Is the Sabbath a Blessing or a Curse?

20131115-072039.jpgBy Leif L.

Introduction

The Sabbath is a weekly holiday or day of rest which is observed from sunset on Friday until dark on Saturday evening. It is found in the Ten Commandments:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11 (NKJV)

For thirty years I was in a Christian who was of the persuasion that the Sabbath commandment was a universal and perpetual obligation. I believed that the Sabbath was a moral imperative, even for Gentile Christians today, which required cessation from labour and secular pursuits on the seventh day of each week (Saturday). Business transactions, swimming, popping corn, riding bicycles and discussing “worldly” topics were seen as being displeasing to God on this day.

This is part one of a series of articles about the Sabbath. These articles on Solus Christus will explain some of the reasons why requiring new covenant Gentile Christians to observe the Sabbath (as a prerequisite to salvation, a mark of spiritual loyalty or a test of obedience) misses the mark. It fails to recognize the Biblical directives, original application, apostolic teaching as well as the authentic Jewish understanding of the Sabbath.

A Day for Refreshment

… in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. Exodus 31:17 (NKJV)

Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed. Exodus 23:12 (NKJV)

There is a beauty in the rest that the Sabbath embodies and represents. In a world where we are worn out by stress, continually pressured to make more money, and when important relationships are compromised to fulfil this never-ending quest, there is wisdom in setting apart one day in seven.

In this context the Sabbath serves man by breaking the cycle of slavery to a materialistic and consumption-driven world, giving us time to cherish God and those who he has put around us. It affords a time of healing and an opportunity for us to reset our priorities by offering a break from the treadmill of everyday life, placing a pause in our daily grind.

Our family continues to set aside each Saturday as a day of refreshment; it provides us with a weekly time-out. We are able to spend time together doing things that we would be otherwise unable to. These activities may include preparation for Bible class (my wife and I both teach Sunday School in an evangelical church), worship and singing, fellowship with friends, hiking in nature, solving a jigsaw puzzle, or reading together.

How could any fault could be found with such a good thing? Can a blessing become a curse?

The Problem of Sabbatarian”ism”

Though Sabbath is a potential blessing for those who take time out once a week, it is devoid of redemptive power, as is circumcision or the Passover. There was a time that I viewed the Sabbath as one of many necessary items to gain or maintain God’s favour; indeed most Sabbatarians feel deep down that their Sabbath keeping is a “means of grace”; failure to “keep” it results in a person falling from favour with God.

Sabbatarian”ism” takes a gift that God has given, and crafts it into a system of bondage. The Sabbath’s original purpose of breaking slavery is turned inside out when it is made into its own taskmaster and form of slavery.

Sabbatarian”ism” forms it into the core of a belief system and it becomes a spiritual identity, often prominently expressed in the names of Sabbatarian organizations and groups. Everything in life, whether practical or theological, spins on the centre of this one ceremonial command.

The primary mandate of Sabbatarians is to convince those who already trust in Christ that they are incomplete without this “truth”. In their missionary efforts, new believers stumble and reject the gospel, because they become confused or are unwilling to bear this yoke of bondage. The Sabbath is placed before them as an unavoidable gate of entrance into Christ and his body.

I have personally witnessed the door that it opens to rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, as I have known two bright and sincere Seventh-day Adventist ministers who converted to Orthodox Judaism because they could not reconcile keeping the sign of the old covenant while professing to live in the new. This reveals a fatal flaw in the “Sabbatarian” gospel, when even their ministers do not understand that they are complete in Christ and acceptable to God through His finished work.

The Sabbath Used as a Tool for Control

Ecclesiastical institutions control their members with the Sabbath. Using it as a tool to keep their people away from “apostate” Protestant “Sunday churches” gives the clergy job security, as well as dominion over their member’s spiritual lives. It offers them the opportunity to omit essential parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their teaching, without any challenge from outside sources.

Thus, like many Roman Catholics, Sabbatarians are often born, get married, and die in the institution which they are certain is “the only true church.” It is a deception, and antithetical to the principles of the Apostolic church, which was admonished not to venerate holy places, holy days, or holy institutions.

This form of Sabbatarianism is damaging. Whereas non-Sabbatarians usually leave preference of a day of rest or worship to the individual conscience, Sabbatarians weaponize this issue, using it to judge, condemn, ridicule and destroy those who do not agree. They withdraw from other Christians, and view themselves as spiritually superior to other believers based on their day of worship (aka, “Sabbath keepers” vs “Sunday-keepers”). It is elitist, legalistic, threatening and exclusive.

Those who become disillusioned with Sabbatarian institutions have usually been so prejudiced against non-Sabbatarian Christian believers, that they often leave Christ altogether, rather than seek fellowship and healing in a “Sunday church.”

They are “burned over”, because they have been taught that the Sabbath is the mark of demarcation between true and false Christians, and that Sunday observance originated with pagan “sun worship”. So, when they leave a spiritually abusive organization that misunderstands and misrepresents the gospel of Jesus, they write off all Christianity as “neo-paganism” and fall away. I know this, because I have good friends who have followed this path.

Thus Sabbatarianism is cultic, because it centres the Christian faith around an old covenant ritual rather than the Person and work of Christ. It calls people to separate themselves from the body of Christians who celebrate the Lord’s Communion together, to the observance of this ceremonial commandment, or else receive the mark of the beast, suffer the seven last plagues, and burn in the lake of fire. Nowhere does the gospel teach or even allow for such adherence to ritual.

The Sabbath Made for Man

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27 (NKJV)

Jesus taught that the intention of the Sabbath was to minister to the needs of humanity. Serving up the Sabbath with the threat of hellfire is a clear declararion that mankind is indeed the slave of the Sabbath.

Importance of Obedience

The true believer in Jesus Christ will be faithful to all the commandments and regulations of the covenant that he or she is in. Obedience will always follow true, saving faith. However, the obligations under the new covenant differ from the old, they are of a different order. They don’t consist in outward forms and ceremonies, but in changes to the heart, which were prefigured by the sacred forms and ceremonies of the old dispensation. In the new covenant, each of these take on a significance in the Person who makes them much more spiritually poignant than their shadows ever could.

Failing to recognize the purpose of a ritual or ceremonial law is not compensated by fastidiously observing it according to its former conventions. All the animal sacrifices in the world are unable to atone for a single sin, and the strictest form of Sabbath keeping is powerless to bring about the rest and shalom that is freely available through trusting Christ and his completed work on the cross for salvation. (See, Seven reasons the Sabbath law is ceremonial and not moral).

I realize that Sabbatarians are well-meaning. In their sincerity, they often suffer great hardship for their belief in the Sabbath, though it is through lack understanding that they bear a burden that Christians were never required to carry.

Legalism differs from obedience in this respect: legalism fails to understand the spirit and intention of a law through context, and keeps it blindly without regard to cost. Sometimes this cost is just too high.

Resolving the Sabbath Issue

It is helpful in this debate to distinguish between:

  • The Sabbath as a continuing obligation of refraining from work on one day in seven, in order to gain or maintain God’s favour, and therefore a necessity for salvation (attempting to fulfil the sabbath according to the old covenant), versus
  • The Sabbath as an obligation which has been fulfilled in Jesus, an observance which ultimately pointed toward our spiritual rest when we trust in the person and work of Christ for salvation (the Sabbath is realized in the new covenant)

A Blessing or a Curse?

So then, is the Sabbath a blessing, or a curse? That will entirely depend how you approach it.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10 (NKJV)

The Sabbath principle is certainly valid, and a benefit to mankind. Resting one day in seven has many positives, and is a practice which too few enjoy. Yet, once it is placed in the context of meriting God’s favour, and when what was intended as a ceremonial observance for a particular people is turned into an oppressive universal decree from which nobody can escape, it becomes a yoke of bondage. The day becomes filled with sunset calendars, a mental checklist of dos and dont’s, and the underlying sense that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to measure up to the lofty standards of not doing your pleasure or speaking your own words on this day.

My desire is that Sabbatarians would recognize what their salvation is founded on in the gospel. It doesn’t depend on your fulfillment of, but Christ’s fulfillment of, old covenant ceremonial observances. It is found in the rest that is only discovered in trusting the completed work of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Next: The Jewish Perspective of the Sabbath

The next Solus Christus blog post will reveal correspondence I have had with several Jewish rabbis, who have been kind enough to answer a short list of questions. Their replies represent the point of view of a people who have been the guardians of the Sabbath throughout the millennia. The Jews live and breathe the Sabbath, and their opinion has not been affected or altered by the arguments of Christian Sabbatarians over the centuries. It is based on a natural reading of the Bible in its original language, and guarded by the protection of a people and culture that would yield its life to be true to the commandments that they received.

Their perspective is both interesting, and challenging.

3 responses to “Is the Sabbath a Blessing or a Curse?

  1. Pingback: The Sabbath, II: Jewish Rabbis, the Sabbath and the Gentiles | Solus Christus | In Christ Alone·

  2. The sabbath commandment (law) entered that sin might increase — Romans 5:20

    That is, if the SDA’s believe that the 4th commandment is of the law!

    How’s that increase in sin going, dear little SDA’s??

    So far ya’ll sin against Jesus’ words in Mark 7:15, 20-23,, that it is not pork and lobster that is sin to eat!

    Ya’ll sin against Matthew 7:15-23, you refuse to find the false she-prophet in your midst, against Jesus’ orders! Look at verse 23 to get a preview of your future. No forgiveness mentioned!

    Ya’ll refuse to believe that Daniel 8:14 was fulfilled 2000 years ago or earlier, according to Jesus’ direct teaching in Luke 21:22! This sin increasing is really paying off!

    Ya’ll promote a false, 1844-concocted “jesus” handcrafted by Ellen G White. This is the sin of idolatry! Compounded interest on yer sin! James 2:10 reveals that all your many sins make you a total law breaker!

    Ya’ll go around boasting that you keep a day holy every week, Exodus 20:8, when such is clearly, scripturally just not so. 2-fer-1 special here — being deceived and bearing false witness! Big sabbath-fakery dividends! James 2:10 invalidates all your claims again.

    Ya’ll cut fellowship with Sunday-churchers every single week, yet another juicy sin. All because you imagine you are law keepers! And are not.

    Ya’ll teach into the book of Revelation that Sunday-churching is the mark of the beast. Better check out the penalties incurred over in Rev 22:18,19 for adding and subtracting! Ya might need some plague and fire insurance for your natural, unregenerated state of belief.

    Romans 5:20 wasn’t kidding around about pretend law-keepers upping the odds against themselves.

  3. Regarding:
    “Sabbath …  offers them (ecclesiastical institutions, clegy) the opportunity to omit essential parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their teaching, without any challenge from outside sources.”

    None of them, SDA’s for example, want to be deceived or capriciously controlled by others, but they willfully, deceivedly do it to others within their sphere, around the sabbath issue, at the soonest opportunity! Even their babies. They love sinning against Jesus’ golden rule command in Matthew 7:12! That big ka-woosh sound is their sabbath-keeping boasts being flushed down the drain, per James 1:22 and 2:10.

    Know which Jesus Commands SDA’s are breaking, making them utterly lawless?
    1. Golden Rule, Matthew 7:12
    2. Don’t be a hypocrite (demanding others to keep sabbath holy when you utterly fail to do it)
    3. Don’t worship Me in vain. SDA’s insist on disobeying this.
    4. Don’t be deceived
    5. Don’t deceive others
    6. Don’t bear false witness (that you keep a day holy, that you are Christ-followers)
    7. Don’t promote a false she-prophet, Matthew 7:15-23
    8. Don’t promote a fake, hand-crafted, 1844-concocted “jesus”
    9. Don’t be an idolator, worshipping your 1844 jesus 2.0
    10. Don’t take His name in vain by pretending to be Christ-followers
    11. Don’t defraud (stealing) people of tithe, offerings, and whole estates with your antichrist sabbath deception. Adventism is a multi billion dollar scam industry perpetuated on unregenerated people by actual ministers of Satan, posing in suits and ties as Christians.
    12. Don’t schism from fellowship with Sunday-churchers around this fraud that you keep a day holy! More sabbath-boast destroying sin!
    13. Don’t be a hearer of His NT teachings, but not a doer, deceiving yourself and others, sinning against James 1:22 (Jesus believes it!). More big fat, juicy, sabbath canceling sin!
    14. Don’t be a movement of 16 million idolatrous apostates (all SDA’s), quite a large sin.
    15. Don’t judge which portions of OT law you want to promote, as you now sin against Numbers 15:16 and James 4:17. The law is ONE, non-divisible. SDA’s who slice and dice the law keep no law at all! SDA’s who judge the law do not keep the law. They are deceived, sinning, law-pretending frauds.

    16. Do not dishonor Jesus, called “Everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6. SDA’s are the largest violators of the 5th commandment in the known universe! They have turned breaking their precious 10-commandments into a cottage industry. Such modesty! They keep no days holy. Zero, nada, zip.

    17. Stop murdering babies in your Adventist hospitals. Jesus never commanded you to kill babies, see Luke 17:1,2 for an accurate forecast. Your SDA failure to go jihad on this terrible sin is yet more, juicy, sabbath-breaking sin, James 2:10 also sin against James 4:17. Baby killers keep a day holy? Only in some reprobates deceived, condemned mind! Thistles do not bear good fruit. Deceiving babies and killing babies is rotten SDA fruit, see Matt 7:15-23 for the complete prophecy about SDA’ism.

    This is merely a starter list of SDA sabbatarian, cesspool of sins, easily proving their antichrist actions towards each other and outsiders. These clowns once deceived 19 year-old Walter R Martin that they were Christ-obeyers, when the exact opposite is the truth. And they were very proud of their accomplishment. They are in fact Christ-disobeying rebellers and very stubborn in their sin. This is accounted to all SDA’s (1Samuel 15:23) as witchcraft and idolatry, really, Satan’s little kids. Witches and idolators keep no days holy, are lawless, and deceivedly sacrfice to demons –see 1 Corinthians 10:20. They will never admit to sacrificing to demons, but they DO sacrifice to demons via their unscriptural, 1844-idolatrous, liar “jesus”, among the jungle of other sins.

    2 Corinthians 11:4,13-15 shows that the SDA’s are actually ministers of Satan. They have never kept a day holy in their entire, reprobate lives. Ministers of Satan, religious liars, keep absolutely nothing holy.

    James 2:10 is a meteor strike on SDA sabbath-boasting, showing that these wicked sabbath enthusiasts keep no law, no commandments, and certainly keep no days holy as Exodus 20:8 demands. They are morally crippled, soy-breathed, terminally deceived, dispicable spiritual liars, and outright thieving frauds, no matter how nice or sincere they may seem (part of their deceiving toolbox).

    SDA’s worship a fake jesus who came to fulfill animal sacrifices, but not the sabbath law found on parchment in Deut 5:12-15 (fulfilling Matt 5:17, Luke 21:22), and scapegoat law in Lev 16. Yeah, these religious goofballs know this! They promote this alien, foreign-to-scripture jesus, inadvertantly showing themselves to be worshipping a liar. Satan is a liar. Do the easy spiritual math to discover they are deceived Satan worshippers. They keep zero days holy! 2Corinthians 11:4,13-15 proves again they are ministers of Satan. Satan worshippers and Satan’s ministers keep ÑØ (NO) days holy! Zero, nada, zip. Never have and never will. What 1844-based frauds and tares.

    SDA’s spend their entire pork-free, wasted lives living the lie that they keep a day holy, divorcing themselves from those rascally bacon-loving Sunday-churchers who they are deceived by Ellen White into believing that Sunday-churching, lobster/bacon-breath folks will someday persecute the sabbath-pretending gluten-breathed Adventists! What a waste of oxygen! And SDA’s deceive their babies from birth into believing that fraudulent, sabbath-pretending, thieving religion. Just utterly detestable! — see Luke 17:1,2. It is God who will prosecute SDA’s to the eternal maximum 🔥for their fraudulent, satanic beliefs, their fake law-keeping, their witchcraft to Jesus’ teachings, and their blaspheming Holy Spirit. He does not owe them the ability to discern spiritual truth, and they have none, being rank, antichrist, willful, 1844-based idolators. Therefore He turns them over to their sabbath-flavored lies, their disobedience and idolatry, and sends them the strongest delusion ever, so that they might be destroyed, 2 Thess 2:10-12, tormented day and night forever and ever, Rev 20:10 (SDA’s even teach against their eternal torment that Jesus teaches, they cannot seem to blaspheme Him quite enough). Utterly fitting destruction for this unruly, abominable, religious club.

    Sent from my Galaxie Tab® E™

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