May 14, 2004 § 4 Comments
I want to ask you the following questions:
- Which day of the week do you go to church?
- Have you ever wondered which day of the week is the Sabbath?
- Does it really matter?
- Why does it matter?
- What Biblical evidence is there for Saturday?
- How about Sunday?
I will attempt to answer these questions in this article. Please realize though, that entire books have been written on this subject — books that deal with every implication. I will simply offer Biblical evidence for the true Sabbath. If you’d like more information, I highly recommend the books I’m going to list at the end of the article.
Now, let’s get started. Do you know when the Sabbath is mentioned in the Bible for the first time? It’s in Genesis! Let’s see what it says:
“Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God had completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating.” (Genesis 1:1-3, NJB).
Why is this important? Because of three reasons:
- We can see that the Sabbath has played a central role in the Bible right from the start. When God takes the time to mention the Sabbath right in Genesis, there is no doubt that it is important.
- Another fact that is established is that the Sabbath is not just for the Jews. There were no Jews at the beginning of the world. All there was of the human race were Adam and Eve.
- The third fact that is established is that the Sabbath is on the seventh day of the week. God makes that very clear here. All we need to do today is to look at our calendars and to see that the seventh day is Saturday, and therefore know that the Sabbath is on Saturday.
Let’s explore for a bit a phrase from the verse above. In it we can see that God “rested” during the Sabbath. Why would God need to rest? Was he tired? How could He be tired? He is omnipotent. He is God. He cannot get tired! The only proper way for this to be understood is that He paused. He wanted to set an example for us. He wants us to pause, to rest, one day a week. And He has already named that particular day in very specific terms.
When you think of the word Sabbath, what comes to mind first? You probably remember the fourth commandment:
“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath for Yahweh your God. You shall do no work that day, neither you nor your son nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals nor the alien living with you. For in six days Yahweh made the heavens, earth and sea and all that these contain, but on the seventh day he rested; that is why Yahweh has blessed the Sabbath day and made it sacred.” (Exodus 20:8-11, NJB).
There are those who say that the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross. The short answer to that argument is no, the Mosaic Law was nailed to the cross, specifically those laws and regulations that had to do with the temple and the constant sacrifices. It makes sense that they were done away with. Once the Lamb of all lambs sacrificed Himself for everyone, there was no need for any further sacrifices, nor was there any need for the Holy of Holies. That is why the temple curtain was torn by angels at the death of Jesus on the cross. There was no longer any need for atonement in that earthly temple. Jesus had just atoned for the sins of all who ever lived or ever shall live. There are multiple other faces that ought to be explored in this matter, but I will leave those for another article.
For now, let’s keep in mind James 2:10-11:
“You see, anyone who keeps the whole of the Law but trips up on a single point, is still guilty of breaking it all. He who said, “You must not commit adultery” said also, “You must not kill.” Now if you commit murder, you need not commit adultery as well to become a breaker of the Law.” (NJB). What this means is that we must keep the whole of the Law. Those who say that the Sabbath Commandment is not important are essentially breaking all of the Ten Commandments. They are a set put together by God Himself, and we cannot pick and choose which laws to obey and which ones to leave out.
Remember what happened to the Israelites in the desert? More specifically, what happened to the manna that fell from heaven every day of the week? There was a particular day of the week when manna didn’t fall. Which day was it?
“Yahweh then said to Moses, ‘Look, I shall rain down bread for you from the heavens. Each day the people must go out and collect their ration for the day; I propose to test them in this way to see whether they will follow my law or not. On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they have brought in, this must be twice as much as they collect on ordinary days’ ‘Eat it today,’ Moses said, ‘for today is a Sabbath for Yahweh; you will find none in the fields today. For six days you will collect it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.’” (Exodus 16:4, 25-26, NJB).
What does this mean? It means that the Sabbath was strictly reinforced by God Himself during the Israelites’ passage through the desert. There are some people who insist that the Sabbath was for the Jews, but it was God who decided when the manna would fall. He reinforced the Sabbath observance directly, and unless you want to argue that there are two different Gods, one of the Old Testament, and one of the New Testament, anyone would have a hard time saying that God wants something different today. God, after all, doesn’t change. He is the same, always and forever. Jesus Himself said that.
We must also remember that God distinguished the Sabbath command from all others. About it, He commanded, “Remember”, alerting humanity to the danger of forgetting its importance. The words with which the commandment begins — “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” — show that the Sabbath was not first instituted at Sinai. Those words indicate that it was originated earlier — in fact, at creation, as the rest of the commandment reveals.
God intended that we observe the Sabbath as His memorial of Creation. It defines the time for rest and worship, directing us to contemplate God and His works (1). What is yet more relevant is that Sabbath observance is an antidote for idolatry. How is that? It is a memorial of Creation. It reminds us that God created heaven and earth; it distinguishes Him from all false gods. Keeping the Sabbath, then, becomes the sign of our allegiance to the true God — a sign that we acknowledge His Sovereignty as Creator and King (2).
The Sabbath commandment also functions as the seal of God’s Law. Let me explain. Seals generally contain three elements:
- The name of the owner of the seal
- His title, and
- His jurisdiction
The Sabbath command is the only one of the Ten Commandments that contains all of the elements of a seal:
- It identifies the true God by giving His name: “the Lord your God”,
- His title: the One who made — the Creator,
- His territory: “the heavens and the earth”.
Since only the fourth commandment shows by whose authority the Ten Commandments were given, it therefore “contains the seal of God,” attached to His law as evidence of its authenticity and binding force (3).
Just as the Israelites became God’s people when Abraham entered into a covenant with God, so we also become God’s people when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We enter into a covenant with God. In this covenant, God’s law is the cornerstone. In God’s law, the Sabbath is prominent. God declared the Sabbath a sign between us and Him: “… will keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath for all their generations to come: this is an eternal covenant. Between myself and the Israelites, this is a sign for ever, for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he rested and drew breath.” (Exodus 31:16, NJB).
In case you’re confused by the term “Israelite” here, let’s remember what Paul said about it: “Not all born Israelites belong to Israel, and not all the descendants of Abraham count as his children, for Isaac is the one through whom your Name will be carried on. That is, it is not by being children through physical descent that people become children of God; it is the children of the promise that are counted as the heirs.” (Romans 9:6-8, NJB). There is also the definition given in Webster’s Dictionary: “Israel — a people chosen by God” (4). This has nothing in particular to do with the physical nation of Israel. You are considered chosen by God when you repent for your sins and accept Jesus’ sacrifice. You, too, become part of Israel.
If we examine the Bible carefully (from cover to cover), we can see that Christ Himself was the Creator of our universe — of our world. Here are just a few verses that illustrate this:
- “Yet for us there is only one God, the Father from whom all things come and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things come and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6, NJB).
- “At many moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the ages. He is the reflection of God’s glory and bears the impress of God’s own being, sustaining all things by his powerful command; and now that he has purged sins away, he has taken his seat at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3, NJB). Here please focus your attention on the phrases “through whom he made the ages” and “sustaining all things by his powerful command”. They refer to Jesus Christ.
- Now here is one of the most famous verses of the Bible: “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him… He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognize him… The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-3, 10, 14). The entire prologue to the Gospel of John (1:1-18) establishes very clearly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Word of God, and that through Him everything was created and everything is sustained.
What does this mean for us? It means that it was Jesus Himself who created the Sabbath. He was the one that incorporated the Sabbath into the Decalogue as a clear reminder (“Remember the Sabbath day”) of this weekly worship appointment with Him, the Creator. As such, the Sabbath is a clear mark of those who have accepted Jesus as Creator and Saviour. One who would call Himself a Christian would have to lie to himself to do away with this truth. If Jesus Himself made the Sabbath, and respected it Himself while He was here on earth, and gave no indication that it was to be done away with, but instead gave every indication that it would last forever, what arguments can any human being bring against this? How can so many people who know better delude themselves when going to church on Sunday by telling themselves that it doesn’t matter?
Some of you may have been surprised to find out that Jesus gave clear indications about the Sabbath. For those of you wondering what He said (while He was on earth), here are a few verses:
- “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabath; so the Son of man is master even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28, NJB). Many misinterpret this verse. For anyone to understand its clear meaning, they must read the verses that precede it (Mark 2:23-27) and those that succeed it (Mark 3:1-6). You will then see that Jesus simply refined the Pharisees’ notion of Sabbath-observance. He did not do away with the Sabbath, as some would think. It would have been completely out of character for Him. After all, He had established the day, and God doesn’t change His mind. Anything that God does is perfect and lasts forever.
- “He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did.” (Luke 4:16, NJB). This verse talks about Jesus, and shows clearly that His habit was to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Now if God Himself did this while He was on earth, how can we do any differently? He has shown us time and time again that this is what He wants us to do. He “rested” on the Sabbath after the creation of the world, not because He was tired, but because He wanted to set an example. He also went to church every Sabbath while He was here on earth, and He did that to set another example. The only Sabbath He didn’t go to church, He was dead, but even then, He was resting. Scripture emphasizes that when He died, “it was Preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin” (Luke 23:54, NIV). Following His death, He rested in a tomb, thus symbolizing that He had accomplished the redemption of the human race (5).
- When Christ spoke about the persecution to take place after His ascension, He counseled His disciples regarding it. “Pray that you will not have to make your escape in winter or on a Sabbath.” (Matthew 24:20, NJB). This clearly implies that Christians were bound to a strict observation of the Sabbath (6).
The Sabbath is a sign of God’s transforming power, a sign of holiness or sanctification. God declared: “Surely 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 who sanctifies you.” (Exodus 31:13). The Sabbath therefore, is also a sign of God as the Sanctifier. As people are sanctified by Christ’s blood (see Hebrews 13:12), the Sabbath is also a sign of the believer’s acceptance of His blood for the forgiveness of sins. Just as God has set the Sabbath aside for a holy purpose, so He has set His people apart for a holy purpose — to be His special witnesses. Their communion with Him on that day leads to holiness; they learn to depend not on their own resources but on the God who sanctifies them. Ellen White puts this concept in eloquent words:
“The power that created all things is the power that re-creates the soul in His own likeness. To those who keep holy the Sabbath day it is the sign of sanctification. True sanctification is harmony with God, oneness with Him in character. It is received through obedience to those principles that are the transcript of His character. And the Sabbath is the sign of obedience. He who from the heart obeys the fourth commandment will obey the whole law. He is sanctified through obedience” (7).
Sabbath-keeping is not just a sign of obedience. It shouldn’t be seen as a “must do”. It should be regarded as a wonderful chance for fellowship with God. From Genesis, we see that God created the animals to be our companions. For a higher level of companionship, He gave the man and woman to each other. But through the Sabbath, He gave us the highest form of companionship — companionship with Him. If we restrict ourselves to fellowship with each other, we are missing out on the best fellowship we could ever get, the kind of fellowship that can truly set us aright.
It is on the Sabbath that we can especially experience God’s presence among us. It is the day He set aside for us. It’s the one day of the week when He sets aside time out of His schedule to be with us, more so than the other days. He wants us to invite him into our homes and into our lives. Will we disappoint Him? Without the Sabbath all would be labor and sweat without end. Every day would be alike, devoted to secular pursuits. The arrival of the Sabbath brings hope, joy, meaning and courage. It provides time to commune with God through worship, prayer, song, the study of and meditation on the Word, and through sharing the gospel with others. The Sabbath is our opportunity to experience God’s presence (8).
Some of you may say, “Fine, this is all nice and good. But why does it have to be Saturday? Why the Sabbath? Why not Sunday? Why does work that can be done on any other day of the week become a sin on Saturday? There is no reason in nature itself to keep the seventh day. The stars, the clouds, the sun, the moon, the plants and the animals carry on during the Sabbath just as if it were any other day. These are all good reasons, and would make good sense, if only God hadn’t spoken (9). “To the Christian there is only one reason, and no other; but that reason is enough: God has spoken.”
If it only through God’s eyes that we can understand why we need to observe the Sabbath. Those of us who keep it do so out of faith and implicit trust in Christ, who has observed it Himself. “By observing the Sabbath, believers reveal a willingness to accept God’s will for their lives instead of depending on their own judgment.” (10) One is not a legalist for doing so. I myself am not trying to become righteous by keeping the Sabbath, nor do I expect some kind of reward for having kept a certain number of Sabbaths during my life. It doesn’t work this way. My observance of the Sabbath comes about as a result of my relationship with my God. Sabbath keeping is the product of His righteousness in justification and sanctification, signifying that I have been delivered from the bondage of sin and have received His perfect righteousness (11). In the same vein, I do not refrain from doing certain things on the Sabbath in order to win God’s favor. I do it because I love God and want to experience a closer fellowship with Him on this special day.
God had promised a divine rest to Adam and Eve. Though they failed, God’s original purpose of offering that rest to humanity remains unchanged. “The observance of the seventh-day Sabbath thus testifies not only to faith in God as the Creator of all things, but also to faith in His power to transform the life and qualify men and women for entering that eternal “rest” He originally intended for the inhabitants of this earth.” (12) God also promised this spiritual rest to literal Israel. Despite their failure to do so, God’s offer still stands: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9, NIV).
All who desire to enter that rest “must first enter, by faith, into His spiritual “rest,” — the rest of the soul from sin and from its own efforts at salvation.” (13) The New Testament appeals for the Christian not to wait to experience this rest of grace and faith, for “today” is the opportune time to enter it (Hebrews 4:7; 3:13). All who have entered this rest — the saving grace received by faith in Jesus Christ — have ceased every effort to achieve righteousness by their own works. In this way, observing the seventh-day Sabbath is a symbol of the believer’s entering into the gospel rest (14).
As Adam and Eve’s loyalty was tested by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, so every human being’s loyalty to God will be tested by the Sabbath command placed in the midst of the Decalogue. Scripture reveals that before the Second Coming of Christ the whole world will be divided into two classes: those who are loyal and “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,” and those who worship “the beast and his image” (Rev. 14:12, 9). At that time God’s truth will be magnified before the world and it will be clear to all that the obedient observance of the seventh-day Sabbath of Scripture gives evidence of loyalty to the Creator (15).
- “From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity” by Samuele Bacchiocchi
- “The Sabbath in the New Testament: Answers to Questions” by Samuele Bacchiocchi
- “Divine Rest for Human Restlessness: A Theological Study of the Good News of the Sabbath for Today” by Samuele Bacchiocchi
- “The Sabbath Under Crossfire: A Biblical analysis of Recent Sabbath/Sunday Developments” by Samuele Bacchiocchi.
As you can see, all of the books are authored by Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi . I can’t really help that. He’s done research on the Sabbath all his life, and has obtained his doctorate in divinity from the Vatican University on the topic of the Sabbath.
1 Ministerial Association, “Seventh-day Adventists Believe — A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines”, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 251.
3 White, “Patriarchs and Prophets”, p. 307.
4 Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 642.
5 Ministerial Association, “Seventh-day Adventists Believe — A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines”, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 253.
6 Jonathan Edwards, “The Works of President Edwards (New York: Leavitt & Allen, 1852 repro. Of the Worcester ed.), vol. 4, p. 622.
7 White, “Testimonies”, vol. 6, p. 350.
8 Ministerial Association, “Seventh-day Adventists Believe — A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines”, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 256.
9 Andreasen, “Sabbath”, p. 25.
10 Ministerial Association, “Seventh-day Adventists Believe — A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines”, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 257.
12 SDA Bible Commentary, rev.ed., vol. 7, p. 420.
14 Ministerial Association, “Seventh-day Adventists Believe — A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines”, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 258.
15 Ibid., p. 256.
April 27, 2004 § Leave a Comment
An unknown author wrote this:
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” His son replied, ” It was great, Dad.” “Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked. Oh yeah,” said the son. “So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.” The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.”
Isn’t perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have.
Source: Email forward.
April 27, 2004 § Leave a Comment
Watch your thoughts, for they become words,
Choose your words, for they become actions,
Understand your actions, for they become habits,
Study your habits, for they will become your character,
Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Thoughts >> Words >> Actions >> Habits >> Character >> Destiny!
Source: Email forward.
April 27, 2004 § Leave a Comment
Author: Epitectus (Roman Teacher, Philosopher, 55-135 AD)
“Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes, therefore give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. Remain steadfast… and one day you will build something that endures… Something worthy of your potential.”
April 25, 2004 § Leave a Comment
Author: The Apostle Peter
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
24 For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
Source: Bible, 1 Peter 1:13-25
April 25, 2004 § Leave a Comment
11 The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said:
12 “Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.
13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread,
14 and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”
Source: Bible, Isaiah 8:11-15
April 25, 2004 § Leave a Comment
Author: Ellen G. White
As the mother watches for the smile of recognition from her little child, which tells of the dawning intelligence, so does Christ watch for the expression of grateful love, which shows that spiritual life is begun in the soul.
Source: Desire of Ages, pg. 191
April 25, 2004 § Leave a Comment
Author: Ellen G. White
God calls a man to do a certain work; and when he has carried it as far as he is qualified to take it, the Lord brings in others, to carry it still farther.
Source: Desire of Ages, pg. 182
April 21, 2004 § Leave a Comment
Author: Kent Nerburn
“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance, and none can say why some fields will blossom and others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices in life no more easily made. And give. Give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than how it is shared, and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.”
Source: Letters to My Son
April 21, 2004 § Leave a Comment
Author: Sarah Ban Breathnach
“Harmony is the inner cadence of contentment we feel when the melody of life is in tune. When somehow we’re able to strike the right chord – to balance the expectations of our families and our responsibilities in the world on one hand with our inner needs for spiritual growth and personal expression on the other… Usually, when the distractions of dialy life deplete our energy, the first thing we eliminate is the thing we need the most: quiet, reflective time. Time to dream, time to think, time to contemplate what’s working and what’s not, so that we can make changes for the better… Learn how to pause.”
Source: Simple Abundances: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy