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"REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY, TO KEEP IT HOLY." (Exodus 20:8)


This is the 4th of the ten commandments that God gave unto Israel at Mount Sinai in the wilderness in the days of Moses.

In these last days there is much confusion in the churches about the keeping of the sabbath day, even though the whole subject is clearly set forth in the scriptures...

First of all, let me pose to you, the reader, two questions. According to the Bible...

1). Can we be saved by keeping the law?
Obviously not.(Romans 3:20-26, Galatians 3:11-14, etc...)

2). Can we be saved without keeping the law?
Certainly not! (Matthew 5:20, Revelation 22:14, etc...)

The law of God is written in the heart, or conscience, of every man and woman, and we are without excuse for not keeping it (Romans 2:14,15).

But there is verily a difference between the Old and New Testaments, as far as how the people of God serve him. 

So, what about the sabbath day?

Well, first of all, the sabbath day spoken of in the 4th commandment is the 7th day of the week, according to the scripture.(Genesis 2:2,3, Exodus 16:25-30, Deuteronomy 5:12-14)

The 7th day of the week is that which we call by the Roman calendar "Saturday" (from the name of the mythical Roman deity Saturn). This is the sabbath day that God commanded his people Israel to keep holy (set apart) unto him by not doing any work therein. 

This did not mean that they were not to water their animals (Luke 13:15) or show kindness to help their neighbor (Luke 14:5), as God showed them when he came to them in the flesh. But it meant that they were to take the 7th day and sanctify it unto the LORD their God, and refrain from their labours for personal gain, and stop worrying about making a living, or acquiring the necessities of this life, and just rest and trust in God, and worship and thank him for his provision. 

He proved that to them with the manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16), when during the week, if the people saved the manna until the morning, it bred worms and stank (v. 20), but on the eve of the sabbath (rest) day, they were told to gather enough for two days, and to rest on the sabbath; and when they did, the manna did not stink, neither was there any worm therein (v. 24). In this God was showing them that they could stop the affairs of this life to sanctify a whole day unto him, and he was able in turn to give them all that they thought to have lacked by not working. That was largely the purpose behind God giving Israel the 7th day sabbath. Jesus showed that clearly when he came to his people Israel; for he came, not to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to magnify the law and fulfill it (Matthew 5:17, Isaiah 42:21).


We know that, although the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are called the New Testament [because they tell the story of all that Jesus did to establish his new covenant to Israel, as he said he would in Jeremiah 31:33], the New Testament did not actually begin until Jesus Christ was GLORIFIED (John 7:39, 12:16, 16:7); which came to pass on the day of the feast of Pentecost, the year 33 A.D., exactly 50 days after our Lord Jesus Christ was risen from the dead.

So, during the time chronicled by the writers of the four gospels, the people of Israel, and in fact the world, were under the dispensation of the law, and Jesus, the sinless Son of God, did not violate it, but came to illustrate it, demonstrate it, and magnify it. 

And so he did.


But then came the New Testament, when Jesus accomplished his death, burial, and resurrection, was glorified, and poured out his Spirit so he could walk in his people; and his holy apostles (whom he had chosen) made known to us in their epistles to the churches that the ordinances of the law were "a shadow of good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:17), and that the keeping of them could never "make the comers thereunto perfect". Furthermore they declared that no man is justified before God by the works of the law (Romans 3:20-26, Galatians 3:11-14).

So then, wherefore serveth the law (Galatians 3:19)? 

The Bible has very much to say about the law and its purpose. (See Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews...) But to make the matter very simple, the law of the Old Testament can rightly be divided into 3 distinct categories:

1) Moral law [that which declares what is right and wrong behaviour toward God or other men]

2) Judicial law [that which dictates the penalty for violating the moral law]

3) Ceremonial law [that which mandates ordinances and rituals performed only under the Mosaic law, as a shadow, or type, of greater things which were to come in the future

We can know of a surety that the sabbaths, as they were observed under the Old Testament law of Moses, were part of the Ceremonial law, a shadow of that which was to come, because the apostles of Jesus Christ declared it to be so after his resurrection.

(Colossians 2:16,17, Hebrew 8:4-6)

So, the scripture makes clear that the 7th day sabbath of the Old Testament is NOT to be observed after the same manner by the New Testament Church of Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews spent the entire 3rd and 4th chapters of that letter explaining that the 7th day sabbath was given to illustrate the true rest of God which we "enter into" [a day of the week cannot be entered into...] by faith when we become born of water and of the Spirit by obedience to the New Testament gospel preached by the apostles, and continue in the faith of Jesus Christ and his resurrection until the end of our mortal lives.


Is the law perished? 
God forbid!

We Christians must remember that we are but a parenthesis in the realm of time, and that God is still the God of Israel; and he is not finished with them yet. 

God will yet deal with his chosen people. In the third day he will raise them up--Hosea 6:2 (for those of you who know what time it is, you know that this is the night season of that second day, and the dawn of the third day, the day of the LORD, is nigh...).

He will bring Israel into the wilderness, as in the days of old (Hosea 2:14), and bring forth a holy remnant of them through great tribulation (Jeremiah 30:7, Ezekiel 14:21-23). And he will give them a new heart, and they will serve him according to the law of Moses, and they will be pleasing to him as they were supposed to be all along (Ezekiel 11:19,20, 36:22-28, Psalm 51:18), but never could be, not having the heart of their God within them.

In the days when God will deal with his people Israel, they will be keeping the law of Moses, including the sabbath days (Matthew 24, 20,21).

The Old Testament sabbath is part of the Ceremonial law, and is NOT to be imposed on the New Testament Christian; but it has not passed away...it is for the Jews, and as the scripture says,"blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in..." (Romans 11:25)...so as they were to keep the sabbaths in the Old Testament time, so they will keep it again (with a new heart) in the 7th day, the "Day of the LORD" (See Zechariah 14). That is why the sabbath day ordinance seems to be on both sides (timewise) of the New Testament Church, but yet remains a "shadow of things to come", and a part of the law which is "slain by the cross of Christ" (Ephesians 2:15,16), so that it is not kept by the New Testament Church after the manner of Moses, but rather in the Spirit by entering into his rest.

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