Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What day is the Sabbath?

For nearly 2,000 years, the Christian church has observed Sunday as the revered day of worship. Some denominations refer to it as the Sabbath, but others just see it as a special day.

Some followers of Jesus observe the Sabbath on the seventh day -- from Friday at sunset until Saturday night -- such as those who practice Messianic Judaism. Consider Beth Immanuel if you are looking for a Sabbath-keeping congregation near Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.

Most Christians acknowledge that we should be keeping the Ten Commandments. One of the Ten Commandments is the instruction to keep the Sabbath:
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 20:9-11; see also Deuteronomy 5:13-15)
Some theologians interpret the phrase "the seventh day" to mean every seven days or so from any arbitrary day of the week. For example, one could choose to observe the Sabbath on Wednesdays, and they could still be said to observe every "seventh day." For example, John Piper, a Baptist pastor in Minneapolis, Minnesota writes:
Third, the holy rest day should be one out of every seven. Verse 9: "Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God." Work six, rest one. Work six, rest one. That's the pattern prescribed in the Ten Commandments. Note it does not say that the sabbath ("rest day") has to be the last day of the week or the first day of the week. The concept of weeks is not even mentioned. The command is simply work six, rest one. Every seventh day should be a sabbath.
But when reading the Old Testament, we find that there is no question about which day is the Sabbath. While the Fourth Commandment does not explicitly state, "the seventh day of the week," it does appeal to the creation account and the special blessing and holiness that God specifically granted to the seventh day. This blessing and holiness was given prior to the giving of the law and even before the fall of man:
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)
When the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, they did not have a choice as to which day to take off:
Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field.  Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none." On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day." So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:25-30)
From here we can see that the original intention of the Sabbath was to be a specific day, the seventh day of the week, and that the entire people were to keep it together. In fact, the law instructed that if a person violated the Sabbath, they would be put to death (Exodus 31:15; 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36). Such a law would not be possible if everyone was allowed to keep their own personal day of rest whenever they liked.

So perhaps there are reasons that one can choose to observe whatever day he likes as the Sabbath. However, you will not find this justified by the commandments in the Old Testament. If we claim to observe the Ten Commandments, doesn't it make sense to observe them according to their original intention?

No comments:

Post a Comment