The Sabbath Day
July 1, 1998 Issue

by Barney Owens

The Sabbath is a subject that has been presented in the past, but since it has been some time and since this question has been asked, it seems good to notice some things in reference to it.

First, A Lesson For Us All

There is not time to let down our guard and there is not an error that we can think has no merit or that will not possibly come face to face in our life. Some seem to think that there are some subjects that we need not present publicly because everyone knows what is right about it, or that there is little need to do private study because it may happen to others or in another place but not to me or where I live. The words of Peter need our constant attention:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: And be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (I Peter 3:15)

Regarding The Question

The inquirer wants to know, "why we are to keep Sunday worship and not Saturday?" If this is asked that the keeping is the same day on the First Day Of The Week as the Old Testament teaches the Sabbath was to be kept, then there is no similarity. I mean that the ordinances regarding the Sabbath are not to be applied to the Lords Day. But if it is meant that we "keep the ordinances" required of Christians in worship as delivered by the Apostles, then I am prepared to answer (I Cor. 1:2, etc.). We shall show before the conclusion that the Sabbath is no longer a command for Gods people, therefore the manner of keeping it is not observed.

The Meaning Of The Word Sabbath

The "Sabbath" is literally the seventh (7th) day of the week (each week) which was sacred to the Israelites, and upon which they were required to abstain from all work. This is the day that is commonly referred to as "Saturday." I am not advocating that "Saturday" is synonymous in meaning with the word Sabbath, but I am using it as a frame of reference to clarify the day meant. Nor am I prepared to defend the word "Sunday" as being synonymous with the "Lords Day" as far as meaning, but since it is commonly used I can refer to it as such because immediately all understand l am speaking of the First Day Of The Week. So, the Sabbath of our questions is "Saturday" and not "Sunday." That should be clear enough.

To Whom Was The Sabbath Given?

Bible students are aware, without my having to prove it, that there are three ages or dispensations in scripture: The first age began with Adam and lasted until the deliverance of the children of Israel under the leadership of Moses,

commonly referred to as the "Age of the Fathers" or the Patriarchal Dispensation. The second began with Moses being the Peoples Leader and the Spokesperson for God, lasting until the coming of Christ. There were Judges, Prophets, and Kings that delivered the law of God during this age of progressive revelation. But Moses was the prime source. It therefore is usually called the "Mosaic Age" or the "Jewish Dispensation." The last began with Jesus Christ Who is the Word made flesh and it was in His generation that the complete "last Will and Testament of Christ" was given to the world, and this will be the final age of the world, when Jesus comes again to judge the people. This we speak of as the "Age of Christ" or "The Christian Dispensation." Now what does this information have to do with the question at hand? Just this: The Sabbath is related to one of these ages in a way that is not true of the other two. Let me show you.


No Sabbath Command

No Sabbath Example

No Sabbath Punishment


No Sabbath Command

No Sabbath Example

No Sabbath Punishment


Sabbath Command

Sabbath Example

Sabbath Punishment

The Mosaic Dispensation is the one in which God's People were commanded to "keep the Sabbath." The manner in which they were to obey by observance is specified. There are examples of the people in that time observing the Sabbath in strict obedience to Gods will. And we find the punishment prescribed and carried out upon those who violated the Sabbath Day. Such is not true in either of the other dispensations. It is true that there are certain Christians who have been converted from the Jews who did go into the temple area and into synagogues in order to take advantage of the opportunity to preach the Gospel, but there was never a Christian taught to observe the Sabbath, certainly not commanded to do so, nor is there a prescribed punishment for the violation of the Sabbath, nor any of those prescriptions carried out by Christians. If there be such in the New Testament, then it should be easy to produce such passages or passage. The Sabbath was peculiar to the Mosaic Age, the Jewish people and the land in which these people dwelt.

To Whom Was The Sabbath Given?

This is a point that needs to be made in order to show that the aforementioned idea is true, as well as to demonstrate the fact that we aren't to keep it now, as it was not, and is not a day given to Christians.

And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, 0 Israel, the statues and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our Fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us alive this day. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, (I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to show you the word of the Lord: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount) saying...keep the Sabbath Day to sanctify it. As the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all they work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God...(Deut. 5:1-5 & 12-14)

Who is there to doubt that the covenant spoken of by Moses was anything other than the ten commandments given from Sinai? While space demands that I limit the passage quoted to the subject at hand, one can turn to the passages and read the entirety of it if any doubt prevails. Before us is the "sabbath day," the covenant containing or regarding the "seventh day" of the week. The day that is a "sabbath" unto the Lord, a day which Israel was to "sanctify" by failing to do any labor. Please notice that this was a covenant that WAS NOT GIVEN TO THEIR FATHERS, but was one which the Lord God made with them, even those were "ALL ALIVE THIS DAY." There is for a Bible-believing person little need to look further, if one should suggest that the SABBATH WAS KEPT BY THOSE PREVIOUS TO THE ISRAELITES' TIME, we know that such teaching is error. But let me suggest another verse in this setting.

And remember that thou wast a servant in the Land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: THERE FORE the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day. (Deut. 5:15, emp.mine BO)

Who received the "sabbath day?" Those that had been captives in Egypt. Who were commanded to keep the "sabbath day" Those that had been delivered and were given rest from their servitude. Why did God command them to keep the "sabbath day?" The key is in the word I gave emphasis, "THEREFORE." The word means, "for this reason." God wanted them to "remember" their former state of toil, from which they had been delivered and were able to rest, by "remembering" the "sabbath day," keeping it holy. The people living in the former age were NOT slaves in Egypt, Christians were NOT slaves in Egypt. The forefathers were not delivered from Egyptian slavery and given rest from toil, Christians were not slaves in Egypt and were not granted freedom by God, THEREFORE, please get that clearly, THEREFORE, neither is commanded to keep the "sabbath day" as a holy day unto the Lord God. Another passage:

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, verily my sabbath ye shall keep: for it is a SIGN BETWEEN ME AND YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. (Ex. 31:13, emp. mine BO)

First, be it known that the "generations of the Israelites" is no more, these ceased with the coming of the "seed of Abraham" and the fleshly descent of one is of no value, therefore, this passage limits the extension of the sabbath and the keeping thereof.

Secondly, the fact that God said "this is a SIGN between you and me," reminds of that the keeping of the sabbath day was not intended for any other than the people Israel after the flesh. No gentile was ever commanded to keep the sabbath day, it was for Israel only. If every people of every land, tongue, and lineage were indeed to keep the sabbath day, then it would have ceased being a "SIGN." This we recognize in other things. A sign is peculiar, particular, and unique. The moment it becomes general, universal, and widespread, it is not longer a "SIGN." When a young man makes known to a young lady his intentions of marriage, upon acceptance, he places a ring on her hand (our custom). This is a "SIGN" between the man and the woman--one man and one woman. But if he acts in the same way toward many other women, the ring loses its significance it no longer is a "SIGN." The SIGN was between God and Israel--not the people of former times and lot we who are Christian.

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