Posts Tagged ‘Sunday’

Venerable Day of the Sun

Sunday church was part of my life growing up.  I attended weekly  services as a child and sang in the choir and played handbells as a teenager.   I never questioned Sunday worship because it was just what everyone I knew did.  My family went to church on Sunday.  Period.  As an adult, I continued to attend Sunday church services until the LORD showed me His better way of the Sabbath.   

Many years ago, our family had some visitors from New Zealand.  After spending several days with us and learning about our Messianic walk of faith, they asked if they could stay for Sabbath extending their stay a couple of days.  While reading some Scriptures, the husband interrupted and asked why the church doesn’t keep the Sabbath.  Before anyone in our family could answer his question, his wife responded, “The catholic church changed it.”  Not only did they change it, they said we are now obliged to Sunday instead of the ‘ancient Sabbath.’

“Instead of the seventh day, and other festivals appointed by the old law, the church has prescribed the Sundays and holy days to be set apart for God’s worship; and these we are now obliged to keep in consequence of God’s commandment, instead of the ancient Sabbath” (The Catholic Christian Instructed in the Sacraments, Sacrifices, Ceremonies, and Observances of the Church By Way of Question and Answer, RT Rev. Dr. Challoner, p. 204.)

Like Christmas and Easter, Sunday worship has its roots in the history of the catholic church and church fathers who developed the idea that Sunday was the memorial day for Jesus’ resurrection.’  Sunday is named for the ‘sun’ and probably came from ancient Egyptian astrology.

In 321 C.E., Constantine decreed that Sunday would be observed as the Roman day of rest:  “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church: Vol. II: From Constantine the Great to Gregory the Great A.D. 311–600 (New York: Charles Scribner, 1867) page 380 note 1.)

This doctrine was codified at the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. with its many other anti-semitic regulations further separating the Jewish Sabbath from the Christian Sunday.  In 363 C.E. the Council of Laodicea prohibited Christians from observing the Biblical Sabbath and encouraged them to work on Saturday and rest on the Sunday.   The fact that this edict was issued with prohibitions indicates that Sunday worship was still not totally accepted by followers of Christ. 

Yeshua sent an angel to the church in Laodicea warning them about mixing the holy and the profane, the hot and the cold.  It makes him vomit!   He tells this lukewarm congregation that he stands at the door and knocks and if anyone hears his voice and opens the door, he will eat with them (Revelation 3:14-20).  This is a reference to the Sabbath day, the fourth (dalet or door) commandment along with the words, the ruler of God’s creation.  It would seem that Yeshua already knew that Laodicea would fall away from the truth and mix it with lies.   Only those with ‘ears to hear’ would be victorious and sit on thrones to rule and reign with Him. 

Contrary to God’s command for the Sabbath day,  Sunday worship was mandated by the Roman Catholic Church as the sabbath of Christian worship.   According to all calendars, historic and modern-day, Sunday is the first, not the Biblically commanded seventh day of the week.  The outline of God’s creational week of working for six days and resting on the seventh was transformed into a Sunday ‘sabbath’ having people rest on the first day of the week and then working.   I remember when an elder in a church I attended brought that little fact to my attention.  Though we worshipped on Sunday, he commented, “I wonder how God will deal with the church for turning His order around – resting then working rather than working and resting.”   

Of course, we can worship God any day of the week we desire.  In fact, we should worship Him every day as Creator of the Universe and for all the blessings and promises He brings into our lives.  However, that doesn’t mean His Sabbath should have become a day disdained by Christianity through anti-semitic edicts and blatantly misinterpreted Scriptures undeniably proving that believing Jews and gentiles came together on Sabbath in synagogues to hear the reading of the Torah and the Prophets.   Acts 20:7 is one example:

“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”

Without even discussing that Biblical days are rendered evening to evening, is it really possible that Paul would begin to speak during a Sunday morning worship service and continue until midnightand then leave the next day?  Would people really sit for 15-20 hours to  listen to him proclaim the Word of God when today an hour is too long? 

Verse 8 gives an important detail to understanding this event, “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.”  Biblical days are rendered sunset to sunset.  This means that when Paul started speaking on the first day of the week, it was after sunset or Saturday evening.   He talked for four or five hours which is more realistic. Eutychus goes to sleep because it’s late, falls out the window and dies. After Eutychus is resurrected from the dead, Paul leaves in the morning which would be Sunday morning.

“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1 Corinthians 16:2).

This verse is often used to support collecting tithes and offerings at Sunday morning church services.  Does this verse really suggest passing the offering plates at a Sunday service?  No, it says that on the ‘first day of the week,’ when business began again after the Sabbath, offerings should be set aside so that when Paul returned, there would be no need for a collection on the Sabbath.   

“And let us … not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

There is nothing in this verse in Hebrews to suggest that meeting together was to happen on the first day of the week or forsaking the fellowship meant not going to church on Sunday.   Though it’s very important to meet together, to encourage one another, the ‘first day of the week’ is not specifically mentioned; while the Sabbath and other Biblical holy days were already established meeting times. 

Sunday is often called ‘The LORD’s Day’ as if the Yeshua actually honored it as such.  In Matthew 12:8 and Mark 2:28, Yeshua said “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  At the time he made these statements, the Sabbath was still the seventh day,  therefore the ‘Day of the LORD,’ if used in this manner, should still be the seventh-day  Sabbath.  Since the word Sabbath has its Hebrew root in sheva or ‘seven,’  it would always be the seventh day, not the first, third or any day that man desires.

“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,  which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches …” (Revelation 1:10).

Many interpret this Scripture to mean that on a Sunday morning,  the apostle John was in the Spirit and given revelation.   However, the passage doesn’t say it was on a Sunday.  This inference comes from centuries of Christian theology that moved the Sabbath to the first day of the week and then called it The LORD’s Day.

John was a Jew and well-versed in the Hebrew language of the Hebrew Scriptures.  To him the phrase en teé juriake´heem´ra (The LORD’s Day) would imply what is called by the prophets Isaiah, Joel and Amos as “The Day of the LORD” or the time of the coming judgment that brings forth the Messianic age. 

There are other clues in the passage to the timing of The LORD’s Day and neither have anything to do with Sunday.   John heard a loud voice that sounded like a trumpet.  Since the book of Revelation is about prophecy, to use the sound of the trumpet as a prophetic voice is appropriate.  Also, the Feast of Trumpets is believed to be the time for preparing for God’s judgment of earth and its people, therefore, it could be argued that the Day of the LORD begins on Feast of Trumpets.   The trumpet voice tells John to send seven messages to the seven churches in East Asia.  These messages contain warnings for ‘The Day of the LORD’ so those in the congregations who have ‘ears to hear’ will recognize the times and be prepared. 

Still, some Christians perpetuate Sunday as The LORD’s Day, but this is really nothing more than ignorance. When they wish someone a ‘Happy Lord’s Day,’ they are really wishing them a ‘Happy Judgment Day’ which is quite different from saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ or ‘Sabbath Peace.’   The real blessing of the ‘The LORD’s Day’  is not about wishing someone a  great worship time on Sunday, but in reading book of Revelation and the prophecy it contains (Revelation 1:1-3).

The  change from the Sabbath command to a ‘first day of the week’ memorial to the sun god was not instituted by Yeshua or the Apostles, but by the Roman church that didn’t heed Paul’s warnings about arrogance over the natural branches of the Olive Tree. This brings great misunderstanding to the prophetic revelation given to John regarding the events of the ‘Day of the LORD’ and the return of the Messiah to Jerusalem. 

“He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east” (Ezekiel 8:16).

The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the Temple in Jerusalem before the glory of the LORD departs through the Eastern Gate and stops over the Mount of Olives.  Digging through a hole at the entrance to the court, Ezekiel witnesses seventy elders of Israel offering incense to foreign gods.  Twenty-five men are in the inner courts near the altar.  They face east with their backs toward the Temple and bow to the sun.   These detestable things, the worship of the sun in the east,  force God to remove His glory from the Temple.  His glory will not return until Yeshua sets his feet on the Mount of Olives and all the detestable practices of the nations are removed from his Kingdom people. 

Having learned about some of the pagan roots of Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Sunday, perhaps Paul’s words to Galatia can be read and understood in the context in which he wrote them to gentile followers of Messiah:

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?  You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!  I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you” (Galatians 4:8-11).

©2015 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com

Is the LORD’s Day really Sunday?

Many Christians love to say “Happy Lord’s Day” on Sunday as a greeting of blessing to other believers.  However, is the LORD’s Day really Sunday?  Is celebrating the LORD’s Day a blessing?

Sunday as the LORD’s Day

When Yeshua walked on this earth, he said in Matthew 12:8 and Mark 2:28, “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  From these two passages, the Lord’s day has to be the Sabbath.  At the time Yeshua made these statements, he was referring to the seventh-day Sabbath.  The word Sabbath has its Hebrew root in sheva or ‘seven’ and will always be  the seventh day, not the first or the third or the second or whatever day suits personal choice.

The issue Yeshua was trying to convey was that people, not traditions of men, were given authority over Sabbath.  This is why he also  said, “Sabbath was created for man not man for the Sabbath.”  The seventh-day Sabbath is the LORD’s holy day given to mankind as a day of rest from creative, physical work.  Yeshua, as the Son of Man, is Lord over the Sabbath and we are to follow him and his example in timing, rest, and obedience.

The LORD’s Day in Revelation 1:10

“On the LORD’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,  which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

Many interpret this as to mean that on the ‘first day of the week’, Sunday, the apostle John was in the Spirit.  However, this inference comes from years of Christian catholic theology that changed the ‘sabbath to Sunday‘ and made the ‘first day of the week’ into ‘the Lord’s Day.’   It is important to remember when reading Revelation that John was a Jew and well-versed in the Hebrew language of the Hebrew Scriptures.  To him the phrase en teé juriake´heem´ra (the Lord’s Day) would be what is known in by the prophets as “the Day of the LORD,” or the time of the coming destruction that brings forth the return of Messiah (Isaiah 13:6,9; Joel 1:15, 2:1,11,21; Amos 5:18).

There are two other little words in the passage that give a clue to the seasonal timing of the ‘day’.   John heard a loud voice that sounded like a trumpet.  Since the book of Revelation is about prophecy, to use the sound of the trumpet as a prophetic voice is appropriate.  The Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah  begins the ‘days of awe’ or the time for preparing for the LORD’s judgment of earth and its people.

John is told by the ‘trumpet voice’ to send messages to the seven churches in East Asia.  These seven messages have warnings to the disobedient and blessings for those with ‘ears to hear’.  These messages contain preparations  for the ‘Day of the LORD‘ and are sent  so the congregations will know the times and understand how to overcome spiritual battles and have victory in the Kingdom.

Still, some Christians perpetuate the the Lord’s Day as Sunday, but this is really the result of ignorance .  The  change from a seventh-day Sabbath to a ‘first day of the week’  memorial to the resurrection was not done by Yeshua or the apostles, but created by the Roman catholic church and Constantine that had an anti-semitic view of the Jewish people.   This unfortunate manmade change brings misunderstanding and misconceptions to the prophetic revelation given to John regarding the events of the Day of the LORD and the return of the Messiah of Israel to rule on earth.   The real blessing of The LORD’s Day  is not about having a great Sun-day, but to read the book of Revelation and the prophecy it contains.

The revelation of Messiah Yeshua, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,  who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Messiah Yeshua.  Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Revelation 1:1-3).

©2011 Tentstake Ministries

 

The Biblical Sabbath – Shabbat

Sabbath

“On six days work will get done; but the seventh day is Shabbat, for complete rest, set apart for the LORD…. The people of Israel are to keep the Shabbat, to observe Shabbat through all their generations as a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:15-16).

There is a lot of confusion today about the Sabbath.  Some people believe that it was done away with when Yeshua died on the cross.  Other people believe that the day was changed from the seventh day to the first.   Still others say that all but the fourth commandment are in force because it was not reiterated in the New Testament.  Some even go further and say there are no longer any real commandments we have to obey because we’ve been ‘set free from the law.’

In the Beginning

The first mention of Sabbath is Genesis 2:1-2:  “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.  By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

In the beginning, God created a day to honor ‘ceasing from His creative work.’   He made it holy or set it apart from the rest of the week.  This is the foundation for the seventh-day rest known as the  Sabbath.   

In Hebrew the word for Sabbath is Shabbat and its root is the word sheva meaning ‘seven.’  This gives witness to the Sabbath day being the seventh day of the week versus any other day.

Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet have a picture associated with them.  When the individual letter pictures are joined together, a word picture develops that gives insight into the word.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Sabbath or Shabbatשבת

Shin ש – A Tooth means ‘consumed or Shekinah, ‘the Divine Presence of God’

Bet ב – A House means ‘home, family’

Tau ת – A Cross means ‘sign’ or ‘covenant’

The Hebrew word picture for shabbat: The covenant sign of God’s consuming divine presence in the home or family.

Sabbath Instructions

The next time Sabbath is mentioned is in the wilderness after Israel had spent  400 years in slavery in Egypt never having a day of rest.  God explained the Sabbath command to this mixed multitude with specific guidelines about gathering manna:

“I will rain down bread from heaven for you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.  In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days. …Keep in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days.  Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.  So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:4-5,29).

Sabbath for the Israelites was a test of faith.  God wanted to see if His newly formed nation would simply follow His instructions.  It was no different from Adam and Eve in the Garden.  If they would just simply obey His Word and prepare for the Sabbath by gathering enough manna on the sixth day, they could stay in their tents and rest on the Sabbath.  Some, however, did not listen to God’s instruction and their disobedience brought maggots and stench to the community!

“Some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it [the man] until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell” (Exodus 16:20).

The Ten Commandments

God includes the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, part of His instructions that would set Israel apart from all other nations.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a  Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”

(Exodus 20:8).

The commandment about Sabbath begins with the word remember.     ‘Remember’ that only a couple of chapters earlier the Israelites were tested regarding to the Sabbath day and some of them paid no attention. To begin this commandment with remember suggests it will be the one most likely forgotten.  The Sabbath was not only to be a weekly reminder that God was the Provider for Israel’s sustenance and life, but that He was their Creator. 

To ignore the  Sabbath is to lose the picture of God’s cycle of working for six days and resting on the seventh.  The modern-day result of forgetting the Sabbath,  along with workaholism,  is the acceptance of evolution within the Body of Messiah.  Some pastors teach there is evolutionary creation with each day being 1000 or even 1 million years.   Such thinking negates the sign of Jonah that Yeshua gave for his time in the grave:  three days and three nights. The Hebrew word, yom, is used for each day of creation as well as the three days Yeshua was in the grave.  Each yom of creation was identified numerically from one to seven, ‘evening to morning’ defining a 24-hour day within a 7-day weekly cycle culminating with the Sabbath.

Appointed Time

Sabbath is given to God’s people as the first of  the ‘’appointed times.’

“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a  Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly.  You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:3).

From previous instructions given by God for the Sabbath along with this one,  families were to assemble in their tents in a sacred manner to remember their Creator and rest from their labors. It was to be remembered whether they lived in the wilderness, the Promised Land, or the dispersion among the nations. 

Sabbath Regulations

God gives more regulations to His people regarding the Sabbath in the Torah and through the Prophets. These guidelines defined what He considered work so that Israel would rest and remember Him and not fall back into a lifestyle of bondage. 

“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest” (Exodus 34:21).

“Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day” (Exodus 35:3, Leviticus 26:2, and Deuteronomy 5:12).

“While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day.   …Then YHVH said to Moses, the man must die” (Numbers 15:32).

“When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day” (Nehemiah 10:31).

“When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over.  I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day” (Nehemiah 13:19).

From these Scriptures came the following Sabbath instructions: Do not kindle a fire, do not gather wood, do not buy or sell, do not carry a load, rest in season and out, and a Sabbath day’s walk.  None of the regulations resulted in harsh punishment except once because God never killed anyone for random disobedience.  After watching His people live in slavery for 400 years, He had to show them that He was serious about ceasing from work.  He knew that one rebellious person would cause everyone else to be disobedient.

The Sabbath and Yeshua

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that had been made” (John 1:1-3).

In these two verses, Yeshua refers to the beginning when Sabbath was created.  He was there in the beginning with his Father when  He spoke the seventh-day into existence.  As the spoken word of God, Yeshua was an integral part of creating the Sabbath.

Yeshua did give one ordinance for the Sabbath when he was accused of disobeying man’s traditions.   He made it lawful to do good.  He demonstrated what was good by healing the sick and feeding his disciples.

“How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12).

“Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath” (John 7:23).

“One Sabbath Yeshua was going going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, ‘Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’  Yeshua answered them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.’  Then Yeshua said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath’” (Luke 6:1-5).

On the Sabbath, Yeshua went into the synagogue and taught his brothers and sisters, the lost sheep of the House of Israel.   He read  the Hebrew Scriptures according to the Sabbath custom, he he healed people and he cast out evil spirits.   Not only were the Jewish people amazed, they believed in him (Mark 6:2, John 8:30).

Throughout the centuries rabbis and other leaders compiled their own interpretations to the instructions given through the prophets which added great burdens on the people.  This was not God’s purpose for the Sabbath so Yeshua untwisted men’s interpretations showing that the Sabbath was made for mankind and not men’s rules.  He wanted to show his brothers and sisters  how they were to live out the Sabbath and not become enslaved to it. 

“Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).

As the Son of God, Yeshua has authority over Sabbath.  Though man can enjoy the day, determine how he will spend the day in rest, he  has no authority to change it, remove it, add to it or take anything away from it.  No man, except Yeshua, would have had this authority and he never took it. 

The Jews’ Sabbath

Many people still believe, in spite of the Biblical evidence, that the seventh-day Sabbath is only for the Jewish people.  When Yeshua stated that Sabbath was created for man, he spoke in a broader sense than just Jewish or even Israelite men and women.  After all, Sabbath was created ‘in the beginning’ before there was ever a Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Tribe of Judah.  There was only Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Sabbath was created for them to fellowship with their Creator. 

Though Yeshua never spoke Greek, it is important to note that the Greek word anthropos translated “man”  in Mark 2:27 literally means “man-faced.”  According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, the primary definition of anthropos is, “a human being, whether male or female, without reference to sex or nationality, to include all human beings.”  This means that Yeshua knew and understood that Sabbath was created for all human beings, not just his Jewish brothers and sisters.

Yeshua never taught that the Sabbath was abolished or would ever be.   In fact, he taught just the opposite when he says that nothing will disappear from the Torah until heaven and earth pass away.     Just because he angered the leaders of his day doesn’t mean he was in any way breaking the Sabbath as God intended; he was challenging their manmade rules that had become so steeped in tradition that they had become blinded to the commands of God (Mark 7:8).

These Scriptures in the Gospels, spoken and lived out by Yeshua, confirm that Sabbath was re-iterated in the New Testament. Yeshua, who was with the Father at the creation of the Sabbath, kept the day holy as it was meant to be and called himself the Lord of the Sabbath for all men everywhere who would come to him and put their faith in God.

After the Resurrection

“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a  Sabbath day’s walk (or 3/4 miles) from the city” (Acts 1:12).

The Apostles and the first century church remained faithful to the Sabbath. This short walk shows that the disciples didn’t break the Sabbath.  Even with the resurrected Messiah, they still respected the allowable travel distance given to Israel.  Paul reasoned in the synagogues and shared the gospel on the Sabbath.

“On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the LORD …” (Acts 13:44).

“Saul [Paul] spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Yeshua is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20)

“On the Sabbath they [Paul and his companions] entered the synagogue and sat down.  After the reading from the Law [Torah] and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak” (Acts 13:15-19).

“As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath” (Acts 13:32).

“Instead we should write to them [the gentiles], telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.   For the Torah of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:20-21).

Nothing changed regarding the seventh-day Sabbath after Yeshua’s resurrection.  Jews and gentiles who wanted to know God and hear the Word of the Lord gathered in the synagogues on the Sabbath. They heard the words of Torah, they heard the Apostles preach, and they learned about the Lord of the Sabbath.   

Prophetic Signs and Promises

“I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my Torah.  Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us.  Then you will know that I AM the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:19-20).

The prophet Ezekiel reminds the Israelites of the continued importance of Sabbath as a sign between God and His people.  No matter where they lived,  Sabbath was the sign they were in covenant relationship with Yahweh, the King of the Universe.  By keeping the Sabbath, they remained in the center of God’s promises and divine will.

“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD who makes you holy” (Exodus 31:13).

Sabbath for the Nations

Isaiah prophesied blessings for those from the nations who keep the Sabbath.  Foreigners or gentiles who are joined to God (through faith in Yeshua), who serve Him, love His Name and worship Him, may enjoy all the Sabbath blessings included in the covenant and promises He made with Israel.  They are no longer excluded and strangers. They can worship God together with Israel on His holy hill and receive joy in His house of prayer.

“Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, the LORD will surely exclude me from His people.’   And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, to love the name of the LORD and to worship Him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant – these will I bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7).

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please 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 way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Just like the Jewish people, the nations are to enter into the Sabbath  rest and focus on the Creator of the Universe.  They are to take delight in the Sabbath and honor it by staying home and resting, not doing their own thing.   Their blessing is finding joy in the LORD and feasting on the inheritance given to Jacob, Israel.

Eternal Sabbath

“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, ‘so will your name and descendants endure.  From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the LORD.  And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind’” (Isaiah 66:22-24).

These words of Isaiah prophesy of the time after Yeshua’s Millennial Kingdom, the time of the new heavens and earth.  They also speak of mankind.   The word mankind means everyone regardless of nationality, gender, religious affiliation or doctrinal views of the Sabbath.  There will be mankind who will obey and worship Yahweh and there will also be mankind who do not.  Just like in the wilderness, the consequence for disobedience will be that their worm will not die (maggots) and they will be loathsome to everyone.

When God created the Sabbath,  He never said, “There was evening and morning, the seventh day.” Sabbath was supposed to be eternal fellowship between God and his glorious creation: mankind.  Adam and Eve and all of their descendants were to live in the Garden of Eden forever, but sin ended that eternal fellowship.  In order that mankind would not forget God’s promise of redemption, He commanded remembering the weekly Sabbath as a memorial to the Garden of Eden and a foretaste of the future.   As it was ‘in the beginning‘ so it will be ‘in the end’ when there is a new heavens and a new earth.   The New Jerusalem will down out of heaven and Yahweh will once again make His dwelling with mankind (Revelation 21, 22).  It is with this vision and hope of the eternal Sabbath and everlasting fellowship with our Father that we should remember the weekly Sabbath with joy and delight.

©1997 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com