I received the following email about honoring the Sabbath, and my response follows:
Dear Bro. John,
I am writing to you concerning your comments on keeping the Sabbath day holy. You said:
“It isn’t merely keeping Saturday holy as the Sabbath written in stone, but as Jesus said, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, and He is Lord of the Sabbath, therefore the living law is to set aside a day to honor God, the Spirit behind the original command. (Mk 2:27-28)
Otherwise ministers such as I (not to mention the OT Levitical priests and Rabbi’s) have violated God’s command nearly every weekend for centuries, or in my case over 32 years, for Saturdays and Sundays are work days for me. I’ve nearly always taken a Monday or Tuesday or Friday as my Sabbath as did the Levitical priests of the OT and modern Rabbi’s. Do you think God commands 1 yet excuses the other, or is Jesus telling the truth when He said the Sabbath was made for man? (He certainly broke it enough.)”
I wasn’t aware that the OT Levitical priests and modern rabbis broke the Sabbath, or honored another day besides the 7th day as God’s Sabbath. I do know they had multiple Sabbaths to keep throughout the year besides the 7th day Sabbath.
I was under the impression that, because God Himself sanctified the 7th day, rested and called it holy, and because He made it one of the Ten Commandments, that we should follow it just as much as we do any of the other Nine.
I believe that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus also said if they had seen the Father, they had seen Him, and that He and the Father are one. So therefore, it would stand to reason that Jesus can do whatever He will, because He is equal to God. That doesn’t mean that WE are lords of the sabbath, for we are not equal to God, and cannot do whatever we want to.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t see anywhere in the N.T. where Jesus did away with the 7th day Sabbath. Why would He keep any other day, if God had ordained the 7th day? Why would the disciples keep any other day? My theory is, none of them would have kept any other day besides the 7th day. And therefore, we should follow their example.
Your thoughts on this will be appreciated.
P.S. – I do not belong to any organized religious group; I am just a student of the Scriptures.
Thanks for writing.
I think the NT spells it out pretty well, and I tried to briefly sum up the teachings of Jesus and Paul in particular on the Sabbath in my comments this week, but I’ll try to clarify and walk through the thought process, but it will take some honesty of thought and logic on your part. Hearing your heart, that you are a student of the scriptures though, makes me think you will be exactly that.
From your email I gather you had never considered that to the priests Saturdays and holy days were work days, not days of rest, and they took another day off as Sabbath. That’s the same today whether Jewish or 7th Day Adventist pastors, or a pastor, Messianic or otherwise, who works on “God’s commanded day of rest”.
So how does one reconcile this breaking of the command to honor the Sabbath as a day of rest and honoring God, when for centuries it was a work day for the priests that were also commanded by God to perform their duties on His Sabbath day? Isn’t that hypocritical of God? How could He command a law that He knew He Himself would then command that a certain group of people break, placing them in double jeopardy and guilty before Him?
Of course God doesn’t play both ends against the middle, making His priests guilty of sinning as they serve Him on His commanded Sabbath. Therefore you must adjust your understanding of God’s ways, or else you do find them guilty of breaking the Sabbath when God Himself does not. Are you then higher than God?
I think your field of view may be rather narrow without realizing it. You state that ‘because God Himself sanctified the 7th day…’, in your email to me, as if God Himself did not command the other 9 commands, nor the total of 613 He commanded Moses. (The 10 Commandments being the summary of the 613, and the 2 ‘royal’ commands are the summary of the 10: Love the Lord and Love your neighbor as yourself) James 2:8-10
Why are you elevating 1 command above the other 612? That’s hypocritical. I don’t think you intend to do that, I just think you are focused on the 1 while forgetting He equally commanded another 612.
So, shouldn’t we then obey all 613 since God Himself sanctified these actions just as much as He commanded the Sabbath be observed? We must be consistent and honest in our logic or else our faith becomes flawed.
It was all God-commanded, so to elevate one above another dishonors God’s command…He commanded the Sabbath as much as He commanded “thou shalt do no murder” as much as “And the Lord spoke to Moses saying; This is the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall go forth out of the camp…”
So how do you make a distinction between offering a dove and grain offering to not uncovering your brother’s wife’s nakedness to breaking and throwing away a bowl that had spoiled food in it, to not stealing, lying, not murdering, not having idols, or honoring mom and dad or keeping the Sabbath? God commanded it all to Moses.
Does one who thinks Saturday is THE Sabbath because God commanded it so, also make fringes on their clothes according to God’s command in Numbers 15:37-41, which were tied in a series of special knots adding up to the Hebrew equivalent of 613 to remind them of God’s laws?
As James said in 2:10, if a persons breaks 1 law they are guilty breaking all – so if Christians who want to honor the Sabbath ‘because God Himself commanded it’ ignore the other 612 commands God Himself commanded – they are required to keep all 613, or they are guilty of all.
So in keeping the Saturday Sabbath are you also not mixing your yarns (no cotton/polyester or wool/cotton blends) and refraining from mixing cheese with beef? If you are a farmer do you round off the edges and allow the poor to glean the edges? Do you break a bowl that had something spoiled in it? Do you offer burnt and other offerings?
If not, people who practice the Saturday Sabbath but not keep the rest, according to God’s Word, are guilty before God of all 613 of God’s commands. (Read James 2:1-13)
So do you see the flaw in your theology and logic? Now here is the answer.
The key is to whom the Lord was speaking: Israel.
This understanding was grasped by the apostles in Acts 15 when the question of whether Gentile believers should be made to keep the Mosaic law. This is the exact question you are presenting, plus much more, though it was answered nearly 2000 years ago in Acts 15.
The answer, and consider this answer came from the authors of the New Testament: James the brother of Jesus and author of the book of James, Peter, Paul, John, (Luke was in Paul’s company, and John Mark was too at this point) and most likely Jude too, being also the Lord’s brother).
They determined that the Holy Spirit said, and they agreed with, that Gentiles did not have to keep the laws of Moses. (Acts 15:19-21) If you think you have higher knowledge than these men, I think you are mistaken.
They clearly, very clearly, considered the exact same question you posed about the Sabbath, circumcision, the holy days, and the laws in general of Moses. (Acts 15:5 – “That is was needful to circumcise them and to command them to keep the laws of Moses”)
So your question, and the question posed by many believers concerning keeping Saturday as the Sabbath, have already been addressed in the pages of the New Testament, and answered resoundingly so.
Paul would later acknowledge that some believers wanted to honor the Saturday Sabbath as a matter of choice, and he was fine with that as long as they did not insist that was the ‘right day’ to worship, nor insist other believers follow their practice.
In Romans 14 (all) he dealt with this issue, saying in v1; Him that is weak in the faith receive, but not to the point of doubtful disputes (argument).
And then he lists 2 examples of those weak in the faith: vegetarians and those who honor one day above another.
In verse 5 he said to let each be convinced in his/her own mind, and in v14 he said he knows there is nothing unclean in this world, but to someone who thinks a day or a food is unclean, to him it is. So we who are in stronger faith or walk in the knowledge of that freedom are to be sensitive to those who regard one day as holier than another, or one food group as holier than another.
“He that regards the day, regards it to the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it. He that eats, eats to the Lord, and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, but (both) give God thanks.”
Thus in Colossians 2:16-17 Paul writes: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or by a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of things to come; the reality however, is found in Christ.”
And that’s the point – the reality is found in Christ. To those who want to honor Saturday as Sabbath, they do unto the Lord. Though I agree with James, to honor 1 of God’s commands because He commanded it to be law, but not honor the other 612, is hypocritical. As Paul made clear in Galatians, one cannot pick and choose to live by parts of the law but also parts of Christ, it’s one way or the other: If one lives by the Law he should obey the whole law else he is a hypocrite.
So…I hope that helps…though I think again you miss the even larger point of my Weekly Thoughts this week, and that is that WE are temples, carrying God around in us wherever we go. Therefore the Sabbath is in me as much as Tuesday is in me…because HE is in me. Therefore all days, all eternity is the same – it’s all in Christ, in Him. Why go back to a temple mentality?
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