Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 11, 1954

"Remember The Sabbath"

Thomas Allen Robertson. San Bernardino. California

One of the much discussed points of the religious world is the question whether Christians are to meet to worship God upon the first day of the week or upon the seventh, which is the old Jewish "sabbath." This question, as all such questions dealing with the worship of God, can be settled only by the Bible.

One distinction made in the Bible, which most men fail to consider, is the distinction between the old and the new covenants, or the Old Testament and the New Testament. Concerning this distinction Paul said, "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of the letter." (Rom. 7:6.) Again he said, "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." (2 Cor. 3:6.) And again, "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son." (Rom. 1:9.) The writer of the Hebrew letter declares, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." (Heb. 1:1,2.) These passages and many others like them show plainly the distinction between the two laws, and teach that we are no longer to try to serve God under the laws and ordinances of the old covenant.

Arguments For The "Sabbath"

Since men find it so difficult to realize that we are no longer under the old covenant, let us study some of the arguments that are made by them in defense of the idea of "sabbath keeping."

1. One reason proposed for the keeping of this day is that the sabbath was a holy day, that God blessed it, and that he set it aside or "sanctified" it. (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:10.) The statement that the sabbath was "holy," "blessed," and "set aside" is indeed true; but that is not the question. The question is, Are we to observe this day under the gospel of Christ.

If the fact that the sabbath was "holy" is a reason for our observing that day now, then we must observe all days that were "holy." If not, why not? The sabbath was not the Only holy day under the old covenant. The first day of the seventh month, also the tenth day of the seventh month were "holy." Are these days to be observed? Who contends that they are? Yet they were "holy" exactly as was the sabbath.

2. Again it is urged that we ought to observe the sabbath because it was to be "perpetual" and "everlasting." But observe the very verse in which the sabbath is referred to as a perpetual covenant: "The children of Israel shall keep the sabbath to observe the sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant.' (Exodus 31:16.) It was to "the children of Israel" the sabbath was given, not to the gentiles. And it was giver to Israel only "throughout their generations." The Jewish nation ceased to exist on this earth with the coming of Christ. There is not a Jew on earth who can trace "his generations"; not a one of them knows from which tribe he has come. But if use of the word "perpetual" means the sabbath is to be observed in this year of grace, ther everything which is described as "perpetual" is entitle (to the same consideration. Lighting the lights at evening time was "perpetual." (Exodus 30:8.) Burning of incense was "perpetual." (Exodus 20:8.) Washing hands and feet was "perpetual?' (Exodus 30:21.) Meat offerings were "perpetual." (1 Kings 9:3.) Let those who would keep the sabbath explain why none of the other "perpetual" things here enumerated is to be observed.

3. Further, it is argued that the sabbath is binding "forever," and hence should be kept in our day. But once more, look at the verse in which the word "forever" is used. The very verse (Exodus 31:17) declares that it was to be a sign between God and Israel "forever." The "sign" was given to the Jews to remind them that God had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt. It was a sign between God and Israel. It had no "sign-ificance" to any other nation; it did not sign-ify anything to any nation save Israel. The passover, like the sabbath, was to be observed "forever." (Exodus 12:14.) Are we still to observe the passover? The word "forever" does not mean never ending or eternal, but rather until the fulfilment of the time or purpose has been accomplished. Jonah 2:6 says that Jonah was in the belly of the great fish "forever." How long was he there? He was there only three days and nights; but he was there until the time was fulfilled which God had appointed or ordained. Thus the sabbath was a sign "forever" between God and Israel; that is, it was a sign for the full time God had ordained or appointed it to be. It covered the entire dispensation of which it was a part.

4. But those who would observe the sabbath argue that the sabbath belongs to God's covenant and was never broken. But look at the words of Zechariah, "And I took my staff, even beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I made with all the people. And it was broken in that day!! (Zech. 11:10, 11.) In what day? The day Christ died on the cross. But again let us look at the words of Hosea, "I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts." (Hosea 2:11.) Thus we see that God said he was going to do the very thing those who would observe the sabbath deny. Again let us notice a question the Jews asked God and God's answer to their question. "When will the sabbath be gone that we might set forth wheat?" (Amos 8:5.) Now hear God's answer, "In that day, saith the Lord God, I will darken the earth in the clear day." (Hosea 8:9.) Now when did this happen? It all came to pass the day Christ died on the cross. (Matt. 27:45; see also Col. 2:14-17; 2 Cor. 3:7-14; Gal. 3:24, 25.)

5. But the argument comes back that Christ observed the sabbath, therefore we ought to observe the sabbath. That is right; Christ did observe the sabbath. But Christ was born under the law of Moses. (Gal. 4:4.) He was circumcised the eighth day. (Luke 2:21.) He kept the passover. (Luke 22:7-15.) In short, Christ lived and died under the law of Moses and, therefore kept it. But there is no record of his keeping the sabbath after his resurrection, because the law was abolished at his death on the cross. (Col. 2:14.) And after his resurrection, Christ met with the disciples repeatedly upon the first day of the week.