Spirit

The Who, What, When, Where & Why’s of the Sabbath.

According to the traditional understanding the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week – otherwise known to us as Saturday. In Exodus 20 we see that God commanded Israel to rest on the Sabbath day.

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 of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. – Exodus 20:8-11

It seems like the reason was because of God’s creation order. The seventh day he rested and blessed the day and made it a day to be set apart.

Later, in the Gospels, we see Jesus and his disciples breaking this very command… at least in the Pharisee’s eyes there were breaking the command.

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” – Matthew 12:1-8

On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find {reason} to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. – Luke 6:6-11

Jesus justified his and his disciples actions by claiming that he is the Lord of the Sabbath. He also points to the scriptures to refute their current understanding of the Sabbath.

Although this post is not necessarily about today’s practice, we must look at it before I continue with my point. Today, many Christian consider Sunday to be the Sabbath. The normal apologetic (or at least the normal one I’ve heard) is that Christ arose on a Sunday, so we moved Sabbath to Sunday to be more worshipful of him. I have also heard that it was a common New Testament practice to meet on the “first day of the week.” I doubt this is prescriptive – rather it seems only to describe one group meeting at one time (Acts 20:7). Lately, I have noticed a lot of people taking notice that Sunday is not the true Sabbath and want to call Sunday something else… and Saturday should remain the true, tradition Sabbath. But recently I have wondered if this is really a hill worth dieing on.

If we turn to scripture, again, we find something interesting in Hebrews specifically chapters 3-4, but I will only quote parts of them here.

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED ME BY TESTING ME, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’; AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'” – Hebrews 3:7-11

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. – Hebrews 4:1-8

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:9-11

The author of Hebrews, *cough*PAUL*cough*, reveals something very important about the Sabbath. The seventh day is just a symbol, a symbol of a day of rest provided to us by the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus. Those of us who believe in him have entered that very rest. For believers, the Sabbath is not Saturday or Sunday… it is Jesus. We have entered into his rest. His works have been completed, thus our works have been completed. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, he has done it all.

If that is not true rest… I don’t know what is.

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7 Comments

  1. “For believers, the Sabbath is not Saturday or Sunday… it is Jesus.” ok… yeah… I get that Jesus is my rest, thus he is my sabbath. But, is Jesus my sabbath on Saturday or Sunday? :)

    -Alan

  2. Are you saying it’s not sinful for me to go to work on Sunday?!!!!

    Good post Lew. I think your conclusion is spot on.

  3. Steve

    Thank you.

    Alan

    Question: What kind of bear is best?

    Drew

    It probably is for you :). Thanks.

    Thanks everyone for the comments,
    Lew

  4. commandment 4:”REMEMBER the sabbath. and keep IT holy.” it did not say keep any other day could be sabbath. “Sunday is our mark of authority. The church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance[from sat. to Sun.] is proof of that fact.” Catholic Record September 1, 1923
    this is the mark of the beast. when Sunday-sabbaath is believed[forhead]. and enforced in deed,[hand] you have recieved the mark. Remember and keep the true sabbath!

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