THE LORD'S SABBATH IS SERVING OTHERS
In our time, many groups of Christ-believers do not observe Sabbath anymore. Some groups believe that the Sabbath in the time of Christ is now observed on Sundays, considered by many as the Lord’s Day. Many groups completely shun the observation of the Sabbath believing that The Lord Yeshua discontinued this practice when He performed miracles on the day of the Sabbath; while many others believe that The Christ is now the Sabbath or rest, the Everlasting Covenant (Hen. 13:20) given by God unto His people.
There are a few groups who continue to follow God’s commandment of the Sabbath and their continued practice is relatively based on the observance of the Jewish people of ancient times. Among these groups is the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and other similar assemblies and factions. Christians or Jews, all of Sabbath observing churches assigned Saturday to be their standard day of Sabbath observance.
HISTORY OF THE SABBATH
The Lord God Himself gave the commandment regarding the observance of Sabbath to Moses and ancient Israel. He packaged this commandment with the Ten Commandments that He spoke to the Hebrews at Mount Sinai:
(Exodus 20:8-11 COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE)
8 “Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. 9 You have six days to labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Shabbat for Adonai your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work — not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. 11 For in six days, Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.
The Jews understood the Sabbath to be standard on the seventh day of the week and so they observed it on every Saturday. They even wrapped this specific commandment with countless more rules and regulations covering its proper observance. But were they spot-on with their understanding on making the Saturday to be the standard day of its observance?
THE CHRIST IS LORD OF THE SABBATH
While the Jews observe the day of Sabbath as a day of complete rest, The Messiah has shown them how it was really intended by God to be observed. On many occasions The Lord Yeshua was misinterpreted by His own people, especially from among the Pharisees, as having had violated God's commandment regarding Sabbath. Little do they know that The Savior was simply showing them the real essence of Sabbath and God's sincere purpose for commanding its observance:
(MATTHEW 12:1-8 NKJV in all succeeding verses)
12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”
3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
There was an instance when The Lord Yeshua and His disciples passed by the grain fields on Sabbath day, and being hungry pluck heads of grain to eat. The Pharisees who observed them readily pointed to The Lord this supposed infraction of the disciples. But The Lord responded with disagreement citing the instance when David ate the showbread in the temple and how the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath but yet they remain to be blameless.
Does this instance, and the way The Lord rebuked the Pharisees, show Him disregarding the Sabbath? Of course not! In fact, He ended His argument with His admittance that He is “Lord even of the Sabbath”. But why does The Savior’s outlook on the Sabbath differ from the observance of the Jews as given to Moses? Because, as The Lord declares, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”. Whereas the Sabbath practiced by the Jews was based on sacrifice, The Lord’s outlook is based on mercy. How did He prove his desire for 'mercy over sacrifice' to be the value of Sabbath in His time? He healed even on the day of the Sabbath:
9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.
11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
While the Sabbath practiced by the Jews commanded them not to do anything (including healing), The Lord Yeshua reversed this perspective by decreeing that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Does He have the authority to do so? Of course he does, He is the Lord of the Sabbath who possesses the authority from God (Isaiah 9:6 / Matthew 28:18). When He changed the paradigm on the Sabbath and show them how it could be meaningful to God He was simply doing what He has told His disciples: "... for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you (Jn. 15:15b)."
THE PROPHESIED SABBATH OF CHRIST AND HIS FOLLOWERS
The Lord Yeshua-Christos preserved the Sabbath and renewed its regulation. In fact, those who will follow Christ are prophesied to practice and keep the Lord’s Sabbath as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah:
2 Blessed is the man who does this,
And the son of man who lays hold on it;
Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
3 Do not let the son of the foreigner
Who has joined himself to the Lord
“The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”;
Nor let the eunuch say,
“Here I am, a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
5 Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.
6 “Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
8 The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says,
“Yet I will gather to him
Others besides those who are gathered to him.”
The prophecy spoke about the Son of Man who lays hold on the Sabbath (verse 2). We know that the one referred to here as the Son of Man is The Lord Yeshua (Matthew 16:13). The prophecy also mentioned about the sons of the foreigner and the eunuchs who joined Him (verses 3, 4 and 6) who will also be received by God under one condition – that they keep His Sabbath. Who are referred here as the sons of the foreigner? The Gentiles who also joined and followed The Lord Yeshua. Who are the eunuchs in the prophecy? For the understanding of all, the eunuchs during ancient time are men who were castrated at a young age so that they will grow up to be effeminate or unmanly as they were chosen to guard the females in the palace, like the queen and princesses, while the king and his soldiers deploy for long periods of time. This will give a sense of security to the king that the dignity of his palace is preserved while he was gone. Because they are effeminate and lacking testosterone growing up, they become gender-challenged and have the potential to become homosexuals. While this group of individuals (just like our present day LGBT brethren) were looked down as unacceptable in the olden times of Israel, they could now be acceptable to follow The Lord as long as they keep The Lord’s Sabbath.
UNDERSTANDING THE ESSENCE OF SABBATH
Let us revisit the Jews practice of Sabbath. Are they even spot-on with their practice of making Saturday as the standard day of practice for Sabbath?
Reading back on the commandment (Exo. 20:8-10), God said, “Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for Adonai your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work..." God did not specifically mention that all should have the same seventh day of the week as their day of Sabbath or rest. What God specified in His commandment was for all to work only six days of the week so that they can have a day of rest which should be set apart for God, in the same manner that even God took a day of rest. This should be a day intended to pursue the things that can give glory unto God.
What validates our understanding that the true emphasis on the Sabbath should be on its essence and not on having a standard day for all to observe?
“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words...
This statement of the prophet shows the right emphasis on the Sabbath to be that of honoring God, on the day that is set aside for Him, instead of pursuing things of pleasure that are just self-serving. Above all, The Savior himself validates our understanding to be aligned with His thoughts when He said this concerning His valuation of the Sabbath: "‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ (Mat. 12:7)". That is the true sentiment of Him who is 'Lord of the Sabbath' (Mat. 12:8).
PROOF THAT THE LORD'S SABBATH IS NOT THE SATURDAY OF MAN
Although we continue to promote the observance of Sabbath, however we do not promote it to be observed on a standard day particularly each Saturday. Most of those who observe Sabbath, may they be from among any of those Sabbath observing churches or Jews, believe that it was on a Saturday that God rested. While it is true that it was definitely on God's seventh day, it was definitely not on man's Saturday. Here's why not:
(2 Peter 3:8)
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Let us understand that God's day is not based on man's time. As declared by Apostle Peter, one day with The Lord is a thousand years for man. This only means that the day when God rested was not only on a Saturday of man's time but during a thousand years of man's time - it covered all of man's days within a thousand years (365 days/yr. x 1,000 yrs. = 365,000 days of man).
OBSERVING SABBATH FOR GOD IS DOING GOOD TO OTHERS
If the true religion, being the ONLY WAY unto God, is The Lord Yeshua-Christos (Jeremiah 6:16 / John 14:6 / John 17:21 / related reading: http://www.spiritualhouse.info/yeshua-is-the-true-religion), true service to God is service to one’s fellowmen, as also confirmed by Apostle James:
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
This statement of Apostle James mirrors the true sentiment of The Savior as He is all about performing works of charity and love. This understanding concerning religion really echoes how The Lord Yeshua “desires mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7). This is the observance of Sabbath that God wants us to continue in Christ. This is the Sabbath wherein, instead of not doing anything, we ought to do good to our fellowmen - for this truly glorifies God. It would be commendable to do charitable works especially on the day of the Sabbath for this truly mirrors the pure and undefiled religion before God – the religion of the Way who is The Lord Yeshua.
What we have presented here that must be the understanding on The Lord's Sabbath ties up with The Savior's teaching when He reintroduced all of God's commandments and summarized them into two commandments based on love:
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
May we encourage everyone to take a hard look and analysis on this presentation as this directly relates with that which gives glory to God our Father. As true believers we ought to always do good to our fellowmen as this is the spirit of The Savior We also encourage you to find a local charity that you can support especially on the day of Sabbath or Saturday, for in this acts God is greatly honored and glorified. After all, true service to God is through serving our fellowmen.