In recent times there has been a surge of interest in the Seventh Day Sabbath amongst Christians all over the world. This is partly due to the active sharing of materials by Sabbath- observing Christians. We hope and pray that this material will be read by our Christian friends with a fair mind like those of the Bereans who "received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." (Acts 17:10-12).
In this document only a few fundamental truths concerning the Seventh Day Sabbath are presented, nevertheless they will help us to understand why Christians should observe it.
1. The Sabbath was not given by God for salvation, but for the benefit of mankind
The Sabbath was created by Almighty God on the seventh day of Creation, before the entrance of sin into the world. When it was created there was no death, no religion, no law, no nation, no race, and no Jew or Gentile. It was not given for salvation because there were no sinners at that time. The primary purposes of the Sabbath were to give man rest, blessings and sanctification (Gen. 2:1-3). If observance of the Sabbath is for salvation, then God would have told our first ancestors after the Fall, and there would be no need of a Savior. God did have a plan to send a Savior (Gen. 3:15). Only the Lord Jesus Christ can save mankind from sin (Acts 4:12).
During our Lord's earthly ministry the Pharisees strove to condemn His way of observing the Sabbath. They plotted to destroy Him because He had healed the sick folks on the Sabbath day (Mk. 3:1-6; Lk. 13:10-17; 14:1-6). When Jesus and His disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath law He defended their actions and declared: "The Sabbath was made for man. and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." (Mk. 2:27-28). By this statement our Lord had established two important truths.
The Sabbath was created for all mankind and not only for the Jews, as some would imagine. Jesus Christ is the Creator of the Sabbath, therefore He is the only Person who can say how it is to be observed.
When the Gentiles became Christians they were judged by some of the Jewish believers for not keeping the Old Testament laws concerning the food, drink, festivals, new moons and sabbaths (Col. 2:16). They were informed not to allow anyone to judge them on such matters. The Sabbath should never become a divisive issue, but rather one that will unite all Christians.
The Christian's salvation is wrought by grace through faith and "not by works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be saved" (Gal 2:16; Eph. 2:8). Keeping the Seventh Day Sabbath in accordance with the law without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will not save anyone.
It is needful to point out that there is nothing wrong with worshiping on Sunday or any other day of the week because our Almighty God accepts worship in Spirit and in truth at any time. The Seventh Day Sabbath adds a new dimension in worship by including rest, blessings and sanctification from God (Gen. 2:2-3). All Christians should welcome the Seventh Day Sabbath.
2. The Sabbath of the Lord Jesus Christ is observed under grace in the New Testament
The Sabbath that was under the Old Testament law was burdensome, therefore no one could be justified by it. (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16) According to the law no sticks could be gathered and no fire could be kindled on the Sabbath day (Num. 15:32-36; Ex. 35:3). Hot meals would be impossible to cook. Working on the Sabbath day was punishable by death (Ex. 31:14-15). Praise and thank God "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law" (Gal 3:13). In the New Testament Christians are no longer under the law but under grace (Rom. 6:14-15). Jesus Christ "wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Col. 12:14).
"For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" who is the Creator and Lord of the Sabbath (Jn. 1:17; Col. 1:16; Mk. 2:28) God's original intention for the Sabbath was to give man rest, blessings and sanctification (Gen. 2:2-3). Just as grace is a free gift from God so is also the Sabbath. Surely rest, blessings and sanctification are beneficial to mankind. Our Lord Jesus Christ have shown us how the Sabbath was to be observed under grace. First, He attended religious services on the Sabbath days regularly (Lk. 4:16). Second, He healed many sick folks on the Sabbath day (Lk. 4:31-44). He said that it is right to do good on the Sabbath (Mt. 12:9-13). One Sabbath day His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain to eat. When the Pharisees criticized them for breaking the Sabbath law, He defended their actions. He said to them, "But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice, 'you would not have condemned the guiltless" (Mt. 12:1-8) In this present age our Lord's examples and principles of Sabbath-observance may be applied to our Christian living.
3. The Sabbath was created by God so that man could have close relationship with Him
The Sabbath was part of the Creation because "on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done. and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done." (Gen. 2:2) "The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed" (Gen. 2:8). This pristine state of relationship had existed before sin entered into man. After the entrance of sin there would be no rest and man's relationship with God was broken (Gen. 3:17-19; 23-24).
Our loving Father restores the relationship with His people through the Sabbath (Isa. 56:1-7). To those who keep the Sabbath holy God promises them: "Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken." (1sa 58:13-14) What is the heritage of Jacob? The turning point in Jacob's life was his encounter with the Angel who told him: "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed Then Jacob asked Him, saying, 'Tell me Your name, I pray.' And He said' 'Why is it that you ask My name? And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel; 'For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Gen 32:24-30) By observing the Seventh-Day Sabbath the believer will have a close encounter with the Creator, have life preserved, prayers answered and also receive blessings from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. God's primary purpose of the Sabbath is to give man the three-fold Rest
Man was created in the image of God in threefold aspects (Gen. 1:27). The first is the physical aspect, that is the body. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground". (Gen. 2:7) Next is the spiritual aspect. ". . . and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" Lastly, .... . and man became a living being." The third aspect refers to the soul. The whole man consists of body, spirit and soul (1 Thes.5:23). Since Jesus Christ said, "The Sabbath was made for man", therefore our Creator had considered man's rest in these three aspects (Mk. 2:27).
Our Lord invites man: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Mk. 11:28-29) When we observe the Lord's Sabbath of grace we shall be able to find rest for our souls.
Resting from the ordinary labors of the week would give man a consecrated time to worship God. This enables man to have spiritual rest. "For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, to whom He said, 'This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,' And, 'This is the refreshing'; Yet they would not hear." (Isa. 28:11-12) This prophecy points to the Church that worships God on the Seventh-Day Sabbath, and is filled the Holy Spirit with the congregation "speaking with tongues as the Spirit gives utterance" (Acts 2:4).
The Hebrew word "Shabbat" means rest or cease from work. God had designed the Sabbath so that man's time may be occupied with pleasant and enjoyable work (Gen. 2:15). Wearisome toil came as a result of sin (Gen. 3:17-19). After the Fall the Sabbath would restore physical rest to both man and beasts of burden (Ex. 23:12). To receive the full benefit of God's rest in all its threefold aspects, one must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and worship with a Spirit-filled congregation on the Seventh-Day Sabbath.
5. God blesses His people through observance of the Seventh-Day Sabbath
First He rested, "then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." (Gen. 2:3). Here is the wonderful truth. God's blessings is the outcome of His rest. How does God bless a day? The Biblical day begins in the evening at twilight (Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31; Dt.16:6). Each day of the week is clearly defined. The Seventh-Day Sabbath begins on Friday evening at sunset and ends at the same time on Saturday (Lev. 23:32). The word 'blessing' is derived from the Hebrew "barak" that means the bestowal of divine favor and goodness. God's blessings that result from observance of the Sabbath can be in the form of continual provision of food, good health, spiritual security, good reputation, joyful worship and answered prayers (Isa. 56:1-8; 58:13-14).
At the beginning of their journey in the wilderness the Israelites had no food. God rained manna from heaven in such a way that He also taught them about keeping the Sabbath holy. For the first five days of the week each family could only gather enough manna for that day, but they must gather a double portion on the sixth day because there would be none on the seventh day which God indicated to be the Sabbath Day. This miracle was repeated every week for forty years (Ex. 16:1-36). God wanted to impress His children that those who observed the Seventh Day Sabbath would not lack in daily provisions. Christians who have not kept the Seventh Day Sabbath would also have God's provision, but by observing it they will have additional blessings such as better jobs, promotions and other favorable situations.
Our Lord Jesus Christ had performed numerous miracles and healings on the Sabbath day. Present day Sabbath-observing Spirit-filled churches have also recorded unusually large numbers of miracles, wonders and signs that occurred on the Sabbath day. In this way God encourages His people to keep the Sabbath day holy by rewarding them with good health.
6. The Seventh-Dav Sabbath is God's holy day for His people to worship Him
There are three important things that God did to the Seventh Day Sabbath. First He rested, second He blessed the day, and third He sanctified it (Gen.2:2-3). The word 'sanctify' means to make holy, set apart, dedicate, consecrate and separate. When God sanctified the seventh day He had set it apart from the other six days.. The one in seven days principle cannot be applied to the Sabbath because only the seventh day is sanctified by God. The Fourth Commandment states: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God" (Ex. 20:8-11) The Sabbath is intended for God's people to worship Him (Lev. 23:3; Acts 15:21). Just as our Lord Jesus and the apostles attended Sabbath services regularly, therefore we must also assemble on the Seventh-Day Sabbath to worship God (Lk. 4:l6,31; Acts 13:42-44; 17:2).
7. The Seventh Day Sabbath Movement is spreading all over the world in the End Time
In His discourse on the signs of the Second Coming our Lord indicated the "elect" would be keeping the Sabbath (Mt. 24:21-22). The terminology "elect" refers to God's chosen people that includes both Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians (Eph. 1:4-5; Col. 3:12; 2 Thes.2:13-14). In the End Time there will be two sets of 144,000 servants of God. The first set is called from the children of Israel who are Sabbath-keepers (Rev. 7:1-8). Through their ministry "a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations; tribes, peoples; and tongues" will be saved" (Rev. 7:9). The second set of servants are "redeemed from the earth" and "redeemed from among men" (Rev. 14:1-S). These will also be Sabbath keepers because they "follow the Lamb wherever He goes"; and the Lord of the Sabbath had worshipped regularly on the Sabbath day (Mk.. 2:28; Lk. 4:16). The End Time message is called the "everlasting gospel " that reminds people to worship Him who made heaven and eart", and to "remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Rev. 14:9; Ex.20:8-11). These two sets of God's servants are now preparing His people for "the new heavens and new earth... And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the LORD." (Isa. 66:22-23). Prepare to worship God ". . . in Spirit and in truth." (Jn. 4:23-24)
The Seventh-Day Sabbath Movement is now spreading all over the world. It is bringing Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians closer together into one Body.
May God bless you.
Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational.
Write to: Paul Wong, President
P.O. Box 19707, Houston,
Texas, 77224-9707, U.S.A.