The SABBATH - Ordained for Israel and for all People

By Kenneth G. Parker

    Adherents to what is called “New Covenant Theology’’ have a saying, “If it is not repeated in the new, that I will not do!”  The premise is that to be valid, a command must be repeated in the New Testament.  Is this true or is it an argument used to attempt to justify Sabbath breaking?  New Covenant theology claims to be based mainly on Paul’s writings while the teachings of the Old Testament are largely ignored.  What did Paul write regarding the Old Testament?

        Old Testament Is “’Holy Scripture!

     2 Timothy 3:13-15 (NKJV), “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.  But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

        Paul referred to the Old Testament as ‘’the Holy Scriptures’’ and said they contain the basic knowledge required to establish us in the faith of and trust in, Jesus Christ.

        Since the Old Testament is Holy Scripture and can teach us wisdom necessary for salvation, what does the Old Testament teach us regarding the Sabbath?

        Genesis command applies to all people

 The Sabbath is first mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
Genesis 2:2-3 (NKJV), “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Here we learn that God created the Sabbath as Holy Time, blessed it, and set it apart for mankind to use.  Since it was God who set the seventh day apart for us, we have no right or ability to alter or change it.  We can reject it but not correct it!  This one verse is all that we require to establish the Sabbath as our day of rest and worship forever!

 Sabbath observed before Sinai!

            An argument often used to attempt to negate the need to observe the Sabbath is “there is no proof the Sabbath was ever observed before Sinai.”  If this were true, it would only prove that mankind rebelled against God’s Sabbath from the beginning!

  The Old Testament tells us that Abraham obeyed God’s laws.
 Genesis 26:5 (NKJV), “because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

            While this passage does not specifically say Abraham, the father of the faithful, observed the Sabbath, from it we learn that there is no logical reason to assume that the Sabbath command was not included in Abraham’s obedience to God and His laws.

The Old Testament teaches us that the Sabbath was observed before the commands were spoken at Sinai.

Exodus 16:4-5, 23-30 (NKJV), “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.  And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.  And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.”   “  Then he said to them, “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.’”  So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.  Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field.  Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”  Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.  And the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?  See!  For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days.  Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”  So the people rested on the seventh day.”

We learn from the above verses that Sabbath observance was identified with God’s commandments and laws before the Ten Commandments were stated on the mountain.
Remember the Sabbath! 

The Old Testament teaches us that the command given at Sinai did not establish the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship but was a command to remember the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship.

 Exodus 20:8-11 (NKJV), “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

 The key word is “remember”!  You cannot remember something if you never knew it!

 We also learn that it was the death penalty that was established for willful Sabbath abuse and that the observance of the Sabbath was established as a perpetual covenant with the nation of Israel.

 Exodus 31:14-16 (NKJV), “You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you.  Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.  Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord.  Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.  Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.

 We learn that Sabbath keeping is equated with God’s salvation and righteousness to be revealed in Jesus Christ!

 Isaiah 56:-2 (NKJV), “Thus says the Lord:  “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for my salvation is about to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.  Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it; who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

The Old Testament teaches us that the nation of Israel is promised a close relationship with God IF the people will do certain things.  Isaiah recorded one of the “’ifs’’

 Isaiah 58:9, 13-14 (NKJV), “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’  - “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on my holy day,  And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.  The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

             We learn that the ‘’if”’ recorded here is Sabbath observance!  Wherever Israelites dwell on earth today, they are commanded to observe the Sabbath!

 All flesh will observe the Sabbath!

             The Old Testament teaches us that the Sabbath will be observed by all flesh in the future!

 Isaiah 66:22-23 (NKJV), “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain.  And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before me,” says the Lord.

 The Old Testament teaches us that:  The Sabbath was an integral part of God’s creation for mankind;

Abraham undoubtedly observed the Sabbath;

Israel observed the Sabbath before the Commands were stated at Sinai;

The Sabbath is equated with righteousness to be revealed in Jesus Christ and;

The Sabbath will be observed by all flesh in the future.

             Let’s continue to build an even closer relationship with our God by rejoicing in His weekly Sabbath as our formal day of rest and worship as He commanded!