THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SABBATH
by Jeff Hagan
Debate remains as to whether or not keeping the Sabbath is binding on Christ followers today. In our passage in Exodus we read as one of the Ten Commandments to "remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." However, in our Colossians passage we read that legal commands are set aside, they have been nailed to the cross with Christ. Moreover, the Sabbath is mentioned specifically as being a "shadow of things to come" and the actual substance of the Sabbath belongs to Jesus Christ.
So, how do we rectify these passages for those who insist the Sabbath remains as binding to the believer today?
In my personal opinion, this is but a simple task. To start with, those who insists we are to worship on the Sabbath miss that the Sabbath, from its first introduction, is a day of rest. God "rested" from creation on the seventh day. No command was given citing it as a day for worship, we should worship every day.
As for the law of the Sabbath, a commandment given in our Exodus passage, we recognize it to be a ceremonial commandment not a universal, binding moral commandment. Do we just arbitrarily decide which commands are ceremonial and therefore not applicable? Of course not. We come to this conclusion by way of passages such as our Colossians passage and other discoveries in Scripture as well:
For starters, of the Ten Commandments nine are repeated in some fashion in the New Testament, one is not. The one that is not is "keeping the Sabbath."
Second, the Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic covenant, we are members of the new covenant.
Third, it appears the early church gathered on the first day of the week and not the Sabbath (see Acts 20:7).
Fourth, no commandment exists within the Old Testament for Gentiles to keep the Sabbath.
Fifth, in Acts 15 at the council in Jerusalem they did not bring out of that meeting anything regarding Sabbath enforcement on the Gentiles.
Sixth, in Romans 14:15 we see Paul forbidding Sabbath keepers from judging those who are not Sabbath keepers.
Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Instead, Sunday, the Lord's Day, is the day where Christians gather together to remember Christ's resurrection, which took place on the first day of the week, Sunday. For those of us who are believers every day is one of Sabbath rest, since we have "ceased from our spiritual labor" and are resting in the salvation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
With all of that said, let me address a caution regarding this issue. Is there anything wrong with worshiping on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath? No! There isn't. In fact we should worship God every day, not just on Saturday or Sunday. There is freedom in Christ.
Should a Christian practice Sabbath-keeping, or, not working on Saturdays? If a Christian feels led to do so then sure (Romans 14:5). However, those who do should not judge those who do not keep the Sabbath (see our Colossians passage). In addition, those who do not keep the Sabbath should avoid being a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 8:9) to those who do keep the Sabbath.
Galatians 5:13-15, is a good summary of the issue, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."