The Sabbath Day (Concluded)
An inspired poet in Israel penned the following words. “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Today is the Lord’s day, dear friend and in it we must be exceedingly glad. In a continuation of our study of the so-called “Christian Sabbath,” we will conclusively show that Sunday and not Saturday is the day on which those who profess to be God’s children come together for worship and service.
The very first time the word Sabbath appears in the Bible is Exodus 16:23. Moses led the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Crossing the desert of Zin, east of the Red Sea, the people became disgruntled and unhappy. Their rations were not satisfactory. Moses took the case to Jehovah who responded by providing Manna from heaven. Special instructions were given for the gathering of this nourishing food. “And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning’.” (Exo. 16:23).
Having escaped slavery the Israelites journeyed toward Canaan and had no knowledge at all of anything like a “day of rest,” a “holy day,” or the “Sabbath.” Moses had to specify the seventh day (our Saturday) as the Sabbath. Listen to verse 26. “Six days ye shall gather it (i.e., the Manna); but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.” God forbade them from gathering food on the seventh day, the Sabbath. Notice that Moses specifically said, “the seventh day, which is the Sabbath.” This clearly shows that they had not been observing the seventh day as a Sabbath of rest. They had no knowledge at all that it was a day of rest. Of all the people who have ever lived on earth, the Jewish people should have been the only ones observing the Sabbath, but they were completely ignorant of it. This proves that the Sabbath Day, the seventh day of the week, had not been observed as the Lord’s Day from creation.
Those who still cling to the sabbatical laws of the Old Covenant, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, Seventh Day Baptists, and a few of their splinter groups, contend that the Sabbath Day was set up in the beginning of time. Some time ago I received a paper from someone in the Seventh Day Adventist church. It was a paper trying to prove that Saturday and not Sunday is the Lord’s Day. The author wrote, “God rested on the seventh day and made that the Sabbath day.” It is true that God rested on the seventh day of creation. It is equally true that He made the seventh day the Sabbath. However, there is no reason to conclude that at the time God rested He made the seventh day the Sabbath.
It may be said that a politician won an election and was made president, or governor, or senator. Winning the election and becoming president are not to be understood as simultaneous acts. One leads to the other, but they are not the same. The seventh day of creation was the day God rested. Later, in fact much later, He told the world that the seventh day was the Sabbath. Remember, the word is not even mentioned until the Exodus journey of the children of Israel. On that journey (and not before) they were instructed how to observe it.
The escaping nation of Israel was not given full instructions regarding Sabbath Day keeping in the desert. On Mount Sinai God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, one of which is, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” At the giving of the Ten Commandments, God revealed more fully His law relative to the Sabbath. This is not a question to be argued. It is a fact to be accepted. Listen again. “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And madest known unto them thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant” (Neh. 9:13-14). If God made known the Sabbath on Mount Sinai when He gave the Law through Moses, He did not make it known to Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, or anyone else prior to the giving of the Mosaic law.
The Bible reads, “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:3). Yes, God blessed the seventh day. God sanctified it. This does not mean, however, that He did either at creation. Remember, it is not called “The Sabbath” in Genesis. Neither the idea nor the word “Sabbath” is found in Genesis. It is wrong to call anything something it is not. The seventh day was never known as the Sabbath prior to Exodus 16:23. It was not made known until then and later fully revealed in the Mosaic law.
Let us summarize a few things.
1. The Lord blessed and sanctified the seventh day of the week because on that day He rested from His work of creation.
2. It was never called the Sabbath Day until Exodus 16:23.
3. The very people who should have been observing it were totally ignorant of it since God had not yet sanctified it.
4. The very time when God gave His laws covering the Sabbath is plainly taught in Nehemiah 9:13-14, which specifies Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandment law.
The inevitable conclusion any honest Bible student will reach is that the Sabbath was part of God’s law given in the Sinai desert when Moses received “the lively oracles” from God at the ministration of angels. Listen. “This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us” (Acts 7:38). Paul wrote, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (Gal. 3:19).
Modern day seventh day Sabbath keepers stress, “the Sabbath was made for man” referring to Mark 2:27. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” The next verse says, “Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” That the Sabbath was made for man does not that it was made for all men of all dispensations of time. The Sabbath is inseparably united with the Mosaic law. To whom was the Mosaic law given. Here is the Bible answer: Deuteronomy 5:1-3 -- “And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” This is fortified by the promise of a change in that law. Through the grand prophet Jeremiah, God promised, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:31-32).
Sabbatarians want only parts of the Old law, specifically the law that specifies the seventh day as the Sabbath -- but no more than that. The seventh day of the week is not the Lord’s day. Prophecy proves it. Amos, the prophet, prophesied, “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances of deceit?” (Amos 8:5).
Now let us read verse 9. “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in a clear day.” Does that sound familiar to you? Can you think of a day when the sun was dark and a clear day became as dusky darkness? Every Bible student listening to this is thinking of the day Jesus died on the cruel cross. Mark 15:33 describes it. “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” The Jewish day started at 6 o’clock in the morning. The sixth hour of the day would be high noon. The sun went down at noon on the day Jesus died on the cross and this prophecy was fulfilled.
At the death of Jesus, the law was fulfilled and nailed to His cross. Read with me Colossians 2:14. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” The “handwriting of ordinances” refers to the only written law in existence at that time -- the Law God wrote with His own hands. This law was removed by the death of Christ. Everything relative to the Mosaic law was nailed to the cross, modern day Sabbatarians to the contrary, notwithstanding.
The New covenant is a law not written on tablets of stone, but in the innermost being of God’s people. It is the New Covenant. When did the New Covenant come into effect? Answer: after Jesus died on the cross. Listen again to the divine answer: “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9:15-17).
Whatever was in effect prior to the death of Christ is removed and we are no longer allowed to practice those things. A case in point: Paul wrote the churches of Galatia and warned, “And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:3-4). Keeping any part of the Old Law causes one to fall away from grace, according to this passage.
Those who profess to be Sabbath keepers today do not keep the Sabbath. They only meet to worship of Saturday and refrain from work. Sabbath keeping involved much more than that. It required complete rest, no work of any kind. “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death” (Exo. 35:2). Keeping the law only partially is sinful. James wrote that who offends in one point “is guilty of the whole law” (James 2:10). No Sabbatarian groupd today keeps the Sabbath correctly.
Christians are under only one law. No one today is right who observes the Ten Commandment law, for that law has been replaced by the law of Christ. Paul wrote, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4). Being dead to the law means being dead to the Sabbath Day. Being dead to the Sabbath Day means being alive to the first day of the week, Sunday.
The first day, Sunday, is now the Lord’s Day. His church was established on the first day of the week, not the seventh day (Acts 2:1-4). On the first day of the week His people assemble for worship, not on the seventh day (Acts 20:7). Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, not on Saturday (Mark 16:1-2).
People living under the new covenant must establish their religious activity by what the New Covenant reveals. The Old law has passed away. We serve today under the law of Christ. God Almighty sent His only Son into this world to die not just to redeem us all from sin, but also to end the Law of Moses and institute the new law of grace and truth. John wrote of Him, “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
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