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A Sabbath Study

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The Seventh Day

What is this subject known as the seventh day? It obviously takes you back to the creation week of the first and second chapters of the book of Genesis. We are all aware that God sanctified and blessed the seventh day of the creation week. We are also aware that God "rested" on the seventh day from all his work that he created and made. God set this day apart (sanctified it) from all the other days. The question we have to ask; what is so special about the seventh day, and for that matter we also have to ask; what is the seventh day? It is directly associated with what is called the Sabbath day that Moses instituted under the old covenant (Exod 20:10-11).

Exodus 20:10-11 But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates:
11 For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (KJV)

Notice it was because God worked six days and then rested the seventh day that he (wherefore) blessed and hallowed the seventh-day Mosaic Sabbath. In other words, the Sabbath day that was given to Moses represented the seventh day of creation, and showed that God "rested" the seventh day. Can we understand this? This is very important because this is where the understanding begins if we want to understand the seventh-day Sabbath, and why the Sabbath command was given to Moses. Incidentally, and please keep in mind that the first time the word "Sabbath" appears in scripture is in Exod. 16:23.

Exodus 16:23 And he said unto them, This [is that] which the LORD hath said, To morrow [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. (KJV)

God raised up Moses for a glorious purpose to show his people Israel the plan of redemption through physical types and patterns that were to be "worked" out in ceremonial fashion. Israel, of course had to obey the covenant; and they had to believe God's servant Moses on what God was trying to accomplish by these "works" of the laws. Moses was God's mouth piece and in a sense a type of Christ. To understand this subject known as the "Seventh Day" requires that we simply believe what is being said about the Sabbath, and what the laws of the Sabbath pictured under the old covenant. This is important! The Sabbath is one of the most talked subjects in the Bible, especially during Christ's ministry. What I want to explain and show from the Bible is the true meaning behind seventh-day Sabbath observance as outlined by Moses. There have been many countless books and related information made available over the years on what is known as the Mosaic seventh-day Sabbath. However, there is another side to the seventh-day Sabbath than just an observance of the seventh day.

For years, I have always assumed that the Sabbath God commanded Israel to observe through Moses was God's Eternal Sabbath. I did not realize that the Sabbath Moses commanded only represented the seventh day of creation, and pointed toward what is known as God's Eternal Sabbath Rest. I have yet to see or read any information on what is known as God's Eternal Sabbath Rest. The Bible indeed talks about this "rest".

Most of us are aware of the fact that the seventh-day Sabbath command as given by Moses was very strict and of a very serious nature. My question has always been; why did God have to impose this type of a command on a people called Israel? What was the purpose and the lesson to be learned for Israel to do all their work in six days, and then to rest the following day (seventh)? Why would an Israelite have to give his life and die for any infraction or violation of the Sabbath day? To me, it just does not seem logical for an Israelite to be stoned and killed for not resting on a certain day. I have never had these questions answered to my satisfaction. God does not command a law with a death penalty unless there is a very important reason for God to do so. Is the Sabbath literally the seventh day of the week, or is it something else? Is it necessary today for Christians to observe the Sabbath day? These types of questions among others I want to address and attempt to explain and answer in this booklet.

Anyone that has a desire to obey God should be interested in what is known as the "seventh day"; by which the Sabbath day as given and commanded by Moses is directly involved. After all, it is the fourth commandment; and it is of equal importance for us to obey just as the other nine commandments are. Although we can never keep them perfectly, the ten commandments are laws of God that are binding on us; and we should make an honest effort to obey them. The question is, how are we to observe the Sabbath command? It would surprise some to learn that it is impossible for us to obey the "seventh-day" Sabbath command according to the law of God as given by Moses. It is important to understand that according to the Bible there is no other authority for an observance of the Sabbath day other than the guidelines that Moses commanded. It is a Biblical fact that the Sabbath must be kept within those particular guidelines. It will also surprise some to learn that the "seventh-day" Sabbath did not necessarily have to fall on the seventh day of the week. We must all be willing to let the holy scriptures teach us, and we must believe what is being said about this important subject. For that matter, we should also accept and believe what the Bible does not say about the Sabbath day; if we want to be honest with the Bible.

 

The Old Testament Sabbath

I want to now go to the account in Gen. 2:2-3 where God rested on the "seventh day". It states; "God blessed the seventh day, because that in it he had rested from all his work".

Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. {created...: Heb. created to make} (KJV)

Notice the implication that God is resting in (continual) on the "seventh day". My question is, what did God bless? Was it the seventh day of the week (by our calendar), or was it something far more important and far reaching than what we can comprehend? If it is literally the seventh day of the week and a continual pattern of one day in seven since the creation, then why is not God working six days and resting the following day on a continual basis? In Heb. 4:3, it says that the works were finished from the foundation of the earth.

Hebrews 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (KJV)

Since the works are finished, then God is still resting since the creation. It is a continual rest; and according to Heb. 4:3, a believer can also enter into that rest. This is very important to understand and will be explained later.

There is a Biblical fact concerning the Sabbath day in the old testament that I want to address at this time. A physical observance of a Sabbath day by anyone in the old testament (before Moses) is not mentioned. This is a fact that we must acknowledge, and we cannot assume that Godly men observed a Sabbath day if it is not recorded in scripture. God would have certainly inspired this to be recorded if he wanted us to know the importance of the observance of his Sabbath. It is only when we get to Moses that a physical observance of a Sabbath day is mentioned, and according to Deut. 5:15 the Sabbath command was for a memorial of Israel coming out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 5:15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and [that] the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day. (KJV)

Pay close attention to the word "remember" and the word "therefore". "And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt..," "...therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day". In other words, God commanded the Sabbath day to remind Israel that he brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and a stretched out arm. This is why God commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath day, and the implication is that the Sabbath day was not observed before Moses! To believe and say otherwise is to read something into the Bible that simply is not recorded. Some believers will argue that Abraham kept the Sabbath day, since it states in Gen. 26:5 that Abraham kept the commandments.

Genesis 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (KJV)

Why do some assume from reading this verse that Abraham kept a Sabbath day? It simply means that Abraham obeyed God in everything! He did exactly what God told him to do. We cannot assume that the commandments Abraham kept were the "ten commandments" as given by Moses. The old covenant along with the ten commandments was four hundred thirty years after the covenant that was given to Abraham, which was confirmed before of God in Christ. See Gal. 3:17.

Galatians 3:17 And this I say, [that] the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. (KJV)

Notice this covenant with Abraham was not canceled (cannot disannul), and it was long before the law was given by Moses; of which the ten commandments were a part of. Notice it was confirmed in Christ, which means that the Christian faith is built on the promises and the covenant given to Abraham. This is very important to understand! Gal 3:17 (among other scriptures) proves that Christ was the God of the old testament. The covenant given to Abraham takes precedence over the covenant given to Moses. This truth is explained in detail in my booklets entitled "The Abrahamic Covenant and Baptism" and "Lost Israel and the Gentiles?" An interesting fact concerning the ten commandments is found in Ex. 34:28 and in Deut. 4:13. According to these verses, the ten commandments were the old covenant. They were written in stone and were of the letter. This is very important to understand!

Exodus 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. {commandments: Heb. words} (KJV)

Deuteronomy 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, [even] ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. (KJV)

Abraham was never under this covenant as given by Moses! This is the covenant that the Sabbath command and the other nine commandments were written in stone! Before I go any further, I want to make this point and stress the fact that Christ did not come to do away or destroy the law that the ten commandments were a part of. Christ came to "fulfill" what the law demanded, which is very important to understand and will be explained later. See Matt. 5:17.

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (KJV)

However we must accept the fact that the ten commandments were the old covenant. It puts the ten commandments in proper perspective, because they were written laws and were of the letter. These laws held us in "death"! This is all explained in Rom. 7:6 and 2 Cor. 3:6. Please read and study these verses very carefully.

Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter. {that being...: or, being dead to that} (KJV)

2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. {giveth life: or, quickeneth} (KJV)

This is not talking about a physical death, since we all naturally and normally die anyhow. The ten commandments show that we are sinners and worthy of "death", and we are held in this "death" if we are not serving in "newness of the spirit". No one is able to keep the ten commandments perfectly in the "oldness of the letter". This is important! Also it states in Romans 2:29; "But he is a Jew (Israelite) which is one "inwardly" of the heart and the spirit, not in the letter".

Romans 2:29 But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God. (KJV)

As was explained in Rom. 7:6 we are delivered from this law that held us in "death" of which the ten commandments were a part of. We are delivered, since we are made able ministers of the new testament (covenant) and have the spirit of Christ. This is why it stated in 2 Cor. 3:6, "...for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life". 2 Cor. 3:7 states that this "letter" was called the "ministration of death", and was written and engraved in stones.

2 Corinthians 3:7 But if the ministration of death, written [and] engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which [glory] was to be done away: (KJV)

What was written and engraved in stones? The Sabbath command as well as the other nine commandments. I want to remind you again that these commandments are not done away, since they were and are designed to show that we are sinners and worthy of "death". See Matt. 5:19, 19:17.

Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)

Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (KJV)

We now have to ask the question, why did God give the Sabbath command in the first place? What did God have in mind by instilling into the minds of carnal Israelites a very strict observance of this type of command? We know failure to obey the Sabbath command meant death to the disobedient! See Exod. 31:14.

Exodus 31:14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it [is] holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth [any] work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. (KJV)

This is why the Sabbath as well as the other nine commandments were called the "ministration of death". Notice how the Sabbath command is worded in Ex. 20:8-10. The command was to work six days as well as to rest the following day (seventh). The "works" of this law was patterned after and pictured God also working six days and "resting" the seventh day. This is what seventh-day Sabbath day observance under Moses was all about!

Exodus 20:8-10 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: (KJV)

How was Israel to keep the Sabbath day holy? In one case, they were not to leave their homes (Ex. 16:29). In another case, they were not to kindle fire (Ex. 35:3). This shows that the seventh-day Sabbath command was of a "ceremonial" nature, which the other nine commandments were not. This is important!

Exodus 16:29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. (KJV)

Exodus 35:3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day. (KJV)

There were other ceremonial laws directly involving the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. It is important to understand that these were laws of God imposed on the nation of Israel, and were only to serve for a temporary purpose; which will be explained later.

We are now faced with some questions. Do we want to be under what is called the "ministration of death"? Also are we to observe the old covenant ceremonial laws, and are the ceremonial laws as given by Moses applicable to the new covenant; which a believer in Christ is now in? If we attempt to observe the seventh-day Sabbath, how are we to keep it holy? We cannot pick or choose what we want to, or try to "christianize" it. It must be kept according to Moses's instructions, and not by our understanding. The apostle James writes that if we attempt to keep the whole law and offend in one point, we are guilty of all (the whole law). See James 2:10.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. (KJV)

I believe the point James wanted to make is that we cannot keep the whole law without offending in some point. By attempting to observe the seventh-day Sabbath according to Moses we are in a sense already guilty, and sentenced to "death" by the "ministration of death". These are serious facts we need to consider, and there is such a thing as "frustrating" the grace of God which will be discussed later. We are now under a new covenant as it states in Heb. 8:10.

Hebrews 8:10 For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: {put: Gr. give} {in: or, upon} (KJV)

The new covenant means that God is putting and writing his laws in our minds and in our hearts. This, of course, includes the Sabbath command. However, under the new covenant it might surprise some to learn how the Sabbath is to be honored and obeyed, as we shall see. Since the ten commandments are not done away, they are now written on the heart by the Spirit of the living God, and not on tables of stone (2 Cor. 3:3).

2 Corinthians 3:3 [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (KJV)

Again I ask, why did God give the Sabbath command to a physical and a carnal-minded people called Israel? What is the purpose of this type of ceremonial law of working six days and resting the following (seventh) day? What about the other written ceremonial laws directly associated with Sabbath keeping? Israel was given these laws to show them something they otherwise could not understand. God could do no less than to show them physical types and patterns to be observed in ceremonial fashion to explain his plan of redemption for his people. They still did not understand because of unbelief and hardness of heart. This is explained in the fourth chapter of the book of Hebrews, which I'll cover later. These physical ceremonial works of the old covenant obviously pointed toward something spiritual. The "works" of working six days and resting the following day (seventh) by the law of the Mosaic seventh-day Sabbath represented, and was patterned after the old "six-day" creation and a certain continual "rest". By obedience to the sacrificial laws and also the ceremonial laws of the Sabbaths, the Israelites had a temporary "remedy" for sin; and this obedience at same time pictured and pointed toward a "spiritual rest". All the prophets write about this "spiritual rest".


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