THE SABBATH: BASIC FACTS

The Sabbath  is a very special day to God the Father  and  Jesus Christ. This one day of the week is so important that God set  it apart  from the other days of the weekly cycle by  pronouncing  a blessing  upon it and including it in the ten foundational  laws that  define attitudes and behaviors that mankind should  exhibit toward  God  and their fellow humans. See  Ex.20:8-11; 23:10-12; Deut.5:12-15.

If God is concerned about the Sabbath and  its  observance, and if this day is so special and important to him, it should  be just  as important to his children.

A Weekly Festival

"And  the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the  children  of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which you  shall  proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are  my feasts.  Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is  the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein:  it  is  the   Sabbath of the Lord  in  all your  dwellings" (Lev.23:1-3 KJV).

Leviticus 23 shows that the  weekly  Sabbath was to be a day of festivity and  a  day  on which the people were to assemble together to worship God. It was a holy convocation and a commanded assembly. God, the Creator of time, made this specific period of time  holy and  he  proclaimed that it is his and is to be used for his divine purpose. See also Num. chps. 28;29; Deut.chp.16.

A Perpetual Covenant

The requirement to observe the Sabbath was not a temporary  command; it was to remain as a perpetual covenant and sign  between God and his people. See Isa.56:1-6; 58:13; 66:22-23.

Exodus 31:13-17 KJV

"Speak  you  also  to the children of Israel,  saying,  Truly  my sabbaths  you  shall keep: for it is a sign between  me  and  you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the Lord that does sanctify you" (v13).

The observance of the Sabbath was to be an identifying mark  that would set God's people apart from other nations. The Sabbath  was to be observed by the descendants of Israel forever in order for them to be continually aware that it was the Creator  God  who had  set them apart from all other nations.

"You  shall  keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy  to  you: every  one  that  defiles it shall surely be put  to  death:  for whosoever does any work therein, shall be cut off from among his people" (v14).

Not only is it mandatory to observe the Sabbath it is also mandatory to keep it holy before God. Because of the importance of  the  Sabbath observance, God states twice in verse 14 that anyone who violated it must be put to death:

"Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath  of rest,  holy to the Lord: whosoever does any work in  the  Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death" (v15).

Only the first six days of the week are  work days. The seventh day is holy time that must be devoted to God. Notice also that the violation of the Sabbath requires that  the death penalty be administered to the violator.

"Wherefore  the  children of Israel shall keep  the  Sabbath,  to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant" (v16).

Again,  we see that the Sabbath must be observed by all the  descendants of Israel forever. Notice that the Sabbath is to remain a  part of the covenant relationship between God and his  people—a perpetual covenant between God and Israel.

The Bible contains a few concise instructions as to  how the Sabbath is to be practiced, and a promise of blessings is given for its correct observance. But, the death penalty is to be administered for the violation of the Sabbath.

In  the following study of the Sabbath, we will examine  the  most popular  historical  and  scriptural arguments  that  attempt  to justify  worshiping on Sunday instead of the Sabbath (Saturday). Moreover,  we will give a detailed explanation of the relationship between God the Father,  Jesus Christ, the Elect of God, and the Sabbath day.

A FEW FACTS  ABOUT THE SABBATH

In the Book of Genesis, we find the record of the earth's  preparation  for the creation of humanity. On the sixth day  of  God's creation  process,  we see the first humans created. On the seventh day, the Sabbath was created:

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our  likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl  of the air,  and over the cattle, and over all  the  earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. 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" (Gen.1:26; 31 KJV).                

The Sabbath Day

"Thus  the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the  host of them.  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.  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" (Gen.2:1-3 KJV).

Here,  we see the weekly cycle being established; the  first six days are noted as work days, and the seventh day is defined as a day of rest (i.e., a Sabbath).

In  verses  2 and 3, there are two Hebrew words that need  to  be  understood because they hold a vital key to understanding how God the Father and Jesus Christ view the Sabbath.

The  English word  'sanctified' comes from the Hebrew word  'quadash', which  is a denominative verb that means 'to  be  hallowed, or holy',  'to  consecrate', 'to prepare', or 'to dedicate.'  The  verb 'quadash' connotes the state of something belonging to the sphere of the sacred.  Thus, the Sabbath is different from and outside of that which is common or profane.

The  word  'blessed'  is the Hebrew word 'barak'  and  means  'to kneel,  praise, or salute.'  This word's major function seems  to have been to confer abundant and effective life (longevity).   To bless  as used in Genesis 2:2-3 means to imbue  with  power  for success, prosperity, fecundity, and longevity.

The  divine  act  of sanctifying and blessing this  day  was  not merely  a  pronouncement; it was the creation of  a  specific period  of  time for a divine purpose. This period of time has a  divine attribute of  holiness as a part of its existence;  therefore,  it places the Sabbath in a unique relationship with God.

While speaking about the Sabbath, Jesus said that the Sabbath  came into  being  for  man's sake, not man for  the  Sabbath's  sake (Mk.2:27).

It is apparent that the seventh day of the week is very different from the other six. It is a span of time created and set apart from normal time and it has a spiritual quality within  its existence for the benefit of humanity.

It  is also apparent from the sheer volume of words that God  has had  recorded about this single day that the seventh day of  the week  has  a  very special meaning to God the  Father  and  Jesus Christ, and  that  they intend for all of  humanity  to  eventually observe the seventh day as holy time.

From  the beginning of creation, God intended the Sabbath  to  be one  of the foundational aspects of his worship system, which is noted throughout the biblical record.

God's Weekly Cycle Revealed

As time passed after the descendants of Jacob entered Egypt, most of  the  knowledge about God and his laws, statutes,  and  ordinances  that had been handed down through Jacob and his sons was lost to the collective consciousness of the Israelites.

Because the Israelites had lost the knowledge of God's weekly cycle and did not understand its importance, God revealed it to them through a repetitive miracle that was to be a continual reminder that the Sabbath was the last day of the seven-day cycle.

Exodus 16:4-5; 23-30 KJV

"Then  said  the Lord to Moses, Behold, I will  rain  bread  from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a  certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk  in my law, or not. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth  day they  shall prepare that which they bring in; and  it  shall  be twice as much as they gather daily" (vs.4-5).

God said that he would provide food for the Israelites every  day of the week except one.  Each morning, they were to gather as much as they would need for that day, but they were not to gather any extra  to be kept for use the next day (Ex.16:19). However,  many refused to  obey these instructions and found that the food  from heaven spoiled when it was kept overnight (Ex.16:20).

God  chose to make the Sabbath  a test of the Israelite's  obedience  to him. On the sixth day of this seven day cycle, they  were commanded to gather enough food for two days, so that they  would not have to work on the Sabbath, which was the following day:

"And  it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered  twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers came and told Moses. And he said to them, This is that which the Lord  has said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath to the Lord:  bake that  which you will bake today, and boil that  which  you  will boil; and that which remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning" (vs.22-23).

Verse 24 shows that the food that was gathered on the sixth day and saved overnight did not spoil by the following  morning.  The  Israelites  saw the first proof that the Sabbath  day  is  a specific and special day of the seven-day cycle.

"And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it  did not  stink, neither was there any worm therein. And  Moses  said, Eat  that  today; for today is a Sabbath to the Lord: today  you shall not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it; but on  the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there  shall  be none" (vs.24-26).

"And  it came to pass, that there went out some of the people  on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the  Lord said to Moses, How long refuse you to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days;  abide  you every  man  in his place, let no man go out of his place  on  the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day" (vs.27-30).

One  would  think that, after all the miracles  these  people  had seen, they would have taken God at his word and obeyed him by gathering  twice as much food on the sixth day as instructed.  However, many did not and they had to endure a day of hunger in order to  have the Sabbath day firmly fixed in their minds.

The giving of food for six days and the withholding of it on  the seventh day of the weekly cycle was a test of the Israelite's obedience to God and a  continual reminder that the seventh  day was the Sabbath.

Holy Time Lost?

It is important to note that the Sabbath is not a day that is  to be  calculated  by use of the sacred calendar. The Sabbath  is  a holy  time  that has progressed from the  beginning  of  creation through the centuries to our present time. Once the   chronological  order of God's weekly cycle was lost to the  Israelites,  it could  not have been restored by astronomical calculations.  This is  one of the reasons why God had to reveal the weekly cycle  to the Israelites.

The Sabbath Command

In order to understand what God expected of the Israelites  concerning  the Sabbath and the benefits they would derive from  its observance,  it is important to review the instructions they  received concerning how it must be observed:

"And  the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the  children  of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which you  shall  proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are  my feasts.  Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is  the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein:  it  is  the  Sabbath of the  Lord  in  all your  dwellings" (Lev.23:1-3 KJV).

One  of the first things we notice about the Sabbath is that  it is  to  be a festival day on which there is  a commanded  assembly  of the people. The Sabbath is a day in which no work is to be done.

Exodus 20:8-11 KJV

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (v8).

The  Israelites  were to remember this day by observing  and  respecting  it as the holy thing that it is. If they remembered  to observe and respect the Sabbath as they should, they would always remember  their God, the reason for the Sabbath, and  its  importance to their covenant relationship with him.

"Six days you shall labor, and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. . ." (vs.9-10)

Labor may only be performed six days out of the weekly cycle. The seventh day of this cycle of days does not belong to humanity, it belongs to God.

"In it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor  your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor the stranger that is within your gates:" (v10).

The  instruction is clear that all work must cease on the  Sabbath,  and  no one is allowed to pursue their own work  on  this day:  no  head of a household, no son, no daughter,  no  servant. Neither were animals or foreigners allowed to work on the Sabbath within any land under Israel's control.

"For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that  is in them, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the  lord Blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it" (v11).

The  Sabbath  day is a weekly memorial of the completion  of  the creation of the physical universe and the spiritual  creation of  the  Sabbath day on which God rested from all  his  work  for humanity.

Kindle No Fire

"Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there  shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the  Lord:  whosoever does work therein shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout  your  habitations upon the  Sabbath  day"  (Ex.35:2-3 KJV).

Here we see an instruction not to start a fire on the Sabbath. At first  this  might  seem to be a harsh law; however, for ancient Israel it was not:

The Gathering of Sticks

Numbers 15:32-36 KJV

"And  while the children of Israel were in the  wilderness,  they found a man gathering sticks upon the Sabbath day. And they  that found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all  the congregation. And they put him in ward, because  it  was not declared what should be done to him" (vs.32-34).

This account does not show why this person  was  gathering the wood; however, the reason was apparent to those who  arrested him  and brought him to be punished. We know that before  to  this account  the penalty for violating the Sabbath had already been determined  (Ex.31:14-15; 35:2); therefore, the only thing  left to do was to determine the method of execution:

"And the Lord said to Moses, The man shall surly be put to death: all  the  congregation shall stone him with  stones  without  the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp,  and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses" (vs.35-36).

POLLUTION OF THE SABBATH

Throughout  the history of the Israelitish people, the  violation of  the  Sabbath has been one of the more serious  mistakes  they  have made  nationally and individually.

In Ezekiel chapter 20, God refuses to allow the elders of  Israel to consult with him because of their violation of his laws and their pollution of his Sabbath in  particular. He reminds them of  their continual pollution of his Sabbath and  his great mercy and purpose for Israel when he brought them out of slavery;

"And I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them. Moreover I also gave them  my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctifies them. But the house of  Israel rebelled against  me in the wilderness: they walked  not  in  my statutes,  and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall  even live in them; and my Sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them" (Ezk.20:11-13 KJV).

"There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls;  they have  taken the treasure and precious things; they have made  her many widows in the   midst thereof. Her priests have violated  my law, and have profaned my holy things:  they have put no  difference  between  the holy and profane, neither have they  showed  a difference between the clean and unclean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them!" (Ezk.22:25-26 KJV).

Even  after Israel's wilderness punishment and journey  into  the promised land, they continued to violate the law of God and  pollute  his Sabbaths (Neh.13:15-18; Isa.1:13;  Ezk.20:15-24). Because of these violations and pollutions, God removed many of the blessings that he was going to give them as a part of the Sinai  Covenant  between  himself and their forefathers. He also  gave  them over to their own ways (Ezk.20:25:31) and refused to commune with them.

A Warning To The House Of Judah

Because  many were openly doing business on the Sabbath day,  the prophet Jeremiah was told to warn the House of Judah that if they did  not  stop this  violation of the Sabbath, God  would  punish them with national captivity.

Jeremiah 17:19-24; 27 Good News Bible:

"The Lord said to me, Jeremiah, go and announce my message at the People's  Gate, through which the kings of Judah enter and  leave the city; then go to all the other gates of Jerusalem. Tell  the kings  and  all the people of Judah and everyone  who lives  in Jerusalem and enters these gates, to listen  to what I say" (vs.19-20).

"Tell them that if they love their lives, they must not carry any load on the Sabbath: they must not carry  anything in through the gates of Jerusalem,  or carry anything out of their houses on the Sabbath.  They must not work on the Sabbath; they must observe it as a sacred day, as I commanded their ancestors. Their  ancestors did not listen to me or pay any attention. Instead, they  became stubborn; they would not obey me or learn from me" (vs.21-23).

"Tell  these  people that they must obey all my  commands.   They must not carry any load in through the gates of this city on  the Sabbath.  They must observe the Sabbath as a sacred day and  must not do any work at all" (24).

"They  must obey me and observe the Sabbath as a  sacred  day.  They  must not carry any load through the gates of  Jerusalem  on that  day; for if they do, I will set the gates of Jerusalem  on fire.   Fire will burn down the palaces of Jerusalem, and no  one will be able to put it out" (27).

These  warnings  went unheeded, and the nation was  conquered  by Assyria and  later by Babylon. After seventy years of  captivity, a remnant of the  House of Judah returned from Babylon, and under Zerubbabel,  Joshua  (the high priest), Ezra, Nehemiah, and the people began to worship God and observe his Sabbath day again.

Calendars Today

As we know, the calendar we use today is not the same as the one  that the ancient Israelites used, nor is it the one that was used in the days of Christ.  At one time, ten days were dropped out of the calendar that is in common usage today. A careful  study  of all  the changes to today's calendar reveals that the  seven-day  weekly cycle has never been changed. However, there are those that preach and/or believe that the Sabbath day has been lost over time. Moreover,  the Jewish people adamantly claim they have  not  lost track  of the weekly Sabbath and have continued  to worship God on the correct day  from the time of their exodus from Egypt centuries ago to this present time.

To say the Sabbath day has been lost is ludicrous and discounts the written records of the Jewish peoples'  ethnic, religious, and secular history, as well as the  scientific discoveries of archeology and astronomy concerning the Sabbath.  All of these records have  abundant evidence  that shows time has not been lost, and that the day  we call Saturday is still the seventh day of the weekly cycle.

The   seven-day weekly cycle has never been broken or  lost,  and remains  as it was from Creation. Since the day the  Sabbath  was revealed to the nation of Israel, the consciousness of this  holy time has remained with the people of God. Moreover, the Sabbath as the seventh day has been a part  of most of the world's calendars to this present day.

THE JEWISH SABBATH

Some contend that the Sabbath is a Jewish day of worship and is  not for  any other group of people. However, the Bible clearly  shows that the Sabbath was created by God the day after his creation of humanity  (Gen.1:31; 2:2-3),  and that it was  created  for  the benefit of all humanity.

While  explaining  the nature of the Sabbath  to  the  legalistic Scribes  and  Pharisees,  Jesus Christ who was  the  Creator  God (Jn.1:1-26, 1.Cor.8:6; Heb.1:1-3) said, "The Sabbath was  made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mk.2:27 KJV).

The seventh day was created more than three thousand years before the descendants of Judah were called Jews.  Three thousand  years is  nearly half of all human history.  Throughout this  time,  it was never called the Jewish Sabbath. The Jews did not even exist at creation.  Because the Sabbath was created by God to benefit  all of humanity, it is not correct to call the Sabbath  the Jewish Sabbath; it is God's Sabbath.

SABBATH OR SUNDAY

For  centuries, theologians  have been taught that  Christians  no longer have to keep the seventh-day Sabbath  holy. They have also taught that  Christians have the option to keep  the  first day of the week, any day of the week, or no day at all as  their Sabbath.

Those  who  refuse  to keep the true Sabbath  of  God  invariably preach  against the need to keep the commandments and other  laws of God.  Though they may sound convincing, and though they may be sincere  and  dedicated to their cause, they  are  doing  Satan's bidding as adversaries of God.

By their own admission, many Sunday-keeping churches know, understand, and freely admit that the first day of the week  has never been God's seventh-day Sabbath.  They know the Bible teaches the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, not  Sunday  worship.  

When  one truly studies the Bible, it is clear that  neither  God the Father nor Jesus Christ has ever proclaimed Sunday to be  the "Lord's Day." The truth is that the Bible has  never  authorized Sunday worship. Furthermore, history  shows  that  theological justification for Sunday worship was solidified only after  Roman civil  law  made Sunday a day of worship  throughout  the  Roman Empire.

This satanic counterfeit has been accepted in place of the  truth of the Bible: it is truth exchanged for a lie.  The truth  is that  Jesus never changed the Sabbath day from the seventh day of the  week  to the first day,  the apostles  never  changed  or eliminated  the requirement to worship God on the true Sabbath,  and they never taught that it could be observed on just any day of the week.

The  historical record of the early New Testament Church  of  God shows  that  they always kept the seventh-day Sabbath; moreover, they believed that Jesus Christ meant exactly what he said when he said that  he was the "Lord of the Sabbath day"  (Mk.2:27-28).  There have always been obedient servants of God who have believed  and practiced Sabbath observance throughout history, and  there are people who truly observe the Sabbath in this age.

Jesus  Christ was and will always be the Lord of the  seventh-day Sabbath.  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and  forever"  (Heb.13:8 Para.).  Sunday is not the Lord's Day. It never has been; it is not now and it never will be the Lord's day at any time in the future.

The  Sabbath  day  is the day God says is his.  He  created it,  blessed it, sanctified it, and  gave the commandment that  says, "Remember  the Sabbath day to keep it holy."  This has  been  and still is the only teaching concerning the Sabbath in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible clearly shows which day is the Holy Sabbath of God.

Many today seem to think that the need to observe the Sabbath was completely changed or eliminated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but this is not true.  The scriptural truth is that the Sabbath day has never been changed or eliminated as a day  of rest and worship. As we search the scriptures, we will find  that the  Sabbath has the same importance today as when it was originally conceived and created by God.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w2