KEEPING THE SABBATH
A Scriptural Study
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KEEPING THE SABBATHMany religious teachers and preachers say that we must "Keep the Sabbath". Of course, the majority of them call Sunday, the first day of the week, the Sabbath.
This study is to show that first, the Sabbath would be the seventh (or last) day of the week, not the first. Second, it points out that the Sabbath was commanded of the Israelites under the Law of Moses, which law has been fulfilled and is not the law by which we live as Christians. Third, Sunday (the first day of the week) has not been designated as a mandatory day of rest for Christians--it is not a "Christian Sabbath".
Exodus 23:12: "Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed."
Exodus 31:15: "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."
Exodus 34:21: "Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest."
Exodus 35:2: "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death."
Leviticus 23:3: "Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings."
Deuteronomy 5:14: "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou."
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Lord of the Sabbath
Jesus worked on the Sabbath day, doing things forbidden by the Jewish leadership.
Mark 2:27-28: "And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
John 5:16-19 "And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."
Luke 13:11-16: "And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?"
Matthew 12:1-13: "At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was aman which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other."
Jesus established that He is Lord of the Sabbath. After all, He was with God in the beginning of mankinds history, and was instrumental in giving the law through Moses. Therefore, He helped author and institute the law. Better than any student of the law, the lawmaker is the expert on the law.
The expert tells us that the Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around.If you will refer back to the Old Testament verses listed above, you will see that indeed the Sabbath was instituted for mans benefit, that all might rest. Remember that the law was given while Israel was on the run, fleeing the abuse they suffered in Egypt. This was a forced march of man and beast; of men, women and children; of the very young and the extremely old; the sick, as well as the healthy.
To march incessantly without rest would have meant the death of many. Rest is necessary for everyone. God designed us that way. The law made sure that everyone had a chance to rest, including the poor and the servants.
Back to Table of ContentsThe Law Fulfilled, Not Destroyed
The law continued until Jesus arrived on earth, born of woman, when the time was right for a change.
Ephesians 1:9-11:"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" Matthew 5:17-18: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
Mark 1:15:"And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Jesus did not destroy the law given to Moses! The law was about preserving the nation Israel (the offspring of Abraham by promise) until such a time that the great Prophet and Savior would appear! Jesus was what the law was all about, for which the law and the prophets were preparing the people!
Matthew 11: 10-15:"For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Romans 8: 4:"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Jesus, by fulfilling the law, finished it and took it out of the way.
John 19:30:"When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
Just as Jesus died upon Calvarys cross, He said, "It is finished". What was finished? The plan of God, the promise given to Abraham, that through his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed.
Colossians 2: 13-15:"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
Romans 7: 4-6:"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
Romans 10:4-9: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
Jesus is the fulfilling of the Law of Moses, that handwriting of ordinances. By His death on the cross, He delivered us from the law. That law is dead to us. Christ is the end of the law! Therefore, the commandment to the Israelites to keep the Sabbath is not a commandment we are to keep. It was not given to Christians!
Acts 13: 37-39:"But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
Acts 15: 5-11: "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
Acts 15: 19-29: "Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. "Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner;
"The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
"For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well."
Colossians 2:13-16"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:"
If we try to go back and live under the law given through Moses, we despise and grind under our feet the precious, saving blood of Jesus!
Hebrews 10: 28-29:"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"
Hebrews 10:38-39:"Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
Galatians 2:16: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
(For a more in-depth study of the Old versus the New Testaments, please read my article: How To Study The Bible.)
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Do Good on the Sabbath
It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
Luke 6:9:"Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?"
Even as a youth, Jesus declared that He had to be about His Fathers business, Luke 2:48-49:"And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
John 10:37: "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not."
John 14:10: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."
John 9:4:"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."
Matthew 9:37-38:"Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest."
There is much to be done, laboring in the kingdom of the Lord. That work is good work, the work of God. It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, Jesus said. Therefore, good can be done on the Sabbath day, although it appears to some to be a violation of the Law of Moses--a law that is completed (finished), and was never commanded of Christians to begin with.
Back to Table of ContentsOur Sabbath Is In The Future
Christians do not live under, nor are they obligated to keep, the Law of Moses, which was given to Israel while fleeing Egypt.
As Christians, our time of rest (Sabbath) is in the future. This is plainly set forth in the book of Hebrews, which is writing to Jewish Christians about remaining Christians, and not returning to the Law of Moses.
Hebrews 3: 18-19:"And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
Hebrews 4:1-11:"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
"Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
"There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."
We see by this that the Sabbath, for the Christian, comes when this life is finished. In the meantime, we have much work to do. There has not been set aside a special day of forced rest for the Christian, as there was for the Israelite under the Law of Moses.
We can conclude the following:
Food for thought: Do those who teach that we are to observe the Sabbath, whether on Saturday or Sunday, keep it themselves? The Israelites were forbidden to do such simple things as gathering the manna or picking up sticks to build a cooking fire on the Sabbath.
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