On Keeping the Sabbath

| December 19th, 2009

Harry Bethel

We must realize that all the Bible is God’s Word and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Having said that we must realize that the Bible consists of two covenants, the Old and the New. The Old Covenant (Old Testament) includes, of course, the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).

The New Covenant (New Testament) is “a better covenant” (Hebrews 8:6 KJV). The New Covenant is better for at least two reasons: The Old Covenant applied only to the Jews and no one could keep it because they did not have the power to do so, and if any of the Jews broke the Law at just one point they were guilty of breaking the whole Law (James 2:10 NIV). The New Covenant includes not only Jews if they repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ (are born again), but Gentiles also.

Anyone who is born again (unlike unsaved Jews) has the grace (God-given desire and power) to obey all the commandments of the New Covenant (approximately 180). “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

God said in His Word, speaking of the Israelites after they left Egypt, “I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them [the Israelites], that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness” (Ezekiel 20:12-13). God gave the sabbaths to Israel (the Jews), not Israel and the other nations.

Now, having said all the above, and knowing that it is the New Covenant by which we establish our practices and doctrines, where in the New Testament does it say that Christians should keep the Sabbath? Also, for those who want to keep the Sabbath, where does it say how to keep it? The only place in which the Bible contains instruction on how to observe the Sabbath is in the Law of the Old Covenant that was given to the Israelites only (Exodus 19:6; 35:1, 4).

Some Sabbatarians argue that God required everyone to observe the Sabbath when He created the earth. While it is true that Genesis 2:3 says, “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done,” this is the first mention of a type of the coming Sabbath (Jesus Christ) in whom we could find our rest. (God revealed this history to Moses when he wrote the Pentateuch two and a half millennia after the fact!)

It is not recorded anywhere in God’s Word that He imposed Sabbath-keeping on any holy men of God (or anyone else), nor how to keep the Sabbath before the Law of Moses was given about 1425 B.C., more than 2,500 years after Creation! Again, God never commanded anyone, including holy men of God, to keep nor did He give instructions concerning how to keep the Sabbath prior to the giving of the Mosaic Law, including Adam (who walked with God and enjoyed an intimate relationship with Him until The Fall), Noah, Enoch (who walked with God for 300 years before he was raptured), Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), Joseph (who became Prime Minister of the Egyptians who did not observe the Sabbath) and others. In fact, there is no mention whatsoever of the Sabbath day in all the history of the Book of Genesis covering the first 2,500 years after Creation, and the Jews heard nothing about the Sabbath until after the Exodus, as recorded in Exodus 16:23. These truths alone should be enough to stop the mouths of the deceived Sabbatarians who want to impose Sabbath-keeping on Christians and who do not even keep the Sabbath themselves.

Some of the commands concerning keeping the Sabbath are:

“Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out” (Exodus 16:29). How many Sabbatarians break the Sabbath every week by traveling, even to go “worship” God on the Sabbath?

“Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day” (Exodus 35:3). How many Sabbaterians break the Sabbath by lighting a fire in their houses on the Sabbath to cook or to keep warm, or just to sit in front of a cozy fireplace?

“Whoever does any work on it [the Sabbath] must be put to death” (Exodus 35:2). A man was found gathering wood on a Sabbath day. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.’ So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses” (Numbers 15:32-36). How many Sabbaterians obey God by the whole assembly taking a man out and stoning him to death for even gathering wood for a fire on the Sabbath?

We must compare scripture with scripture to arrive at truth and doctrine and practice under the new and better Covenant. Notwithstanding the fact that God, as recorded in Genesis by Moses after the days of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob (Israel), rested (ceased from His work) and blessed the seventh day and made it holy, it was a shadow or type of The Sabbath to come, which is Jesus Christ himself.

True Christians, whether born-again Jews or Gentiles, have entered the Sabbath Rest which is Jesus Christ pong.uwstout.edu. Jesus, himself, did not keep the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, “Jesus said to them [the Jews], ‘My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:17-18). Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath” (John 9:16).

Jesus did not sin, by not keeping the Sabbath, because He was, and is, sinless. Indeed, Jesus is The Sabbath, in whom Christians (saved Jews and Gentiles) rest. All those who have not been born again, whether Jews or Gentiles, have not entered into The Sabbath rest.

Unsaved Jews are still under the Mosaic Law and are required to keep the Sabbath, as well as the rest of the Law, and if they break the Law at just one point, they are guilty of breaking the whole Law.

Speaking of the Sabbath given to the Israelites (Jews), the writer to the Hebrews said, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God [born-again Jews and Gentiles]; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:8-10). Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Concerning the Sabbath, the Law says, “Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out” (Exodus 16:29), but the apostle Paul and those Christians with him went contrary to the Law as revealed in this one passage alone, “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river…” (Acts 16:13). Paul and those Christians with him were not sinning by not keeping the Sabbath. The great apostle knew that Jesus had taught him by the Holy Spirit that the Old Covenant sabbaths were a shadow and type of the coming Messiah and Savior who is The Sabbath. It is only in Him that we can truly find rest for our souls that have been laden with sin.

There was a period of transition for a good number of years between Judaism under the Old Covenant and Christianity under the New. The Jews who repented of their sins and received Christ as their Savior and Sabbath Rest would not readily let go of their traditions, etc. But when the apostle Paul was raised up, the Lord taught Jews and Gentiles more things that were not revealed during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Paul said, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord…Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another…So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God” (Romans 14:5-6, 13, 22).

When the Jewish Christians saw that God was granting repentance to the Gentiles, the leaders did not know what to require of them. So they met and decided not to tell them to keep the Sabbath, but rather to “abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality” (Acts 15:12-29). This took place at the Council of Jerusalem in A.D. 50.

The early Christians met in houses on the Lord’s Day which is the first day of the week. The Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week, is still the Sabbath. The Sabbath has not been changed to the first day of the week, as some claim. The Roman Catholics did not institute worship on the Lord’s Day, contrary to their false claims. This is a deception not only taught by Roman Catholic theologians, but by others such as the Seventh Day Adventists (and similar cults). The Seventh Day Adventists and some other Sabbatarians are so deceived and so hung up on the Sabbath (which none really keep) that they go to the absurd extreme of claiming that worshipping on the Lord’s Day is taking the mark of the beast!

Much more could be said about the subject, but more than enough has been revealed for the Holy Spirit to confirm to those who have “ears to hear” that what has been presented here is, indeed, true.

Reprinted from this link.