“The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” Luke 6:5
What is the Sabbath? Is it the Lord's Day? Is it a day of rest? OR is it just a day for the Jewish people to observe? While the Sabbath is not the topic of many sermons, it is a day we should know and understand. Not because we want to observe days. But because God has something special to say about it.
In the Beginning…
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 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.” Genesis 2:1-3
God, in His act of creation, created one more thing, which He named after each act. He created the day. And after each act, He numbered the days, one through six. After six days, He added one more day, the seventh. On this day, some say He did nothing. That would not be accurate. In fact, He did something as equally wonderful as the previous six. On the seventh day, God rested from all of His work. He then blessed and sanctified (set apart) the seventh day. He did not do this for Himself only, but for us as well!
“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.“ Mark 2:27-28
The Seventh Day before the Sabbath
The Seventh Day was an institution of God before it was called the Sabbath. God did not rest on the Sabbath, because the word sabbath itself means rest, but the seventh day. The fact that He blessed it and set it apart should be of significance to all who believe in God. So what is the Sabbath anyway?
What is the Sabbath?
The answer to this question should begin to clear the fog surrounding the Sabbath Day. The Sabbath is not so much a day in and of itself. Sabbath means “to rest from labor”. In that context, any day one does no work can be considered a sabbath day. A vacation can be called a sabbath. This is where we get the term, “taking a sabbatical”. So our focus on the Sabbath as a day needs clarification. The Sabbath came into being during Israel's time in the wilderness.
“And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” Exodus 16:23
This is the first time the seventh day is referred to as a sabbath in scripture. But remember. Sabbath is simply the Hebrew word for ‘rest'. So in Exodus 16:23, God tells Israel to rest from gathering manna on the seventh day.
Who should observe the Sabbath?
This is the question that needs addressing. Throughout the Old Testament, sabbath and seventh day are used, sometimes interchangeably. But there is a difference. The seventh day, as established by God from the beginning of the earth, is unchanging. The seventh day is always one day and the same day, the last day of the week, no matter what. A Sabbath can be any day! The argument over who should observe the Sabbath occurs because of it's existence in the Law of God and the Mosaic Law. Let's digress a moment and come back to this subtitle later.
The Two Laws
We have two laws at work in scripture. We have the Law of God, which was spoken directly to the people by God on Mount Sinai in Exodus 20:1-17. This is known as the Ten Commandments. And we have the Mosaic Law, which consist of the statutes, commandments, judgments, and ordinances given to Israel from God as spoken to Moses. This governed their day to day living. The Ten Commandments were written in stone by the finger of God. As such, it is meant to be perpetual. They are spiritual in nature while the Mosaic Law was carnal and temporary. We can look at the Sabbath similarly. The seventh day is perpetual while sabbaths were temporal.
If temporal, why are sabbaths mentioned in the Ten Commandments?
Actually, they're not, according to the context. If you recall, the word sabbath is Hebrew for rest. God is referring to the seventh day in Exodus 20:8-10:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 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, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
See how the word sabbath and seventh is interchanged? God is saying to remember the day I took sabbatical (rested). As you see, He recounts the Genesis and reminds us that this still stands! So if we understand the context, God wants us to remember the seventh day as the day He rested, and not just any particular sabbath day.
Sabbaths and the Seventh Day in the New Testament
“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:” Colossians 2:16
The New Testament Church started out Jewish. So it stands to reason that sabbath days were a lifestyle to them. So when they met on the seventh day, it was natural for them to call it the Sabbath Day. It was a rest day, but it was also what was referred to as the “weekly sabbath”. There were other sabbaths, such as feast days, high days, or other holy days, set aside to remember the works of God in Israel. These days occurred monthly and/or yearly, and some were further apart (3, 5, 7 or 50 years).
“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” John 19:31
The weekly sabbath is not a feast or high day. These days, being Jewish feast days, were not observed by the Gentile believers. In fact, the Jewish believers were told by the Apostles not to pressure the Gentiles into observing them. So back to who should observe the sabbath. No one, if we are speaking of the feast and high days. Only the seventh day was given as a perpetual observance for man.
Why should we observe the Seventh Day?
Well, He blessed and set it apart for a reason. One reason is because God commands it in Exodus 20. There God says ‘Remember…, and keep it holy!” Why? In doing so, we honor God for His act of love in creation and provision! It was also observed by the New Testament Church. This is why we see time and time again the saints meeting on the seventh day throughout the book of Acts. (We won't get hung up on the word sabbath because we know what it means, right?) It was the day they could dedicate to reasoning and learning the Word of God.
“And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” Acts 18:4
Not to mention, it was easy since the Jews did it naturally. The other reason is this. We will one day, if we go on to meet the Lord, experience a perpetual Sabbath (Rest)! (Hebrews 4:1-11) So you see, God's people will observe the Sabbath as God now does and commanded in Exodus 20:8-11 everyday throughout eternity. Again, the reasons why we are to observe the sabbath is because it reminds us of God's love in the act of creation and provision! After God created the heavens, the earth, and all they contain, He rested. Not just from creation, but from creating provision! Let me reiterate. Genesis Chapter 1 is the story, not only of creation, but of God's provision! God created and provided for every creature and the seventh day is set as a memorial of that provision! We keep the day holy when in it, we remember God's act of provision and believe on Him for continued provision. That's why He told Israel to don't even go out to harvest or expect to find manna on the seventh day. He provided enough in six days if they did what He said, and would continue to provide through the seventh if they obeyed and believed in His provision! I know I was repetitious. But this is so important and fundamental. Yet it is all but forgotten and/or misunderstood by the modern Church!
So why do we observe Sunday instead of the Seventh Day?
“On the venerable day of the sun let the magistrate and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however, persons engaged in agricultural work may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain growing or for vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.” Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, vol. III, chap. 75.
Something happened while the world was sleeping in forced biblical ignorance during the middle ages. According to the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50, it was Rome who transferred the solemnity (holiness and sanctity) from Saturday to Sunday…. And in the book, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine, p. 58,
“By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.” It also says, “Because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin; and by not keeping the rest [of the feasts] by her commanded, they again deny, in fact, the same power.”
I suggest you do your own research as to the validity of these statements. But you must admit, when you see the vestures, regalia, crosses, and furnishings used by Protestant Churches, the influence of Rome is unmistakable! The point is, we can worship God any day of the week, but Sunday worship in particular is an institution of man, not of God.
God Made No Changes!
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Psalms 89:34 “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” Ecclesiastes 3:14
“Rest as I did and remember how I worked for six days supplying all of your needs and then creating you! So you also rest in faith that I will continue to supply your needs. Remember how Israel doubted and gathered more than enough manna on the sixth day? And some went out on the seventh day looking for manna? Those who gathered enough had leftovers. Those who gathered more had nothing left over. The seventh day sabbath (day of rest) is about remembering and believing in God as Creator and the supplier of all our needs.” FYI: This does not mean anyone should become a Sabbath Keeper or Seventh-Day Adventist. That is not necessary to obey God in keeping the Seventh Day holy!