One of the first questions we have when we come into a Hebraic understanding of the Scriptures is: Do we have to keep the Sabbath?
Whole books have been written on this topic. A cursory glance at Youtube or a search on the Internet will bring up a myriad of opinions on whether or not we are to observe the Sabbath Day. In this article let’s stipulate that the Sabbath Day is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. (The preponderance of evidence confirms this as true.) So, if we want to obey YHVH, is Sabbath observance required?
This is not an exhaustive study, but will try to clarify where some of the issues arise and provoke the reader to study for themselves. In the end, we alone will stand before our Maker. Our preacher, mother, father or teacher will not be at our side to be our advocate. Only a relationship with our eternal advocate, Yeshua, will help us at that point. We are all required to be fully convinced in our own mind how we are to observe His commandments. That only comes from personal study, no matter how much you like or trust the person who tells you otherwise. Ask Him to help you understand.
It is a paradigm shift when we realize that the Torah is a covenant agreement between believers and YHVH (The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Since it is a covenant (eternal) then we take on those commandments (vows to obey) when we accept His free gift of Salvation. When we call him LORD that means He is more than our Savior, He is our King, Leader, Authority, and Judge. Without getting into all of the Torah, let’s just look at the Ten Commandments (Ten Words) and see how it relates to the Sabbath.
The Fourth Commandment (See Exodus 20) tells us to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Those of us who grew up in the Christian church automatically think that to observe the Sabbath is already covered in our Sunday worship. But is that accurate?
The Fourth Word, in length, is the longest commandment. In it YHVH explains why we are to observe the Sabbath. Observing it is our testimony that we believe He is the creator and that the Sabbath is His Holy Day that He sanctified at creation. Later, a second reason to observe the Sabbath was written in Deuteronomy 5. The Israelites were told to remember the Sabbath because it was a sign we remember how He rescued us from slavery in Eqypt! He gave us a day of rest! Something they never got when they worked for Pharaoh! It was a celebration! A down day! REST! We are to Walk as He Walked! He rested on Shabbat! We rest on Shabbat!
Paul taught that we were to observe the Sabbath.
Heb 4:9 There remains, therefore, a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
Heb 4:10 because the one who enters God’s rest has himself rested from his own actions, just as God did from his.
Just as Isaiah prophesied:
Isa 58:13 “If you keep your feet from trampling the Sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable; and if you honor it by not going your own ways and seeking your own pleasure or speaking merely idle words,
Isa 58:14 then you will take delight in the LORD, and he will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; and he will make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob, your father. “Yes! The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
I suppose I could stop right here and say, If the ‘mouth of the LORD has spoken’ it, then that should be good enough. And for me it is. Why would anyone object to a day of rest? – especially one that will allow you to ‘ride upon the heights of the earth!’ It is part of our covenant! It is a demonstration of His grace and loving-kindness to us.
The church likes to ‘spiritualize’ the Sabbath away. They claim that our spiritual rest in Him is all we need. I’m not convinced that we can ignore the needs of our physical bodies. It is great to have peace within, but physical rest is also important. I think He cares that we take care of our earthly temples.
Many use isolated sound bites from the New Testament to try and justify that all days are alike. Here’s the thing: If YHVH declared a day to be holy (set-apart) and sanctified, can all days be alike? Wouldn’t that negate His command? After all, if every day is the same, then no day can be called holy or set-apart.
I suppose you could tell your spouse that every day is special, but I don’t think it will go over well if you neglect a birthday or anniversary. How happy would we be if Independence Day was abolished? Those are ‘set-apart’ days. They are special! How much more special is the day that the Creator declared to be ‘remembered?’
That’s the other thing. If we are to remember it, doesn’t that sound like the Israelites already knew about the Sabbath? It wasn’t a ‘new’ concept for them (after all, it was declared the Sabbath in creation week!) They were just re-learning it! Not only that, YHVH used the 40 years in the wilderness to reinforce to them how special the Sabbath actually was!
For six days a week He provided manna for them to eat. They were not allowed to keep it overnight as it would spoil. However, there was a second special miracle that happened on the 6th day each week! A double portion of manna was provided and gathered and it did not spoil overnight! He made sure they had enough to eat for the 6th day and all of Sabbath! They could rest from gathering their food on His Special Set-apart Day! HalleluYah!
There are no less than eighty-five Sabbaths that are mentioned being observed by the apostles (and Yeshua) in the New Testament. There is no record of Yeshua changing the day before his resurrection, and no evidence that he instructed his apostles to alter it afterwards.
If you will do a little research on your own, you will find that the Sabbath day was made illegal during the third and fourth century, and Sunday was codified under the state-declared religion of Christianity by Constantine. Investigate how Sunday worship honors the Invincible Sun (Mithra) and other pagan customs. What else caused the church to change to Sunday worship?
“They [the Protestants] deem it their duty to keep the Sunday holy. Why? BECAUSE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TELLS THEM TO DO SO. They have no other reason…The observance of Sunday thus comes to be an ecclesiastical law entirely distinct from the divine law of Sabbath observance…The author of the Sunday law…is the Catholic Church.” Ecclesiastical Review, February 1914. (emphasis mine)
“It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that THE BIBLE DOES NOT SUPPORT THEM ANYWHERE IN THEIR OBSERVANCE OF SUNDAY. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church.” Priest Brady, in an address reported in The News, Elizabeth, New Jersey, March 18, 1903. (emphasis mine)
I cannot tell you what to do, I can only share that once we began observing His set-apart day (Sabbath) the blessings were immediate. I’m sure He loves to hear from us every day, but it is special to meet with Him on His appointed time. It is a witness, a sign, that He is our Lord, the Creator of the Universe. There is no one like Him.
EX 31:13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is A SIGN BETWEEN ME AND YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.