To keep the Sabbath or not to keep the Sabbath – that is the question

Published by Rob Skiba September 30, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Most Christians would argue that we should not violate the Ten Commandments… or at least 9 of them anyway. I’ve always found it rather interesting how they think all but the 4th Commandment are still in effect. What happened to the Sabbath? Should we still be “remembering” to keep it?

Perhaps the most striking evidence for keeping the Sabbath is included in the rendering of the 4th Commandment as “Remember the Sabbath…” It is not a new commandment. Even at the time of Moses, it was very old. The Sabbath was created long before the Law was given at Mt. Sinai. It goes all the way back to the Creation account.

Some argue that “Jesus is our Sabbath rest” (Hebrews 4). Indeed that is true. He is our rest. However, He never nullified the 7th day Sabbath. Some argue that there is no command to keep it in the New Testament. Though the funny thing is, it is the only commandment that starts with the word “Remember…”. It would appear no one had forgotten! You don’t need to remind people of that which is already being done. In fact, even Paul preached his message of Grace in GENTILE towns on the Sabbath day.

Acts 13:

13 Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14 They continued their journey from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any message of encouragement for the people, you can speak.”

Acts 13:

42 As they were leaving, the people begged that these matters be presented to them the following Sabbath. 43 After the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and persuading them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the message of the Lord. 

Some Jews imagined that more needed to be added to his message though, and thus we come to Acts 15, which is yet another one of those seriously misunderstood passages of Scripture, often used to try and nullify that which Yeshua (Jesus) Himself said He did NOT come to abolish (Matthew 5:17-19).

Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved!”

That was the real issue in Acts 15. These men were putting a prerequisite on salvation. This was contrary to the message of Grace by Faith alone in the finished work of Yeshua the Christ. Any type of works for salvation will never work. Therefore Peter said…

Acts 15:11 On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are.”

James thus made a decision:

Acts 15:

19 Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For since ancient times, Moses has had those who proclaim him in every city, and every Sabbath day he is read aloud in the synagogues.”

The real issue, was not to burden anyone with any works as a requirement for salvation. Those present and participating in the Acts 15 decision understood Paul’s message and the fact that salvation is by Grace through Faith alone (Ephesians 2:8). They also understood the fact that once someone receives Christ, they would then hear what was always preached in the synagogues on every Sabbath. What was preached? The Law of Moses and the Prophets – that which Yeshua (Jesus) Himself said testified of Him.

Luke 24:

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

James understood “that since ancient times, Moses has had those who proclaim him in every city, and every Sabbath day he is read aloud in the synagogues.” If Moses is preached in every city, then the Torah was preached – and it was preached on the 7th day of the week. Thus, all new Gentile converts would hear and learn to obey YHWH’s law so that they would not continue to sin.

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Paul never contradicted the Law of Moses (thus advocating for lawlessness) as he continued to preach Grace to Gentiles on the Sabbath day…

Acts 17:

As usual, Paul went to the synagogue, and on three Sabbath daysreasoned with them from the Scriptures [i.e. the Law and the Prophets], 3 explaining and showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.” 4 Then some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.

Acts 18:4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks.

NOTE: The Sabbath day never changed. It is and always was on the 7th day of the week. No Jew would be meeting on a “Sunday Sabbath.” No. Saturday was the day when Paul preached and he remained Torah observant to the day he died. He followed the example of Yeshua (Jesus) which is why he could say with confidence:

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1

Christ followed and obeyed His Father completely – in every way. If we are to claim to be His followers, should we not attempt to do the same – just as Paul did?

1 John 2:

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

How did Yeshua walk? He walked in 100% obedience to His Father’s perfect, life-giving Law.

Deuteronomy 30:

11 Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away.12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” 14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.  

Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;

How can something the Bible calls perfect and full of life and blessing (for those who obey it) be considered “bondage”? That makes no sense at all and yet, that’s what most Christians think Paul was saying.

Scripture, however tells us that only “ignorant and unstable” people twist Paul’s writings in such a way as to indicate that he taught against YHWH’s perfect, life-giving Law, which is why Peter warned…

2 Peter 3:

14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

The 10 Commandments are there to help us not sin. If we do stumble and fall, no problem. We have an Advocate:

1 John 2:

1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Thus, the beauty of Grace-based salvation is that we don’t have to keep the Law, we get to! It is something we get to do in order to not sin and to show our love for our Heavenly Father, who sent His only begotten Son to pay the price for sin (John 3:16). Keeping the Commandments therefore is now all about love:

1 John 5:

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

When it comes to keeping the Sabbath, I know many have conflicts and differences of opions about it. For me, I have found keeping it to be an enormous blessing! My prayer is that you can experience the same joy and blessing that comes from meeting YHWH on the day He set apart as essentially a “date” with His bride too. But we must remember, when it comes to the Sabbath, it is not a day of our choosing, but rather of His. He is the one who set the 7th day apart and declared it to be the Sabbath:

Exodus 20:8-11

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh daywherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Much like the wedding band reveals that we belong to another, so also the Sabbath is given as a sign for those who are in covenant with YHWH:

Exodus 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.

16 Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbaththroughout their generations, as a covenant forever.

17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”

Deuteronomy 5:15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

Ezekiel 20:12 Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.

Ezekiel 20:20 and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.

Conclusion: From my study of the Scriptures, I believe that all of the authors of Scripture are 100% in agreement with one another – including Paul. There are no contradictions and no rogue authors advocating against YHWH’s perfect Law. It is still in effect and therefore, the 7th day Sabbath is still to be “remembered.”

Blessings and Shalom!

– Rob Skiba

One Response to “To keep the Sabbath or not to keep the Sabbath – that is the question”

  1. Michael McDougall says:

    How did the church come to change the Sabbath to Sunday and why did the church fathers and two thousand years of church history not correct this?
    Thanks and God Bless!
    Mike 🙂

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