Why we observe the Shabbath?


The Seventh Day Shabbath Existed at Creation

The Bible specifically states the seventh day of creation was blessed and made holy. "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." (Genesis 2:2-3) No scriptural evidence can be found showing that the seventh day of the week is no longer blessed or made holy to God. The Bible specifically states that there were seven days of creation, not six days as many individuals presume. If the seventh day was not a part of creation, we would have a six day, not a seven day, weekly cycle. The crowning work of creation was God's gift of the seventh day Shabbath to man. God blessed the Shabbath day and made it holy just as surely as the marriage covenant.

The Seventh Day Shabbath Existed During the Exodus

The Bible says the importance of the seventh day of the week was renewed at the Exodus when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. God said to the children of Israel from Mt. Sinai "Remember the Shabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbath to the Yehovah 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 Yehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Yehovah blessed the Shabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11) The only communication from God to man throughout recorded history worthy of being recorded on stone in God's own hand were these ten commandments. These tablets signified the enduring nature of God's law for all people, not just the Jewish people. The Lord said to "Remember the Shabbath day" Have you considered why God said to "Remember" rather than "You shall not" for the fourth commandment? Could it be that God knew man would forget this one commandment and keep the other nine? In discussing the fourth commandment, most contemporary Christians maintain that the requirement for keeping the ten commandments was eliminated at the cross. If this was the case, the same argument would exist for the other nine commandments. Yet, James 2:10-11 directly references two of the ten commandments. Using the same logic, if the necessity for keeping ten commandments was ended at the cross, then James could not have classified murder as breaking the Ten Commandments.

Another point of reference that indicates God's preference can be found when God provided manna for the children of Israel. He specifically directed them to collect manna on six days of the week, but on the seventh day, His people rested. Every week on the sixth day (Friday), God gave the children of Israel a double portion of manna for the sixth and the seventh day (Saturday). For nearly forty years, the importance of a Shabbath rest was placed before the children of Israel on a weekly basis. (See Exodus 16:29,30)

The Shabbath Day Was an Important Feast Day

The seventh day of the week was also appointed as a feast day distinct from the other ceremonial days that were established for the Children of Israel. The observance of feast days are not part of the moral law documented by the Ten Commandments. The observance of feast days, as established in the ceremonial laws, pointed forward to the redemption and salvation of Christ. The ceremonial laws were given to Israel in addition to the moral law that was imposed on all mankind. One difference between the Shabbath of the Ten Commandments and the Shabbath of ceremonial laws was the temporary nature of the ceremonial laws.

However, more importantly, the Bible distinguishes between the seventh day Shabbath and the Shabbath identified in the ceremonial laws. Leviticus 23:3 states: "There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Shabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Shabbath to the Yehovah." This seventh day "Shabbath to [or of] the Yehovah" was to be distinguished from Shabbaths of rest that were observed on other ceremonial feast days. For example, the Day of Atonement was also considered a "Shabbath of rest." (Leviticus 23:32) However, it nor any other feast day was identified as a "Shabbath to the Lord." Every time the "Lord's Shabbath" or a "Shabbath to the Lord" is mentioned in the Bible, it always refers to the seventh day of the week.

The Pattern of the Shabbath in the Jubilee Calendar

The Jubilee calendar was also established for the children of Israel. It again highlights the importance of a Shabbath rest. "The Yehovah said to Moses on Mount Sinai, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Yehovah. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the Yehovah. . . " (Leviticus 25:1-4) In this instance, every seven years the land was to receive its rest. Just as God's people need rest every seventh day, the land was to receive a year of rest every seventh year. Leviticus 25 provides a wonderful description of the Jubilee calendar. After seven weeks of years were counted, the fiftieth year was to be a Jubilee year in which slaves were to be set free, the land was to be returned to its original owners and family members were to return to their families.

Yeshua Observed the Shabbath

The fact that Yeshua observed the Shabbath day cannot be disputed. Luke 4:16 states that "He [Yeshua] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Shabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom." Although Yeshua challenged the traditions of the Jewish leaders regarding worship on the seventh day, He never changed the day to worship. In fact, Yeshua called Himself the Lord of the Shabbath. "Then he [Yeshua] said to them, ‘The Shabbath was made for man, not man for the Shabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Shabbath. " (Mark 2:27-28) Yeshua is the "Lord of the Shabbath." He created man and the Shabbath for man. How presumptuous of man, to think he has the authority to change the appropriate day of worship to another day.

Apostles Observed the Shabbath

An often used argument is that since the apostles worshiped on the first day of the week, we should also worship on that day. These arguments are addressed in the book Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled. However, when the New Testament is evaluated in its entirety, there is significantly greater support for worship on the seventh day rather than worship on the first day. In five verses, the book of Acts describes numerous worship services held on the Shabbath day (Acts 13:14, 13:42, 13:44, 17:2 and 18:4). The story of Lydia's conversion is one example. Paul and his companions had just arrived in Phillipi. Because Phillipi was a Roman colony, there were very few Jews living there. It was Paul's custom to preach in Jewish synagogues on the Shabbath day. Often people contend that when Paul went to new city, he would preach first to the Jews in their synagogue on their day of worship. However, Acts 16:11-15 describes a different story. Shortly after their arrival in Phillipi, Paul and his companions went outside the city to pray. Notice that Paul chose a particular day of the week to worship in a city where there were few Jews. If they regularly worshiped on the first day of the week, they would have chosen Sunday as their day to worship. The Bible is clear on this point, "On the Shabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer." (Acts 16:13)

Paul also met with believers in the city of Corinth. The Bible says, "Every Shabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks." (Acts 18:4) "Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God." (Acts 18:11) If the "Lord's day" was the first day of the week, it would be reasonable to expect Paul would strive with believers to convince them of their need to worship on the first day. The Bible's silence indicates this did not happen.

Perhaps the most important text regarding Shabbath worship during the time of the Apostles is Matthew 24:20. In this text Yeshua says "Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Shabbath." Yeshua is speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem regarding the future destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (40 years after His death). If Yeshua, as Lord of the Shabbath, intended for the day of worship to be changed to the first day of the week, He would have told His followers to pray that they would not have to flee on Sunday. Therefore, we have no alternative but to accept Christ's regard for the holiness of the seventh day. Nearly forty years after His ascension, He still expected His people to worship on the seventh day.