Why don't you teach people to keep the Sabbath?

Dear Sir,

I don't know you, and I find it admirable that you put your convictions into action. Very few people do that, and you are to be commended. We have many areas of agreement. But I have some questions about something you said. When you talked about the seventh-day Sabbath, you said that it was for the Israelites to keep forever. For us to inherit eternal life, aren't we to be grafted into the New Testament Israel? That would seem to mean that we, as Israelites, are to still keep the Seventh-day Sabbath.

The Israelites were to be God's teachers and teach the nations around them. In fact, they were to write the commandments on stones surrounding their territory, and as the nations around them saw the good fruits of keeping God's laws (all of them), they would want to do the same, and the stones would be moved outward, thereby enlarging the territory. So while it started with the Israelites, weren't they to teach the nations around them God's laws?

As I study the New Testament, am I struck by the fact that it is all constructed around observance of the Sabbath and other Holy Days. In fact, the Holy Spirit was given on a Holy Day (Pentecost) after Jesus' death. But that would be according to the "old" law.

I have a hard time keeping Sunday when the Bible mentions the Sabbath so many times and Sunday virtually not at all. If Sunday is so important to pleasing God, why can't I find it in the New Testament. I counted and the word "Sabbath" is mentioned 61 times in the Old Testament, "Seventh Day" 47, and in the New Testament, "Sabbath" is mentioned 55 times and "Seventh day" once in the NT in Hebrews 4:4. I try to worship in spirit and in truth, and I found out that Jesus was killed on a Wednesday (not a Friday like I was taught) and resurrected on Saturday evening just prior to sundown.

When I talk to ministers about this, many are quick to admit that Sunday isn't really in the Bible, so I can't understand why they go on keeping it.

While I don't have all the answers, I believe that God knows what he's talking about. That's why I don't eat unclean meats, not just because of Lev. 11, but because later God says that he abhors swine's flesh (Isa. 65:4). I keep the Holy Days because God says, "These are MY feasts" (Lev. 23:2). I keep the Sabbath, because, "...God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" (Gen. 2:3), and I haven't found a scripture where He UN-blessed it. I do these things because I trust that God knows what He's talking about.

Of course, keeping these doesn't "earn" me salvation. Jesus Christ is my Savior. But I want to show God that I believe in Him and show Him by my actions that I trust Him.

I dabble a little bit in languages, and I was shocked to read that, while the names of the other six days of the week are very dissimilar in other languages, the word for the seventh day -- the Sabbath -- is very, very similar in most languages around the world. I strongly believe that this shows that the Sabbath was known throughout the Old World between Adam and Eve and the time of Moses. It wouldn't have been the same if it hadn't been kept at the day of worship and rest.

But I just can't find anything in the Bible where it says clearly to keep Sunday.

My response is in Green:

I think you are misreading the New Testament. We do not become Israelites, we become spiritual descendants of Abraham, there is a difference. But even besides that, even the Jews who were converted were warned about trying to continue in the Law, so why would we want to? Let me show you an example:

(Galatians 5:2-4 NIV) [2] Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. [3] Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. [4] You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

If after coming to Christ they then went and followed the Law which required every male to be circumcised then Paul tells them Christ would be of no value to them. So if you are not eating unclean meats to be justified before God, then you better be warned by this passage too, because that is what Paul is talking about. Now look at the passage below. Before you write me back, yes I understand that what God was showing Peter was that Gentiles were not to be considered unclean, but you can take that to mean the meats and food too since that is what the vision was about:

(Acts 10:9-16 NIV) [9] About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. [10] He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. [11] He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. [12] It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. [13] Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."
[14] "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
[15] The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
[16] This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Next you need to see what the Church Fathers taught. I mean the Apostles and the first century Church Fathers, such as James. They had a problem, there were many Gentiles coming to faith in Christ and they did not know whether they needed to become Jews or not, did they need to celebrate the Sabbath, reframe from certain foods, etc... It was up to these Church Leaders to decide and here is what they decided:

(Acts 15:19-20 NIV) [19] "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. [20] Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood."

They all agreed and that was what the Gentiles were taught to do. Now why didn't they mention unclean meats or keeping the Sabbath? Take a look at this passage:

(Acts 20:7 NIV) 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.

Now this does not prove they weren't meeting on the Sabbath too, but it sure shows that they were meeting on Sunday.

What did Jesus have to say about the Sabbath?

(Luke 6:1-5 NIV) [1] One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. [2] Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"
[3] Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? [4] He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." [5] Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

He is the Lord of the Sabbath and He shows that God cares more about our hearts then what we do or don't do on the Sabbath. In fact if you read the same account in Mark you will see Jesus had even more to say:

(Mark 2:27-28 NIV) [27] Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. [28] So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

Paul had other things to say about this too:

(Romans 14:1-8 NIV) [1] Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. [2] One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. [3] The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. [4] Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
[5] One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. [6] He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. [7] For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. [8] If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

It seems pretty clear here. You will notice that Paul says something different in this passage than he did about circumcision. Talking about circumcision he said that if they did it Christ would be of no value to them, but here he says don't judge each other. So which is it? It is both. If you feel that God does not want you to eat unclean meat then don't eat it, but if you are doing it to be justified because you think if you eat unclean meat you will lose your salvation then you need to be warned. The same is true of the Sabbath, if you are trying to honor God because that is what you believe He wants then more power to you, but if you are trying to keep the Law then you should be warned.

You mention that Jesus was resurrected on Saturday evening. You are reading your Bible differently than I do. Let me show you:

(Matthew 28:1-3 NIV) [1] After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
[2] There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. [3] His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

I have to wonder why the pastors you spoke to were not able to show you these things. So I will not teach people to keep the Sabbath. I do try to teach people to honor God but not by keeping the Law.



E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)

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