"Call the Sabbath
a Delight." (Isaiah 58:13)
"And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because
that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and
made" (Gen 2:3)
Writing about the Sabbath is a daunting task since it has historically
been so controversial and divisive. But the commandment "Remember
the Sabbath day and keep it Holy" is there, and sincere hearts
must deal honestly with it!
In all of the calendar changes of human history, the seven-day
weekly cycle has never been broken. Therefore, Saturday is still
the seventh day, blessed and sanctified. One can be assured of
this through the words of God's prophet, "I am the Lord,
I change not" (Mal. 3:6), and also Solomon, "That which
hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and
God requireth that which is past" (Eccl 3:15). Whether the
church celebrates the seventh day as the Sabbath or not, it remains
the "the Lord's Sabbath" (Ex. 20:10, Isa. 58:13). No
amount of theological maneuvering can nullify it. Sunday worship
has its merits, but it is not the Sabbath.
Many fear the ravages of legalism often associated with the subject
of the Sabbath and rightly so! "Legalism", roughly defined,
is "the adherence to a set of laws as a means of obtaining
and retaining salvation." Some teach that keeping the Sabbath
is essential to salvation and frequently make it a test of fellowship.
That is a misguided concept. Salvation is not attained by obedience
to a law (even God's law), but through the person of Jesus Christ
(Yeshua the Messiah). However, the Ten Commandments are the constitutional
law of God that teaches us the proper disciplines of the righteous
people for praise, worship and service. Unfortunately, for many
the word "Law" has become a scare word. Actually, it
is better defined as simply "instruction" to those who
choose to obey.
The basic question remains: Is the Sabbath day celebration for
New Testament believers or did Jesus do away with keeping the
Sabbath? If he did, why would he single out one commandment to
cancel and leave the other nine commandments. If he changed it
so that it would fall on the first day of the week, it is the
only commandment he altered. On the other hand, if Jesus did not
tinker with the timing of this commandment, how is one supposed
to remember the Sabbath as the fourth commandment instructs?
Jesus was never drawn into giving endless details about Sabbath
observance, and he never endorsed the restrictive Mosaic rituals.
Jesus gave two basic guidelines for Sabbath observance: it is
lawful to do good and lawful do that which is necessary. (Luke
6:9, Luke 14:5)
NEW TESTAMENT WARNINGS
"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known
of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto
ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months,
and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed
upon you labour in vain. (Gal 4:9)
This verse is often quoted to discourage the keeping of any of
the biblical festivals including the Sabbath. But, Paul is referring
only to those pagan festivals that the Galatians had been celebrating
before their conversion and were now carrying over into the church,
not to the Biblical days.
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: (Col
This is not a statement of prohibition but one of warning. Paul
is warning the church about judgmental attitudes developing among
believers. No one's salvation should be judged by these matters
(Romans 14:5). Believers should not celebrate the Sabbath to win
God's favor. They should celebrate it because they love God and
want to obey his instructions.
REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY
the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex odus20:8)
Controversies about what one should "do" or "not
do" on the Sabbath day must be avoided. The first thing that
should concern believers about fulfilling this commandment is
that they faithfully remember it. God probably knew that many
would forget when and what it was all about.
Under the old manifestations of the Mosaic Law everything was
regimented. But since Jesus is "Lord of the Sabbath"
(Mt. 12:8), under the new covenant one should be spirit guided
as to what to do or not do in celebrating the Sabbath according
to their circumstances. Each individual believer is responsible
for asking Jesus (the Lord of the Sabbath) how he or she should
honor each Sabbath Day, and no person can judge another person's
way of honoring it. Jesus said , "the Sabbath was made for
man, and not man for the Sabbath." However, the spirit will
not guide anyone to change the day to another time, because the
scriptures are absolute on this point.
First and foremost, the Sabbath celebrates the creation. In the
genesis of time, God sanctified (set apart) the seventh day to
celebrate the works of his own hands. We should do no less and
consistently thank God every Sabbath for the marvels of His creation.
WHAT SABBATH CELEBRATES
The word Sabbath means REST. Rest is exactly what Messiah gives
us through salvation (Mt.11:28). Therefore, it celebrates Jesus.
The prophet Isaiah predicted this rest to be a work of the Holy
Spirit: "For with stammering lips and another tongue will
he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith
ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing . .
. (Isaiah 28:11-12). Jesus referred to His rest as "the comforter"(John
15:26). Therefore, the Sabbath celebrates the Holy Spirit.
The Sabbatical Millennial or the seven thousandth year reign
of Messiah as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the whole earth
in peace and rest is also a promise embodied in the Sabbath Day
celebration (Hebrews 4:8-9, 2 Peter 3:8,Rev. 20:4Rev. 20:4).
SABBATH - THE SEAL OF COVENANT
The seventh day Sabbath was and remains today the sign or seal
of the covenant of the law - the Ten Commandments (Exodus. 31:13,
17 Ezekiel 20:12, 20:20). It is for this reason that God promised
to write them upon the tables of our heart (Jeremiah 31:33, 2
Corinthians 3:3). These commandments stand in tact or fall intact.
The fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath is as important
as the first one about having no other gods. If they have been
written upon the heart of every believer, why not listen to your
The Sabbath was the very first feast day to be sanctified (set
apart) . From this fourth commandment is extrapolated the Lord's
entire worship system manifested in the annual feast day celebrations.
A MATTER OF WORSHIP
"Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning
the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations,
even these are my feasts" (Leviticus 23:2). Note that he
did not say these are the feasts of the Jew's or feasts of the
Christians but the "feasts of the Lord", which both
Jews and Christians can celebrate. Why? Because they are the "Lord's"
festivals and Paul tells us that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:11).
God proceeds in Leviticus to spell out eight specific annual holidays
days to be celebrated, the Sabbath being the first.
In both Exodus 31:13 and Ezekiel 20:12, God uses the plural form
Sabbaths in reference to these celebrations. The word "Sabbath's"
appears in scripture when referring to all of the feast days of
the Lord including the seventh day Sabbath. All of the feast days
are intrinsically tied to the worship of God (Zech. 14:16, Acts
AVAILABLE TO THE GENTILE
"Neither let the son of the stranger (gentile), that hath
joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly
separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold,
I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that
keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take
hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house
and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and
of daughters: . . . Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves
to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to
be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting
it, and taketh hold of my covenant;" (Isa 56:3-7)
*gentiles are often referred to as 'eunuchs' and 'strangers'
Remember that keeping the Sabbath is not essential to salvation.
Remember that the Sabbath is essential to celebration. Remember
that it is not Jewish but divine. Remember that it is the Lord's
Sabbath and Jesus never violated it nor terminated it (Mt 5:17).
Remember that the Sabbath was described by our Lord as being a
"forever" celebration. Remember that it is the very
seal of the Ten Commandment covenant. Remember that Paul said
we do not make void the law through faith but "uphold "it.
Remember that Sunday is never called the Sabbath in scripture.
Remember that Saturday is still the Sabbath day. Remember that
God hallowed this day in the genesis of time, long before the
law was given.
Keep it simple! Just bear in mind a few guiding principles for
observance. Ask Jesus and be spirit guided. Find time for reflection
(appreciating God's creation) and relaxation. Do that which is
good. Do not get into bondage by thought or deed for we are at
liberty to do those things that are necessary. But, most of all,
remember not to forget it! You'll be glad you did!
Call the Sabbath