Sabbath Observance is Still Required
NCW 14, December 1994
Q. There are many Christians who treat Sundays like any other day because they say that they are living under grace and not law. Is this true?
No. It is written: "As it is, however, there still remains for God's people a rest like God's resting on the seventh day" (Heb.4:9, TEV).
Many employees may work a five or six day week, but mothers work seven days. Missionaries and people in special ministries are often heard to say that, while they never grow tired of the work, they do get weary in the work, for the needs seem so great that they dare not stop even for a day. As a full-time minister with a full-time job and a family to take care of, I know how they feel!
The Lord knew His people would need rest, of course, and so ordained a weekly day of rest. In fact, the only reason He took 6 days to do the work of creation was to set the pattern for man's six-day work week (Exodus 20:8-11). Yet Jesus also indicated it is still "lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (Matt.12:12, NIV), and the scriptures command us to be always "making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Eph.5:16, NIV), so it is often difficult for concerned Christians to find the time for needed rest, even on the "sabbath days", let alone an annual vacation.
The word for "rest" in Hebrews 4:9 is actually the special word for "sabbath rest", used only one time in the New Testament, proving that the weekly rest day (like each of the other laws in the Ten Commandments) is still a divine principle in the Christian dispensation, and violating it is to our detriment. (The French revolutionaries discovered this sad truth when they tried to change the 7-day week to a 10-day week, and ended up exhausting the nation. The Sri Lankans tried the same thing after independence but had to return to the 7-day week). It also refers, in context, to the rest we find in Christ, "for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His" (Heb.4:10, NIV).
There is surely also a most comforting application for our future life: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on...they will rest in their labour, for their deeds will follow them" (Rev.14:13, NIV).
ADDENDUM ON THE SABBATH
In 1999 the New Covenant Church of God received a revelation commanding observance of the Saturday Sabbath, thus resolving this issue once and for all. The changeover was smooth and the Church has reaped many blessings as a result.
For further reading, we recommend the following excellent books:
We recommend our readers to begin with “The Sabbath Under Crossfire” which excellently summarises the whole scriptural-historical controversy. You will never look at the “Sunday Sabbath” again having read these materials!
- “From Sabbath to Sunday: An Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity” by Samuele Bacchiocchi (The Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, 1977; Distribution: 230 Lisa Lane, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103, USA* see ** below).
- “The Sabbath Under Crossfire: A Biblical Analysis of Recent Sabbath/ Sunday Developments” by Samuele Bacchiocchi (1998, Biblical Perspectives, 4990 Appian Way, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103, USA**)
- “Too Long in the Sun” by Richard M. Rives (1998, Partakers Publications, P.O.Box 23031, Charlotte, NC 28227, USA)
- “Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest” (1996, United Church of God, P.O.Box 661780, Arcadia, CA 91066, USA)
- “Shabbat Shalom: A Guide for Christians to Understand the Sabbath” by Richard Booker (1998, ISBN 0-9615302-6-X, Sounds of the Trumpet, 8230 Birch Glenn Lane, Houston, Texas 77070, USA).
This page was created on 24 April 1998
Last updated on 24 April 1998
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