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What is the Sabbath, and what does it mean for us today?

Re: Keeping the Sabbath

Postby jimwalton » Sun Jun 21, 2015 4:57 pm

Simon, excellent comments. Thank you for them. You're very correct about the corporate nature of worship. Of course you know that the expression "the Lord's day" only appears once in the Bible, in Rev. 1.10, and is thought by John to refer to Sunday, but there's no confirmation of that. The first day of the week is most often called "the first day of the week" (Lk. 24.1; Acts 20.7). There's no notion of it being the Sabbath, and it's not really regarded as any kind of an official "day". But I agree strongly with what you're saying about taking the Sabbath casually on any day you want and disregarding the assembling of ourselves together, contrary to Heb. 10.25 and the consistent practice of the early church. I was speaking in the context of a pastor who takes another day because his Sundays and Saturdays are often busy. Corporate worship is mandated, I easily agree.

I'm also very well aware of the easy slip into reckless freedom, but that's no reason to return to any kind of legalism. We must as dedicated Christians be wary of both extremes as a threat to life in the Spirit.

But just so you know, I'll summarize briefly: I agree with you, brother. I like what you said.
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Re: Keeping the Sabbath

Postby Steve » Sun Jun 21, 2015 5:25 pm

Naek, I am intrigued by the way you have worded your question. It implies that Shabbat is a sin. And therefore to ask indicates that you are uncertain of its place among believers.

Whenever you mention Shabbat among believers their immediate response is that it is the law and they are no longer under the law but grace, to which the verse that this comes from is often misunderstood and erroneously applied.

When you search the Scriptures, and by Scriptures I mean the entire revelation of Adonai—Tanakh and New Covenant, you will find a consistent position. It is a day set apart by Adonai, given to Israel as a Holy Convocation, to where Yeshua affirmed it, the disciples observed it and Sha'ul's practice when he traveled was to visit the Synagogue on Shabbat and convey the message of Messiah.

The support for another day set apart as Shabbat has been can truly not be supported by Scripture if you are rightly dividing it.

The change that we have experienced is a result of the absence of the Jewish foundation for believers post 70 CE and the destruction of the Temple and expulsion of the Jewish people from the land by Rome. Jerusalem was the center for believers in Messiah while its control and influence was distinctly Jewish. The further removed from this event, the more Gentiles influenced the direction of believers, how and what they did to the point that come to Constantine and the council of Nicea the change became a legal matter within the Roman empire and is documented. Consider the language of this excerpt...

“At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day And first of all it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin for we have received from our Saviour a different way…And I myself have undertaken that this decision should meet with the approval of your Sagacities in the hope that your Wisdoms will gladly admit that practice which is observed at once in the city of Rome and in Africa, throughout Italy and in Egypt…with entire unity of judgment.” (Vol. 5, p. 228). (note 3)

Canon 20 - Council of Nicea (325 CE)
"Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord's Day (Sunday) and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere (in every parish ), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing." (Source Catholic Encyclopedia)

Yet these decisions were man made and certainly not based on a proper contextual understanding of Scripture. To the point that some will use Hebrews 4 or Acts 20:7 to support this change again they are incorrectly understanding the Scriptures as they are presented and the context for which they are written.

So, in answer to your question, keeping Shabbat is not a sin in any way. Believe it or not, there will come a time when all believers, Jew and non-Jew will not only keep Shabbat, but the Moadim as well.

It makes you wonder, if the common mindset among believers is that these times have been fulfilled and you are not required to celebrate them, then why are they mentioned in a future tense in Isaiah 66, Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel Chapters 40 - 48, whereby all the nations will be observing them?

Re: Keeping the Sabbath

Postby jimwalton » Sun Jun 21, 2015 5:37 pm

Good points, Stephen. The Scriptures indeed never reneges on the Sabbath, yet you haven't addressed Romans 14.5-8 and Col. 2.16. We know that the words of Jesus regarding fulfilling the Law are variously (and sometimes widely) interpreted. We know that Paul told us clearly in Rom. 3.31 that he upheld the Law, and we know that both Jesus and Paul visited and spoke in the synagogues on Saturday (the Sabbath). In addition, where do Isa. 66 and Zech. 14 mention keeping the Sabbath? I know Ezk. 40-48 does, but not the other two.
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Re: Keeping the Sabbath

Postby Steve » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:08 am


A common mistake in understanding Colossians 2:16 is application of its context. Even though verse 16 references Moadim, Shabbat and eating from a Jewish perspective, Sha'ul is not negating them, but is addressing being deceived by human tradition. This is based on verse 8:

Col 2:8 Watch out, so that no one will take you captive by means of philosophy and empty deceit, following human tradition which accords with the elemental spirits of the world but does not accord with the Messiah.

Sha'ul then goes on to list various scenarios that could influence one's walk with Messiah. There are various "man-made" elements involved in the Moadim that would fall under this scenario as well. So, this isn't negating the observation, but the man-made additions.

Regarding Romans 14:5 - 8, again you must go back to verse one for the context of the passage. Specifically, it deals with those who are weak in their faith vs. those who are strong in their faith. Verses 5 - 8 don't mention any times specifically but are usually applied to justify why one does not recognize the Moadim or Shabbat. Therefore, if we live according to verse 8:

Rom 14:8 for if we live, we live in relation to the Lord; and if we die, we die in relation to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord —

would we not be incorporating these times into our lives? He created Shabbat, sanctified it, making it unlike any other day and then gave it to Israel as part of the Covenant affirmed at Sinai. Likewise, if we belong to the Lord, the Moadim speak of Him. Would we not do this if we belong to Him?

Regarding Isaiah 66...

Isa 66:22 "For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making will continue in my presence," says Adonai, "so will your descendants and your name continue.
Isa 66:23 "Every month on Rosh-Hodesh and every week on Shabbat, everyone living will come to worship in my presence," says Adonai.
Isa 66:24 "As they leave, they will look on the corpses of the people who rebelled against me. For their worm will never die, and their fire will never be quenched; but they will be abhorrent to all humanity."

In this passage, Adonai is confirming the fact that the Jewish people will not depart from the face of the earth and the promise that everyone living will worship Adonai on Shabbat. This is consistent with Ezekiel. Taking it a step further, I referenced Zechariah 14 because it references Sukkot and the nations. Further emphasizing that the erroneous understanding of fulfillment does not abrogate the significance and importance of these times for believers living today. The flaw in this thinking is in essence a replacement theology mindset that also conveys Adonai setting aside the Jewish people for a time and then will "deal with them" later. The reality of today is that there are more Jewish believers than at any time in history and will continue to grow.

So, going back to a verse that you referenced in a previous post - Matthew 5:17, I would strongly consider verses 18 - 20 for which I gave a sermon on two weeks ago, pertaining to "the least of these mitzvots"

Re: Keeping the Sabbath

Postby jimwalton » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:34 am

Stephen, I'm not contending that Paul was negating the Sabbath. We know that his argument was against Gnostics and Judaizers who claimed some sacramental value was found in their observation. Paul himself observed the Sabbath. And yet his context in Colossians 2 is clearly how the resurrection of Christ has changed how we relate to him. We don't relate to God any more on the basis of physical circumcision (11), obedience to the Law (14), not by the rationalism of the Greeks (8) or our understandings of elements, law, and epistemology. In Col. 2.20 (same context), Paul specifically aligns the Law with these basic principles of the world (2.8). We don't receive the Spirit by observing the Law, but by believing what we heard (Gal. 3.2). In Col. 2.14, Paul says the written code is cancelled (referring specifically to it obstacle in the forgiveness of sins). Paul is not just talking about pagan philosophies, but about the Law of Moses as well.

As far as Romans, I think you're being a little oversimplified. Of course the context is liberty, faith, and our lifestyle choices pertaining to weak in faith vs. strong in faith. Paul's comments easily apply to the clash of the church with its culture in the eating of meat, but we all know that the church was clashing with itself in a Jew vs. Gentile mentality. The Jewish Christians still observed the Sabbath on Saturday, the Gentile Christians observed the first day of the week in honor of Christ's resurrection. Paul pleads for LIBERTY. There is freedom in the non-essentials, and Sabbath worship on Saturday was one of those. We know there was a strong movement to keep Jewish elements in the church. Paul in Galatians makes a strong case to dislodge from those constraints, and even the apostles in Acts 15.28-29 do NOT require Sabbath observance.
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Re: Keeping the Sabbath

Postby Simple Simon » Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:12 pm

Corporate worship on the Lord's Day is not about compulsion or law it's a demonstration of love for Christ and His people. Local Church is also one of the means of grace God has instituted for us. Therefore if we meet on a Sunday or a Saturday, we should be there. It's about godly desire and mutual encouragement and experiencing the Lord TOGETHER.
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Re: Keeping the Sabbath

Postby jimwalton » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:37 pm

Simon, by my perception, you and I are probably in a lot of agreement. Let's just talk about the Sabbath some more. I think we see eye to eye, mostly.

The Sabbath in the OT was not a corporate worship day, and actually had nothing to do with worship. On the Sabbath they rested from their labors, but they didn't assemble for worship. There were annual festivals, but they were linked with seasons and days, not with the weekly Sabbath. There were three times a year when the nation was to gather in Jerusalem for special religious observance, but that wasn't connected with the Sabbath either.

If we go to the post-resurrection church, I'm not aware that there is any connection between the Lord's Day and the Sabbath. As far as I know, they were two completely different things. The only specific mention of "The Lord's Day" is in Revelation 1.10. Most people take it to mean Sunday, but some interpret it as the beginning of the judgment of the Tribulation and the Millennium. The usual NT expression for the first day of the week, the day the Church assembled for worship, was "the first day of the week" (Acts 20.7).

Frankly, we don't know very much about the worship habits of the early church. There is no particular mention of Sabbath observance in the NT church, but that doesn't mean they didn't keep the Sabbath on Saturday. The argument from silence isn't valid. We don't really know what their practice was, and therein lies the problem of discussion about the Sabbath in the 3rd millennium here.

Acts and the Epistles are unclear.

Acts 2.1: "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place." Pentecost was on a Sunday, so we see the believers gathered on a Sunday.
Acts 2.42-47 doesn't mention what day they gathered, except "every day".
Acts 5.12. The believers met together in Solomon's Colonnade, but we don't know what day.
Acts 5.42 mentions "day after day," with no specific day.
Acts 20.7 mentions that the church gathered on Sunday to break bread and be taught.
1 Cor. 16.2 implies they gathered on Sundays.

We don't know much about their views on honoring the Sabbath day. The Gentile Church obviously didn't have to honor the Sabbath day since it is not included in the directives after the Jerusalem council in Acts 15.20, or anywhere else for that matter.

I agree with you that what's important is (1) gathering together as a Church, (2) worshipping the Lord, and (3) edifying and equipping the Body of Christ, whether it's on Saturday or Sunday.

The truth is, we hardly know anything about this stuff, and that's why there is so much debate and disagreement now.

Last bumped by Anonymous on Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:37 pm.
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