home > articles > The Relevance of The Sabbath For Today
THE RELEVANCE OF THE SABBATH FOR TODAY
God’s Word tells us that from the beginning He established a “week” and set aside one day out of this seven day cycle to be for rest and reflection – the Sabbath. On that day the people were to respect and honour God by resting from regular activity (such as work activities) and participating in public worship. This was done as a cultural observance up until the time of Moses when it then became part of the Mosaic Law, in particular, The Ten Commandments. Since The Ten Commandments are generally accepted as the summary of the Natural (Moral) Law, what relevance does one of the most important aspects of the Old Covenant have for us under the New Covenant? While the laws of Moses pertaining to sacrifices, ceremonies, civility, and diet have been abolished in the same way that shadows are abolished at high noon (Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:14, 16), does this apply to the Law of the Sabbath if it was given as a Moral Law not a Ceremonial Law? I will present a brief overview of the history and purpose of the Sabbath as revealed in Scripture, then challenge and apply the idea that we should keep the Sabbath today. I hope to show why the “spirit of the Sabbath” gives life, but the letter of the law of the Sabbath brings death and condemnation.
The Sabbath was also meant to be a public demonstration of Israel’s devotion to God that served as a vital witness of their trust in Yahweh. As such, many of the prophets saw Israel’s spiritual decline and diminished prosperity as directly relative to how they were honouring the Sabbath. For example, Ezekiel accused Israel of abusing the Sabbath by doing their own pleasures and thereby bringing a curse on themselves (Ezk. 20:12, 13, 16, 20, 24; 22:8, 26; 23:38). Knowing that the Sabbath was integrated into the Moral Laws of the Mosaic Covenant and just how seriously the prophets regarded it has led many New Covenant believers to wonder whether they should be similarly observing the Sabbath today.
“Because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths ; for their hearts went after their idols (vain pleasures).”
A TIME OF REST
The Sabbath was to be a special time of rest for God’s people. It was a sign of the relationship between God and His people. Just as in any relationship there needs to be time set exclusively aside for the other person, so it is with God. The word “Sabbath” actually means: to cease from work. The Sabbath Law was something that God commanded His people to observe. This meant being prepared to make sacrifices in income. However, God promised to bless those who did honour the Sabbath with more than they would have if they didn’t observe the Sabbath. In Exodus 16:5, Israel was told to gather twice as much manna on the day before the Sabbath, so they could rest on the Sabbath from gathering food. Regardless of how much they gathered the day before, they would have exactly what they needed for the Sabbath day. But the people were very reluctant to love God in this way-
“On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather food, but they couldn’t find any. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will you people refuse to obey my commands and teachings? Look, the LORD has made the Sabbath a day of rest for you. So on the sixth day he will give you enough food for two days, but on the seventh day each of you must stay where you are. Do not go anywhere.’ So the people rested on the seventh day…”
Exodus 16:27-30 (New Century Version)
Therefore, God had the interests of His people in mind when establishing the Sabbath. It was to be a time of rest, for them, their families, their livestock, and their land. It seems that mankind is not created to work ceaselessly.
OLD TESTAMENT PRINCIPLES
The Sabbath seems to have been established as a principle at Creation. Genesis 2:2-3 says-
“By the seventh day God finished the work he had been doing, so he rested from all his work. God blessed the seventh day and made it a holy day, because on that day he rested from all the work he had done in creating the world.”
The Sabbath was dedicated as a holy day for all people from the very beginning of time. By remembering the Sabbath, people would be acknowledging that everything exists because it was created. Thus, the Creator would be honoured. This seems to be a major principle of the Sabbath: honor God as the Creator. This was later reinforced to Israel even after they had received the Ten Commandments-
The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.
Exodus 31:16, 17 (NIV)
The Sabbath was a time for corporate (community) worship. Today some might argue that you don’t have to go to church to worship God, but no Israelite could argue that way in the Old Testament. In fact, on the Sabbath, the daily offerings and sacrifices made were doubled, and penalties for breaking it were severe. In other words, the Sabbath was a special time for everybody to get together and worship God. Here is another principle of the Sabbath: come together and worship God.
¶“On the Sabbath day, two male lambs a year old without blemish, and two tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering: this is the burnt offering of every Sabbath, besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.”
By corporately observing the Sabbath, the Israelites were declaring their trust in God for all surrounding nations, and peoples to witness. It became a sign between God and His people. It marked out God’s people as being distinct from others.
“I am the LORD your God. Live by my rules, obey my laws, and follow them. Keep my Sabbaths holy, and they will be a sign between me and you. Then you will know that I am the LORD you God.”
The Sabbath therefore formed the principle of: a sign between God and His people. Interestingly, when Israel abandoned Sabbath observance it was a symptom of their heart corruption away from God. They were to be a witness to the nations of God and His love. Yet when they broke and abandoned the covenant they were exiled. They had failed to keep their God given commission to witness to the nations. When they were exiled (between 600-500 BC), there appears to have been a spiritual vacuum in the world. If the people God had trusted to bear His revelation had disappointed Him, there appears to have been no other people used to replace Israel at this point. So, during this period of history, five major religions commenced: Zoroasterianism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Perhaps if Israel had kept its terms of the covenant, these religions may never had started (?). Israel’s decline away from the covenant was symptomatic of their treatment of the Sabbath.
It was given to Israel within the Ten Commandments as the Fourth Command. Even if God had not given any explanations of His commands (which doesn’t appear to be the way He operates), the simple fact that God commanded it is enough. In the same way perhaps as the sacramental Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil served as a test of obedience to Adam and Eve, the Sabbath at least serves as a test of obedience. There is a Sabbath principle of: God has commanded it as a part of the Old Covenant.
THE PENALTIES FOR BREAKING THE SABBATH
The Sabbath was a complete rest from work. The penalties for breaking the Sabbath were severe-
For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.
Exodus 31:15 (NIV)
This was no idle threat from our Lord. In Numbers 15:32 we read of a man who was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath to light a fire. The people were confused about what to do with him. After seeking the LORD they were told to stone him to death. It became clear that absolutely no work was to be done on the Sabbath. Readers of the Old Covenant soon realise that the Law demanded a lot of work. This included rigid priestly rituals and ceremonies, animal sacrifices, compulsory annual feasts, and respect for the Tabernacle (its materials and installation). The amount of works required under the Older Covenant has led some less skilled would-be Bible scholars to assume that it was the works themselves that wrought salvation for the devotee. The writer of the Book of Hebrews goes to great lengths to prove that it wasn’t the works that saved anyone under the Older Covenant. He describes them as mere shadows pointing to the real thing. Strangely within the Older Covenant the Sabbath stands as God’s command against any work being done. The Sabbath pictured salvation as rest from works (Heb. 4:1). Therefore the Sabbath was also a shadow (Col. 2:17) of the salvation to come in Jesus. It was: a shadow of the rest to come. It pointed to the time when God would make an end of the Older Covenant, which required obedience in works, where the works would be accomplished by One Man: Jesus. By His efforts, works and deeds, all those who put their faith and trust in Him receive rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28). Thus in Hebrews chapter four, the Sabbath was pictured as a shadow of the rest now realised in Jesus. Paul describes this salvation by saying-
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast”
Under the Older Covenant Sabbath, anyone found breaking it, was actually therefore violating a “type” of the salvation that was to be revealed in Jesus. By working on the Sabbath they were in essence saying to God “Your salvation is not enough, I must add my works to it to make it sufficient.” In this light it becomes easier to see why God took such a dramatically stern attitude to those who broke the Sabbath.
THE FIVE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THE SABBATH
1. Honour God as the Creator.
2. Come together and worship God.
3. A sign between God and His people.
4. God has commanded it as a part of the Old Covenant.
5. It was a shadow of a rest to come.
THE NEW TESTAMENT PRINCIPLE OF THE SABBATH
Now that the Older Covenant has been done away with (Col. 2:14), does the Sabbath have any place today? Some might argue that the Law within the Older Covenant has also be abolished, and therefore the Sabbath is immediately done away with. Yet Jesus said that He came to uphold the Law and not do away with it-
“Don’t think that I have come to destroy the law of Moses or the teaching of the prophets. I have not come to destroy them but to bring about what they said. I tell you the truth, nothing will disappear from the law until heaven and earth are gone. Not even the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will be lost until everything has happened.”
Matthew 5:17-18 (NCV)
The Older Covenant and the Ten Commandments were not synonymous. The Ten Commandments were articulated at the forming of the Older Covenant, as the rules and terms of agreement between the covenant parties (God and Israel). Yet, along with these Moral Laws, other groups of Laws were included: Food Laws, Civil Laws, and Ceremonial Laws. We find the purpose of these Laws explained in the New Covenant.
The purpose of the Moral Law was to reveal sin as sin-
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’ “
Romans 7:7 (NKJV)
Paul makes the case in the Book of Romans, that the Law served the purpose of revealing sin, not saving people from their sin. Of interest to this topic, is the fact that of all the Ten Commandments, nine are explicitly restated within the New Covenant. The only command of the Ten not prescribed for the New Covenant is the fourth- the observance of the Sabbath. The reason for has been discussed under the section a shadow of the rest to come. Therefore, the Moral Law does have a place within the New Covenant. It is a fallacy to ignore the Sabbath today on the assumption that it was only a part of the Mosaic Law (the Law given through Moses) which was done away with at the Cross.
HONOUR GOD AS THE CREATOR
The first Old Testament principle of the Sabbath discussed here is the principle of honouring God as Creator. The New Testament emphatically declares the exclusive creative activity of Yaweh. That is, God is the sole Creator-
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible”
Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Colossians 1:16 (NKJV)
Would this principle of honoring God one day out of seven be relevant for today? Of worthy consideration at this point would be a casual appreciation of recent history. As evolution has gained more ground as the accepted theory of origins, so the regard for honoring God and respecting this Sabbath principle has declined proportionally. Just as God, the Creator of the universe, rested on the seventh day, God has established this principle for His creation: that they too rest on the Sabbath to remember Him as Creator.
COME TOGETHER AND WORSHIP GOD
God has designed a week for His people where they can set aside a day to come together and worship Him. This was the Old Testament principle. It was compulsory and part of the Law. Thus, Jesus was often recorded as being in the synagogue on the Sabbath. His is our ultimate example. The first church maintained the practise of coming together to worship God and appealing to Hebrew readers, their epistle endorses and reaffirms the principle of the regular weekly corporate worship time-
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)
If we were looking for reasons to justify neglect of the Sabbath within the New Covenant, we fail at even this point. If anything, the New Covenant saints should delight themselves even more in seeking to worship freely on a day set aside exclusively for such. Under the Old Covenant it was compulsory and Law, but under the New it is an expression of worship to God and an opportunity to encourage other believers.
A SIGN BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE
After the Old Covenant had legally come to an end, at the time of the exile into Babylon, the returning remnant of faithful Jews sought to make themselves distinct from the existing inhabitants of Jerusalem. Nehemiah chose the following Biblical method:
In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. Men from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing– desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.” When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day. Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.
Nehemiah 13:15-22 (NIV)
He refused to have the people buy or sell on the Sabbath. As the worldly system tries to overthrow the Church of the Living and Risen Lord Jesus, it seeks to make the distinction between themselves and the pure people of God less and less. With regard to Sabbath, this worldly principle is ever so clear. The Bible student would do well to consider the principles of this form of attack when considering the “mark of the beast” (the worldly system) which will ultimately try to force saints into a situation where they have lost their distinctiveness and can not by or sell unless they dance to the world’s tune, so to speak.
For the Church today there is a desperate need for distinctiveness from the world and other religions. If every believer today was to take seriously this principle of the Sabbath, there would be dramatic impact on our society, which would accelerate the success of world evangelisation.
GOD HAS COMMANDED IT AS A PART OF THE OLD COVENANT
The principle of Sabbath obedience under the Old Covenant was possibly the most prominent signs of obedience to God’s Law. As previously stated, while showing that the Moral Law and the Old Covenant were not synonymous, the New Covenant reiterates nine of the Ten Commandments, while omitting the Sabbath command. Therefore, based on this principle alone, the Sabbath is not a New Testament Command. Kevin Conner says-
The Sabbath day, as circumcision, was given as a sign between the Lord and the nation of Israel. It was given for a perpetual Covenant to the nation (Exodus 31:12-18). It was included in the Ten Commandments written on tables of stone (Exodus 20:1-21; Deuteronomy 5:1-21). These were written with the finger of God.
The Jews themselves say that it was never intended for the Gentile but was the heritage of Israel. Sabbath observances presuppose a Temple, a Priesthood and a sacrifice for on this day there to be extra burnt offerings offered, besides the daily sacrifice (Numbers 28:9-10) … The Sabbath to be kept properly had to have the Sabbath sacrifices, the body and blood of two lambs. By this the Lord was teaching Israel that true rest can only be upon the basis of the atoning blood. And of course this necessitated an officiating Priesthood to offer the sacrifices. But the Jew today is devoid of these things, not having their Temple. Hence there can be no true Sabbath without blood atonement. . . When Jesus came, He was born under the Old Covenant to fulfil it and abolish it at the Cross, as to its ceremonial laws. Just before his death He established the New Covenant in His own body and blood (Matthew 26:26-28)
“The Feasts of Israel”, by Kevin Conner, Bible Temple-Conner Publications, Portland Oregon, 1980
On this basis the principle of the Sabbath being a command of God within the New Covenant is without foundation. Yet, for the believer living by the spirit of the law, not its letter, its offers them an opportunity to show to God their loyalty.
IT WAS A SHADOW OF A REST TO COME
The Old Covenant saints looked forward to the promise of God, that they would be saved and receive their inheritance: heaven (Heb. 11:10). That promise of a rest from works, and everlasting contentment in heaven, was not to be made possible without Jesus doing all the work necessary for redemption. Thus the Old Covenant saints were not perfected without us who are of the Newer Covenant (Heb. 11:40).
The New Covenant incorporates God’s eternal, and only, plan of salvation. This salvation is received by meeting the Testamental conditions of faith and obedience (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Heb. 5:9) which applied and apply in both the Older Covenant and the New. While the faith required under the terms of the Older Covenant was anticipatory, under the New it is commemorative. Yet the obedience under the Older Covenant required adherence to highly transitory rituals and ceremonies (“works”). These works were like a passing shadow which disappears as the sun reveals its maximum light upon an object. The object of these shadows was the work of Christ, or more accurately, Christ Himself. Each of the Older Covenant’s works finds its fulfilment and completion in Jesus. We now live in a fuller revelation of God’s light, and while there still remains many New Covenant shadows which point to our ultimate inheritance (such as Holy Communion, Water Baptism, Marriage, etc.), the Sabbath stands as one of the greatest shadows of what the New Covenant means: that Jesus Christ is our Sabbath.
In Christ we find true rest (Matt. 11:28). This rest that Jesus spoke with so much enviable familiarity is found in knowing God. As one studies ancient religions of the Far East, there appears to be an ache of the human spirit that comes out in the sacred writings of so many of these religions. That ache is their quest for knowing the True God while settling for a religion of man-made guesses and philosophy. Nearly each of these religions originated with the assumption that if they could know the Supreme Being they would find “rest”. Many of these religions call it being “absorbed” into God. Thank God that there is way to know the True God that He Himself has revealed. In this revelation He also declares, while graciously confirming the ache of every human spirit, that true rest can only come from knowing God (Matt. 11:27-28). So the Sabbath stood as a constant reminder to the people under the Older Covenant that there was rest that they were yet to have. Not until the Jesus came did God’s ultimate revelation of Himself appear to mankind. His life, work, and death have provided the rest that every human soul aches for.
The New Covenant revelation of the Sabbath is only partly fulfilled here and now. There still remains an ultimate rest to be entered into. This rest from our bodies of sin will be realised when we receive our resurrected bodies at the coming of our Lord, and enter into eternal bliss with Him (Rom. 6:4-9; 8:22-25). By celebrating the New Covenant Sabbath, we sacramentally celebrate our awaiting rest. The Sabbath then stands as a shadow in the Older Covenant, and also in the New, though fulfilling the Older Covenantal hopes.
SUNDAY AS THE NEW TESTAMENT SABBATH?
At this point the issue needs clarification as to the practical celebration of the Sabbath. Seventh Day Adventists see that the Sabbath is still Saturday, the seventh day. Traditional Christianity has long viewed Sunday, the first day of the week, as the time to celebrate the Sabbath. Perhaps alluding to some contention over this issue during the first century AD, Paul says-
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it…”
Paul’s solution to each believer was to be fully persuaded that what they were doing was honoring to God. The danger of identifying the “Lord’s Day” with Saturday is the temptation to lapse back into a works mentality of the Older Covenant. For this Paul says to the Galatians with disgust-
“But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.”
It was the design of God to transfer the celebration of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday based on the following reasons-
- That was the Day that Christ rose from the dead.
- Sunday marked the beginning of the New Covenant.
- The First day of the week represents new beginnings (we are made new in Christ).
- It follows the day set aside to commemorate the Older Covenant, just the New Covenant follows the Old.
- The Holy Spirit was conferred on the First Church on a Sunday, thus sealing God’s recognition of this day as the Day to celebrate the New Covenant and remember the principles of the Sabbath.
The First Church immediately recognised Sunday as the Lord’s Day, their Sabbath (Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2). Throughout Acts Paul was often recorded going to the local synagogue on the Sabbath for evangelistic reasons. This stands in contrast with his meeting with the local church on the first day of the week to worship, preach and break bread.
The invitation to celebrate our love for, and relationship with, the LORD is made available to every believer worldwide every Sunday. It is not a work, but a response of the heart. Thus, many of the prophets foresaw a day when God would have a people who would love Him not because of an external Law, but because the Law would be written on their hearts (Jer. 31:31-34). This involved honoring God one day out of seven as a special mark of His last days people-
“…They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all
My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow My Sabbaths”
Ezekiel 44:24 (refer to 46:1, 3 also)
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR EMPLOYING THE PRINCIPLES OF THE SABBATH FOR TODAY
I conclude this survey with some practical suggestions for how we might employ the principles of the Sabbath for today. And I offer a challenge to those Christians who claim that we should continue to observe the Mosaic Sabbath. For those who advocate carrying over the Old Covenant Sabbath into the New Covenant, they must logically embrace all of the associated penalties as well. This includes stoning if found lighting a fire, for example. But if we regard the Sabbath laws and their penalties as revealing our dire spiritual and moral condition (that we are unable to even fully rest from our own efforts to be made right from God) we soon see how the Sabbath pointed to the rest in Christ. Afterall, for those who advocate a carried-over Sabbath for today they must recognise that doing anything on which ever day they decide to observe as as the New Testament Sabbath is going to be almost impossible. In today’s world, motor vehicles create firein their engines which enable them to work, light switches create a small fire-spark which enables electric current and even using an electronic appliances would be a violation of this prohibition. Added to this that most of us use utilities (water, gas, electricity, municipal rates) which is considered trading on the Sabbath! We should soon realise that simply cannot keep the Sabbath in the strictest sense. We must therefore look to embrace the spirit (rather than the letter) of the Sabbath for today. This should look like-
1. Celebrating the “Lord’s day” on Sunday not Saturday for the reasons given above.
2. Using this day as a day of rest (from usual activities) and worshipful reflection.
3. Gathering together with the Body of Christ with whom we are in community for the purpose of congregational worship (which builds our faith in and devotion to Christ), the reception of the explained Word of God (which captivates our hearts and renews our minds) and provides a witness to the world of the saving grace of Christ.
4. The appropriate setting for the proclamation of the Gospel with the object being the conversion of sinners to Christ.
John Stott, in the book- Contemporary Issues Facing Christians Today, answers the question about how we should regulate work and activity on Sundays with the acronym- R E S T –
E mergency services
S ervices (Utilities)
But Stott similarly stresses the importance of honouring Sundays in the spirit of the Sabbath (rest and worshipful reflection). Believers should make honouring Christ in a congregational community a priority for their Sundays. And if possible, they should worship congregationally near the beginning of the day and near its close.
THE GREATEST EXPRESSION OF THE SABBATH
The greatest expression of what the Sabbath meant is found in Jesus. He is our Rest. He is our basis of relationship with God. He is our sacrifice. He is our Temple, and everything else typified for the believer under the Older Covenant. The first church recognised that His resurrection was the new beginning and the fulfilment of everything the Sabbath stood for, thus they celebrated the Sabbath on Sunday (the first day of the week). By doing this they were showing their love for God while keeping His Law (Ten Commandments). This is when God has appointed for His people today to meet and worship Him. Not in legalism, but in Spirit and in Truth.
© Andrew Corbett, 1998 – 2017
You make such a strong case for what the Sabbath was and yet at the same time you contradict it. There are several errors of a factual and opinion nature. First, the Sabbath was created in the beginning. God made a huge deal when He decided to create one more day after ALL work was done. He did something that nothing on this whole universe can do, not even humans. He sanctified and made holy a specific day. He made it His day and, unlike what humans have transfered somehow, called the Sabbath the Lord’s day. Most people call Sunday the Lord’s day because they themselves gave it that name, which is contrary to what God himself called the Sabbath day.
It is an interesting fact that from the seven days of the week, only one was named from the beginning of creation all the way to our modern names for days. Day 1-6 had no name associated to them in all of the bible. Only day 7 had the Sabbath name given to it.
When it comes to the moral laws and commandments, are we to not have to follow any of the ten commandments anymore? Since the only commandment that starts with the word “Remember” (which means it was established from before) is the only one that you can clearly see in connection with the creation of earth, does this mean that the other 9 commandments were made up in Moses’s time? If that is the case, then we don’t have to worry about any of the commandments and we can play the harlot all day long. After all, the ten commandments were a shadow of things to come and it came. Obviously, no christian that knows anything about christianity would agree with that.
You can see traces of the ten commandments prior to when it was given to Israel and Moses. I think most people understand that the Sabbath was given from creation, meaning it was not an Israelite commandment. If we look at just 2 examples, you have Cain who killed his brother and Joseph who did not sleep with his boss’s wife. There are others as well. If we say that the Sabbath was a ceremonial or ritual or something they had to do and it is gone now, then murder and adultery should be off the list too, but it is not.
The verse where it talks about this day and that day in Romans is being completely misinterpeted here as well. When God made his covenant with His people, he added days to be observed. You can read this in the following chapters after Exodus 20. The Sabbath command was included in the 10 commandments in the same chapter right in the middle of it all. The other festival, moon and holy days (also called sabbaths) were given in the chapters that come after. Also, the bible states that God gave them His Sabbaths as a symbol or sign to sanctify and deferentiate from the other people. Going back to Romans, the days he talks about were days that the Jewish people were trying to force the gentiles to practice, not including the Sabbath which was part of the ten commandments. How can I say this, because Paul was the “preacher” of the gentiles. They (Paul and gentiles) continued to meet up and teach/learn on Sabbath. No where in the bible is the mention of Sunday (or 1st day) ever mentioned as a day of service. Colosians’s shadows refers to all the ceremonial laws (passover, sacrificial system, etc.) that were performed. Never would it mean the ten commandments because, in reality, they were established from the creation and made into written form in Exodus 20. Even Paul makes mention that sin is lawlesness and that the law (10 commandments) show what sin is. When he asks if we should sin for righteousness to abound his response was “God forbid.”
When I say that the 1st day of the week was never a day of meeting I am refering to the verse people like to refer to when Paul stayed to midnight on the first day preaching. The bible’s definition of a day is from sunset to sunset (see Genesis 1) So when Paul went to preach, it was what we call Saturday night. After he was done preaching, he was going to go on a long journey the next “day” which is what we call Sunday. Sunday practice did not start until 90-100 AD which was after all the biblical figures had died. The reason gentiles started going on Sunday is because the Jews made them feel unwelcomed due to several circumstances I am not going to get into. By the way, breaking bread and having fellowhip does not make it a new Sabbath day. New Testament says they broke bread everyday and I don’t hear anyone saying everyday is a Sabbath day.
On my last clarification point, there was a point made that was both true and false. The author rights that there are only 9 commandments mentioned in the New Testament and he is correct. Where he is wrong is that the 4th commandment is not mentioned. On the contrary, I see where the 4th commandment is mentioned all over the New Testament. It states the Jesus kept it, the disciples continued observing it, there were “church” meetings being held and no where does it state anything contrary to lead someone believe that they had the power to change the holiness of the Sabbath. Now, I will ask the reader, where in the New Testament is the third commandment expressed? Are we allowed to take His name in vain? If not, why do people think that they can just rip out the only commandment that starts with the word “Remember” that is in the middle of the 10 commandments and is the sign between God and his people (Exodus 31:13, Ezekiel 20:12, Ezekiel 20:20) out of God’s law and claim the power to move what He himself did of sanctifying and declaring holy to another day.
Revelation talks about the mark of the beast on the forehead or the hand. I wonder what it could mean? God talks about his mark in the forehead and hand in Deutorenomy 6:8; 11:18. I wonder what can changing God’s mark mean? I’ll let the reader ponder on that.
John, thank you for your comments. I understand how passionately you feel about this subject. However, it appears that you have overlooked some key points in this article and made some assertions which do not support your case.
You claim that the New Testament does not reinforce the Third Command (Do not take the Name of the Lord in vain [blasphemy]) when in fact the Apostle Paul does this in Romans 2:24.
You assert that the word ‘Remember’ in the fourth command means that it applies under the New Covenant. But you give no Biblical warrant for this. It also seems to violate one of the most foundational principles of hermeneutics where the reader interprets the passage initially by determining who the audience is. For example, it would be absurd to claim that believers today should obey or even apply Second Timothy 4:13, because when we apply this foundational principle we see immediately that this is not possible.
The fact that the Sabbath is ‘mentioned’ in the Gospels does not, as you assert, demand that it must apply to believers once the New Covenant is established – we remember that before the Cross – the Old Covenant was still in place which the New Testament describes, including the legal practice of animal sacrifices, and we would not then assert that the New Covenant similarly endorses the continuation of animal sacrifices!
Finally, the mark of the beast (described in Revelation 13) cannot be the lack of Sabbath observance. as the Apostle states that it was associated with the number of a man who was known to Revelation’s 65AD audience.
Hi, thanks for responding to my comment and please forgive me for the lack of references that I did not put into my comment. I was at work when I wrote the comment and was going off purely from memory and a quick word search online with little time available. Let me take some time now and address your points and amplify some of mine. By the way, I hope we can use this for the glory of God.
The Romans 2:24 verse is not a specific mentioning of the third commandment or that it is a sin. It just states that the Gentiles are blaspheming the name of God which was wrong. So, I will agree that even though it is not necessarily saying that a sin is being committed point blank, reference can be made to the third commandment.
I looked at 2 Timothy 4:13 (When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.) and also in 1 Timothy in case you wrote the wrong one and I do not see what this has to do with the point you were trying to make. I’m assuming you wrote the wrong verse down. If I am looking at the wrong verse, please let me know which one you were referring to.
The mark of the beast, I think we can both agree on leaving that alone because that is a whole other theme that I should of not mentioned due to it having relevance but at a different level for me.
Ok, so to amplify my points that I made I am going to assume that we have two different understandings about what the covenant and the laws are. I will try to explain my understanding of it as short as I can because it can get long and I hope you can understand what I am typing. I feel like I should write a book on this (which would be the first time I would write a book on anything).
What is a covenant? As we both know a covenant is a treaty or an agreement between two parties. God had several covenants prior to the one he did with Israel. We have the covenant of Noah, Abraham, Mosaic, David and Jesus. Now, the one I want to focus on is the Mosaic covenant. Deuteronomy 5 is a real good summary of that covenant. I do understand that verse 3 might be confusing but hopefully it will be all clear when I am done.
Deuteronomy 5 explains that God gave a covenant to Israel, one which was not made with their ancestors. This covenant consisted of the commandments (v22; Exodus 32:16), decrees and laws (v31). The commandments were the law of God that was before, was during Israel’s time and after into the future. The 10 commandments were written on stone and placed in the ark which was located in the most Holy and still is (Hebrews 9:23; Revelation 11:19). God’s handwriting was placed in the ark and all the other writings that Moses did through God’s instructions were placed outside of the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26). The 10 commandments are the laws that reveal sin (Romans 7:7; 1 John 3:4). It does not save us or makes us lost. It just tells us what sin is. The other part of the covenant was the laws that were given to Moses to write down that dealt with sacrifices (legal debtness), feast days, new moons and extra sabbaths to be held (read through Leviticus). The legal debtness were the animal sacrifices that were performed to clear the person of the physical aspect of the sin but not the conscience aspect (Hebrews 9:13-14). It was a representation of Jesus’s death cleaning us from our legal debt of death. The festivals and sabbaths written by Moses were also symbols and way of life for the Israelites (it covers a whole array of things that are not part of the topic). These were symbols of things to come. Once these things came (Jesus and his death and resurrection) they went away (Colossians 2:14, 16-17). When Jesus came, died and resurrected, he fulfilled the legal debtness that we had with God due to our sinning. Also, all the other festivals and so on were also fulfilled in Him because they were all about Him and his coming. So I hope I have been able to break down the covenant aspect of it into its different parts.
The reason this whole covenant was not given to their ancestors was because they didn’t have a written law book with all these laws that were result of paying for sins (Galatians 3:15-22). This however does not mean they did not have the 10 commandment laws. They had it in their hearts and knowledge. Before the 10 commandments were written down, there were false gods. The Egyptians had there false gods and some scholars say that most of the plagues given were to make a contrast between the true God and fake gods. God told Cain to be careful with his hatred because it could lead him to sinning (Genesis 4:7). Joseph did not commit adultery because he knew it was a sin (Genesis 39:7-10). We have examples in the bible that showed us sin without a written law. Why then was the law written? It was because the Israelites were separated from God’s ways for 400 years in slavery under the Egyptian government under a pagan religion. They had forgotten what their ancestors knew. They had to be brought back to the ways of God. Like God himself said, they were stiff necked people (Exodus 32:9). Paul stated himself that he would not know what sin was without a law to show him (Romans 7:7).
The new covenant is one of faith. It is one of the heart. It still includes God’s laws (Jeremiah 31:31-34) but instead of being saved by works (sacrificial system) you are now saved by the blood of Jesus himself (Hebrews 9:26). If I remember correctly, God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. If He wrote his 10 commandment law in the tablets for the Israelites and Paul and every other author in the testament including Jesus says to follow God’s commandments (John 14:15), then that means that it was also in the past.
To try to conclude this, God specifically wrote in the tablets of His laws the fourth commandment that states to “Remember the Sabbath day keeping it holy.” This was not only meant for the Israelites but also for every foreigner that were under their jurisdiction. God did not intend to give it just to one set of people. He meant to give the Sabbath to everyone (Mark 2:27-28) not just the Jews or He would of stated that. Hebrews 4:1-8 talks about His people still having a day of rest that whoever has faith would rest on the Sabbath day. We are all sons of God. There is neither Jew nor Gentile. We all fall under the same 10 commandment laws and under the same faith (Galatians 3:26-27). Just as the foreigners were adopted in if they became an Israelite, Jesus adopted us Gentiles into his flock. There are no different set of rules. If the fourth commandment is void, even though Jesus forbade changing the law (Mathew 5:17-20), then no longer are any of the other laws valid for us to follow. If one were to try to say that Jesus came to alleviate, I would disagree because Jesus revealed that his commandments were also in the spiritual sense.
I hope that even though I might have pointed out many of the points you might have covered and know it can bring in a different light to why it is still valid to keep the fourth commandment. Not only is there a copy of it in Heaven, it was created (Genesis 2:2-3) in the beginning and still is (Hebrews 4:9-10; Revelations 12:17; Revelations 14:12; Revelations 22:14) and will be after the second coming (Isaiah 66:22-24), Jesus never spoke of another day or said it was to be abolished. If I were a new Christian that didn’t know much but wanted to follow Jesus, I would follow His example and that was one of keeping the Sabbath holy, just like all his disciples did after Him throughout the bible. If there were to have been a change, don’t you think that the only one commandment with the word remember, that He blessed and sanctified from the day of creation, that was spoken and written in stone by God himself, that everyone was supposed to keep it holy throughout the whole bible and that shows that He is the creator of all would somehow clearly be stated that it was now changed to Sunday or any other day?
Now I do understand that just because one follows the Ten Commandments and keeps the Sabbath does not mean that one is saved. This is, like you stated, legalism if one thinks that works will save someone. No one can be saved by works because all have fallen short of righteousness. However to follow to the best of one’s ability is to be righteous in faith through Jesus Christ who was our greatest example. To be a follower is to follow His teachings as best as one can and not substitute, add or subtract from what He taught. Unfortunately that is what the Israelites did throughout the bible with the Sabbath, as an example, and we have done the same as well. For everything God has, the devil has a counterfeit. Look at every commandment for example and you can see the counterfeit. I pray that God could continue to bless us both and continue to guide us in His ways. I do ask, if you do not disagree with my statement that that the New Testament has plenty of examples of the fourth commandment, could you please edit your article stating the contrary. If you do disagree with it, I’ll be glad to give you references.
Thank you for the dialogue on this important issue.
Regarding Second Timothy 4:13, you have the correct verse which I am referring to – and this is precisely the point: none of Scripture is written ‘to’ us, but all of Scripture is written ‘for’ us. It is simply not possible for a believer today to regard that verse of Scripture as written ‘to’ them. This logically applies to everything written in the Old Testament (the written record of the Old Covenant) and the New Covenant believer’s application of it.
Regarding the mark of the beast mentioned only in Revelation 13, I have written scholarly articles on this topic which you find on this site.
Well, I think we both have made our points on here. Happily it was a positive discussion even though we might not agree. I might look into your articles in a future date on Revelation 13. The only thing I am confused about still is 2 Timothy 4:13.
Apparently I did not read the context before which I did now read. Yes, you are correct that it doesn’t pertain to us because Paul is asking Timothy to bring back his personal belongings. This is a personal letter that he wrote to Timothy specifically telling of the circumstances that he was going through. I think it is far reaching to use a verse of a personal letter that has valuable teaching as an example for us to say that the Sabbath is not for us because God spoke it to the Israelites. In that case, make void the rest of the commandments because that is “part” of the Old Covenant. Also, all of Paul’s letters and anywhere where it says in the New Testament to “follow His commandments.”
God gave Sabbath to man. Jesus himself said Sabbath was made for man (not Jews or Israelites). The New Testament say’s that we are now His chosen people, there no longer is Jew or Gentile but one people who belongs to Jesus (reference on my previous comment. I tried to cover that same topic on my previous comment so I’ll leave it at that on this comment.) I just mention it because I think you stretched it with that verse.
Getting back to Timothy, I think there is a lesson there for us. The lesson is that even though someone can be saved today, they can loose their salvation tomorrow by departing from the word of God. I do not know where you stand on this so I’m wondering if I have opened up a whole new discussion.
Unfortunately, I think we are the only two reading this. It would be great to read what others think.
Definition of a Christian
A Christian is a person who is a follower of Jesus Christ and he or she follows all the teachings of Jesus Christ, keeping His commandments including keeping the seventh-day Sabbath holy. Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28 and Luke 6:5).
If a person claims that he or she is a Christian, but does not keep His commandments including does not keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy, he or she is not a follower of Jesus Christ and therefore he or she is not a Christian.
1 John 2:3-4 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
John 14:15 15 “If you love Me, [a]keep My commandment
We serve an immutable God and we have an immutable Savior, Jesus Christ.
God and Jesus Christ are immutable and so are His commandments including the seventh-day Sabbath.
James 4:17 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
i found your information to be very informative. I have been Christian for over 30 yrs.
My adult son is into social media conspiracy theories and and is now worse since covid.
I told him that is enough and read the bible but now he is into bible conspiracy including it was the Catholic church that changed the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday just to trick us to sin.
And that even ‘Sunday ‘ is the idol worship of the sun.
Perhaps this is correct just not where I am going to get hung up on something from 300 AD information.
I could not explain well enough to our son about now sunday worship that gave him peace so I did ask our minister and several other denominations and all had the same explanation as the New Testament and the resurrection of Jesus. Just difficult to meet people in person as for when I write this we are in a lockdown.
I am one that simply believes Jesus died for us to show how much he loved us and I try my best to live by faith and try the best I can to except His free gift of grace. Yes I have had my fair share of ‘test’imonies , and ‘why ?’ to my Savior.
The debate with John was just that , who is right? Sometimes we just need to give up that right and to try to just love and respect each other.
Therefore Iam not going to get into scripture debate.
In the end no one really knows as God is so BIG ! It’s everyones perception as why God had to finally end this by sending his son as a little baby.
And tried to more simple for us but seems we still make life difficult, including me as I am a worry mom.
This story the ‘bible ‘ has many views as why so many different denominations, filled with all Gods children trying their best,
and not our place to judge and in the end we all have the same goal and destination to where we want to go , and that is to heaven to be with ‘our’ Lord and saviour.
And we all can take a different road to get to the same place , as google maps shows. However yes sometimes it does take us into the lake if we don’t still have our eyes wide open !
I did know originally Saturday sabbath however I could not explain well enough so hence my research as our son needs guidance however he is still at my writing this is convinced this was all (bible ) conspiracy, and would as well debate with you with scripture.
My son had warned me about internet brainwashing / social media to which I have had never participated and this is actually my first online comment and have no intentions in the future but i do find interesting that my internet searches have led me to most part informative explanations about the sabbath and yet my son’s searches lead him to bible conspiracies as what he was previously into and yet now he does not see what he warned me about???
His dad and I did agree to watch one youtube on sabbath prophecy and I felt very anxious and disturbed as i felt it was a form of hypnosis/ brainwashing.
I knew the Holy spirit was telling me this was very wrong.
Just a warning for my fellow brothers and sisters of faith,
satan knows the bible better than us all and internet / social media can in my opinion be an easy platform for him.
I can not force the love of Jesus into anyone else’s heart.
Between the personal conversations and internet search including some well known ministers I now enjoy watching since lock down , I am still confident since also reading your information and have peace I have not been breaking a commandment ‘law’ by attending with other believers on Sunday.
My walk ,sabbath day with Jesus is everyday. And if somewhere along this journey I have been ‘deceived ‘ not just about the sabbath but other bible teachings than that is God’s department.
I am not a teacher of scripture, not my gift or my calling, at least not yet. And have peace when i read the ‘new ‘ testament on this subject of the commandments
And like many now since pandemic are being exposed to revelation to which also i refuse the watch any ministry leader preaching ‘fear ‘.
I will continue to pray for our son that he will see past the laws and the rules and that he feels we have all been lied too and that he except God’s free gift of grace / unconditional love that will set us free to live our life here on this earth without fears but with peace even in the midst of a pandemic.
And his mom &dad will continue to show our son by our actions of loving him through this as well as the seeds are planted.
And out of curiosity , I do question why John R was reading and writing his comments while he was at work ??? Ummmm
However, this rest that debate, as there is no big or sm sin we are ‘sinners ‘ that God has to now come and save us. Not a job I would wish upon anyone!!!
I am waiting for our son’s nxt question, such as, why is there so many different ways, beliefs to be baptized.
Again personal preference, perceptions and tradition beliefs to which i will not debate with anyone’s way that they except Jesus.
However I would have loved to be baptized as Jesus , however where I live and at the moment it is -15 DC with the windchill. Lol
These are my personal opinions and comments, however I did force me as well as covid lockdown to search for answers that I had simply become accustomed too and never questioned as a ‘follower’.
May everyone be safe