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Our subject today is “To Sabbath or Not to Sabbath”. There are so many different opinions. And both sides to this question hold their opinions sincerely. Many people believe that we should still keep the sabbath exactly like they did in the Old Testament.
Other people say, “No, it’s different in the New Testament.” And then there’s a large number of people that really don’t know what they believe about it. So, what we’re going to do today. We’re going to go through the scriptures so we can know exactly what the Bible teaches about. Should we still keep the sabbath like they did in the Old Testament, should we keep it in a different way in the New Testament? What’s the truth? Let’s go together to the scriptures now.
The first scripture we’re going to look at is Exodus chapter 20, verse 8. Because this is the fourth commandment. Here in Exodus 20 it lists the ten commandments. And the fourth commandment says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Now, in addition to this, Exodus 31:15 through 16 tells us a little bit more. Here’s what it says.
“Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” Big penalty, right? I mean, you talk about a death penalty. So, this is a serious commandment from Almighty God. “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” Now, many people who say we need to keep the sabbath just like they did in the Old Testament, they point out it’s a perpetual, that means non-ending, covenant. So, that’s where all the controversy comes in.
So, should we keep the sabbath today? Some teach that worshiping on Sunday is taking the mark of the beast. I mean, there’s a whole movement out there that believes if you go to church on Sunday you have bought into the Roman Catholic religion and you have taken the mark of the beast. Now, all things — are things actually different under the New Testament than they are in the Old Testament? That’s what we really have to decide and we need the scriptures to decide for us. Now, we have two examples, one in the Old Testament, one in the New, that seem to disagree with each other. In Numbers 15:32 through 36, we have an individual who was caught picking up
sticks on the sabbath day.
Let’s take a look at the scripture. “And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done.” They were commanded to keep the sabbath, but the penalty as yet had not been given to them by God. So, Moses went to the Lord to ask, “What should we do with this man?” “And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.” So, this is a very, very serious penalty. You go out, you pick up sticks on the sabbath day, you’re to be put to death.
And that’s exactly what they did. “The people, they brought him without the camp and they stoned him with stones and he died as the Lord commanded.” So, are we supposed to do that today? That’s one of the big questions. Moses said you must keep the sabbath, God said kill the man who broke the sabbath. Now, let’s move to the New Testament. Here we find a man lying by the Pool of Bethesda. He was impotent and he was — apparently had palsy or some other kind of disease. He could not walk. He was lame.
In the Pool of Bethesda, one time each year, an angel would come down and trouble the waters And the first person to get in the waters once they begin to be troubled would be healed of whatever disease that person had. So, here this man lay, probably as close to the edge of the pool as he could get in hope that he could be first. Well, Jesus was visiting this area and there were a lot of sick people there, all of them having this hope that maybe I’ll be the first one in this year. In John chapter 5, verse number 6 it tells us what happened,
“When Jesus saw this impotent man lying there and knew that he’d been for a long time in that case, he said unto him, wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, rise, take up thy bed and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked. And on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, it’s the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, take up thy bed, and walk.” So, we have this paradox, Old Testament, the God of creation said, “You pick up sticks on the sabbath, you’re to be stoned.” Here we have the same God, Jesus was God manifest in the flesh.
We have the same God telling the man to pick up his bed, put it on his shoulder, and carry it on the sabbath day. So, how do we reconcile. God said one thing in the Old Testament, another thing in the New Testament. So, how do we reconcile these two seemingly opposite passages? Now, we have another example of the sabbath in the Old Testament versus the sabbath in the New. Let’s take a look at that now. In Exodus chapter number 16, verse number 25, Moses said, “Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord.”
The subject was the manna. God rained the manna every day and the people gathered it. And Moses said, “Eat that today what you gathered yesterday. Today you should not find the manna in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.” So, what was God actually telling the people? “I don’t want you violating the sabbath. On Saturday you’re not to go out to pick up the manna. On Saturday you’re supposed to keep the sabbath day holy.” Here we are in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament. Let’s now go to the New Testament to a very similar situation. This is found in Matthew chapter 12, verse number 1. Now, “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were hungry, they were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him?” “Haven’t you read what happened there?” Okay, as we continue on here, the Bible says, David entered into the house of God and did eat the shewbread, which was dedicated, it was not lawful to eat it. It was only supposed to be for the priest. Neither which were with them could they eat it.
But he goes on to say, “Have you not read in the law that on the sabbath days priests in the temple profane the sabbath and are blameless.” The priests are there working, they’re ministering on the sabbath, but they’re blameless because there’s a higher law overruling the law of the sabbath. But Jesus said, “I say unto you that in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this means –.”
Now, let’s stop right here and let’s really get this. “If ye had known what this means, I will have mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless, for the son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” Now, this really teaches us something we all need to know. In the Old Testament it was you sacrifice and you earn God’s favor. The Bible said it this way, “He that doeth these things shall live by them.” In the New Testament it’s opposite that. In the Old Testament you get good to get God. In the New Testament you get God and then he helps you to be good. So, here Jesus is, his disciples are picking corn.
Now, let’s remember manna in the Old Testament, forbidden, could not go out on a Saturday and pick up manna. Now, the God who made that law, that rule, is the same God that’s talking to us in the New Testament about the sabbath. And Jesus justified his disciples and he said to them, “If you understood I’ll have mercy, not sacrifice.” This was a total new concept to the Jewish people because all their life they had been taught keep these commandments, very rigorously, don’t miss one of them. And they did their best to do that. But now Jesus came, first of all, none of them could do it, no flesh was justified by the law.
So, Jesus came to teach them the true way to righteousness and salvation. Now, that brings us, since we’ve seen this paradox. We’ve got a man picking up sticks, commanding to be killed. We’ve got another man taking up his bed and walked, by the command of the very God who made the original law. And then we’ve got people forbidden to pick up manna on the sabbath day, but we’ve got the disciples of Jesus himself eating corn, picking corn on the sabbath day. So, how do we do this? How does the Old Testament relate to the New Testament. Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 31 through 33 gives us some indication.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,” he’s speaking future now, it’s not here yet, “But the days will come that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt into the promised land; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the new covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law inside of them, I’m gonna write it in their hearts; no longer tables of stone, but I’m gonna be their God, and they shall be my people.”
So, he’s talking about a New Covenant. We have to come to grips with this issue because scholars have debated it for many years. Theologians have written volumes of books trying to reconcile this. So, our big question is, how does the Old Testament then relate to the New Testament? Well, the passage tells us “I will make a New Covenant.” The Old Testament is the old will of God. The word testament means covenant or will. For example, the last will and testament of John Brown. So, when we say Old Testament we’re talking about the old will of God.
When we say the New Testament, we’re talking about the new will of God. And there was a new will of God that came along because the old will was inadequate. It came from God, and if righteousness could have come by that law, it would have come, because it was straight from God himself. But it never would work. We’re going to see why in a little bit. Now, the Bible teaches us that the sabbath days are a shadow of things to come. Let’s take a look at Colossians chapter 2, verse 16, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Now, what’s he saying here?
He’s saying, “I’ve taught you in the Old Testament that you’re not to eat certain things, you be careful what you drink, you have to keep the holydays, keep all the festivals, observe the new moons and you can’t violate the sabbath day.” He says, “Now then we’re moving into the New Testament because those things are a shadow of things to come.” Now, all of us have a shadow, but when you look at your shadow on the sidewalk, that’s now you. That’s merely a shadow that sort of gives the vague outline of what you look like.
Depending on the angle of the sun it may look like a long shadow, a short shadow. But the bottom line is, the Bible teaches, and this is critical, that the Old Testament law and all the things that were taught there were merely shadows, not the very thing, but they were shadows of things to come so we can more fully understand God’s will in the New Testament. Let’s look now at a prophecy in the Old Testament that actually talks about the New Testament sabbath and what it will be like.
Isaiah chapter 28, verse 11 and 12. Isaiah said, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to his people. To whom he said, this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.” Now, the rest was the sabbath. The whole purpose of the sabbath was so that the people would take one whole day a week and rest. But now then this prophecy is about a new sabbath exercised in a different way.
I’m gonna give you, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to his people. This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest.” Now, that didn’t come to pass for a while. But when we go to the book of Acts, chapter number 2, the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled. Now, remember the setting. Jesus had been crucified, risen again, showed himself alive for 40 days with many infallible proofs. And the time came for him to leave. Just before he left he said to his disciples. “Do not depart from Jerusalem.
Do not go out and evangelize the world, go back to Jerusalem and stay there until you will be indued with power from on high.” This was going to be the capstone of Jesus’s ministry. It was going to be on the Day of Pentecost when sonship was restored to the human race, which had been lost by Adam and Eve 4,000 years before that. This was going to be when God put in the human heart what they needed to truly become, once again, sons of God. So, let’s look at Acts chapter 2, verse 1, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Now, remember Isaiah chapter 28, “With stammering lips and in other tongues will he speak to this people to whom he said this is the rest.”
So, on the Day of Pentecost it was actually being poured out on them because when the Holy Spirit came upon on them, they began supernaturally to speak with other languages. This reoccured throughout the New Testament. This became a part of New Testament life. Now, as we continue on in our study to try to understand, to sabbath and not to sabbath. If I am to sabbath, how do I do it? How does the Old Testament sabbath compare to the New Testament sabbath.
Well, we find out in Hebrews chapter 4, verse number 8 through 10, it says there, “This rest hath ceased from all of his own works.” Let’s read it together, “For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.” So, they didn’t get it through the Old Testament salvation, even though that was of God. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
So, what this is saying to us is that once you really enter into the rest that is given to us in the New Testament, you no longer keep one day a week, whether it’s Saturday or Sunday. But you cease from all of your own works and you enter into a perpetual seven day a week sabbath, not just one day a week, because he that hath entered into this rest hath ceased from all of his own works, so now you live in a continual rest, not just looking to one day a week when you can rest. This brings us to another very important question. Should Christians worship on Saturday or on Sunday?
Now, believe it or not, the Bible, the only two places we have that even tell us which day the disciples have worshipped, the only two places tell us they came together on the first day of the week. Acts chapter 20, verse 7. And we read this there. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” So, the first day of the week, being Sunday, it was obvious that they came together on that particular day. Now, I Corinthians chapter number 16, verse 1 and 2 gives us more information, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” So, these are the two passages that tell us that apparently the early church did meet on the first day of the week. Why? Because the first day of the week was the sabbath? No, Saturday was the sabbath. So, why did they meet on the first day of the week then? Because Paul and the other apostles would go into the synagogue every sabbath day to convert Jews.
And then they would bring them the next day to the church to teach them how to be Christians and embrace the New Covenant. Acts chapter 17, verse number 2 tells us that this was Paul’s habit, “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” And then in Acts 18:4, same thing, “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” So, it wasn’t a matter of observing the sabbath on Saturday and on Sunday, it was a matter of evangelism because we have another place that tells us that they were daily in the temple.
And they went from place to place and from house to house and mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed because they lived in a daily sabbath now, just like the scriptures said, “He that hath entered into this rest hath ceased from all of his own works.” So, the Apostle Paul, he won his converts on Saturday and then he took them to the Christian church to train them on Sunday. All right, next question then. So, is it okay to observe the sabbath. Romans chapter 14, verse 2 the Apostle Paul was teaching about this question. “For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.”
So, he’s saying there are some people that are weak in faith that don’t realize everything that Jesus did on that cross, they become vegetarians, they don’t eat any meat. Paul says, “What do we do about these type of people?” “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not,” if somebody wants to be a vegetarian, fine. “And let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth.” If someone decides they need to be a vegetarian or want to be, they shouldn’t criticize those that are still eating t-bones and ribeyes.
“For God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, unto the Lord he doesn’t regard it.” He’s saying it’s not a critical issue.
Let him be persuaded in his own mind. “He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, and giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” So, the Apostle Paul is trying to say, “Don’t let this dispute rip you apart because simply it doesn’t matter.” Now, in Galatians 4:9 the Apostle Paul addressed this issue farther and he told the Galatians, “I am afraid of you.” Why?
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” The law was considered bondage. And if you turn back to the law, it was considered bondage. “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
What I’m telling you is, that I’m afraid you don’t understand what happened on that cross. You don’t have the revelation of the shift from the old will of God to the new will of God. So, you’re stuck under the old will of God, which didn’t work. “I’m afraid of you,” he said.
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