Questions & Answers

How Is the Sabbath Kept Today?

Did you know that the ministers who most often encourage people to "keep the sabbath day", don't know what they are talking about? In fact, men who say these things are those who are actually NOT keeping the "sabbath" themselves! It was not in vain that Jesus told very religious men: "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in" (Mat.23:13). We can see this striking example in most clearly in the matter of the "sabbath day".

There is argument among many as to which day the "sabbath" is. Should the believer keep "Saturday" as the sabbath, since that is what the Old Testament Jews did? Or should a believer keep Christianity's version of the sabbath (or "the Lord's Day"), which is Sunday? Or do we have another choice for those seeking to worship "in Spirit and in truth"?

A basic meaning of the Hebrew word, sabbath, is "rest". Jesus promised a deep, spiritual rest to all who would come to him for it, when he said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST" (Mt.11:28). Using the tongue of the prophet Isaiah, God foretold of this spiritual rest with these remarkable words (28:11-12): "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this 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 (28:11-12). Approximately 120 men and women were blessed with this heavenly rest when it was first poured out (Acts 2:1-4).

Referring to Isaiah's prophecy of this rest from sin, Paul wrote, "Brethren, be not children in understanding. Howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be ye men. In the law it is written, `With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.' Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not..." (1Cor.14:20-22). Yes, speaking in tongues is a sign to those who are seeking to know God. It is a sign to those who are living in sin and tired of it. Tongues are a sign from God, a sign of where to find peace, joy, and forgiveness of sins. My friend, if you want to find God's rest, follow the sign which He gave: tongues.

To these verbal prophecies of His rest, God added prophetic symbols in the Law of Moses. In particular, he gave to Israel days, even years, of rest. The weekly sabbath day was only one of many days of rest which God commanded them to keep. The first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were sabbath days, regardless of the day of the week upon which they fell. The day called in the New Testament, "Pentecost", was a sabbath day. The 1st, 10th, 15th, and 22nd days of the seventh month were also sabbath days. Moreover, every seventh year the fields were to be given an entire year of rest from tillage, and every 50th year (the sabbath year of Jubilee) debts were to be forgiven and inheritances to be restored to their original owners. This was the ultimate prophetic sabbath in Israel. Although these laws were never observed as carefully by Israel as they should have been, they were given to represent the blessing of the Spirit, which would bring us peace and rest in this mad world.

"Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. But the sabbath 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"(Ex. 20:9-10). In Hebrews the symbols and ceremonies of the Law were called "types" and "figures for the time then present". Paul called the ceremonial holy days and sabbaths of the Law "a shadow of things to come" (Col.2:16-17). And what wonderful things have come! the body of believers, the "nation born in one day", and the fellowship of "just men made perfect", the "access to the Father", and the "hope that entereth into that within the veil." We are blessed beyond expression to be in this covenant with God through Christ Jesus. It is, as Peter said, "joy unspeakable and full of glory."

Yet this present life in the Spirit, so rich and so free, is itself another foretaste of the things which "God has prepared for those that love him." This wonderful life in the Spirit, so great as to be prophesied about, is itself just a foretaste of the glory and joy which await those who are faithful to Christ Jesus. The Spirit continuously directs our footsteps toward the great Day of Rest, the thousand-year reign of Christ on this earth, when the redeemed of all the ages will be resurrected with bright, immortal bodies that shine as the stars, and are given authority over the nations to "reign with Christ a thousand years" (Rev.20:4). One can only imagine the joy that will fill the hearts of the children of God as they work not only for Christ but with him on this earth!

But the good news grows greater and richer still! For the thousand-year reign with Christ, glorious as it will be, is itself but a foretaste of eternal rest on an entirely new earth promised to those who obey God acceptably. Praise God for our hope in Christ! It is beyond all human capacity to perceive or imagine. As the man of God wrote, "Eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man what God hath prepared for those that love him." Who could possibly imagine being raised from the dead and being given a glorified body, "like unto his glorious body", so that we may escape the frighteningly complete devastation of this universe which Peter describes here: "But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy [conduct] and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (IIPet.3:10-13)."

There will be no wickedness on the new earth, no rebellion, no fear or pain. All will be utmost peace and joy. As the ancient prophets said, "At his right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps.16:11). And, "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein...and darkness shall pursue his enemies. He will make an utter end [of sorrow]. Affliction shall not rise up the second time" (Nah.1:5-10). This eternity of restful joy on a new, undefiled earth is The True Sabbath, to which all other sabbaths point us. The Old Covenant sabbaths of days and years. In this life now, the gift of the holy Spirit. In the future, the thousand-year reign with Christ.

Dear reader, are you still worshipping in "type" and in "symbol"? Are you still holding to an earthly "sabbath day" thinking to please God in this "fleshly" manner? Don't you realize that "they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom.8:8) In this hour God is looking for those who will worship in truth - the reality of those types, or, life in the "holy Ghost". The reason that men celebrate an earthly "sabbath" today, is because they have not experienced the REAL sabbath which the Old Testament "types" pointed to: the baptism of the holy Ghost. Others cling to such ceremony because they are being led by carnal men, and not by the Spirit that baptized them into the body of Christ (1Cor.12:13). In either case, leave such carnal deeds behind. Every time you participate in a "sabbath" celebration, whether Saturday or Sunday, you are saying by your actions, that the sabbath God gave to his people is not sufficient. And that friend, is sin.

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