The Sabbath by oKq4U6


									                                        The Sabbath

        When most of us hear the word “Sabbath”, we think of the weekly day of rest.
However, each Jewish holy day was commanded by God to be a Sabbath, no matter
what day of the week it fell on. Passover, the Day of Atonement, Feast of Trumpets,
Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the New Moon were all
proscribed as Sabbaths. There was the year long Sabbath for the land. A two-day
Sabbath/Feast celebrated Purim. A seven-day celebration marked Hanukkah, called in
the New Testament the Feast of Dedication in John 10:22. Only one nation in the world
observes more holidays than the United States, and I suppose you’ve already guessed
who: Israel.
        Above and beyond this, certain Hebrew prophets related God’s greater offer of a
Sabbath-rest for the soul. (See Jeremiah 6:16) Other prophets expressed God’s
weariness with the Mosaic observances. For example, God’s Spirit thunders through
Isaiah, saying, “Hear the word of the Lord...Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an
abomination to Me, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies. I
cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your new moons and your appointed
feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me. I am weary of bearing them.” (Isaiah
chapter one)
        Yes, it is true, God Himself had commanded these things. Even so, God had only
subjected Israel to these fleshly ordinances until the One should come who both fulfills
and transcends such laws. To the Jewish ear, “Sabbath” would mean so much more
than a weekly rest day. God’s rest for the soul, however, eclipsed required days of
physical inactivity.
        It is hard to hear common Scripture used in a way you may not have considered
before, but let’s try.
        A. Genesis 2:1-3: “Thus the heavens and the earth and all the host of them, were
finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the
seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and
sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” This
is our first “Sabbath” text. Did you read the word “Sabbath?” Did you read the
command of man needing to take a weekly day of rest? Adam, being in the Garden of
Eden, needed no day off from Paradise to be refreshed. (Likewise, when we attain to
heaven, our Paradise [complete with the Tree of Life], we also will need no day of rest.)
Most importantly, we must try and determine what is meant by God resting. God
doesn’t grow weary (Psalm 121:4). The word translated “rested” in the Hebrew is
NUACH, meaning “rested, to be comforted, consoled, i.e. to be content or satisfied.”
The creation was finished and all the host of them, therefore God ceased creating in
contented satisfaction. That God did not stop working in an absolute sense is obvious
for two reasons:
        1. He constantly sustains all things, continuously by upholding the creation by
the Word of His power. (Hebrews 1:3) and
      2. Christ Himself declared, “My Father has been working until now, and I have
been working.” (John 5:17)

The phrase “God rested” here in Genesis 2 refers to the contented rest of a job well
done. The satisfaction derived from a goal achieved is emphasized here since the
concept of God being idle is unScriptural. (Psalm 121:4) I believe the key to
understanding God’s perspective on Sabbath is to meditate on what is meant by God
resting on the seventh day. And the question: How do we enter into His rest which He
offers throughout His Word?
        As if to emphasize this question, Genesis 2:3 makes no comment concerning
man’s obligation to take a rest day once a week. From Genesis 2 until the Exodus from
Egypt, no hint is given that anyone observed a Sabbath. Exodus 16 is the first Biblical
injunction where God commands the Israelites to the weekly Sabbath. Yet it may be
added that the institution of Passover in Exodus 12 preceded a weekly Sabbath with a
feast-day Sabbath. Deuteronomy 5:15 makes the link between man and his new
obligation to take a Sabbath. Exodus 31:17 plainly declares the Sabbath to be a sign
between the Lord and the children of Israel. Ezekial 20 repeats this point with the Lord
saying, “Moreover, I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me.”
Yet Nehemiah chapter 9 is clear beyond argument. While fasting, in sackcloth, and
with dust on their heads, the chief Levites cried out with a loud voice to the Lord their
God...reciting the great deeds of God while praying, saying: “You showed signs and
wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants, and against all the people of his land. For
You knew that they acted proudly against them. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this
day. And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the
dry land; and their persecutors You threw into the deep, as a stone into the mighty waters.
Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give
them light on the road which they should travel. You came down also on Mount Sinai, and
spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and
commandments. You made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them precepts,
statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant.” (Nehemiah 9:10-14) Since they
already knew of God resting on the seventh day, Moses could not have made known to
them the Sabbath in a general way but made known to them now that they also were to
rest on the seventh day. It does not say He made known to them the Sabbath again, as
if they had forgotten, but now they would be participants.
        Therefore, we may say assuredly by Scripture, men observed no weekly Sabbath
until the Exodus. And, also, that at that time Sabbath was not made for mankind in
general, but specifically to be a sign exclusively between the Lord and the children of
Israel. Why is this important? Simply because, as it reads, the concept of God’s rest
stood as a mysterious revelation unencumbered by any command to man to perform
religious sacrifice. The yearning to return to the rest of His presence was the undiluted
hope. Man had been forced by sin to leave his Paradise in Eden and went to work by
the sweat of his brow. Knowing that somehow this seventh day was set apart as unique
but which also remained open (no end as other days), man yearned for a rest from the
curse of the ground. Early they understood the hope of the Messiah. For, as they
recalled, God had given the prophetic warning to the Serpent: “I will put enmity
between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise
your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15-16) Out of this, godly men
looked to a rest, a true rest in the Messiah. Having no daily Sabbath but a prophetic
promise, Noah was born. Noah’s father seems to believe his son may be the One.
Genesis 5:28-29 tells of Lamech calling the name of his son Noah, which means rest. For
he said, “This one will comfort (Hebrew Naw-kahm, translated “repent” in many
places) us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which
the Lord has cursed.” To explain how Noah is a type of Christ would consume all our
time and patience, but suffice it to say, the saved were all in Noah’s ark. The word
translated “pitch” (#3722 kapparah) is everywhere else in the Old Testament rendered
as atonement. The first man said to have found grace in the Lord’s eyes (6:8), whose
name means Rest, saved the world in an ark covered with atonement. Yet the dove
found no where to set her foot...until she returned with a symbol of peace in her mouth.
The dove “remained”, however, on Christ Jesus our Lord, who was the true Rest;
under His atoning blood, we are secured from the floods of ungodliness There was the
first Adam and the second Adam: Jesus Christ. There was the first Noah, and the
second Noah.
       From the Exodus from Egypt until Christ Jesus, God commanded fleshly
ordinances for a carnal people. Jesus reveals Himself as the One anticipated by all the
prophets. Yet this was not revealed to some.

        B. Matthew 11:25-12:1f : “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You,
Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent
and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All
things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.
Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal
Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My
yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for
your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. At that time Jesus went through the
grainfields on the Sabbath...”
         It seems almost impossible with Holy Spirit-filled prophets teaching through the
centuries...but somehow, the Jews rejected and murdered the Just and Holy One. Sent
by God to offer true rest from their enemies, rest from sin, and rest in God’s presence.
This true rest was open from Genesis 2 on. For example, it was offered to those Jews in
the wilderness, yet God promised in His anger, that they would not enter His rest.
David also being a prophet, invites his people to the same. (Psalm 95) There’s that
phrase again: “God’s Rest.” Isaiah said this: “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom
will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from
the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon
line, here a little, there a little. For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to
this people, to whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest’, and
‘This is the refreshing’; yet they would not hear. But the word of the Lord was to them, ‘Precept
upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little,’ that
they might go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and caught.” (28:9-13)
          So we see that truly all the promises are YES! in Christ Jesus our Lord (2
Corinthians 1:20). He is the hope of the ages (Jeremiah 14:8). He is the Lord of the
Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone
who believes (Romans 10:4). While all this is true, we still ask: How did Jesus Christ
relate to the seventh-day Sabbath?
          While it is true that Jesus of Nazareth frequently was found in the synagogue on
the seventh-day Sabbath, He was there often being violently accused of breaking the
Sabbath. The gospel writers plainly agree that Jesus did break the Sabbath (See John
5:16-18). Jesus defended Sabbath breaking in Matthew 12:5, claiming in verse 8 to be
superior to the Sabbath. He does not include Sabbath-keeping in any of His lists of
commandments to keep to inherit eternal life (for example, see Matthew 19:18-19).
Jesus’ comment to His disciples to pray their flight from Judea not be on the Sabbath
isn’t because He didn’t want them to desecrate the Sabbath, but for their traveling
convenience. Other potential difficulties on His recommended prayer list included:
winter, pregnancy, and nursing babies (see Matthew 24:19-20). Even today, long travel
is still forbidden on the Sabbath among Jews. The Israeli airline, ELAL, nearly shuts
down three days a week for fear of flying through a Sabbath time zone. If you are
caught walking through orthodox communities, even today, on the Sabbath, you could
be hurt by flying stones.
          What are we to make of Jesus’ comment: “The Sabbath was made for man, not
man for the Sabbath”? First, we have learned that the Sabbath wasn’t made for every
man in the world, it was to be a sign between Israel and God (see Exodus 31 and
Ezekial 20). Secondly, it was not made for health in general since, as we have seen, the
Sabbath wasn’t given to mankind in general and not even to Israel until the Exodus
from Egypt. This would imply that God did not care for the health of Noah, Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, which is contrary to God’s intent to bless His people (see Genesis 6:8
and 12:1-2). Thirdly, the Sabbath was in part commanded to bless ex-slaves by a
commanded rest. The Pharisees, however, had turned this day intended to be a
blessing into a legalistic burden as if man were created to benefit the Sabbath and not
the other way around. Nevertheless, consider this, if Jesus is our Passover Lamb...and
we sprinkle His blood on the doorposts of our hearts daily through faith...then we keep
the feast in a true sense every day. The Passover is a high-day Sabbath (Deuteronomy
16:8). Therefore, as we consider Jesus and the Sabbath, rigorous Sabbatarians must look
elsewhere for a champion of their views (said the ISBE, Volume 4, page 2631.)

        C. The apostles’ teachings emphasize Jesus being the center of all true religion.
In fact, often the apostolic voice declares that it is either the Law of Moses or Jesus.
“You who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)
In one of the clearest texts in the entire New Testament concerning the Christian’s
relationship to the law and Sabbath, Colossians 2:13-17, we read ...
What is fascinating is a close look at the Acts of the Apostles. The word “Sabbath” is
mentioned eight times, always in reference to seventh-day synagogue worship. But
when we look for the Christian church’s pattern for worship, Acts 2:46-47 states they
were “assembling daily with one accord” and that new believers were added daily.
We are told in Hebrews to “exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’.”
(Hebrews 3:13) Acts 6:1 speaks of the church with their “daily distribution” for the
needy. Obviously when some would work, they would attend as they could. Acts 20:7
seems to speak of such a practice. Notice the evening setting (the lamps). Also, there
being no “Sabbath” implied here and no use of the term “the Lord’s Day.”
Furthermore, it is noteworthy to observe that when the church convened to decide to
what extent the law applied to the Gentiles, no mention is made of any Sabbath
requirement (see Acts 15).
        Revelation 1:10 is the only time the phrase “the Lord’s Day” is used in the New
Testament (see passage below). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary makes this
observation: “Since this is the only place in the New Testament where this expression is
used, its identification is difficult...Some feel John was transported into the future day of
the Lord, the prophetic day of God’s great judgment and the return of Christ.” (Volume
12, pg. 424, E. W. Ballinger) While it is true the identical phrase isn’t used anywhere
else in the New Testament, “the Lord’s Day” sounds a lot like the Day of the Lord, or
many similar expressions which always, always, refer to the return of Christ. And this
second coming of Christ is precisely the focus of the Revelation. Furthermore, several
verses sound very similar and may help determine the meaning of this phrase:

      Revelation 1:10     “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day...”
      Revelation 4:2      “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and beheld a throne set in
heaven, and One
      Revelation 17:3     “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I
saw a woman
     Revelation 21:10 “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high
mountain, and
                        showed me the great city...”

Each time John is carried away by the Spirit into a vision of a future event. The Lord’s
Day, as described in Revelation with heavenly signs, earthly catastrophes, is in the
        By God’s Spirit, an apostle anticipated a problem in this area between Jewish and
Gentile Christians. He wrote: “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes
over doubtful things...One person esteems one day above another; another esteems
every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the
day observes it to the Lord, and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does
not observe it...But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for
your brother? (KJV - “set at naught thy brother”) For we shall all stand before the
judgment seat of Christ.”(Romans 14:1, 5-6f, 10) If the New Testament teaches that
Christians should esteem one day above another, how could Paul tell us to each make
up our own minds? Rather, he would say that some do not observe the day and they
are sinning! Therefore, in this very area of regarding or esteeming days, the inspired
apostle basically says, “Don’t judge!” Even so, the apostle seems a little judgmental
himself when he said, “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by
God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you
desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I
am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.” (Galatians 4:9-11) (cf. Hebrews

       “A person will be free from the Old Covenant only in as much as he is truly
walking in the New Covenant.” If this evaluation is correct concerning the teachings of
Christ and his apostles, then those Christians who immediately follow them should
speak the same way. While not infallible, these early Christian leaders give us a
snapshot of early beliefs.

                                Early Church Teaching

       I. Ignatius (Bishop of Antioch, pupil of apostle John, died 117 AD) “If therefore,
those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession
of a new hope, no longer observe the Sabbaths...” (chapter 9) “Let us therefore no
longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner and rejoice in days of idleness...But let
everyone of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner...”

       II. Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons, probable assistant to Polycarp, disciple of John,
lived 120-202 AD)
(Speaking of the Sabbath) “These things were given for a sign...Sabbaths taught that we
should continue day by day in God’s service...When God had repudiated sacrifices and
burnt offerings and oblations, so also did he the new moons (holy days), the Sabbaths,
and the feast days and all the rest of the services accompanying these...”

       III. Justin Martyr (beheaded for Christ in Rome, taught Christ clearly opposed
Marcian heresies, confounded the Jews, lived 100-165 AD) “The new law requires you
to keep a perpetual Sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are
pious, not discerning why this has been commanded...The Lord our God does not take
pleasure in such observances...(but) if (there is) any adulterer, let him repent; then he
has kept the sweet and true Sabbaths of God.” (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 12)

These teachings are not selected out of many other opposing views - these voices
represent the only view of the first two hundred years AD.
                                  Anabaptist Teaching

       I. Menno Simons Anabaptists were accused of being Sabbath breakers
according to the writings of Menno Simons. In response to this, Menno stated:
“(Anabaptists) keep and sanctify the Lord’s Sabbath (which is now no longer literal but
spiritual, and never terminating with the true Christians) not by wearing fine clothes,
not by carousing, drinking, vanity, and idleness as the unthinking world does on its
external Sabbath and holy days, but by the fear of God, by a clean conscience and
unblameable life, in love to God and their neighbors (which is true religion), keeping
and sanctifying (the Sabbath) to the Lord eternally.” The editor noted: “In agreement
with the Christian Church of the first few centuries, Menno does not associate the
Lord’s Day with the Jewish Sabbath.” (The Works of Menno Simons, p. 679-680, Herald

Why quote Menno Simons? Not because he is infallible or because all Anabaptists
should walk lock step with the early leaders, but his opinion is worth considering
because he was a man greatly used of God. Would you consider Menno to be less than
a Christian for his view on the Sabbath? Would Menno Simons be disfellowshipped at
your church for his view? Would you let your children be taught by him in a Sunday
School class? His writings and views permeate Anabaptist literature. His sentiments
are translated the same in both editions of his works.

        II. George Brunk (The Sword and the Trumpet, October 1931) “There is no
commandment for Christians to keep the Sabbath - no warning against breaking it. In
the New Testament, we have at various places long lists of transgressions, but Sabbath-
breaking is never among them. Why? Evidently because the law and penalty on the
point were done away... The whole (Old) covenant was done away and an entirely new
and better one given (Hebrews 13). Even if only ceremonies had been done away, the
Sabbath would have gone. For a Sabbath day is a ceremony as certainly as a Sabbath
year is one.”
Yet, in all fairness, he does argue for a Lord’s Day observance instead.

        It has been said by the vile atheist Voltaire that if the church could be separated
from its Sabbath, it would fail (I say vile for good reason). I would ask you - what does
an atheist know about the power of Christ’s church? No church has been more
powerful in Christ than the early church. We need to remember that Tertullian was the
first to suggest Christians refrain from work on Sunday, and that was in 200 AD (See
Separated Unto God, J. C. Wenger, p. 286). The early church did not fail without a
Sabbath, it had Christ. Those radical Anabaptists had no literal Sabbath yet swept
Europe with the truth of the gospel. Surely they were a successful church, as God
measures success. Who will say the early Anabaptists failed?
       You might be asking yourself: If Jesus’ teachings are so clear, and the testimony
of the early church so unified, how did we get to Sabbath keeping again? The simple
answer is - Step by step.

        I.   Tertullian - Latin writer; first to suggest a day off on the first day of the
        II. Constantine - (321 AD) declared the “venerable day of the sun” to be an
official Sabbath in honor of the Son of God.
        III. Puritans - (1595 AD) Nicholas Bound published the book “The True
Doctrine of the Sabbath”. He demanded this day of rest be enforced by law. Over
the next 100 years, more than 100 books were published endorsing this position.

       In John’s gospel, chapter 9:16, we read that some of the Pharisees said of Jesus:
“This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” The hatred in the
Jews hearts drove them finally to murder the holy and just One.
       To those who have been raised with a life-long emphasis on the Lord’s Day/
Sunday Sabbath, I realize this is so different from what you’ve been taught. There are
those who reverently esteem one day above another. I now believe that just because a
person regards the first day as special, it does not necessarily mean that he allows
himself self-indulgence on Monday. For my part, I desire the Sabbath war to be over.
For those of us who regard every day alike, please be patient with us as we seek to
serve the Lord in honor daily as you do. Let each person be fully convinced in his own
mind. Whatever is not of faith is sin. Each one of us shall stand before God to give an
account of himself.
       While my view may have seemed radical at is, I believe, in harmony with
the Old Testament principle of “God’s Rest”; in harmony with Jesus’ teaching, the
apostles’ doctrine, the early church’s revelation, and the Anabaptist’s gospel. I
commend you to the Word of God.
       Finally, I believe we should meet together as the body of Christ deems best.
Whether it be daily as the Early Church, or three times a week as we do, let us pray that
we can stir up to love and good works “all the more as we see the day approaching.”

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