A Question I Was Asked:

"Surely the Seventh Day Sabbath Cannot be Challenged?"

The Actual Question in full:

I appreciated the research which went into your article on whether the Mosaic sabbath (as you refer to it, I myself call it God's Sabbath), still holds for Christians today (which is here). But surely this matter is much more basic than that. If the Lord God has commanded the whole earth to keep the Seventh Day sabbath, and if failure to do so will lead to being eternally cut off from God, do we need to know any more? You just have to read Exodus 20:8-11. Surely sabbath-breaking is why God allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed. Please consider the following verses from Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 17:21-27: '...Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;...... then this city shall remain forever. ......... v27..But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.'

Does any more need to be said?

The UK Apologetics Reply:

Firstly, you appear to praise our article, then you make comments which suggest that you never read that article, or, if you did, you only 'skimmed' it. Very strange indeed! But you need to loosen your intense emotional hold on the Seventh Day Sabbath and to undertake some very serious Bible study and research. I honestly feel that we have already covered this subject in depth, indeed, in very intense and scrutinizing depth. There are many points we could throw at you but, again, we have all been here before. Frankly, and it pains me to say it, you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.

Let me put it this way: If Sabbath-keeping is so important for Christian believers to embrace, how can one explain the following:

1. That some of the most heavily doctrinal New Testament books (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, First and Second Corinthians and Hebrews, for example) make no real reference to it?

2. That the most heavily theological of the four gospels (The Gospel of John) makes no mention of any need of Sabbath observance, but, rather, heavily associates Sabbath-keeping with the "Jews."

3. That the two late epistles from Paul to Timothy, which reveal a Paul (who appears to think that he was about to be martyred), telling Timothy what are some of the most important points of Christian doctrine for the early church to hold on to, and yet showing no interest in any Sabbath. If the Armstrongists and Adventists should be correct, can one seriously imagine such a highly conscientious man as Paul not saying something like, "Above all, make sure that the church continues to regularly assemble on the sabbath!" Paul never says any such thing because the matter of assembling on particular days is plainly, for him, a peripheral matter at very best.

Of course, most sabbatarians are not interested in any of that; they feel they have the Old Testament commands and need no more. This reveals that they cannot tell the difference between ancient Israel and the post-resurrection Church of Jesus Christ and it reveals quite a serious failure in understanding. It shows that they apparently prefer to stand under an Old Covenant (which never applied to them and is, in any case, now obsolete - Hebrews 8:13), rather than take instruction from the risen Christ Himself! I suggest that that is a very serious failure in understanding.
Jesus Himself said,

Mat. 11:28: Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat. 11:29: Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.
Mat. 11:30: For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

A Shadow of Our Rest in Christ...

Paul's clearest teaching on the sabbath is in Colossians 2:13-19. He is arguing that Christ has fulfilled the law on our behalf, having "cancelled the written code." Christ is our rest. That is why we no longer need the special rest days of the old covenant, whether a religious festival, a New Moon celebration, or a sabbath day. These are a "shadow of the things to come," of the eternal rest which we have in Christ. There is a "sabbath rest for the people of God." For Christians that day is today, tomorrow and. most importantly, for all eternity (Hebrews 4:1-11).
Adventists argue that in Colossians 2:16, sabbath doesn't really mean sabbath. To sustain their position they must deny the most natural reading of the text, and interpret it as a "sabbath year." Now there is a "sabbath year" mentioned in Leviticus 25:1-7. There is also, every fifty years, a Year of Jubilee. You will have to judge for yourself whether the Adventist interpretation has any credibility. At the very least, the interpretation is a mighty stretch.
I think it is clear that what Paul teaches here is true of all sabbaths, whether sabbath days or sabbath years. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses the same issue. The Galatians, just like the Colossians, have been preyed upon by Pharisees within the church (Galatians 4:17, cf. Acts 15:5), and are in danger of back-sliding back into Judaism.
Paul pleads with them:
"How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you." (Galatians 2:9-11).
You see, whether we interpret it as sabbath day or sabbath year is entirely beside the point. There are no longer any special rituals or ceremonies for drawing near to God. We do not please Him by observing special days, or seasons of any fixed duration.
A. Marshall. 2001.

The meaning of the Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus (as the writer of the Book of Hebrews also concurs with), so what more needs to be said? Paul the Apostle even said that there is no real difference between days, it is just a matter of understanding and conscience. See Romans 14:1-14. Further, the law only served as a 'child trainer' in order to lead us to Christ - see Galatians 3:23-25. The Old Covenant is now abrogated, it is set aside, in favour of the greater glory and greater knowledge of the New Covenant which Christ Himself delivered:

2Cor. 3:3: ... having been made plain that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, not having been written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not on tablets of stone, but in fleshly tablets of the heart.
2Cor. 3:4: And we have such trust through Christ toward God,
2Cor. 3:5: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God;
2Cor. 3:6: who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive.
2Cor. 3:7: But if the ministry of death, having been engraved in letters in stone was with glory (so that the sons of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses because of the glory of his face), which was being done away;
2Cor. 3:8: shall not the ministry of the Spirit be with more glory?
2Cor. 3:9: For if the ministry of condemnation is glorious, much more does the ministry of righteousness exceed in glory.

So Christians should not allow themselves to be concerned nor confused about various issues which arise from the seventh day legalism of certain groups which are out there.

'What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come...' (Galatians 3:19a).
'In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.' (Hebrews 1:1-2).
'For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.' (Hebrews 7:12).
'By calling this covenant "new" he has made the the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear.' (Hebrews 8:13).
'But now, by dying to what bound once us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.' (Romans 7:6).

Early Christian Sunday Worship...

Certainly in the churches which Paul founded, Sunday worship soon started to become the normal pattern. Now mark this: they did not assemble in order to 'observe' Sunday as a new sabbath but simply to observe 'The Lord's Day' (as the day of the resurrection). Exactly how soon the practice started is not entirely clear, but it appears to have been Pauline practice in the churches which he founded in Greece and Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) by about 50AD.

“Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

“But we sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” (Acts 20:6-7).

'Breaking bread' is, of course, a reference to Christian communion. The early 'Church Fathers' corroborate for us that first day worship soon became the pattern (note here), yet the foolish ideas still persist either that "Constantine enforced it" in the 4th century AD (even though Justin Martyr writes about assembling on the Lord's Day prior to 200AD), or that, "the Roman Catholic Church changed the sabbath day" (when that body did not even exist at that time). The confusion is not helped by certain Catholic writers arrogantly and erroneously claiming that they did indeed do this.

Finally, our questioner states that Jerusalem was destroyed because of the Israelite nation's failure to keep the Sabbath, as if no more evidence is needed. But, of course, Israel certainly should have kept the Sabbath, that law was at the heart of the Old Covenant which Israel had agreed to fully obey right back at Mount Sinai. Christians do not stand under that covenant.

I have just quoted various Scriptures here but the dilligent Bible student who wants to understand the Sabbath/Lord's Day question once and for all needs to spend many hours studying the entire New Testament, which contains the revelation of the New Covenant.
Robin A. Brace, July 30th 2009.

Again, to remind the reader of our main articles on this topic:

Why Worship on a Sunday?

A Sabbath Institution Error in Understanding

The Early Church Fathers and the Sabbath

Confessions of a Former Sabbath-Keeper

How First Day Sabbatarianism Entered the Church