Honoring God's Sabbath
~The Holy Day Of God~
Whose Opinion Matters?
Muslims observe Friday, religious Jews observe Saturday, and most professing Christians observe Sunday. Some people keep whatever day THEY choose as the Sabbath. Is it acceptable in God’s eyes to take to oneself the authority to make a day, any day, holy? Truth often flies out the door when overcome by human reasoning. Truth is truth and the truth about the Sabbath may surprise you! That truth is, Jesus Christ and the entire first century Church kept the seventh-day Sabbath…they did not keep Sunday…they kept the Saturday Sabbath! In fact, Jesus Christ and his true Apostles never taught anyone to observe Sunday as the Sabbath of God! The fact that early New Testament Christians were seventh-day Sabbath keepers is a biblical and historical fact, one not even disputed by the Roman Catholic Church — the largest Christian church in the World.
Still, people argue about Sabbath observance. Is the New Testament Sabbath Saturday or Sunday? Can you work on the Sabbath? Can you play at sports and watch TV on the Sabbath? Can you keep any day you choose “holy” so long as you observe one day in seven as a Sabbath?
The only source that can be considered authoritative enough to settle these questions is God’s Word in Holy Scripture. This study will take a candid look at the word of God to see what God’s thinking is on the subject of His Sabbath. God’s Word will tell us what God thinks about it, and we will keep our human reasoning in check as we seek to understand this vital subject.
So now, let’s take an unbiased look at what the scriptures say concerning the question of Sabbath keeping.
Jesus Kept the Sabbath
If you believe Jesus Christ is your savior, then all that really matters to you is what He believes about Sabbath keeping. Human opinion on this matter will carry no weight whatsoever. What will be foremost in your mind is the example Jesus Christ set, not the example of others; unless, of course, their example follows after Christ.
So now we come to the question, “What day did Christ keep as the Sabbath, and did He ever teach that the Sabbath was done away with?” We can observe simply from His actions what day He sanctified for Sabbath keeping. Luke, chapter 4, tells us the following:
“So He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, and stood up to read.” (Luke 4:16)
The Bible clearly shows that Jesus’ custom was to observe the Sabbath, attending services in the synagogue. He did this on the seventh day of the week…on Saturday…while in a synagogue, rising up to read a passage from the book of Isaiah. It was a message about setting people at liberty from bondage and the consequences of sin. If Jesus’ desire had been to do away with the Sabbath, this would have been an opportune time. Let’s see if He told the people they no longer needed to keep the Sabbath:
“And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To preach deliverance to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed, To preach the acceptable year of the LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19)
After reading this passage, Jesus returned the book to the rabbi and sat down. He did not mention anything about changing the Sabbath or annulling the Sabbath command.If Jesus Christ had determined to do away with the fourth commandment, an identifying sign of the Jewish people, it certainly could be found in scripture somewhere. The plain truth is that you can search all the gospel accounts and NEVER find where Jesus said: “You don’t have to keep the Sabbath anymore;” or, “The Sabbath commandment will be nailed to the cross when I die;” or, “After my death you may change the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week or to any day YOU choose.” According to Exodus 31, the Sabbath is perpetual , unchanging and eternal.
Is Jesus Our Sabbath Rest?
Many self-proclaiming Christians believe Jesus Christ is somehow a replacement for the Sabbath, that He is our “Sabbath rest.” But nowhere can you find a scripture that says, Jesus Christ replaced the Sabbath with anything…especially Himself. Certainly Jesus had MANY opportunities to teach that the seventh-day Sabbath had been done away with. Instead, Jesus emphatically stated that He was “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5). His statement confirms that the Sabbath was and still is in force. A good question to ask yourself is, How could He be the Lord of the Sabbath, if He was doing away with the Sabbath? Then He would be Lord of nothing. The message of Luke 6:1-11 is that man was not made to serve the Sabbath but that the Sabbath was made to serve man. Furthermore, Jesus emphasized the fact that it is always lawful to do good and preserve life on the Sabbath. “It is never a wrong time to do the right thing.” (Bishop O.W. Prince)
Did Jesus Change His Father’s Law?
In the book of Malachi God says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Would God proclaim His commandments in Exodus the twentieth chapter only to do away with them later? Is God fickle like a human? Certainly not! With God there is no double-mindedness, no “shadow of turning” (James 1:17). God is a perfect example of consistency: His character does not change. The Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, are immutable!
Christ did not come to do away with His Father’s commandments! He came to MAGNIFY the Law of His Father. Christ taught the true intent of the Law. He taught that we should keep the law physically and SPIRITUALLY. This teaching applied to the Sabbath Day.
Jesus said, “…as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). Jesus did not teach a different set of laws that opposed the teachings of His Father.
When a rich young ruler came to Jesus, he asked: “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? So He said to him, … if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew19:16-17). Jesus plainly stated that those who will be given eternal life must strive to keep the commandments of His Father, all of them.
Who is our Savior…Jesus or the Law?
None of the laws of God can save you. Only Jesus Christ fulfills the role of savior. Does that mean we are now free to break the law, including the Sabbath law? God forbid! Jesus said, “one jot or one tittle will BY NO MEANS pass from the law.” (Matthew 5:18)
It is true that we are under grace if we have repented of our sins, been baptized (buried under water) in the name of Christ Jesus and received the Holy Spirit of God , but grace does not give us permission to break God’s eternal law. Paul asserts that faith does not abolish the law: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we ESTABLISH the law.” (Romans 3:31)
Some 50 years after Jesus Christ died, the Apostle John upheld the law of God as a standard of right conduct. He said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:3). God’s Commandments are only troublesome for the rebellious and unrepentant souls but for those of us who have been born-again, they are of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Amen.