What’s the Big Deal about the Sabbath?

God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.”  Genesis 2:3 (HCSB)

“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 Yehovah (the LORD) made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:16-17 (ESV)

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to Yehovah (the LORD) in all your dwelling places.” Leviticus 23:3 (ESV)

Be careful to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy as Yehovah (the LORD) your God has commanded you.” Deuteronomy 5:12 (HCSB)

And the foreigners who join themselves to the Yehovah (the LORD), to minister to him, to love the name of Yehovah (the LORD), and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—” Isaiah 56:6 (ESV)

And throughout the “new” testament we see Yeshua (Jesus) and the apostles observing the Sabbath in one way or the other.  It’s obviously important.

The Sabbath started as the ‘seventh day’, from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.  There isn’t much contention there.  But Christianity (most of it) now says that it is on Sunday.  Why?  Well, here is a bit of history.

The Roman Emperor Constantine decreed Sunday to be the day of rest (though only in cities) around 321 A.D.  He did so for various reasons, none of which had to do with him loving Yehovah (the LORD).  This is easily verified in the history books.  Granted some Christians had already been observing Sunday as the Sabbath to avoid being called Jewish, but this was not universal.  And it wasn’t until long after Constantine’s decree that Christianity gave the reason for the change as having to do with Yeshua’s (Jesus’) resurrection.

So much for the history lesson.  Now back to the Sabbath.

I didn’t begin to appreciate just how important the Sabbath was until I started observing it.  Now I see it as a wonderful time where I don’t work, and where I can take as much time as I want to be with our Father.  In Deuteronomy 5:15 God tells us, as a reason for celebrating the Sabbath, to remember that we were slaves and are now free.

In observing the Sabbath, I proclaim that I am no longer a slave to the world and its ways, and I can rest!  (What other creature on this planet can do that!)

Begin to honor Him and observe the Sabbath on the day He gave us.  You won’t regret it.

As a last note I will say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with worshiping God on Sunday.  Just don’t make that into the Sabbath!

– Yosef

11 thoughts on “What’s the Big Deal about the Sabbath?

    • God calls the Sabbath a sign between Himself and us. Forever. I love being able to celebrate being made in His image each week, and choosing to rest on the seventh day. And I hope and pray that more of His children will choose to observe the Sabbath, and enjoy the blessing therein. – Yosef

    • I’m really glad you shared this sentiment. And before I give a reply, I want to say (to all those out there) that there are many jobs where one simply can not get the Sabbath free. This was so even in the times when Moses was given the 10 statements (10 commandments). How one is to deal with this situation is not given in the Bible. What is said in the Bible is that we are observe and guard the Sabbath. Not as a burden, as Yeshua (Jesus) made clear, but as the gift to us that it is.

      That said, on to your comment. It’s blunt, but I’m not sure if there is a better way to put it.

      You state in your comment the exact words that I hear from many, many people when discussing whether the Sabbath should be from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown or on Sunday. I know what you mean, but it is interesting, and telling, that that exact phrase is used by almost everyone I speak with on this topic. You say, ‘my sabbath is on Sunday.’ Interesting. ‘Your’ sabbath is on Sunday. I ask, ‘when were we allowed to define our own sabbath?’ When did God disown the Sabbath?

      (To other readers – read the previous comment from Tancy and my response. Most people do not have any scriptural footing what-so-ever to stand on in changing the Sabbath day. Tancy is making a good, well thought out argument for her stance. It is just that in this comment, she uses what I consider a dangerous phrase. I am addressing the use of that phrase, and not the actual argument, in this reply.)

      When we say something like ‘my sabbath,’ it seems to me that it is dishonoring to God. It’s like we are telling Him, “Well, it’s a nice idea, but I’ll take it from here and do what I want when I want.” There are many, many instances of where God is quite precise as to when something is to be done. Actually, the Bible is full of such instances.

      There are instances where it seems that God doesn’t care about precisely when something is done, such as the case of the untended fields you mentioned in your earlier comment. But it is interesting to note that, though the day on which the counting is to begin is not given, forevermore thereafter, a careful count is to be maintained.

      Now if you are truly observing and guarding Sunday as a day of rest, great! Most people don’t. God can be given honor and glory through that. But that still doesn’t change the issue that God’s Sabbath is from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.

      Does God condemn, or get mad at, anyone observing Sunday as the Sabbath? History is answer to that question: no He hasn’t. If that is so, then isn’t it okay to change the Sabbath day? I’m stating that there is no Biblical support for doing so. That God hasn’t seemed to mind is a measure of His grace! But we now live in a time in history that is quite unique.

      The Hebrew language is again living. We are learning more and more from archeology (it is as if the ‘rocks are crying out’). Just about everyone has access to God’s word in super abundance! The Word of God is again going forth out of Zion! And what I see being called for is a return to His law. Not for salvation, but as our response, out of love, to His gift to us. And one of the first things is the question of the Sabbath.

      – Yosef

      • Hi Yosef, thanks for your response. They are well received, and thought provoking too, as always.
        My response is given out of a long, long period of thought and study. I have spent considerable time in the Holy Scriptures on this particular subject of the Sabbath. I uphold Yahweh’s commands and statutes, and l will always choose to do what pleases Him.
        The phrase “my Sabbath” is not to be taken as though l am making an arbitrary choice. For starters, the Sabbath is directly linked with work. It is in principle, God’s declared mandatory rest after six days of work.
        Yeshua often was accused of disregarding the strict observance of the Sabbath in His days on earth, which was never the case. He emphasized again and again that the Sabbath was rest, and not just a ritual.
        Again Paul in Colossians 2:16 comes to mind; Romans 14:5 also.
        In the case of the land Sabbath, it amply represent the concept of work and rest, with no given particular year. That meant that whichever year the field was worked was to be counted as the first day. The 7th year was dependent then on the 1st year.
        I really don’t look at Sunday as my preferred Sabbath; instead it is the day that l can really devote to rest after 6 working days; and also to worship God.

        Thanks

        • I am very thankful to Yah (God) that I currently have a job where I do not have to work on the Sabbath. I do not know what is best for those that do not have such jobs. The best solution is arrived at the way you indicated: prayer and study, and asking God what He wants you to do. And you are quite correct: the Sabbaths for the land can be viewed as you state. I do not, however, see that the concept can then be used to view the dating of the weekly Sabbath. The two fall under very different reasons, rules, and application.

          The land Sabbath aside, on to the two scriptures you referenced. Before one can really talk about Paul’s writings, one has to talk about the perspective of his writings (and I hope to continue my series on Paul soon – hopefully you will comment on the posts!). Most people, when reading Paul, assume that whenever he mentions law or days or makes a negative comment, it is in reference to God’s appointed times (Sabbath, Passover, Pentecost, new moon…). This is not usually the case.

          For example, in Romans 14:5, the language and context show me that Paul is not even talking about God’s appointed times, but is talking about all the special days that we humans make for ourselves. The Roman culture back then (as well as the Jewish culture and every other culture) had a plethora of specials days for one thing or another. Some might call those days superstition; others might call them traditions; and some are clearly for worshiping other gods. Setting aside the days for worshiping other gods, Paul is stating, in Romans 14, not to judge one another because of such beliefs. For example, if one believes that it is best to marry on a Tuesday, then let him marry on a Tuesday. If one considers Sunday a day of worship, then let him worship on that day. But there is no indication that Paul is talking of God’s appointed times.

          In Colossians 2:16, Paul is talking about the Sabbath and other appointed times. Many view that as Paul telling the hearers to not worry about anyone telling them they need to observe God’s times. I don’t see that as holding true when all of Paul’s writings and life are taken into account. Rather I see Paul addressing a group of gentile believers who have thrown off their old ways and are now following the festivals, new moons, and Sabbath, and Paul is telling them not to listen to those saying that doing so is bad. God’s appointed times are a shadow of what is to come; and the shadow of what is coming is far superior to that which is already in the world. And the pagan world was (and still is) full of such philosophies that have the appearance of wisdom, being full of all sort of ‘righteous sounding rules’. But they are only according to human precepts and teachings.

          As always, we need to look to Yeshua (Jesus). He did observe the Sabbath – God’s way, not man’s. It is interesting to note that, in Yeshua’s trial, the leaders also apparently realized that Yeshua wasn’t actually breaking Sabbath law. If they had thought he actually had broken the Sabbath, they could have easily convicted him of that in Yeshua’s trial. But they couldn’t as Yeshua upheld the Sabbath to the highest principles.

          I’m not so good at stating things as succinctly as you are. Hope you don’t mind my long-winded replies.

          Shalom, – Yosef

          • Not at all. Your comments are all welcome. Serves as leads to explore more on the topics at hand on any given post. Going to do a hermeneutic inquiry into this . Thanks, always

            • And while studying the scripture, remember what Yeshua (Jesus) taught us about the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for us, as a way to enjoy the presence of Yah (God), and as a continual reminder of the covenants He has made with us. And that doing good is just as much to be done on the Sabbath as on every other day.

              And I also enjoy posts of different opinions as it leads me to delve into the Word more. Always enjoyable getting to know the depth and breadth and width of God’s love for us! Shalom! – Yosef

  1. God worked six days, and rested on the seventh day. This for me means that work should be done for six days and the next should be observed as a Sabbath.

    The year of rest for farming fields for instance, begins on no particular date, except that the seventh year, the land should not be farmed.

    • Thank you for sharing an opposing opinion! This site is meant to be a place where opposing views can be discussed. Especially a well thought out view as you have shared.

      All of what you say is correct, but you missed one thing. There is an oddity in the way the Bible lists the days of creation. Unfortunately, many (or most?) English translations obscure the oddity. The phrase ‘the first day’ is better translated as ‘day one.’ The Hebrew is ‘echad yom.’ All the other words numbering the days are the normal words for second, third, etcetera. In some instances, the word ‘echad’ can mean first, but that is uncommon. In most instances the word is used to mean ‘one’. In fact, it is the same word used in the well known verse, “Hear O Israel; Yehovah (the LORD) our God; Yehovah (the LORD) is one (echad).” To me (and all Jews), an oddity such as the word used to describe the first day, is there for a reason. I see the reason as being that God was declaring what day is the first day of the week, and to get to the Sabbath, count from that day.

      The untended fields example you give is quite correct. The Biblical narrative does not clearly state when the 7 year cycle for fields starts. Yet this can not be used as a proof for saying that the counting of the days of a week can start on any day as there are examples where it is quite clear that there is a specific date to start counting from (feast of Weeks comes to mind, or the entire Biblical calendar).

      Lastly, it is needed that all believers observe the Sabbath on the same day. For the most part, Christianity does observe Sunday as a day of rest and meeting together. Some groups call it the ‘new’ Sabbath. Others hold that the Sabbath is still Friday to Saturday sundown, but they choose to worship on Sunday. There is at least one group I know of (Seventh Day Adventists) that meet on the Saturday Sabbath.

      I’ll end with this. we can meet and worship on any day of the week, Sunday included, in addition to the Sabbath. If a group can only meet, in its entirety, on Sunday, then fine. But that shouldn’t change when the Sabbath is or what we are to do on that day.

      Please feel free to continue discussing. I have heard many reasonings for holding Sunday as the Sabbath, but I had not yet heard anyone use the days of creation as their reason. I’m glad you know your scriptures so well!

      A discussion such as this can take place with an attitude of respect, and without any condemnation, when both parties are truly following Yeshua as Lord and savior, as you and I are.

      I’ll say more about the Sabbath in answer to your next comment.

      – Yosef

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