A Question I Was Asked:

Does the Sabbath Carry a Special Blessing?

The Question:

I have been researching the sabbath and been intrigued by the idea of the day being blessed.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. (Genesis 2:3).

Does this mean there is a blessing to those who keep the sabbath? Do you have any insight on this?

Also, in Mark it says:

"And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:" (Mark 2:27).

If the sabbath was made for man, should we not take advantage of the sabbath?
Genesis 2:3 says:

"And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

Does not "sanctified it" mean set apart. Not any day of the week, but the seventh day.(saturday)? In Exodus we read this:

"For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:11).

This looks like the sabbath given to the Jews is the same "seventh day" as in Genesis 2:3. I am looking forward to hearing your views on this.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, well perhaps you are not to know this (our regular visitors do!), but this is a subject which this website has dealt with pretty exhaustively over the years.

The seventh day Sabbath was given to Old Testament, or old covenant, Israel, and we may read about it in the relevant Scriptures (Exodus through Deuteronomy). In fact, it was the identifying sign of Israel. Whether the Friday sunset to Saturday sunset specific period of time (which was given to Israel) was the exact same one-day-in-seven period of time that God rested from Creation upon is a difficult one; we just don't know. Perhaps it was. But the original Creation rest (only applying to God, of course), contained no suggestion of future prohibitions; only in the form of Sabbath given to Israel are quite strict prohibitions (regarding work) added. So these laws, of course, became part of the old covenant as ratified at Mount Sinai.

Today, of course, Christians live under the New Covenant - not the old. This became effective from the cross of Christ. We all recognise this in no longer being concerned about temple rituals and animal sacrifices, meat offerings, cereal offerings, or 'set in stone' periods of being 'unclean.' Only baptism and communion remain as important observances. All the offerings are fulfilled in the supreme sacrifice of our Lord.

To have a complete day of rest one day in seven is indeed a blessing and many Christians like to set aside Sunday as this day of complete spiritual rejuvenation, forgetting about their normal daily labours. But beware of travelling down the road of 'only this specific period of time is blessed,' because that is the path of legalism, as clearly illustrated by the excessive legalism of most (though not all) seventh day groups. We are not saved by sabbath observance but by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the grace which He grants His people. The sabbath indeed identified old covenant Israel but Christians are identified by the Lord Jesus Christ in their seeking to follow His path to the best of their ability whilst preaching the Gospel to all who will listen.

Most Christians believe that Jesus Himself fulfilled the entire meaning of the sabbath (Matthew 11: 28-30). The book of Hebrews specifically shows how not only the weekly Sabbath, but the 'Promised Land' itself are vague foreshadowings of the Eternal Rest which Christians are to enjoy in the New Heavens and New Earth of the future. The faithful finally inherit this - but only in and through Christ. (Carefully study Hebrews 4). Today Christians have The Lord's Day which, as a day of meeting, has a clear New Testament precedent. More details here.

But now carefully mark the following two points:

1. Not on a single occasion in the New Testament does Jesus state that: a. We are saved by sabbath observance, or, b. sabbath observance is necessary for salvation. Indeed, on more than one occasion, strict sabbath observers aroused our Lord to anger (but Jesus did know, of course, that until He went to the cross, the old covenant was still in effect). Moreover, since, without a doubt, the bulk of New Testament theological writing fell to Paul the Apostle, we should be careful to note that he also never states any such thing, nor even hints at it.

2. In Acts 15 the Jerusalem Council discussed the matter of which laws (which the Jews normally kept) should be brought to the attention of the many Gentiles who were coming to Christ, the Sabbath does not get a single mention!

Does one even need to say more? The sabbath was indeed made for man, but not man for the sabbath.

Robin A. Brace. November 14th, 2013.