Is the Sabbath for Christians? Should Christians keep the Sabbath?
Well, yes and no. The concept is New Testament. Certainly we need a break.
Humans haven't changed. People need rest. That concept is New Testament.
But the Saturday Sabbath as a rule from God is not New Testament. There's how rest benefits your spiritual walk with the Lord. Right now, we want to tell you about a resource that will take you deep into Skip's catalog of works and grow your understanding of scripture even more. Skip often has the privilege of hosting guest speakers. Guests like Franklin Graham and Lee Strobel, who've become great friends to Pastor Skip Heitzig in this Bible teaching ministry.
Here's another, our friend Levi Lusko. What's life with Jesus like? It's life, not without storms, but going through storms with an anchor, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind the veil. An anchor for the soul.
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For example, if you want to learn more about science, get your copy of Skip and Friends when you give online in your bank account. but the seventh day is the Sabbath day to the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work."
Now watch this. You, comma, nor your son, nor your daughter, so this extends from you to your children, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, that would be your employees, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, that would be your farm equipment in those days, nor your stranger who is within your gates, or resident aliens who have come into the nation, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. So the Sabbath wasn't for certain people, for religious people, for people who felt like it. It was, according to the Ten Commandments, for all people. The entire nation took a rest because they were one nation under God, and the under God part was proved on the day they said, we're not doing anything today because the Lord God commanded that we take a break. We're gonna do it as a nation.
Now let me fast forward. Children of Israel blew that commandment and all the others, got kicked out of the land for 70 years in Babylonian captivity. Then they got brought back into the land, and the guy who was the project manager for the building of the city of Jerusalem, what was his name again? It was Nehemiah, right, it was Nehemiah. So Nehemiah comes back and he notices that all the people in Jerusalem are hard workers.
He writes their names, says this is what they're doing, this is where they're working, they're awesome. They put their hand to the task to build up the work of the Lord. But he noticed something else as well. They were also doing that on the Sabbath.
And we are told that he noticed the people in Judah were treading the wine presses on the Sabbath and bringing in the sheaves and loading donkeys with wine and grapes and figs and all kinds of burdens which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So what did Nehemiah do when he saw them working that hard? Did he go, you guys are so cool, I'm giving you a raise. You know what he did?
He became unglued. He said, are you nuts? No, I'm paraphrasing a little bit.
This is the NSV, the new Skip version. Are you nuts? Are you crazy? Don't you know that the whole reason we went into captivity is because we had been doing that for years? We didn't honor God on the Sabbath day. We didn't honor God in the Sabbath year. He took us into captivity.
What, you wanna do it all over again? They broke the Sabbath day. By the way, did you know that there was a time not too long ago in our country when all the stores in this country were closed on Sunday? They were closed.
They were called the blue laws. Retail was not allowed to be open. It wasn't like Sunday, stores are open. They were shut down. By the way, there's a country in the world where everything still is closed on Sunday.
You know what that country is? People say Israel, but they're open Sunday. Sunday's the first day of the week. They're closed Saturday.
I'll get to that in a minute. There's one other country in the world. They're shut down on Sunday.
It's a ghost town. It's the island nation of Tonga. And the reason I know this, and it's just a little FYI, is the reason it shut down on Sunday is the king of Tonga was converted to Christ and was baptized, and I know this because the one who led him to Christ and baptized him was my pastor, Chuck Smith. He listened to Chuck's messages, came to Christ, asked Chuck to fly over to Tonga and baptize him. He got baptized, and he decided, you know what? On Sunday, I want my nation to shut down and go to church. He's the king.
You can kind of do what he wants. So he did it, and to this day, that is what happens in Tonga. Now, somebody shouted out Israel. Let me just talk about Israel.
Since that is the subject that we're dealing with. If you go to Israel today, in modern Israel, they keep the Sabbath day. Retail stores, Jewish stores, are closed on Shabbat, the Sabbath day. There is no public transportation in the land. That is shut down.
Shops and restaurants are closed. If you go on a tour to Israel, and you are in a hotel on the Sabbath, you get on the elevator, and it's called on that day Sabbath elevator. If you've ever been on a Sabbath elevator, you know it's a long trip. Let's say you're on the 20th floor of the hotel, and you just were eating breakfast down in the lobby, and you've got to go up 20 floors. You can't just push 20 and go up to 20. The Sabbath elevator automatically opens and closes on every floor. You can't override it, so you get in an elevator, and doors shut, and they open up, and then closed, and 20 stinking floors.
And as Americans, we're trying to push the button. Come on, I just want to go to my room. I've got to get my Bible.
I've got to go on this tour. But you can't just go. It's a long wait, and it's designed to be a long wait, a long wait, because it's Shabbat, and they don't care.
In fact, if you are a business in Israel, and you decide to stay open, you will pay to the government 50% more tax on all the profit you make on the Sabbath. Goes up that high. So they still take it fairly seriously, not like in Nehemiah's day, but it still goes on. But here's the thought. Because everybody was taking a rest, the nation, the whole nation, it's like they could take a collective sigh. Everybody's like, whew, okay. Now we can relate to each other, not on a professional level, but a personal one. See, the Sabbath was the great leveler. Everybody has it off.
Nobody is trying to get ahead of somebody else. So rest, the Shabbat, the Sabbath, was designed to make you a better person, and to help you have better families, because you do it with your son, and your daughter, and everyone else in your family. For years, I have noted the contribution of an author by the name of Yuri Brofenbrenner. Yuri Brofenbrenner was a Russian-American psychologist who explored families in two countries. Soviet Union and America. He wrote a book called The Two Worlds of Childhood. He noticed something about our country.
I'm gonna throw it up on the screen. He said, in today's world, parents find themselves at the mercy of a society which imposes pressures and priorities that allow neither time nor place for meaningful activities and relations between children and adults, which downgrade the role of parents and the functions of parenthood, and which prevent the parent from doing things he wants to do as a guide, friend, and companion to his children. You see, the Sabbath day, the day of rest, allows for intentional relating with people, intentional relating, to give attention and affection to people around you. If everybody is doing the rest, it makes that possible. So the Sabbath is good for you personally. The Sabbath is good for you relationally. Third, and finally, we'll close on this note, the Sabbath is good for you spiritually.
It's good for you spiritually. Notice something in verse 14. It says, but the seventh day is the Sabbath.
Now, it says something else that I didn't read, we're about to read. God didn't say, the seventh day is just the Sabbath day. Notice what the Sabbath is called.
Here's the full title. It is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God. It is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God.
When you take a Sabbath, a Shabbat, you are acknowledging that He is your God, and that you trust Him, and you trust Him enough to let your work go, that He will provide. You are saying, Lord, you are my provider. I have what I have, not because I'm awesome, not because of my great skill and my great ability or my awesome work ethic. I have what I have because you allowed me to have it. You gave me this skill.
You gave me these resources. It comes from you. Moreover, look at verse 15. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
What is that? That's the Exodus he's referring to. You know, you guys used to be slaves, and just want you to remember that slaves had no days off until I released you. So every week, you celebrate a day when you are released from the slavery of work because I delivered you from Egypt.
Therefore, look at, let's finish it up. Therefore, the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. Now, I found a little piece by Wayne Mueller called The Sabbath Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest.
I'm gonna want you to see this. He says, Sabbath is more than just a day to catch up on television and errands. I'm gonna read that again.
We need to hear that again. Sabbath is more than just a day to catch up on Netflix or television and errands. Rather, it is a time when we take our hand from the plow and let God and the earth he created care for things while we drink, if only for a few moments, from the fountain of rest and delight.
So good. Just for a minute, drink from the fountain of rest and delight. So the Sabbath is good for you personally, it's good for you relationally, it's good for you spiritually. We have enough time to just touch on this subject.
Okay, all that's true. When did the Sabbath change from Saturday to Sunday? You want the answer?
Ready? Never. Never happened, didn't happen.
Never changed. Sabbath is still the seventh day of the week. Sabbath is still Saturday.
So when I say that, people say, okay, well then why do Christians meet on Sunday? And people who are Saturday worshippers, Sabbatarians, will say, Christians that worship on Sunday are honoring the worship of the pagan sun god, because Sunday was true, it was named after worship of the sun god. To which I quickly respond, well, when you worship on Saturday, Saturday was the day that they worshiped Saturn, and Saturday was Saturn's day.
Saturnus was the deity that was honored on that day, on the seventh day. So it also has pagan roots, as do all the days of the week. Well then the Sabbatarians get all up in arms, well, actually, Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday by Constantine in 321 AD. In the fourth century, it was a conspiracy to change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Well, you're right, Christians were meeting on Sunday, but long before the fourth century AD. In fact, in the New Testament, they were doing that.
And the reason they were doing it wasn't because it was a conspiracy, but it was a very simple basic fact. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. And the resurrection for us is everything.
It's everything. It's when every promise Jesus made, we believe, because that happened. That's why Peter said, we have a living hope because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So it wasn't the fourth century, it wasn't Constantine in 321. I want to briefly share with you some sayings of different people earlier than Constantine. For instance, Justin Martyr in AD 140 said, "'Sunday is the day on which we all hold "'our common assembly, "'because it is the first day in which God, "'having wrought a change in darkness, "'made the world, "'and Jesus our Savior on the same day "'rose from the dead.'" Going back a little further, Barnabas in 120 AD wrote, "'We keep the eighth day,'" the eighth day means the first day, because there's only seven days in a week, so that's an ancient way of saying Sunday, first day. "'We keep the eighth day with joyfulness. "'It is the day in which Jesus rose again.'" Ignatius, going back a little further, 110 AD, said of Christian believers, they no longer are observing the Sabbath, but living according to the Lord's day, by which our life sprung from him and by his death. Going back a little further to AD, or 90 AD, that's when we believe this document called the Didache was written. The Didache is a book called the Writings of the Twelve Apostles. That book says, and on the day of our Lord's resurrection, which is the Lord's day, we meet more diligently. Now all of the things I just read to you, all of those statements predate Constantine by between 180 to 240 years. But the real reason we meet on Sunday isn't because Ignatius did it, or because Justin Martyr said so, or because somebody else said so. We do it because the New Testament said so. All the way back to Acts chapter 20, this is Acts 20 verse seven, it says, now on the first day of the week, that's Sunday, when the disciples came together to break bread. So we understand, they gathered together on the first day of the week. It says, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. Now I just want to say something to you, if you get a little bit out of shape that I go 45 minutes in a Sunday sermon, feel yourself, count yourself lucky that I'm not Paul the Apostle, because we'd be here till midnight. And I appreciate that, but really, really, you don't want that.
You don't want that. First Corinthians 16 verse two, Paul said, on the first day of the week, each one should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income. Why the first day of the week? That's when they got together. Why did they get together? Because of the resurrection.
So think of it this way. The seventh day, Saturday, celebrates a finished creation. The first day, Sunday, celebrates a finished redemption. The seventh day, Saturday, celebrated Israel's rescue from the bondage of Egyptian slavery. The first day of the week celebrates our bondage from the slavery of sin because of the resurrection of Christ, the victory of him over death.
I wanna close on this question. If all this is true, and it is, by the way, if all this is true, then is the Sabbath for Christians? Should Christians keep the Sabbath?
Well, yes and no. The concept is New Testament. Certainly we need a break. Humans haven't changed.
People need rest. That concept is New Testament. But the Saturday Sabbath as a rule from God is not New Testament for three reasons. Real quickly, number one, we actually don't know when Saturday is. Calendars have so changed over the years that whatever the original Saturday was that celebrated God's ending of his creation for him to rest is lost to us. Could be Wednesday.
We don't know. So we really don't know when Saturday is, first of all. That aside, the Sabbath commandment, as we just read the last two weeks, is the only commandment that is a nonmoral and purely ceremonial commandment. Of the 10 Commandment, it is the only one that is nonmoral and purely ceremonial. So every other commandment is restated or reiterated or reintroduced into the New Testament except for this one. We're told not to kill people in the New Testament. We're told not to steal from people in the New Testament. We're told not to commit adultery in the New Testament. But the Sabbath is never mentioned for us to keep in the New Testament.
There is no New Testament command to keep the Sabbath. You never find Jesus, check it. Read all the red letters of Matthew, Martin, Luke, and John. See if Jesus ever said, oh, and by the way, I want you, Peter, James, John, and the rest of you guys and everybody who believes, to keep the Saturday Sabbath. Never find it. Never find it in the words of Paul the Apostle. Never find it in the writings of Peter. Never find it in the writings of John. Never hear it at the council of Jerusalem in Acts chapter 15. In fact, there's plenty of scripture that says really doesn't matter when you meet or what day you honor or what day you pick.
It's not a big issue. One of those texts is Romans 14. Paul said, one person esteems one day above another, another person esteems every day alike. Listen to what Paul says. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind.
So it's up to you. So here's my conviction. Sunday is the day to worship. And so is Monday.
And so it's Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. To me, every single day, every day, to me is alike. One man esteems one day above the rest. One man esteems all the days alike.
That would be Skip. Let each one be convinced in his own mind. Okay, I'm pretty convinced. Next, we can move on. You see, the Saturday Shabbat is a shadow. It's a shadow, it's a picture of the rest we have in Christ. Colossians chapter two, verse 16. I promise this is the last scripture. I will not go to midnight. Colossians 2, 16. So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.
So people get in your grill, you know me on Saturday. Paul said, don't even listen to it. Don't even worry about it. And here's why. Verse 17, for these rules were only shadows of the real thing, Christ himself. That's the real thing.
That's the real thing. You come to Christ, take a Sabbath by all means. For me, it's Monday. Take a day, unplug, veg out.
The concept is there. The day is unimportant. You're under a different covenant.
You're under a covenant not of law, a covenant of grace. And by the way, you may be the most rested person physiologically. In fact, after COVID, I think a lot of us are, right? The whole world is, like two years of rest for a lot of people. Maybe not everyone, but you may be the most rested person physically, and yet one of the most restless people, spiritually. And I may be talking to somebody who's restless in your soul, you're restless. You need to come to Christ. You haven't given Jesus your life. You may be all religious and you go to church and you do certain things, but you haven't rested in him. Today's the day to change that.
That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from the series Hustle and Grind. Now, we want to tell you about an opportunity you have to take your knowledge of God's word to a deeper level. Personal or small group Bible study is a great way to learn God's word. But what if you want to learn more?
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Thank you. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares why it's more important than ever to work diligently for the Lord. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, a connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
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