Questions & Answers          


The Sabbath

Saturday, Sunday or every day?

Question: I was taught the Sabbath was Sunday, but recently I heard the Sabbath was actually SATURDAY which is the 7th day. (God rested on the 7th day and it shall be called the Sabbath.) I hear many conflicting arguments about this, it only makes sense to me now that the Sabbath is truly on Saturday since no where in the bible does it mention Sunday. I would owe you many thanks if you could answer this question for me and shed light.



See Bible Commentary

Answer:  I agree with you that the Old Testament clearly tells us that the seventh day was to be set aside as the Sabbath. But "the Lord's Day" -- or the "the first day" of the week -- is mentioned as the special day several times in the New Testament. Perhaps the main thing to remember is that since we are joined to Christ through the cross, we can freely worship Him every day of the week! He is our Shepherd, and when we trust and follow Him, He shows us His ways.

But lets look at some of His guidelines. While our God finished His work of creation on the seventh day, another work was completed by Jesus through the cross. Bearing our sins in His tortured body, He said with His dying breath, "It is finished!" The ultimate work of redemption was done! No need for periodic sin offerings as in the past! He -- the pure and holy sacrificial lamb -- freed us from eternal judgment by bearing the full weight of the penalty we deserve.

The Old Testament's 7th-day Sabbath was ordained and celebrated before the cross -- long before Jesus said, “It is finished”  -- and long before we became partakers of His glorious victory.

The Old Testament legal structure was based on the Law given to Moses, including all the Levitical laws concerning temple sacrifice that became obsolete when Jesus became our ultimate sacrifice for sin -- "once for all." In contrast, the New Testament was based on God's grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. From then on, God's people would live by faith, not by "works"! And by that God-given faith, they would happily follow His way.

In the dark hours between the cross and the empty tomb, grief and confusion filled the hearts of those who loved Him. But all the more joyful was the day of His resurrection -- the first day of the week!  What an amazing time to celebrate! What glorious hours  to commemorate each week in all the years to come!

The Sabbath Rest

On the day of Pentecost, our resurrected Lord sent His people the gift of  the Holy Spirit. Now, by His Spirit in us, we can draw strength and wisdom from the mighty resources of God Himself. We had entered into a "rest" in Him that could not be limited to one day of the week. Instead we are called to rest from our own self-efforts every day of the week.

That new uninterrupted rest is in Jesus Himself, and -- if we truly are “born again” by His Spirit -- that rest never ends

Hebrews 4:4-11. "He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works'; and again in this place: 'They shall not enter My rest.'

"Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, 'Today,' after such a long time, as it has been said: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.' For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another dayThere remains therefore a [Sabbath] rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

"Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."

Perhaps that explains some of the statements that Jesus made about the Sabbath. Through the centuries before the cross, numerous man-made rules for the Sabbath had been added to God's original guidelines. They brought all kind of man-made restrictions, many of which had nothing to do with God's moral law. To clarify the problem, Jesus intentionally healed and helped people on the Sabbath, prompting Pharisees to accuse Him of breaking their laws. Their anger gave Jesus the opportunity to ask public questions and demonstrate His Father's loving intentions:

"Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?”  (Luke 6:9)

“Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" (Luke 14:5)

“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

The old 7th day Sabbath had been set aside as a holy day to "rest" from ordinary workday distractions in order to honor God, our Creator. But, by Jesus' time, this day of worship, joy and neighborly love had become a fearful day of distracting man-made rules and restrictions.

The Lord's Day

The New Testament shows us that the early Church changed their day of worship from the 7th to the 1st day of the week. They called it "The Lord's Day" -- and so it was. For "the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." (Mark 2:28)

Keep in mind that Roman labels such as Saturday and Sunday had nothing to do with this change. May years would pass before that that pagan dating system was adopted by the church establishment in the Roman empire.

The change from the Pharisees' rule-oriented 7th day Sabbath to the Spirit-led Lord's Day would have helped thousands of new Jewish converts set aside the old works-oriented customs. Paul's letter to the Galatians expresses his deep concern for converted Jews who drifted back to the legalistic rules (including the obsolete requirement for circumcision) of the old system:

"...if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.... You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." Galatians 5:2-6

By trading the legalism of the local synagogue for faith in God's grace, they would be free to follow the leading of God's Spirit, not the restrictions of Levitical laws made obsolete through the cross.

In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul -- a educated former Pharisee -- kept warning the people to trust God rather than themselves. The key to victory is faith in God, not in self-effort. And the goal is to faithfully demonstrate His love and honor Him -- not man -- every day of the week!  

"Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? ...Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh [human nature and effort]?" Gal. 3:1

" one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for 'the just shall live by faith.'” Gal. 3:11

"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Gal. 5:13-14

By the time the beloved apostle John was exiled on the island of Patmos, the Christians had been honoring "the first day" of the week for a long time. "The Lord's day" had become the standard day to come together for worship and communion. For example,

.."Now on ..the first day of the week, when the disciples came together ... to break bread...." (Acts 20:7)

.."..On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper.... I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem." (1 Corinthians 16:1, 3)

It's not surprising that God chose this same holy day to communicate with John in a special way. As the former disciple explained,

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,' and, 'What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia..." (Revelation 1:10)

Yet, God called His followers to "walk in the Spirit" and demonstrate His life every day of the week. That call has led to hatred and persecution by unbelievers around the world. Countless millions have been tortured, imprisoned, isolated and killed for their faith. To many of them, the privilege of worshipping together with other believers became only a dream. But He was always with them!  

There is much more to be said about this exciting privilege of resting in Jesus while walking in His ways. Let us keep on looking to Him and trusting Him to teach us all that He wants us to know!

        “'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
     Nor have entered into the heart of man
     The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God....  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. ... But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:1-14

"He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures." Luke 24:45

See also  Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

God's Eternal Covenant and His covenant with Abraham.

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