The Sabbath Day
The Sabbath Day
As Israel approached Mt. Sinai, God revealed unto them the Sabbath day. The word is a derivation of a Hebrew word which means “cease” or “desist.” The sabbath was a day when all ordinary work stopped. Hence it was said to Israel that it was “a day of Sabbath rest before the Lord your God.” Also they were told that "on it you shall not do any work" (see Ex. 20:8-11). This rest day was explicitly to be on the 7th day of their week (Ex. 20:10; 30:15). Although God used the day that He rested (Gen. 2:3) as the day that He appointed them to rest, such was not made known until this time at Sinai. The scriptures do NOT tell us that Adam, Noah, Abraham or Jacob kept the Sabbath. On the contrary, such commandments were said NOT to have been given to the fathers of the generation of the Exodus (Deut. 5:1f).The first example of people who were given the sabbath is the Israelites when they camped at Mount Sinai (Exodus 16:4,5, 22-30). Nehemiah stated that God made known to the Israelites the sabbath at Mount Sinai, through the hand of Moses (Nehemiah 9:13-14).
It was given ONLY to those whom God brought out of Egypt (Exod. 20:2, 8-11). He called all Israel and gave THEM the sabbath and other laws (Deut. 5:1). He had NOT made such covenant with their fathers (Deut. 5:1-21). The Israelites received the sabbath BECAUSE they had been delivered from Egyptian bondage (Deut. 5:15). The sabbath was a sign between God and Israel - NOT all the nations (Exodus 31:12-17). In fact it is stated in Psalm 147:19-20 that God had not given any other nation such a law (that included the Sabbath regulation). The New Testament declares that the Gentiles were 'strangers from the covenant' (Eph. 2:11ff).
Jesus, being born a Jew and hence under this law, did keep the Sabbath as a Jew (Gal. 4:4) We would also note that as Jew he was circumcised and offered sacrifice "according to the Law of Moses" (Luke 2:22-39). He taught the Jews that they must keep the laws of sacrifice (Matt. 8:2-4). He kept the Jewish feasts like the Passover and Tabernacles (Luke 22:8, 15; John 7:2). He met with Jews in their synagogues (Luke 4:15, 20). He taught in their temple (Matt. 26:55). He did all of this because He was under the Law of Moses. He kept the sabbath because he obeyed the whole law (Gal. 4:4).
On the cross he fulfilled the whole law and took it away (John 19:28-30; Eph. 2:14-17; Col. 2:14-16). He took away the first covenant that he might establish the second (Heb. 8:6-13; 10:9-10). Hence the Hebrew writer stated that the law was changed (Hebrews 7:12). The law was the tutor to bring people to Christ, but then Christians do NOT continue to obey that tutor (Gal. 3:24ff).
The changing of the Law resulted in a NEW and better covenant (Heb. 8:13; 10:9-10). In the giving of this new covenant there is no law or command about keeping the Sabbath. There are no examples in this covenant of Christians keeping the Sabbath. We can read that Paul preached or argued with the Jews on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14, 42; 17:2-3; 18:4); but that is because he could find many people on that day in their synagogue. It made a ready audience to talk about Jesus as the Christ and the mediator of the new covenant. We nowhere read that 'he kept' the sabbath. To preach on the sabbath is one thing, while 'to keep' the sabbath is something else.
On the other hand Christians are not judged concerning the Sabbath and other elements of Judaism (Col. 2:14-17; Rom. 6:14). Also, Christians are specifically 'free from' and 'dead to' the law that contained the 10 commandments including the Sabbath ( Romans 7:4, 6).
The Hebrew writer wrote that there is a Sabbath awaiting the people of God but it is that rest in Heaven when we shall rest from our labors here. Until then, we are to labor to enter into THAT rest (Heb. 4:1-11)