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Builders of Faith Explorer I:  Exploring Bible Truth

Lesson 10—God’s Holy Day

 

 

1.  According to Genesis, when did the Sabbath originate and to whom did it apply?

 

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.  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.”  Genesis 2:1-3.

 

Answer:  Notice that God did three things on the seventh day, the day right after He finished Creation:

 

A.  He Rested—Since God does not need to rest, because He is the source of all life and energy, He must have rested as an example for mankind to rest, at least partly to focus on God’s creation.  The Hebrew word for “rested” in these verses is related to the word for “Sabbath”, which means “rest”.

 

B.  He Blessed the 7th Day—To bless something is to give a benefit, just as we ask God to bless (benefit) our food before we eat it.  God did not bless the 7th day for Himself, because He is the source of all blessings.  Therefore, God must have blessed the day for mankind, that is, made it for a benefit to them.

 

C.  He Sanctified the 7th Day—To sanctify something is to “set it apart” for holy use.  Again, God is the source of all holiness, so He must have sanctified the day for mankind to use as a holy day—that is, to focus on God and His works in order to grow their relationship with Him.

 

Even though these verses do not specifically command people to keep the 7th day as the Sabbath, the fact God rested, blessed, and sanctified that day tells us that He intended for mankind to keep it holy.  Remember also that Genesis is a book of origins, not laws; so we might not expect the book to record a command per se.  There’s no point in God doing these things and then waiting until the Israelites come along and have them be the first people to keep it.  Obviously, then, the Sabbath was made for all of mankind, not just the Israelites or Jews.

 

 

2.  Was the Sabbath intended to be a literal 24-hour day or just an eternal spiritual experience for God’s people?

 

“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….  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 [sanctified] it.”  Exodus 20:8-11.

 

Answer:  Some critics have said the fact that Genesis 2:1-3 never declares “and the evening and the morning was the seventh day”, as Genesis 1 does for each of the other six days of Creation week, means that the Sabbath is an eternal spiritual experience for God’s people and not a literal 24-hour holy day.  However, note that the Sabbath Commandment cited above refers to the same three things God did on the seventh day of Creation week, connecting it to that time.  First, this reinforces the view that the Sabbath is indeed a literal 24-hour day.   Second, the fact that it’s part of the Ten Commandments, which Lesson #8 and #9 clearly showed that the Bible teaches that Christians are to keep the Ten Commandments, means we are to keep the 7th-day Sabbath.  Finally, it also reinforces the view that the Sabbath was made for all mankind since it originated at Creation week, long before Abraham lived, let alone an Israelite or a Jew.

 

 

3.  Did Jesus ever explicitly declare that the Sabbath was made for mankind and not only for the Jews?

 

“And He [Jesus] said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’”  Mark 2:27.

 

Answer:  The Greek word for “man” in this text is the word from which we derive the word “anthropology”.  Therefore, Jesus did explicitly declare that the Sabbath was made for mankind and not only for the Jews.

 

 

4.  Were Gentiles who converted to the Jewish religion in the Old Testament times required to keep the same Sabbath?

 

“Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant—Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer.”  Isaiah 56:6-7.

 

Answer:  Yes, even Gentiles who converted to the Lord were expected to keep the Sabbath holy.  So why wouldn’t Gentile (non-Jews) followers of the Lord Jesus keep the 7th-day Sabbath today?

 

 

5.  Can something that God has blessed be undone in any way?

 

“Behold, I have received a command to bless; He [God] has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.”  Numbers 23:20.

 

Answer:  Balak, a Moabite king, tried to get the prophet Balaam to curse Israel.  But Balaam said that he could not do this because God’s blessing cannot be reversed.  Although the Sabbath is not the subject of this text, the principle still applies.  As we saw in Question #1 and #2, God blessed the 7th day of each week.  Therefore no person or church has the authority to transfer that blessing to the first day, or any other day, of the week; nor can anyone simply remove that blessing.

 

 

6.  Is there any New Testament evidence that Jesus and other Christians actually kept the 7th-day Sabbath?

 

“So He [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.  And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.”  Luke 4:16.  “And he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.”  Acts 18:4.  “And he [Paul] continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”  Acts 18:11.

 

Answer:  Critics often say that Jesus was a Jew, so naturally He kept the Sabbath.  But if He intended to change the Sabbath to another day, or to simply abolish the Sabbath, why did He customarily attend the synagogue on the 7th-day Sabbath?  That would tend to confuse His followers.  As for Paul, a search of Acts will disclose that Gentiles met with Paul on the 7th-day Sabbath for 82 Sabbaths.  Surely, if the Sabbath had been changed or abolished, Paul would have met the Gentiles on some other day to avoid confusing the Gentile converts to Christianity.

 

 

7.  Did Jesus ever say anything that would suggest the 7th-day Sabbath would continue for His followers well after the cross, resurrection, and His ascension back to heaven?

 

“And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.”  Matthew 24:20.

 

Answer:  Compare this text with the parallel context in Luke 21:20-24, and you will see that Jesus is here referring to the time near the Roman destruction of the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  Jesus told His disciples to flee the city just before its destruction.  Thus, Jesus is talking to His own followers (Christians) and refers to the Sabbath as still existing long after His return to heaven.  Some critics of the Sabbath have suggested that Jesus had His followers pray this prayer because they would alienate the Jews if they left with their belongings on a Sabbath, the Jewish leaders considering this a violation of the Sabbath.  But Jesus and His followers had been alienating the Jewish leaders about how the Christians kept the Sabbath already, so obviously Jesus wasn’t concerned about non-Christian Jewish reaction to His people having to leave on a Sabbath.  He was concerned, then, because fleeing the city on a Sabbath would not be an enjoyable way to spend a Sabbath.

 

 

8.  Is there any other New Testament evidence that the 7th-day Sabbath continues to be valid after the cross?

 

“This man [Joseph of Arimathea] went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.  That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.  And the women who had come with Him [Jesus] from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.  Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils.  And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.  Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.  Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus….  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”  Luke 23:52-24:7.

 

Answer:  First, please note that the day called “the Preparation” is what we call Friday because it was the day that the people prepared for the Sabbath.  Second, note that “the first day of the week” (Sunday) was the day Jesus was resurrected.  Finally, the day between Friday and Sunday was called “the Sabbath according to the commandment.”  That, of course, is what we call Saturday.  This passage is significant for two fundamental reasons:  (1) Luke was a Greek physician (a Gentile), and (2) Luke wrote his gospel several years after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.  This would have been the perfect place for Luke to state that they rested according to the Jewish Sabbath.  But not only did he not do this, he described the 7th-day Sabbath (Saturday) as being a valid commandment—one of the Ten Commandments.

 

 

9.  What does the book of Hebrews say about the Sabbath?

 

“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.  For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”  Hebrews 4:9-10.

 

Answer:

 

A.  Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 primarily discuss the spiritual rest available in the gospel of Jesus.  In that context, the writer specifically states that God’s resting on the 7th day of Creation week is comparable to the Christian’s rest in the gospel (see Hebrews 4:1-4).  Then in Hebrews 4:9 he explicitly declares that “There remains therefore a Sabbath-rest [in the literal Greek] for the people of God.”  Some modern English translations accurately translate the compound word in the Greek with “Sabbath-rest”.  After saying that, the writer then says that those believers who enter God’s rest stop their working just as God stopped His working at the end of Creation.  Therefore, verse 9 is equivalent to declaring that there remains a Sabbath-keeping for Christians.

 

B.  This evidence is all the more impressive because the book of Hebrews was written to Jewish (Hebrew) Christians to persuade them to disassociate themselves from the Jewish Temple, the animal sacrifices, and the earthly priesthood by pointing them to the Temple in heaven, to Jesus as the perfect once-for-all Sacrifice for sins, and to Jesus the perfect high priest.  This would have been the perfect book to argue that the 7th-day Sabbath was a Jewish institution that had been changed or abolished.  The fact that the writer does not do this, but instead uses the 7th-day Sabbath as a symbol of the spiritual rest in the gospel, is solid proof that the 7th-day Sabbath (Saturday) is still the Bible Sabbath that Christians should keep.

 

 

10.  I have heard from some believers that the book of Revelation says something positive about the Creation Sabbath.  Is that really true?

 

“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”  Revelation 14:6-7.  “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them….”  Exodus 20:11.

 

Answer:  The passage in Revelation is the first of 3 angels’ messages to the whole earth, warning them to avoid receiving the mark of the beast just before the Second Coming of Jesus (Revelation 14:14-20).  At this crisis era, note that the everlasting gospel is associated with a paraphrase of part of the Sabbath Commandment.  This suggests that the 7th-day Sabbath will play an important role in the end-time crisis.  Therefore, as we approach the soon return of Jesus in glory, should we not prepare, in part, by keeping His Sabbath day holy?

 

 

11.  Will God’s people keep the 7th-day Sabbath holy in the New Earth, after sin has been wiped out of the universe?

 

“’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.”  Isaiah 66:22-23.

 

Answer:  Yes, when sin has been finally erased from the universe and the New Earth has been made, “All flesh” (Jews and Gentiles) will worship the Lord each Sabbath.

 

 

12.  What is your response to the abundant evidence that Saturday is the Bible Sabbath and should be kept holy by all people, including Christians?

 

Answer:  We have learned here that the Sabbath was made at Creation week for all mankind, that Gentile converts to Judaism in the Old Testament times kept the same 7th-day Sabbath, that Jesus and the apostles kept the same Sabbath, that the 7th-day Sabbath will play a prominent role in the end-time crisis, and that every saved person regardless of nationality will keep the Sabbath forever in the New Earth.  Why in the world, then, would Christians during the Christian Era be exempt from keeping the same Saturday Sabbath?

 

 

Quiz for Lesson 10—God’s Holy Day

 

1.  Identify the 3 things God did on the 7th day of Creation Week. (3)

  God slept.

  God rested.

  God blessed the day.

  God sanctified the day.

  God conducted the first Sabbath worship service.

Answer

God rested.
God blessed the day.
God sanctified the day.

2.  The Sabbath is an eternal spiritual experience for God’s people, and not a special day to be observed every week. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

False

3.  Were Gentiles (non-Jews) converted to Judaism in the Old Testament required to keep the 7th-day Sabbath? (1)

  Yes

  No

Answer

Yes

4.  Who, if anyone, does the New Testament explicitly tell us kept the 7th-day Sabbath? (3)

  Jesus

  Paul

  Gentiles

  John the Baptist

Answer

Jesus
Paul
Gentiles

5.  Which of the following statements is true concerning Jesus’ comment to pray that your flight not be on the Sabbath day? (2)

  Jesus was particularly talking about events near the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

  Jesus’ comment means that He knew the Sabbath would still be valid after the cross.

  Jesus was concerned about the reactions of the Jews to the disciples fleeing on the Sabbath.

Answer

Jesus was particularly talking about events near the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
Jesus’ comment means that He knew the Sabbath would still be valid after the cross.

6.  What is significant about Luke’s comments about the 7th-day Sabbath? (3)

  He called the day between Friday and Sunday the Sabbath “according to the commandment”.

  Luke was a Gentile, not a Jew.

  Luke understood that Gentile Christians did not have to keep the 7th-day Sabbath.

  Luke wrote his gospel long after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Answer

He called the day between Friday and Sunday the Sabbath “according to the commandment”.
Luke was a Gentile, not a Jew.
Luke wrote his gospel long after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

7.  In what New Testament book is it said that there remains a “Sabbath-rest” for Christians? (1)

  Luke

  Revelation

  Hebrews

  Acts

Answer

Hebrews

8.  What is significant about the book of Hebrews regarding the Sabbath? (3)

  It was a book written to Jewish (Hebrew) Christians to wean them off strictly Jewish things.

  It would have been the perfect book to tell Christians the Sabbath had been changed.

  It argues that the Sabbath is still for Jewish Christians, but not for Gentile Christians.

  The 7th-day Sabbath is used in Hebrews as a symbol of the spiritual rest in the gospel.

Answer

It was a book written to Jewish (Hebrew) Christians to wean them off strictly Jewish things.
It would have been the perfect book to tell Christians the Sabbath had been changed.
The 7th-day Sabbath is used in Hebrews as a symbol of the spiritual rest in the gospel.

9.  Identify the 2 New Testament books below that are especially important sources of support for the 7th-day Sabbath (Saturday). (2)

  Luke

  I Corinthians

  Hebrews

  Jude

Answer

Luke
Hebrews

10.  If the Sabbath was kept by Adam and Eve, even by Gentile converts to Judaism in the Old Testament, by Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament, and it will likely play a prominent role in the final crisis, then shouldn’t Christians keep it today? (1)

  Yes

  No

Answer

Yes