The Sabbath Was Made for Man
And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." God created all the matter and energy from nothing. He created the stars in the heavens and our star, the sun. He created the earth and made it capable of supporting all manner of life -the plants, animals, birds, and fishes. And it was all very good. Finally, when the earth was fit for human habitation, He formed Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life - a touch of the divine. He made man in His image, in the image of God He made him.
O come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make ajoyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it; for his hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would hearken to his voice!
Harden not your hearts. . . . -PSALMS 95:1-8.
God is the Creator, there is no other. So when the Creator-God finished His work, He rested;and by resting, He blessed and hallowed that first Sabbath. Then He commanded all people, made in His image, to partake of His holy rest each week, to be refreshed and renewed in body and Spirit.
Since God says His holy Sabbath rest is so important, we ought, therefore, to delve into the divine significance of His Sabbath -the why's and wherefore's of this holy day.
What is the Meaning of Sabbath?
The Hebrew word for Sabbath is Shabbat. There are seven levels of meaning for Hebrew words. Let us dig down into the roots of Shabbat.
Shabbat is an all powerful day given to us by the rule of God to pay homage to Him.
It is a holy day of rest, a cessation of exertion. It is a day of peace and tranquillity, free from trouble. It is an interruption and an intermission from the usual work week, a holiday to remember who and what God is and to ponder our relationship with Him.
Shabbat is the seventh day of the week. It signifies a completion, like the completion of creation. It is the sacred full one. Therefore, the seventh day is the only holy day that completes the week.
Shabbat is connected with the tabernacle; the bodies of the believers are the temples of the Holy Spirit. On this day, God intermingles so closely with believers that it would seem they are one.
On this day, people made in the image of God are to proclaim and sing of their love and loyalty to God in a loud voice. It is a day to meditate and speak lofty thoughts. It is a bright and cheerful day. In the old days, the blowing of the ram's horn called people to the Sabbath convocation.
The Sabbath is a day to ask God in prayer for our needs -our daily bread, forgiveness, and protection. It is a day to ask God about the meaning of His Word and how He wants us to keep it. It is a day to make decisions based on God's Word.
Everything about the day has to do with growth. On this day, wisdom is increased and knowledge is enlarged until we
overflow with joy. It is a day that shows the way to God; a day we branch off from the normal work week to God's rest. Jesus said out of our hearts will flow streams of living water because of God's copious love for us. Itisadayto be observant to God's way and circumspect about our faith.
God's Sabbath Is the Only Sign between the Creator and His Believers
'" It is a sign for ever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'"-EXO 31:17
There is only one God, the Creator of the universe. There is none like Him. People worship many other gods instead of the living God. If a person believes in God, Yahweh, the Eternal One, he must bow down before His Word. If a person believes that God created the heavens and the earth, he must obey His commands.
God, who created the heavens and the earth in the beginning, rested on the seventh day and thereby made it holy, as I pointed out. But, a person may say, we know that the universe was not created in six days; it took billions of years. How could a person believe in God when it is obvious that a six day creation is impossible? Then resting on the seventh day makes no sense either.
Scientists now understand that time is not a constant. Time can be relatively longer or shorter depending on speed and gravity. For example, a clock left on the moon will go faster compared to an identical clock on earth because the moon's gravity is one sixth of the earth. It is also true that time goes faster or slower on a plane traveling east or west compared to an identical clock on the ground.
Therefore, when the Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth in six days, it is true. Wherever God was in the beginning, His clock took six twenty-four hour time days to complete creation. The rest of the universe was on a different time schedule, as it were, and required billions of years for the creation.
Then God linked His time with earth's time when He rested and was refreshed on the first Sabbath. The day became holy because God set the twenty-four hours of the Sabbath apart from the rest of the week for His use, for our good - to rest and worship Him.
No other God has commanded people to rest on the Sabbath because no other God created the heavens and the earth. No other people rest on God's Sabbath except those who know God is the Creator and demonstrate that knowledge by resting on the day He commanded. It is the only sign between the Creator-God and His people
God's Sabbath is the day the Creator meets with His people to bless them and give them His holy rest. On God's Holy Sabbath, His people offer Him praise and thanksgiving in return for His giving them life and life more abundantly.
God's Holy Rest
"Be still and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!" -PS 46: 10
The only day God manifests Himself (through Jesus) to His people in a special way is on the Sabbath. Whoever isworking or otherwise occupied on the Sabbath cannot hear what God has to say or receive His holy rest. A person can rest any day but resting on the Sabbath gives a spiritual as well as a physical rest. It is a day to be at one with God. By resting at the same time God is, a person receives relief from all cares and worries Just as physical rest and sleep heal and rejuvenate, spiritual rest, on God's holy day, heals and rejuvenates the spiritual part of a human being. On God's Sabbath, a believer may tune into His wavelength, His Word, in a special way.
You cannot hear God, that is, be attentive to His Word unles you are still, quiet, resting, and away from every worldly care. It is in this holy stillness, that you become united with God on the Sabbath.
How to Enter God's Holy Rest
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and
marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. HEB 4:9-13
The Sabbath is there every week, but only a few seem to take advantage of the rest God gives. Why is it some few keep God's Sabbath and many others do not?
God says when someone hears His voice, or reads His Word, he must not harden his heart as in the day of rebellion. God is referring to the rebellion of Israel when they refused to obey God in the wilderness. Their refusal prevented their entering the land of Canaan. God compares entering the Promised Land to keeping the Sabbath, entering God's holy rest.
God further says that, that the ways of the world and the habit of sin can deceive people and bring them to "an evil, unbelieving heart," that will prevent them from entering God's weekly rest as well as His eternal one. (HEB 3:12-13) God says that hearing the Good News of the Kingdom of God will produce the faith necessary to enter the Sabbath rest. The only impediment is to adamantlv refusal to believe and obey the Word of God.
People must strive to enter the Sabbath rest by faith because resting on God's Sabbath makes no sense otherwise. There are dozens of reasons for not resting on God's Sabbath. There is only one reason to rest on it: faithful obedience to God.
Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. EXO 31:12-16
Only one commandment of the ten was raised above all the rest and made into a perpetual covenant, the Sabbath com-mandment. What is so special about God's Sabbath that it should be the covenant commandment?
Remember, when God merged heavenly time with earthly time on the first Sabbath, He connected heaven with Earth, God with man. Every Sabbath God and man unite in love and purpose. On God's Sabbath, mortality is joined with immortality in a perpetual covenant lasting into eternity.
God began to unite Heaven to Earth. First, God came down from Heaven to Earth and formed man. Then when God gave man a touch of the divine by breathing into him the breath of life, He permanently linked Himself with mankind. On that first Sabbath, of course, the Creator rested and, by resting, set the day apart from the remainder of the week, that is, made it holy.
When we rest with God, we not only acknowledge Him, but we show our awareness of our special relationship with God - we are made in His image, we are like Him, and we will be changed into immortal beings and live with Him forever as part of His family.
- When we keep God's Sabbath, we enter into a solemn covenant with God.
- When we keep the Sabbath Covenant, we show our perpetual oneness with God.
- When we keep the Sabbath Covenant, we acknowledge God as the Creator.
- When we keep the Sabbath Covenant, we demonstrate our thankfulness to the only One who blesses us.
Heaven and Earth are forever linked by God's Sabbath until heaven itself comes to Earth in a perpetual Sabbath.
The first commandment mentioned in the Bible (in Genesis 2) is the one most forgotten. People do not remember the Sabbath Covenant and, thus, miss their appointment with eternal destiny.
When we keep the Sabbath Covenant, we show our perpetual oneness with God.
When we keep the Sabbath Covenant, we acknowledge God as the Creator.
When we keep the Sabbath Covenant, we demonstrate our thankfulness to the only One who blesses us.
Heaven and Earth are forever linked by God's Sabbath until heaven itself comes to Earth in a perpetual Sabbath.
The first commandment mentioned in the Bible (in Genesis 2) is the one most forgotten. People do not remember the Sabbath Covenant and, thus, miss their appointment with eternal destiny.
The Ten Commandments
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.-1 John 5:3
The Sabbath commandment is part of the ten. Therefore, if we love God, we obey all ten of the commandments. But, it may be asked, are not the commandments for Israel only?
Not at all. John told the Christians to obey the commandments. Paul said that the commandments are holy. (ROM 7: 12) He said nothing is more important than keeping the commandments; it is the only thing that counts. (1 COR 7: 19)
God expects all nations that could be aware of God's Law to obey it. He sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn them of disaster because of their disobedience to God's Law. Of course, Jonah did not like Ninevah and really did not want to warn them. Nonetheless, he did, they repented, and God kept them from the curses of disobedience.
Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon when Daniel warned him the God was going to punish him for disobedience of His law. The king refused to change, and God cast him out into the wilderness to grovel as a beast until he repented. There are other examples of God demanding obedience from people and countries other than Israel.
The commandments are holy, as Paul said-holy in and of themselves. And they are a blessing to all who obey them.
The reason God gave Israel the commandments, the Sabbath sign, and the Sabbath Covenant was because they were the only people who believed in Him. As I said, since God only deals with people who believe and obey Him, He gave His Laws to Israel, but not exclusively, just first. Eventually, Israel refused to keep the Sabbath Covenant as well as the other Laws; God, therefore, exiled them. When the Israelites of Jesus' time refused to believe he was the Messiah, God brought Christians, who had faith, into His Church.
All who want the blessings keeping the commandments (including the Sabbath) bring, will obey the Living God.
I shall highlight some of the innumerable blessings for keeping the commandments.
The only way to know God is by obeying His Word, which is available to all. There is no other way.
God shows His steadfast love to all who love Him by keeping the commandments. That is an important blessing. God will not forget or abandon those who faithfully love and obey Him. (DEUT 5:10)
God says He will bless everything believers do and prolong their lives when they obey the commandments. Obedient Christians will obtain a very long life - eternal life. (Matt 19: 17)
Those who obey God will receive whatever they pray for, whatever their hearts' desire, according to His will. God will also keep His believers free from the diseases of Egypt. Those who acknowledge God by obedience will be wiser than their teachers or enemies, for that matter.
God's commandments are a lamp to light a person's way. The light of the commandments keeps His loved ones from stumbling around in the darkness of evil disobedience.
David always rejoiced in the commandments. They uplifted his heart and brought joy to his being.
God multiplies promises and blessings to those who go against their human nature and the ways of the world to obey Him. God is love. He showers His believers with divine love, pure and perfect.
Jesus Is the Lord of God's Sabbath
And he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath." -Mark 2:27-28
Jesus is the embodiment of God's Word. ("The Word was made flesh." -John 1: 7) Everything in the universe was made for him. He is the man through whom God saved the world from eternal death due to sin because he paid the death penalty for all mankind, all sinners. Everything comes together in Jesus.
That God is, is a matter of fact. That Jesus is the lord and savior, is a matter of faith. What is faith? "Abraham believed God. . . ." (GEN 15:6) What Abraham believed was God's promises. And what a faith it was. Abraham waited some twenty-five years for the promised Isaac to be born. Later, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac through whom the promises would come. God proved the strength of Abra-ham's faith. When a person has that quality of faith in Jesus, through whom all the promises have fulfillment, then he has the faith of Abraham.
With the kind of faith as Abraham's, God reckons it as righteousness. Just so, Jesus is our righteousness when we believe he is the Savior from God, who justifies that faith. Believers become sons of God by faith and are saved by grace through faith.
There is one God and one faith. Believers are to live by faith, not by sight. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Finally, whoever believes that God raised Jesus from the dead is saved. So, we can see that faith in Jesus is crucial.
Leaving this aside for a moment, let us review at what God says about faith and obedience in Hebrews, chapters three and four. God says that the result of faith and obedience is the blessing of entering the Sabbath rest each week. Then God says, on the other hand, that He would not let any who were disobedient or faithless enter His rest. James warns that breaking any of the commandments breaks them all! Therefore, God will never let anyone, who refuses to obey even the least one of His commandments or refuses to believe in Jesus, enter His rest day. It is the test commandment!
Jesus is the lord of God's Sabbath - the very day that is the test of faith. God tested Abraham's faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac. God tests the Christians' faith in Jesus by commanding them to enter the Sabbath rest. Only the people who truly believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior and Messiah, and who faithfully obey God can enter the Sabbath rest, both the weekly Sabbath and the Sabbath of the Kingdom of God. And the converse. Those, who enter God's Sabbath rest each week, are the faithful followers of the lord.
While Israel of the past and Jewish people today keep God's Sabbath, the true spiritual rest can only come from Jesus, who, of course, rules the Christian Sabbath. In fact, the New Testament writers are constantly talking about the things Jesus did on God's Sabbath-healing the sick, preaching the good news, and doing various good works. (There are 55 references to God's Sabbath in the New Testament in only 252 pages, whereas there are 87 references in the Old in 831 pages.) Jesus, as the lord, took away the terrible restraints the Pharisees put on the day who made it a day of drudge instead of a day of joy, celebration, and feasting.
It is Jesus who is present on every Sabbath when two or three are gathered in his name. God knew that the creation of God's Sabbath in Genesis 2 would be filled to the full by His son in future generations. God made the Sabbath the sign between Israel and Himself. Even more so with Jesus as the mediator of the New Covenant is the Sabbath an even greater sign between God and His people.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. Since Jesus demon-strated the love and peace of God's Sabbath, believers eagerly walk his way by observing the Sabbath in his presence, in his way, and in his light.
Which Day is God's Sabbath?
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. . . -EXO 20:8-10a
Some people think that Sunday is the seventh day or God's Sabbath. If that were true, then keeping Sunday would be Biblical. How do we know which day after all these years is God's Sabbath, the seventh day? Julius Caesar and Pope Gre-gory changed the western calendar, but what they did not do is change the order of the days of the week. The Sabbath is so important, as we have seen, that God would not allow the day to be lost or changed. He is God!
Caesar changed the calendar before Christ was born. Nonetheless, Jesus, who is the lord of God's Sabbath, knew which day to keep holy in spite of Julius's tinkering with the calendar. The apostles also knew which day to keep holy because they continued to keep the day Jesus did. Jesus gave us many examples of which day to keep holy, the very day His Father in heaven designated in Genesis 2.
In 1582, Pope Gregory suppressed ten days from the calendar. Thus, October 5 became October 15. He did not change the order of the seven-day week.
What we call Sunday is the first day of the week, and what we call Saturday is the seventh day. While the names of the days of the week have changed over the years and in various languages, there are still seven days in the week, the seventh being God's Sabbath.
Who Should Keep God's Sabbath?
"And the foreigners who join themselves to
the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, every one who keeps the Sabbath, and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant -these I will being to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offer-ings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. -ISAIAH 56:6-7
In the second chapter of the Bible, we saw that God made the Sabbath holy. That is the only day He ever made holy because He rested on it. Therefore, it became holy to the Jews first, to Christians and Gentiles (non-Jews) afterward.
God reveals Himself and His laws only to people who believe in Him, as I noted above. He does not, obviously, reveal Himself and His laws to evil unbelievers. Therefore, naturally, God revealed His Sabbath to Israel, first, but not exclusively, because they were the only believers on Earth.
God specifically said that all foreigners, that is, non-Israelites, who "join themselves to the LORD," and observe Sabbath, will enter the Kingdom of God ("my holy mountain"). Here God says specifically that the Sabbath is for all people.
To reiterate, Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, us. God made the Sabbath holy, for everyone. God revealed His Sabbath to Israel first; then He elevated the importance of His Sabbath by making Jesus the lord of the Sabbath. Jesus called himself the son of man; God made His Sabbath for man. Therefore, the son of man is also the lord of God's Sabbath that is made for man. It is a good thing.
While it is true that God said that His Sabbath was the sign of the Old Covenant, with the coming of the New Covenant, Jesus became the mediator of the New Covenant and is the lord of God's Sabbath.
From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD.
When people enter the Kingdom of God, they will all be keeping His Sabbath. People do not have to wait for the future Kingdom of God to worship God the way He wants. God says, believers can keep His Sabbath now.
Who should keep God's Sabbath? All people who believe that God is the Creator who sanctifies them and believe that Jesus is the Savior from God.
How to Keep God's Sabbath
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle,
or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it."
"Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your ass may have rest, and the son of your bondmaid, and the alien, may be refreshed." - Exo 23:12
"Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. "
"Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy sabbath of solemn rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death." -EXO 35:2
The Sabbath is a day of rest-from Friday evening to Saturday evening. People sin against God's Sabbath by working, going to business, and shopping. There are exceptions, oxen in the ditches, and emergencies. When people give up the mundane, day-to-day activities of life, and when they refuse to work on His Sabbath, they trust God to bless them. In addition, He will bless them far beyond what they might earn on that single day.
God's Sabbath is the day to attend Church, listen to the minister proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and to receive healing.
It is a particularly joyous day in which Jesus is present to lead the congregation in moving closer to God who, in turn, inspires the preaching and hearing.
It is a day to imitate God and Jesus by resting on the day God made holy. If a person believes that he is made in the image of God, he ought to rest on the day his Father made holy.
Keeping God's Sabbath is not difficult for people striving to obey God. For those who wish to have the appearance of righteousness, pretending that God's Sabbath has been changed to the first day of the week has the merit of hypocritical holiness while continuing to rebel against God in reality.
Objections to God's Sabbath Answered
You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods, . . . for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.
-EXO 23:32, 33
Nowhere in the Bible does God say His Sabbath was either done away with or changed. For example, God says not to swear. He plainly says that animal sacrifices have been replaced by Jesus sacrifice. He plainly says that circumcision of the heart has replaced physical circumcision. Where is the verse that says, "1 say, do not rest on the seventh day but on the eight or first day." Where is the verse that says, "Remember Sunday, or the first day of the week. Seven days shall you labor but the eight day is a Sunday to the Lord your God; in it you shall do no work. . . For in seven days God created the heavens. . . "
It is obvious that God made His Sabbath day holy by resting. There can never be another day to substitute for the rest God gave to us. What right does any man or church change what God has made holy? Yet, theologians and churches claim that Sunday is the new Christian holy day. These are some of their arguments and the conclusive answers.
Easter Sunday Resurrection
The LORD said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, The appointed feasts of the Lord which shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed feasts, are these. Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work; it is a sabbath to the Lord in all your dwellings. " - LEV 23:1-3
One of the reasons given for keeping the first day of the week is that theologians say Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week: therefore one should commemorate the resurrection and its redemptive act by having Sunday services.
However, Jesus did not rise from the dead on Sunday morning. He was already risen by that morning. He had, in fact, risen sometime Sabbath evening, three days and three nights after he was buried.
It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with them from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how his body was laid; then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. -LUKE 23:54-55
Jesus could not have been buried on Friday night, because when would the women have a day to prepare the spices and ointments? Friday is a day to prepare things for God's Sabbath, which is what the women did. Then they obeyed the com-mandment by resting on the Sabbath. Early on the first day of the week, they arrived at the tomb only to find Jesus was no longer there - risen from the dead.
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus had to remain buried seventy-two hours - three days and three nights. In order for Jesus to be resurrected by Sunday morning and stay in the tomb for seventy-two hours, he had to be buried by Wednesday evening.
First day - Wednesday evening to Thursday evening.
Second day - Thursday evening to Friday evening.
Third day - Friday evening to Saturday evening.
So, Jesus was resurrected Sabbath evening, but nobody knew about it until the following morning when the women went to prepare the body because they had to rest on God's Sabbath which precluded doing the work of preparing the body. And, since the women discovered that Jesus was already resurrected by Sunday morning, people just assumed that he had just risen only moments before the women's arrival. Not so. He was surely resurrected by Sunday morning because he was resurrected at the end of the seventy-two hour period, that is, Sabbath evening.
But, then, what happened to the Sabbath Jesus had to be buried before, to agree with Jewish custom? Wednesday evening was the beginning of Passover, and the Jews began the holy season with the familiar Seder on the Wednesday evening, after Jesus was buried. Wednesday evening was the beginning of a Sabbath Day called the First Day of Unleavened Bread. (There are seven such special Holy Days, or Sabbaths, that God commands.) The Holy Day, or Sabbath, went from Wednesday evening to Thursday evening. The following day was the usual preparation day for the weekly Sabbath. That was the day the women prepared the ointments. So everything fits. Jesus had to be buried by Wednesday evening that began the Passover Holy Day.
The women did the preparation on Friday and rested on the Sabbath. Jesus rose Sabbath evening, and by the time the women arrived early Sunday morning, Jesus had been risen and the tomb was empty. (See LEV 23:5-7)
The verse preceding the one I quoted above (MAT 12:40), said something quite relevant.
But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."
In the Old Testament, the sign between God and His people was the Sabbath. In the New Testament, the sign is the three days and three nights the lord of God's Sabbath, Jesus Christ, was in the tomb. The only sign God has given us that Jesus is the Messiah and has saved us from eternal death is the sign of Jonah. If people claim that their savior died on Friday and was resurrected on Easter Sunday morning, they are not talking about Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God. They have resurrected a counterfeit savior with no power to save.
Every Day is Holy; So One Can Keep Sunday
One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor ofthe Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. -ROM 14:5-6
Basically, the telos ofthis scripture is vegetarianism and meat eating: what day to eat meat or to abstain from meat, what day to have vegetables. But the scripture does say something about esteeming and honoring a day or any day.
The Greek for esteem means to decide. A person, therefore, may decide that one day is above another day. The Greek for above is paramount. The Greek for honor is to exercise the mind, that is, have an opinion, be predisposed to, or have an interest in.
The above verse might be better translated, in part:
One man makes a distinction between this day and that. (Knox translation)
While that man rates all days alike. (Moffatt translation)
The verses really have nothing to do with holy days or days of worship. We are entitled to honor (better, to regard or rate) or esteem a day. I like Thursdays because there is only one day left after Thursday to the work week. When Thursday gets rolling, I relax and look forward to the weekend. I esteem Thursdays. And I give God honor for giving me a Thursday to look forward to the weekend.
No matter what day I esteem or honor, there is still only one day God made holy. That day is God's Sabbath. Esteeming and honoring are not the same as sanctifying. I can no more sanctify a day than I can create a universe. Only God can create a world and sanctify, or make a day holy. We can esteem and honor all we want. The day God chose for us to worship on is still His Sabbath.
Jesus Broke God's Sabbath
Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath." -JOHN 9: 16
It is the Jews who said Jesus did not keep the Sabbath. God never said it. Jesus never said it. I doubt one ought to determine Jesus' righteousness based on the biased opinion of hypocritical Pharisees. They said Jesus broke the Sabbath because he healed people, or the apostles took grain from the fields. Nonsense. He freed people from the awful constraints the Jews put on the day. Jesus said the Sabbath was a day to do good, not a day to be enslaved to. (MARK 3:4)
That is why Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man. It is a day to live in the blessing of God's creation and the secure promise of salvation by Jesus' lordship.
We Are Not Under the Law; So We Do Not Have To Keep the Law
For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden [circumcision] than those necessary things. . . -ACTS 14:28
In the Old Testament, whoever was not circumcised was cut off from the Covenant and God's people. Thus, he was cut off from God, unsaved and doomed. Circumcision was The Law. When the Bible speaks of not being under the law of Moses, it often refers to circumcision which the church said was not essential for salvation because God had already declared that a person must be circumcised of the heart. (DEUT 10: 16) The law Christians do not have to keep is the Law of Circumcision.
Another Law from which Christians are excused is
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. -HEB 10:14
the law of sacrifice. The Torah that was changed by the New Covenant was the ordinance of sacrifices. Jesus sacrifice eliminated the need for those animal sacrifices. Besides, God said, even in the Old Testament, that He wanted obedience, not sacrifice. (1 SAM 15:22)
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. -ROM 8:2
Another law done awav with was the law of sin and death.
Until grace, obtained by Jesus for us, any disobedience meant death. Now we have a great high priest who will obtain for-giveness for us when we err inadvertently.
God gives us grace, a gift of pardon from sin's punishment. We are under grace. Therefore, we ought not to return to being slaves to sin. Rather we are free from sin's awful penalty - death. (ROM 6:14-15)
How could Paul say:
"For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God." -l CO 7:19
And then say the law of the commandments is done away with? The New Testament talks about writing the law and commandments on the heart, and Jesus says he did not come to do away with the law and the prophets. (MATT 7: 17) During apostolic times, a great controversy raged over whether Gentile Christians had to be circumcised as part of the law. The apostles and the church all agreed to remove physical circumcision as necessary for salvation.
God's Sabbath is Part of the Old Covenant
For he finds fault with them when he says: "The days will come, says the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah; not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I paid no heed to them, says the Lord. This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people, And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more."
In speaking of a new covenant, he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. -HEB 8:8-13
What Old Covenant is about to disappear? Everything? Part? What is the writer of Hebrews talking about?
Only the rituals and sacrifices of the Old Covenant disappeared.
The Old Covenant centered about the tabernacle - the outer and inner tent or sanctuary. The inner sanctuary contained the ark of the Covenant, or a replica of the throne of God. Inside the ark were the ten commandment tablets. Near the ark was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. There were several other items.
The outer tent was the area that the priest congregated and performed the sacrifices and other rituals. Once a year, the high priest was permitted to enter the inner sanctum. He brought blood from some sacrificed animals to atone for the congregations' sins.
When Christ died, the curtain separating the outer and inner sanctuaries of the temple in Jerusalem was rent in two. This significant occurrence showed that the Old Covenant centering in the temple ended. The New Covenant was being established. In the New Covenant, the blood of animals was replaced once and for all by the blood of Jesus for the remission of all sins for those who believe. Jesus said that the wine they drank on Passover was the blood of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant blood was modified to New Covenant Passover wine.
In the Old Covenant, a high priest entered the Holy of Holies which was a physical representation of the throne of God. In the New Covenant, Jesus, the High Priest, was lifted up to heaven to the real throne of God. The Old Covenant high priest was replaced by a permanent High Priest, Jesus the Christ.
The ten commandment tablets were inside the ark in the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, God writes the Ten Commandments on believers' hearts. That is proper because in the New Covenant the believer who has God's Spirit within him becomes the new temple of God. God's Sabbath is part of those commandments written on the believer's heart.
Everything in the Old Covenant has been elevated and improved into the New. God never throws anything away; He changes them to suit His plans of making Himself a family. You see, the Old Covenant was a copy of the New Covenant. When the New came, the Old was no longer necessary. The Old Covenant was transformed into the New.
It is important to understand that the only parts of the Old Covenant that God abolished were its rituals, ablutions, sacri-fices, swearing, and circumcisions. God never did away with the commandments and the law. So those who use the above scripture to attempt to prove the Old Covenant Sabbath observation is done away with, are misrepresenting God's Word. The New Covenant grows out of and is built upon the Old. So also is God's Sabbath.
Work is Allowed on God's Sabbath
One sabbath he was going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?"
And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?" And he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the son of man is lord even of the sabbath." -MAR 2:23-28.
Some theologians use the above verses to try to prove the Jesus encouraged work on God's Sabbath because he excused the disciples working, that is, rubbing the husks off the grain They say that if the faithful believe that the Messianic Age has come, they are excused from the Old Testament restriction against doing any kind of work. Therefore, they say, the Sabbath rest is only symbolic of the rest in the Kingdom of Go Actual rest is not only unnecessary but discouraged, the conclude.
Why theologians feel that resting on God's Sabbath is a restriction is difficult to understand. Instead of seeing that resting on the same day God rested on is a blessing because it submits to God and lives up to being created in His image, they call the Sabbath rest a burden and a hardship.
You must also understand that it was the Pharisees that condemned the apostles' actions, not God's Word. You must further understand that Jesus, being the lord of God's Sabbath, had the authority to make the Sabbath more attuned to what God intended the day to be - a day to do good as well as resting. In the New Testament, God showed that Christians must do more than the usual "thou shalt nots." God wants "thou shalts." We must assuredly rest from earning a living, shopping and other physical exertions.
However, it is incumbent to do good on God's Sabbath: visit the sick, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, heal the sick, give or listen to sermons. Obviously, it is the job, the work, of a minister to preach on God's Sabbath. He does not break the Sabbath because he is performing good works. God commands good works. Since He says we are to feed the hungry, He did not condemn the hungry apostles for gleaning some food for themselves. God does not want to deprive His faithful of food because a hungry person cannot rest or properly worship God.
But that does not change the fact that God made His Sabbath holy by resting on it. He rested on no other day. Therefore, no man, theologian, or church can make another day, in which God did not rest, holy.
What Jesus did was to make the Sabbath more compatible with God's intent for observing the day.
If actual rest is not necessary on God's Sabbath, how does one set the day apart as a symbol of either the Messianic Age or the Kingdom of God? How does shopping on God's Sabbath remind the believer of the Kingdom of God? How does working on the Sabbath show trust in God to provide for him without laboring on the day He made holy? If people treat God's Sabbath like any other day of the week, it has no meaning symbolically or actually. Jesus then becomes lord of labor trade and business, not lord of the Holy Day of rest.
Jesus asked the Pharisees whether they would work, and work hard, to remove an ox of theirs that fell into a ditch. The Pharisees agreed that getting the ox out of the ditch would, not break the Sabbath. So if a person needed to buy something at the store that he has forgotten or lacks, it does not break the Sabbath. If believers are hungry and prepared no fool before the Sabbath due to some mistake or other, they ma do some light cooking. Jesus freed people from the awful restraints the Pharisees put on the day.
The New Testament cannot be made to show that the Sabbath rest is anything but a show of faith and obedience. And God always blesses faith and obedience.
Paul Kept Sunday
These went on and were waiting for us at Troas, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. -ACTS 20:5-7
Since most Christians feel they must have some rite or service once a week, they have selected Sunday for that purpose. They offer Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles as the example that Christians should keep Sunday instead of God's Sabbath. They use this scripture and a few others to show that Paul kept Sunday instead of God's Sabbath. They neglect ACTS 17:2 and 18:4 that show that it was Paul's custom to keep Gods Sabbath.
The above verse shows that Paul kept the "Jewish" Passover, the days of Unleavened Bread, but, we are told, not to keep God's Sabbath. It is inconsistent and illogical to keep Passover and not God's Sabbath.
Paul had much to say to them and preached on the Sabbath. On or about sunset, they stopped for dinner. The first day of the week begins on what we would call Saturday evening, after sunset. It was then that Paul broke bread with them, that is, they ate together. Afterward, Paul continued his discourse until midnight of the first day of the week. He wanted to impart as much Good News as he could since he had to leave the next day.
John 20:19 says that the apostles were assembled on the first day of the week, which would be the day after Jesus's resur-rection, which as you remember occurred toward the end of the Sabbath which would be the evening after the women discovered the empty tomb. Why would the apostles suddenly decide to keep Sunday instead of God's Sabbath just after Jesus death and resurrection? They huddled together, not to have church, but to hide from the Pharisees, whom they thought might try to execute them as they did Jesus.
In 1 COR 16:2, Paul said that the church at Corinth should bring their offerings and tithes on the first day of the week. Therefore, theologians use this verse to "prove" the early church kept Sunday. If Christians were to keep Sunday as the new Sabbath, they would certainly not be collecting money on that day because it would break the Sabbath. The reality is, however, the early church kept the day Jesus was lord of; so, naturally, they collected the money on a non Sabbath day in order not to defile the Holy Day.
Tradition and a priori reasoning (having preconceived notions) make keeping Sunday a comfortable and convenient day of worship. It ought not to be so. Theologians cannot really use the Bible to prove that God changed the seventh day Sabbath, which He made holy by resting, to the first day of the week except by taking things out of context and using a logic based on preconceived notions. The principle is: whatever the Bible shows clearly and simply is the truth; whatever apparently contradicts this truth needs further study to bring this scripture in line with what the Bible says everywhere else.
As an aside. A hundred years or so after the apostles died, the church developed a keen dislike of anything Jewish because the Jews killed their beloved savior. They wanted to rid the church of anything Jewish which included changing God's Sabbath to the first day of the week. Unfortunately for them and for churches today, this attitude disregards several important scriptures. God said Jesus died for our sins and those of all people. Neither the Jews or Romans killed him. (HEB 9:28) God said that those who bless the Jews will be blessed, and those who curse them will be cursed. (GEN 27:29) And God warns people not to change His Word by even adding a jot or tittle. (DEUT 4:2)
Since Jesus died for our sins, how can a person return to sinning by breaking God's Sabbath? Does this not make a mockery of the Lord's sacrifice and death?
Remember, God made His Sabbath holy by resting on it. There is no way to make any other day a holy day of rest because God did not rest on any other day. I keep repeating this because it is crucial to understanding why God's Sabbath is the Holy Day for Christians to rest and worship God.
O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make ajoyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;let us make ajoyful noise to him with songs ofpraise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it; for his hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would hearken to his voice!
Harden not your hearts. . . . -PSALMS 95:1-8.
God invites us to come into His presence on His Sabbath to sing psalms, praise and thank Him, alone, for our being alive, on this wonderful planet He created for us. If being loved by God were not enough, He wants us to join His Family, become His sons and daughters, and bask in His love forever. Jesus set the example. Let us follow our Lord and Savior into the Kingdom God's Sabbath represents.
Today, the Sabbath day, do not harden your hearts by joining to ways of the temporal world, but "hearken to His voice. Do not fail to enter His rest! Keep God's Sabbath!
For the faithful, here is a Sabbath prayer:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against Gods elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ROM 8:28-39