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THE SANCTITY OF THE SABBATH

This website was initiated to address the Laodicean conditions witnessed in the Sabbath keeping Churches of God. However, over time more and more visitors here are not Sabbath keepers and are unaware of the importance of this weekly holy day. For this reason an article focused on this crucial law of God is highly warranted.

The fact that the Sabbath keeping Churches in this final Church era have been progressively watering down their Sabbath observance adds to the need to examine in depth what the Scriptures have to say about this great blessing from God.

Exodus 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it".

Deuteronomy 5:12 "Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day".

 The origin of the Sabbath

We first learn of the Sabbath in Genesis 2:2, where God tells us that He rested on the seventh day, having spent the first six days on His works of Creation. The next verse states that God "blessed the seventh day and sanctified it". To sanctify something means to set it apart as holy.

We see this confirmed in Exodus 20, as shown above, when God gives the ten commandments at Mt Sinai. He states in Ex 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy". The word "remember" indicates that it already existed, and the words "keep it holy" indicate that it was already holy

And in Ex 20:11 "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" (NIV).

The Sabbath as a spiritual picture

As fully explained on the page "THE SEVEN DAY BLUEPRINT" the seven days of Creation each picture a one thousand year period. The first six days picture 6000 years of man's toil on Earth while Satan, "the god of this world" (II Cor 4:4) invisibly directs man's path. Man is in effect enslaved by Satan and his sinful nature. It is for this reason that the account of the ten commandments in Deuteronomy mentions Israel coming out of Egyptian slavery as an additional reason for keeping the Sabbath. In the story of the Exodus, the Pharaoh of Egypt is a type of Satan, and Egypt is a type of sin.

The Sabbath pictures 1000 years of Christ's soon coming rule on Earth (Rev 20:4). It is in total contrast to the 6000 year period, and shows how different the Sabbath is from the other days of the week.

Therefore both the Creation account and the Exodus account picture the same thing in connection with the Sabbath, i.e. coming out from under Satan's rule, and instead coming under the rule of God.

The habitual weekly observance of the Sabbath reminds believers of the fact that what we see in this world is not permanent, but rather will be superseded by something immeasurably better, at God's appointed time. As such the Sabbath has always been a great sign of hope for the people of God.

The position of the Sabbath in the "Decalogue"

Traditional Christianity will usually downplay the importance of the Sabbath. However, when we look at the numbering of the ten commandments, we see that the Sabbath is placed in the fourth position. This is no insignificant matter. In all of Creation we witness God's infinite attention to detail. He does everything with the utmost precision and purpose. Therefore when God placed the Sabbath commandment ahead of such commandments as "you shall not murder", "you shall not commit adultery adultery" and "you shall not steal", clearly it was intentional.

When God created the heavens, He made ten major heavenly bodies in our solar system. At the centre of the solar system is the sun, and the nine planets all revolve around it. The Scriptures show that the sun is a type of God. Psalm 84:11 states "the Lord is a sun", Malachi 4:2 refers to Christ as "the sun of righteousness" and Revelation 1:16 says about Christ that "His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance". God's first commandment is about our duty to Him, requiring us to put Him first above all things. Thus our lives revolve around Him.

The sun is therefore a type of God in the first position, and a type of the first commandment.

As the nearest to the sun, the planet Mercury is in the second position, then Venus and then in the fourth position is Earth. Earth is the only planet on which there is life, and is the one on which God is carrying out His work with mankind. The fourth commandment is also about work. It states "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work" (Ex 20:9-10). So the fourth commandment is not just about resting on the seventh day Sabbath; it is also about working on the first six days of the week.

Therefore we see a correspondence between the fourth heavenly body, where God is conducting His work, and the fourth commandment which instructs us to work.

Biblical teaching from the Old Testament

In Exodus 16 we find teachings regarding the keeping of the Sabbath that were given even before the ten commandments at Mt Sinai (Ex 20). After God led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt, He fed them for forty years as they wandered in the desert. In Ex 16:4 God states "I will rain bread from heaven for you". This He did with a substance the people called "manna", which they gathered up off the ground every morning.

Crucially however, in Ex 16:5 the Israelites are commanded to gather twice as much manna on the sixth day as they do on other days, in order to "prepare" for the seventh day Sabbath. In verse 22 we are told that the Israelites complied and in verse 23 Moses says "This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning". With this command a principle was given that still applies in New Testament times, namely that of the Preparation Day. In John 19:14 we find mentioned the "preparation day" for the first annual Sabbath at the commencement of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which shows us that the principle applies to annual as well as weekly Sabbaths.

Exodus 16:27 continues the narrative, informing us that some Israelites disobeyed Moses' instructions and went looking for manna on the Sabbath, but found none. God's rebuke is recorded in verse 29 "the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place (to obtain food) on the seventh day".

In Exodus 31:12-17 we find a remarkable passage about the Sabbath. It states:

12 "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations (throughout all time, including ours), that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

14 You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death (all who will be saved and enter eternal life will have been Sabbath keepers); for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.

15 Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any (unwarranted) work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant (still valid today).

17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel (physical and spiritual) forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’

Here we see the "perpetual" nature of this law of God. It has been called "the test commandment" in Church of God literature, and rightly so.

Moving on to Exodus 35 we find a Scripture that has caused much confusion. Ex 35:3 states "Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day" (NIV). Strictly observant Jews have applied this as far as not even pressing a light switch on the Sabbath. But is this what God intends?

We have already seen that God specified that the day preceding the Sabbath is meant to be used as a day of preparation. Combining this information with what we find in Numbers 15:32-36 helps to clarifies the issue:

32 "Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the  Sabbath day.

33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation.

34 They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him.

35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.”

36 So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died".

We see that the offender described here had shown contempt for God's Sabbath. The gathering of sticks or the chopping of wood to light a fire should be done before the Sabbath.

In John 18:18 we find the apostle Peter warming himself by a fire on the day of Passover. Are we to believe that on the following day, an annual Sabbath, Peter would have sat in the cold? This would have been in April, so well past the worst of winter. How would the people of Israel have got through January without heating on the Sabbath?

Indeed, what about people who live in very cold climates? Does God intend their Sabbaths to be cold and unpleasant? This wouldn't make sense from a logical and loving God. What does makes sense is that the command in Ex 35:3 applies to proper Sabbath preparation, and should be understood as "Do not begin the process of lighting a fire on the Sabbath, but rather have all the wood you need for the Sabbath prepared and on hand, and if possible light the fire before the Sabbath starts".

The book of Nehemiah gives us excellent insight into what God expects from His people in regard to keeping His Sabbath holy. In Neh 9 and 10 we find the elders of the Jews who have returned from Babylonian captivity to the Holy Land giving a recount of their history with God, and then renewing their covenant with Him.

In this process, in Neh 9:14, they state regarding their fathers "You made known to them Your holy Sabbath". Subsequently, one of the conditions of this renewed covenant is "if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the Sabbath, or on the holy day" (Neh 10:31).

This is greatly elaborated on in Neh 13:15-22:

15 "In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.

16 Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day?

18 Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

19 So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day.

20 Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.

21 Then I warned them, and said to them, “Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!” From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath.

22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day".

Nehemiah makes it abundantly clear that doing business on the Sabbath, including the buying of food, is a transgression of God's law. Interestingly however, this passage also shows faithful people of God working on the Sabbath. Those guarding the gates, Nehemiah's servants and the Levites, were working, but obviously not breaking the Sabbath. Rather they were working in service to God. So we see that a distinction is made between acceptable work that can be done, and unacceptable work that can't be done, on the Sabbath.

Teachings from the major prophets

The prophets in the Scriptures always speak reverently of the Sabbath. The book of Isaiah proclaims that the Sabbath was intended to be kept by all people, not just Israelites. God states in Isa 56:6-7:

6 "Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants - everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant, 

7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer".

And in Isa 58:13-14:

 

13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words,
14 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.
"

In Isa 66:23 we find a crucial passage pointing to Sabbath observance in Christ's millennial kingdom: "And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the Lord".

In the book of Jeremiah we find: "Thus says the Lord: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers" (Jer 17:21-22).

In Ezekiel 20, just days before the Kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians, God told the elders of the people that their Sabbath breaking was a major factor in their demise. In verse 23-24 he states:

23 "Also I raised My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness (recorded in Lev 26), that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries, 

24 because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols".

So we see that the Old Testament from beginning to end speaks consistently about the Sabbath day, its origin, its meaning, and its present and future observance.

Biblical teaching from the New Testament Gospels

The same spirit of reverence for God's Sabbath which permeates the Old Testament is also evident throughout the New Testament. Contrary to what "Christianity" generally teaches, no other weekly day of worship other than the Sabbath is mentioned, let alone commanded.

The second personage in the Godhead, the Word, divested Himself of His divinity, and was born into this world as the human being Jesus Christ. As a man, Jesus lived a life perfectly obedient to God's law. Therefore, unsurprisingly, we find that He was a Sabbath keeper, which we read of in Luke 4:16 "So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read".

We see the same in Mark 6:2 "And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue", and in Luke 13:10 "Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath".

Christ was often challenged regarding the legality of things He did on the Sabbath, such as healing and driving out demons. The religious leaders of His day had added many regulations to the law, turning the keeping of God's Sabbath into a burden. People have incorrectly interpreted the disputes that Christ had with these religious leaders regarding the Sabbath as a sign that He was against Sabbath keeping. On the contrary, He was attempting to show people the deeper spiritual meaning of this law.

Let's look at Christ's teachings in Matt 12:1-12:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.

2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:

4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?

5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?

6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.

7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.

10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” - that they might accuse Him.

11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?

12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath".

To start with we need to understand the context of the above discussion. The time and place in which this discourse took place stands in total contrast with our western world today. Our societies are increasingly secular and worldly, whereas the nation of Judah that Christ came to was very religious. The Jewish religious leaders were sticklers for detail and felt that the disciples were technically breaking the law. Luke adds that "His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands" (Lk 6:1). It is this "rubbing" that the Jews probably objected to most.

However, Christ gives examples of where a greater need or a spiritual purpose can override a physical law. David and his men who ate the showbread were extremely famished; the priests at the Temple worked in service of God; a sheep caught in a pit is in distress. These are all exceptional situations. Christ states that God desires "mercy" (one of the "weightier matters of the law" - Matt 23:23) ahead of (physical) "sacrifice", and adds that "it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath". Likewise this is where our priorities should lie.

 

However, exceptions don't create the norm. It has become the practice of many in the end time Churches of God to use examples like those found in Matt 12 to take liberties with the Sabbath.

 

Other people want to be given a list of all the do's and don'ts of Sabbath keeping. However, that is exactly what God doesn't give us. Rather, in various places throughout the Bible He gives us examples and guidelines, and then intends us to learn to make honest judgements as situations arise in our lives.

The disciples who plucked and ate heads of grain on the Sabbath were declared "guiltless" by Christ. Obviously these men had given over their lives to being taught by Christ, who declared that He was "greater than the Temple" where the priests worked. If those who served at the physical temple under the physical high priest could work and feed themselves in that capacity on the Sabbath, how much more those who served with Jesus Christ, the spiritual High Priest of the spiritual Temple. For some unstated reason the disciples had no food with them for the Sabbath and were feeling weak from hunger, so in the simplest of ways they took care of their need by eating raw grain.

The account from Matt 12 quoted above is also found in Mark 2. Mark elaborates on Matt 12:8: "And He said to them, “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).

This verse has been greatly misrepresented by many, but in reality it stresses the role of Christ as the ultimate authority on what proper Sabbath observance is all about. Christ as Creator made the Sabbath day, therefore He is its Lord.

A remarkable example of Sabbath keeping is found in the account of the women who prepared spices to anoint Christ's body after His death. Christ died on the day of Passover, which is followed by the annual Sabbath called the first day of Unleavened Bread. John verifies this by calling it a "high day" (Jn 19:39). In Mk 16:1, we are told that the women bought the spices for Christ's burial after this high day Sabbath. However, Luke 23:56 tells us that these same women bought the spices and then rested on the Sabbath. It is from putting these two accounts together that we know that there were two Sabbaths in the week Christ died. After He died on Wednesday, the women rested on the high day Sabbath on Thursday, bought and prepared the spices on Friday, rested on the regular Sabbath, and then went to Christ's tomb early Sunday morning.

Some very important points should be noted in this account.

Firstly, these women faithfully observed the Sabbaths after Christ died. Having prepared the spices on Friday they could have gone to the grave on the Sabbath, but they didn't. We see in these events great care being taken regarding the sanctity of the Sabbath by people who had been in Christ's presence for years.

The reverent attitude of the women toward the Sabbath was a direct reflection of Christ's own attitude toward the Sabbath.

Secondly, the Scripture in Luke 23:56 states that the Sabbath observance of the women was "according to the commandment". This was written by Luke many years after the event, showing that the Sabbath was not "abolished on the cross" or "fulfilled in Christ" as many people claim. Luke doesn't say "according to the former commandment" or "according to the Jewish commandment" or "according to the Old Covenant commandment" or anything like that. Luke was writing to a Gentile audience. How confusing this would have been for his readers if the Sabbath was indeed no longer to be kept!

The plain word of God states "And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment" (Lk 23:56). What an example for all of mankind!

Examples in the book of Acts

In the book of Acts we find numerous references to the Sabbath being kept by Christians.

In Acts 1:12 Luke uses the phrase "a Sabbath day's journey". He writes this in Greek to a largely Gentile audience. How would this phrase have made any sense to these people unless they themselves were Sabbath keepers? As with the example of the women above, Luke gives no hint whatsoever that this "Sabbath day's journey" was a regulation or unit of measurement that was no longer valid.

Paul and his companions in their travels attended the synagogue on the Sabbath on a regular basis:

"But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day" (Acts 13:14).

"So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath" (Acts 13:42).

"On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God" (Acts 13:44).

Note that it was the Gentiles who wanted to hear more "the next Sabbath". Why the next Sabbath? Why not the next day? Because the next day was the first day of the week, i.e. a working day. The next day normally designated for religious gathering was the next Sabbath.

In Acts 15 we read of a conference being held by the apostles regarding the preaching of the gospel message to the Gentiles. Decisions had to be made concerning matters of God's law that were of immediate importance to these people. In conclusion the apostles make this statement "For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath".

The inference is that all the additional knowledge the Gentiles would need to acquire would be made available to them when they attended the synagogues on the Sabbath days. There, the entirety of the books of the Law of Moses were read out in sections over a set period of time.

In Acts 16:13 we again find Paul and his companions meeting with other Sabbath keepers: "And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God".

Likewise Acts 17:1-2: "Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures".

And also Acts 18:4: "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks".

Examples in the Epistles

We find an intriguing passage of Scripture regarding the Sabbath days in Colossians 2:16-17 "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" (KJV). In the King James Version the word "is" appears in italics because it has been added by the translators. The original Greek text just says "but the body of Christ". Most translators have added words to make this verse make sense to them, and in doing so they have altered the true meaning of the passage. For example, the NIV renders this "the reality, however, is found in Christ". They have added the words "reality .... is found in", and left out "body of".

The explanation of what the phrase "the body of Christ" means is found in the most obvious place, i.e. the verses that precede it. In Col 1:18 and 1:24 Paul already uses these same words.

In Colossians 1:18 Paul states concerning Christ "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence".

Col 1:24 is even clearer "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church".

Therefore putting the opening and closing words of Col 2:16-17 together, the meaning becomes clear: "Let no one judge you ........ but the body of Christ" (i.e. the Church).

The Church in Colosse was mostly a Gentile congregation. They were new in the faith and therefore susceptible to outside influences. Throughout the New Testament we read of Jews, both those who accepted Christ and those who didn't, introducing wrong ideas among the new converts (e.g. Acts 15:1-5, Gal 6:12, Tit 1:14). This was happening in Colosse as well, as can be seen in the rest of Paul's epistle to them.

What were some of the things the Colossians were being troubled about? Paul gives a list: "in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days". In other words matters of what foods were acceptable and which were not, and how to keep weekly and annual Sabbaths. Paul was telling them not to take their instructions from anyone but the true Church, of which he was a minister.

The next part of the sentence is usually translated as "which are a shadow of things to come", which I think is not quite logical. Green's Interlinear Bible renders this "which is a shadow of things to come". I think that the latter translation is more likely the correct one, meaning that the judgement that the brethren were receiving about certain Church practices was only a small beginning of serious persecutions that were to come later.

So the correct translation is "Let no man therefore judge you, in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath day, which is a shadow of things to come; but the body of Christ".

The last New Testament verse in this section is Hebrews 4:4-11:

4 "For somewhere he (God) has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”

5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest (spoken to the adult generation in the wilderness of Sinai who all died before Israel entered into Canaan - see Hebrews chapter 3).”

6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest (to enter the Kingdom of God, of which the physical land of Israel is a type), and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience,

7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today (any person's time of calling).” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God (the weekly seventh day points to the millennial seventh day, i.e. the Kingdom of God. Faithful Christians show their desire to enter that Kingdom by keeping the Sabbath holy);

10 for anyone who enters God’s rest (God's Kingdom) also rests from their works, just as God did from his (on the Sabbath).

11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience" (NIV).

Many, if not most, translations render Heb 4:9 as "rest" rather than "Sabbath rest". The original Greek word here is "sabbatismos", the only occurrence of this word in Scripture, and it means "a keeping of the Sabbath".

The Mark of the Beast

God's people are described in Rev 12:17 as those who "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ". One of the commandments of God is the Sabbath, and as we have already seen, God calls the Sabbath "a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you" (Ex 31:13). 

However, six passages of Scripture, all in the book of Revelation, refer to a "mark" that the enemies of God possess. They do not believe in keeping God's commandments and therefore they are transgressors of the Sabbath:

Rev 13:16-17 "He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name". The page "REVELATION 13 - THE BEAST" explains how this mark is Sabbath breaking and how it was enforced by false Christianity.

 Rev 14:9-11 "Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name". The mark of Sabbath breaking mentioned here is elaborated on in the article "REVELATION 14 - THE 144000".

Rev 15:2 "And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God".

Rev 16:2 "So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image". These Rev 15 and 16 passages about the mark of Sabbath breaking are dealt with on the page "THE REAL SEVEN PLAGUES".

Rev 19:19-20 "And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone". The final demise of the Sabbath breaking powers mentioned here is expanded on in the article "THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES".

 Rev 20:4 "And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years". The ultimate reward is received by God's faithful Sabbath keeping saints, as discussed further on the page "REVELATION 13 - THE BEAST".

So in example after example we see that the New Testament Scriptures uphold the sanctity of the Sabbath just as the Old Testament Scriptures do. The same spirit and the same message is evident throughout both the Hebrew and Greek writings of God.

 The Annual Sabbaths

This article would be incomplete if it didn't touch on the Biblical annual Sabbaths, or feast days. The Scriptures not only speak of a weekly Sabbath to be observed every seventh day, but also of seven unique Sabbaths that each occur once a year.

In Leviticus 23:1-2 God states "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts".

Leviticus 23:3 reiterates the weekly Sabbath command we have been looking at in this article. Then, from verse 4 onward, this chapter details seven annual Sabbaths that God also commands us to commemorate.

These seven annual holy days are to be kept according to the calendar derived from Biblical instructions:

1) The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the 15th day of the first month. This holy day commences a seven day festival (Lev 23:6-7).

2) The last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the 21st day of the first month (Lev 23:8).

3) The Feast of Harvest, or Firstfruits (Ex 23:16), aka Pentecost (Acts 2:1), 50 days after the "wave sheaf" offering during Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:9-22).

4) The Feast of Trumpets, on the first day of the seventh month (Lev 23:23-25).

5) The Day of Atonement, on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev 23:26-32).

6) The first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, aka the Feast of Ingathering (Ex 23:16), on the 15th day of the seventh month. This holy day commences a seven day festival (Lev 23:33-35).

7) The Eighth Day, or Last Great Day of the Feast, on the 22nd day of the seventh month (Lev 23:36, Jn 7:37).

All these are elaborated on elsewhere in Scripture.

 

The amazing thing about the annual holy days is that they picture the plan of salvation God is working out on Earth with mankind.

Crucially, the first day of Unleavened Bread is preceded by the Day of Passover on the 14th day of the first month (Lev 23:5). The death of Christ occurred on this day, thereby making the plan of salvation possible. Without Christ's sacrifice for the sins of mankind no person would be able to be saved, and so no holy day plan would exist. Passover stands alone as a unique day, incomparable in importance.

Following is a very brief outline of the meaning of the holy days:

After the memorial of Christ's sacrifice on the Day of Passover there follow seven days during which unleavened bread is eaten and all yeast and other leaven is removed from believers' homes. Leaven pictures sin in this setting, and the lesson is that upon repentance and acceptance of Christ's sacrifice for our sins, followed by baptism and the receipt of God's holy spirit, we are to live a life of overcoming sin.

When Christ was resurrected He became the first human being to be saved and converted to spirit life (I Cor 15:20), setting the precedent for those who follow. His ascension to the Father on the day after His resurrection was pictured in ancient Israel by the waving of the "wave sheaf" (Lev 23:10-11), which was a cluster of the first harvested grain, cut and presented to God on the day after the Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After this ceremony the early grain harvest would commence. From the day of the wave sheaf offering, 50 days are counted until the Feast of Harvest (now called Pentecost), which was held at the end of the harvest, and pictures the spiritual firstfruits harvest of the 144000 mentioned in Rev 7 and 14, at Christ's return. Therefore it is very likely that Christ will return on the day of Pentecost.

The celebration of the Feast of Trumpets is only recorded once in Scripture, in the days of King Solomon. Solomon was a type of Christ, his kingdom was a type of God's Kingdom, and the temple he built was a type of the spiritual temple Christ is building.

Bible chronology shows that Solomon's temple was built during the years 2993-2999 and that the temple was dedicated in the year 3000 from Creation.

This is very interesting timing when compared to the years we are approaching right now, as seen on the chart on the "HOME" page. The ark of the covenant was brought into the temple, and the temple dedicated, at the Feast of Trumpets, which Solomon extended to a seven day celebration (II Chron 7:8-11, I Kings 8:65). This appears to picture Christ's marriage to the firstfruits (the spiritual temple), which is going to occur in the very near future, and most likely in the exact year 6000.

The Day of Atonement pictures Christ's atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind, and those sins being placed back on the one they originated from, i.e. Satan the devil. The typology of the two goats (Lev 16) can be seen in the events involving Christ and Barabbas, in front of Pilate's judgement seat, on the day of Passover when Christ was condemned to death (Mt 27:15-26).

The Feast of Tabernacles, aka the Feast of Ingathering, pictures Christ's 1000 year reign on Earth when most people who have ever lived will be resurrected to judgement and will also hear the true gospel of the Kingdom, or Family, of God for the first time, without interference from Satan. This will lead to an enormous ingathering harvest of people, which Rev 7 describes as "an innumerable multitude". This second resurrection to spirit life is pictured by the Eighth Day holy day. It is very likely that this huge event will occur in the year 7000 on the very day that this holy day falls.

So, in conclusion, we see that the weekly Sabbath and the seven annual Sabbaths are closely linked throughout the Scriptural narrative as they together portray the immeasurably great purpose God is working out here on Earth with mankind.

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