For me and my family, the Sabbath is truly a beautiful day, no matter what the weather outside. It is a day we rest from our busy work week. It’s a day we put chores and busy schedules aside and spend time with each other and our Creator. It’s a day we get to meet with God and thank Him for all of the goodness He provides.
I look forward to the Sabbath every week. It brings me great joy and peace to be in the presence of my King. It is my weekly appointment with Heaven. Not only does it bless me to keep the Sabbath, but it also pleases God when we choose to spend His day with Him – when we set aside our busy life to be in His presence.
God created this very special day just for us – to rest and refresh. He modeled this pattern for us during the Creation week. On the seventh day, He blessed it and made it Holy – He set it apart as His special day. It was on this day that He ceased from creating and was refreshed. Refreshed in Hebrew is naphash and means to breathe, breathe upon or be refreshed as of by a current of air. Is it possible that God breathes refreshment on His people who are observing His Sabbaths? I believe it is. The refreshment I feel after a relaxing Sabbath is nothing short of amazing.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it Holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation. Genesis 2:3
It is a sign forever between Me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. Exodus 31:17
Ever since Creation, the Sabbath has been a very important day to our Creator – and because it’s important to Him, it’s important to us. There are over 150 references to the Sabbath in the Bible. Scripture tells us that keeping the Sabbath is an outward sign that you belong to God. It is the sign that He has set us apart as His people, and that it is He who makes us Holy. Holy means “set-apart to serve God.” He wants us to be set-apart to serve only Him. Observing His Sabbath is a good way to do that.
And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep My Sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you (set you apart). You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is Holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, Holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between Me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’” Exodus 31:12-17
Moreover, I gave them My Sabbaths, as a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. Ezekiel 20:12
I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes, and be careful to obey My rules, and keep My Sabbaths Holy that they may be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God. Ezekiel 20:20
Contrary to popular belief, the Sabbath day is not just for the Jews or the Seventh Day Adventists. The Jews have been faithful in keeping it alive, but the Sabbath is God’s day. He makes it very clear throughout Scripture that it is HIS DAY. Because I consider myself one of His people, it is also my day. Because I love Him, what is important to Him is also important to me.
You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep My Sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.’ Exodus 31:13
Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:3
You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:30
You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD. Leviticus 26:2
To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, who choose the things that please Me and hold fast My covenant, I will give in My house and within My walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Isaiah 56:4-5
If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My Holy Day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the Holy day of the LORD honorable, if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 58:13-14
And keep My Sabbaths Holy that they may be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God. Ezekiel 20:20Additional Verses TO STUDY: Ezekiel 20:13, Ezekiel 20:16, Ezekiel 20:21, Ezekiel 20:24, Ezekiel 22:8, Ezekiel 22:26, Ezekiel 23:38, Ezekiel 44:24
Keeping the Sabbath is the 4th Commandment. That should tell you something of its importance. As a follower of God, it is my responsibility to keep His Commandments (His rules for life). You wouldn’t think about removing “murder”, “stealing” or “committing adultery” from the list of God’s rules for life. So why would you remove the Sabbath command? We don’t get to pick and choose what to obey and what not to obey. God wants ALL of our heart, mind and soul – and that means ALL of our obedience to ALL of His commands.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it Holy. Exodus 20:8-11
God is kind, loving and forgiving, but He expects us to obey Him once we covenant with Him to be His people. The Exodus 19 Covenant He made with Israel said, “If you obey My voice, I will take you as My people.” His voice spoke aloud the words of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai to the entire tribe of Israel, including the foreigners who came with them out of Egypt. He expected them ALL to obey Him.
Many think that they can just celebrate the Sabbath when and how they want to. God, however, is very specific about His commands for the Sabbath day. Let’s first look at what day God chose to be His day. Throughout all of Scripture, the Sabbath is the seventh day because it honors the day God rested and was refreshed after Creation. It was the day HE chose to bless and set-apart as Holy. Nowhere in the Bible does God or anyone else change the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week. (I will explain later in the article how man changed it by their own authority.)
And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it Holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation. Genesis 2:2-3
Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none. Exodus 16:26
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. Exodus 20:9-10
Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, Holy to the LORD. Exodus 31:15
Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, Holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. Exodus 35:2
Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a Holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places. Leviticus 23:3
Now let’s look at what we can and can’t do. The Sabbath is a day whereon He commands us specifically NOT to work (as shown above)… or to make others work by buying and selling (Nehemiah 13). Work includes what you do to earn a living (Exodus 20:8-11), as well as farming, cooking and baking (Exodus 16:22-26). It’s a day for holy gatherings or meeting with others to learn the Scriptures, even if that gathering is just your household. (Leviticus 23:3)
In addition, the Sabbath was to be kept in ALL of the Israelites dwelling places, even while they were dispersed among the pagan nations – and it was to be kept forever. When we choose to be His people, we become grafted in to the commonwealth of Israel no matter what our physical location (Romans 11). Therefore, we get to meet with God and partake in His beautiful Holy Day right here in America.
Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a Holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places. Leviticus 23:3
It is a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places. Leviticus 23:31
Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. Exodus 31:16
It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. Leviticus 16:31
Does it really matter to God how and on what day we keep His Sabbath? You bet it does! It was so important to Him that those who were profaning it by not keeping it as He instructed were to be put to death! The word for profane in Hebrew is chalel which means to dissolve or break – as in an agreement or covenant. To profane in English means to treat in an irreverent or disrespectful way. When we disregard God’s Sabbaths, we are treating Him in a disrespectful, irreverent way and breaking His covenant (Ezekiel 22:25-26). Israel brought God’s wrath on themselves by profaning the Sabbath. Do we also bring God’s wrath upon ourselves when we fail to keep the Sabbath as He instructed? I believe we do. God never changes – so we need to assume that His rules and punishments still stand today. (Read Deuteronomy 28)
You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is Holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Exodus 31:14
Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, Holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. Exodus 35:2
While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses. Numbers 15:32-36
Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My Holy things. They have made no distinction between the Holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Ezekiel 22:25
Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” Nehemiah 13:16-18
How did we get away from doing the Sabbath God’s way?
Before God opened my eyes, I wasn’t keeping the Sabbath His way. In fact, I wasn’t really keeping it at all. I thought Sunday was the Sabbath – and I didn’t keep it the way He instructed in His Word. One evening during our devotion time, my family and I were reading from Exodus. When we got to the 10 Commandments, we realized that we were not keeping the Sabbath command as outlined in Scripture. I started researching why and found some very interesting and disturbing facts. Let me share them with you.
Sunday got its name because it was the day that the pagan Roman cultures worshiped their sun god. How did that transfer over into Christianity? Let me explain. Paul had prophesied that apostasy would take place soon after his departure. He said there would be a falling away from the Truth. One doesn’t have to read very far in early church history to see just how that prophecy was fulfilled. Gnosticism began to rise up under the influence of philosophers who sought to reconcile Christianity with Paganism. At the same time, a strong anti-Jewish sentiment became more widespread. Very speculative interpretations began to appear regarding some of the great doctrines of Christ and the apostles.
Here’s a brief history from the Church of God International website:
The Watering Down of the Sabbath in the First 300 Years
The Christians during the apostolic era, from about 35 to 100 A.D., kept Sabbath on the designated seventh day of the week. For the first 300 years of Christian history, when the Roman emperors regarded themselves as gods, Christianity became an “illegal religion,” and God’s people were scattered abroad (Acts 8:1). Judaism, however, was regarded at that time as “legal,” as long as they obeyed Roman laws. Thus, during the apostolic era, Christians found it convenient to let the Roman authorities think of them as Jews, which gained them legitimacy with the Roman government. However, when the Jews rebelled against Rome, the Romans put down their rebellion by destroying Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and again in A.D. 135. Obviously, the Roman government’s suppression of the Jews made it increasingly uncomfortable for Christians to be thought of as Jewish. At that time, Sunday was the rest day of the Roman Empire, whose religion was Mithraism, a form of sun worship. Since Sabbath observance is visible to others, some Christians in the early second century sought to distance themselves from Judaism by observing a different day, thus “blending in” to the society around them. During the Empire-wide Christian persecutions under Nero, Maximin, Diocletian, and Galerius, Sabbath-keeping Christians were hunted down, tortured, and, for sport, often used for entertainment in the Colisseum.
Constantine Made Sunday a Civil Rest Day
When Emperor Constantine I—a pagan sun-worshipper—came to power in A.D. 313, he legalized Christianity and made the first Sunday-keeping law. His infamous Sunday enforcement law of March 7, A.D. 321, reads as follows: “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.” (Codex Justinianus 3.12.3, trans. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 5th ed. (New York, 1902), 3:380, note 1.) The Sunday law was officially confirmed by the Roman Papacy. The Council of Laodicea in A.D. 364 decreed, “Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honor, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ” (Strand, op. cit., citing Charles J. Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, 2 [Edinburgh, 1876] 316).
Ultimately it was the Roman Catholic Church, by their own power, who changed the Sabbath day to Sunday. In their own words:
- “The Catholic Church, … by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday” (The Catholic Mirror, official publication of James Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893).
- “Protestants do not realize that by observing Sunday, they accept the authority of the spokesperson of the Church, the Pope” (Our Sunday Visitor, February 5, 1950).
- “Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change [Saturday Sabbath to Sunday] was her act… And the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical authority in religious things” (H.F. Thomas, Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons).
- “Sunday is our mark of authority… the church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact” (Catholic Record of London, Ontario Sept 1, 1923).
A statement taken from the book, The Faith of Millions, p. 473, says “But since Saturday, not Sunday, is specified in the Bible, isn’t it curious that non-Catholics who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not from the (Catholic) Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistency, but this change was made about fifteen centuries before Protestantism was born, and by that time the custom was universally observed. They have continued the custom even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text from the Bible. That observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away like a boy running away from home but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his mother or a lock of her hair.”
Doing Bible Things in Bible Ways
Am I confident that God is serious about honoring/keeping the Sabbath HIS way as outlined in the Scripture? I am! He was very specific when He gave the people the Sabbath command – and He repeated it over and over throughout the whole Bible. Even throughout the New Testament we read that Yeshua (Hebrew name for Jesus) and His disciples rested and taught on the Sabbath.
In addition, God warns His people over and over not to worship Him the way that the other nations worship their gods.
You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Deuteronomy 12:31
And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. Leviticus 20:23
When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. Deuteronomy 18:9
So how do these handed-down traditions effect us? Following man’s traditions instead of God’s Way (Psalms 103:7) makes void the Word of God (Mark 7:6-13). Yeshua said just that when the Pharisees were elevating their man-made traditions over the Commandments of God. When we allow a man-appointed day to have priority over the day God said was HIS day, we are making His Word void in our lives. When we disobey by choice, our actions tell God that we think we know what is best – placing our authority over His – and making ourselves out to be god.
And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the Commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And He said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the Commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the Word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:6-13
In both Old and New Testament, there is not a shadow of variation in the doctrine of the Sabbath. The seventh day is the only day ever called by the name Sabbath in the entire Bible. Yeshua and His disciples kept the Sabbath. Yeshua was perfect with no sin in Him, so if He didn’t keep the Sabbath as outlined in the Torah, He would be sinning (sin is lawlessness – 1 John 3:4). Not once did Yeshua say that the Sabbath was done away with. He kept the Sabbath by teaching in the Synagogues on the Sabbath, as it was a day of Holy convocation (gathering). He confirmed in Matthew 12:12 that it is LAWFUL to do good on the Sabbath.
Not only did He keep the Sabbath, He encouraged people to obey the entire Torah! In His teaching in Matthew 23, He told the people to obey the Pharisees and Scribes in Moses’ seat because they were teaching the Torah, but not to do what they do because they were not practicing what they preached in the synagogues. He told the woman caught in adultery in John 8 to “Go and sin no more!” He said in Mark 1:15 to “repent and believe in the good news.” Repent from what? The only thing in Scripture to repent from – their sin/lawlessness!
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples,“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” Matthew 23:1-3
“Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:12
He went away from there and came to His hometown, and His disciples followed Him. And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue, Mark 6:1-2
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read. Luke 4:16
On another Sabbath, He entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. Luke 6:6Additional verses to study: Luke 4:31, Luke 13:10, Mark 1:21
Yeshua’s family, followers and disciples kept the Sabbath as well, even after He died and ascended into Heaven. If Yeshua did away with the Sabbath or the laws, wouldn’t they be the first to know? Had there been a switch from the Sabbath to the first day of the week, you can be sure the controversy would have been more explosive than any other issue to the Jewish Disciples. Even Paul, who many think opposed the Torah, kept the Sabbath. The Apostle Paul kept this commandment and testified in Acts 24:14 that he was, “believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” It was he who taught that the keeping of the law – which was holy, just and good – was not a means of salvation, but a result of salvation, an evidence that the love of Christ had entered one’s heart.
It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:56
As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the LORD. Acts 13:42-44
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:1-2Additional verses to study: Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, John 19:31, Acts 13:14, Acts 18:4
Not only was the Sabbath kept on the seventh day until it became illegal in 313 AD, but there are Scriptures that mention the Sabbath will be kept and the law will be taught when Yeshua returns. Not to mention the fact that the law will be in our hearts and on our minds under the new/renewed covenant at the resurrection, when we will all KNOW Him and we will not need to be taught. (Jeremiah 31:33-34). Why would God give us a list of commands in the beginning, tell us we don’t have to obey them for a while, then reinstate them again in the Millennium reign of Yeshua?
“From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 66:23
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:2-3 and Micah 4:2
If you feel drawn by the Spirit to honor God by keeping His Sabbath day Holy, here are some basic guidelines. Please search out the Scriptures for more details.
- The Sabbath is the 7th day (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown). (Exodus 20:8-11)
- The Sabbath is set-apart as a special day of rest to God. We are to focus the day on Him. (Exodus 31:15)
- No work or labor on the Sabbath. Labor in Hebrew is either avod meaning “tilling the ground for yield.” Work in Hebrew is melachah meaning “occupation or craftsmanship.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
- No baking or cooking on the Sabbath. The day before Sabbath is preparation day. Prepare/cook foods ahead of time so you just have to warm them up on the Sabbath. (Exodus 16:22-26)
- No buying or selling on the Sabbath. (Nehemiah 13:15-22)
- No making other people work on the Sabbath. (Exodus 20:8-11)
- The Sabbath is a special day for holy convocation – gathering with others as Yeshua did (Leviticus 23:3). If you don’t have a congregation that meets on the Sabbath, you could listen online or do a Bible study with your family. You can and should worship God EVERY day of the week. It’s not wrong to worship on other days, but the Sabbath should be a special day of gathering and fellowship.
When God opened our eyes to the truth about the Sabbath, our entire life changed. We started obeying His Sabbath commands and the blessings started raining down on us. We own a business that did a lot of business on Saturday, but obedience became more important to us than money. We closed on Saturday and trusted that God would provide for our needs – and He did not let us down! We are busier now than we have ever been. He is blessing us and growing our business in incredible ways. He even gave us another business to be stewards of! We are living proof that God is serious about obedience and keeps His promises of blessing those who obey Him (Deuteronomy 28).
If you would like to learn more about keeping the Sabbath, I have included some links below to websites and videos that may help you understand the importance of the Sabbath and why and how it got changed. Do you love God enough to obey Him? Be a seeker of Truth and trust in the entire Word of God. He will not let you down!
Please note: Although I may not completely agree with the entire philosophy of these resources, the specific content shared has been reviewed and is found to be Biblically accurate.
- Article: Was the Sabbath Changed to Sunday?
- Article: How the Sabbath was Changed
- Article: Changes made to the Ten Commandments by the Catholic Church
- Video: The Sabbath Day – 119 Ministries
- Video: Taking the Sabbath Seriously – Zach Bauer
- Video: Did Satan Sabotage the Sabbath? – Rob Skiba
- Video: Who changed the Sabbath and Why?
- Video: Sabbath – Messianic Torah Observant Israel – Part 1
- Video: Sabbath – Messianic Torah Observant Israel – Part 2
- Video: Sabbath – Messianic Torah Observant Israel – Part 3