What Is The Sabbath?
by Paul Taylor 12/10/2012 / Bible Studies
The Sabbath, what is it? What does it mean? Who instituted it, is it to be observed?
These are a few of the many questions and mysteries of the Sabbath which has as many answers as questions, but the answers to these and all questions relating to the Sabbath can be found in the Holy Bible if we search. The Bible as written is the inspired word of God to his people as a guideline and handbook to guide us through the short span of time we exist in this realm of life. Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. God's word is true and will last forever; he doesn't speak empty words to fill up space.
The word Sabbath comes from the Old English ( sabbat, hebrew from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew shabbâth, from shâbath to rest.
As noted it is derived from the original Hebrew word shabath which means to rest, but rest from what?
The Sabbath as related to Christianity has become a point of contention with many Pastors, Theologians , lay people and many religious Professors as to whether or not God intends or intended his people to keep the Sabbath. Some argue Saturday, some Sunday, and others argue it doesn't matter which day you observe and then there are some which claim you don't need to observe any day, because the Sabbath is a Jewish day of worship.
How many Jews were around when God sanctified the seventh day? How many Jews were there when God gave the Ten Commandments? The answer to both questions is, NONE. If there were no Jews then how could it be a Jewish day of worship only? Jewish people are descendants of Judah; one of Jacobs sons, and was not established until after King Solomon's death when the tribes split. See (I Kings 12; II Chronicles 10).
The Jewish culture has observed the seventh day (Saturday) as the Sabbath as commanded by God all through history, but it doesn't make it a Jewish day of observance only. I encourage you to please research and study God's word with prayer and conviction, and the Holy Spirit will open the truth to you. It's a sad commentary when the majority of Christians do not open their Bibles even in Church, but rather accept the messages and teachings from the Pastors, Teachers and others as being completely factual. This has led to the falling away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ as well as the teachings of the Prophets of the Old Testament and placed the Church into position of an ineffective weapon in the the war with Satan.
With all these differing views and varying arguments, how are we to decipher the correct view? The Jewish culture has never disagreed or changed the Sabbath since God ordained it in the Garden of Eden and yet Christianity has taken it upon themselves to argue the point as to which day is correct or, it doesn't matter any way as all laws were nailed to the cross at Calvary. Let's start at the beginning, in Genesis
Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day
Genesis 2:1-3 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made
We see that God had created the heavens and the earth, including man, and on the seventh day he rested from all his work. He not only rested on the seventh day but he sanctified the seventh day. Does God need to rest? I don't believe there is an affirmative answer to that question. God spoke everything into existence with the exception of man, which he formed out of the dust of the ground with his hands and placed him in the Garden of Eden.
Since God sanctified the seventh day, the question arises as to what is sanctification?
Sanctify to make holy, to purify, to consecrate
Why would God make a day holy or to purify it, if it was just another day? I am giving you a number of questions, but I would hope it will instill in you an inclination to question any and all aspects of changes in religious rites from the original and search for the correct answers. A diligent search of the scriptures with earnest prayer will uncover a trove of correct answers as the Holy Spirit guides you to the truth. Matthew 7:7 tells us .seek and ye shall find and John 8:32 tells us and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
There are those which claim the Sabbath was not observed prior to the receiving of the Ten Commandments from God, but I question that for several reasons: 1. Even though there is no biblical reference which I can find to indicate a seventh day of observance prior to the issuing of the Ten Commandments it is understood that Adam and Eve along with their offspring were instilled in their minds with God's laws; 2: Cain killed Able and knew it was wrong as he tried to deny it, but God found him guilty of murder: 3; God sanctified only the seventh day and attributed no significance to the other six. Since God had sanctified the seventh day, and Cain knew right from wrong, Eve knew that taking the forbidden fruit was against God's command; it stands to reason that God had written his law into their minds (forehead).
Looking at Exodus 16:23 we notice a command is given by Moses to gather twice as much manna on the sixth day because the seventh day is the Holy Sabbath unto the Lord. Exodus 16:23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. This verse indeed indicates some form of observance of the Sabbath prior to the issuing of the Ten Commandments to Moses. Also in Exodus 5:5, And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. This verse can also be construed as an indication of a day of rest from the toils of the Pharaohs forced labor upon the people, though it does not specifically note Sabbath observance, most theologians believe that it does indicate such a day.
Most today argue the seventh day Sabbath is a Jewish observance only and is not intended for the Christians to observe since Christ arose from the grave on the first day of the week (Sunday), and this is the day Christians should keep as the Sabbath. Sadly most don't even keep Sunday holy, with shopping trips, sports, work, etc., it's just another day. God instituted the Sabbath day for man to rest and to remember him as our Creator and God. Jesus rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees in Mark 2:27, he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. This indicates the Sabbath is still an institution as established at the end of creation week, and is still viable.
Some use the Apostle Paul's message in Acts 15:1-29 as indicating the Sabbath no longer applies; but we have to study the scripture carefully and look at each phrase and not just one or two, to arrive at Biblical truth. In this chapter of Acts, Paul and Barnabas are disputing with some of the converted Christians as to the need for circumcision and keeping the Mosaic Law, which Moses had given to the Hebrews from God, who dictated it to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the LAW OF MOSES. (Emphasis is mine) As we see, they are debating the Law of Moses, not the Law of God which is the Ten Commandments written by God's own finger onto tablets of stone, a symbol of lasting endurance as stone does not decay or corrode.
In Colossians 2 Paul is further explaining and accentuating, the Mosaic Laws, as practiced by the Jewish culture no longer apply to either Christian or Jew as he states in Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;. Notice Paul is saying handwriting of ordinances, and not God's Law of the Ten Commandments. Jesus did not nail the Ten Commandments to the cross, only the ordinances of sacrificial rites, which were the Law of Moses. Please study the Laws of Moses in the Old Testament and the rituals associated with the Sanctuary and the sacrificial rites and you will get a better understanding as to what the Crucifixion of Jesus really meant and why all the ordinances were nailed to the cross and not the Ten Commandments. This is an in depth study and I will not go into it in this article.
Colossians 2:16, is another point being argued as to the keeping of the Sabbath. Most read these verses as indicating the Sabbath does not really matter and therefore should not be observed. Colossians 2:16 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: Paul is again settling disputes concerning the Mosaic Laws. Jews after converting to Christianity and being knowledgeable of Jewish customs and laws were still attempting to keep the Mosaic Laws, which were no longer applicable as indicated in Colossians 2:14. Notice in verse 16 Paul is saying Sabbath DAYS, days are plural not singular indicating the Sabbath days of the various feasts and festivals which were celebrated throughout the year as called for in the Mosaic Law. These are only a few of the many misinterpretations of God's word
. I am not judging anyone for their misinterpretations. We are human and humans make mistakes, but as humans and God's people we should make others aware of errors in applying interpretations to scriptures. If I err, I would rather it be on the side of God's word, not man's.
Let's look at some scriptures which I feel solidifies the 4th commandment as well as the other 9 of God's Ten Commandments and his desire for us to abide by them.
Nehemiah 1:9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name. No matter where you are, or what depths of sin and despair you have sunk to, God will rescue you when you turn to Him and do His will, and keep his commandments.
Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. Do we follow the crowd doing man's will or do we buck the masses and follow God's will? Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. Are you afraid to follow God's Law for fear of ridicule from others? Peter and John in Acts 4:19, and again in Acts 5:29 refused to concede to the wishes of the High Priests and government authorities, instead continuing to proclaim Jesus and the scriptures. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men
Jeremiah 12:17 But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD. Here God is commanding his people to turn back to his statutes or face the consequences of a defiant child.
Psalm 32:9,10 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. God is reminding us to not be ignorant of his word, but to study and seek the truth and to trust and abide in his word. God said in Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; We are the ones which try and change God's Laws to suit our lifestyle and if we look around we can see the results of following man rather than God.
2 Chronicles 7:19,20 19 But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; 20 Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. Is God not telling us to follow his commandments or we shall reap the oats we have sown?
Isaiah 58:13,14 I believe should put all questions concerning the Sabbath to rest 13 If thou turn away thy foot from the SABBATH, from doing thy pleasure on MY HOLY DAY ; and call the SABBATH a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Emphasis is mine)
And finally the reward God offers those who abide in his will by keeping all of his commandments including the 4th: Isaiah 56:5-6 5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that KEEPETH THE SABBATH FROM POLLUTING IT and taketh hold of my covenant;( Emphasis is mine)
For those wishing to debate the point of the Old Testament not applying in today's society as some denominations allude to, I offer you one more authoritative verse to ingest: Matthew 5:17-19 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least COMMANDMENTS, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is here speaking of the Ten Commandment Law and is emphasizing that it will stand forever. Heaven and Earth are still here, which indicates the Law is still in effect. Isaiah 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one SABBATH to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. (Emphasis is mine)
Last but not least the most authoritative command of all is from Jesus himself in his own words to the entire world; John 14:15 IF YE LOVE ME, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS Jesus is telling us to keep all of his commandments including the 4th which is the Sabbath.
Upon reading the scriptural evidence in this study it should be apparent to any Christian that God instituted the Seventh Day Sabbath for man to rest from all of life’s burdens, and honor the one true God keeping Him in remembrance of being our Creator God. This day was meant for man (all men) to come in remembrance once a week throughout eternity as indicated in Isaiah 66:23. God will bless and honor those that bless and honor him
I pray I have cleared up some of the confusion and misunderstanding concerning the Sabbath Day as there are many more references in the Bible to keeping the Seventh Day Sabbath as well as a massive amount of historical data explaining the changes of the Holy Sabbath of God. The fore mentioned scriptures in this article should prove without confusion, the will of our Heavenly Father for all of his creation to keep the Seventh Day Sabbath Holy and set other things apart from this day. All these changes and confusions came from man tweaking and attempting to fine tune God’s word to meet his own agenda, and as usual man has a tendency to wreck anything good.
All scriptures are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible Copy Right 2012 All Rights Reserved By Paul L. Taylor