A COLLECTION OF ARTICLES WRITTEN BY
BIBLE SCHOLARS TREATING THE SABBATH
DAY OF REST
Bibliography at the end of notes.
THE SABBATH UNDER GRACE
By Bill Burkett
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
IS NOT QUOTED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT?
BUT IT IS INFERRED THREE TIMES IN THE NEW
TESTAMENT, BY JESUS, BY PAUL AND BY JAMES
And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:
Comment: As you read the material under Easton’s treatment of the Sabbath and the other writers in this discussion, you will see that Jesus was clearly speaking of the perpetual nature of the Sabbath commandment. So long as man exists this commandment is for his spiritual and physical rejuvenation every seven days.
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Comment: If the fourth commandment had been removed or declared anywhere in scripture as being abolished, dropped from the Ten Commandments, this is where Paul would have declared such a thing – but he did not. Paul only quoted 5 of the commandment of the ten here. Are we to understand by this that the 5 commandments he did not quote are all dropped? The Sabbath was one of the 5 he did not quote. He did not mention any of the first 3 commandments that speak of the majesty of God’s holy nature. Are we to drop those 3 commandments also? It’s absurd to assume that any commandment of the ten are to be considered as abolished or removed from our being morally obligated to observe them simply out of omission or silence. In these Scriptures we see that the fourth commandment has not by the slightest indication having been removed or dropped from the Ten Commandments when the commandments are being mentioned.
The 4th commandment is as perpetual and eternal as the other 9 commandments! The wise man said. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13:
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
Comment: If the Sabbath commandment had been abolished and no longer existed and removed from the Ten Commandments, James would have mentioned that here. James apparently sees all ten of the commandments in fact when he wrote this epistle.
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word shabbath meaning, “intermission or time of rest.” It is first mentioned in Genesis when God is seen for the first time in the Bible and reveals His holiness to the man He created. When God had finished the creation on the sixth day He rested on the seventh day and declared it to be a day of rest from all His labors.
One of the first things we are shown about the Sabbath is that it is directly connected to the instantaneous creation of the world in the beginning. Not only are we commanded to keep this day holy, but this day is the day that commemorates the creation of the world. This means it is a
The Sabbath was commended to be observed as the “Lord’s day.” Do we really know what that means? It means that We are not to buy or sell on THE LORD’S DAY.
And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the Sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt. Nehemiah 10:31.
The Sabbath was instituted before the fall of man. It was declared holy in celebration of the completion of the creation. So the first thing the Sabbath commemorated was the instantaneous creation.
We’re living in an age when the blue laws have been wiped out in our communities. But as Christians we should be careful not to follow the world in their unregenerate attitude toward the commandments of the Lord in this regard for the Lord’s Day observance of the Sabbath day each week. There are two very good reasons which the Word of God speaks. That is, two good reasons, and not just one.
1. To commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We should hold it faithfully as did the Church of Acts! Reason: It is one fine way to not let the world forget the event of the creation and the resurrection.
2. To commemorate and establish our faith in the instantaneous creation of the world according to the account given in Genesis of the Holy Bible. Reason: its fine way to not let this world forget that we were created by the God of Genesis!
Holiness people of conviction born out of what God’s Word says them and want to please the Lord, will not consider “inconvenience” as a reason to ignore the commandment regarding the Lord’s Day.
Many who attempt to teach against observance of the Sabbath simply do not pay attention to what the fifth commandment says. God said, Remember the Sabbath day. He did not say we should remember the SABBATHS (plural) but the Sabbath (singular). This Sabbath of rest which God established right after completing the creation is a part of the moral law and not to be confused with the Sabbaths (plural) which were seven Sabbaths to be observed in the Law of Moses as part of the ceremonial law. It’s no wonder the Lord required that we diligently keep His commandments. Modern Christians are among the most flagrant transgressors of this commandment and it is one reason the church is failing and falling into apostasy and why revival tarries. As a holy people we are moving further and further away from the child-like obedience that brings the blessing of God and the marked presence of His divine person in our midst. One of the ugliest acts of disobedience and contempt to be shown toward God’s Word is the way we have defiled the Lord’s Day.
For centuries we called it “The Lord’s Day.” I remember when Christians would not think of going out on the Sabbath and purchasing anything thing unless it was a dire emergency and fell under the exception of the ox falling into the hole – then, even that could be stopped if you fill the hole! When the world started throwing off the blue laws in one community after another across the land the Christians were appalled, but today we have joined them! Not only have we joined their defilement of the Sabbath day, we have become critical of those who still hold the Sabbath as the holy day of rest.
The very meaning of the sanctifying the Sabbath day means that God has taken that day to be HIS and only HIS! The seventh day is holy unto the Lord. That is, it belongs to God and not to man. God gave to man six day – those six days belong to man to do his work and pleasure in. But the seventh day is the Lord’s Day and belongs to HIM. In that day man is commanded to rest with God from his labors. Yes, there is a deep connotation that God rests on that seventh day with man, and that God and man come together to rest together and have a time of respite and fellowship together on that one special holy day.
To observe the Sabbath means that it is set aside as His day and not doing our own thing on that day. That includes pleasures making it a day of family fun. It is to be used to spend time with God and rest the physical body and not causing others to work at the local cafeteria. Sunday has become a day of banqueting and reveling for many Christians who have the mistaken idea that it a “day off” from work when we can get out and enjoy ourselves. Selfishness is a terrible thing to take hold of us. Is it really pleasing to the Lord we make it a day of purchasing our meals in the public restaurants? Wouldn’t it be better to eat a light snack from paper plates at home if the Lord has asked us not to labor or do our own pleasure on that day?
Many modern Christians have wandered from the teaching of the Word regarding the Sabbath. Personal desires lead to disobedience. But if we want to please the Lord we will meditate in His commandments and not dismiss them with careless arguments because the commandment is inconvenient and interferes with my comfort zones preferences . . . and besides, nobody is regarding it as required under grace. But any student of the Bible knows that “God’s greats” beginning with Abel, Enoch, Noah, Lot, Moses, Phineas, Uriah, Mordecai, the prophets, John Baptist, the apostles of Jesus and finally the greatest of the “God’s Greats,” all suffered and were criticized because they didn’t fit in with what everybody else was doing. The Sabbath day, the Lord’s Day, is going to
Two things are not to be done on the Sabbath according to God’s Word;
1. We are to do no labor. Neither are we to cause our servants or employees to labor. The principle of doing no labor applies to not causing others to labor on the Lord’s Day. One of the biggest setbacks many Christians will face at the judgment seat of Christ.
2. We are not to do our own pleasure on the Lord’s Day. Isaiah 58:13-14 The Precept (13) If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: with one of the greatest blessings for delighting in obedience to be found in the scriptures; (14) Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Isaiah 58:14
Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. (1) The Sabbath day of rest is “perpetual,” (Hebrew: Olam) forever, eternal and though given to Israel was intended like all of the other 9 commandments to be eternal. (2) The Sabbath is a “covenant” commandment between God and man. Exodus 31:16. (3) The word perpetual (3) some trifling Christians say that the 4th commandment is not quoted in the New Testament and so take it upon themselves to teach out of silence that the 4th commandment was dropped without one bit of scriptural authority to do so. A Bible teacher and author I have great respect for taught this error that shocked me. You who teach to give I verse of scripture that expressly abolished the fourth commandment and removing it from the ten eternal principles that God removed from and separated from the Law of Moses by design. (4) Actually the 4th commandment IS in the writings of Paul. “Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and IF THERE BE ANY OTHER COMMANDMENT…” Paul knew he had not mentioned them all which included the 4th commandment. All 10 moral commandments written on stone by the finger of God in His own handwriting are perpetual vitally linked to the doctrines of (the instantaneous creation and the resurrection of Jesus!
The ten moral commandments that are perpetual and represent vital principles of human faith and conduct and the principles of order to govern and bring harmony to society are now being replaced in America and it should be obvious to all that chaos and a lawless society is fast merging across America.
I refer to the first 4 commandments as faith commandments that establish vital facts primary to our faith in Christ and in the Word of God. Certainly instantaneous creation and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth come under the heading of two of the supreme doctrines of Scripture! The Sabbath day is to be kept as a memorial to celebrate His resurrection just as the Holy supper is to celebrate His redeeming death for all sinners!
When God gave the law to Moses for Israel He gave it to them twice, in the book of Exodus 20 and then in the book of Deuteronomy 5. BUT God lifted the Ten Commandments out of the book of papyrus (paper being a type of the temporal law for the nation, Israel) wrote the Ten Commandments on stone a type of their eternal standing apart from the temporal law on paper). This is very meaningful and should be acknowledged by every student of the Bible. The Ten Commandment including the Sabbath was in the book of Moses written on papyrus and also then written by God’s finger into stone so that they were in both writings but . . . the Papyrus book was in a pocket on the outside of the Ark of the Covenant but the Ten Commandments written by God were inside the Ark of God’s presence. The book of Moses was on the outside (external, belonging to the people of Israel) while the stone containing the Ten Commandments indicates that these Ten Commandments were eternal and universal belonging to the world of mankind. They were in the book of the law for Israel but on eternal stone for God’s the world to live by and remember and taught to our children. The proof of this is the fact that the church became a gentile church and the gospel of the kingdom of God was to the world. The apostle’s referred to the commandments often but never once implying that the fourth commandment had been dropped from the ten or mentioned only nine commandments. Preachers who take it upon themselves to remove and nullify the fourth commandment on the premise of their own authority and proclamation that they have the authority to do so because the fourth commandment is not recited in the New Covenant writings have arbitrarily done so. You have committed a serious error that will not go unpunished. There is a teaching like this that comes from the sovereign grace doctrinaires but it does not belong in the Arminius camp of pure doctrine. Romans 13:8-10. Without getting off on a rabbit chase I would make a single allusion to the fact that the teachers of sovereign grace teach that all obedience to the moral law set in the Ten Commandments were set aside as the system of works and no longer the standard marking moral parameters of behavior. Perhaps the greatest work on grace ever to be written was by Lewis Sperry Chafer. Most classic predestination preachers follow his teaching. But, while this is indeed a great discourse on many biblical doctrines and I found to be excellent, my predestination brethren have not been careful enough to make it perfectly clear that even brother Chafer (1922) made a strong that the Ten Commandments were not able to justify the sinner (as I have said many, many, times!), but that they do remain in the moral guidelines in the Spirit of redemption for those who are justified by the blood of Christ, saved and have Christ within by faith. The apostles often referred to the moral commandment because they are good, in Paul’s words. They taught the Ten Commandments including the fourth commandment to the posterity of the gentile church but not as able to justify the sinner because that is only provided in the blood (the finished work) of our Lord Jesus Christ! The commandments are in full effect far into the future as far as the middle of the 70th week of Israel in the middle of the tribulation between the trumps and the vials in the second woe of Revelation 14 when the two witnesses are resurrected and an earthquake flattens a tenth part of Jerusalem and 7000 are killed – the commandments are mentioned as being the standard of pleasing God, including the fourth commandment. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12.) After the God of heaven creates a new heavens and new earth – the Ten Commandments are still referred to as the standard of God’s heaven! Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14
Jesus rose from the dead the first day of the week. Mark 15:9; John 20:1.
The Holy Spirit fell the first day of the week.
Paul held communion with the disciples when they came together on the first day of the week, Acts 20:7.
They gathered their offerings as they were prospered on the first day of the week. Acts 16:2.
The 4th commandment does not say Saturday is the Sabbath, it says, The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In fact, the word Saturday is never used and for good reasons. Since God instituted the Sabbath in the garden of Eden in the age of innocence there have been two changes of the “Lord’s Day” since then based on date (15th of Nissan). This is why the Bible always refers to the Sabbath as “the seventh day and never by the name of a day.
The Sunday Sabbath is the Lord’s day because we see that according to the Acts of the apostle’s, the very first precedent by the apostle’s in Acts was to change the Sabbath, every seventh day from being called the Sabbath to The Lord’s Day.”. The perpetual purpose for the good of man and other truths are well brought out in Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary which I have included below. Bill Burkett. Amen!
(Read especially what Easton says about the Sabbath being made for man, a statement made by Jesus that establishes the fourth commandment as a perpetual commandment and also why it would leave the ten commandments intact with the other 9 commandments in the age of Grace.) Sabbath (Heb. verb shabbath, meaning “to rest from labour”) is the day of rest. It is first mentioned as having been instituted in Paradise, when man was in innocence (Gen. 2:2). “The Sabbath was made for man,” as a day of rest and refreshment for the body and of blessing to the soul. It is next referred to in connection with the gift of manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness (Ex. 16:23); and afterwards, when the law was given from Sinai (20:11), the people were solemnly charged to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Thus it is spoken of as an institution already existing. In the Mosaic law strict regulations were laid down regarding its observance (Ex. 35:2, 3; Lev. 23:3; 26:34).
These were peculiar to that dispensation. In the subsequent history of the Jews frequent references are made to the sanctity of the Sabbath (Isa. 56:2, 4, 6, 7; 58:13, 14; Jer. 17:20-22; Neh. 13:19). In later times they perverted the Sabbath by their traditions. Our Lord rescued it from their perversions, and recalled to them its true nature and intent (Matt. 12:10-13; Mark 2:27; Luke 13:10-17). The Sabbath, originally instituted for man at his creation, is of permanent and universal obligation. The physical necessities of man require a Sabbath of rest. He is so constituted that his bodily welfare needs at least one day in seven for rest from ordinary labour.
Experience also proves that the moral and spiritual necessities of men also demand a Sabbath of rest. “I am more and more sure by experience that the reason for the observance of the Sabbath lies deep in the everlasting necessities of human nature, and that as long as man is man the blessedness of keeping it, not as a day of rest only, but as a day of spiritual rest, will never be annulled. I certainly do feel by experience the eternal obligation, because of the eternal necessity, of the Sabbath. The soul withers without it. It thrives in proportion to its observance. The Sabbath was made for man. God made it for men in a certain spiritual state because they needed it. The need, therefore, is deeply hidden in human nature.
He who can dispense with it must be holy and spiritual indeed. And he who, still unholy and unspiritual, would yet dispense with it is a man that would fain be wiser than his Maker” (F. W. Robertson). The ancient Babylonian calendar, as seen from recently recovered inscriptions on the bricks among the ruins of the royal palace, was based on the division of time into weeks of seven days. The Sabbath is in these inscriptions designated Sabattu, and defined as “a day of rest for the heart” and “a day of completion of labour.” The change of the day. Originally at creation the seventh day of the week was set apart and consecrated as the Sabbath. The first day of the week is now observed as the Sabbath.
Has God authorized this change? There is an obvious distinction between the Sabbath as an institution and the particular day set apart for its observance. The question, therefore, as to the change of the day in no way affects the perpetual obligation of the Sabbath as an institution. Change of the day or no change, the Sabbath remains as a sacred institution the same. It cannot be abrogated. If any change of the day has been made, it must have been by Christ or by his authority. Christ has a right to make such a change (Mark 2:23-28). As Creator, Christ was the original Lord of the Sabbath (John 1:3; Heb. 1:10). It was originally a memorial of creation. A work vastly greater than that of creation has now been accomplished by him, the work of redemption.
We would naturally expect just such a change as would make the Sabbath a memorial of that greater work. True, we can give no text authorizing the change in so many words. We have no express law declaring the change. But there are evidences of another kind. We know for a fact that the first day of the week has been observed from apostolic times, and the necessary conclusion is, that it was observed by the apostles and their immediate disciples. This, we may be sure, they never would have done without the permission or the authority of their Lord. After his resurrection, which took place on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1), we never find Christ meeting with his disciples on the seventh day. But he specially honoured the first day by manifesting himself to them on four separate occasions (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:34, 18-33; John 20:19-23).
Again, on the next first day of the week, Jesus appeared to his disciples (John 20:26). Some have calculated that Christ’s ascension took place on the first day of the week. And there can be no doubt that the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was on that day (Acts 2:1). Thus Christ appears as instituting a new day to be observed by his people as the Sabbath, a day to be henceforth known amongst them as the “Lord’s day.” The observance of this “Lord’s day” as the Sabbath was the general custom of the primitive churches, and must have had apostolic sanction (comp. Acts 20:3-7; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2) and authority, and so the sanction and authority of Jesus Christ.
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week in which God ceased from his work of creation and declared the day blessed and holy (Gen. 2:1-3). Through the episode of the manna (Exod. 16), the sacred nature of the day was stressed to the Israelites. It was to be “a Sabbath of the Lord,” a day set apart for God and for rest. The Decalogue forbids work on the Sabbath, both for the Israelites and for their servants and guests (Exod. 20:8-11). Deut. 5:12-15 implies that there is a humanitarian motive in the Sabbath concept. In God’s sight, no man or animal should be required to work seven days a week and to be enslaved as the Israelites were in Egypt. The Sabbath is therefore a direct indication of God’s consecration of Israel, as well as of his creation.
Violating the Sabbath was a serious offense, and the person who worked on the Sabbath was to be “cut off from among his people” (Exod. 31:14). During their wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites brought to trial a man found gathering wood on the Sabbath. He was stoned to death according to the commandment of the Lord for profaning the Sabbath (Num. 15:32-36). A fire was not to be kindled on the Sabbath (Exod. 35:3), and admonitions to reverence the day are linked to reverence toward parents (Lev. 19:3) and reverence toward the Lord’s sanctuary (19:30; 26:2). The Sabbath terminated a week of work and was to be a complete rest unto the Lord, a distinguishing mark of God’s choosing the Jewish people.
The Sabbath was a joyous holy day, a day of spiritual refreshment and reverent worship. It seems to have been a popular day, an opportunity for man to imitate his Creator, to devote himself to contemplation and to community worship. Those that delighted in the Lord in this fashion were promised that they would “ride on the heights of the earth” (Isa. 58:13-14). Even foreigners who kept from profaning the Sabbath and held to God’s covenant were promised blessing and deep joy (56:6-8). Jewish tradition held that Isaiah declared the eventual universalization of the Sabbath among all nations (note 66:23). Prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel placed such stress on the importance of observing the Sabbath that at times the fate of the Jewish people was directly linked in prophecy to attitudes toward the Sabbath (note Jer. 17:19-27 and Ezek. 20:12ff.).
Josephus explains that during the first Christian century there were public discourses on the Sabbath in the Jewish community. Jesus observed the Sabbath, not only worshiping, but also teaching in the synagogue during that time of the week (Mark 6:2). The incidents regarding his disciples’ plucking ears of grain or his healing on the Sabbath were not a digression from the Sabbath law, but were rather an indication that Jesus knew the content of the commandment very well. Not only his disciples, but also the apostle Paul and the early Jewish Christians observed the Sabbath.
(Note by Amen!: That regarding the plucking of corn and healing on the Sabbath by Jesus and his disciples, these were not prohibitions of the Torah (the law of Moses) but rather more of the burdensome rulings conjured up by the scribes and Pharisees from the Talmud they made binding but that Jesus condemned in strong language when he had an encounter with the Jews recorded in Mark 7.)
Jewish tradition has maintained the aspects of Torah observance, community worship, and joyful family participation to the present day. The mother prepares a special meal and kindles the Sabbath candles remembering the holy day. As she wafts the aura of the candles toward her and recites the blessing over the candles, she symbolizes the putting of her daily cares from her and acknowledges the historic sacredness of the hour. Two loaves of bread are placed on the dinner table and covered with a cloth to symbolize the double portion of manna given during the wilderness wandering. Guests are often invited to share in this Sabbath joy, and special prayers and hymns are recited, led by the father of the household. The family worships at weekly Sabbath services at the synagogue. A farewell service is observed in a spirit of sadness that the blessed day has passed. Jewish tradition has proposed that if every Jew kept the Sabbath for two consecutive Sabbaths, the Messiah would return.
The Bible also made provision for a Sabbath year. During the seventh year the land was to lie fallow so that the land might rest, the needy might feed on the after growth, and the animals might eat the surplus. God promised an abundant harvest the sixth year to carry through the sabbatical period. In addition, debts were to be cancelled during that year (note Exod. 23:10-11; Lev. 25:1-7, 18-22; Deut. 15:1-11). At the close of seven sabbatical cycles a year of jubilee was instituted. Land that had been sold was to be returned to its former owner, and there were other sabbatical year provisions. These provisions underscored the fact that ultimately God owned the land.
D A Rausch
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
A. E. Millgram, Sabbath: The Day of Delight; G. F. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era; A. J. Heschel, The Sabbath; S. Goldman, Guide to the Sabbath; D. A. Carson, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day; R. T. Beckwith and W. Stott, The Christian Sunday; N. E. Andreasen, Rest and Redemption.