Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Photo Lew Scharpf
All photos for this article were provided by Lew Scharpf. To view his entire gallery of flora and fauna, click here.
What day to observe the Sabbath has been a frequent question on this website. I've alluded to it on several pages and on my question of the week, but many have asked for more specific information. As this is a question which Paul dealt with on several occasions and due to the introduction of false teachings, I guess it would be of value to go through this topic in more detail. Areas of this page may seem difficult to understand, but with study and contemplation, I think you'll have to agree with the ultimate conclusion I make here. I need to thank those who've written me and spurred me on to complete this page - most recently Hannah - whose name by the way means "Grace."
The first time a rest is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 2:2, 3:
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Quoting an article from Tabletalk Magazine, January 2006: "Genesis 2:3 gives us insight into the nature of the Lords rest. This verse does not say God ceased all activity on the seventh day; instead, He only "rested from all his work that he had done in creation." On His Sabbath, God no longer performs the labor of the preceding six days in which He created all things by His word. However, He continues to uphold all things, and, upon Adams fall, He began His sovereign work of redemption (3:14-15, 21). Moreover, as there is no morning and evening on the seventh day, Gods rest is eternal and He therefore Photo: Lew Scharph sustains us even today (1 Cor. 1:4-9)."
The logic of this statement is evident and fits beautifully with the discussion of a rest for God's people - who are saved by faith - in Hebrews 4:3-11:
Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' " And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
If you notice the first sentence says: Now we who have believed enter that rest...
This is the final point of rest and clearly indicates a believer in the finished work of Christ Jesus is now in the promised rest and "also rests from his own work."
Any discussion beyond here will point to a Sunday Sabbath because it has now been established that we as believers have entered God's rest.
What was the reason the Saturday Sabbath was given to the Jewish nation? It was given to the Israelites in the Mosaic Covenant as a sign: Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. Exodus 31:13.
This is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture and is very specific it was a sign between God and the Israelites. When the gentiles were grafted into the commonwealth of Israel, there was much debate as to what requirements would be levied on them as a body. All the requirements mandated are summed up in Acts 15:19-21:
It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.
Later, Paul (the apostle to the Gentiles) after the initial letter from the church in Jerusalem expounded on what was required of Gentiles: Photo Lew Scharpf
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
At no time were the Gentile believers instructed to observe a Sabbath, and this even after they had received the Holy Spirit and been baptized. In fact, the directions given in Acts mentioned above very closely resemble those given to Noah after the Flood:
Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Genesis 9:3-5
Photo Lew Scharpf
This means that those people considered righteous by God, both before and after the Flood such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Israel, Levi, and Moses (until the Mosaic Covenant) were never asked to observe a Sabbath. Taking Abraham as an example, it says in Galatians 3:6-9:
Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Weve now determined that Abraham was considered righteous through faith and not works. If we receive the same blessing by Christ and then are considered unrighteous because of a failure to observe a Sabbath, then there is no consideration of righteousness!
Again, considering the Gentiles other than when Paul went to discuss Christ in the Jewish synagogues with Gentiles in attendance it is a Sunday, not a Saturday on which they met, and this in honor of the resurrection of the Lord.
Note: If you have been taught that Christ rose on a Saturday, you have been misled on this. Please email me and I'll be happy to show you both from the Old and New Testaments and extra-biblical sources that Christ clearly rose on Sunday morning. Now to the quotes from concerning Sunday get-togethers:
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. Acts 20:7
Photo Lew Scharpf
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On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 1 Corinthians 16:2
Early non-biblical records clearly indicate that Sunday became the day of worship for Christians this in honor of Christs resurrection. Many of these documents are available on other websites and which you can read by doing a general seach. Here are some of these ancient witnesses:
The writings of Justin Martyr
The letter of Barnabas 15:6-8, written in A.D. 74
The first century Didache, Chapter 14, "Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day"
The writings of Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, c. A.D. 115
The second century letter of Pliny to Trajan
It is argued among some cults and legalistic churches that Sunday worship came from (1) a worship of the sun (2) the traditions of the roman catholics. Neither of these is true and neither can be supported through historical records. Rather, the overwhelming evidence is that the earliest of Christians felt no obligation to observe a "Sabbath Rest" but rather a day of "worship." These are backed up by several statements made by Paul:
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16, 17
But now that you know God - or rather are known by God - how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. Galatians 4:9-11.
Another most interesting point concerning this issue is that the Sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments not specifically mentioned as required in the New Testament. Further, when asked a very specific question, Jesus himself clearly left out this requirement:
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is goodexcept God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother. Mark 10:17-19 and also Luke 18.
I find it highly unlikely that if this were such a grave issue in the age of grace soon to come that (1) our Lord would fail to state it somewhere in His earthly ministry. (2) it is never even remotely considered in the rest of the New Testament except as can be construed in a rather negative light by Paul.
Another interesting aspect of this issue is the Old Testament is a picture of what is to come in Christ. This is true with the Feasts of the Lord in Leviticus 23. Each one was Photo Lew Scharpf
fulfilled in Christ in the order in which they are listed - the Sabbath being the first and so far we have gone through Shavuot (Pentecost). Each fulfillment is listed in the New Testament. In the case of the Sabbath we refer back to Hebrews 4 as quoted above and by Jesus' own words - Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28, 29. Indications from Scripture are that Jesus made this statement on a Sabbath day - thereby fulfilling the feast.
I do suppose even after the short discussion above - that if you were originally indoctrinated into believing in a Saturday Sabbath requirement you'll never concede your point. However, both Old and New Testaments as well as extra-biblical early Church records confirm that since the resurrection of our Lord, we have honored Him with a day of worship on Sunday. My belief is that it is both proper and honoring of Him to set aside a day to worship Him. If you do this on a Saturday or a Sunday becomes a personal choice. If it's done as a sense of obligation because of the group you attend however, I believe you have fallen from the grace bestowed upon us at the Cross of Calvary.
I will leave you with a quote from Philippians 3:15 as my final salutation:
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
If this article has helped you, let me know: TakingaBreak@Wonderful1.com