Is the Sabbath for today?
Many Christians, when asked if they believe in keeping the Ten Commandments, answer with a resounding “Yes!”. Many will even have (often excerpts) of the Ten Commandments hanging on their walls in prominent places in house. All too often however, those ten commandments that they believe so much in keeping will stand there as a witness against them all the days of their life. Here is the fourth Commandment:
Exod 20:9 (NKJV) Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the Yahweh your Elohim. [In] [it] you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who [is] within your gates. 11 For [in] six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that [is] in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
All throughout history man has profaned the day Yahweh sanctified for rest. It was true even in the days when Isaiah was a prophet of Israel. Yahweh told him to stand in the gates of Jerusalem and instruct the rulers and people in Sabbath keeping, and rebuke them for their Sabbath desecration. (Isaiah 56:2-6, 58:13, 66:23)
150 years later the prophet Nehemiah asked the people:
Nehe 13:17 (NKJV) Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing [is] this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? 18 “Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our Elohim bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”
He then put forth measures for proper Sabbath keeping
Today is no exception. Keeping the Sabbath is indeed not a popular thing. We find large numbers of people reserving the seventh day Sabbath for worldly things rather than for holy things. Many start out to work on Sabbath morning. Many others spend the day doing their dirtiest cleaning chores, attending sports activities, buying, selling and just overall ignoring the Sabbath commandment. In the last 50 years, even keeping the sabbath on the first day (Sunday) is ignored by those who believe in keeping it. Especially on days that it is inconvenient for them.
Yahushua and the disciples kept the Sabbath
Many say that Yahushua defended Himself and His disciples for breaking the Sabbath. Think about this for a moment…If Yahushua broke the Sabbath then He did not keep the 4th commandment! Certainly our perfect Messiah kept the Sabbath and kept it perfectly. The issue was in how the Sabbath was to be kept. The scribes and pharisees had added over one thousand laws to Sabbath observance such as not carrying your bed or healing on the Sabbath.
John 5:8 (NKJV) Yahushua said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed , and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry [your] bed .”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, `Take up your bed and walk.’ ”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, `Take up your bed and walk’?”
13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Yahushua had withdrawn, a multitude being in [that] place.
14 Afterward Yahushua found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Yahushua who had made him well.
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Yahushua, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.
17 But Yahushua answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
Yahushua did not break the Sabbath according to Yahweh’s commandment and neither did the man who was healed. But the Jews of that day had added these ideas of not healing, not carrying your bed and over a thousand other commandments of men that were added to Yahweh’s commandment for the Sabbath. Yahushua emphasized that working for His purpose is never breaking the Sabbath. The Levites “broke” the Sabbath by sacrificing animals. Also circumcising a child on the Sabbath would have been forbidden if you could never work for His purpose. Yahweh knows the heart. That is why Yahushua said this.
Yahushua’s custom was to go the the synagogue every Sabbath.
Luke 4:16 (NKJV) So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
It was a normal thing in those days. The idea of not keeping the Sabbath did not exist among the Jews of that day. This is why Yahushua did not emphasize it as much as the other commandments. The leaders of the day emphasized the outward appearance of serving Yahweh, but neglected important matters such as justice, mercy and faith.
Matt 23:23 (NKJV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier [matters] of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
Note that Yahushua did say that “These you ought to have done”. All too often people think all that is required of us is justice, mercy and faith because Yahushua had to emphasize it so much. Certainly these are important. But do not neglect the other points.
Yahushua is the founder of our faith. His teachings and example is in full harmony with Yahweh’s will for our lives and is our highest authority. Did Yahushua abolish or change the Sabbath as a day for rest and worship? Yahushua declared Himself as “Master of the Sabbath”. No scripture said that He had or would change the Sabbath, even after His death. Yahushua kept the commandments and came to set us an example. (John 8:55, 1Peter 2:21-22). In fact, Yahushua expects His followers in these last days to be praying about the Sabbath and keeping it:
Matt 24:20 (NKJV) And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
A common form of reasoning against Yahushua’s example of keeping the Sabbath is that He only ‘went along’ with Sabbath observance so that the law would be fulfilled. The problem with this reasoning is that it could be applied as an excuse to do away with anything Yahushua ever said or did! What percentage of His words and deeds are we to discount? This reasoning has no basis in scripture, it is only an attempt to ignore the example that Yahushua has given and also the example that the Heavenly Father gave when He created all things.
Another form of reasoning often used against Yahushua’s example of Sabbath observance is that He only kept it because He was a Jew. But was the Sabbath made for all mankind or for Jews only? What did Yahushua teach?
Mark 2:27 (NKJV) And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
While it is true that man was not made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for man! Notice that Yahushua never said “The Sabbath was made for Jews, not Jews for the Sabbath,” He plainly said the Sabbath was made for all mankind. When Yahweh rested on the 7th day as an example for us, a Jew did not even exist. Yahushua plainly knew the Scriptures when He said that the Sabbath was made for man:
Let’s read the 56th chapter of Isaiah:
It doesn’t say “Blessed is the Jew that doeth this.” In fact..
Isaiah 56:3 – Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to YAHWEH, speak, saying, YAHWEH hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
4 – For thus saith YAHWEH unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
5 – Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
6 – Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to YAHWEH, to serve him, and to love the name of YAHWEH, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
7 – Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
This proves that the Sabbath was intended for anyone who has “Joined himself to Yahweh” for Yahweh says that “EVERYONE who keeps from defiling the Sabbath” will be accepted in His sight. To be certain, it is written that everyone will be observing His Sabbath day after the resurrection:
Isaiah 66:22 – For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me,
saith YAHWEH, so shall your seed and your name remain.
23 – And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath
to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith YAHWEH.
“All flesh” will be observing a regular Sabbath, not just Israelites or Jews therefore the teaching that Yahushua only kept the Sabbath because He was/is Jewish is simply false and not founded on any scripture whatsoever.
The disciples kept the Sabbath
Even the Apostle Paul, after being accused of teaching that the law had been abolished, said that He keeps the commandments:
Acts 24:14 (NKJV) “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.
Acts 25:8 (NKJV) while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”
Now, unless Paul was lying here he had to have been keeping the Sabbath. In fact, he said that he didn’t teach anything other than what the “Old Testament” writers taught:
Acts 26:22 (NKJV) “Therefore, having obtained help from Yahweh, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come– 23 “that the Messiah would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the [Jewish] people and to the Gentiles.”
Many people would like to add: “……and abolish the law, especially the Sabbath.” But this is very simply not there. You would think that such a momentous event as doing away with the Sabbath would be heavily prophesied in the Old Testament. But there is not a word about it. Rather to the contrary! (More on this later)
Even in the New Testament time period we see that the Gentiles and the Jews were keeping the Sabbath together in the Synagogue:
Acts 18:4 – And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Truly, the Sabbath was not for Jews only. James knew what day the Gentiles would be gathered:
Acts 15:19 – Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to YAHWEH:
20 – But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21 – For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
It was well known by James and others there that the Gentiles would be keeping the Sabbath and therefore would be in the synagogue on the Sabbath day and there they would learn more about Yahweh’s law. If they weren’t going there, his statement would have been without merit.
James also stated the same thing in his writings:
James 2:2 – For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,
3 – and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,”
The word that is translated “assembly” in this scripture (verse 2) is the Strong’s greek word 4864 “Sunagoge”, translated synagogue 55 times in the new testament. I do wonder how many people honestly believe this scripture:
Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in the Messiah Yahushua.
The Disciples Kept the Sabbath
85 Times in the book of Acts
There are many scriptures that verify the Sabbath day being the 7th day of the week. All throughout the ‘New testament’, the first day of the week is called “The first day of the week” and the 7th day of the week is called “The Sabbath”. This fact alone should prove when the Sabbath truly is.
However, let us examine the pattern of the disciples after Yahushua’s resurrection in the book of acts to determine what day that they attended Sabbath Services and what day they expected others to observe. We will keep a count of how many times the Sabbath is observed.
We see one example in Acts 17:1…
Acts 17:1 (NKJV) Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Acts 17:2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:3 explaining and demonstrating that the Messiah had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and [saying], “This Yahushua whom I preach to you is the Messiah.” Acts 17:4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
Here we see that Paul went to a Sabbath service where there were both Jews and Greeks. The scripture also mentions that this was a regular custom of Paul. Was this also the custom of Yahushua the Messiah?
Luke 4:16 (NKJV) So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
So here we can see that 22 years after Yahushua’s death and resurrection the disciples were attending Sabbath services. In no place do we see Paul or any other disciple teaching them that they should come back the next day for a ‘first day of the week’ service. But they went to three Sabbath services where there were both Jews and Greeks present. So then the doctrine that says the Jews have their day (the 7th day) and the Gentiles have their day (the 1st day) is foreign to scripture.
Some would argue that Paul was at the synagogue only because that is where he would find people to witness to…not to observe the Sabbath. But the scripture does not say that. This is an assumption that those who refuse the simplicity of the scriptures want to make, not one that the scriptures support. Again, the Seventh Day is called “The Sabbath day” in this passage.
So lets see where we are at now..
Acts 13:13 (NKJV) Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. Acts 13:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. Acts 13:15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men [and] brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”
So here is another example where Paul and the other disciples came to the Synagogue in Perga to attend the Sabbath Service.
Acts 13:42 (NKJV) So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.
Now here is a perfect situation for Paul to tell these Gentiles “Hey just come back tomorrow, we keep the Sabbath on the first day now!” But we don’t see this written anywhere in scripture.
Acts 13:43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of Yahweh Acts 13:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of Yahweh.
So here is the fifth time that the disciples attended a Sabbath service on the day that Yahweh sanctified at creation. Again, the seventh day is called “the Sabbath” in this passage.
Acts 16:11 (NKJV) Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next [day] came to Neapolis, Acts 16:12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. Acts 16:13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met [there].
It was the custom of the Jews of that day for the rabbi to shut down the synagogue if there were not at least 10 men that would show up for the Sabbath meeting. This could very well be why there were women meeting by the riverside for prayer. Nevertheless, we see that the disciples sought a place to meet for the Sabbath and they did. Again, the seventh day is called “the Sabbath Day” in this passage.
Acts 18:1 (NKJV) After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. Acts 18:2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. Acts 18:3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
So we see that he worked on the other days as a tentmaker…but on the Sabbath He was not. And here again we see that both Jews and Greeks are in the synagogue and on the Sabbath. Paul also is among them attending the Sabbath services. The interesting thing about this verse is that instead of the scripture saying that they attended only one or three sabbath services, it says that he was there every Sabbath persuading both Jews and Greeks. Again, the seventh day is called “the Sabbath” in this passage so we know that we can at least count one. Let’s do that..
Acts 18:5 (NKJV) When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews [that] Yahushua [is] the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook [his] garments and said to them, “Your blood [be] upon your [own] heads; I [am] clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain [man] named Justus, [one] who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Master with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. 9 Now the Master spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 “for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued [there] a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
A year and six months! Finally the ruler of the synagogue was converted to Yahushua and Paul was there a year and six months! So the scripture says that Paul was there every Sabbath and that he was there for a year and six months. If we counted this by our present calendar that would give us 52 Sabbaths in a year plus 26 Sabbaths in the following six months which gives us a total of 78 Sabbaths! Now lets add this to our present total:
Now how many times do we see them meeting together on the first day? Some would cite one example in Acts 20. Let’s examine the text…
Acts 20:6 (NKJV) But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. Acts 20:7 Now on the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
Here we see an example of the disciples gathering together on the first day of the week. There is no mention of a Sabbath being observed in this verse. Nowhere is this day called “The Sabbath”. In fact, we know that Paul was ready to depart the next day. According to verse 7, Paul spoke to them a message because for this very reason.
Now some would say that coming together to ‘break bread’ constitutes a meeting that includes the observance of partaking in Yahushua’s body. But this is not true…consider this verse:
Acts 2:44 (NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising Yahweh and having favor with all the people. And Yahweh added to the assembly daily those who were being saved.
According to this scripture, breaking bread was not an uncommon thing to do on a daily basis. It was one of the customs in those days to eat their ‘daily bread’. Even in Yahushua’s prayer He said “Give us this day our daily bread”.
So we cannot confirm that this scripture in Acts 20 is a Sabbath day observance. In fact, nowhere does it say that the first day of the week is the Sabbath. But the 7th day of the week is always called “the Sabbath” in the ‘new testament.’ Unless you don’t believe in the New Testament, you would have to conclude that this was not a Sabbath meeting. So what was it really? Many may not realize that in scripture, a new day begins at sundown. This would mean that at sundown on ‘Saturday’, the first day of the week begins. This was most probably an ‘after Sabbath’ fellowship meal where Paul continued to speak until midnight because he wanted to get as much teaching in as possible before he departed the next day.
Nevertheless some will hang onto this one verse so that they don’t have to forsake tradition and keep the true Sabbath. But you can search the scriptures from Genesis to Revelations and you will not find a single verse that says His Sabbath was changed to a different day. There is not a single verse that tells us that the Ten Commandments are not to be kept. And there is not a single verse that prophesied either of these two events occurring! In fact, the scriptures declare the seventh day to be the Sabbath in the Law, in the words of the prophets, in the writings about Yahushua and in the acts of the apostles as well as in the scriptures that speak of Yahweh’s kingdom. Therefore that final tally will remain at:
“The primitive Christians did keep the Sabbath of the Jews;.therefore the Christians for a long time together, did keep their conventions on the Sabbath, in which some portion of the Law were read: and this continued till the time of the Laodicean council.” The Whole Works of Jeremey Taylor, Vol. IX, p416 (R. Heber’s Edition, Vol.XII, p.416)
“The ancient Christians were very careful in the observation of Saturday, or the seventh day..It is plain that all the Oriental churches, and the greatest part of the world, observed the Sabbath as a festival…Athanasius likewise tells us that they held religious assemblies on the Sabbath, not because they were infected with Judaism, but to worship [Yahushua], the [Master] of the Sabbath, Epiphanius says the same.” Antiquities of the Christian Church, Vol. II, Book XX, chap. 3, Sec. 1, 66.1137, 1138
“Ambrose, the celebrated bishop of Milan, said that when he was in Milan he observed Saturday, but when in Rome observed Sunday. This gave rise to the proverb ‘When you are in Rome, do as Rome does,’ ” Heylyn, The History of the Sabbath, 1613
Constantine later enforced keeping a Sabbath on the first day of the week, which he calls “the venerable day of the sun.” Venerable means ‘commanding respect’.
The text of Constantine’s Sunday Law of 321 A.D. is:
“One the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for gain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.”
This doesn’t even really sound like Yahweh’s Sabbath which forbids any kind of work at all on His day!
Later, those who observed the Sabbath were persecuted and killed by the Catholic church. When the Jesuit St. Francis Xavier arrived in India he immediately requested to the pope to set up the Inquisition there.
“The Jewish wickedness” of which Xavier complained was evidently the Sabbath-keeping among those native Christians as we shall see in our next quotation. When one of these Sabbath-keeping Christians was taken by the Inquisition he was accused of having *Judaized*; which means having conformed to the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law; such as not eating pork, hare, fish without scales, of having attended the solemnization of the Sabbath.” Account of the Inquisition at Goa, Dellon, p.56. London, 1815
“Of an hundred persons condemned to be burnt as Jews, there are scarcely four who profess that faith at their death; the rest exclaiming and protesting to their last gasp that they are Christians, and have been so during their whole lives.” Ibid p.64
Today, some of the leading Baptists even have admitted that the Sunday Sabbath isn’t in the scriptures:
“There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not on Sunday…It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week….where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament. Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of a sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!” Dr. Edward Hiscox, author of The Baptist Manual