The Sabbath was instituted by God in Genesis 2:1-3 when He “rested” from his work. God rested, or ceased working, from creating everything. It was not to recuperate, for God needs no rest. It was an ending, a completion of the work. God also blessed the Sabbath Day and sanctified it, making it holy (set apart).
The origin of the English word, Sabbath: Old English, from Latin sabbatum, via Greek from Hebrew šabbāṯ, from šāḇaṯ ‘to rest.’“ to cease or stop.”
The fourth commandment reads like this:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 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: 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” (Exodus 20:8-11).
Observance of the 7th day Sabbath was God’s special nod to Israel and the Jewish people. In the giving of the Fourth Commandment, God told the nation of Israel to “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:15) That narrows it down to them.
[b]In the New Testament, neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever once commanded the observance of the Saturday Sabbath, which is the 7th day of the week. If we keep the Sabbath as it was defined in the Old Testament, then we are obligated to keep all 734 Old Testament commandments (Galatians 5:1-5). If we break one commandment we have broken them all (James 2:8-13).
Jesus' disciples and their converts all began worshiping on Sunday after Jesus' resurrection and ascension, as almost all were initially Jewish among them, they also continued their Saturday worship in the Temple and Synagogue, for they did not yet consider the worship of the Messiah as a completely new and separate religion, but as a fulfillment of Messianic prophecies and a resultant new chapter worthy of celebration.
Exodus 20:1 tells us that the Sabbath was a reminder that the LORD created everything. This reminds us that the LORD was our creator. The second is from 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."
This verse tells us that the second reason was that God had delivered the Jews from their bondage in Egypt where they had been oppressively engaged in backbreaking hard labor as slaves for 430 years, working 24-7. They needed instruction in learning to have a day of composure in which to rest, and to reverently seek His face, and to fully rest their animals on their Sabbath, for they too, had been oppressed and downtrodden.
When God gave Moses the fourth commandment, He was highly concerned with proper rest on that day. God instructed them to do no work and no one who was working for them could work either and this included the animals.
When you read the Fourth Commandment about the Sabbath, it is always addressed to Israel. Never is it commanded to be observed by non-Jews. The New Testament contains no claims demanding that we must worship on the 7th day Sabbath (Saturday).
When the Sabbath is addressed more comprehensively in Exodus 31, the Lord said “Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between Me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16-17).
Twice God mentions that it’s a special sign specifically between Him and Israel. The observance of this day marked them as different from the rest of the world, in that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Jacob's progeny were chosen for His special purpose.
What the Sabbath represents is explained in Hebrews 3:1-4:16. Here we learn that the Israelites who did not enter the Promised Land and died in the desert did not do so because they broke a commandment. They died in the desert because they did not enter into the rest provided by God through faith.
The important point is that the LORD had a practical reason, a purpose for the Sabbath in addition to seeking their worship... in His concern for both their physical and spiritual well-being.
Our Sabbath rest is not in the day of the week (Romans 14:4-23); Our Sabbath rest is in Christ!
This reminds us that the LORD also delivered us from the spiritual bondage of sin.
In the Old Testament we saw that the Sabbath was a day of rest and worship (Leviticus 23:3). However, Jesus brought the purpose of the Sabbath to light by what He did on the Sabbath as follows:
Jesus allowed the hungry to harvest food (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)
Jesus allowed a man with a withered handed to be healed (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11)
Jesus allowed those who rejected His teaching to witness miraculous healings (Mark 6:1-6)
Jesus allowed a man to be delivered from demonic possession (Luke 4:31-37)
Jesus allowed a woman disabled for 18 years to be healed (Luke 13:10-17)
Jesus allowed for the caring for animals (Luke 13:15-16)
Jesus allowed a bedridden man to be healed (John 5:1-18)
Jesus allowed a blind man to see (John 9:13-34)
There is a definite pattern. Hungry people were fed. Disabled people were restored. Disbelieving people were witnessed to. Demonic afflicted people were delivered. Animals needing care were cared for. Blind people were given sight. Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus did not use the Sabbath to restrict people, rather because of His love, He used it to free people.
There was liberty in this, just as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath” (Colossians 2:16). Paul wrote because legalistically minded newly converted Christians (both Jews and Gentiles) were attempting to effectually destroy the purity of the gospel by zealously adding observances of the Jewish new moons, feasts, and Sabbath day as necessary for salvation.
Jesus left us a correcting lesson about the Sabbath after an incident where the Lord's Disciples were observed picking corn on the Sabbath day:
"And the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And He said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was hungry, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with Him? And He said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath." Mark 2:24-28.
In Jesus saying “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”, and Paul's explanation in (Colossians 2:17: “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ”. Christ was being foreshadowed; for the fulfillment came in Christ's voluntary and substitutionary payment-in-full of all believer's sin-debt in His work on the cross.
Christ demonstrated that the Sabbath was for the good of man. Notice, inevitably, we find religious people that were offended by Jesus' deeds of mercy. They twisted the Sabbath into a mindless religious observance of rigidly set routine, and Jesus upset their thinking because he was not focused on their routine, but focused, rather, on people.
The religious people cared more about the day than they did about the people in need. Jesus’ actions made them mad enough to want to kill Him, as He informed them He had the authority to do these things because He was the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5).
In mind, body, and spirit, Christ and His body of believers are not to be divided, therefore. be kind toward “the one who is weak in faith," welcome him, but never knowingly hinder a fellow believer, rather, in love, and if need be, in tough love, provide Scriptural correction and encouragement from God's own Holy Word (Romans 14:1, 14:13; 1st Corinthians 8:9)
Romans 14:4-23 tells us it is not the day of the week we worship or the foods we eat that make us right before God. It is by faith in what God has said in His Word and in Jesus' death on the cross, and His resurrection to new life that makes us right with Him. Anything, even the day we set aside to worship, becomes sin if it is the day we venerate, rather than God. (Romans 14:6).
Jesus demonstrated the Sabbath was a day to cease the mundane, a time to love our God by serving Him and others, because He knew we needed a day to cease from our routine, time to turn to and communicate with our Creator in worship, in supplication, and in thanksgiving.
When we set aside a time from our work each week, it is not from obligation, because our Sabbath rest IS the rest we have in Christ, who is the Lord of the Sabbath and He is our inspiration any day we seek and communicate with God through prayer, and through the strength that He provides, we serve our neighbor.
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