Sabbath : The Day God Made Holy Bible Study Transcript - William H Shea

Posted by Samuel Kadyakale  |  at  12:57 No comments

Below is a transcript of a bible study on the Sabbath Day conducted by Archaeologist and Theologian, William H Shea.

Loving heavenly Father, again we thank you for the opportunity to come together to worship your holy name on this holy day. Be present with us as we study your word. Lead us and guide us in truth. We ask in Jesus name Amen. 

The Sabbath in The Old Testament

Well the genesis of this little mini series of three talks. Came when I was discussing with Brother Newhart on the state of the church. And he was a bit unhappy I might say with the state of the church so I said what's your remedy. And he says get back to basics. 

Genesis 2:1 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.

And so we're starting with the seventh day Sabbath which as you know, starts with the creation story in Genesis two. The Sabbath is one might even say the climax of the creation week. You might say the climax is on the sixth day when Adam and Eve were made. But there's also a chronological climax on the seventh day. 

Some people criticize the seventh day by saying, "well it doesn't say Sabbath there in Genesis 2". Oh wait a minute it does use the word Sabbath. But it uses it as a verb when it says God rested. That's the verb shabbat. Now later when we come to the fourth commandment in Exodus twenty that verb has been moved over to become a noun. The Sabbath. So God shabbat, rested. 
William H Shea
God rested as you know at the conclusion of this creation week. He looked over at all and each day he'd said it was good. It's good. It's good. And then in conclusion it's very good. And so the world was set up for living and for occupation by Adam and Eve and all the animals of the field and the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. And the beautiful world started out in that condition. 

And so we often say well, two of the things which come over from that unfallen world are the Sabbath, because it was created right at the conclusion of the creation week, and the other is marriage. Because Adam and Eve represented the first marriage and so with all this discussion now about same sex marriage. I think we ought to look back to the original design. And the original design was before the fallen world occurred. 

Well let's concentrate on the Sabbath and let's notice especially what Genesis 2 says about what God did. And it says that he rested; he blessed; and he sanctified. So it uses the word 'seventh day' twice in verse two and it uses again in verse three. The bible says God sanctified the seventh day because in it he rested from all his work. And there's the verb shabbat (to rest).

Now. I want you to notice the three actions. Number one he rested. Why did he rest? He didn't rest because he was tired. He rested because he has completed his creation work and he also rested as an example for us. And so that's the rest. 

Now he could have waited ten days, fifteen days, twenty days to rest but he didn't. He chose six days of creation and on the seventh day of the creation week he rested. That's the kind of the punctiliar action that brings the creation week to a conclusion. 

And then he blessed it. And keep that blessing in mind because there is a special blessing for those who keep and worship on and rest on the seventh day. So you are blessed here today as we are worshipping now. 

And then I want you to specially notice this verb sanctify. Really I don't like that translation so specifically for it's the word holy but it's the word holy in a causative form- to make holy. And so the seventh day was made holy not for God himself for he was already holy. He's the one that made it holy. He made the seventh day holy. 

And that holiness on the seventh day has never been removed. There is no scripture anywhere in the Old or New Testament which says the blessing on the seventh day has been removed. There is also no scripture that says the rest on the seventh day for us or the making of the seventh day holy has been removed. It has not been removed. Nor has it been transferred to any other day. 

Now I want to look at an unusual text Genesis twenty nine. Because you see we say the Sabbath comes with creation and creation comes with the Sabbath but you can also say the week. The Creation week happened to be as indicated here in Scripture in seven days. A seven day week. 

Now you may think well that's well known and I've seen lists. Perhaps you seen this big chart. The Quiet Hour Ministry used to print it and it has about forty different languages in which the word Shabbat is used for the seventh day. 

But there were other weeks. The Greeks and Romans had an eight day week. It wasn't really a week as the eighth day was a market day. They called it nundinum and which really means the ninth day. But it happened to fall on the eighth day. So the Greeks and Romans if you want to say had an eight day week. The Egyptians had a ten day week. 

So you see the seven day week which the world observes today is a gift that runs all the way back to creation. When God gave it. So the week and the Sabbath run together. The Sabbath marks off the seventh day of a seven day week. 

The Observance of The Sabbath Before Sinai

And so I want you to look at Genesis twenty nine which is the story about Jacob and his work for his wives. And you'll notice in verse eighteen he works seven years, "I will serve seven years for your daughter Rachel", and he says it again. And so then it says in verse twenty he served seven years. And then of course he was tricked by his father in law and gets the wrong wife. 

And so notice especially verse twenty seven: "Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also...". Notice the word week. There it is the word shabua are not the word sheva for seven. It's the word for week. So right here in Genesis twenty nine. We have a testimony that the patriarchs were observing a seven day week and therefore with it goes the Sabbath. And so we have an indirect reference to the Sabbath here in Genesis twenty nine. 

Now let's march ahead to Exodus sixteen. I want you to notice that this was also before Sinai. And you know the story well it's about the giving of the manna. And so God gives the instructions about the giving of the manna that there will be a certain amount each of the six days and on the sixth day there will be a double portion and then there will be none on the seventh day. So for five work days they had standard dose of manna for each person and a double dose on sixth day. But on the seventh day - no work, no gathering. On the seventh day, observe the Sabbath and use the food that God has already provided for you. 

So you see the sixth day even in exodus sixteen was the preparation day. And you were prepared by getting a double dose of manna. Now this started here in Exodus sixteen before we get to Sinai and it continued for forty years. You know they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. They weren't supposed to but because of a lack of faith of going into the Promised Land they wandered for forty years. And during that forty years the manna fell every day. In fact when you come to the Book of Joshua it tells you when the manna stopped. 

So forty years they had a miracle each week and each preparation day. And each Sabbath was marked not by themselves, not by their calendar on the wall but by God himself in the giving of the manna and the hoarding of the manna. 

Now then we come to Exodus twenty and you know the ten commandments there in verses eight to eleven very well. And remember how this commandment came to us. It was written on tables of stone. And who wrote it? God himself wrote it. Now in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament we have one case, one example of something God wrote and here it is in Exodus twenty with the ten commandments. 

And in the New Testament we have one case when Jesus wrote. And that's when the women taken in adultery was brought before him and he reaches down and he writes in the dust of the earth. So we have one episode where God wrote on stone with his very own hand and in one episode in the New Testament. 

And we should pay close attention that God gave these commandments written by his own hand. And so I suppose if he was going to change anything. He should have a reversed with his own hand and put it a new command there if he was going to but he did not. Therefore the ten commandments as they stand and carried through all of history down to today are still with us. 

Now it's interesting how emphatic the Book of Exodus is about the Sabbath because it doesn't just occur in the fourth commandment in Exodus twenty but it occurs again in Exodus thirty one. That's verses twelve to seventeen. And that's a very long passage it has six verses about the Sabbath because they're getting ready to do the work on the sanctuary. And then it occurs again in Exodus 34:21 and then it occurs again in Exodus thirty five verse two. 

So in the Book of Exodus it occurs four times. We have the fourth commandment of the Sabbath in Exodus twenty, Exodus thirty one, Exodus thirty four and Exodus thirty five. Now why was God so emphatic after all he said it once and so he didn't need to say it again? We should listen to what he says we don't have to listen over and over again we should hear the first time. Which they did and which they responded to if you recall. 

But remember what their task was for the first half of the Book of Exodus is about leaving Egypt. And the second half of the Book of Exodus is about building the sanctuary and. First it gives you three or four chapters about how to build a sanctuary. And then it gives you three or four chapters saying that they built the sanctuary the way they were instructed. 

Now that's a good example of ancient writing style parallelism of the statements. You see we would say Well now here's the way I want you to build the sanctuary and give three chapters of details. And then say. And they went and did it. But that's not the way they wrote in ancient times. It's known as parallelism of thought. And so they repeated over again as they built it the instructions to build it. Carrying out the instructions to build it. 

And it's the same with the Sabbath. We don't just have one command or one reference. We have four references to the Sabbath. And one of the reason for the extra references is because of the holiness of the Sabbath. 

You see the people were building a sanctuary in Exodus 25:8, the verse that you know so well: "Let them build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them". I mean what is more holy than having the dwelling of the personal God with you in his house there in front of you. 

And you might say look this work is so holy that we can even do this kind of work on the Sabbath because we're building a holy sanctuary for God to dwell in. Is that what God says. No.Right when he gives the instructions about building that's when he gives the instructions about keeping the Sabbath. Even while you are building my holy sanctuary I want you to keep my holy day the way I have prescribed for you now.

Major Bible Prophets' Statements on The Sabbath

We're now going to look at the major prophets. All the major prophets refer to the Sabbath. And I want you to look first of all at Isaiah chapter fifty six. Isaiah is a very interesting prophet. He sometimes is called the gospel prophet because there are at least seven messianic prophecies in the book of Isaiah. Three in the first half of the book and three in the second half of the book. And so very interesting as you look at those. 

The three prophecies in the first half of the book are about the royal Messiah. And the three prophecies in the second half of the book are about the suffering messiah. And so the Jews were confused enough about this. Some of them even believed they were going to have two messiahs. There was only one messiah and they only looked at the first half of the book. They didn't look for the suffering messiah which came together with the one who should have been accepted as the royal Messiah then. 

Well this royal Messiah comes with the Sabbath and it's it's given in a very interesting way in Isaiah fifty six. Because Isaiah is not only called the gospel prophet. He is sometimes called the prophet of universalism. That is to say he looked for the salvation that God gave to extend this far as the islands of the sea. And so the Sabbath here in Isaiah fifty six is not just for the Jews but it is for others.

Let's read a little bit of it. Isaiah Chapter fifty six verse two "how blessed is the man who does this. And the son of man who takes hold of it. Who keeps from profaning the Sabbath and keeps his hand from doing any evil". And then it continues. "Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord thus and so". And it even mentions the eunuchs, Assyrian eunuchs; "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and choose what pleases me and hold fast my covenant". 

And again in verse six. "Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord to minister to him and to love the name of the Lord to be his servants. Everyone who keeps from profaning the Sabbath and holds fast the covenant". 

So the Sabbath and the covenant go together and the ten words. The ten commandments are sometimes called the ten words of the Covenant. 

So you'll notice the Sabbath here in Isaiah fifty six is not just for ethnic Jews. Not just for biological Jews but it is for foreigners too. So this is the prophet of universalism who sees the Sabbath in a universal context for foreigners to keep it. 

Now, we continue in chapter fifty eight. What's the fast that we should keep? That is Isaiah 58:4-6 And then the Lord tells them what the real fast is. It's not so much abstaining from food but doing goodness and kindness and mercy to your neighbors and your friends and those whom you meet. "To loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the hands of the yoke and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke. Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry". This is the true fast.  "and bring the homeless poor into your house. When you see him naked to cover him. And not to hide yourselves from your own flesh. Then the your light will break out like the dawn". So here's the true fast. 

But then at the end of this chapter (Isaiah 58). After the discussion on what they were asking about the fast and finding out what the true fast is then we come to the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not changed. That is to say, it's a day for doing good but it still remains in place. Isaiah 58 verse 13. “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,"

Verse fourteen this is an if then prophesy. If you keep the Sabbath in the way that I want you to, it will be a delight. And then verse fourteen, the then clause, "14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."

So here in Isaiah chapter fifty six, again in chapter fifty eight we have the Sabbath for foreigners even for foreigners. Universal Sabbath. And we have the Sabbath as a delight. And God claims it again as my holy day. Remember he made it holy back in Genesis two one to three. 

Now Exodus twenty has a text that we will pass over because you know it so well. It says "I gave them my Sabbath that I might sanctify them". Again let's translate that word sanctify into holy. This verse says that by keeping the Sabbath, God endeavors to make you a more holy person. You keep the holy day and become a holy person. 

Now I want to show you the importance of the Sabbath and so we're going not to Ezekiel but to Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter seventeen. And this is another one of those conditional prophecies. There is an if clause and a then clause. And so there's an if in one condition and then in that condition and if in another and and a then.  

So this is about Jerusalem. It talks about the forefathers and Jeremiah 17:22 and 23 yet they did not listen or incline their ears and so forth. If the forefathers didn't listen and evil came upon them what is the lesson for the Jews of Jeremiah's time. "But it will come about if.." There is the if clause. "if you listen attentively to Me," declares the LORD, "to bring no load in through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but to keep the sabbath day holy by doing no work on it, 25 then there will come in through the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever…"

Was Jerusalem inhabited forever then? No. This is a prophecy given as Nebuchadnezzar's troops are either outside the wall or approaching the city. And unfortunately they destroyed it after three years siege.

So the warning is now see this is a blessing you could have had. If you do this if you keep the Sabbath holy. You will remain as an independent kingdom with your own kings riding in their own chariots and it will be free forever.

But now, verse twenty seven, ""But if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched."'". So you see your holiness and participation in the holy Sabbath at this time in 597 and 586 B.C. determined what was going to happen to the city of Jerusalem.

Can you imagine how important the Sabbath was to God that if they're not going to keep the Sabbath and they're just going to do their own work and so carry on as normal, God will let Jerusalem go. And Nebuchadnezzar conquers it. And that is indeed what happened.

So here's a conditional prophecy. If you do this you get the blessing. If you do not do this you get the curse. You get the bad results. And unfortunately they got the bad results and the city was conquered and destroyed. So that's a lesson for us now.

The Sabbath was so important in Old Testament times that God says the survival of the city of Jerusalem depended upon his people's holy response to a holy day and to him on that day. His people failed to heed His words, they failed and the city was destroyed. Could it have been that important in Old Testament times and completely forgotten and neglected in New Testament times. An object of this great importance surely must continue in its obligation.

Well there's an interesting one in Nehemiah Chapter thirteen. You know Nehemiah was a great worker for God and the first half of the book of Nehemiah tells about how he got the city walls up. But then the city walls were abused by foreigners and by Jews themselves by doing business on the Sabbath.

So Nehemiah ordered that the gates he and his crews had built were to be shut on the Sabbath so they couldn't come in and do business. So you cannot only call Nehemiah a great worker for God in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem but we can also see that he was a great Sabbath reformer. The Sabbath was meaningful and important to Nehemiah. This great worker for God. All right. We're turning now. That's our brief survey of the Old Testament.

The Sabbath in The New Testament

Now let's see what happens in the New Testament. Well the first one is in Mark chapter one. And this is a simple illustration of when the Sabbath begins and ends. Because Jesus is at Capernaum and Mark chapter 1:21 says, "They went into Capernaum and immediately on the Sabbath he entered into the synagogue and began to teach". So that's one thing that the Sabbath is for - teaching. And that's why we have a Sabbath school in which we have classes in which we teach the Bible from one cover to the other.

And as you'll notice then down in verse two, "When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door.…" Why did the city wait until the sunset? Because the Sabbath was over. The holy day had been kept even for their ill and demon possessed. And now the Sabbath is over they come to let Jesus do his work. And he does.

Now you may also remember that Jesus healed on Sabbath in fact there's one case here. There actually are seven Sabbath miracles. Seven Sabbath healing miracles in the Gospels. And I'll just read off the list to you. Two of them in the Gospel of Mark that's chapter one and chapter three verse fifteen: two of them are in the Gospel of Luke that's chapter thirteen and chapter fourteen. And one is in Matthew that's chapter Twelve.

But I especially like the two in John chapter five and John chapter nine because it's interesting how Jesus does these. John chapter five is the healing of the paralytic. And you know he was lying by the pool of Bethsaida. And he couldn't make it over because he was a paralytic his muscles didn't work his arms and legs wouldn't pull him or push him over to the edge of the water. You know they had the tradition that the first one to touch the water would be healed. But he couldn't make it.

And so Jesus meets him on Sabbath and says would you be healed? And he thinks Jesus is going to be the one that's going to carry him over to the water and get there first. Must've looked like a fairly strong man. But Jesus says no no that's not what I'm talking about. And he says, "Arise, take up your bed and walk.

Notice how he does it. By the spoken word. How did Jesus create in Genesis one? By the spoken word, "he spoke and it stood fast". And each day it says God said, God said, God said. And so this healing in John five mirrors the creation in Genesis one.

Then John chapter nine is different and this is the blind man. And you know the unusual way in which Jesus treated him. He spits on the dust of the earth and he gathers up what his spittle has collected and rubs it on the eyes of the man of the blind man. And then to he tells him. Go wash in the pool of Siloam.

Now we don't know exactly where this took place but let's say it was somewhere near the temple. To get to the to the pool of Siloam you have to walk down hill. And at that time they didn't have good roads and so you had to walk down stone steps and that was not very easy for a blind man. And it's a fairly long walk. At least when I walk it coming back up the hill I'm puffing by the time I get to the top of the hill.

So he goes down and he washes his eyes. He has enough faith. He says I'll do this and he washes his eyes and then his eyes are opened and the first thing he probably saw was the sunshine glittering on the water in front of it. Jesus the water of life.

Now I want you to notice especially how Jesus healed there. He didn't speak. He didn't put his hand on the top of the man's head. He didn't anoint him. He just put clay where the damaged part of his body was.

Now if you recall the continuation of the creation story in Genesis chapter two you may remember how God created Adam. He got down and he worked with the dust of the earth or the clay. And then he breathed in it the breath of life. We will study that this afternoon by the way. But in this case Jesus works with clay like he did in Genesis two when he made Adam. But he doesn't make the whole form of the human being and then breathe breath of life. He only puts the clay where the damaged part of the body is. And so John chapter five is a sabbath day healing which mirrors the creation in Genesis chapter one.

And John Chapter nine is a healing which was performed in a way to parallel the creation of Adam back in Genesis to the specific details. And you see he didn't need to make a whole man he just needed to make over the eyes.

So Jesus is saying not just that the Sabbath day is a day for me to carry out my healing but it is also a day which reflects back to the original creation. That's what the Sabbath was a memorial of and Jesus mirrors that in John five and John nine.

Now you know that when some of the Sabbath healing miracles took place the religious leaders of the time decided this man has got to go. We've got to do way with him. And so you see they said he was breaking the Sabbath by performing healing on the Sabbath day.

Actually if you want to read John five you will see his defense. He summons the the different witnesses, so to speak, all the way down to Moses in the Scriptures.

All right so we need to go to Mark chapter two. How could Jesus do this if this supposedly according to the Pharisees of the time contrary to the commandment. And so we have in verses twenty seven and twenty eight Jesus' comment about the Sabbath. And he was saying to them, "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Consequently the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath".

In other words he is Lord of that day. Really, He could do with it what he wanted. If he wanted to change it he could, he's the creator. He's a creator that created up to that Sabbath day. But he didn't. He says he's the Lord of the Sabbath day and he can use that Sabbath day in ways that are pleasing to him. And he carries out these healings as a symptom or a sign of the mercy and grace that he had for fallen and suffering human beings. And so we run hospitals that have to take care of the sick on the Sabbath day.

And Jesus even points this out he talks about, If" you had a donkey that fell in the ditch, wouldn't you pull him out on the Sabbath day?" Now there were groups of Jews who would not. The Essenes who lived down at Qumran at the monastery of Qumran. If their donkey fell in the ditch on the Sabbath they leave it there until the sun went down. Now the Pharisees would pull the donkey out so there was a split in the different interpretation there.

But here Jesus says He is Lord of the Sabbath. Now that incidentally has a testimony to Jesus as creator. There are four New Testament texts that talk about Jesus as creator. You know them well you know three of them well anyway. John chapter one verse three, Hebrews chapter one vs one and two especially verse two and Colossians verses sixteen and seventeen.

I'll add one more to that and that's First Corinthians eight verse six, "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live". Another text that you can add to the other three about Jesus as creator.

Well let's look at the sequence. Incidentally Mark 15:42 calls Friday the day on which Jesus died the preparation day. And that's the preparation day for us still you prepare for the Sabbath on the day before the Sabbath, Friday.

But let's look at Luke to see the historical sequence that happened. That is described by Luke at the time of the crucifixion. Luke twenty three and verse fifty six. All right, Jesus dies on the cross and he says he commits his spirit to God in verse forty six. And then you'll notice verse fifty four. "And it was the preparation day and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with him out of Galilee followed after and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes and on the Sabbath day they rested according to the commandment".

What commandment? You all know very well it's the fourth commandment. Can you imagine it. Here's the Messiah and the Messiah, the holy Messiah has died and yet they observe the Sabbath. And wait till the Sabbath has passed to complete his burial rituals. They don't use the Sabbath for those rituals, they wait until the Sabbath is over.

And then chapter twenty four verse one, "but on the first day of the week at early dawn they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared and they found the stone rolled away. And when they entered they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus". You know the rest of the story.

I want you to notice the sequence. The sequence right here at the end of Luke twenty three and the beginning of Luke twenty four. Jesus dies on the preparation day Friday, they return and rest on the Sabbath. Sunday morning first day of the week they come to the tomb to complete the burial ritual with all the spices and herbs that they had. So you have Friday, Saturday, Sunday, sixth day, seventh day, first day. And as they rested in the city, Jesus rests in the tomb.

And so you have another parallel here to the creation week. God rested from his work of creation on the seventh day and Jesus, the Creator, rests from his work of redemption on the Sabbath day.

You'll notice that the first day is not called, not referred to, as anything special. It does not have a special blessing with it. It does not say you're supposed to keep it. It does not say you're not supposed to work on it or that this day is holy. None of these are present here with the four references to the first day of the week when Jesus came out of the tomb.

Luke 4:16 is one that you know well. Jesus while Jesus was alive during his ministry he went into the synagogue in Nazareth and it says "as was his custom". And so the book of Hebrews says keep going to church brothers, I'm paraphrasing, so much the more as you see the day approaching. As the second coming which we will talk about next comes closer we're not supposed to abandon the fellowship of the saints. We are supposed to come to the fellowship of the saints more and more to prepare for that day. And what better time to meet than in the fellowship of the saints, in the church in the meal on the Sabbath day. No wonder it makes you holy.

Now there is a very important one and it's Matthew twenty four verse twenty people say well there isn't any commandment in the New Testament about keeping the Sabbath. Well I'm afraid there is. Matthew twenty four verse twenty. Jesus gives a prophecy and the prophecy was fulfilled. Forty years after he went back to heaven.

He went back to heaven about A.D. thirty one. This prophecy was fulfilled in the Roman war as you know which started in the year sixty six and Jerusalem fell in seventy. Temple was destroyed and so on and so forth and the people were exiled. Jewish Roman war finished in seventy three AD. It took them three more years to mop up the resistance at places like Massada.

Now what are those who is the accepted Jesus as the Messiah supposed to do during that specific time of war? And so he says, "but pray that your flight may not be in the winter or on the Sabbath". Isn't this a command? At least you're supposed to pray that you won't have to break the Sabbath.

Now we should look at some of the arguments that have been posed against this verse. Some say it was because they were afraid of the Jews actually the Jews in the mishna or the Talmud have the provision where you can travel on the Sabbath day in times of stress like warfare. You were permitted to do so in their regulation. Ordinarily a sabbath days journey was about two point two miles.

And this provision for Sabbath during war was actually carried out somewhat in trickery by a group of Jews who were fighting the Romans at the Sea of Galilee. The Roman army had mopped up most of Galilee but a man informed Titus the general leading the campaign that there was one nest of Jews over by the Sea of Galilee that he hadn't conquered yet.

So he takes his army over there and when he arrives the people say look we are just now beginning our Sabbath. It's Friday afternoon or Friday evening and our Sabbath starts. We will surrender to you after the Sabbath is over. This is our holy day to worship. And so Titus agrees and he withdraws his army a mile or two away. And in the meantime Friday night when it was dark the Jewish rebels the zealots of that's site set out on a forced march to Jerusalem. In fact the men who were going to fight even left their women and children  as strugglers behind them and the women were crying out Help us help us but the soldiers just marched on ahead to Jerusalem.

This is on the Sabbath. So you see in the first place it wasn't so much because of the fear of the Jews. And the second thing they say is well you couldn't get out of the city of Jerusalem on the Sabbath because the gates were closed. Well Nehemiah did that yes but you have to look at the changed circumstances in Roman times. Because some of the gates of the city were also the gates of the temple. And so in order for the people to come on the Sabbath into the temple to worship those gates had to be open and the you could go in and out. Whether you're coming to worship or you going from worship.

So the Christians were not pinned in the city of Jerusalem on the Sabbath they had. Ingress and egress on the Sabbath day they could come in and go out so. So that is what they did as reported to us by Eusebius the Bishop of Ceasarea which was the Roman capital.

In the fourth century early fourth century A.D. about three twenty Eusebius reports that the Jews in Jerusalem the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem fled down to the Jordan River. They crossed the Jordan River and went up the east bank of the Jordan to a place called Pella. And there incidentally is a recent archaeological report of ten years of excavations of Pella more than ten years actually. And so Pella was where they sat out the Jewish Roman war.

And Eusebius reports that not a Christian died in the siege of Jerusalem because they had left. Why did they leave? Because they followed the commandment of Jesus. And they did so according to the Sabbath commandment.

You see, during the the first attack for some strange reason never explained the Romans withdrew when they were right up against the wall of the temple. When that opening occurred it was middle of fall, late fall and the Roman army didn't return till the next spring. So the christians had opportunities to leave the city and to flee on days other than the Sabbath and before the winter got severe because the winter rains come to Jerusalem and Israel in november. That's when the kids go back to school nowadays.

So Matthew 24:20 does stand as a commandment or instruction or however you wish to put it of Jesus to keep the Sabbath. Forty years after his lifetime, his earthly life.

Sabbath Keeping in The Book of Acts

Now, I want you to notice the Sabbath keeping in the in the book of Acts. And we have Acts thirteen. I want you to just notice the places in Acts thirteen. There are three references to the Sabbath. The first Sabbath and then the next Sabbath that he comes back to the synagogue. And that's in Pisidia in Antioch which is in what we would call Turkey today or Asia Minor.

Then there's Acts sixteen. That's in Philippi and Greece Macedonia. And then Acts seventeen, the keeping of the Sabbath in Thessalonica. And he could only meet there for three Sabbaths and he had to leave under pressure. But then in Corinth.chapter eighteen. He spends a year and a half there and keeps the keep Sabbath regularly there.

So I added them up and I came to seventy eight Sabbaths. So you see you have three cities in Greece and one city in Asia Minor where Sabbath keeping was known and kept by the Jews across the Roman world .

But I want you to specially notice the one in Acts chapter sixteen the one at Philippi and Acts chapter sixteen verse thirteen says, "and on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer. And we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled". So you see the interesting thing  is in other cases it says Paul goes into the synagogue and so people say, to to excuse Sunday keeping, well this is just his custom to go to the the synagogue on the Sabbath because that's when the Synagogue met. And they say but he wasn't really doing it according the commandment. Well it was.

But I want you to notice this one which disproves that theory. Because in Philippi apparently there was no Jewish synagogue in the city. So he had no Jewish synagogue to go into to evangelize on Sabbath. So where does he go. He goes out by the riverside. To keep the Sabbath. To worship. To pray. A place of prayer and teaches, instructs, pastors and evangelizes. The women who are gathered there and one of them becomes a special disciple of his as you know. So we have these multiple references to Sabbath keeping throughout the book of Acts.

Now I will tell you a brief experience. I attended the so-called first international congress on the Sabbath. It was held at the University of Denver. We had forty different papers by all kinds of people from all different religious denominations, Catholics, Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews, Jesuits, Nazarenes, Baptists etc and Seventh Day Adventists.

And so an interesting one to me was we had a Jesuit from San Francisco. Who said in his talk that it's obvious that in the New Testament the early church kept the Sabbath. He said it is obvious in the whole New Testament. Then he says but God has given the teaching ministry to the church so we have been able to change it to Sunday. So that was his response to these biblical texts which we are looking at today.

Well you know I was the respondent to that talk and so I said, well it seems like to me what we should do is keep in the in line of what the Bible says. In other words you see there's a difference on the one hand we say the Bible and what the Bible says that's what we take, on the other hand there's Bible plus tradition as a source of revelation. And there's a there's a gap and there has been a gap ever since the Council of Trent on that point.

Colossians 2:16 and the Keeping of the Sabbath.

All right now I want to look at three texts that are proposed for Sunday keeping. And the first one is not so much about Sunday keeping but not keeping Sabbath and that's Colossians chapter two verse sixteen.

There's an interesting backstory to this text. You know Roger Williams, Roger Williams was a great pioneer of religious liberty and so he was kicked out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. And so he went down and was one of those who started the colony of Rhode Island.

And Roger Williams considered for a time keeping Sabbath. There are documents on file which is correspondence between Roger Williams and the Bell Lane Seventh Baptist church in London. And you see this discussion about the Sabbath goes back and forth in those letters.

And Mark Roger Williams finally comes down and says Well there are many good texts about the Sabbath but for me it's Colossians 2:16. And so I'm not going to keep the Sabbath. That's the text he finally settled on.

Now what does it really say. And I happen to have a Bible with me and like many bibles this verse has been mistranslated. "Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day". Wrong. Mistranslation.

All right what is it actually saying,  In respect to a festival, singular or a new moon, singular or  a sabbath day, wrong. It's a plural. Genitive plural. There's only two ways you can translate that you can translate it as Sabbaths plural which it is or you may not realize this but that word Sabbath in the genitive plural is used for the word for week. So you see when you go back to the gospels and Jesus rises on the first day of the week. He's on the first day of the Sabbaton with a long "o". This is the word that was commonly used for week.

And so one way you could translate this is, "and that no one judge you in regard to a festival, a new moon or a week. Well what weeks would the Jews have observe? They observe two special weeks. The first was the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was seven days long. That's a week. So they had a week in the spring following Passover. And in the fall they had a seven day, actually an eight day week when  they observed the festival of tabernacles or booths. And so they had a week in the spring and a week in the fall.

George Rice whom some of you might know he pastored over here in Maryland and he just retired recently. He said to me one time he says. Nobody's proved why they haven't or can't translate that as week. So you could translate it in respect to a festival a new moon or a week. That is a legitimate linguistic translation.

But I go with the plural Sabbaths. And then I want you to notice something special I want you to go back to Leviticus twenty three. Because we have kind of given a shotgun approach to Leviticus twenty three. And we really need to look at it a little more carefully when we say these are ceremonial Sabbaths (plural).

OK fine. When were the ceremonial sabbaths? The ceremonial sabbaths were only in the fall. There are none of the feasts or special days like Passover, Pentecost and so forth in the first part of the Leviticus two and twenty three down to verse twenty two. It does not call these ceremonial days. It calls them feasts or the days for holy convocation or so on and so forth. It does not call them ceremonial sabbaths.

Now look at Leviticus 23 v. 24 "speak to the sons of Israel in the seventh month please notice the month the seventh month. On the first day of the month. You shall have a sabbath rest. And reminder by blowing of trumpets a holy convocation". Alright that's the first ceremonial sabbath in the month of Tishri seventh month of the year. First day of the month ceremonial Sabbath.

Then look down at verse thirty two. This is the Day of Atonement. Now. It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you and you shall humble yourselves and so on and so forth. So here's the second ceremonial Sabbath. And then if you will look at verse 34 you'll notice that it gives us the feast of booths. Verse thirty four, "on the fifteenth of the seventh month it's the feast of booths for seven days to the Lord2.

And then you'll notice there's interval conclusion in vs thirty seven thirty eight and it takes up the feast of booths again. In verse thirty nine, "on exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month when you have gathered the crops of the land you shall celebrate the Feast of the Lord for seven days. And a Sabbath rest on the first day and a Sabbath rest on the eighth day.

These are the ceremonial Sabbaths of Leviticus twenty three. They occurred only in the seventh month. Why is that? because the seventh month became a sabbatical month. We have a sabbatical day and we have a sabbatical month. And we have a sabbatical year. Seven seven seven now in the seventh month. We have four ceremonial Sabbath. All in the seventh month. None of the feasts of the first half of the calendar are some ceremonial sabbaths.

Now. I want you to notice the progression in Colossians. It says a feast. Where's the first feast? That's the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Just after passover or a new moon. There is only one new moon in this calendar. It is on the first day of the seventh month. And then, "don't judge you in a feast". If you want to keep unleavened bread OK. If you don't want to keep it fine. Not a problem. The new moon. New Moon of the first day of the seventh month. And then come the ceremonial Sabbaths and then it says, "or Sabbaths" (plural).

So you see it fits the pattern. Paul's remark in in Colossians 2:16 fits the pattern of Leviticus twenty three that's what he's talking about Leviticus twenty three and he's giving you the parallels one two three in order. So you see it isn't doing away with the seventh day sabbath. It's talking about the ceremonial Sabbaths. We have four of them here. And he says well if you want to keep them, fine. If you don't want to keep them, that's all right too. And remember these are people in colossae and Asia Minor.

Does 1 Cor 16 Show That Christians Were Keeping Sunday As a Day of Worship in Place of the Sabbath?

I want to look at one more text before we look in the Book of Revelation. And that's first Corinthians sixteen. First Corinthians sixteen is a text which has been used frequently to talk about using Sunday as a day of worship. As a matter of fact, the text is exactly the reverse.

This is Paul's instructions and what Paul is talking about here is an offering and the offering is not for the church in Corinth where the letter was written to. This letter is for an offering for people in Jerusalem.

So are you going to take your offering to church? No, he says. Well let's go back to the collection, 1 Corinthians 16:2 "now concerning the collection for the Saints. As I directed the churches of Galatia. So do you also on the first day of every week let every one of you put aside and save that as he may prosper that no collection be made when I come. And when I arrive whomever you may approve. I shall send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem".

This is not for an offering for the prosperity of the work in Corinth. This is an offering for the poor saints who are starving because of the famine down in Judea. And he says, figure out your books, what you gained during the previous week; what you gave to the Lord on the Sabbath and then add it all up on the first day of the week when you start working again.

And set that aside so that doesn't become mixed in with all your profits for the next week and save it there at home. Don't bring into the church. Don't bring it to the church now wait until those whom I appoint come to collect the offering and they're going to collect the offering here. And they're going to collect the offering in Galatians. And then they're going to take it on to Judea.

This is not a call to worship on Sunday in Corinth this is exactly the opposite. In other words you're going to save up, set aside in your house the collection and maybe two or three months later they'll come by and pick up this collection.

This is not a Sunday worship text. It's exactly the opposite.

What Is The Lord's Day in the Book of Revelation?

Now let's go to the Book of Revelation as we come to the conclusion. Two texts I want to point out to you. The first one is the one that's much talked over and this is a Revelation chapter one verse ten, "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day" kuriake hemera. "And I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet". And then it says write the things that you've seen and so forth.

Now let's be true with the historical record. By about 188 AD saw the beginning of some church fathers to refer to the first day of the week as the Lord's day. That's the beginning, 180 AD. Then in the third century it became more common to call the first day of week as the Lord's day.

Most scholars have used the church fathers position to interpret Revelation 1:10 Lord's as first day of the week, Sunday.  Is that the hermeneutical rule by which we interpret this text? Do we interpret the text according to what the early church father said? Well it's interesting to see what their (early church fathers) observations were but that's not the hermeneutical rule we use when studying the Bible.

Therefore the hermeneutics say we should use the biblical text. Now the question is what is the Lord's day and how do we know? And we've looked at one text already Mark 2:28 and you know what it says, "the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath day. You have those two words right there kuriake hemera  only they're separated.

Now if you go back into the Old Testament. If you look at Exodus chapter twenty verse ten is another reference. And in particular one that we just looked at in Isaiah 58 "If you turn your foot away from on my holy day". Possessive. Possession. So God says in the Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible the Sabbath, the seventh day is my holy day.

And in the New Testament we've looked at one of those four texts that say, the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath Therefore I as creator I am Lord also of the Sabbath day. So we do not use the rule of acts of Jesus from the early church fathers but we use the rule of acts of Jesus from the Bible. And the Bible tells us what was the Lord's day and the Lord's day was Sabbath. Because that's the special day that he possessed.

One final text, Revelation fourteen. As you know these are the three angels messages that will be given, are being given, have been given right up to the end of time. And I want you to notice in particular the first angel's message.

First Angels Message and The Sabbath

First angel's message. Revelation 14:6,7 "And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven having the everlasting Gospel to preach to those who live on the earth and to every nation, tongue and people". Everybody's supposed to hear this message. What's the message? "Fear God give glory to him". Worship Him "because the hour of his judgment is come and worship him who made the heavens the earth, the sea and the springs of water".

Now an interesting reference here. The United Bible Societies Greek New Testament has a reference, a footnote and cites this phrase "the one who made heaven and earth and sea and springs of waters" directly back to the Fourth Commandment in Exodus 20:8-11.

All right you're to worship the creator. And these are all the things that he created. And when did he do it? He did it during the creation week and how did he worship? How did he celebrate? How did he memorialize? He kept the Sabbath day. He rested on the Sabbath day. And he blessed it. Particular blessing.

And notice in Revelation fourteen verse thirteen there is a special blessing for the saints who die in the Lord henceforth. And there is a special blessing for those who worship the creator according to the creators own day. So this is a message which is to be spread worldwide and it is due to be spread to worship the creator.

And what better way in which to worship the creator than on the creator's own day. And God bless you as you continue to celebrate this Sabbath and all of your Sabbaths according to the ten commandments written by the finger of God on Mount Sinai.

About the Author

I love good sermons and music

Get Updates

Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

Share This Post

Related posts


Text Widget

back to top