Sabbath Rest #10 - What it Means
As a final section of this Sabbath study, it’s important to end with some conclusions after covering a lot of ground.
There are clearly different perspectives to the Sabbath day; whether it’s still applicable to Christians today, if it remains the original Saturday, or has changed to a modern Sunday.
The Mainstream Sunday
The popular perspective on Sabbath-keeping within Christianity nowadays is that it isn’t necessarily still required. But, if it is, then it’s on a Sunday, not Saturday, in line with Christ’s resurrection and church patterns.
However, one point of agreement by the majority is that the ‘original’ Sabbath is actually a Saturday. Therefore, any change to a Sunday must be a new type of 'sabbath'.
Regarding other points of difference, here is a summary of the three key beliefs that those assuming the Sunday or no Sabbath tend to believe.
These are all now looking at this subject from this non-applicable or Sunday perspective, with the following four conclusions then relating this back to the Saturday Sabbath stance.
1. There is no longer an obligation to follow the legal obligation of the Sabbath in the ten commandments and other scriptural references
It is believed that Christ fulfilled all the law; therefore, we don’t need to rigidly follow these now.
The fourth commandment is also not a strictly moral one re-affirmed by Jesus in the New Testament as the Law of Christ (it was just a sign for the Israelites). Therefore, we need to love Christ the best we can and concentrate on the clear commands re-iterated in the New Testament.
Also, at Christ’s Transfiguration in the New Testament, Moses represented the law and Elijah prophecy; therefore, this was an assumed sign of these being done away with by Christ going forwards.
Taking a stage further, observance of this under the Ten Commandments can be viewed as irrelevant under the Mosaic law and representing death, not life. Nevertheless, the Jewish faith still follows this today because they still wait for the coming Messiah to fulfil this.
2. Christians now have an 'eighth-day' continual rest in Christ without the need for a weekly sabbath rest
God's first seventh day of rest at creation never actually ended, which man was supposed to enjoy forever. Therefore, sin had to bring God out of rest-mode and help bring about a new creation.
The seven-day weekly pattern is believed to be just for the Jews to comply with Christ and act as a memorial to God’s creation where they had lost their rest from sin in the Garden of Eden.
So, Christ’s resurrection on the first day Sunday created a new ongoing 'eighth day' spiritually, as the first fruits of a new creation. It is understood that once you are a true believer in Christ, then you have an overall rest 24/7, which is as good as it can be until heaven with a full and final rest.
References are also sometimes made to eight-day cycles in the bible (e.g. Nehemiah 8:18) and a missing day with Joshua.
Jesus also now becomes our Sabbath Himself, rather than a separate day or experience.
All the other six days now come up to the same level as the old seventh-day so that Christians can worship God any day and time.
3. Sunday observance is good practice as a new 'Spiritual Sabbath' in heaven (or 'Christian Sabbath') and 'Lord’s Day' to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection
Sunday observance is believed to have begun by the apostles under the Holy Spirit's guidance to celebrate the New Testament’s most significant events on a Sunday: Christ’s resurrection, and then Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The Saturday Sabbath is believed to be under the old Mosaic Law and reminds us of our sinfulness as the Israelites waited for Christ under the Old Covenant. The sabbath is therefore understood to be a shadow of rest, now available in Christ.
Therefore, it’s concluded that Christ appointed another day, Sunday under the New Covenant, to celebrate the new 24/7 rest with Him.
This has evolved as an acceptable church practice over the centuries across multiple denominations, with the Catholic Church's formal declaration as the new 'Lord’s Day'.
Therefore, it is assumed to be a newer and improved Christian or Spiritual Sabbath transferred to a Sunday for legitimate reasons.
The Four Final Conclusions
To finish off this section and study, here are four conclusions as take-away points.
1. The True Sabbath Day is Still a Saturday, Not Sunday
Even those who believe that Sunday is the new version of a weekly day’s rest agree that the original Sabbath day was and always will be a Saturday, as covered in section two.
This is the seventh day of the week, which the Sabbath is clearly identified as.
Therefore, a Sunday can never be the true or ‘original’ Sabbath.
It can only ever be brand-new ‘Lords Day’ that celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which was the first day of the week.
2. There is No Clear Instruction Either Way in Scripture to Keep or Not Keep the Sabbath Day.
That’s the bottom line.
No matter how many bible verses people quote on the subject, you still need to dig deeper into Scripture to see the underlying themes.
So yes, Saturday Sabbath-keeping is not that black and white in the New Testament. But neither is Sunday-keeping or ending of the weekly Sabbath rest.
However, it is clearly part of the Israelite’s history, with inclusion in the Ten Commandments.
Therefore, although this isn’t specifically reinforced in the New Testament as still being applicable, they are still in the top ten commandments of all time, now residing in the ark of the covenant in heaven.
These form the basis of the Moral Law continuing under the New Covenant and Christ’s commandments.
Also, no matter what doctrine you hold on the End Times and Christ’s Second Coming in the Book of Revelation, one thing is clear – that God’s people at this time are following His commandments and ways, therefore, getting to the bottom of whether you believe Sabbath-keeping is part of these is essential.
Even celebrations like Christmas and Easter, which are actually pagan-prescribed events and timings, are taken more seriously by Christians than a weekly Sabbath rest outlined in more detail within Scripture.
3. The Sabbath Issue is Bigger Than the Core Old and New Testament References
Taking a step back, the Sabbath was set up by God at the creation of the world before sin came into existence and blessed by Him.
Christ is the Lord of this day, which was made for man’s benefit.
It is also prophesied to still be in existence for eternity in the new heaven and earth afterwards.
It was the first general principle that God showed the Israelites as a test and seal of Him and His people after He redeemed them, and they came out of Egypt before any formal commandments were given.
It’s, therefore, both an acknowledgement and celebration of God’s original creation, and the redemption of His people.
It will also likely come back into focus, within both the wider secular and Christian worlds.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, there was talk of re-sets, and a new norm, including weekly rests to help people and the environment recover from things.
Having at least one day off at the weekend is something that everyone instinctively needs, even if they have no faith in God and His ways; in a society of increasing stress and illnesses, everyone will appreciate this more and more.
I think the confusion comes when we try and improve on this pattern from God, so maybe slowing down for a few hours here and there, but still, aiming for a hectic time now to say retire early in future years.
With this pattern from God, though, having a true daily rest from everything and focusing on Him one day a week will give you the energy and blessing to want to keep going in whatever you do during the week for the rest of your life.
I have found that even the Saturday rest always seems more natural straight after a working week than a Sunday one halfway through the weekend.
Also, when you apply the Historicism perspective of bible prophecy like all the old Protestant Reformers, you see the signs of Roman Catholicism coming against God’s laws and people, with a clear declaration of their right to change the Sabbath-day to the Lords Day on a Sunday.
4. It Boils Down to a Personal Revelation and Decision of Worship.
This is how it all began for me – God revealing the significance of this weekly day of rest in 2017 and how it is a blessing rather than a religious ritual.
I then had to unpack what this meant in scripture and Christian life.
I believe this needs to happen for everyone. Even if they accept this principle of the weekly Sabbath rest on the seventh day of Saturday, they need to see this in scripture and experience this from the Lord themselves.
As New-Covenant Christians, we are called to worship God and have an overall rest in Christ 24/7. The Sabbath day is then a specific day of the week with a blessing attached to it to practically rest and keep Holy as a fulfilment of this.
People need to give it a go. To decide to take a day off from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday as a Sabbath rest before the Lord – to cease work and daily activities, and treat as Holy in honour of God their Saviour.
A short and sweet way to summarise what this Sabbath rest essentially means is to 'not be worldly and work, but do good and Godly'.
Arguably this has never been as easy to do as right now following the Covid-19 pandemic, with people’s routines changed both in life generally and in the modern church, if they are actively part of a Sunday-meeting church as I have been for over forty years.
Taking Sabbath time out is now realistic, and then being open to the Lord revealing how things change in line with His will.