The English word "Sabbath" is derived from the Hebrew term "Shabbath," meaning rest or cessation from work. No man was to go out of his place: nor were they to kindle a fire on the sabbath. This command was given only to the children of Israel. Ex. 31:13-17. The first hint that Israel was to observe the seventh day was following their deliverance from Egypt, shortly before they arrived at Sinai. Ex. 16:22-30. This was revealed to Israel as a commandment for them to keep throughout their generation. (Mosaic dispensation). Neh. 9:13, 14. The sabbath was upon the seventh day of the week (our Saturday) rather than upon the first day (our Sunday). The penalty for breaking the sabbath was death by stoning. Ex. 35:2.
Why did God command Israel to observe the seventh day as a sabbath? The sabbath was not primarily a day of worship, though sacrifices were doubled on that day. Num. 28:9,10. Man needs a day of rest, and Jesus said a sabbath was given to man. Mark 2:27. It was given to commemorate God's resting from creation following the sixth day. Gen. 2:3,4; Ex. 20:9-11. It was also to remind Israel of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Deut. 5:15. The sabbath was typical of the rest Christians have in Christ (Col. 2:16,17) and of our final rest in heaven. Heb. 4:1-11.
Are Christians commanded to observe the sabbath? There is no authority for observing the sabbath following the death and resurrection of Christ. The covenant of which keeping the sabbath was a part was not designed to be permanent. God promised it would be replaced with a better covenant. Jer. 31:31-44; Heb. 8:6-13. We are dead to the old law so that we can be united to Christ and under His authority. Rom. 7:47. "The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith ... We are no longer under a schoolmaster." Gal. 3:24,25. "Christ took away the first, that He may establish the second." Heb. 10:9. Christ fulfilled and removed the law as authority over man when He died upon the cross. Col. 2:11-17. Paul shows that the law of which keeping the sabbath was a part has been removed. "Let no man ... judge you ... in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ." Col. 2:16,17. A better law has replaced the law written upon tables of stone, the ten commandments. 2 Cor. 3:6-11. Note: Nine of the ten commandments have been made a part of the new covenant of Christ. We could multiply scriptural references showing that the old covenant, including the ten commandments (Deut. 4:13), is no longer binding and that we are now under the new covenant of Christ. I believe the above scriptures are sufficient.
Paul gave a warning to those who felt compelled to keep the Law of Moses in Galatians 5:4. "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from grace." Now, the power to save both Jews and Gentiles is the gospel of Christ. Rom. 1:16,17. Any commandment we cannot find in the teaching of Christ is not authoritative during the Christian dispensation. Heb. 1:1,2. To teach anything not taught by those whose message came by "revelation of Jesus Christ" troubles the church and endangers the soul. Gal. 1:6-12.
Many call Sunday the "Christian Sabbath." Nowhere in the Bible is the first day of the week so called. The first day of the week is special to Christians. It is upon the first day that our Lord arose from the dead. Mark 16:1,2. Upon the first day of the week, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. Acts 2:1-4. Upon this day, the Lord began adding precious souls to His church. Acts 2:41-47. The first day of the week is a special day of worship for Christians. They meet upon the first day of the week to break bread (observe the Lord's Supper). Acts 20:7. They "lay by in store" or give to the cause of Christ upon this day. 1 Cor. 16:1.2. Many ancient writers affirmed that the first day of the week was a day of worship for Christians. Some of them are Epistle of Barnabas, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Pliney, and Tertullian. Church historians, such as Eusebias, Neander, Mosheim, and others, testify to the fact that Christians of the first century kept the first day of the week as a day of worship. They did not observe it as a sabbath (day of rest). -111 Heather Court, Scott Depot, WV 25560.
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