But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever.  Amen.

2 Peter 3:18

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT AND THE LORD'S DAY

 

 

 

“And in the FIRST DAY there shall be an holy convocation, and in the SEVENTH DAY there shall be an Holy Convocation to you; NO manner of WORK shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.”  (Exodus 12:16)  (Emphasis mine)

 

 

 

Why do most Christians observe the Lord's Day (first day) rather than the Jewish Sabbath (seventh day)?  As the verse quoted above shows, a Sabbath Day of Rest could fall on the FIRST DAY as well as on the SEVENTH DAY.  Sabbaths cannot be limited to Saturdays.

 

 

 

The Hebrew Calendar began its dating at the deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12:2).  It began with the month of Abib (Nisan).  This should not to be confused with the modern Jewish calendar, which begins with the month Tishri.[1]

 

 

 

In the original Hebrew Calendar the 15th day of the first month (Abib) had to be a Sabbath (Holy Day in which no work could be done) every year.  So did the 6th of Sivan, and the 1st, 10th, 15th & 21st of the seventh month Ethnaim (Tishri).[2]  They were Feast Days.

 

 

 

The Feast Days mentioned above were Pesach (Passover) Shavuot (Pentecost) Trumpets (now called Rosh HaShana) Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and the first and last Day of Succot (Tabernacles).

 

 

 

Passover is combined with the first Day of Unleavened Bread.  The DATE of the month was FIXED for each Feast.

 

 

 

Thus, the DAY of the week was VARIABLE.  Once in seven years, each of the Sabbaths would fall on every single day of the week -- just as your birthday comes on a different day of the week, every year.[3]

 

 

 

TWO SABBATHS IN THE SAME WEEK

 

 

 

To illustrate this further, Christ was crucified during the Passover Feast, which fell on a Wednesday that year.  It was a High Holy Day -- a Sabbath.  He was, by His own statement “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40)

 

 

 

Thus, he remained buried on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  He arose sometime before sunrise Sunday morning.

 

 

 

Therefore, there were two (2) Sabbath Days observed the week Christ was crucified -- Passover on the Fourth Day and the regular Sabbath on the Seventh Day.[4]

 

 

 

 

 

THREE SABBATHS IN THE BIBLE

 

 

 

Beside the Feast Days, there are three Sabbaths in the Bible.  The Creation Sabbath, the Hebrew Sabbath and the Christian Sabbath.

 

 

 

The first remembers Creation and the second deliverance from Egypt.  The third is in remembrance of the Resurrection of Christ.

 

 

 

The New Testament does not maintain the death penalty for Sabbath breaking.  Paul states that Sabbath regulations no longer have their old binding force (Colossians 2:16,17).

 

 

 

But there is a sense in which the Sabbath is not completely done away.  Every one of the Ten Commandments is repeated somewhere in the New Testament.  They are applicable to the Christian.

 

 

 

Christ has fulfilled the Law and redeemed us from its curse (Galatians 3:10-14).  But the Law is still “holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12).

 

 

 

Where is the Sabbath repeated in the New Testament?  In Hebrews 4:1-10 the Sabbath and its fulfillment in Christ is discussed.  We are told specifically “there remaineth therefore a REST (literally a “keeping of a Sabbath”) to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).[5]

 

 

 

Most of the first Christians were of Jewish birth.  They continued to observe both the Hebrew Sabbath (7th Day) and the Christian Sabbath (1st Day) that they called the Lord's Day.  This was the day of the Resurrection.

 

 

 

Believers in Messiah are grafted into the body of Christ, and made His Members.  They CEASE from their own works and REST in the Finished Work of Christ.

 

 

 

The Christian Sabbath recalls Christ's triumph over sin and death.  His Resurrection demonstrates the completion of His great Work of Redemption vividly from the dead.

 

 

 

It is rightly celebrated on the First Day of the Week -- the Lord's Day.  Thus the Lord's Day is the Christian Sabbath.  This was the position of the early Church leaders.[6]

 

 

 

It was also the belief of the Protestant Reformers and the Calvinistic Puritans who came after them.  Both the Westminster (Presbyterian) and Philadelphia (Baptist) Confessions of Faith call the Lord's Day the Christian Sabbath.

 

 

 

The Fourth Commandment – Land and Debt

 

 

 

[1] Bruce Scott, THE FEASTS OF THE LORD (The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.: Bellmawr, NJ, 1997) p. 13.

 

 

 

[2] John Phillips, EXPLORING THE SCRIPTURES (Moody Press: Chicago, IL, rev. ed. 1970) p. 35.

 

 

 

[3] Rousas John Rushdoony, THE INSTITUTES OF BIBLICAL LAW (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1973) p. 135.

 

 

 

[4] Loraine Boettner, A HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.: Nutley, NJ, 1933, 1977) pp. 131-132.

 

 

 

[5] Henry M. Morris, THE BIBLE HAS THE ANSWER (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI, 1971) p. 212.

 

 

 

[6] J.B. Moody, THE SEVEN SABBATHS (The Challenge Press: Little Rock, Arkansas, 1972) pp. 26-28.

George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows Lamb of God.  He and his wife, Christy, have been married 41 years (in 2018).  They have 8 grown children.  You can contact George at support@tulipgems.com

Copyright © 2002 through 2018 by George Theiss