The Sabbath Day And Christians
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:25–26)
First, let us explore the term Sabbath and then see how it becomes the Sabbath Day. The term sabbath is defined by Strongs Dictionary of Bible Words as; to rest, cease. This is illustrated by the example of God resting on the seventh day following the six days of the Creation (Genesis 2:2-3).
When Moses was given the commandments on Mount Sinai, the fourth commandment was, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8–11) God made a direct correlation between His completion of and cessation from the Creation to the lifestyle and worshipful attitude He would demand from His people to rest from their labors on the seventh day, a holy Sabbath according to the Law.
This, then was a part of the Law of Moses, that is the covenant made between God and the people, mediated by Moses (Exodus 24:7,8; Hebrews 9:19-21). Throughout the years of that covenant, the Sabbath was to be remembered on the seventh day of every week.
Even while John the Baptist and the Lord Himself were preaching the gospel of repentance and the kingdom to come, the Law of Moses ruled over God’s people.
But Jesus came with a mission to seek and save that which was lost. The salvation He brought to mankind would result from the shedding of His blood for the redemption of all men from sin (Romans 3:24-26). While Paul describes the sacrifice of Christ to the Romans as a propitiation or atonement for the sins of all men, he describes it to the Hebrew Christians as the sealing of a new covenant with those who have been called to the promise of an inheritance (Hebrews 9:11-15 cf. Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18; Galatians 3:26-29).
Now the interesting thing about this new covenant is seeing the emphasis God places on the heart of man being changed by the recognition of his lost condition while also learning of the action of the Savior Who died for the very sins that have separated us from God. That news brings man from the lowest point in his life, that is the knowledge he is condemned in the eyes of God, to his greatest point when he realizes his salvation through obedience to God’s commands to be saved (Mark 16:15,16; Hebrews 5:8,9).
Now we are living under the constraints and promises of the new covenant. The covenant Jeremiah prophesied of and the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews repeats (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-12). This covenant says nothing of keeping the Sabbath. In fact the writers of the New Testament tell us the Law of Moses, the law that commanded keeping the Sabbath was nailed to the Cross when Christ died (Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:13-17).
We then discover the Christians, the disciples of Christ, met to worship on the first day of the week. There is no more observance of the seventh day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthains 16:1,2). To practice and observe the tenets of the Law of Moses, a covenant mediated by Moses at Sinai with the blood of animals, as worship to God and Christ Who have mediated a new covenant with the blood of the Son of God is a grave insult to this superior sacrifice and superior covenant.
We cannot, yea, must not, turn back to those things to attempt to improve what He has instructed us to do in worship to Him. For when we do we are guilty in the eyes of the writer of the book of Hebrews. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29)
The Sabbath and its honorable observance was a very important tenet under the Law of Moses. However, if we are to respond to the plea of our Savior to believe and obey the gospel of salvation designed for all, we must realize it was and will always be a crucial part of a covenant that has been replaced by a superior covenant through the blood shed by Jesus Christ on Calvary.