Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Sabbath: A Divine Appointment or a Day of Your Choosing?

It was Yeshua’s custom to be in the Temple or Synagogue on the Sabbath.

Luke 4:16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And, as His custom was, He went in to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.  (MKJV)

If we want to do the things that our Messiah would do, would it not make sense for us to also gather together on the Sabbath?  If it was His custom to be with the people of God in the synagogue on the Sabbath, and if we are His disciples, should we not do what he taught us to do?  And before we change or stop doing what He did, shouldn’t there be a clear instruction in scripture to do so?  By what authority then, do we disregard a key commandment of God and an example set fourth by Yeshua Himself?  For many of us, these questions are purely rhetorical.

The Sabbath is the first Divine Appointment given in the Torah

Leviticus 23:1-3 NKJV 1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. 3 'Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

There is not one single hint in the scriptures that the Sabbath was abolished or changed to Sunday, the first day of the week.  Yeshua Himself gives a clear and direct statement concerning all the commandments of God’s word in Matthew 5:17-20.

Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill.  18 For truly I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the law until all is fulfilled.  19 Therefore whoever shall break one of these commandments, the least, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven. But whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.  20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.   (MKJV)

There are many who argue that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday by Yeshua’s death and resurrection since He was resurrected on the first day of the week, ie: Sunday.  This assertion is based only on tradition begun in the 4th century by order of the Roman Emperor Constantine and has nothing to do with scripture. If Sunday was to be the new Sabbath day, then why is it that the seventh day Sabbath, that is Saturday, is clearly practiced during the millennium when Yeshua returns to earth?  Look at Ezekiel where the temple of the LORD is described.  This is a future Temple that has yet to be built in Jerusalem.  It is the Temple of the millennium!

Eze 45:17 It will be the duty of the prince to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, the New Moons and the Sabbaths-- at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel.  (NIV)

When you read the entire passage in Ezekiel and other passages of scripture concerning the millennium, you see that the Sabbath, as well as all of the Feasts of the LORD, and the sacrificial system as well, is restored at this time in the Temple at Jerusalem!  The Prince of Peace, who is Yeshua the Messiah, reigns from Jerusalem for a thousand years!  Again consider the question, if Yeshua abolished or changed the Sabbath or any of the other appointed Feasts by His death on the cross, then why is it “reestablished” during the millennium?

According to the scriptures, the Sabbath was clearly in place while Yeshua was here on earth and He kept the Sabbath “as was His custom”.  And the Sabbath will be in place during the millennium when He returns to reign in Jerusalem.  So on what basis is the Sabbath suspended during the interim?

The Apostle Paul kept the Sabbath and he kept the Torah.  Look at Acts 17:1-2

Acts 17:1 When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.  2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.  (NIV)

The passage in Romans chapter 14 verses 5 & 6 is often sited as “proof” that the Sabbath was done away with. 

Romans 14:5-6 MKJV 5 One indeed esteems a day above another day; and another esteems every day alike. Let each one be fully assured in his own mind. 6 He who regards the day regards it to the Lord; and he not regarding the day, does not regard it to the Lord. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, does not eat to the Lord, and gives God thanks.

The Sabbath may not be the “day” Paul is referring to here at all.  Paul could just as likely be addressing the Roman believers who were arguing about which day the Feast of Weeks fell on.  This was a hot button issue in his day among the Rabbis and teachers of the Torah, primarily between those in the land and those in the Diaspora: between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  It pitted one group against another in petty arguments.  In several chapters in this section of Romans, Paul is calling for unity among believers on a variety of issues and calling for the believers to come together in love and respect.

Some other references in scripture to the first day of the week are found in Acts 20:7 and in 1 Cor 16:1-3.

Ac 20:7 And on the first of the week, the disciples having been assembled to break bread, being about to depart on the morrow, Paul reasoned to them. And he continued his speech until midnight.

1Cor 16:1 And concerning the collection for the saints, as I charged the churches of Galatia, so also you do.  2 On the first day of the week let each of you put by himself, storing up what ever he is prospered, so that there may be no collections when I come.  3 And when I come, whomever you shall approve by your letters, I will send them to bring your gift to Jerusalem.  (MKJV)

We must remember that a “day” on the Biblical calendar begins at sunset.  So the first day of the week would begin at sunset on Saturday.  It was a long standing tradition is to end the Sabbath with a shared meal, the “breaking of bread”.  Paul engaged in teaching and studying with the believers after this end of Sabbath meal. Also it was a tradition as well not to engage in collecting monies on the Sabbath or buying and selling since this is part of everyday work. 

The scriptures are full of examples of the Sabbath being kept by the Apostles as well as Yeshua Himself.  What is decidedly lacking is any clear statement that the Sabbath was done away with or moved to the first day of the week.  Ask yourself this, why would God abolish something that He gave to us to experience joy and gladness and fellowship with Him?  Why would He establish the Sabbath as an “perpetual covenant”, and then abolish it only to reestablish it later? 

Exodus 31:16-17 NKJV 16 'Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 'It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”

The Sabbath is not just for the Children of Israel but for all who call upon the name of the LORD.

Isaiah 56:6-7 NKJV 6 "Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants-Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant- 7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations."

Meeting in worship of God and studying God’s word on the first day of the week, or any day of the week, is permissible as Paul did on many occasions.  We just should not confuse it with the Sabbath.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at www.moedministries.com.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know that the Sabbath is mentioned 34 times in the Torah but is mentioned 57 times in the Gospels and Acts? The first mention of the Sabbath in the Torah is in Exodus: Ex 16:23 Then he said to them, "This [is what] the LORD has said: 'Tomorrow [is] a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake [today], and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.'"


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