The Sabbath Day… There is no other Day in human history that has been debated more amongst Christians than the Biblical “Seventh Day”. Exactly what day of the week is it? Should we still observe it today? Is it meant only for Israel and the Jewish people? If we do keep it, how has God commanded us to do so? Through my 10 years of Biblical studies, I believe I have discovered the answers to these pressing questions which many modern Christians wrestle with. Before I go further, let me be clear, I pass no judgment on Christians who do not observe the Sabbath Day. We are not bound to the Old Testament Laws, BUT I believe that God and our Lord Jesus Christ are pleased when we strive to keep the Commandments. There is no man who keeps every Commandment of God perfectly, as we all sin and fall short of His Glory, but God’s Grace shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not make an honest effort to keep His Law. The question that I pose to every Christian reading this article is, how can you strive to honor your parents, not murder, not steal, not lie, not cheat, not covet, but NOT try to keep the Sabbath Day HOLY? Last time I checked, God gave us TEN Commandments and not NINE.
God’s Commandments are not suggestions, they are COMMANDS, and are written for the betterment of our lives and souls. Lord Jesus Himself said of the Holy Sabbath Day, “The Sabbath was made FOR man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). This means that God did not create us solely to observe the Commandment, but He gave the Commandment to benefit US. Rest is good for man, and you can ask any doctor just how healthy a workaholic who works 7 days a week is. The doctor will tell you that they need to slow down and get some REST. When our bodies are sick, we are not just given medicine, but are prescribed REST. God knew that rest does our bodies good, and that is why He Himself set the example for us by resting from His Work on the Seventh Day. No one needs to work seven days straight. Not only are you breaking God’s Law out of greed for one extra day of pay, but taking no break from your labors catches up to you and your work performance suffers, and eventually your body crashes or rebels. God prescribed many dietary laws in His Word for our health, but the most important prescription that He ever gave to us was the day of REST. The famous preacher Chuck Missler said ~
“The physical necessities of man REQUIRE a Sabbath of rest. He is so constituted that his bodily welfare needs at least one day in seven for rest from ordinary labor. The failure to set aside the seventh day may account for the toll of stress in our modern society.”
Right on. So, when exactly is this Biblical Day of Rest? The Seventh Day? Many are confused as to whether it is Saturday or Sunday. Biblically, it is SATURDAY. The Hebrew Sabbath, the Seventh day of the week, is called Shabbat. Our “Saturday” is also called Shabbat in Hebrew. That should end any arguments right there, when “Shabbat” means BOTH Saturday AND Sabbath. However, the Sabbath does not run on American or Western time or the calendar we are used to. In the (Biblical) Hebrew calendar, a new day begins at sunset, not at midnight or dawn. So, the Holy Sabbath Day begins on Friday evening at sunset and ends Saturday evening at sunset. I do my best to observe the Sabbath each week by the local time in Jerusalem, Israel, which you can easily find on Google. Israel is most always 7 hours ahead of my American EST timezone, so the sunset in Jerusalem begins aound 12:30 in the afternoon where I live. So in America, the Sabbath actually begins during our Friday afternoon. I do not believe that God is too picky about when you begin to observe His Sabbath, whether by Israel sundown or sundown in your timezone on Friday night, or if you decide to keep it from dawn on Saturday until dawn on Sunday. I truly believe He simply desires us to make an effort to keep His appointed Day HOLY.
That then brings into question the “Sunday Sabbath”. When exactly did The 1st Day of the week begin to be ritually observed as the 7th? On any Calendar we clearly see that Saturday is the last day of the week, so then why do the Catholic Church and other denominations treat Sunday as the Sabbath Day? We have to look to history. Our God (YaHWeH The Father) and our Lord Jesus Christ NEVER changed the Day in the Holy Bible. It remained Saturday. So then, who did? In Western Christianity, specifically Catholicism, the observance of The Lord’s Day (Resurrection Day) on Sunday has seemed to completely supplant the Sabbath observance on Saturday. Early Christians, following after Saint Paul and the early apostles, still observed Saturday as the Sabbath with prayer and rest, but they also gathered to worship on Sunday. By the 4th century, Christians were led to drop Saturday observance because of Civil edicts by Constantine and Church leaders, and to officially embrace and observe Sunday as their day of rest. Did these men have Biblical authority to make these changes? The answer is NO.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not persuading against worshipping on Sunday, as it is the day in which our Lord Jesus rose from the dead and in which the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles on Pentecost. Sunday should be kept Holy, BUT it should not do away with or wipe out God’s Holy Sabbath Day. Why would Constantine make such an unBiblical decision? Why would leaders of the Church follow his lead? Well, Sun-worship was the official religion of the Roman Empire, and Sunday was the official worship day on which homage was given to the Sun. Hence the name “Sun-day.” In order for the freshly converted Christian, Constantine, to make it more convenient for his pagan people to convert to his new Faith, he accepted their day of worship as THE Holiest day of the week. The Biblical Sabbath of Saturday, observed by Christ Jesus and His disciples, would be done away with because of growing anti-Jewish feelings in Constantine’s empire.
The change to Sunday was strictly imposed on Christianity through a Civil Law issued by Constantine as Emperor of Rome. It read, “All judges and city people and the craftsmen shall REST upon the venerable day of the Sun.” Thus Saturday, The LORD’s Holy Sabbath Day became just like any other day of the week. Some Christians were choosing to stay true to God’s Word, as many were Jewish Christians in those days, and continued to observe the Sabbath on Saturday. They still gathered and worshipped Jesus on Sunday, His Resurrection Day, but did not discard the significance of the Seventh Day to our God. The early Church Fathers tried to squash this effort to keep the Jewish Sabbath alive by comparing the observance of the Saturday Sabbath to observance of the rite of circumcision. They taught that if the apostles abolished circumcision, then also the observance of the Saturday Sabbath must have been abolished as well. They were wrong. God did not mention circumcision in the 10 Commandments, but He surely mentioned keeping HIS Sabbath Day HOLY. Also, the apostles all kept the Sabbath Day, and did not speak of abolishing it with circumcision.
That brings me to the widely asked question, should we Christians observe the Holy Sabbath today? Many say that we are not bound to do so because Christ nailed the Law to the Cross. Colossians 2:14 says, “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.” HalleluYah, yes He nailed all of the laws and ordinances that we break daily to the Cross, because He knew that before He came, and after He died for us, that NO ONE could keep the Law. Does that mean though that we can now BREAK THE LAW knowingly because Jesus bore the punishment on our behalf? As Saint Paul said, GOD FORBID! Christ said, that if we loved Him and The Father, we would KEEP the Commandments. Are we going to be able to keep them all? No, no one can. Still, we are to do our best to keep God’s Perfect Law while being imperfect human beings. It is an act of our love and loyalty toward HIM. If we don’t try, ignore His Law, live sinful lives because “Jesus nailed the Laws to the Cross”, then we are spitting on His sacrifice. When we accept what He did for us on Calvary’s Cross, to cleanse us of all sin and unrighteousness, and then choose to live in sin simply because HE already got punished FOR IT, that is selfish and unthankful living. So is it really too much to ask that Christians set aside Saturday as a day of REST, Holiness, Biblical study and meditation?
Sadly, I think it is too much for most modern Christians. Friday night (when the Biblical Sabbath begins) through Saturday night are the two BIGGEST “Party nights” of the week. Most people are out getting drunk, engaging in sexual debauchery and drug use. While, in God’s Eyes, these 2 nights are THE Holiest days of the week, and modern society has turned these days into the most abominable. Will this change? No it most likely won’t. My one voice isn’t going to change this longstanding weekend ritual for a majority of Americans, and many who are professing CHRISTIANS. Many will argue that the weekend is the only time that they can blow off steam from the long work week, so they have no choice. My answer to them is, if you’re a Christian or a God-fearing Jew, you shouldn’t be getting drunk and doing drugs in the first place! We all have our struggles, our vices, our thorns in the flesh, and demons we wrestle with daily, but at least as a Christian try EXTRA HARD not to let them get the best of you on the day God commanded us to keep Holy. He promised blessings to those who will “turn away their foot from doing their own pleasure on His Holy Day; and call His Sabbath a DELIGHT, the Holy of The LORD, honourable.” (Isaiah 58:13)
Next question, is the Holy Sabbath meant ONLY for the Jews and Israel since it was given through the Mosaic Law? NO. If that were the case, we gentiles could get away with murder (literally) because “Thou shall do no murder” is part of the Mosaic Law. I get aggravated when Christians speak out against observing the Sabbath Day and keeping it Holy, while at the same time they speak out against blasphemers, murderers, thieves, liars, adulterers, and the rest. How can you condemn others for breaking the other Commandments while YOU are willingly breaking #4 on the list?! We cannot pick and choose which Commandments we want to try to keep, and which “aren’t so important”. They are ALL important! We must try to keep all of God’s Law. We will fail because we are sinners, but we must TRY! Listen to what Lord Jesus said about us and God’s Law ~
“Do not think 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 WAY pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall BREAK one of these LEAST Commandments, and shall TEACH men so, he shall be called the LEAST in the Kingdom of Heaven: but whosoever shall DO and teach the Commandments, the same shall be called GREAT in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
While on earth, Lord Jesus observed the Sabbath. Also, a lot of people don’t realize, that just as God the Father rested after creating the world on the Seventh Day, so TOO Jesus rested when He completed His work on earth! He was entombed on the Sabbath Day and didn’t rise until Sunday morning when the Sabbath was complete! Now that is powerful witness to keeping the Sabbath rest. His disciples, including Paul, observed the Sabbath after His death and Resurrection. So YES, I believe we Christians should do our utmost best every weekend to make Saturday a day of rest, and communion with God. Saint Paul said in Hebrews 4:9, “There REMAINS therefore a Sabbath to the people of God.” Paul, whose writings many Christians take out of context to argue against observing the Saturday Sabbath, actually made it a priority to keep the Sabbath Holy EVERY WEEK! He sat and preached in the Synagogue “every Sabbath” the Book of Acts tells us:
“.. Paul went into the Synagogue on the SABBATH DAY, and sat down.” ~ Acts 13:14
“When the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next SABBATH.” ~ Acts 13:42
“The next SABBATH DAY came almost the WHOLE city together to HEAR the Word of God.” ~ Acts 13:44
“Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three SABBATH days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.” ~ Acts 17:2
“And Paul reasoned in the Synagogue EVERY SABBATH, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” ~ Acts 18:4
Anyone who tries to preach that Paul neglected to observe the Sabbath Day is just not reading their Holy Bible. So, if Jesus our Lord observed the Sabbath, if the disciples and Saint Paul observed it, how are we Christians today to observe the Holy Day? It is very simple, as God’s commands are not burdensome. Rather, they are meant to refresh us and lift our burdens from the week past.
1. Do no work.
3. Keep the day Holy.
Sounds good doesn’t it?! Those are commands anyone can keep, and should want to keep! As if His Sabbath Day itself wasn’t already such a blessing, listen to what God says unto those who faithfully observe His Sabbath: “Unto THEM will I give in My House and within My walls a place and a name BETTER than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an EVERLASTING name, that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56:5)
Finally, to all those who will still argue that Christians should throw the Sabbath Day out, that it means nothing for us believers today.. what do you do with the prophecies of the Millennial Reign of Christ in which the Sabbath is being observed?? ~ “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith The LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one SABBATH to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith The LORD.” (Isaiah 66:22-23) ~ When our Lord returns, WE will be keeping the Sabbath Day! Might as well start NOW brothers and sisters. SHABBAT SHALOM.
“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 2:3
“Six days you shall gather it; but on the Seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.. The LORD has given you the SABBATH, therefore He gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide you every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the Seventh day.” ~ Exodus 16:26 & 29
“Remember the SABBATH day, to keep it HOLY.” ~ Exodus 20:8
“The Seventh day is the SABBATH of The LORD your God: in it you shall not do ANY work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your 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 made it HOLY.” ~ Exodus 20:10-11
“You shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my SABBATHS: I Am The LORD your God.” ~ Leviticus 19:3 & 30
“Six days shall work be done: but the Seventh day is the SABBATH of rest, an Holy convocation; you shall do NO WORK therein: it is the Sabbath of The LORD in all your dwellings.” ~ Leviticus 23:3/Deuteronomy 5:12 & 14
“BLESSED is the man that does THIS, and the son of man that lays hold on it; that KEEPS THE SABBATH from polluting it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.. Also the sons of the stranger (gentiles), that join themselves to The LORD, to serve Him, and to LOVE The Name of The LORD, to be His servants, EVERY ONE that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of MY Covenant, saith The LORD God.” ~ Isaiah 52:2 & 6
“For the Son of man (JESUS CHRIST) is Lord also of the SABBATH DAY.” ~ Matthew 12:8/Mark 2:28/Luke 6:5