30 Minute Radio Sermon - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

March 18, 2001

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"The Sabbath Day"

How many times have you heard someone speak of today as "The Christian Sabbath?" That has become a very common designation of Sunday, the first day of the week -- but Sunday is far from being the Sabbath Day mentioned in the Bible. In fact, it is wrong to refer to Sunday, the first day of the week, as "the Christian Sabbath." Stay with us today and you will learn why.

Hello, this is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ welcoming you to another presentation of"What Is Truth?"The Clarksville church of Christ presents this program every Sunday at this same time. Our purpose is to teach the truth and nothing but the truth. We always urge you who listen to let us know if you find something taught on this program that is not true in accordance with God's word. We want to make sure that we are right in our teaching and you will be doing us a favor if you would let us know if you find anything that is contrary to the gospel of Christ. You are very warmly invited to visit our services today. At 9:30 A.M. we have Bible classes for all ages followed by our morning worship assembly at 10:30 A.M. Then this evening at 6 P.M. we will again worship congregationally. We also have Bible classes for all ages each Wednesday at 7:30 P.M. Our building is located at the corner of Hale Road and Hwy 131 in Clarksville. We would certainly be delighted to have you come and visit us today.

The word Sabbath in the Bible refers to the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday. The word literally means, "cessation from activity." It was never used to designate Sunday, or the first day of the week. Some people today are confused over the matter of observing the Sabbath day. They think it is still binding on people who want to worship God Almighty. However, the Sabbath Day belonged exclusively to the Mosaic dispensation of time and was removed when Jesus died on the cross. It certainly is wrong to refer to the first day of the week as the seventh day, or to call Sunday the "Christian Sabbath."

In the New Testament the first day of the week is mentioned as a day when Christians assembled to worship God. This is the obvious meaning of the apostle John who wrote, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet" (Rev. 1:10). Further we read of the early church meeting on the first day of the week to observe the sacred memorial feast, the Lord's Supper. Luke wrote, "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight" (Acts 20:7). The Corinthians were commanded to contribute of their individual earnings on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:1-2). The word Sabbath never applies to the day on which Christians met to worship. The Sabbath day was a day that belongs exclusively to the period of time called the Mosaic dispensation. That was the time when God selected one nation, the Jewish people, to be His own peculiar people and gave them a special day on which to convene for worship, sacrifice, and service. The Law restricted the activities of the Israelites on the Sabbath day. Through Moses, God commanded, "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings" (Leviticus 23:3). Through Moses, Aaron was instructed in his duties to be performed at this "holy convocation." He was to officiate at the gathering. "Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, (being taken) from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant" (Leviticus 24:8).

Jewish people still worship God on Saturday because they do not accept the New Testament. They reject Jesus of Nazareth as their Christ, the Messiah. It is to the Torah and not the New Testament they look for guidance and revelation from on high. Others, who claim to follow Christ, convene for worship on Saturday rather than Sunday because they continue to pick and choose parts of the Mosaic law as binding on all men today. The Seventh-Day Adventists, and a few of their splinter groups, keep only certain portions of the Old Testament law regarding the Sabbath.

During the personal ministry and life of Jesus on earth the Sabbath laws were still in force. After the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ from death there is no evidence at all that Christians ever met on Saturday as a day of worship. Jewish people continued to observe it, but not Christians. There are occasions mentioned where Paul found it convenient to meet with Jews in their synagogues on the Sabbath day. His purpose was not to worship God but to preach Christ. He did not observe their rituals of worship, nor did he continue offering sacrifices according to the Mosaic law. Today, true Christians meet on the first day of the week, Sunday, and not the seventh day, the Sabbath.

There is a fundamental reason why true Christians cannot observe the Sabbath Day or any laws associated with it. The law that established the Sabbath Day, Saturday, in the Old Testament was in force from the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai until Christ died on the cross. Before the giving of the Law no one knew anything about observance of the Sabbath. From Adam to Moses Sabbath observance was not practiced. The observance of Saturday, the Sabbath Day, did not precede the Law of Moses.

Go back with me into the history of the children of Israel. They were taken captive by the Egyptian ruler, Pharoah. Genesis 15:13 records God's promise to Abram. "Then He said to Abram: 'Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years'." Moses recorded the following after the fact. Exodus 12:40 reads: "Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years." And in the New Testament Acts 7:6 tells us, "But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years."

Ultimately the Israelites were released from their slavery and the most marvelous migration in history began. Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt toward the land of promise. After some two and a half months in the desert, the people complained about their rations. Some of them shouted, "Take us back to Egypt -- the flesh pots there at least filled out stomachs." Moses and Aaron took the case to Jehovah and God provided them with bread from heaven. The Bible calls it"Manna." They were told that they should gather a specific quota per person for six days. All surplus would rot and stink. However on the sixth day they should gather a double quota. God had Moses explain. Listen to the very first mention of the Sabbath Day in your Bible. Moses said, "This is what the LORD has said: 'Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning'" (Exodus 16:23).

From this reading comes the plain truth that no one had any inkling of any kind of special "Sabbath Day Rest." They were all completely ignorant of any such thing as "a holy Sabbath unto the Lord." Not only did they know nothing of the Sabbath Day, they had no idea what they should do on that day. Some of the rulers of the congregation reported to Moses that manna was being gathered in a double portion on the sixth day. Moses then explained that there would be no manna on the seventh day. He gave God's order for them to rest on the seventh day. Ask yourself the question. If the Sabbath had been observed from the dawn of creation, why is it that the only people who recognized Jehovah as the one true and living God knew nothing at all of it? Who would have been observing it? The fact is that the Sabbath Day is inseparably united with the Mosaic dispensation of time and limited to it.

Proof that the Sabbath Day was not enjoined on anyone from the beginning of time is found in another important fact concerning the Sabbath. The Sabbath was to be a "sign" between God and His special people, the Jews. Read with me from the prophet Ezekiel. "Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, which, a man does, he shall live by them. Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them" (Ezekiel 20:10-12). This passage conclusively shows that the Sabbath of the Mosaic dispensation was a "national badge" of Israel. Furthermore, only to the Jews was the Sabbath a sign. To no other nation of people was the Sabbath given and none other were required to observe it. One wonders why non-Jewish people today, in the name of religion, seek to borrow what was given exclusively to the Jews under the Old law while at the same time they neglect many of the other laws given at the very same time.

Another question regarding the Sabbath is, "When did God actually reveal it to the Jewish people?" We have a divine answer. Listen carefully to the Bible answer. The record tells us of a time when the leaders of the Jewish people undertook a great restoration, going back to the law with the commitment to fully comply with it. As they were intensely reading the law, the record says, "Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the LORD their God" (Nehemiah 9:4). In verses 13 and 14 they led the people in the praise of God and said, "You came down also on Mount Sinai, And spoke with them from heaven, And gave them just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, By the hand of Moses Your servant." Question: When did God "give" the ordinances and true laws? Answer: On Mount Sinai. What was given on Mount Sinai? Answer: The Law of Moses. Question: When did God "make known to" the Jews His "holy Sabbath?" Answer: On Mount Sinai -- at the giving of the law.

The Sabbath Day law was given on Mount Sinai only to the Jewish nation. It was made known then. If it was made known then, it was not known until then. How can someone make something known that is already known? Is it not a bit silly to affirm that the Sabbath was known from the dawn of creation in the face of this very clear passage? The Sabbath was made known by Moses at Mount Sinai when the law of Moses was given and not before. This is why true Christians can never return to any part of the Mosaic Law and please God.

An inspired poet in Israel penned the following words. "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it"(Psalm 118:24). Today is the Lord's day, dear friend and in it we must be exceedingly glad. As we continue with our study of the Sabbath Day , we will now conclusively show that Sunday and not Saturday is the day on which those who profess to be God's children come together for worship and service.

Once again, the very first time the word Sabbath appears in the Bible is Exodus 16:23. Moses led the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Crossing the desert of Zin, east of the Red Sea, the people became disgruntled and unhappy. Their rations were not satisfactory. Moses took the case to Jehovah who responded by providing Manna from heaven. Special instructions were given for the gathering of this nourishing food. "And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, 'Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning'." (Exo. 16:23).

Having escaped slavery the Israelites journeyed toward Canaan and had no knowledge at all of anything like a "day of rest," a "holy day," or the "Sabbath." Moses had to specify the seventh day (our Saturday) as the Sabbath. Listen to verse 26. "Six days ye shall gather it (i.e., the Manna); but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none." God forbade them from gathering food on the seventh day, the Sabbath. Notice that Moses specifically said, "the seventh day, which is the Sabbath." This clearly shows that they had not been observing the seventh day as a Sabbath of rest. They had no knowledge at all that it was a day of rest. Of all the people who have ever lived on earth, the Jewish people should have been the only ones observing the Sabbath, but they were completely ignorant of it. This proves that the Sabbath Day, the seventh day of the week, had not been observed as the Lord's Day from creation.

Those who still cling to the sabbatical laws of the Old Covenant, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, Seventh Day Baptists, and a few of their splinter groups, contend that the Sabbath Day was set up in the beginning of time. A preacher in Bowling Green, KY some time ago received a paper from an individual in the Seventh Day Adventist church. It was a paper trying to prove that Saturday and not Sunday is the Lord's Day. He stated that the author wrote, "God rested on the seventh day and made that the Sabbath day." It is true that God rested on the seventh day of creation. It is equally true that He made the seventh day the Sabbath. However, there is no reason to conclude that at the time God rested He made the seventh day the Sabbath.

It may be said that a politician won an election and was made president, or governor, or senator. Winning the election and becoming president are not to be understood as simultaneous acts. One leads to the other, but they are not the same. The seventh day of creation was the day God rested. Later, in fact much later, He told the world that the seventh day was the Sabbath. Remember, the word is not even mentioned until the Exodus journey of the children of Israel. On that journey (and not before) they were instructed how to observe it.

The escaping nation of Israel was not given full instructions regarding Sabbath Day keeping in the desert. On Mount Sinai God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, one of which is, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." At the giving of the Ten Commandments, God revealed more fully His law relative to the Sabbath. This is not a question to be argued. It is a fact to be accepted. Listen again. "Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And madest known unto them thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant" (Nehemiah 9:13-14). If God made known the Sabbath on Mount Sinai when He gave the Law through Moses, He did not make it known to Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, or anyone else prior to the giving of the Mosaic law.

The Bible reads, "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). Yes, God blessed the seventh day. God sanctified it. This does not mean, however, that He did either at creation. Remember, it is not called "The Sabbath" in Genesis. Neither the idea nor the word "Sabbath" is found in Genesis. It is wrong to call anything something it is not. The seventh day was never known as the Sabbath prior to Exodus 16:23. It was not made known until then and later fully revealed in the Mosaic law.

Let us summarize a few things.

1. The Lord blessed and sanctified the seventh day of the week because on that day He rested from His work of creation.

2. It was never called the Sabbath Day until Exodus 16:23.

3. The very people who should have been observing it were totally ignorant of it since God had not yet sanctified it.

4. The very time when God gave His laws covering the Sabbath is plainly taught in Nehemiah 9:13-14, which specifies Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandment law.

The inevitable conclusion any honest Bible student will reach is that the Sabbath was part of God's law given in the Sinai desert when Moses received "the lively oracles" from God at the ministration of angels. Listen. "This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us" (Acts 7:38). Paul wrote, "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator" (Gal. 3:19).

Modern day seventh day Sabbath keepers stress, "the Sabbath was made for man" referring to Mark 2:27. Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." The next verse says,"Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath." That the Sabbath was made for man does not mean that it was made for all men of all dispensations of time. The Sabbath is inseparably united with the Mosaic law. To whom was the Mosaic law given? Here is the Bible answer: Deuteronomy 5:1-3 -- "And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day." This is fortified by the promise of a change in that law. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD"(Jeremiah 31:31-32).

Sabbatarians want only parts of the Old law, specifically the law that specifies the seventh day as the Sabbath -- but no more than that. The seventh day of the week is not the Lord's day. Prophecy proves it. Amos, the prophet, prophesied, "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances of deceit?" (Amos 8:5). Now let us read verse 9. "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in a clear day." Does that sound familiar to you? Can you think of a day when the sun was dark and a clear day became as dusky darkness? Every Bible student listening to this is thinking of the day Jesus died on the cruel cross. Mark 15:33 describes it. "And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour." The Jewish day started at 6 o'clock in the morning. The sixth hour of the day would be high noon. The sun went down at noon on the day Jesus died on the cross and this prophecy was fulfilled.

At the death of Jesus, the law was fulfilled and nailed to His cross. Please turn with me to the New Testament book of Colossians 2:14 which reads, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross." The "handwriting of ordinances" refers to the only written law in existence at that time -- the Law God wrote with His own hands. This law was removed by the death of Christ. Everything relative to the Mosaic law was nailed to the cross.

The New covenant is a law not written on tablets of stone, but in the innermost being of God's people. It is the New Covenant. When did the New Covenant come into effect? Answer: after Jesus died on the cross. Listen again to the divine answer: "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth" (Hebrews 9:15-17). Whatever was in effect prior to the death of Christ is removed and we are no longer allowed to practice those things. A case in point: Paul wrote the churches of Galatia and warned, "And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:3-4). Keeping any part of the Old Law causes one to fall away from grace, according to this passage.

Those who profess to be Sabbath keepers today do not keep the Sabbath. They only meet to worship on Saturday and refrain from work. Sabbath keeping involved much more than that. It required complete rest, no work of any kind. "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death" (Exo. 35:2). Keeping the law only partially is sinful. James wrote that who offends in one point "is guilty of the whole law" (James 2:10). No Sabbatarian group today keeps the Sabbath correctly.

Christians are under only one law. No one today is right who observes the Ten Commandment law, for that law has been replaced by the law of Christ. Paul wrote, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God" (Rom. 7:4). Being dead to the law means being dead to the Sabbath Day. Being dead to the Sabbath Day means being alive to the first day of the week, Sunday.

The first day, Sunday, is now the Lord's Day. His church was established on the first day of the week, not the seventh day (Acts 2:1-4). On the first day of the week His people assemble for worship, not on the seventh day (Acts 20:7). Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, not on Saturday (Mark 16:1-2).

People living under the new covenant must establish their religious activity by what the New Covenant reveals. The Old law has passed away. We serve today under the law of Christ. God Almighty sent His only Son into this world to die not just to redeem us all from sin, but also to end the Law of Moses and institute the new law of grace and truth. John wrote of Him, "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

If you have a question about this study today, please let us hear from you. Remember, you may request a free audio tape or transcript of this lesson or any previous lesson that has aired here on WAVG radio by writing to the Clarksville church of Christ, 407 W. Hwy 131, Clarksville, IN 47129. Or you may call 944-2305. Thank you very much for listening this morning and until next week, may God bless you in your efforts to serve and obey Him.

This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"