The Sabbath

Ten Reasons why the Sabbath is not Jewish

1) The other nine Commandments are not “just for Jews.” God wrote “Ten Commandments” on stone, not just nine (See Deuteronomy 4:12-13; Exodus 20). Does “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” and “Do not bear false witness” apply “only to Jews”?
2) “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Exodus 20:10. God calls the Sabbath, “my holy day.” Isaiah 58:13. The Bible never calls it “the Sabbath of the Jews.” It isn’t their Sabbath, but God’s.
3) Adam and Eve were not Jewish.God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:3) before sin entered. “Sanctified” means “to be set apart for holy use.” The only ones in the Garden of Eden for whom the Sabbath was “set apart” were Adam and Eve, who weren’t Jewish.
4) “The Sabbath was made for man.Mark 2:27. Jesus said this. It was “made” in the Garden of Eden before it was “written” down on Mount Sinai. The Sabbath was “made” for “man,” not just Jews.
5) Isaiah said Gentiles should keep the Sabbath.Also the sons of the stranger ... every one that keeps the Sabbath ... for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” Isaiah 56:6-7. Thus the Sabbath is for Gentiles and “all people,” not just for Jews.
6) The Sabbath Commandment is for thestranger” too. The fourth Commandment itself says the “stranger” is to rest on the Sabbath. Exodus 20:10. “Strangers” are non-Jews, or Gentiles. Thus the Sabbath applies to them too. Read also Isaiah 56:6.
7) Gentiles kept the Sabbath in the Book of Acts.The Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath ... Paul and Barnabas ... persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” Acts 13:42-43. Here saved-by-grace Gentiles kept the Sabbath (see also verse 44).
8) “The law” [of Ten Commandments] is for “all the world,” not just for Jews. Paul wrote these words. Read Romans 2:17-23; 3:19, 23.
9) “All” mankind will keep the Sabbath in the New Earth. In “the new earth ... from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:22-23. Here God says that “all flesh” will be keeping the Sabbath in “the new earth.” If this is the case, and it is, shouldn’t we start now?
10) Luke was a Gentile who kept the Sabbath. Luke was the only Gentile who wrote any New Testament books (he wrote The Gospel According to St. Luke and The Acts of the Apostles). Luke travelled with Paul and wrote, “On the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side.” Acts 16:13. It was the seventh day Sabbath, the memorial of the creation (see Exodus 20:11). Both Luke and Paul knew it.

The Sabbath Controversy in the New Testament

Between Christ and the Pharisees: The Sabbath became a sore point of contention between Jesus Christ and the Pharisees; yet the issue was not what day is the Sabbath, but rather how it should be kept. The scribes and Pharisees invented many heavy and burdensome religious rules, including strict Sabbath requirements, and laid them “on men’s shoulders” (Matthew 23:4). Jesus rebuked them for “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9.

Jesus kept the Sabbath (see Luke 4:16), but He did not follow the unreasonable rules of the Pharisees. One Pharisaic rule was: “No healing on the Sabbath.” Jesus ignored this heartless “rule” by healing the sick during the Sabbath hours (see John 5:1-9; Mark 1:21-27; etc). By so doing, our Lord revealed His Divinity, His power over sickness and Satan, and that the Sabbath was originally ordained by God to be a blessing to man, not a curse. In one instance, “the ruler of the synagogue” became angry “because Jesus healed [a woman] on the Sabbath day.” Luke 13:14. Jesus countered, “Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13:16. Because of His Sabbath healings, “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also said God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:18. First, Jesus is “equal with God” (see Philippians 2:6), thus this was no valid reason to seek His death; and second, Jesus never “broke the Sabbath” (see John 15:10), but only the Pharisees’ rules. If Jesus really “broke the Sabbath,” He would have sinned, and thus His sacrifice on the cross would not have been perfect. But Jesus “committed no sin” (see 1 Peter 2:22).

When Christ’s disciples plucked and nibbled grain while walking to a synagogue one Sabbath morning, the Pharisees accused them of doing “that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath day.” Matthew 12:1. But Jesus defended His disciples, pronounced them “guiltless,” and defined their acts as “lawful ... on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:7, 12); that is, in harmony with the fourth Commandment. Another time Christ declared, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath day.” Mark 2:27, 28. Here Jesus pointed back to Creation Week. Man was made on the sixth day (see Genesis 1:26, 31), and “the Sabbath was made” on “the seventh day” to be a blessing to man. Genesis 2:1-3. Those Pharisees had changed creation’s order by putting the Sabbath first above the needs of man. (Is it right to change the order again by making the “first day of the week” a new Sabbath?). Jesus then said He was “Lord also of the Sabbath day.” This means that He is the true “Lord” who made the world in six days and rested on the seventh day (see Exodus 20:11). Thus the Sabbath is, biblically speaking, “the Lord’s day.” See Revelation 1:10. Jesus made the day, and He knows how to keep it. It was not wrong for Him to heal the sick and to meet human needs on His Holy Day.

In the New Testament Church: The Sabbath was a non-issue in the New Testament Church. There was no controversy over it in the book of Acts or in any of the epistles. If the weekly Sabbath, observed for over 1000 years by Jews, had been changed or abolished, there would have been much discussion about this by the New Testament Church. But there was none. The early Christians kept the Sabbath. Acts 13:12, 42-44; 16:13; etc.

Anti-Sabbath Arguments Are They Really Right?

“The Sabbath was only for Israel”: Some quote the following words to prove that the Sabbath was given as a sign between God and Israel only, but not for the Church: “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths you shall keep ... it is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested.” Exodus 31:13, 17. First, notice that God called the Sabbath “My Sabbaths,” not Israelitish Sabbaths. Second, the Sabbath will endure “forever.” Third, God’s reason for giving the Sabbath goes back to Creation Week (see Genesis 1; 2:1-3), long before Israel existed. Thus the Sabbath is God’s Day, lasts forever, and was established before any Jews existed. Isaiah later said that Gentiles who joined the Jews were also to keep the Sabbath. Isaiah 56:6-7. Paul wrote this to the Gentiles: “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed.” Galatians 3:29. According to the New Testament, Gentiles are “grafted in” (Romans 11:17) and become part of Israel. Therefore the Sabbath becomes a sign for them, too. Gentiles in the book of Acts kept the Sabbath. See Acts 13:42-44. The Ten Commandments apply to everyone, not just Jews (see Romans 3:19). Neither the word, “Jew,” nor the word, “Israel,” is found in any of the Ten Commandments.

Is the Seventh day Sabbath the same as “the sabbaths which are a shadow of things to come” in Colossians 2:14-17?: This is one of the most misunderstood passages in the New Testament. Note the context: Paul wrote, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us ... nailing it to his cross” (verse 14, KJV). The “handwriting of ordinances” that was “blotted out” and nailed to the cross was not the Ten Commandments, which were not written by any man’s hand, but with “the finger of God” (see Exodus 31:18). It was the ceremonial law, with its animal sacrifices, that was written by the hand of Moses. This “handwriting” was a continual witness “against” Israel (see Deuteronomy 31:24-26) because its very existence testified that Israel had broken the Ten Commandments. That’s why they needed to offer lambs. When Jesus died, this entire system of ceremonial sacrifices was “blotted out.”

Therefore,” wrote Paul in Colossians 2:16, “Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come.” Verses 16, 17. The “meat,” “drink,” “holy day[s],” and “sabbath days” referred to in this text are the seven annual Jewish “feasts” (Passover, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, etc) with their “meat offerings” and “drink offerings” (see Leviticus 23:37-38). Those yearly Jewish feast days, along with their blood offerings, were also called “sabbaths” (see Leviticus 23:24, 32, 37-38), but they were very different from the Seventh day creation Sabbath of the fourth Commandment. Paul referred to those annual “sabbaths” as “shadows” because their ceremonies and sacrifices pointed forward to Jesus Christ and were abolished when He died on the cross. Hebrews 10:1 specifically states that it was the ceremonial law, written by the hand of Moses, with its annual feasts and bloody sacrifices that was a “shadow,” not the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments are not the least bit shadowy. They point forward to nothing, but reveal God’s standard of character for the human race. The Seventh day Sabbath of the fourth Commandment is also not a type or shadow, for instead of pointing forward to the death of Jesus, it points back to Creation Week. See Exodus 20:8-11. Ever unchangeable, it remains in the New Testament, beyond the cross. See Luke 23:56. Paul continued to keep this Sabbath. See Acts 16:13.

Methodist founder John Wesley declared the truth when he wrote: “This ‘handwriting of ordinances’ our Lord did blot out, take away, and nail to His cross (Colossians 2:14). But the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the prophets, He did not take away... The moral law stands on an entirely different foundation from the ceremonial or ritual law… Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind and in all ages.” John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 2-Vol. Edition, Vol. I, pages 221-222.

“Ye observe days, and months, and times and years. I am afraid of you” (Galatians 4:10-11): It is amazing that some people apply Paul’s words to the Sabbath, but never to Sunday. As with Romans 14, a close look at the text reveals that Paul was not talking about either the Sabbath or Sunday. The context refers to the past pagan life of those Galatians converts: “Then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now ... how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” Verses 8-10.

Paul rebuked his Galatian converts for turning “again” to idolatry, which means they were also slipping back into the observance of pagan “days, months, times and years.” Thus the devil sought to draw them back to their old ways. On the opposite side, the book of Galatians reveals that those new converts were also under attack from misguided Jewish believers who wanted every Gentile to “be circumcised” and “to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:1, 5; Galatians 2:3-4), which would include the observance of the yearly feasts of the ceremonial law (Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, etc.) which Paul plainly stated in Colossians 2:14-17 were nailed to the cross. Whichever extreme the Galatians were being tempted into, the “weak and beggarly elements” leading to “bondage” (Galatians 4:9) were not the Ten Commandments, for the New Testament identifies the Ten Commandment law as “the royal law ... the law of liberty.” James 2:8-12. To apply Galatians 4:10 to the Sabbath of the fourth Commandment is to twist the Scriptures. See 2 Peter 3:16.

What about “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike” (Romans 14:5)?: Many apply this to keeping either the Sabbath or Sunday, but this is incorrect. To begin with, neither “Sabbath” nor “Sunday” is found in the entire chapter. The chapter begins, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Romans 14:1 (KJV). The NKJV reads, “disputes over doubtful things.” Thus the initial context of Romans 14 is “doubtful things,” and is not a discussion of the Ten Commandments. The “Big Ten” are not “doubtful,” but exceedingly clear, written with the finger of God on two tables of stone.

The “weak” brother “eats” some things and “esteems one day above another” while the strong brother believes that he may “eat all things” and “esteems every day alike.” Romans 14:2, 5. The early Church was made up of Jewish believers and Gentile converts. Although Paul did not specify what “days” he was referring to, he was probably talking about certain Jewish fast or feast days (Luke 18:12), and certain pagan feast days when people were “eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols.” 1 Corinthians 8:4.

On a pagan feast day a “strong” Jew who knew that “an idol is nothing” and who was hungry would have no scruples about eating “meat in an idol’s temple.” See 1 Corinthians 8:4, 10. Paul warned these “strong” Jewish believers, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak [the Gentile convert from idolatry]. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple [on a pagan feast day], shall not the conscience of him that is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; and through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish [if he is drawn back to idolatry], for whom Christ died. But when ye sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth.” 1 Corinthians 8:9-13.

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE in either Romans 14 or 1 Corinthians 8 (a parallel reference) that the discussion about the “weak” and the strong had anything to do with the Sabbath. God never said, “One man may choose to esteem My Sabbaths, while another man may choose to esteem Sunday, or Tuesday, or every day alike.” He hasn’t left it up to us to “pick a day, any day.” Rather, He clearly commanded, “REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY TO KEEP IT HOLY ... the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Exodus 20:8, 10. The same book of Romans is very clear, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20; 7:7, 12. There is nothing doubtful about God’s Law.

“But we are ‘not under the law, but under grace’” (Romans 6:14): This is absolutely true. But the very next verse continues, “What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Romans 6:15. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. To interpret being “under grace” as a license to keep breaking any one of the Ten Commandments perverts Paul’s words. See also Romans 3:31 and 6:1-2. Jesus Christ came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), not in them.

“But Jesus Christ rose on Sunday”: Praise the Lord! But let’s not use Jesus Christ’s resurrection as an excuse for breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus Himself never mentioned Sunday observance. The New Testament states that God established Bible baptism as His special ceremony to commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son (see Romans 6:4), not Sunday observance. Keeping Sunday as a holy day in honour of Jesus Christ’s resurrection has no Scriptural support.

The Sabbath in Bible Prophecy

The book of Revelation was given on the Sabbath:I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10), wrote John. The “Lord” is obviously Jesus. So what is His “day”? Many believe it to be Sunday, yet there is no Scriptural support for this private opinion. On the contrary, the only day that Jesus specifically identified as His day was the Sabbath. Christ declared, “The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” Matthew 12:8. Thus Christ revealed that He is “Lord” of that “day.” As usual, Jesus was actually quoting Old Testament Scripture and applying it to Himself. The fourth Commandment declares, “But THE SEVENTH DAY is the Sabbath of the LORD.” Exodus 20:10. There it is. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath day, which means, He is God Almighty in human form. If we stick to the Word alone, it is clear that the Book of Revelation was communicated to John on “the Lord’s day,” which, biblically speaking, is the Sabbath day.

The number “7” is God’s special number in the book of Revelation: Significantly, the book of Revelation speaks of 7 Churches (1:11), 7 golden candlesticks (1:12), 7 stars (1:16), 7 lamps of fire (4:5), 7 Spirits of God (4:5), 7 seals (5:1), 7 trumpets (8:2), 7 angels (15:1), and 7 last plagues (15:1) to be poured out on those who follow the beast whose number is 666. Revelation 13:18. Thus the number “7” is God’s special number. Jesus Christ is represented as a “lamb ... having seven horns and seven eyes” (Revelation 5:6), which reveals that the number “7” is Jesus Christ’s special number too, for it points to Him as the One who made heaven and earth in six days, and who rested on the seventh day. John 1:1-3; Exodus 20:11; Colossians 1:16. Revelation 1:8, 10-11; 22:12-14, 16 (KJV).

The Beast or the Creator?: In the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ warned that eventually “all the world” will wonder “after the beast” and “worship the beast.” Revelation 13:3-4; 14:9. To avoid worshipping “the beast,” Revelation specifically says we should “worship Him that made heaven and earth, the sea, and the fountain of waters.” Revelation 14:7. Thus one group worships the beast (Revelation 14:9), while the other group worships the Creator. Revelation 14:7. Additionally, those who worship the Creator have another key characteristic: They “keep the Commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. If you look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), there is only one Commandment about worshiping the Creator, and it is the one that states, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and He rested on the seventh day.” Exodus 20:11. By comparing Revelation 14:7 with Exodus 20:11, it is clear that Revelation 14:7 is simply quoting the fourth Commandment and emphasizing its importance. Thus we see that Jesus Christ, who originally gave “The Revelation” to John on the Sabbath day, has also revealed in Revelation’s prophecies His invitation to us to return to the Sabbath Commandment to avoid following the beast!

Revelation points to “the foundation of the world”: Notice carefully: “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. At the “foundation of the world,” the Son of God made planet Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh day. See John 1:10; Exodus 20:11. When Adam and Eve sinned by yielding to the serpent’s lies (Genesis 3:1-6), immediately the Son of God volunteered to become the Savoir of fallen humanity. Thousands of years later, He appeared on earth as a Man to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), that is, to eventually restore us to our original condition before the fall. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, they would have been happy, Seventh day Sabbath keeping followers of their Creator throughout all eternity. Jesus died to bring us back to the Garden, to our original state. This is the purpose of the entire plan of salvation. By reading Genesis 1 and 2, by going back to the “foundation of the world,” we learn the truth.

The “little horn” seeks to “change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25): By carefully comparing Daniel 7 with Revelation 13, we learn that “the beast” of Revelation is also called a “little horn” by Daniel the prophet. One of the key characteristics of the “little horn” is: “he shall think to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25. When we look at the Ten Commandments, we discover that there is only one Commandment about “time,” – the Sabbath Commandment. All Protestant Reformers of the 16th century identified the Roman Catholic Church as the “little horn” and “the beast.” Significantly, the Roman Church boasts that it changed the Sabbath into Sunday, which fits the prophecy of Daniel 7:25 exactly. Three times in Daniel chapter 7, God is spoken of as “the Ancient of days.” Daniel 7:9, 13, 22. This unique phrase, “the Ancient of days,” is found nowhere else in the entire Bible, and points back to the original Creation Week when God Almighty first made the world in “six days” and rested on the “seventh day.” Genesis 1; 2:1-3. The “little horn,” with its “mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8) attacked what God set up at “the foundation of the world.”
The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation reveal that that Jesus Christ is seeking to undo this damage and to lead His people back, step by step, first to the cross, and then to the keeping of all of “the Commandments of God” (Revelation 14:12), including the fourth, which points to the true Creator of heaven and earth. Jesus Christ is our Creator, and our “Lamb,” who died because we have broken the Ten Commandments.

If any man has an ear, let him hear.” Revelation 13:9

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