THE SABBATH ON TRIAL
An Examination Of Verses Commonly Quoted By
Christians To Refute The Seventh-Day Sabbath
A Compilation of Articles From Gates of Eden
Sabbath-keepers sometimes ask me, “How can we convince Christians that God still expects His people to keep the seventh-day Sabbath?”
I believe the best approach is to first of all point out the fact that the Sabbath was originally God’s idea, and not just some man-made rule. The Creator considered the Sabbath important enough to be written with His own finger as one of the Ten Commandments on the Tablets of Stone. It was God who told Moses to stone a man for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. And God let the exiles in Babylon know that Sabbath-breaking was one of the main sins that led to their nation’s judgment and captivity.
This information, which no Bible-believing Christian can deny, firmly establishes the fact that the Sabbath was valid before Christ came. The validity of the Sabbath before Christ is an indisputable fact, and not even open to debate. The only question then, is whether or not the coming of Christ abolished the Sabbath and/or changed it to Sunday.
We Sabbath-keepers do not need to prove the validity of the Sabbath. The validity of the Sabbath is firmly established in the Old Testament. The burden of proof is on those who claim that the New Testament invalidates the Sabbath.
Rather than trying to prove the validity of the Sabbath to Christians, we should ask them to explain to us why they feel free to ignore one of the Ten Commandments. Then when they quote the verses commonly used to refute the Sabbath, we can ask something like this: “Brother/Sister, can we examine this verse closely in its context, and see if it really conclusively proves what you are saying?”
Approach the topic like a defense lawyer in a courtroom. Your “client,” the New Testament, has been falsely accused of declaring the Sabbath null and void. Each Bible verse presented as “evidence” must be closely examined to see if it really proves what the other side says it does.
When evidence is presented in a courtroom, the defense lawyer tries to show that it is inconclusive, and only circumstantial evidence at best. As we examine the so-called evidence against the Sabbath, we can ask questions: “Is it possible the Church has misunderstood this verse? Is it possible to interpret this in a way that maintains the validity of the Sabbath? And if so, which interpretation does the context support — a pro-Sabbath interpretation, or an anti-Sabbath interpretation? And which interpretation harmonizes best with what the rest of the Bible says about the Sabbath?”
Our court system operates on the assumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. In the Sabbath debate, we must operate on the assumption that the Sabbath is valid until proven invalid beyond any reasonable doubt.
It is my prayer that these articles will show honest seekers of truth that the so-called evidence against the seventh-day Sabbath is no evidence at all, and that the New Testament has been falsely charged with nullifying this important commandment of God.
Readers are encouraged to respond. Comments, questions, or requests for more literature can be sent to: Gates of Eden, PO Box 2257, East Peoria, IL 61611-0257.
— Daniel Botkin, Gates of Eden Editor May, 1997
While going to the Methodist Church as a child, one lesson I learned was about creation in Genesis 1 and 2. The thing I remembered most was that it said God created the seventh day and sanctified it, and called it His Sabbath Day. One day early in the 1930s, I looked at the calendar and put my finger on Sunday and said, “One.” Then I put my finger on Monday and said, “Two.” And I continued across the page until I came to Saturday and it was seven. Well, there’s something wrong here, I thought. I better ask Mom about this. So I did.
“Mom,” I asked, “why is it we go to church on Sunday and call it the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day, and it’s the first day of the week, and the Bible says that the Sabbath is the seventh day, and that is Saturday on the calendar?”
Sadly enough, as many other parents answer their kids’ important questions, my mother answered with something like, “John, don’t ask such silly questions. Sunday is the day we go to church and you’re going and don’t try to wiggle out of it.” Period. I went. But I also said to myself that I believed Saturday was the Sabbath and if I ever found anyone who attends church on Saturday when I grew up and was my own boss, that was where I’d go.
— John Shirn, A Search For Truth
Galatians 4 and the Sabbath
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid for you . . .” (Galatians 4:9-11).
Shortly after I began keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, a good Christian friend wrote to me and expressed his concern for me by quoting the above verses, and adding, “I am afraid for you, Dan!”
Do these verses teach that Christians should not keep the seventh-day Sabbath? Did Paul regard the Sabbath as nothing more than one of the “weak and beggarly elements” that can ensnare and enslave God’s people? To answer this question, we must not ignore these facts:
1. Paul said to the Jews of Jerusalem, “I have committed no offense against the law of the Jews,” (Acts 25:8 paraphrased).
2. Paul said to the Jews of Rome, “I have done nothing against the customs of our fathers,” (Acts 28:17 paraphrased).
3. The Sabbath was a very important part of “the law of the Jews” and one of “the customs of our fathers.” Paul could not have made the above statements if he had not kept the Sabbath.
The above facts (and other verses that could be quoted) prove beyond any doubt that Paul was a Sabbath keeper. How, then, could Paul condemn Sabbath-keeping? Obviously these verses in Galatians are referring to some kind of “observing of days and times” other than the Sabbath and the appointed times of YHWH.
In my study of the Scriptures, I have always tried to let the Bible interpret the Bible. In other words, let the Bible define its own terms so it does not contradict itself. When the exact meaning of a phrase or term is uncertain, see if the subject is mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. The simple use of a concordance will often clear things up.
Is there any other place in the Bible that speaks of “observing of times,” and if so, does it give a clue to help us understand what Paul was talking about in Galatians? Two times the Torah mentions “observing of times,” and in both cases it is in the context of occult activities and heathen superstition: “. . . neither shall ye use enchantment or observe times,” Leviticus 19:26; “There shall not be found among you anyone . . . that useth divination; or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer,” Deuteronomy 18:10-11.
Obviously, God is not talking about His appointed times in these passages, nor was Paul talking about God’s appointed times in Galatians. The Bible condemns the observing of pagan times, not the observing of God’s appointed times.
History tells us that the pagans had many superstitions about which days and times were lucky or unlucky for certain activities. Like many of today’s modern pagans, they were in bondage to their horoscope. In ancient times this was known as being subject to “the elements of the cosmos [world].” Tertullian (2nd Century) described it as “the errors of physical, or natural, superstition which put the elements in the place of God,” Against Marcion, V. 4.
When we look at the context of the verses in Galatians 4, we see that it was the superstitious observing of pagan times that Paul was condemning, and not the observing of God’s appointed times, which Paul himself observed:
Verse 3: “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.
Verses 8-10, NIV: Formerly, when you did not know God [when you were still a Gentile pagan], you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles [KJV: “elements,” i.e., your former pagan superstitions]? Do you wish to be enslaved to them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!
It is clear that Galatians 4 cannot be used to condemn Sabbath-keeping, nor to justify Sabbath-breaking.
— Daniel Botkin
What Do You Do With Colossians 2:16?
Whenever the question of the Sabbath is discussed, those who do not keep it holy will inevitably appeal to Colossians 2:16 as their authority for disobeying the fourth commandment of God. What exactly did Paul mean when he wrote: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days,” KJV.
When we look at this verse in its context, it soon becomes apparent that Paul was warning about the “Colossian heresy” which was another gospel based on asceticism and the worship of angels, in order to gain assistance from cosmic powers. Paul was warning against three things that were being added to the gospel: (1) traditions of men, (2) the worship of angels, (3) submitting to the doctrines of men.
Colossians 2:4 “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” Verse 8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Verse 16, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.” Verse 18, “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.”
Colossians 2:20-22 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy is Not a Doctrine of Men!
Paul was not doing away with God’s commandment; he was warning against the false teachers who were saying believers must keep the festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths according to certain human regulations. The question we need to ask is this: “Was Paul condemning the Sabbath day, or was he condemning the doctrines of men who added ritualistic and ascetic restrictions to faith in Christ?”
In order to answer that dispute, one must look at the broad picture. There is not a single verse in the New Testament which states that Paul taught a new doctrine that canceled the Sabbath commandment; nor is there any record of a controversy between the Jews and Gentile Christians over Sabbath-keeping. If Paul had been teaching that the Sabbath commandment had been repealed, it would have split the Church wide open, and he would have had to answer the objections continuously in his epistles. Think about it. If the Jewish believers made such a fuss about circumcision being optional, imagine what they would have said about the Sabbath day being revoked.
At some point we must use common sense and reason to interpret what has been written. For example, does “Let no man judge you in meat and drink” mean that Christians can be gluttons and drunkards? Of course not, because you know that God’s Word forbids gluttony and drunkenness. Well, it also forbids Sabbath-breaking!
It is only logical to assume that if God was going to cancel one of His Ten Commandments, He would make that fact very clear. Surely, if someone said to you, “Let no man judge you in respect of murder or adultery” you would not assume that God had changed His mind about those sins without solid proof. Certainly, you would demand more evidence than one lonely verse in the book of Colossians. Or would you?
In addition to the Greek and Latin manuscripts of the New Testament, there is a third text called the Peshitta. The Peshitta (the oldest dated manuscript known) is from ancient Eastern manuscripts written in Aramaic, the natural language of Jesus. Hebrews 4:9 in the Peshitta text reads: “It is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the Sabbath.”
— Harold & Donna Kupp (condensed and edited by Daniel Botkin)
When Did They Gather?
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:7.
In the controversy over Acts 20:7, one of two interpretations is usually accepted. One interpretation is in defense of Sunday worship. The other, in protest to the Sunday idea, suggests that it was a Saturday night meeting. Let’s take a look at these two interpretations.
Supporters of the first interpretation use Acts 20:7 as a significant scripture to support Sunday worship, which has been fully embraced by most of Christendom. The entire support for this view rests in the translation. Most versions translate it, “And on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread.” First we must note that the word day is absent in the original language, so this verse would then read “And on the first of the week.” The second point most do not realize, is that in the original Greek text Acts 20:7 reads, “And on the first of [or, on one of] the Sabbaths.”
Εν δε τη μια των σαββατων
on And the first of the Sabbaths
You may ask, “If this is true, why do the translators render σαββατων (sabbaton, “Sabbaths”) into ‘week’?” One idea is that people used Sabbaths as a way to mark seven-day weeks, like the Indians used moons. “We were there three moons,” or three months. With this thought in mind one naturally understands Sunday as “the first of the ‘Sabbaths,’ i.e., week.” But as we have already pointed out, the word day is absent in the Greek text. Therefore one should not be quick to assume that “first” refers to any particular day, but possibly to a particular Sabbath, “the first of the Sabbaths” in a group of consecutive Sabbaths. But this doesn’t seem to make sense. The first of which Sabbaths?
Before looking further, let’s look at the second interpretation of Acts 20:7. There is modest yet significant support for believing Acts 20:7 refers to a Saturday evening service. This thought also comes from the view that the Sabbath was used to measure the week. It’s not rendered Sunday, however, because the word day is absent, and it would really mean just after Sabbath, meaning Saturday night. The only problem here is that no matter how one looks at it, after sunset Saturday, it is the first day of the week, Sunday, for sunset marks a new day. The idea of a Saturday night service does very little to correct the misinterpretation, because it could still refer to the first day of the week.
So how can we correctly translate and interpret Acts 20:7 in its original context? First let’s examine this idea of the Sabbath being a time marker. Is this a Biblical concept? In Leviticus 23:15, the LORD tells Israel that at the time of the Passover season, beginning at Firstfruits, they were to count off seven Sabbaths in a row, which is 49 days, and then count the fiftieth dayon the way to Pentecost. Thus they used the Sabbath as a measuring rod for the seven weeks leading up to the fifty-day count for Pentecost. The Bible does use Sabbaths as measuring marks, just as the Sunday and Saturday night views claim. It’s not this concept that has confused these two interpretations; the confusion comes from not looking at the proper context of Acts 20:7. Luke, the writer, was not thinking of Sunday or Saturday night. The gathering in Acts 20:7 was a Saturday Sabbath gathering. The meeting did continue on into Saturday night, but that is not the point. The point is that it was “the first of the  Sabbaths” between Firstfruits and Pentecost.
In Acts 20:6 we are told that it was the days of unleavened bread, and in verse 16 that Paul was hurrying to Jerusalem for Pentecost. Two important things here: first, that Firstfruits had begun; second, Pentecost had not arrived yet. So the context of verse 7 is just after Passover and prior to Pentecost. The Sabbath was used as the measuring tool from Firstfruits to Pentecost. So the most likely correct interpretation is that when the disciples gathered, it was “the first of the Sabbaths” in the counting off of the seven consecutive Sabbaths that lead to Pentecost.
We must never isolate a single verse from its context. We must realize that Luke was fully aware of the practice of counting the seven Sabbaths that led to Pentecost, and it was with this simple practice in mind that he recorded Acts 20:7. It was on the first of the seven Sabbaths toward Pentecost when the disciples gathered together. — Arthur Cox
The Lord’s Day
“I was in the Spirit an the Lord’s day,” Revelation 1:10
John’s mention of “the Lord’s day” is often quoted by Christians who worship on the first day of the week, Sunday, instead of on Saturday, the Sabbath. These well-meaning Christians sincerely believe that John was referring to Sunday when he wrote “the Lord’s day.” However, there is absolutely nothing in John’s text, or in the entire Bible, to indicate that “the Lord’s day” refers to Sunday. As a matter of fact, this three-word phrase, “the Lord’s day” does not appear anywhere else in the New Testament. In spite of the absence of any Biblical evidence whatsoever, Christians assume that by the time John wrote Revelation, the seventh-day Sabbath had been changed to Sunday and dubbed “the Lord’s day,” by the Apostles.
New Testaments with cross references in the margin usually refer the reader of Revelation 1:10 (“the Lord’s day”) to Acts 20:7, where the disciples came together “on the first day of the week” — although this is a mistranslation of Acts 20:7. The Greek text actually says “on the first of the Sabbaths,” (see Gates of Eden Vol. 2 No. 2). Cross references in Bibles can be helpful, but cross references are neither inspired nor infallible. In this case, the cross references cause Christians to erroneously assume that there is some connection between John’s “Lord’s day” and an imagined Sunday meeting in Acts 20.
It is true that later in history, some post-Apostolic Gentile church leaders referred to Sunday as “the Lord’s day” in their writings. However, this is not proof of an earlier Biblical or Apostolic mandate to abolish the Sabbath and replace it with Sunday worship. As David Stern remarks, “This only shows how quickly the Jewish roots of the New Testament were forgotten or ignored,” (Jewish New Testament Commentary, Revelation 1:10).
If “the Lord’s day” of Revelation 1:10 does not refer to Sunday, what did John mean by the expression? One possible explanation is that John was simply referring to the seventh-day Sabbath. I do not believe we can say that this is so with absolute certainty, but it is certainly a more plausible explanation than the Sunday theory. The conclusion that “the Lord’s day” refers to the seventh-day Sabbath is arrived at by asking a few questions:
The possessive form (“Lord’s”) is used to tell us that the day belongs to the Lord. So, which day of the week, according to the Bible, belongs to the Lord in a special way? Of which day of the week did the Messiah declare Himself to be Lord? Using the Bible alone as our only authoritative guide, which day of the week is most likely to have been called “the Lord’s day,” by a first-century Jew like John? To those familiar with the Scriptures, the answer should be obvious: the seventh day, not the first day of the week.
Of course the above explanation is valid only if John was referring to a literal twenty-four-hour day of the week. Some people, including many Bible scholars, believe that “the Lord’s day” does not refer to any particular twenty-four-hour day of the week, be it Saturday or Sunday. Rather, it refers to the end-time “Day of the Lord” of which the Prophets wrote — that period of history when God’s wrath and judgments will be poured out upon the earth, followed by the arrival of the Messiah, and the setting up of the Messianic kingdom. One only needs to read the rest of the Book of Revelation to see that the end-time Day of the Lord is certainly the major theme of John’s Revelation. Those who accept this interpretation, then, would understand, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” to mean, “I was transported in vision, by the Spirit, to behold the events that will take place during the period of history known as the great Day of the Lord.”
Some people have raised a legitimate question about the above view. If John meant “the Day of the Lord,” why did he write “the Lord’s day”? In the Septuagint, the Hebrewיוםיחוח(yom YHWH, “day of YHWH”) was rendered by the Greek expression ημερα του κυριο (“day of the Lord”), but John rearranges the words and uses a different form, τη κυριακη ημερα (“the Lord’s day”). Why does John render “the Day of the Lord” in a slightly different way than the translators of the Septuagint did?
There is no difference in the meaning of the two expressions; there is only a difference in emphasis. “The wife of the President” and “the President’s wife” is the same person. If I use the first form, I am emphasizing whose wife she is (“the wife of THE PRESIDENT”). If I use the second form, I am emphasizing her role as a wife (“the President’s WIFE”). This same rule holds true in Greek. The Prophets who wrote about the Day of the Lord were emphasizing who the Day belongs to (THE LORD); John was emphasizing THE DAY more than the Lord to whom the day belongs (see E. W. Bullinger).
John’s use of “the Lord’s day,” then, refers to either the seventh-day Sabbath or to the end-time period of history known as the Day of YHWH, or perhaps to both — it is possible that John was given his Revelation of the Day of YHWH on a Sabbath day. Whichever is the case, one thing is certain: Revelation 1:10 cannot be used to support the false notion that the seventh-day Sabbath was abolished and replaced with Sunday. The only place one can find Sunday referred to as “the Lord’s day” is in the anti-Semitic writings of the post-Apostolic Gentile church leaders who led the Church, a step at a time, away from the Torah.
“. . . All His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever.” Psalm 111:7, 8
— Daniel Botkin
Can the Sabbath be Kept on Any Day of the Week?
A few weeks ago I happened to hear a discussion about the Sabbath on a Christian radio program. The host of the program was interviewing a woman who had written a book urging Christians to keep the Sabbath. This author was telling Christian radio listeners about the wonderful benefits of keeping this neglected commandment. As she extolled the importance of the Sabbath and the blessings of Sabbath-keeping, her statements sounded very much like things I have said or written about the Sabbath. The only difference is that this woman keeps the Sabbath on Sunday, the first day of the week, instead of Saturday, the seventh day of the week.
The host of the live radio program was taking phone calls from listeners. One listener called and tactfully pointed out the fact that the Biblical Sabbath is actually Saturday, not Sunday. The caller politely asked how the author could observe Sunday and call that day the Sabbath, when the Bible never refers to Sunday, the first day of the week, as the Sabbath.
The host of the program was obviously annoyed by this caller, and referred the question to the author of the book. The author admitted that the caller’s observation was correct; the Bible Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday. However, she said, as long as we take one day a week to use for a Sabbath, that is all that matters. Most Christians use Sunday, she said, because that is the most convenient day to worship and rest. Some doctors that she knows take Thursday for their Sabbath; some pastors take Monday for their Sabbath. Which day of the week we use for our Sabbath is not important, she stated. It’s only the one-day-in-seven principle that is important.
And that was the end of that phone call. The host did not give the caller who raised the question an opportunity to respond to the woman’s remarks.
Is it O.K. to keep the Sabbath on some day other than the day which God has specified in His Word? The author of this book claims that she has experienced great spiritual, emotional, and physical blessings from consistently keeping the Sabbath every Sunday. I have heard other Christians make similar claims, referring to Sunday as “my Sabbath.” Can Christians experience the blessings of the Sabbath simply by proclaiming any day of the week “my Sabbath”?
The fact that some Christians derive benefits from observing Sunday as the Sabbath is not proof that God has authorized Christians to pick any day that they please. An atheist or an idolater can experience benefits by setting aside one day of the week for rest, relaxation, and meditation. An atheist or idolater who regularly practiced this would naturally improve his physical, emotional, and psychological health. One day of rest each week would naturally make him a more productive person during his six working days.
I will not deny the fact that Christians can experience blessings by observing Sunday. However, the blessings which they experience are the natural results that anyone, Christian or not, would experience from taking a day off to focus on other things. Of course the Christian, unlike the atheist, can experience spiritual blessings. However, these spiritual blessings have absolutely nothing to do with the real Sabbath; they are simply the result of setting aside some time to rest, worship, focus on the Lord, and have fellowship with other Christians. Of course these are the same activities which are to be done on the seventh-day Sabbath, but doing them on Sunday does not make Sunday the Sabbath, any more than celebrating Independence Day on August 4th would make August 4th the anniversary of America’s Independence. Even beer, barbecues, fireworks, and flag-waving could not magically turn August 4th into Independence Day. America’s Independence Day will be July 4th for as long as America exists. By the same token, worship, rest, and fellowship on Sunday do not magically transform Sunday into the Sabbath. The seventh day of the week will be the Sabbath for as long as the earth endures.
In the Bible the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath, and the Sabbath is the seventh day; the two terms are synonymous. The seventh day of the week is the only day of the week that God ever designated as the weekly Sabbath. It is the one day of the week of which Yeshua specifically declared Himself to be Lord. It is the one day of the week which He said was made “for man” (ανθροπος anthropos = all humanity, not just “the Jews”).
If our Creator has not clearly authorized anyone to modify His specific commandment, it is presumptuous for us, His creatures, to take it upon ourselves to tamper with His laws. When Yahweh gave Moses the instructions for the building of the Tabernacle, He was very specific about all the details. Read through these instructions in Exodus chapters 25-40. You may get the impression that God seems to be very picky about the kind of worship He will accept. When giving the plans for the Tabernacle, Yahweh warned Moses, “See that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown to you on the mount” (Exodus 25:40). The New Testament repeats this warning in Hebrews 8:5. Even under the New Covenant, Yahweh is still particular about the kind of worship He will accept.
Moses heeded this warning, and did all things “according to the pattern.” In the final chapter of Exodus, when the rearing up of the Tabernacle is described, we are told no less than eight times that the Israelites carried out the instructions “as Yahweh had commanded Moses.” When they completed the task, then “the glory of Yahweh filled the Tabernacle,” so much so that “Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of Yahweh filled the Tabernacle.”
What would have happened if Moses and Aaron had decided to make some slight modifications of Yahweh’s instructions? What if Aaron had said, “Moses, I know He said to put the lampstand in the holy place, but I think it would be better if we moved it forward into the next room, the holy of holies.”
I am not sure what would have happened if Moses and Aaron had rearranged the furniture to suit their own fancy, but I know what would not have happened: the glory of Yahweh would not have filled the Tabernacle. The Israelites would have had a Tabernacle without the Holy Presence of God in it.
Can you imagine Moses and Aaron waiting for the glory to be manifested, while God is waiting for them to get everything in its proper place? Can you imagine Moses and Aaron saying, “But Lord, we do have the candlestick in the Tabernacle! We’ve just moved it into the next room!” Ridiculous, you say? Perhaps, but no more ridiculous than Christians who say, “But Lord, we do keep the Sabbath in our church! We’ve just moved it to the next day!” The Church has rearranged the furniture to suit its own personal preferences, and we wonder why the glory of God is not manifested among us.
Some readers may say, “Daniel, your congregation keeps the Sabbath on the seventh day. Is the Shekinah glory of God manifested in your congregation?” If you mean outwardly and visibly, as it was in Moses’ day, no, not yet. But the glory of Yahweh has certainly been manifested to my inner man since I began keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. I cannot speak for every individual in my congregation, but I know that when I began keeping the Sabbath in 1989, I underwent a major spiritual transformation. I found myself propelled into a spiritual realm which was far more glorious than what I had experienced during my 17 years as a faithful, zealous, Pentecostal Christian. After I started keeping the Sabbath, I felt like I had truly been born again — again!
I do not question the reality or legitimacy of my spiritual experience prior to 1989. I am convinced that I had eternal life, forgiveness, and a true relationship with my Heavenly Father. I believe God winked at my ignorance of the Sabbath because mine was not a willful ignorance. But when the knowledge of the Truth comes, ignorance vanishes. Either that, or God sends strong delusion to keep the person in ignorance, because that person does not love the knowledge of the truth, and prefers to be willfully ignorant. (See II Thessalonians 2:10-12.) The thought of that possibility should terrify every Christian who is not sure whether or not he loves the knowledge of the truth enough to embrace it and walk in it.
The Sabbath is not the only thing that is out of order in the Church, of course, but it is one of the major things that is not being done “according to the pattern.” Christians seem to think that the Sabbath is a peripheral issue, and not one of the “weightier matters of the law.” Yahweh, on the other hand, considered the Sabbath to be important enough to be written with His own finger, as one of the “Top Ten” on the Tablets of the Law. He considered it important enough to have a man stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. And He made sure that His prophets told the exiles in Babylon that their Sabbath-breaking was one of the main reasons they had gone into captivity. Is it too far-fetched, then, to think that the Church’s spiritual decline and captivity may be due in large part to the Church’s neglect of the Sabbath?
Christians who have a vision for the restoration of the Church to her former glory sometimes quote Isaiah 58:12, a verse with a glorious promise of restoration. These Christians need to read the next verse, though, which explains one of the conditions of the fulfillment of this promise, namely keeping the Sabbath. And Yahweh is careful to tell us in this verse that by the Sabbath, He means the Sabbath He has designated. “My holy day,” He calls it. A substitute day which we have proclaimed to be the Sabbath is not His holy day.
Yahweh longs to fill the Church with the fullness of His Shekinah glory. But until we set things in their proper place, “according to the pattern,” we will only experience glimpses of His glory. I am thankful for those glimpses, but let’s not be content until we have the fullness.
— Daniel Botkin
The Churchmen Versus the Sabbath
Many churchmen use Romans 14:5-6 as proof that New Testament believers no longer have an obligation to keep the Sabbath day holy. So let us examine those two verses, just as a judge would consider evidence in his courtroom, and then decide whether or not they testify against Sabbath-keeping. Paul wrote: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth [observeth] the day regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”
The judge would ask: “Where is the Sabbath mentioned in those verses?” The Sabbath is not mentioned there, nor in the entire book of Romans! No court in the land would allow verses that do not mention the Sabbath to be used as evidence in an argument against the Sabbath — so why should we?
You see, Paul could not have been talking about keeping the Sabbath day holy because obedience to God’s laws is not optional. It is ludicrous to suggest that any of the Ten Commandments can be disobeyed “unto the Lord.” Think of the absurdity of saying, “He that stealeth, to the Lord he stealeth; and he that stealeth not, to the Lord he stealeth not.”
What then was Paul talking about? He was talking about fast days. The whole 14th chapter of Romans is about food and how we should not interfere with people’s beliefs about fasting. The fast days could be observed according to each believer’s conscience. A man could eat, or not eat, keep the day, or not keep it. It is as simple as this: Each man could observe FAST DAYS, or not observe them, according to his own convictions.
He that does not eat, regards the day. He that eats, does not regard the day.
The “days” to which Paul was referring were the traditional fast days mentioned in Zechariah 7:5-6. The Gentile Christians in Rome did not keep them because they had no cultural interest in the anniversary fasts that were observed during the Jews’ captivity in Babylon.
These are the four traditional fasts mentioned in Zechariah 8:19:
1. The fast of the fourth month, in remembrance of the breaking of the wall of Jerusalem.
2. The fast of the fifth month, in remembrance of the burning of the Temple.
3. The fast of the seventh month, in remembrance of the killing of Gedaliah, which completed the Dispersion.
4. The fast of the tenth month, in remembrance of the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem. (See Jeremiah 52:6, 12-13; II Kings 25:25, 1.)
It is of interest to note that those dates commemorate the judgments of God upon a people who refused to keep the Sabbath Day holy (see Jeremiah 17:19-27).
Even the Jews themselves had different convictions about the observance of those days — because those fasts were never commanded by God. After the Captivity (when the Temple was being rebuilt) the men of Bethel also wondered if they should observe these fasts unto the Lord. For example, they asked Zechariah: “Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as have done these many years?” (Zechariah 7:3) When you read Zechariah’s answer, notice the striking similarity of his words to those of Paul to the church at Rome.
COMPARE Zechariah 7:5-6,“When ye FASTED and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, DID YE AT ALL FAST UNTO ME, even to Me [the Lord]? And when ye did EAT, and when ye did drink, did ye EAT FOR YOURSELVES and drink for yourselves?”
WITH Romans 14:6-7,“He that regardeth the [fast] day regardeth it UNTO THE LORD; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that EATETH, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks and he that EATETH NOT, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us LIVETH TO HIMSELF, and no man dieth to himself.”
If you were the judge in the case of the CHURCHMEN VERSUS THE SABBATH, would you be willing to say that Paul had canceled one of the commandments of God based on the evidence you find in the 14th chapter of Romans? In our opinion, the evidence from Romans and Zechariah demands a verdict for Sabbath observance. The church must obey the Fourth Commandment, and that is the only decision that will uphold the Law of God.
— Harold and Donna Kupp
The Bible Sabbath Association, 3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718.
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