The Sabbath/Lords Day
The scriptures tell us that the Sabbath of God should be a delight to Gods people. We should look forward to the day-to rest in him; to look to him. To seek Him out like the deer that panteth after the water. It is a day of resource-it promises to refresh us. It completes us.
Much about the Sabbath is mysterious to most. They don’t really know what to make of the day; They know that the day is set apart from the other 6. They acknowledge that it is a day that we go to church to worship but when that is over, does the Sabbath end? Are all we are called to is to go to church, get the benediction and move forward? We go to lunch and eat at places where people completely disregard the day. To most of the world it is just another day. But is that what Gods word says?
When we look at the scriptures, we see a vast amount of rules when it came to the Sabbath. Israel was bound by it. It was what made them Gods people; It set them apart from all the other cultures.
Lets talk of the creation and where the Sabbath fits in:
“1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And xon the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
God had just finished his beautiful work of creation, which included one man and one woman. These humans were neither Jew nor Gentile. The need for calling out a special people to bring in a Messiah for sin did not exist, for at this moment, sin was now hereto be found. There was only one class of humans, and during their existence He spoke these words.
Why would God need a day of rest? Does He tire? The scriptures say He does not tire.
Isaiah 40 says:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He doesn’t tire but the scriptures also say he rested, what’s up with that?
While it is true that many translations of the bible such as the New Revised Version Standard(NRSV), the King James Version and others render the Hebrew word Shavatas “rested” a more accurate translation of Shavat is”abstained,” i.e., “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because He abstained from all His work which God created to make” Gen 2:4. Nachmonides (12th century) interpreted these words to mean “he ceased to perform all His creative work.”
So, God did not rest; He doesn’t need rest-He is eternal and never sleeps. He ceased His creativity. He abstained creating anything more.
God did not need to rest from fatigue-He has no body that is susceptible to overtaxing. He used this break as an example to us, His creating, that we as well should rest from involving ourselves in creating on the day of rest. He ceased creating, so should we.
God made holy this day for His own purposes, to declare to all ages that His work is completed and worthy of praise. This seventh day was to be a time of rest and rejoicing in the work of God. This is not speculation. God said it.
There’s a great story I would like to share with you from Mrs. Lettie Cowman’s wonderful book, Springs in the Valley. In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Coolies had been engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. On inquiry as to the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.
Then Mrs. Cowman concludes with this penetrating exhortation: “This whirling rushing life which so many of us live does for us what that first march did for those poor jungle tribesmen. The difference: they knew what they needed to restore life’s balance; too often we do not.” Cowman wrote these wise words over 50 years ago; just think how we are now. Internet, 2-3 jobs; both husband and wife working. The list goes on….
So God ceased…..do you? Do I?
JC Ryle writes:
“It is not too much to say that the prosperity or decay of organized Christianity depends on the maintenance of the Christian Sabbath. Break down the fence which now surrounds the Sunday, and our Sunday schools will soon come to an end. Let in the Hood of worldliness and pleasure-seeking on the Lord’s Day, without check or hindrance, and our congregations will soon dwindle away. There is not too much religion in the land now. Destroy the sanctity of the Sabbath, and there would soon be far less. Nothing in short, I believe, would so thoroughly advance the kingdom of Satan as to withdraw legal protection from the Lord’s Day. It would be a joy to the infidel; but it would be an insult and offense to God.”
Did God reveal this to Adam and Eve? One might think that until Moses and the tablet, the Sabbath command was not there. You recall we have spoken in the past to the three main covenants of God: The Covenant of Redemption, the covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. You may be thinking, “Scott, there are more than three covenants!” Yes, there is the Adamic, The Noahic , The Abrahamic, Mosaic, The Davidic and the New Covenant. Of these covenants, all but the Adamic are administrations of the Covenant of Grace. The Adamic is an administration of the Covenant of works.
The law of God has always been; it is as eternal as He is. The law is a direct attribute of Gods character. Adam knew God well. He is the first created; His relationship was direct to the Lord. God walked in the garden with him. The stones was a way God condescending to men. Some people believe that the 10 commandments presented to Moses was a republication-think of it as God saying to Israel, “Here, let me list this for you as you are having a problem understanding my words-I will dumb it down for you and you will have this to keep-to remember, to recall when you get silly.
The Sabbath is set as the fourth command in the first table of the Law. The first four commandments deal with worship and God. The last six deal with the interaction between neighbors.
It was etched, literally by Gods finger into the stones, validating it’s perpetuity.
Where are the tablets now?
In the Ark of the Covenant: The tablets, Aarons Rod that bloomed, a jar of manna and the torah.
What commandment is the Sabbath directive?
The Sabbath is the 4th commandment.
Where is the Decalogue located in scripture?
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
In Leviticus 23:3 we read: ‘Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, and holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.’ And in Isaiah 58:13: ‘If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shall honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, then shalt thou delight in the Lord.’ Psalm 95:11reads: ‘Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.’
The law of God has 3 aspects: moral, ceremonial and judicial
One writer stated:
“There are indeed these divisions in the law, such that the 10 commandments can be clearly identified as a summary of the moral law.
The divisions however are not “watertight” and in order for the law to be better understood the moral, ceremonial and judicial parts must be seen in context with each other.
E.g. although the 10 commandments are a summary of the moral law, they were presented to Moses and the Israelites in a ceremonial form, which we no longer have i.e. written on stone and laid up in the ark of the covenant.
They also had an immediate judicial aspect, the 10 commandments being the basic covenant and constitutional and judicial document of the typological Kingdom of God, Israel.
There are many other ways in which there is overlap between the judicial. ceremonial and moral categories, but the 10C can be identified as the summary of the moral law, and moral precepts and principles can be identified throughout the other legislation.”
Are all the ceremonial laws abrogated under the New Testament?”
Yes; Col. 2.14,16. Dan. 9.27. Eph. 2.15,16.
What about the Judicial-that’s another argument. Research theonomy.
Heb. 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For 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”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” Heb. 4:6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 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.” Heb. 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Heb. 4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
You have here two interesting comments:
1) If you hold to my Sabbath, you will delight in the Lord
2) If you do not hold, you will not enter into ‘my rest’.
This is a warning of sorts and an exhortation as well. God wants what is best for His people. He is a true Father, looking out for His children. Will you respond rightly?
This begs a question: I don’t think God meant that like you are saying it. Our rest is in Christ-He is our Sabbath rest. He is Lord of the Sabbath. This is true. We are under grace, no? Does that mean we neglect what God commands just because we are under grace? Of course not; that would be silly to even consider that. Remember a few weeks ago we discussed the Law. What did Paul say in regards to grace? Should we sin so that grace may abound? No!
The Talmud flatly states, “Breaking the Sabbath is like worshipping idols.
Rom 3:21But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded.Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
So, yes, we are under the C of G, but we uphold the law-our faith wants it. It is water to our faith. It sanctifies us. It does not justify, however. What did James say: Show me a man with no works and I will show you a man with no faith…..
Sign and Sacrament
In Exodus we read: “It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested”
In what sense was the Sabbath a sign, and in comparison to the other commandments?
In what sense is the Christian Sabbath/Lord’s Day a sign, if at all?
It was a sign, in that it pointed to the realities that are above and future. Signs point to things…..Remember how the sign gifts worked at Pentecost; They pointed to things. The Sabbath pointed to Christ and the rest that Christ would bring. This rest is the works of the C of W’s. We are under grace now and that is a rest. Think about it. Compare the two covenants.
It was a sign pointing to the God who sanctifies his people, in that HE hallowed the first thing, a day, and that day was made for man (as Jesus said) to commune with God.
It pointed to the rest above, the rest in God, the rest that not even the Promised Land could provide, but was itself a sign.
It still points to that rest, which is why Heb.4 explicitly states: “There remains a sabbath-keeping for the people of God.” It is our foretaste of heaven; it is for us that we may know the Lord who sanctifies us.
Witsius calls the Sabbath a sacrament; When he says this, he equates it with,say, circumcision which is a sacrament of the C of G. The Sabbath was a sacrament with the C of W’s. With all covenants there are respective signs and seals. Those following the C of W’s keep the Sabbath-obviously.
So up to here, we have established a few things; God created, God ceased creating, God left the Sabbath as a perpetual command, Jesus is our rest in the C of G; Gods people love the law of God; it is a direct reflection of the spirit of God dwelling in us, guiding us in truth and leading us in sanctification.
The change of day from Last day to first.
Lets read Gen 1 again as it will help clarify a few things:
“1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and wall the host of them. 2 And xon the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
You may say, “Scott, there is no positive command in scripture showing us that there was a change. Are the Seven Day Adventist and Jews correct?
What day is the 7th day?
One writer put it this way:
“It also must be noticed that the commandment does not specify a day, but a pattern. This overthrows the contention that the 4th commandment is part of the ceremonial law at the outset. True, the Sabbath is spoken of, and it is set by the creation ordinance as the 7th day. But which 7th day? The seventh day from what day? In the Genesis account God does not specify that “Sunday” is thefirst day and “Saturday” is the seventh day. The narrative simply tells us that God set a pattern of six days work and one day to rest. It does not specify a day but a pattern. How so? The question must be asked, “Where did the Jews begin to know what day the Sabbath was suppose to be when they gathered the manna?” The plain fact is that they did not know. What they did was work for 6days and then on the 7th (which happened to be Saturday) they rested. Their pattern pointed back to the Creation Ordinance of Gen.2:1-3. They were in no way mimicking a ceremonial ordinance, but a pattern – an eternal pattern set for all men for all time. If the Sabbath day was specifically mention as “Saturday” then “Saturday” would continually and forever be the formal day of worship. But God, in His providence, set a pattern for the Jews and then a pattern for the church. The Sabbath rest is not a specific day in its moral aspect, but a section of time designated by the Lord. For the Jews this fell on the seventh day, Saturday. For the church, as we will see, God is able to change the day without disturbing the moral significance of the pattern. Christians still hold to six days work and one day rest. For the Jews, it is impossible that the Jewish weekly Sabbath is ceremonial simply in this light. The ceremonial law, which the Jews would have never known, had not even been given yet.”
a) Last day of the week
We all know that the Sabbath was the last day of the week; starting Friday evening at sundown and ending Sundown Saturday.
Were you aware that Jewish tradition calls the Sabbath, the bride?
“Question: Why is the Sabbath referred to as a “bride”?
Answer: Great question!(And a very deep one.)
On Friday nights in the synagogue, we sing from the siddur, “Lecha dodi likraskallah…” “Come my Beloved to greet the bride…” Our Beloved is G-d and the kallah/bride is the Sabbath, the bride of the Jewish People. This idea is based on a Midrash that points out that all the days of the week were given “mates” (Sunday has Monday, Tuesday has Wednesday, Thursday has Friday), but the 7th day seemed like the odd one out. Therefore, it complained to God, who responded that the Jewish People would be its“groom”. (Based on Midrash Bereishis Rabbah 11:8; see also Talmud, TractateBava Kama 32a-b.)
What does this mean?
Obviously, it reflects the very powerful relationship between the Jewish People and the Sabbath (as the phrase goes, “more than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews”). The Torah says that Eve was created as a ‘helpmate’ for Adam, meaning that spouses are supposed to help their partners reach their greatest potentials. The Sabbath helps the Jews reach their greatest potential.”
The above taken from Jewishanswers.org
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan writes:
It is no exaggeration to say that the Jew has survived two thousand years of persecution and humiliation largely because he had the Sabbath. It was one factor that not only made him survive, but kept him alive, both spiritually and morally. 1
Without the Sabbath, the Jew would have vanished. It has been said that as much as the Jew has kept Shabbos, so has Shabbos kept the Jew. As long as Judaism exists as a vibrant, vital force, the Sabbath is its most outstanding ritual practice.
1) The Sabbath is the 4th commandment-It is moral,no longer ceremonial, per se.
We all agree that the commandments of God are perpetual; We see no positive command to abrogate the Sabbath-Jesus endorsed it and kept it. There is not 9commands….
a) Antinomianism-“We are not under the law”.
b) Dispensationalist-“That was Old Testament”.
It was ceremonial in certain respects; there was more than one Sabbath. The Sabbaths referred to in Colk 2 were ceremonial and they have ceased since the temple is destroyed.
Richard Barcellos writes on the Sabbath:
“The New Covenant’s Sabbath Day is the Lord’s Day. The OT prophesied a day when, under the New Covenant, there would be a transformed temple, a transformed priesthood and sacrifices, and a transformed Sabbath – all to fit the redemptive-historical shift that takes place when Christ entered His glory or rest, depicted as the inauguration of the new creation or that to which God’s rest at creation pointed but which Adam failed to attain.”
e) Prior to the Mosaic
2) Gods covenants are perpetual
a) Covenant of Works/Covenant of grace
b) The Sabbath is an administration of both covenants
3) Under the present covenant, men are still responsible to Gods law
a) We are not under law, but grace
b) The Sabbath is old testament; we are in the new!
In regards to exercising freedom on the Lords day:
“I am no enthusiast. I want no tired laborer to misunderstand my meaning, when I bid him to keep the Sabbath holy. I do not tell anyone that he ought to pray all day, or read his Bible all day, or go to church all day, or meditate all day, without let or cessation, on a Sunday. All I say is, that the Sunday rest should be a holy rest. God ought tobe kept in view; God’s Word ought to be studied; God’s House ought to be attended; the soul’s business ought to be specially considered; and I say that everything which prevents the day being kept holy in this way, ought as far as possible to be avoided.”
Were the Apostles and early NT church breaking the 2nd & 4th commandment by meeting on the Lord’s day, i.e. the first day of the week? In Acts we see:
Jn 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
This word, ‘assembled’ is the same word used to describe the OT synagogue:
4863. συνάγω sunagō; from 4862 and 71; to lead together, i.e. bring together, hence come together (pass.), entertain:—assemble(1), assembled(5), came together(1), convened(1), gather(10), gather … together(2), gather together(1), gathered(9), gathered … together(3), gathered together(14), gathered … together(1), gathering(3), gathering together(1), invite(2), invited(1), met(2), store(2).
Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).
see also: Matt 28:12, Matt 26:57, Matt 26:3
This word, ‘synagogue’ denotes an organized gathering. Keep in mind, all of these people were devout Jews who were highly familiar with the commandments and rituals. If the change of day did not come directly from Christ, we would see some obvious backlash in these early stages, and we don’t. Also, notice it says that Christ ‘stood in the midst of them’.
This verb: ἵστημι.
Contents: A. ἵστημι in Greek-Hellenistic Usage. B. Theological Aspects in the Old Testament. C. Judaism: 1. Sirach; 2. Philo; 3. Qumran. D. ἵστημι in the New Testament: I. Employment corresponding to General Usage; II. Theological Aspects of New Testament Usage.
ἵστημι is one of the verbs which take their sense from the relations in which they stand. It also involves the place where a person is set or stands and the question of what endures in the flux of time with its changes.
Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 638.
In the midst of this ‘standing’ Christ validates the change by telling them all, ‘Peace be with you’. Would Christ be telling them ‘peace be with you’ if they were breaking the 2nd and 4th commandments? If so, this attributes sin to Christ! In fact, He tells them ‘peace be with you’ twice in the same passage, amplifying the idea and placing His royal stamp upon it!
Christ ‘standing’ shows that He accepts the change. Consider the lamp stands (or candle sticks) in the book of Revelation that denote a true church of God:
12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Re 1:12–13.
The candle stick denotes truth. It denotes light. Christ is the light. He is a flame. He is sinless. Here we see the same language used of Christ, ‘in the midst’. Same word used in the last chapter of John. For John to write that they were gathered as the ‘synagogue’ of God says much; to deny it says that Christ was sinning as he obviously advocates for the change.
Prudence In all things.