The Sabbath rest

Many Christians agree with the application of the Ten Commandments. The questions and arguments and difficulties arrive with the keeping of the fourth Commandment.

"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 day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."
(Exodus 20:8-11, KJV)

Several points need to be made here. 

Firstly, the Israelites were told to remember the Sabbath day. The implication is that it was known to be a commandment before Israel arrived at this point in time. Secondly, the commandment was given to the heads of families who were to inherit properties and also jurisdiction over agricultural production. However today the Christian is called as an individual, and does not have the same power in current civilizations.

However, as an individual, what must the Christian do? Most churches keep Sunday. Is that right?

Several arguments are raised against the seventh day Sabbath. Let's be honest about them.

1) "The seventh day is for the Jews."

The truth is, the Sabbath was instituted at the creation of mankind. Lets not eliminate this privilege from mankind.

"1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
(Genesis 2:1-3, KJV)

The Sabbath was sanctified almost two thousand years before the Jews as a tribe came to be recognized. Christ was fully aware of the universality of the Sabbath command, and had the following to say on the matter:

"27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
(Mark 2:27-28, KJV)

The Sabbath was made for mankind, irrespective of nation, race or ethnic group. It was obviously incorporated in the Ten Commandments, as well as discussed in the Law of Moses, but it existed from the beginning, and is the day Christ wants us to set aside for worship services. He wants to commune with us, and impart knowledge and insights. So the time was set apart for this wonderful purpose.

2) "Time has been lost. We can't be sure which day is the seventh day."

We have three witnesses pointing to the same day:

Firstly, the days of the week has been named in sequence based on the importance and power of influence of heavenly bodies on the earth. The first one is the sun, and therefore the first day is Sunday. The second is the moon, and hence we have Monday. Greek mythology plays a part in the names used. So for instance Thursday comes from Thor, which relates to the red planet Mars. Saturday relates to the planet Saturn. It was considered the seventh most important heavenly body. It is therefore the seventh day.

Secondly, all international business calendars will show that Sunday is the first day of the week, and Saturday is the seventh. Some churches will bring out calendars with Sunday being the seventh day of the week, but that is not the internationally accepted standard.

Thirdly, the Jews have always maintained the sequence, even through trials and tribulation, even the holocaust. Today they still keep the Sabbath on Saturday.

These witnesses all agree. 

3) "It does not matter which day we keep?"

God has set the seventh day Sabbath apart. All mankind universally knows it. Our only choice is whether we will honor our Lord in this. We witness to our faith as Christians when we show the world that we worship on the Sabbath. We can't select any other day, for then the sign is lost. Christ prepares to find us worshipping on the Sabbath. He is the Lord of the Sabbath, and we are His joyfull followers.

4) "After the creation of man on the sixth day, the next day was the Sabbath. Therefore the first day of the week is the Sabbath"

When Moses led the Israelites out of slavery, God made sure they understood which day was the Sabbath, with miracles. This happened about one thousand six hundred years after the creation of mankind in whom the Spirit of God may dwell. This is the same seventh day, as we know it today. When God fed Israel in the wilderness, He used the availability of manna as a way of teaching them to rest on the seventh day.

"22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. "
(Exodus 16:22-26, KJV)

This occurred over one thousand years after the creation week. This is the cycle that is still present today, and the God of the universe sanctifies it.

5) "Christ was raised on the first day of the week, and therefore it is the day of the Lord."

Christ did many things on the first day of the week, also the second day, the third day, and so forth. But the most surprising fact is that Christ was not raised on the first day of the week. A quick discussion of the resurrection will demonstrate this.

"1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. "
(Luke 24:1-2, KJV)

Christ was already risen before the first day of the week. The stone was rolled back to allow the disciples in.

"3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." (Luke 24:3-7, KJV)

We can prove that Christ rose at sunset the previous evening, three days and three nights after His body was placed in the grave, hence we cannot say that Sunday is the Lord’s day because He rose on that day. He was already absent before sunrise on Sunday.

The Sabbath contains prophetic significance

There is more to the Sabbath, than merely a weekly occurrence. Those that keep the Sabbath shows that they seek to enter the rest of God, the future Kingdom of God, which entails the millennial rule of Christ. When we rest on the Sabbath, and come together to learn from God's Word, we seek to enter the peace and rest of the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul understood this.

"1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his."
(Hebrews 4:1-10, KJV)

Entering the Kingdom of God happens in three phases, as can be seen in the document on the Kingdom of God. We succeed to some extent in our personal lives now, but we yearn for the return of Christ to usher in the seventh millenium, and we show our desire by resting on the seventh day. What a wonderful understanding!

Balance

We must strike a balance here in the requirement to rest from work on the Sabbath. It is clear that there are extenuating circumstances under which a Christian will have to work. All humanitarian and essential services must continue, even on the Sabbath. Christ healed on the Sabbath, as the opportunities presented themselves, and so must medical personnel, and support services. Christ also had the following to say:

"3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
6 And they could not answer him again to these things. "
(Luke 14:3-6, KJV)

An ox is part of the responsibility of a farmer. It is what he works with, to plow the land. If by force of circumstances we have to work on the Sabbath, then we must fulfill our duty. We must support and feed our families. However, we can never disregard the Hallowed day, and aim to rest and worship on any other day, except the seventh day Sabbath.

We have a great and merciful God who teaches His oracles to those who meet with Him on His chosen day.