Was The Sabbath Given?
The following Bible study looks at the
issue of whether Christians are to observe the Jewish Sabbath.
There are a few Christian denominations that believe that Sunday is
not the correct day of worship, but rather the Sabbath is the day of
rest and worship, which Christians are commanded to keep. The
root to the answer to this issue can be found in the question,
"To whom was the Sabbath given to?" Was the
command to "keep the Sabbath" a command to the Gentiles, or
to the Israelites? To Jewish Christians, or Gentile Christians?
Although Genesis 1 gives the
account that God rested on the seventh day, nowhere is there any
record that the seventh day was to be a day of rest for all of
mankind. From the time of Adam down to the introduction of
Exodus, there is no mention of a law requiring men to cease work or
worship on the seventh day. It is only after God has delivered
His people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egyptian
bondage do we find mention of a Sabbath law. And as with all
laws, it is important to understand TO WHOM these laws were
given. Just as the citizens of New York are not under the laws
of California (unless of course a New Yorker was to visit California,
likewise the laws that God gave to Moses had in mind a specific group
of people with whom these laws were to apply:
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and [how] I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all
people: for all the earth [is] mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt
speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:4-6)
And God spake all these words, saying, I [am] the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of
bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.... Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy
work... (Exodus 20:1-2, 8-9) ...And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say
unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you
from heaven. (Exodus 20:22) ...Now these [are] the judgments which thou shalt set before
them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh
he shall go out free for nothing.... (Exodus 21:1-2)...
And for the next few chapters, dozens
of laws, ordinances and commandments are given to the children of
The covenant made with whom, and
ratified by whom?
And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.
(Exodus 24:3) ...And he [Moses] took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of
the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we
do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled [it] on the people, and said, Behold the blood of
the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.
The Sabbath(s)... A Sign
Between God and whom?
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily
my sabbaths 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. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it [is] holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth [any] work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh [is] the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth [any] work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore
the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, [for] a perpetual covenant.
It [is] a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for [in] six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
Leviticus (the book pertaining to the
Levites) closes with these words, regarding all of the commandments
These [are] the commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses
for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
The fifth book of the Penteteuch
includes many repetitions of the laws contained in Exodus, Leviticus
and Numbers. Among these are the 10 commandments...
And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them,
Hear, O Israel, the statutes 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 here 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 shew you the word of the Lord: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying, I [am] the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me...
(Deuteronomy 5:1-7) ...Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the Lord thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. 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:
therefore the Lord thy God commanded THEE to keep the sabbath day.
Now therefore hearken, O
Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach
you, for to do [them], that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.
(Deuteronomy 4:1) ...Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me,
that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do [them]; for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation [is] a wise and understanding people. For what nation [is there so] great, who [hath] God [so] nigh unto them, as the Lord our God [is] in all [things that] we call upon him [for]?
And what nation [is there so] great, that hath statutes and judgments [so] righteous as all this
law, which I set before you this day?
The commandments that were given by God
at Mount Sinai to Moses were to govern the to children of
Israel. God was their King, and His kingdom had laws and
commandments which the subjects were to obey. It should be
clear that those subjects were the children of Israel.
Those laws and commandments served many purposes:
1) Prior to fleeing from Egypt, the
Israelites were slaves. After passing through the Red Sea, the
Israelites were unorganized. Moses found himself in the role of
leader. It was impossible for one man to govern such a large
group of people. The Israelites were full of pagan ways and
ideas. The Israelites needed to be educated and organized if
they were to succeed as a nation in Canaan. The laws given to
the children of Israel were to serve this purpose, and of course to
draw them closer to the God who brought them out from the land of
2) Wherefore then [serveth] the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
3) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come,
we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Galatians
Source: Philip Kapusta