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Keeping the Sabbath

How many of us are truly keeping the Sabbath as the Lord spoke to Moses?

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work” (Exo 20:8-10).

There seems to be a lot of dissension among believers on whether we are still obligated to keep the Sabbath, the correct day, and what is actually allowed to be done. 

The Jews make preparations on Friday to have all their work done so they can enter into Shabbat at sundown. Are we making sure all our meals are cooked, laundry done, and houses cleaned, so that we can rest from all work once evening comes? The seventh day Sabbath was to be a holy convocation to the Lord, a sign between God and His people to be observed forever (Exo 31:17). Why are so many Christians neglecting this command? 

A day to completely rest from all ‘servile work’ and simply relax and renew. An entire day devoted to family or seeking the Lord in prayer or the Word. In the busyness of everyday life, who wouldn’t want that? The scriptures tell us God rested on the seventh day from all His work (Genesis 2:2). Do you think God needed a recharge after creating all of heaven and earth, or was there something deeper? The early church understood there was a deeper significance to the Sabbath, and that it wasn’t merely a day to rest. 

When we (Christians) understand that we still ought to observe a sabbath from all “servile work” always, and not only every seventh day, but through all time. And through this arises the question for us, what sabbath God willed us to keep? For the Scriptures point to a sabbath eternal and a sabbath temporal. [1]

“For the Scriptures point to a sabbath eternal and a sabbath temporal.”
– Tertullian

The Jews and many Christians are observing and upholding the Sabbath by the letter, thinking they are righteous in God’s eyes, because they have ceased all work. This isn’t the Sabbath the Lord intended. We can see Jesus was accused on several occasions by the Pharisees of breaking the Sabbath (Matt 12:10, Mark 3:2, John 9:14-16). However, He had actually come to fulfill or properly teach the law, by bringing them the spiritual understanding. They couldn’t see past the literal to the deeper understanding. Jesus rebuked them for keeping the traditions of men and rejecting God’s commandments in order to keep their own (Mark 7:8-9, John 7:19).

God also spoke through the prophet Isaiah saying, “The New Moons, Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and feasts My soul hates” (Isa 1:13-14). The letter of the law could never make us perfect. Taking a day to rest has never had the ability to purify our souls. Just as the sacrifices never could cleanse anyone from sins (Heb 10:4).

Taking a day to rest has never had the ability to purify our souls.

The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure. [2]

If the law was given so we could be perfect, we need to ask how Abraham or Noah were found to be blameless, and walked with God without having the commandments (Gen 17:1, 6:9). The commandments given to Moses didn’t come for another 430 years after Abraham. 

Thus, therefore, before this temporal sabbath, there was withal an eternal sabbath foreshown and foretold; just as before the carnal circumcision there was withal a spiritual circumcision foreshown. In short, let them teach us, as we have already premised, that Adam observed the sabbath; or that Abel, when offering to God a holy victim, pleased Him by a religious reverence for the sabbath; or that Enoch, when translated, had been a keeper of the sabbath; or that Noah the ark-builder observed, on account of the deluge, an immense sabbath; or that Abraham, in observance of the sabbath, offered Isaac his son; or that Melchizedek in his priesthood received the law of the sabbath. [3]  

The eternal Sabbath we are meant to keep is one in which our mind is at rest from its carnal thoughts…

The eternal Sabbath we are meant to keep is one in which our mind is at rest from its carnal thoughts, and we have put on the mind of Christ. This can only be done through the spiritual understanding of the Word. As Peter said, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day (2 Peter 3:8). We are stepping into the seventh day, or 7,000 years since Adam. The millennial kingdom is getting ready to manifest and it’s time to rest from our ‘servile work’ so we will be able to do the work of the Lord. This is our preparation day. The Israelites were told to gather a double portion of manna on the sixth day of the week, “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none” (Exo 16:26). There was no manna on the seventh day, just as there will be no more revelation or teaching on the seventh day. 

Now is the time to gather all the revelation needed to sustain us as we cross over into the kingdom. Then we will be able to rest as the Lord desired. As the Apostle Paul said in Hebrews chapter 4, “he who enters into His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Finally, we see in the Epistle of Barnabas, disciple of Paul, a confirmation of the true Sabbath which we are to keep.

“Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Behold, therefore: certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness. [4]

“Behold, therefore: certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness.”
– Barnabas

Let’s leave the elementary principles behind and the dead works of faith and move on into perfection (Heb 6:1). A completion, maturity or consummation in which we are in one accord with Christ for the eternal Sabbath. 

References:
1. Tertullian Vol. 3 Ch. IV
2. Justin Martyr Vol. 1 Ch. XII
3. Tertullian Vol. 3 Ch. IV
4. Barnabas Vol. 1 Ch. XV 

Keywords:
Sabbath
Sabbath day
Sabbath rest
Sabbath truth
What does Sabbath mean
What is the Sabbath
Sabbath meaning
Commandments
Commandments of God
Ten commandments


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