“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11
Here we have the fourth of the Ten Commandments. It relates to setting aside one day per week from work. It was not a day of public worship. More than perhaps anything else it was a day of complete inactivity to set the Israelite apart (ie. to sanctify them) from the Gentile nations. On the Sabbath no work was allowed, no fire was to be made with which to cook, no animals were to work.
God gave to Israel the Sabbath after they came out of Egypt and after He made His covenant with them as a nation. Exodus 31 tells us plainly, “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. . . . Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” Please note the underlined portions. Prior to this time there is absolutely no reference in the Scriptures to anyone keeping a weekly Sabbath. Nothing is said about Noah, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob keeping the Sabbath. The book of Job tells us of a man of God who worshipped the true God of heaven, and who was most likely contemporary with Abraham’s time, yet in the inspired Scripture that bears his name there is not one mention of the Sabbath. The prophet Ezekiel as well as Nehemiah also make clear to us that Sabbath keeping originated with Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:” Neh. 9:13-14 “Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. . . Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.” Ezek. 20:10,12 Notice again in both of these passages God says it is “a sign” between Him and Israel, and it is related to the truth that He had sanctified (set apart) them as a nation.
Any Israelite found guilty of even picking up sticks to make a fire on the Sabbath was stoned to death. (See Numb. 15 and Ex. 35:3) This was an absolute law in Israel. We can not pick and choose which parts of God’s laws we want to keep. If some to keep the first day of the week as “the Sabbath,” then they must keep all of it – NO cooking (making of a fire), no travel, no labor of any kind, etc… And if anyone breaks this command, he must be put out of the congregation of the righteous and put to death.
I can hear someone saying, “But what about the connection to God’s resting on the seventh day after creation?” God did sanctify or hallow the day as a type of the rest of the child of God in Christ. That type was strengthened by it’s addition to the Law for Israel. I will come back to this point at the close. But the fact of God’s resting does not make the Sabbath a day of rest intended for all people of all time.
I have invested this time to explain that the idea of a “Christian Sabbath” is simply not Biblical. Sunday is not the Sabbath as taught by the Catholics, Puritans, and others. The Sabbath was part of the ceremonial law that was done away in Christ. This is proven beyond all doubt in the epistle (letter) to the Church in Colosse. The inspired apostle, showing our freedom and liberty in Jesus Christ, says, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Col. 2:16, 17 If the first day of the week is the so called “Christian Sabbath” Paul could not have made any such statement. Notice, as we stated above, the “Sabbath days” were only a shadow that pointed to the glorious, completed salvation in Christ Jesus. Note also, that the word is plural, as there were many Sabbath days, not just the weekly Sabbath. I have never heard anyone who believes in the so called “Christian Sabbath” claim that we should keep any of the other Sabbaths. When we have the reality we do not need the shadow or type. To mix them together is to mix law and grace. To mix law and grace is to repudiate the finished work of Jesus Christ for our salvation.
What About Sunday?
Does this mean that Sunday has no meaning then at all? Are you then free to do whatever you like on that day? Absolutely not! You and I are not free to do whatever we want on any day. We ought to live each and every day so as to please and to glorify the God Who “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” Acts 17:25 Any day, or any hour of any day, that you spend in anything that is not to the glory of God is sin, and should be repented of.
But is not Sunday a special day, then? Yes, indeed it is. It is an even greater day than that of the Sabbath. For it is “the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps. 118:24 Allow me to cite for you three verses from this Psalm which are a prophecy concerning our Lord Jesus. “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps. 118:22-24 These verses are cited at least eight times in the New Testament in reference to Jesus Christ. These verses foretell both the rejection and death, as well as the resurrection of Christ. The apostle Peter, speaking before the Jewish rulers, cited them and gave inspired commentary in Acts 4:10-11; “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” The “stone” is, of course, Jesus Christ. He was rejected and crucified by the “builders,” referring to the leaders of God’s people. When did He become the “head of the corner,” or as Paul says, “the Chief Corner Stone?” It was at His resurrection. The prophet of God in the Psalm says then, “This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” On what day of the week did our Lord rise from the dead? It was the first Day. [Most often called Sunday, but I prefer to call it, “the Lord’s Day”.] On what day did He meet with His disciples after His resurrection? On the first day of the week. On what day did He send the “promise of the Father,” His Holy Spirit? It was on Pentecost, the first day of the week. It was on what day did the early Christians meet together? The First day of the Week. What does the apostle John call this day? “The Lord’s Day.” Rev. 1:10 Indeed the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day and “it is marvellous in our eyes.. . . we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
How do YOU, my Friend, spend the Lord’s Day – Meeting with the people of God to praise Him, to honor Him, and to learn from His holy Word? Or do you think of The Day which the Lord made as a day of fun, or yard work, laziness, or sinful pursuits? How very sad that the dens of sin called casinos give “triple points” on The Lord’s Day. The children of God in this age of grace are not under the law, and there are no rules about exactly how it ought to be kept, for that would be contrary to the New Testament principle of Liberty. (2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 2:4; 5:1,13; Rom. 8:21; 1 Pt. 2:16)
We, however, ought to have a desire to honor Him “Who loved us and gave Himself for us.” We should not forsake the gathering together of the saints of God. We indeed are commanded to worship Him according to the commandments and principles laid down in the New Testament. This is what the Lord meant by gathering together “in His name.” This means, we meet as one body in Him. We preach and study His Word. We sing “psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.” [We are not allowed to use the music of Satan, that is, the fleshly, sensual beat of rock, rap, pop, or country music.] We celebrate the two Church ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. [NOTE: These are not sacraments, but memorials only.] We honor Him with our tithes and offerings. We spend time in prayer and worship. These are legitimate ways to spend the Lord’s Day and honor Him.
Is The Lord’s Day the Sabbath? No, but it “is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” If this past Lord’s Day found you in bed, on the golf course, in a boat, in the yard, or in dens of sin such as the casino or tavern, rather than with the people of God gathered around Him Who hallowed the day by His glorious resurrection, then I call you to repentance. If you have no desire to glorify His Day, your heart is not right. “Repent, and be converted.” We invite you to join us each and every Lord’s Day as we seek to glorify Him.
The Sabbath Rest, for the People of God
We have already made reference to the Sabbath being a type of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit also refers to this figure as well as the symbolic rest of the nation of Israel in the land of Canaan in Hebrews chapter four. One generation missed out on that rest because of unbelief. Another did indeed enter in by faith, but He uses the Old Testament to prove that there is yet a greater fulfillment in this present time. I quote now from that text, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Heb. 4:9-11 The rest for the people of God is entered into by faith. It means the cessation of all works. When we are led by the Spirit of God to see our sinfulness before God and to realize that there is nothing we can do to make ourselves acceptable to Him, and we cast ourselves upon Jesus Christ in humble faith, we find the rest of the people of God. But sadly many have not the rest of God, because they have NOT ceased from their own works. Dear Friend, are you trusting in your baptism, the eucharist, church membership, the priest, or any other “good works” to save you from your sin? Then you cannot have Jesus Christ, or the salvation of God which is in Him. It is exactly as the Lord Himself said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . . rest unto your souls.” Mt. 11:28,29 Notice this rest of God is a gift from the Lord Jesus, to those who come in faith to Him. We cannot earn it or merit it in any way.
How sad that so many reading this article do not know that rest in their souls that can come only by trusting in the crucified and risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For salvation is only by God’s marvelous grace, as the Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph. 2:8,9 My Friend, I urge you right now to cast overboard every hope of salvation in yourself, or in the “church,” the mass, or baptism, and casting all sin aside fall at the foot of the cross and trust wholly and solely on Jesus Christ as the One Who died for sinners and rose again from the dead. Today He sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for and saves every sinner who comes unto God by Him.