Ex 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but 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. 11 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, (Gen 2:2-3; Heb 4:4); therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Deut 5:12-15, “Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14but 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 or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.” Cf. Ex 16:23-30; 20:8-11; 23:12; 31:13-17; 34:21-23; 35:2-3; Lev 23:3, 8; 26:2; Neh 13:16-19.
Ex 12:16, “And on the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.”
This is the 4th and last of the Ten Commandments that directly relates to the worship and service of God. It was a mandate by God to honor the Sabbath Day and make it holy unto the Lord. It was a day during which the Israelites were to rest from their work, i.e., the normal activities and labors of the other six days of the week were to be avoided.
The first thing to note from the original Hebrew is that all of the pronouns related to who this commandment was addressed to are in the 2nd Person Singular. Whether it be the verb usage or pronoun, it is in the 2nd Person Singular. That tells us this was specifically addressed to the people and nation of Israel and not others. That means it was not addressed to the Gentile peoples or nations. If it were, it would have been written in the Plural in either the 2nd or 3rd Person for “you all” or “they all.” Likewise, nowhere in the Law does it say to apply these commandments to others nations.
This commandment begins in Ex 20:8 with “remember,” ZAKHAR, זכַר, in the Qal, (active), Infinitive Absolute, (intensifying the force and acts like an imperative, as a command). It is the act of “remembrance,” in this case, a covenantal or legal obligation that leads to a present act. It is an act of recognition and reflection that requires an action on the part of the servant of God to recall and reflect on God.
In Deut 5:12, it begins with the Qal Infinitive Absolute of SHAMAR שָׁמַר that means, “to observe, to guard, or to keep.” The underlying idea of this root word is, “to exercise great care.” It is used often to describe the rigorous keeping of obligations, especially the commands of God, as it is here, cf. Ex 31:13, 16; Lev 19:3, 30; 26:2; Isa 56:4.
Therefore, the Israelites where commanded by God to make sure they “remembered” to “observe” this mandate. That is, they were to recognize it as a special day and honor it by doing as the Lord commanded. They were to exercise great care to ensure they did as God commanded them to do on this day each week.
They were specifically commanded “to think” on this day and “not to work,” as “remember” means to think and to draw upon the resources of the heart of your soul. Therefore, it is a command that their hearts control their souls, and this control is the basis for the spiritual life. So, God says, “You work hard for six days, during which time you may do some thinking; but set aside the seventh day as the “day for truly thinking about Me.”
The thing they were to think about, remember and observe the “Sabbath,” that is a transliteration of the Hebrew Noun SHABBATH, שַׁבָּת. It is related to the verb SHAVATH, שָׁבַת that means, “to cease or to rest.” So, it means, “cessation, repose, or rest.” In other words, they were to not do any work that they did the other six days of the week on this day. They were to rest and remember the Lord.
There is no mention of a seven-day week or rest between Genesis 2 and the giving of the Law in Exodus 20. In fact, this word is not used in the Bible until Ex 16:23f, when the Lord gave them manna (bread) in the wilderness. That is when He first established the Sabbath rest on Saturday.
Ex 16:23, “Then he (Moses) said to them, ‘This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning’.”
The obligation to rest meant that the normal activities and labors of the other six days of the week were to be avoided. Work was to be planned so as to leave the seventh day free for worship. This last day of the week was to be devoted to remembrance of God including worship and fellowship at the sanctuary of the Lord, with the prime attention being directed toward the glory and revealed will of the holy God. This day was on Saturday, from Friday, sundown, 6 p.m. to Saturday, sundown, 6 p.m.
The “Sabbath” also came to be used to designate certain feast days. In Lev 16:31; cf. 23:32, it is used of the Day of Atonement, and it can also be found in reference to the Feast of Trumpets, (first day of the seventh month, Lev 23:24), and to the first and last days of the Feast of Booths, Lev 23:39.
In Lev 25:2, 4, SHABBATH is used for the sabbatical year, which included the idea of a “Sabbath rest” for the land that was a rest for the land after six years of cultivation, leaving it untilled, Lev 25:6. God promised to provide for Israel’s needs while the land lay uncultivated, Lev 25:20-22.
As a nation, Israel failed to keep the Sabbath for the land with the result that they were taken from the land so that the land could have its Sabbath rest, Lev 26:32-35, 43; Ezek 20:10-24. One of the purposes for the seventy-year Babylonian captivity was to make up for Israel’s failure to observe the sabbatical years, 2 Chron 36:21.
It was also associated with the year of Jubilee, Lev 25:11.
Interestingly, the Sabbath did not apply to guard duty, 2 Kings 11:4-12, because the people still need protection from their enemies. It was designed to commemorate God’s grace and provisions, and freedom is part of that grace provision.
In addition, the priests still carried on their duties about the Tabernacle, Lev 24:8; Num 28:9, 10. The Temple was full of activities, 1 Chron 9:32; 23:31; 2 Chron 2:4; 8:13; 23:4; 31:3. And the rite of circumcision was performed on the Sabbath if it was the eighth day after the child’s birth, Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22.
The thing they were to do for this day was “to keep it holy,” which is the Preposition LE, לְ, with the Piel, (intensive active), Infinitive Construct, (stresses the purpose of this command), of QADHASH, קָדַשׁ that means, “to be holy.”
In the Piel stem it means, “making it holy to God.” This is their response to their God. It is synonymous in usage here with consecrate, sanctify, and setting apart. Sanctification or making holy is parallel to or involved with atonement, purifying from sin, and anointing in Ex 29:36, as well as cleansing in Lev 16:19. So, we see that God blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it, or set it apart for a special relationship to Him. Thus, his people were to rest and honor that day in order to sanctify, set apart, and make it holy, Ex 20:8.
Deut 5:12 adds to Ex 20:8, “as the LORD your God commanded you,” KI ASHER, (according to that which); TSAWAH, (He has commanded you, [in the intensive active Piel Perfect for a completed action]); YHWH, (The Lord); ELOHIM (God). This is reminding them that the Lord has previously given this command to them, Ex 16:13-34, when He provided the manna and quails.
Next, in Ex 20:9 and Deut 5:13, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” SES YOM AVADH WE ASAH KOL MELAKHAH. The “six days” include Sunday through Friday.
It means that whatever your abilities, talents, skills, or profession are from these you labor or work and make a profit or wage during six of the seven days in a week.
Then, in Ex 20:10 and Deut 5:14, we have the mandate, “but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God.” On this day, they were not to work or labor as noted in the explanation of what is expected of the people on this day, “you shall not do any work,” and to whom it applied, “you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner.”
Therefore, whatever their talents, abilities, skills, or professions were, they were not to use these on the 7th day of the week, (Saturday). All work was to stop on the Sabbath day for the purpose of orienting to the grace of God.
The Deuteronomy passage gives a bit more detail defining “cattle” to include “ox and donkeys,” and re-emphasizes the fact that servants too are allowed to rest; “so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.”
In other words, they were not to be so greedy as to make their children, servants/workers, and working animals work on this day, while they were resting from their labors. Nor were their children to be working on this day. Everyone was to rest and remember the Lord on this day.
A “sojourner,” GEYR, גֵּר was a resident-alien, a person who moved into an area where he had neither land nor clan ties. Such a person would then be without traditional tribal legal support and protection and vulnerable to abuse. Resident-aliens formed a distinct social class in society, neither native citizen nor foreigner nor slave. They usually had to attach themselves to a family in order to survive, cf. Elisha and the widow of Zerephath, at whose house he sojourned, 1 Kings 17:20. Israel had lengthy legislation on the rights and protection of the resident-aliens in society, and in fact, the Israelites “were once sojourners in the land of Egypt,” Ex 23:9.
Then we have two different “justifications” for the Sabbath rest that both represent the number 4 in Scripture that stands for material things.
1) In Ex 20:11, the first justification is that God rested on the 7th Day after “working” for 6 days in creating the heavens and the earth. This is the justification for the Israelites day of rest. That is, God rested from all His works of creation on the 7th Day; therefore, the Israelites were to observe that aspect of God, (the Creator of the heavens and earth, and all that is in them), and remember all the provisions He made for them, and rest on the Sabbath Day. God created all the material things to bless and provide for mankind, and the Israelites were to honor that.
Ex 20:11, “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, (Gen 2:2-3; Heb 4:4); therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Gen 2:2-3, “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
The importance for Israel keeping the Sabbath as a precious and holy day is that it was a grateful recognition that God had created the world in six creative days and then set apart the seventh day as a special reminder and celebration of His fashioning the entire universe in all of its grandeur.
In Ex 20:11, the word, “made” is ASAH that means God made something out of something. It more technically speaks of the restoration of planet earth that encompasses six days, after its chaos due to the Angelic Conflict.
Did God need to rest because He was tired? No. He is omnipotent, (all powerful) and His power is infinite, (without limit or end). He rested because there was nothing left to be done!
“Rest” is the Hebrew Verb NUACH, נוּחַ that means, “to settle down, rest, or to pause.” Here, it is more of a cessation than a rest, but the resting aspect is in view. In other words, on the seventh day, God stopped providing, because He had already provided everything.
Since man had received everything by grace in only six days, and nothing could be added to it, God rested on the seventh day to commemorate the grace principle. The Sabbath was to be observed by the Jews to remind them that they, too, had received everything by God’s grace. Observance of the Sabbath was designed to teach grace orientation during the time before the Bible was completed, Isa 58:11-14.
Then it says, “therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The word “blessed,” BARAKH, בָּרַךְ indicates primarily the favorable relationship between object and subject. God pronounced it a source of blessing or intensity of happiness. This one day of rest each week is not only a principle of blessing, it is also a principle of freedom. Freedom and blessing go together; you cannot have one without the other. The word “holy,” QADHASH, once again, means, “to set apart.” Therefore, this day is a blessing to the Israelites that should be set apart from the other 6 days of the week.
Doing no work on the seventh day was in recognition and commemoration of God’s grace. Under God’s grace plan, He does all the work, and the believer receives the benefit. God created the heavens and the earth and all the provisions we need to survive. This was a memorial to His grace provision. In like manner, Jesus Christ purchased salvation in total, and we cannot earn it or work for it; for “it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast,” Eph 2:8-9. Since all blessing in time have been provided for in God’s plan, not working on the seventh day was a very wonderful way to bring home this lesson!
Therefore, the first justification for keeping the Sabbath was to remember The Lord God and His creation that provided everything for them. It was to remember His grace provisions as their Lord and God.
2) In Deut 5:15, speaking to the Israelites on the Plains of Moab, the justification was that God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and provided them rest from the yoke of slavery. He transformed the Israelite slaves into an independent nation. Therefore, every seventh day they were to remember that they once were enslaved and that God had freed them. In addition, upon their freedom, He provided them manna (bread) in the wilderness. So, God freed them from slavery and provided for all their material needs, their logistical grace blessings.
Deut 5:15, “You shall remember (ZAKAR) that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, (MITSRAYIM), and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”
Therefore, a purpose of the Sabbath day was a remembrance and celebration of creation, and in Deuteronomy, the remembrance and celebration of redemption.
Notice how God brought about this rest for them:
1) “By a might hand,” speaking of the sovereignty and omnipotence of God to deliver them from a powerful enemy.
2) “By an outstretched arm.” This speaks of the Godward side of providing them deliverance from slavery. This also foreshadows what Jesus Christ would perform for them and the entire world upon the Cross, through His out stretched arms that were nailed to the Cross, so that we all could be purchased and freed from slave market of sin.
Col 2:14, “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
Gal 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
1.) Although the seventh day is designated as a day of no work in the creation record for God, Gen 2:3, it is not mentioned again until the Israelites were on their way to Mount Sinai. There is no command during that period for people to honor that day.
2.) The Israelites were instructed for the first time to observe the Sabbath as a day of rest in that God did not provide any manna on the seventh day, but provided a double portion on the 6th so they could rest on the 7th, Ex 16:13-34.
3.) Various offerings were prescribed to be offered to the Lord on this day, Lev 24:5-9; Num 28:9-10; 1 Chron 23:31; 2 Chron 8:13.
4.) Through Moses, God further instructed the Israelites, Ex 31:12-17; Ezek 20:12-21, that the Sabbath would be “a sign between God and the sons of Israel forever.” They were commanded to observe it as a “Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord.”
Ezek 20:12, “And also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”
Many ancient covenants had some sort of sign; something visible that would remind people of the covenant, lest they forget it
Two other covenants are clearly described as having signs:
a.) The Noahic covenant, with the rainbow as the sign-reminder of God’s goodness and promise not to destroy the earth in that way again, Gen 9:12-13, 17.
b.) The Abrahamic covenant, in which circumcision of males was the sign-reminder that they we God’s chosen race, Gen 17:11.
Ezekiel is the fourth, (number of material things), time God commanded the Israelites to keep the Sabbath. Ezek 20:12, 20, teach that it was a sign of the covenant between the Lord and Israel. Therefore, the fourth time God gave them the Fourth Commandment; it emphasized the material sign given to Israel and the world that He was the actual, one and only, YHWH ELOHIM, (The Lord God). For Israel, the keeping of the Sabbath would affirm one’s loyalty to the Lord and would guarantee His presence and deliverance. It would manifest to the heathen nations the covenant relationship the Israelites possessed with the Lord. Observing the Sabbath as a testimony of the Lord’s finished work in the restoration of the earth was an essential part of their sanctification as a people. The observance of the Sabbath, as a corporate unit by the Israelites, would serve as a powerful testimony to the heathen nations surrounding them that they were a people set apart to serve the Lord exclusively and that He was the One true God, creator of the heavens and the earth. Therefore, the Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant. It provided a regular weekly reminder for everyone that they were God’s people and that YHWH ELOHIM was the one true God.
5.) Moses admonished this new generation in Deut 5:15, “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy as the Lord their God has commanded them.”
Observing the Sabbath and “keeping it holy,” would also demonstrate that YHWH was present with the Israelites. In Ex 31:14, the Israelites were to keep the Sabbath because “it is holy for you,” which denotes the unique application to the Israelites who were to keep Saturday as a day set aside exclusively for God, i.e. worshipping Him. “Keeping it holy” means, “do as the Lord tells you to do,” which meant that this day was to be set aside exclusively by the Israelites as a day to bring into remembrance who God is and what He has done for them, resulting in worshipping Him, i.e. giving thanks to Him.
6.) Observance of the Sabbath was included as an official obligation when the covenant was ratified post-exile, Neh 9:13f. In this new era, to ensure they lived by and fulfilled the Law, God reiterated this commandment.
7.) The Israelite Sabbath was a unique institution in the ancient Near East that testified to the covenant relationship between God and His people, The observance of the Sabbath uniquely distinguished Israel’s relationship with God and their religion from that of surrounding nations. For the Israelites, the Sabbath was to be positively observed, remembered, and hallowed as a witness to God’s grace and saving activity in both creation and in deliverance from captivity. Other instructions for the keeping the Sabbath are found in, Ex35:3; Num 15:32-36.
Psalm 92 was specifically written for the weekly Sabbath day of remembering the grace of the Lord towards His people.
Psa 92:1-15, a Psalm, a song for the Sabbath Day.
“1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night,
3 With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, With resounding music upon the lyre.
4 For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
5 How great are Your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep.
6 A senseless man has no knowledge, Nor does a stupid man understand this:
7 That when the wicked sprouted up like grass And all who did iniquity flourished, It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.
8 But You, O LORD, are on high forever.
9 For, behold, Your enemies, O LORD, For, behold, Your enemies will perish; All who do iniquity will be scattered.
10 But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil.
11 And my eye has looked exultantly upon my foes, My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me.
12 The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green,
15 To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
The fourth commandment also contains a principle related to the necessity of periodic rest for the body, of both humans and animals, and a change of pace and routine for the individual. This commandment is designed to protect physical health, as well as soul stability, both of which are necessary for the proper function of life.
Therefore, every week, His covenant-keeping people were to honor Him by refraining from those normal activities and recreations performed on the first six days, in order that they might rest and devote their attention to Him on the seventh. Their attention toward Him could include study of the Word and prayer, offering sacrifices, assembling for the singing of hymns, and the mutual admonition and encouragement in their own homes and family circles.
So serious was the command, as all were, that if someone broke it, he was to be stoned to death, Ex 31:14-15; 35:2-3. This happened to one poor soul for simply collecting fire wood, Num 15:32-36. Sabbath violations also occurred after the restoration of the Jewish nation in the land, Neh 13:15-21. Thus, those in Israel who failed to keep the Sabbath were put to death.
As the fourth commandment of the four Godward mandates, violation of it was associated with apostasy and idolatry of the Jews, Jer 17:19-27; Ezek 23:37-39.
Ezek 23:37-39, “For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. Thus they have committed adultery with their idols and even caused their sons, whom they bore to Me, to pass through the fire to them as food. 38Again, they have done this to Me: they have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and have profaned My Sabbaths. 39For when they had slaughtered their children for their idols, they entered My sanctuary on the same day to profane it; and lo, thus they did within My house.”
Notice in Ezek 23:39, that when the Jews began following the false gods of the neighboring nations like Molech, they worshipped those gods, including child sacrifices to them, on the Sabbath day, Saturday. It was not that they worshipped them on a different day. It was on the same day they worshipped them.
In conclusion, the observance of the Sabbath was designed to be a benefit for the people of Israel, in that it would contribute to making them spiritually stronger and draw them closer to God.
New Testament Usage of Sabbath:
The Greek word for Sabbath is SABBATON, σάββατον from the Hebrew SHABBATH that means, “Sabbath or a period of 7 days.” In the NT, SABBATON is used only by the Gospel writers and Paul. All of the occurrences in the Gospels concern Jesus and His ministry.
In fact, the first time the word is used is in Mat 12:1f, where Jesus intentionally gathered food for Himself along with His disciples that was seemingly in contrast to the Law, cf. Lev 24:9.
The reasoning Jesus gave the Pharisees when accused of breaking the Law was David’s, (a man after God’s own heart), use of the “show breads” in the Tabernacle, which too was seemingly against the Law, Mat 12:2-7. Remember, the 12 cakes of showbreads in the Tabernacle where a picture of the body of Christ as being all the all sufficient sustenance for the 12 Tribes of Israel.
In vs. 8, Jesus said that He, “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Cf. John 1:3; Heb 1:10, as Jesus is the Creator of the heavens and earth who rested on the 7th day. In other words, He is sovereign over the Sabbath and not controlled by it.
In vs. 5, “break” is actually the Greek Verb BEBELOO that means, “desecrate, profane, or make common.” So, we see a tie in to the 3rd Commandment.
This is reiterated in Mark 2:27-28, along with another important quote, “Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath’.” Cf. Luke 6:6.
This was to refute the hypocrisy of the rabbinical traditions placed on the Sabbath Day.
This is why Paul later stated in Col 2:16, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.”
Compare, Gal 4:10-11, “You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”
So, the first time the word Sabbath is used in the NT, Jesus is reminding the Israelites of His Sovereignty as the Creator of the Sabbath, just as He did in the first justification of the Sabbath rest for Israel in the Decalogue in Ex 20:11.
The other work Jesus performed on the Sabbath was to heal, Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-10. Notice in vs. 5, He tells the man to “stretch out your hand.” This could have been considered a work. Yet, this was the analogy of Christ freeing the Israelites from captivity in Deut 5, “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”
So, the second event of Jesus seemingly breaking the Sabbath, He was reminding the hypocritical Pharisees of the second justification for the Sabbath when the Decalogue was reiterated in Deut 5:12-15. There the justification was His redemptive act of freeing the Israelite slaves from captivity “by a might hand and by an outstretched arm.” Remember that in ancient times, they believed deformities and illness where do to sin in the life of the individual or even the parents. So, when Jesus healed the man, He was in a sense redeeming him from his sins; freeing him from the slave market of sin. This is what Jesus accomplished at the Cross, for all who believe in Him.
In John 5, Jesus again healed a man and afterwards commanded him to pick up his pallet and carry it home. John 5:11, “But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’.”
Apparently, carrying your pallet was considered to be a work under rabbinical law regarding the Sabbath. If this were a sin regarding the Sabbath, Jesus would never command a man to sin. Therefore, doing this act on the Sabbath was not sin. As such, when Jesus spoke to the man in vs. 14, telling Him to “sin no more,” He is not referring to the Sabbath breaking of carrying a pallet, but general sins within his life.
Notice how Jesus responded to the Pharisees accusations in this episode, John 5:16-17, “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” This was on the 7th Day. God is always at work for His people and the lost. Jesus, as the God/Man was working for the salvation of many on the Sabbath too.
Remember, observance of the Sabbath was not about the act of resting, but the relationship they had with God that they were supposed to enjoy on that day.
Compare this response to John 7:23-24, “24Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Then in John 9, Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath who said in vs. 25, “one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” Legalistic Pharisees were blinded by the Law.
In Luke 13, Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath that the Pharisees said broke the Law. Jesus’ justification was to allow her to rest too, like the animals. Cf. Luke 14:1-6.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time emphasized the prohibitive aspect of the Sabbath and added further restrictions to it from their rabbinical tradition, Mat 12:2-7; Mark 3:2. In contrast, Jesus emphasized:
- That “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Mark 2:27.
- That He was “Lord even of the Sabbath,” Mark 2:28.
- That the Sabbath offered opportunity “to do good” and “to save a life,” as well as to rest, Mark 3:4.
The other times the “Sabbath” is used in the Gospels includes:
1) Our Lord teaching regarding the coming Tribulation, which is the last seven years of the Age of Israel when they will be under the Law once again, Mat 24:20.
Mat 24:20, “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.”
2) The hypocrisy of the Pharisees in requesting to kill Jesus on the Cross by breaking His legs. They took His dead body off of the Cross because a Sabbath was approaching, Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31. This is not the 7th day Sabbath, but the Sabbath related to the Feast of Passover.
Deut 21:22-23, “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.”
Therefore, to be “clean” for the Sabbath and not have blood on their hands, they requested His body to be killed and taken down. But when they came to break His legs they found Him already dead. Therefore, Scripture was fulfilled, John 19:36; Psa 34:20; cf. Ex 12:46; Num 9:12.
3) His resurrection: When the women found His empty tomb, after having waited for the Sabbath to be over so they could anoint / prepare His body with perfumes. But then when they arrived, they found He was risen, Mat 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 23:56.
Luke 23:56, “And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
In Summary, the Sabbath in relation to Jesus’ activities includes:
1) His healing and resultant opposition, Matthew 12:9-13; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-5; John 5:1-17; 7:22-23; 9:14-16.
2) His teaching, Mark 1:21; Luke 4:31.
3) His synagogue attendance, Luke 4:16.
4) His burial, Mark 15:42-47 (cf. 16:1); John 19:31.
5) His resurrection, Matthew 28:1.
Five is the number of “Grace” in the Scriptures. And He performed 7 healings, (the number of “Spiritual Perfection” in the Bible), on the Sabbath, Mark 1:21-27; Mark 1:29-31; John 5:1-9; Mark 3:1-6 (and Mat 12:8-14); Luke 13:10-17; Luke 14:1-6; John 9:1-14.
In these depictions, we see Christ foreshadowing the coming of the Church Age when the Law, including the Sabbath, would not be a requirement to be fulfilled. We see that during His time, the Sabbath was to be kept, because they were still under the Age of Israel, the Age of the Law. They were still under the Mosaic Law.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time emphasized the prohibitive aspect of the Sabbath and added further restrictions to it from their rabbinical tradition, Mat 12:2-7; Mark 3:2.
In contrast, Jesus emphasized:
1) That “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Mark 2:27.
2) That He was “Lord even of the Sabbath,” Mark 2:28.
3) That the Sabbath offered opportunity “to do good” and “to save a life,” as well as to rest, Mark 3:4.
As we have noted, the observance of the Sabbath is an ordinance given to the nation of Israel, but not the Church for the Church Age. In fact, prophecy anticipated the termination of Sabbath observance for a time, Hosea 2:11; 3:4-5.
Hosea 2:11, “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths and all her festal assemblies.”
Hosea 3:4-5, “For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. 5Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.” Cf. Mat 24:20; Isa 66:23; Ezek 45:17; 46:1-12.
With the judicial termination of the Mosaic legal system at the Cross, Col 2:14, Sabbath observance is not required of Christians, Col 2:16, and the notion of a “Christian Sabbath” is foreign to NT directions to the Church.
Some say that the Bible nowhere tells the Church to stop observing the Sabbath and meet on Sunday. But the Bible also nowhere prescribes which books should be in the Bible and which should not. That is an argument from silence, which is not a valid argument. Likewise, the NT nowhere commands the Church to keep the Sabbath, as it does the other 9 of the 10 Commandments.
Yet, the NT does say we are no longer under the Law, Rom 7:1-6. Therefore, if not stated to keep it, (as the other 9 Commandments are commanded for the Church Age in the NT), we are not under obligation to keep it.
In Rom 7:1-6, Paul taught the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome that the Jewish Christian, (as assumed from the context of verse one), is dead to the Mosaic Law in that it no longer has any jurisdiction over them. Jewish Christians are not under the authority of the Mosaic Law, because they are identified with Christ in His death on the Cross, and thus Gentile Christians are not under the authority of the Mosaic Law as well. Consequently, they are not required to observe the Sabbath or circumcision or the dietary regulations whose observance was prescribed under the Mosaic Law.
In Rom 7:2, Paul presents the principle found in the Mosaic Law that a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if he dies, she is discharged from her marriage contract with him.
Paul teaches in Rom 7:3, that if a Jewish woman’s husband dies, then she is not an adulteress if she remarries.
In Rom 7:4, Paul teaches that in the same way that a Jewish wife is discharged from the marriage contract with her deceased husband and is now free to marry another, so too has been the Christian discharged from the Law, including the Decalogue, and was free to be married to Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is made possible through the completed work of Jesus upon the Cross, i.e., “through the body of Christ.”
Rom 7:5 describes their relationship as unbelievers.
Rom 7:6 describes their present status of having been freed from the Law, having died to it and now having the capacity to serve in newness of the Spirit. Jewish Christians have been discharged from their legal and moral obligations to the Mosaic Law, as a result of being identified with Christ in His death.
Later in Rom 9:4-5, Paul teaches that the Mosaic Law and Sabbath observance were given to the nation of Israel, and thus were not given to the Gentiles or the Church, cf. Rom 3:2.
Therefore, Sabbath observance is not prescribed for the Church Age believer. The Church Age believer is not commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ or by His apostles to observe the Sabbath. As we noted above in Rom 7:1-6, the Church Age believer has died to the Law. Thus, they are not required to observe the Sabbath which was prescribed by God for the nation of Israel to observe under the Mosaic Law.
Likewise, we see in Eph 2:12 that the Sabbath has never been given to Gentiles.
Eph 2:12, “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Cf. Eph 6:2-3, where the 5th Commandment is now given to the Church and is “the first with a promise.”
Therefore, it is not for the Church during the Church Age, as Christ fulfilled and abolished the Law for this Age, Eph 2:15. Therefore, we are not under its authority for salvation or to live the unique spiritual life of the Church Age.
Eph 2:15, “By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.”
In regard to this, when the Judaizers were bringing false doctrines to the early Church, specifically regarding the need to keep the Law and believe in Christ for salvation and the spiritual life, we find an interesting response from the early Church leaders in Acts 15:1-31.
Nowhere do they mention the keeping of the Sabbath as a requirement for salvation or to live the spiritual life. In fact, the few things they mentioned have nothing to do with salvation, but are to refute the false pagan god worship of their day.
Thus, the Church Age believer should not allow people who have been Judaized to criticize them because they do not observe the Sabbath like they do, Col 2:16-17; Rom 14:5-6.
Col 2:16-17, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Rom 14:5-6, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.”
In fact, when Stephen was stoned to death, he was accused of something. You can find the answer in Acts 6:11-14; note the word “customs” in vs. 14. Cf. Acts 15:1; 21:21; 26:3; 28:17. We can assume that these “customs” had to do with the ceasing of the Law during the Church Age.
There are no grounds for imposing the Sabbath on the Christian who is free from the burden of the Mosaic Law’s demands. Paul was quite clear in the book of Galatians that the Church is not under the Law.
Gal 3:1-5, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”
Gal 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (the Law).”
Gal 5:3, “And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.”
In warning about the false teachers, the Judaizers who taught the Church needs to keep the Law, Paul states in Col 2:8, 14, 16…
Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
Col 2:14, “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us (the Law), which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Col 2:16, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.”
In the Church Age, it is the Spirit of Christ who enables you to fulfill God’s will apart from the external observances of the Law.
As shadowed by our Lord in the giving of the Law to Israel in Exodus 20, the first justification and emphasis of the Sabbath was on the Creator God, and then 40 years later in Deuteronomy 5, the emphasis was changed to His redemptive act. The Sabbath then emphasized His redemption over creation, of rest over cessation. As such, a work vastly greater than that of creation has now been accomplished by Christ, the work of redemption, and it provides the Church the theological justification for the observance of His redemptive work culminated in His resurrection on the first day of the week, where we now can enter into His rest, Heb 4:1ff. Therefore, we celebrate the first day of the week as commemorative of His triumphant victory over sin and death, as He is the “Lord of the Sabbath.”
Further, the Sabbath is mentioned along with the festivals and new moons, all of which are declared to be “only a shadow of what is to come,” Col 2:16-17. Therefore, to “observe days, and months, and seasons, and years,” is deemed to be slaves to “the weak and worthless elemental things,” Gal 4:9-10; Cf. Col 2:8, 20.
Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
Col 2:20. “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as…”
Gal 4:9-10, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10You observe days and months and seasons and years.”
The ritual observance of days is a characteristic of “the man who is weak in faith,” Rom 14:1-6.
Therefore, these elementary principles or regulations from the Mosaic Law were promoted by Satan’s cosmic system in the sense that he, through these Judaizers, sought to put both Jewish and Gentile Christians back under the Mosaic Law, so that they would not experience their new-found freedom in Christ from the Mosaic Law, that is based on their union and identification with Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and session at the right hand of the Father. Paul is in effect telling them that their teaching regarding the Mosaic Law is demonic and does not originate with Jesus Christ and is opposed to Jesus Christ.
Col 2:10, “In Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” Nothing else is needed for salvation or to live the spiritual life, cf. Col 2:14-15.
Col 2:14-15, “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
At the Cross, Jesus fulfilled the Law so that we would not have too. The Law condemned Jew and Gentile, Rom 1:18-3:23. Christ’s death on the Cross paid the sinner’s sin debt which was incurred from breaking the Law. Therefore, it is not the 7th Day which emerges as the critical theological issue; it is the role of the law, and our liberty in Christ, that is really the fundamental issue.
Therefore, this seems to be the reason for the shift in the Gentile churches from observance of the Jewish Sabbath Day, (Saturday), to worshiping on the Lord’s Day, (Sunday), cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10.
Luke wrote in Acts 20:7, regarding Paul’s 3rd Missionary journey when he came to Troas, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, (Celebrate Communion), Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”
Though Paul and his companions were there for several days, no mention is made of any religious service on the seventh day of the week; but it is expressly stated that “the disciples came together,” and that “Paul preached to them” on “the first day of the week.” The object of the meeting is also stated to have been the “breaking of bread,” which clearly indicates the taking of Communion; the bread and wine ritual for the Church during the Church Age, which too will cease when Christ returns. Therefore, it was the first day of the week that they practiced their gathering together to worship God.
1 Cor 16:2, “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.”
Here, they collected their offerings on Sunday when they met.
Rev 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, (KURIAKE, “belonging to the Lord, HEMERA, “day,” which is a reference to the 1st day of the week), and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet.”
John uses the phrase, “Lord’s day,” without otherwise indicating which of the seven days of the week he referred to; thus, evidently showing that when the book of Revelation was written, there was a day known and observed by Christians generally as the “Lord’s day.” That this was the first day of the week, which was kept in memory of the resurrection of our Lord, is abundantly evident from the history of the Church, as we will see below.
The root word for “Lord’s” is KURIAKOS from KURIOS. KURIAKOS means, “belonging to the Lord.” This Adjective, used like a noun, is used only here and in 1 Cor 11:20 in the phrase, “the Lord’s Supper,” KURIAKOS DEIPNON. Therefore, there would be an apparent impropriety in calling a common supper the “Lord’s Supper,” just as there would be a similar impropriety in calling a secular day the “Lord’s day.” It should also be noted that even to this day, the Greek word for “Sunday” is KURIAKE, Κυριακή.
The NT reflects the observance of the first day of the week, instead of the seventh day, as the time of gathering together, teaching the Word of God, breaking bread, taking offerings, and worshipping, because it was the day of Christ’s resurrection, cf. Mat 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-6; John 20:19-20, which they termed, “the Lord’s Day.”
In fact, even after His resurrection, we never find Christ meeting with His disciples on the 7th Day. But He specially honored the 1st day by showing Himself to them on four separate occasions, Mat 28:9-10; Mark 16:9, 12; Luke 24:18-34; John 20:19-24. Then, on the next first day of the week, Jesus appeared to his disciples, John 20:26-29. Interestingly, the number 4, (material things), is in view once again.
John 20:19, “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”.” To have, “peace in Christ,” means to be resting in Him.
Luke 24:30, “When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.” Notice that Jesus “broke bread” with the disciples on this day, which meant they participated in the Communion Supper, the Lord’s Supper, as it was later called in 1 Cor 11:20.
Next, we see that the first Pentecost, “The Feast of Weeks,” after our Lord’s resurrection, was the birth of the Church and Church Age. By definition, it was on a Sunday, the 1st day of the week, Lev 23:15-16; Num 23:26; Deut 16:9-12; Acts 2:1. Interestingly, in Deuteronomy, the Jews were to remember their freedom from slavery on this day, just as we are to remember Christ’s sacrifice, which paid for our sins and purchased the believer from the slave market of sin.
The tradition of Jews to gather and worship in the synagogues on the Sabbath continued post resurrection of Christ, Acts 15:21.
Acts 15:21, “For Moses, (The Pentateuch: Genesis – Deuteronomy), from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
Yet, there is no commanded observance for Christians of a Saturday Sabbath after Christ’s resurrection in the NT, and no one is termed a Sabbath-breaker. In fact, the disciples “broke the Law” by traveling on the Sabbath post resurrection of Christ, Acts 1:12.
Because of the redemptive work of Christ, a prescribed observance of the Jewish Sabbath is no longer required for righteousness in God’s eyes. Thus, the importance of the Resurrection in the Christian faith caused the day Jesus rose from the dead to be considered the “Lord’s Day,” the first day of the week.
“Analogous is the relationship of the Sabbath and the Exodus, to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. As the Israelites were created a new nation through God’s miraculous intervention, so we are made new creatures through the power of the resurrection. Memory of this miraculous transformation should make the Lord’s Day a holy day for us, as the Sabbath was a holy day in OT times.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary).
The writings of a number of the early “Church fathers,” in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., support the tradition of Sunday worship as the “Lord’s Day.”
Ignatius, a companion of the apostles, said, in so many words, “Let us no more Sabbatize,” that is, keep the Jewish Sabbath, “but let us keep the Lord’s day, on which our Life arose.”
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, who lived in the second century, said, “On the Lord’s day every one of us, Christians, keeps the Sabbath; meditating in the law, and rejoicing in the works of God.”
Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, who also lived in the second century, said in his letter to the Church at Rome, “Today we celebrate the Lord’s day when we read your epistle to us.”
William De Loss Love, wrote an article for Bibliotheca Sacra in 1880 titled, “The Sabbath: The Change Of Observance From The Seventh To The Lord’s Day: Testimony Of The Fathers.” In it, he discusses how the early Church fathers wrote about meeting on Sunday, called “the Lord’s day,” rather than the Sabbath, Saturday. Below are his concluding remarks.
“For equally strong, or stronger, reasons there is no real basis for what Dr. Hessey calls the “ecclesiastical theory” respecting the Lord’s day: the view that the sacred observance of the first day has no authority except in the history of the church since the apostolic era. For we obtain New Testament evidence that in the apostles’ time the first day was religiously observed, and the obligations to keep holy the seventh day were cancelled. Further, we get evidence from the fathers, beginning with those contemporary with the last of the apostles, that they understood the apostles to authorize the keeping of the first day sacred, and to release from keeping the seventh as the Sabbath, and that the apostles authoritatively acted in this under instruction from their divine Master.
And again, according to this discussion, the view of some even American evangelical ministers, that the early Christians were disagreed on the question of keeping the first day in, a religious manner, is entirely wrong. Not the least evidence of such disagreement appears in the New Testament, and positive evidence of agreement on that point appears in the patristic writings.” (Bibliotheca Sacra, October 1880, P. 685)
Later, by the Fourth Century A.D., the Lord’s Day began to erroneously acquire Sabbath characteristics when Constantine prohibited certain kinds of work from being done on Sunday.
“Hence, there can be no reasonable doubt that the early church recognized the change which the Lord himself had ordained because of the beginning of a spiritual new creation through the Resurrection victory. Those who wished to worship on Saturday were allowed to do so, apparently (judging from Col. 2:16f), during the transition period, so far as Jewish converts were concerned. But the basic purpose of a weekly celebration of God’s works of creation and redemption was certainly to be carried over to the observance of the Lord’s day, as understood by the early church and by the reformers as well.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
Nevertheless, there is no expressed law to meet on the Sabbath or on the first day of the week for the Church Age. But we do know for a fact that the first day of the week has been observed from apostolic times, and the necessary conclusion is, that it was observed by the apostles and their immediate disciples. And we can be assured that they would never have done so without the permission or the authority of their Lord.
Paul emphasized that the law was a yoke of bondage from which the Christian had been set free, Gal 3:2, 3; 5:1. Paul made no distinction between moral and ceremonial law. It was all part of that old covenant which was done away in Christ, 2 Cor 3:14. It was “nailed to the cross,” Col 2:14.
Today, many Christians continue to set aside Sunday as a day of worship and rest, while some, like the Seventh-Day Adventists, practice a more literal seventh-day Sabbath. In spite of their differences, both practices hold that the present observance of a “Sabbath rest” is also a look to the future when Christ will usher believers into an eternal Sabbath.
While some of the Church fathers and Constantine took it a bit too far in thinking the 7th day Sabbath given to Israel, was now being replaced by a 1st day Sabbath for the Church. Nonetheless, we see that the Church is not commanded nor expected to keep a Sabbath day, but is instead to be continually resting in the Lord for salvation and in living the unique spiritual life for the Church Age. And as was the tradition of the apostolic and early Church, we too should set aside at least one day a week, the Lord’s Day, to focus our worship, learning of Bible Doctrine, breaking of bread, giving, etc., on the Lord Jesus Christ, in commemoration and celebration of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension being seated at the right hand of God the Father, based on our position and union in Him, made possible through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Next, we will discuss how the Church is to enter into His rest and when the Sabbath will be reinstated.
Although the Church was not given the ordinance to observe the Sabbath, we are commanded to enter into God’s Sabbath rest, meaning to rest in the promises of God and our union with Christ, cf. Heb 3:11-19; 4:1-11.
The one who experiences God’s rest is the one who “ceases from his own works, as God did from His.” That means we do not “work” for our salvation, as it is based on the faith alone in the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. This is the first of two “rests” or Sabbaths for the believer of the Church Age.
Two Sabbath Rests for the Church Age believer:
1) The first of these Sabbath Rests, as mentioned above, is eternal salvation for the individual believer that culminates in our eternal life in heaven. This is the, “Eternal Sabbath.” Based on your faith in Christ as your Savior here on earth, upon your death or Rapture of the Church, you will be in heaven with God for all of eternity with, “no more sorrows or pain,” Rev 21:4. This rest becomes the possession of each believer at the moment of salvation, Mat 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
2) The second Sabbath Rest is the believer’s, “Temporal Sabbath.” It pertains to the believer’s life on earth. It refers to the faith-rest life, spoken of in Heb 3:11, and the moment-by-moment Sabbath of Heb 4:1-7.
Since individual OT believers were only rarely and for special functions indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the faith-rest life was their basis for spirituality, Heb 11. They were to rest on the promises of God, claiming them, along with Bible doctrine and Divine principles as given in the Scripture.
In the Church Age, every believer is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and the filling of the Holy Spirit is the basis for spirituality in this dispensation, Eph 5:18; 1 John 1:9. In the Jewish Age, the Holy Spirit was not yet given (universally) because Jesus Christ was not yet glorified, John 7:39. Therefore, in the Church Age, the believer, through the power and the filling of God the Holy Spirit, is to learn and apply God’s Word to his life’s situations, as he trusts and relies upon God in all situations and circumstance. This is your moment-by-moment rest.
This rest is a state in which the believer has a Relaxed Mental Attitude no matter what the situation may look like. It is a complete trust in the character and nature of God working for you.
Illustrations of this moment-by-moment Sabbath, or faith-rest.
- Abraham, Rom 4:17‑21.
- Moses at the Red Sea, Ex 14:10‑14.
- The bones of Joseph, Heb 11:22.
- Caleb and the giants, Num 13; 14, cf. Josh 14:6‑14, 15:14; Judges 1:20.
We are the beneficiaries of many wonderful blessings from God. Yet, many of you do not even know a thing about those blessings. The Sabbath or rest that God has for you is completely neglected by many because of ignorance.
The modern tendency of apostasy stresses the works and production of the believer. Just as the Jews distorted the ritual Sabbath, most Christians distort the real one. The main problem is ignorance of Bible doctrine. People feel guilty and condemned and think they are not doing enough for God. Or, they think they have not because of not witnessing daily, or not praying, etc. You see, many have been brain washed by men behind the pulpit who have not studied the Word in depth, but simply emphasize that you should be hustling around the church working, usually for them. However, when God gets down to indicting you, He does not mention your failure to do this or that, but He indicts you for your ignorance concerning His plan for your life. The main problem in your life is no Bible doctrine in the soul. Ignorance of Bible doctrine means a breakdown of the spiritual Sabbath in your life, which is in reality a breakdown of faith-rest in your life.
Heb 3:12, “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” What is an evil heart? It is what vs. 12, calls a heart of unbelief in falling away from the living God. A heart of unbelief is a heart without rest. No faith-rest is to say God is a liar. One of the greatest problems the Christian faces is fear. Fear, worry, anxiety always take away your rest, when that occurs, there will be no Sabbath for you, and there should be. Heb 4:9 says, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” That is, an identification with the eternal rest of God. Fear takes away your rest. In fact, the only time we are told to fear is if we do not have rest.
Heb 3:13, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘today,’ lest anyone of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Worry is also a sin, Rom 14:23, and the cure for worry is the promises of God.
Heb 3:18, “And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?” Unbelief is a manifestation of negative volition towards Bible doctrine and this equals no Sabbath or no faith-rest. Faith is a technique that demands spiritual food, it must be constantly fed.
Heb 3:19, “And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” It is not personal sins, lack of ability, or lack of talent that takes away our rest, it is unbelief. Lack of rest in a believer’s life usually causes them to blame others for their misery.
Then in Heb 4:1-11, “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. 2For 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. 3For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” (Psa 95:11; cf. Num 14:23, 28-30; Deut 1:35; 12:9) although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; 5and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” 6Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7He 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.” 8For if Joshua had given them rest, (Josh 22:4), He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”
Heb 4:1, “Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.”
Refusing to enter into His rest will not stop God from being glorified, but it will sure rob us of what He desires to give us! The Lord is constantly pouring out His grace on His people, while His people are constantly pouring out complaints.
Heb 4:2, “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit the, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” Please notice that the prerequisite for entering into rest is being filled with the spirit for the believer, and mixing faith with what you hear. 1 John 1:9 is only the beginning of entering into rest, but it is not enough! We need the daily intake of Bible doctrine. If you have failed the sabbatical test of entering into His rest, the only way to victory is to sit and learn under Eph 5:18 and Heb 4:2. The only work for the believer to do is to labor to enter into His rest. Somewhere in eternity past, many thousands of years ago, God solved all your problems, and then He rested. Whether your problems come from God or from Satan, or from the law of volitional responsibility, they have all been given a solution.
Heb 4:5-6, “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.”
Notice in vs. 6, that rest was preached, but they did not believe it. Now rest is a promise, and the promise is only as good as the character of the One who promises. Rest depends upon the faithfulness of God, and not the faithfulness of man. Many think that the Lord is faithful to them, because they are faithful to Him. However, that is totally false.
Heb 4:7, “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.”
Again, we see rest offered to David. The Lord’s invitation for rest has always been available to every believer, but His rest consists of specific instructions and directions and must be accompanied with the perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine. Faith is not blind; it is the greatest vision in the world. Faith-rest requires understanding. This is especially true in understanding the finished work of Christ, the doctrine of the Baptism of the Spirit, and the doctrine of Eternal Security.
Heb 4:9-11, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” This rest is not only a provision for self, but also for those who are around you as well. “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.”
Vs. 10, tells us that “His rest,” KATAPAUSIS AUTOS, was not a cessation of all His activity. He ceased His creation, but He continued to sustain it and take an active part and interest in it, as is seen in His relationship with Adam and Eve, Gen 3:8ff. God created the human race and placed it upon earth so He could maintain a unique relationship with those whom He had created in His own image. God’s rest certainly included the maintenance of His fellowship with mankind, as He later provided atonement for the sins of the world through His son Jesus Christ.
In vs. 11, the Greek word for “diligent” is SPOUDAZO, and it means, “to study, to make an effort, or to be diligent in study.” It is the same word found in 2 Tim 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” Refusal of entering into His rest results in double mindedness, instability, and confusion. Entering into His rest is important; it is how to persevere in life.
Heb 4:12, “For the word of God is …” The temporal Sabbath or moment-by-moment Sabbath means that you depend on God day by day, and rest entirely upon what God has provided. The moment by moment Sabbath is Bible doctrine in the soul.
Therefore, in both Eternal and Temporal Sabbaths, Jesus is our Sabbath rest which is not just one day, but every day, and for all of eternity.
Our final point is that the Sabbath is to be restored in the tribulation, Mat 24:20-21, and fully re-established in the Millennial kingdom, Deut 30:8; Ezek 45:17; 46:1, 3-4, 12, and continue into the eternal state, Isa 66:22-23.
Isa 66:22-23, “For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure. 23And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD.”