In Genesis chapters one and two the scriptures tell
the story of creation. An explanation of each
day of God's creation is recorded. It took six
days for God to create, "heaven and earth, the
sea, and all that in them is" (Ex. 20:11).
Then on the seventh day, God rested (Gen. 2:2).
What happens next is the first commandment God gave,
the keeping of the Sabbath. "And 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). The first
commandment that God spoke of was the Sabbath Rest.
This day must be a special day. Today the
Sabbath is rarely considered as a commandment that
should be kept. Many espouse that God has
abolished all of His Holydays, including the
Sabbath. It is not the intent of this article
to argue this point, but you can read my article
titled, "Holydays" which
addresses this issue. The intent of this
article is to discuss how to practice the Sabbath
Which day is the Sabbath:
The first thing that needs to be decided is which
day the Sabbath is. This is an easy question
to answer for the scripture is very clear. In
Genesis 2:3 God used the words, "seventh day"
to describe His day of rest. Then when God
gave the ten commandments to Moses He repeated this
when He said, "But the seventh day is the
Sabbath of the LORD thy God" (Ex. 20:10, Deut.
5:14). God even repeated this again when He
laid out His Holydays, "Six days shall work be
done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest"
(Lev. 23:3). The Sabbath day of rest is
clearly the seventh day of the week. The
scriptures could not be any more clear.
The question then might be asked, Why do so many
practice the Sabbath on Sunday, the first day of the
week? Luckily, God answered this for us.
In Daniel 7:25, a prophecy is written regarding
God's time keeping system. The fourth beast of
Daniel's vision had 10 horns (kings - Dan 7:24).
One of these kings will "change times and laws."
The question to ask is, who is this fourth beast and
when did he "change times and laws?"
The Bible defines these beasts as kingdoms (Dan.
7:23) and history clearly identifies these kingdoms
as; Babylon, Medo Persia, Greece, and finally Rome.
This fourth kingdom, called Rome, will "change
times and laws," in fact, they already have.
Rome, and it's religion (Roman Catholic Church),
have already changed God's times and laws.
Constantine did so in 325 AD at the Council of
Nicaea. Here are a few examples of how Rome
has changed God's "times and laws."
God's calendar starts in spring with the greening of
the first crops, which is why the first month is
called Abib ('âbı̂yb - to be tender green, that
is a young ear of grain - Strong's Concordance
H24). In 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea,
Rome changed God's calendar to the Julian
calendar, which is the precursor to our current
Gregorian calendar. Now our calendar
starts on January first.
Changing to the Julian calendar removed Holydays
such as Passover, Feast of Weeks and Tabernacles and
instituted holidays such as Christmas, Easter,
and New Years.
Rome has also subverted God's Law the Ten
Commandments (what we currently call the Common
Law) in place of the current Roman
Civil Law, which we simply call the Civil Law
Rome changed the start of the day as well.
Today we start our days at midnight, but God
clearly starts His days at the evening (Gen.
1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
Rome changed God's Sabbath from the seventh day
of Saturday to the first day of Sunday (Council
of Laodicea, A.D. 336).
The Roman Catholic Church also changed God's Ten
Commandments (see picture
This might be hard to believe, but even the Catholic
church does not argue the point, but rather embraces
it. Patrick Madrid, a conservative catholic
scholar, stated, "[The] calendar that we follow . . .
is not only a calendar that was devised by the
Catholic Church, but also it is a calendar that’s
based upon the solar year, not the lunar year.
And the Jewish calendar that was observed in the
time of Christ . . . follows a lunar calendar, which
is several days short of the solar year" (retrieved
www.worldslastchance.com, Patrick Madrid,
comments on “Open Line,” EWTN, Global Catholic Radio
Network, January 5, 2006). There are many,
many quotes from the catholic church boasting of
their ability to change God's laws and Holydays.
The point is that it is clear that they admit doing
so and continue in that tradition. This begs
the question, if Rome changed God's "times and
laws," should we follow in that same
direction? Churches today seem to think so,
but the Apostles and the early church clearly kept
the seventh day as their Sabbath (Acts 13:14, Acts
15:21, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:1-2) and so should we
Are We to Keep the Sabbath Today?
The Sabbath was kept by the Messiah (Mark 1:21, Mark
6:2, Luke 4:31, Luke 6:6). He is our example
that we ought to follow (1 Pet. 2:21). The
Messiah was actually accused of breaking the
Sabbath, but this could not be true. The
Messiah was without sin, which means he never broke
any of God's laws, including the Sabbath.
Why then did the Pharisees accuse Him of breaking
the Sabbath? The truth is, the Scribes and
Pharisees had extra laws of their own regarding the
Sabbath. The Messiah healed on the Sabbath
(Mark 3:4-5). The Messiah picked grain on the
Sabbath (Matt. 12:1). The Messiah said it
would be lawful to help a stuck animal on the
Sabbath (Luke 14:5). It is important to
remember that each one of these is not against the
law of God, but against the tradition of the elders
(Pharisees). The Messiah never once broke the
law of God, rather, He constantly battled against
those who added to and took away from the law of God
with their traditions (Matt. 15:2-6, Mark 7:5-8).
The point here is not that we no longer need to keep
the Sabbath, but that we need to use the scriptures
only to determine how to keep the Sabbath.
The Apostles also kept the Sabbath (Acts 13:14, Acts
13:42-44, Acts 15:21, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2, Acts
18:4). Many say that this was only to preach
the Gospel and not to keep the Sabbath. People
claim that they need somewhere in the New Testament
where it says we are to keep the Sabbath.
Well, there is a place in the book of Hebrews where
the writer clearly states we are to still keep the
Sabbath. The problem is the word for Sabbath
was mistranslated. In Hebrews 4:3-9, the
Apostle argues for the "rest" of God.
The word translated as "rest" is
katapauō, which means to, "to settle down
... rest" (Strong's Concordance - G2664).
This word is translated as "rest" in verse
one, three, four, five and eight. In verse
nine the word "rest" is a different word.
This is the word, sabbatismos, which means
"a sabbatism, the keeping of the Sabbath” (Strong's Concordance -
G4520). This word comes from sabbaton,
which means "the Sabbath" (Strong's
Concordance - G4521). Sabbatismos is
the verb form a sabbaton. The correct
translation of verse nine should be, "There
remaineth therefore a [keeping of the Sabbath] to
the people of God." The purpose to Hebrews
chapter four is that we are to enter into the
"rest" of God by faith, not by works. His
conclusion is in verse nine when he says, "There
remaineth therefore a rest [keeping of the Sabbath] to the people
of God" (Heb. 4:9). This verse, when
properly understood and translated, straight forward
says we are to still keep the Sabbath, which is
probably why the Apostles did repeatedly throughout
the book of Acts.
The early church also kept the Sabbath. Many
of the early Christian writers understood Hebrews
four to be speaking of the Sabbath. Origen
mentions so when he said, "But what is the feast
of the Sabbath except that which the apostle speaks,
'There remaineth therefore a Sabbatism,' that is,
the observance of the Sabbath, by the people of
God...let us see how the Sabbath ought to be
observed by a Christian. On the Sabbath-day
all worldly labors ought to be abstained from...give
yourselves up to spiritual exercises, repairing to
church, attending to sacred reading and
instruction...this is the observance of the
Christian Sabbath" (Translated from Origen's
Opera 2, Paris, 1733, Andrews J.N. in History of the
Sabbath, 3rd edition, 1887. Reprint Teach Services,
Brushton (NY), 1998, pp. 324-325). William
Cave, a seventeenth century historian, stated that,
"... the Sabbath or Saturday (for so the word
sabbatum is constantly used in the writings of the
fathers, when speaking of it as it relates to
Christians) was held by them in great veneration,
and especially in the Eastern parts honoured with
all the public solemnities of religion." (Cave
William, D.D. Primitive Christianity: or the
Religion of the Ancient Christians in the First Ages
of the Gospel. 1840 edition revised by H. Cary.
Oxford, London, pp. 84-85). The truth of the
matter is this, the early church kept the seventh
day as it's Sabbath, not the first day. Sunday
worship came later as a pagan influence.
What To Do on the Sabbath:
you've concluded that we need to still keep the
Sabbath, the logical next question is how? It
is important to learn from the Messiah and follow as
the scriptures command, and not men like the Scribes
and Pharisees (Matt. 15:2-6, Mark 7:5-8).
We need to do, and not do, exactly as the scriptures
tell us. Adding anything to, or taking
anything away, is strictly forbidden (Deut. 12:32).
The Sabbath is commanded as a day of rest. We
are to cease from working, but more detail is
provided throughout the scripture. The
following are eight things I found that are required
on the Sabbath:
We are not to buy on the Sabbath: This is part
of the work statute from Ex. 20:10, but more
clarity is given throughout the scriptures.
In Nehemiah 10:31 God warned, "And if the people
of the land bring ware or any victuals on the
Sabbath day to sell, that
we would not buy it of them on the Sabbath,
or on the holy day: and that we would leave the
seventh year, and the exaction of every debt."
We are not to sell on the Sabbath:
This is part of the work statute from Ex. 20:10,
but more clarity is given throughout the
In Nehemiah 13:15-16 God warned, "In
those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses
on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading
asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all
manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem
on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in
the day wherein they sold
victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also
therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware,
and sold on the Sabbath
unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem."
We are not to conduct business on the Sabbath:
This is part of the work statute from
Ex. 20:10, but more clarity is given throughout
In Nehemiah 13:15 God warned, "In those
days saw I in Judah some
treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing
in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes,
and figs, and all manner of burdens, which
they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and
I testified against them in the day wherein they
We are not to trade on the Sabbath:
This is part of the work statute from
Ex. 20:10, but more clarity is given throughout
In Amos 8:5 the people asked, "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 by
deceit? That we may buy the poor for
silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and
sell the refuse of the wheat?"
We are not to kindle a fire:
In Exodus 35:3 God commanded, "Ye shall kindle
no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath
day." The Hebrew word translated, "kindle"
is bâ‛ar, which means "to kindle, that
is, consume by fire or by eating" (Strong's
Dictionary - H1197). This was understood to be in
reference to fire made concerning work, such as
cooking food. In fact, the definition has both
aspects with "consume by fire or by eating." Fire for heat during the winter
or light at night was acceptable. This
conclusion comes from the exception made during the
Feast days. During Feast days it was commanded
that no "servile work" was to be done (Lev.
23:7). This exception was made because this
was a feast day and food had to be prepared.
We are to observe a holy convocation:
In Leviticus 23:3 God commanded that, "Six days
shall work be done: but the seventh day is the
Sabbath of rest, an holy
convocation." We are not to,
"forsak[e] the assembling of ourselves together, as
the manner of some is" (Heb. 10:25). This
is a day where we are to rest from our work and
assemble together to learn the word of God.
We are not to travel on the Sabbath:
In Exodus 16:29 God commanded, "See, for that
the LORD hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he
giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days;
abide ye every man in his
place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh
day." The exception to this is to
attend the Sabbath assembly. In Acts 1:12, a
reference is made to a "Sabbath days journey."
This was originally understood be the distance
within the city, but perhaps a better understanding
might be the distance needed to travel to meet with
the Sabbath assembly.
We are not to do our own pleasure:
In Isaiah 58:13 Isaiah said, "If thou turn away
thy foot from the Sabbath, from
doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call
the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD,
honourable; and shalt honour him,
not doing thine own ways,
nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking
thine own words." This does not mean we
cannot enjoy the Sabbath. After all, "The
Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the
Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath should
be a joyous time of rest. We are to learn the
word of God. What this is referring to is of
doing our own pleasure at the cost of keeping the
Sabbath. For example, in America Friday night
is commonly a party night. Saturday is
typically a play day for going to the beach or
playing at the park. This should never be done
in place of the Sabbath requirements. Each
believer needs to examine himself to determine
whether they are keeping the Sabbath as God
commands, or whether they are using this day off of
work to play.
always need to remember the words of the Messiah, "The
Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the
Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). We should look
forward to the Sabbath as a time of fellowship and
rest from our work. It is not a burden to
bear, but a special day we are to celebrate in honor
of our Lord. Since 2008 my wife and I have
started keeping the Sabbath. We constantly
mention to each other how much we look forward to
the Sabbath as a time of rest and fellowship.
It is never a burden to us. We should keep the
Sabbath because God said to and because it is joy
for us, not a burden.