Friday, January 1, 2016

On the Sunday and Saturday Sabbath...

by Diane M. Hoffmann

I recently received a comment from a reader regarding the Saturday Sabbath and the Jewish Feasts, from chapter 21.

Following is a copy of the parts of the email that have to do with the Saturday Sabbath… (I will cover the Jewish Feasts (or the Holy Days) in a later blog:

I was quite enjoying your book until I came to the chapter 21 on Jewish Saturday Sabbath and frankly I was shocked at how badly you have treated this or these topics in comparison to how well you had treated most others.

This is not my "opinion" below (the reader lists several scriptures from the Old Testament to do with the Sabbath as given  to the people of God)… but it is what The Holy Bible clearly and repeatedly states…

Yes it is good to at least keep A Sabbath, especially after Jesus liberalized such things, but Scripture clearly instructs us to "remember THE Sabbath to keep IT Holy"…

Note that the Apostles continued "keeping" the original Sabbath and original Holy Days long after Jesus had departed so they certainly were not done away and they were only changed centuries later by a corrupted church for political reasons…

I also disagree that no one knows which days are which now because the Bible indicates that the Jews were to and did maintain the oracles of God in Acts 7:38 and Romans 3:2 - Paul indicates the Jews had maintained God's calendar throughout the Centuries.

That said, I still appreciate your new book - it has given me lots of worthwhile things to think about. J.

My response:

Firstly, let us be clear that the scriptures in the Old Testament concerning the Sabbath are indeed sure and true and are not in question. The Sabbath is part and parcel of the 10 commandments and is to be observed -- eternally -- as instructed in the Old Testament every 7th day.

Secondly, as per the reader's comment, this issue is not seemingly “treated”, in my book as deeply as some of the other issues because it is in response to specific questions that have been uttered by Christians who understand the perpetual establishment of the Jewish Sabbath.

However, I will attempt to go into the issue a bit more here than already covered in my book in response to the questions from the reader. I continue to do research from some of the best resources available on this subject -- not because I need to be convinced, but because some people need to in order to regain a healthy understanding of the issue. I will be reporting further findings from time to time on this blog.

Jesus and the Apostles did continue to keep the Sabbath and Holy Days, and indeed these were not done away with at any time. The Israel/Jews did keep the tradition of the Sabbath strictly and seriously.

The disagreement that no one knows which days are which, simply means that throughout the ages, in various books on the subject of the Jewish Sabbath, there is an exhibition of many changes and regulations at various times, pre- and post- Jesus’ time on earth, where Israel/Jews were to follow certain rules according to the political and religious leaders of the periods including during times of war.

Note: I write "Israel/Jews" in this manner because when it comes to the topic of Jewish Sabbath and Feasts, the people who are most reactive to argue the issue are those who believe in British-Israelism (or have been affected by it through splintered groups), where they believe that Israel has become the English-speaking people of Britain and America. It's more complicated then this, but for the purpose of explaining why I use Israel/Jews, this will suffice to emphasize that both Israel and Jews are still in existence as the Word of God shows throughout the Bible's Old and new Testaments. 

Israel/Jews kept the ritual of the 7th day as much as it was possible to do so throughout the ages. There were times when the people of God were taken into slavery, or fled during wars and diaspora, when the first Temple was destroyed, and the second, documents were lost, etc… life as usual was intermittently disrupted and resumed. At times, many were imprisoned, during the inquisitions, the pogroms, the holocaust, etc., etc., when it was not possible to keep proper Sabbaths, not even knowing the time or day of the week it was, until they were able to return to normal life. Many did not even live to resume such dream.

God knows what the original 7th day from the beginning is or was. The key is that God looks at the heart.  He knows the sincerity of the people to keep the commandments, one of which is to "keep the Holy Sabbath" weekly, every 7th day.

The Pharasees and Sadducees were the main enemies of Jesus’ New Covenant theology.  They tried to catch Him doing something against the Law so that they could put Him away.

One of the points that they tried hard to find offence in Jesus, is the Sabbath. For example, we read in many scriptures that when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, they accused Him of breaking the law.

On another occasion Jesus and His disciples plucked grains on a Sabbath day. Jesus reminded them of their ignorance by referring them to David and his companions when they were hungry and entered into the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for them to eat except for the priests.

Then Jesus proceeded to say that He will have mercy and not sacrifice because He (Jesus, God in the flesh) is the Lord of the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5).

What does that all mean?

Jesus is the New Covenant maker. He came to earth to deliverer that personally. At the time that Jesus was speaking these words of the Gospel to mankind, the New Testament was not yet written. All they had and knew – Israel/Jews – was the Old Testament Bible.  So, whenever Jesus spoke to the people, they understood what He was saying… especially the religious leaders (except when Jesus accused them of not knowing their scriptures or of imposing their own extra-biblical interpretations).

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary, we read:

(Matthew 12:1-8…”Being in the corn-fields, the disciples began to pluck the ears of corn: the law of God allowed it, De 23:25. This was slender provision for Christ and his disciples; but they were content with it. The Pharisees did not quarrel with them for taking another man's corn, but for doing it on the sabbath day. Christ came to free his followers, not only from the corruptions of the Pharisees, but from their unscriptural rules, and justified what they did. The greatest shall not have their lusts indulged, but the meanest shall have their wants considered. Those labours are lawful on the sabbath day which are necessary, and sabbath rest is to froward, not to hinder sabbath worship. Needful provision for health and food is to be made; but when servants are kept at home, and families become a scene of hurry and confusion on the Lord's day, to furnish a feast for visitors, or for indulgence, the case is very different. Such things as these, and many others common among professors, are to be blamed. The resting on the sabbath was ordained for man's good, De 5:14. No law must be understood so as to contradict its own end. And as Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath, it is fit the day and the work of it should be dedicated to him.”

The essence of Deuteronomy 5:13-14 is that 6 days man is to labor and do all the work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord wherein no work should be done.

There are many theories as to where, when and why exactly the keeping of the Sabbath was changed by whom, from Saturday to Sunday.  And I will outline some of these more precisely at a later date in another blog.  The Jews carried on the celebration of it on Saturday, actually beginning Friday at 6 pm to Saturday 6 pm, to this day.

But some of the believers at some point began to hold their day of rest and worship on Sunday, long before, as some say, a corrupted church for political reasons changed it from Saturday to Sunday. The Christians had already begun to assemble on Sunday within the first century as evident in many New Testament scriptures.

For the believers of the New Testament, the Lord’s Day was always meant to mean Sunday as per the Resurrection Sunday. We have to remember also that “the believers” included both Israel/Jews and Gentiles. The non-believing Israel/Jews continued to follow the law as it was traditionally, and many of the believing Israel/Jews did also. Even today, Messianic Jews usually worship on Saturday and many also worship on Sunday.

Deuteronomy 5:14 refers to the Sabbath as “the Sabbath of the Lord thy God”, i.e.: “the Lord’s Day.”

But the most confirming of scriptures on this subject matter, as I have mentioned in “24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today” is Colossians 2:16-17, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ”. / DMH

Diane M. Hoffmann, B.Th., M.Th., Ph.D./Th.
Author of "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today"
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