10.  The Sabbath

Doctrinal Statement: The Sabbath is a day set apart by God for rest, study, and worship as part of a congregation. Its observance is mandated in the fourth of the Ten Commandments.



*   American Heritage Dictionary: The seventh day of the week, Saturday, observed as the day of rest and worship by the Jews and some Christian sects.

*   Strongs Hebrew/Greek Dictionary: G4521. sabbaton, sab'-bat-on; of Heb. or [H7676]; the Sabbath (i.e. Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself)


Sabbath in the Bible

Throughout the Bible Sabbath is an important concept and its observance is central to a Godly people. It is mentioned over 160 times and 60 of those are in the New Testament. The Sabbath mentioned in the Ten Commandments is the weekly Sabbath but there are seven other days observed as a Sabbath but not the Sabbath. This is because Sabbath is used for any day of rest and religious observation. This study pertains mainly to the weekly Sabbath


Requirements of Sabbath

*   (Exo 20:8-11 NIV)  "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. {9} Six days you shall labor and do all your work, {10} but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD 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. {11} For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

*    (Exo 16:15-30 NIV)  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. {16} This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.'" {17} The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. {18} And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. {19} Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." {20} However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. {21} Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. {22} On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much--two omers for each person--and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. {23} He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.'" {24} So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. {25} "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. {26} Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any." {27} Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. {28} Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? {29} Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out." {30} So the people rested on the seventh day.

*   (Exo 31:13-17 NIV)  "Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. {14} "'Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. {15} For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. {16} The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. {17} It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.'"

*   (Lev 23:3 NIV)  "'There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.


Observation of Sabbath in New Testament

*    (Mark 6:1-2 NIV)  Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. {2} When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!

*   (Mark 15:47 NIV)  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. (Mark 16:1-3 NIV)  When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. {2} Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb {3} and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

*   (Luke 4:16 NIV)  He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.

*   (Luke 4:31 NIV)  Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people.

*   (Luke 23:54-56 NIV)  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. {55} The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. {56} Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (Luke 24:1 NIV)  On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

*   (Acts 13:13-14 NIV)  From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. {14} From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down.

*   (Acts 13:42-44 NIV)  As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. {43} When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. {44} On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.

*   (Acts 16:13 NIV)  On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.

*   (Acts 17:2-3 NIV)  As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, {3} explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, " he said.

*   (Acts 18:4 NIV)  Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

*   (Heb 4:9-10 NIV)  There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; {10} for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

*   (Mark 2:27 NIV)  Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.


Some Conclusions

*   Sabbath observance is mandated by the fourth of the Ten Commandments.

*   Sabbath is a holy day to the Lord.

*   God blessed the Sabbath day.

*   Sabbath is a day to refrain from regular work.

*   Sabbath is a memorial of the creation week.

*   Sabbath is a gift from God.

*   Sabbath is a sign between God and His people.

*   The actual day of the week Sabbath observance was made indisputable by collection of manna during the exodus.

*   Jesus and his disciples observed Sabbath.

*   Paul and the other apostles continued to observe Sabbath after the death of Jesus.

*   Nowhere does the Bible mention a change in the observance of Sabbath or the day of Sabbath.



*   Show that Sabbath is observed from sunset to sunset.

*   What activities are appropriate during Sabbath?

*   How would a man that drives a car for a living get to church?

*   Find secular and other sources describing how Sunday came to be observed over Sabbath by many Christians.


A Few Closing Thoughts

Sometimes people assert that the calendar has changed and they are right. But, the sequence of the days of the week has never changed. One-source states: “Gregory took this advice and shortened October of A.D. 1582 by ten days. Thursday, October 4, 1582 (Julian) was followed immediately by Friday, October 15, 1582 (Gregorian).” There are many sources that will confirm this fact.


Common sense confirms the same conclusion. Try to imagine all Sabbath observing people going to bed one night, perhaps Wednesday, and then all waking up the next day and agreeing it was some day other than Thursday. It just couldn’t have happened!


The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia explains the origin of Sunday replacing Sabbath. “In the early days of Christianity, Sunday began to replace the Sabbath and to be observed to honor the resurrection of Christ. Sunday was instituted as a day of rest, consecrated especially to the service of God, by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great.” Constantine lived most of his life in the early 300’s after the death of Christ. Originally he was a sun worshipper but later became a defender of the Catholic Church and presided over the Council of Nicaea. It was then that the Catholic Church made Sunday the official day of worship. Those Christians that continued to observe Sabbath were branded Judaizers and many were forced to convert or be murdered.


If you don’t know the truth it can be understood why you might be deceived. But, if you choose to not know the truth or avoid knowing the truth then it is clear you can and should be held accountable for your actions. Nobody argues that any other commandment should not be followed. Why then would anyone think the Sabbath commandment shouldn’t be followed? People that go to church on Sunday seldom observe Sunday as if it were Sabbath. That is, they don’t observe the prohibitions against work. When they make a claim for Sunday as Sabbath who do they think they are fooling? They may be fooling themselves but certainly they are not fooling the “Lord of the Sabbath!”


(John 8:31-32 NIV)  To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. {32} Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."


Now that you know the truth about Sabbath, let it set you free!