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The Biblical Sabbath

"On the seventh day God finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done." (Genesis 2:2).

When Yahweh, the Creator of the universe had finished creating the heavens and the earth, the moon, the sun and the stars, the living creatures of the sea, the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and man, He rested. It wasn't a religious thing; He merely rested and rejoiced in all that He had done: "And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good." (Genesis 1:31) He did not have a problem in celebrating the Sabbath. So why then are there people who claim that Yahweh did away with the Sabbath observation on Saturday ("the seventh day"), and that He now requires Sunday observation? If this was done, when did He do it? Where in Scripture does it say He changed it? And why would He change the Torah (instructions) He gave to His people at Mount Sinai, and change the "ten commandments"?

In order to understand what the truth is, we need to look at Scripture and find out what it says. That must be the sole basis for our belief, for by what other authority are we able to discern the truth?

[Note: When I speak of "Scripture", I am referring to what is called by Christians "the old testament", or, in Hebrew, the Tanak. The writings of Paul, John, Mark, and others (aka "the new testament") were not viewed as "Scripture" by the early church, since it did not yet exist. These writings were in the process of being written at the time. Even Paul writes, in the mid 60s AD, in his second letter to Timothy, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God ..." (2 Timothy 3.16). Since the "new testament" is not yet written, it's clear that he and others see only the Tanak as "Scripture".]

Sabbath and the Scriptures

At Mount Sinai, approximately 3,500 years ago, God gave the nation of Israel a set of instructions known as the "Torah". The Hebrew word torah means "instruction, direction". This Torah — or set of instructions — was given to Israel to enable them to know how to relate to God and to each other.

Within the Torah is the "ten commandments" (Exodus 20.1-22). Interestingly, these were the commandments given directly to the people. The fourth commandment specifically relates to the Sabbath and Yahweh's instructions for its observance:

"Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of Yahweh your God: you shall not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. For in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8-11)

It was not to be a thing of bondage but of something holy, or set aside, unto Yahweh. The fact that this day links Him to His work of creation is important to Him. It cannot be easily set aside by stating that this was only for Israel. This is the one commandment that links Yahweh to the creation of the heavens and the earth. He blessed it and sanctified it more than 2,000 years before Abraham.

Later, Yahweh further states:

"On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a sabbath of complete rest, a sacred occasion. You shall do no work; it shall be a sabbath of Yahweh throughout your settlements. These are the set times of Yahweh, the sacred occasions, which you shall celebrate each at its appointed time" (Leviticus 23:3-4)

Notice that He specifically states that these are the appointed times of Yahweh. He does not say they are Jewish appointed times; rather they are His appointed times.

The purpose of the Sabbath then is two-fold:

  1. we need to rest from our labors on the seventh day of the week, just as our Creator did, and
  2. the most important reason, to honor the Creator of the universe.

Objections to Sabbath Observance

"It's the Jewish Sabbath."
Yahweh calls it a "a sabbath day of Yahweh your God" (Exodus 20.10; see also Leviticus 23.2-4).

"God is not particular concerning which day we keep."
Nowhere in all of Scripture does Yahweh, His prophets, His kings, or anybody else say anything like this. He made it very clear that He sanctified the seventh day and no other. It's the sign that He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth (Exodus 20.8-11). [For other signs that Yahweh used, see Genesis 9.13 and 17.11.]

When Yahweh states that something should be done in a particular way, He means it to be done in that precise manner. We don't have the authority to change it or amend it. An excellent example of this is Yahweh's judgment against Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron (Leviticus 10). Yahweh previously told Moses to command Aaron and his sons to keep a fire continually burning on the altar (Leviticus 6.9,12,13). However, Nadab and Abihu offered alien fire (that which was not part of the original fire). Scripture records Yahweh's reaction to the changing of His commandment: "And fire came forth from Yahweh and consumed them; thus they died at the instance of Yahweh." (Leviticus 10.2). We can see by Yahweh's action here that He is serious! For other examples read Genesis 3.24; 2 Samuel 6.6-7; and Numbers 4.15,20.

The Changing of the Sabbath

Where then did the authority come from to change the fourth commandment? It obviously did not come from Yahweh.

It wasn't until around 100 AD that the Christian church first started having official meetings on Sunday. It was made a civil law in 321 by Constantine, and decreed officially in 337 at the Council of Laodicea.

Throughout the years the Christian church has continued the tradition without question. The writings of the Catholic Church truthfully admit that there is no biblical basis for a Sunday observance:

"Sunday is a Catholic institution.... From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first." Catholic Press, August 1900

"For, since we [Catholics] deny that the Bible is the sole truth, we can fall back upon the constant practice and tradition of the Church." Francis Lentz, Catholic priest, 1900

"If Protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath day. In keeping Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church." Albert Smith, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 1920

Even the Protestants themselves admit that Sunday observance is not biblical:

"There was never any formal or authoritative change from the Jewish [sic] seventh day Sabbath to the Christian first day observance.... The [Gentiles] brought over the consciousness of various observances in the pagan religions, preeminently the worship of the sun - a sort of Sunday consciousness." W. Carver, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, 1940.

"... as we meet [on Sunday] with no Scriptural direction for the change, we may conclude it was done by the authority of the church." Episcopal Explanation of Catechism

There is nowhere in Scripture that Yahweh at anytime changes His commandment regarding the Sabbath, nor does He ever give anyone else or any institution the authority to change it.

Conclusion

So then what is the choice? You can either be biblical and follow the command of Yahweh and observe His Shabbat on the last day of the week or you can follow the traditions of man and observe it on the first day of the week as the pagans do in their worship of the sun.

» Written by Lee Underwood


There are 5 comments
Carmen
July 21, 2012 - 10:59 AM MDT

This is a great article. I have struggled personally with this topic since i was a little child i was never comfortable with the non-biblical teachings of certain religions that my parents practiced and i always wanted to find the truth. I have never been one to accept what some one else perceives as truth. so i search and i found that the true teachings of the sabbath are truth and that the GOD does not make any mistakes or gives any one the authority to change his word.and to believe that he changed the sabbath to sunday is like calling him a lair. I know that i have noting to loose in keeping the commandments of GOD.

opoku yeboah sabbath
March 25, 2012 - 10:43 AM MDT

Will sunday keeper go to heaven?

Reply to opoku yeboah sabbath
Lee
March 25, 2012 - 06:41 PM MDT

Ultimately the decision is up to Yahweh. However, it's a bit hard to expect favorable treatment from Yahweh when you know His commandment and do not follow it (see also Ezekiel 18.21-24). Remember also, this subject applies to the Sabbath as a day of rest, not necessarily a day for the gathering of a congregation for worship, teaching, or other things.

Reply to opoku yeboah sabbath
SHAMAR JACKSON
March 30, 2012 - 10:35 PM MDT

search the word of God for answers. God forgives and blinks in the sight of innocent ignorance he knows you did not know you sin, he will forgive you. however, the Lord does not partial with sin, if you know what you do and continue, how do you expect to reach? again thats like trying to go up and down and left and right at the same time. you must chose one. the facts and Commandments are clear. sunday worship is not Biblical or Holy. it is the work of the devil and paganism. get out of Babylon my friend!.

SHAMAR JACKSON
March 22, 2012 - 09:30 PM MDT

this was a very profound article and very straight forward, i deeply support this and i did alot of research on this topic and found the truth, i feel very bad for innocent Catholic and protestant Christan soles out there that do not know the truth and have things confused. keep up the GREAT WORK SHAMAR!. YAHWEH BLESS!!

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