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When is the Sabbath Day

Updated on December 31, 2018
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

The Day of the Sabbath

The purpose of this article is not to debate the day the Sabbath falls on. Those debates have been done ad nauseum and we all know those arguments. To us, the Sabbath day has been conclusively decided. It is Saturday or the 7th day of the week.

We have read the different quotes by the church fathers and other early scholars who have said, that the since Jesus was raised from the dead and his accession took place on the 1st day, thus the Sabbath or day of worship was changed from the 7th day to the 1st day.

Throughout our studies, God has taught us that he is not a ‘do as I say not as I do God’, but a ‘do as I do God’. In other words, God made the rule about the Sabbath in the beginning with his 10 commandments and he followed his own rules throughout our history.

Scholars have long debated how the first day of the week—Sunday—came to be adopted by a majority of Christians as the day of rest and worship in place of the Biblically-prescribed, seventh-day Sabbath. (In Hebrew, the seventh day is called Shabbat from which the English word Sabbath is derived). (1978). BAR, 4(3).

God does not change. Jesus does not change and as you look their the Bible you will see that God does not change his rules because of certain events. The Mosaic law did not change because the people demanded a King instead of God to rule over them.

The people of Israel were still expected to fulfill and obey the law. We see evidence that they did not alter the law through the eligibility of those who could become priests in the temple. We also see that the laws of sacrifice were kept throughout Israel’s history even in the time of Joseph and Mary.

Recently, however, some scholars have argued that Sunday observance has a Biblical or apostolic origin. According to these scholars, from the inception of the Church, the Apostles themselves chose the first day of the week in place of the seventh day in order to commemorate the resurrection or Easter appearance of Jesus three days after his crucifixion.

My own assessment of the sources is that this thesis is wrong—on two counts. First, the change from Saturday to Sunday occurred sometime after 135 A.D. Second, the change originated in Rome, not Jerusalem. (1978). BAR, 4(3).

We tend to agree with the second paragraph in that quote. Our reasoning is simple. Once the original disciples and witnesses died out, it became easier to implement personal viewpoints into the established early church.

As long as the original disciples and witnesses were alive, such alterations could not take place. We also see nothing in scripture that indicates that God’s declaration of and Sabbath day was made null and void when Pentecost arrived.

The earliest explicit references to the observance of Sunday as the Christian Sabbath are by Barnabas (ca. 135 A.D.) and Justin (ca. 150 A.D.) (1978). BAR, 4(3).

For us the matter is settled, Saturday, not Sunday, is the Sabbath day and God’s rules still apply.

The Uniqueness of the Sabbath

Scholars have looked for the concept of a day-of-rest in Babylonian texts. But outside Israel there is no Sabbath in ancient near eastern cultures anywhere, neither in Mesopotamia nor in Egypt. (1992). Bible and Spade, 5(3), 85.

This is correct. No secular culture or civilization held to a Sabbath day or a day of rest. If you were unlucky enough to be born in those times and societies, it is possible that you would be expected to work every day of the week.

Even though God instituted the day of rest at creation, man’s desire for evil led them to ignore that command and example. We are not sure if Adam, Seth, Enoch and Noah observed the Sabbath day but their walk with God may give us a hint that they did.

In Babylonian the word sabbatu is found. But it has something to do with the moon and only occurs once a month, or at most, every 15 days. It has nothing whatever to do with the Old Testament concept of a day of rest. (1992). Bible and Spade, 5(3), 85.

It is very hard to say what ancient societies practiced outside of any generality that comes when exploring the past. Every ancient person had the same freedom to choose to live as they saw fit. Contrary to scholar’s and archaeologists’ opinions, there really was no blanket population wide everyone did the same thing practice.

The ancient people chose to follow what they wanted to. Some were criminals, some followed their culture’s religious beliefs, others probably were atheists and so on.

Because of the lack of ancient records, we do not get to see the totality of what everyone believed and practiced. Thus, it is safe to say that some people may have not worked 7 days a week and maybe a scant few actually followed God’s example prior to the Mosaic law.

The presence of Melchizedek tells us that God’s ways and examples were in existence in the ancient world prior to the establishment of the people of Israel and the Mosaic law. All of this tells us that the biblical Sabbath was unique and a true gift from God.

He gave us time to rest and renew our energy, etc., without penalizing us any pay or other comforts.

Why the Sabbath was Instituted

God tells us very clearly why he created the Sabbath and it was not for rest alone.

The Sabbath was instituted by Yahweh in the very beginning for His followers to keep as a sign of their belief that He is the Creator (1992). Bible and Spade, 5(3), 85.

Observing the Sabbath helps us to remain humble and obedient to God and his commands. When believers, churches and denominations start to ignore one command of God, it becomes easier to ignore others.

With the possibility that the Sabbath was changed by early bishops and church leaders, the barrier between obedience and disobedience was broken for NT believers. Questioning the instructions of God and replacing them with personal desires also became much easier.

We see evidence of that throughout church history as different denominations arose and implemented their own ideas about how the Christian faith should be lived. Most do not adhere to many of the commands and instructions of God as Jesus said, why do ye call me Lord when you do not do the things I say.

We can see how far different church groups have strayed without too much research being conducted.

Another reason that can be given for establishing the Sabbath can be seen in the following quote:

Moreover, keeping the day of rest holy also showed one’s love for God. The rationale for Sabbath observance is the imitation of the Creator, who worked for six days and then rested on the seventh (Gen. 1:1–2:3) (2010). Tabletalk Magazine, August 2010: The Tenth Century: Progress and Regress, 53.

If we love God, then we obey him and his commandments. We observe the Sabbath correctly and do not do what the pharisees and other early religious groups did before the time of Christ. Create and implement our own rules, then force them on others.

The Sabbath Instructions in the Bible

Here are some verses to give you the complete instructions God gave to us in the Bible concerning the observance of the Sabbath:

  • Exodus 3:12-15
  • Exodus 20:8-11
  • Luke 13: 10- 16
  • Mark 2: 23-28
  • Psalm 92: 1-6
  • Genesis 2: 1-3

There are more verses talking about the Sabbath and what is to be done during that day. Those can be found through doing a personal Bible study

When Do We Worship?

Are we to go back to the Saturday observance and change all of our worship services to Saturday? We are sure it will help the church get back on the right track to obedience; but Jesus said, there will come a time where my people will worship in spirit and in truth (done from memory).

In other words, the Sabbath is not the only day we can and should worship God. We can worship God one any day of the week. Remember that God inhabits the praise of his people.

Some Final Words

We are not legalists, nor do we promote legalism. We promote and preach obedience to God and his instructions. But we also need to be careful not to use Bible verses as excuses or permission to disobey God and his instructions. We also must be careful not to use the Bible to justify implementing our own desires.

When you worship is up to you, just do not change what God has not given us authority to change. The early Christian writers did not get everything correct and one should be careful about applying infallibility to them.

The Sabbath always has been and always will be the 7th day of the week or Saturday as we know it.

© 2018 David Thiessen

Comments

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    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      2 years ago from Philippines

      No disrespect taken. Basically, I do agree with you

    • Jack Jenn profile image

      Jack Jenn 

      2 years ago from Nelson Bay NSW Australia.

      Not meaning any disrespect to you or to cause any unnecessary wrong thoughts by my comments but I personally think it is more than just a bunch - the rot is so widespread now and will only get worse.

      Does your answer mean that you agree with what I've said about the strait gate?

      Regards,

      Jack.

    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      2 years ago from Philippines

      I agree with you that we do not have God behind many of the different facest of both Judaism and Christianity. What we have are a bunch of men and women trying to make those faiths after their personal human image.

      To answer your question, the reason for the mass following of heretical and false teachings is that menlove darkness over light. The bible tells us this.

    • Jack Jenn profile image

      Jack Jenn 

      2 years ago from Nelson Bay NSW Australia.

      Hi David,

      Just a little on your comment to mine - True Christianity and true Judaism are not man made - that is certainly true enough, they were begun or instituted by God. And I do understand the difference as that is NOT what we have today.

      You mention further scripture from Hebrews 10: 25 - Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, after which paul said: as the manner of some is - he was referring to apostates of that time.

      The Catholic church is still deceiving people today, as are 99.9% of the others.

      Why is it that people ignore or don't understand the strait gate verses, Matthew 7: 13 & 14?

      Jack.

    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      2 years ago from Philippines

      I will try when I get some free time

    • Leland Johnson profile image

      Leland Johnson 

      2 years ago from Midland MI

      David: You're right about the Sabbath. One caveat- He didn't rise on the first day of the week. That phrase as seen in the new testament is used only 8 times and each time it is in reference to the resurrection. It's a mistranslation Use your Greek dictionary to check this. The phrase literally reads "He rose on one of the Sabbaths." This is an easy fact check so please look it up. It gives strength to your argument. Cheers.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 years ago from UK

      There is a lot to be said for a day of rest. Whatever your belief system it makes sense to take a break one day a week.

    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      2 years ago from Philippines

      Sunday has been called the Lord's Day for a very long time now. All because Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven on the first day of the week. The Roman Catholic Church was and is led by many people who have deceived. That is why they hold to their traditions over the truth. But it must be remembered that there are still true Christians who are RCC members.

      True Christianity and true Judaism are not man-made. They were begun by God. Make sure you understand the difference but do not forsake the gathering together with other believers

    • Jack Jenn profile image

      Jack Jenn 

      2 years ago from Nelson Bay NSW Australia.

      Hi David,

      You mention in a paragraph above - "Observing the Sabbath helps us to remain humble and obedient to God and His commands. When believers, churches and denominations start to ignore one command of God, it becomes easier to ignore others."

      So very true David. The Catholics were the first to institute it, which they admit to and it is now followed by almost all - so much so that it has been made law in some countries and will soon be followed by others also.

      Personally, I cannot understand why Catholics blindly adhere to their Satanic doctrine without even giving any thought to the complete wrongness of it - no wonder they call it 'blind faith.'

      Sunday worship is now fully ingrained in most people, even the calendar of most countries begin on each page as Sunday as the first day of the week. Just another subtle invasion to break Christianity down.

      Your last part of your statement - 'it becomes easier to ignore others' is so easy to understand because it is exactly what is happening across the board and is why I don't and will not belong to any man made religion because of their hypocrisy.

      Best regards,

      Jack.

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