbath points us to the fiat Creation, which climaxed in the institution of the Sabbath as a weekly day of rest and special communion with God.
The injunction to remember has implications also for the present. We are not only to “remember” the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8); we are to “observe” and “keep” it (see Deuteronomy 5:12, RSV). Thus, the Sabbath has important implications for us now, in the present.
Finally, remembering the Sabbath also points us forward. The person who remembers the keeping of the Sabbath has a promising, rich, and meaningful future with the Lord of the Sabbath. He or she remains in the covenant relationship, because he or she remains in the Lord. Again, when we understand the covenant to be a relationship between God and humankind, the Sabbath, which can greatly help strengthen that relationship, comes into specific prominence.
Indeed, in remembering Creation and its Creator, God’s people also remember God’s gracious acts of salvation (see Deuteronomy 5:14, where the Sabbath is seen, in this context, as a sign of deliverance from Egypt, a symbol of the ultimate salvation found in God). Creation and re-creation belong together. The former makes the latter possible. The Sabbath is a sign that communicates that God is the Creator of the world and the Creator of our salvation.
“By keeping His Sabbath holy we are to show that we are His people. His Word declares the Sabbath to be a sign by which to distinguish the commandment-keeping people … Those who keep the law of God will be one with Him in the great controversy commenced in heaven between Satan and God.” — Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2, p. 160.