The Light of Life Magazine
A ministry of Christian writing




July 2011

WHETHER CHRISTIANS OBSERVE SABBATH DAY AS PER TEN COMMANDMENTS? IF NOT, IS IT NOT A SIN?


Debate

Two questions arise--the day of Sabbath and then observance of Sabbath. As per the Jewish tradition, Saturday is the Sabbath day. The risen Lord appeared to the disciples on Sunday. And Sunday became the day of worship and Sabbath, according to the New Covenant established through Christ the Lord. It was observed as sabbath strictly, spending the day in worship, Bible studies etc without doing any other work. At present, we finish our worship in a morning service and then attend to work as usual. Is it a sin? Or do we have the worship in mind always, any time, anywhere. And He that keeps us "shall neither slumber nor sleep." The Lord fought against literal interpretation of Sabbath. What will we do in a country where Sunday is a working day? How will the Lord interpret about observing Sabbath today?
Jacob Sahayam, Thiruvananthapuram

In Christianity, the Sabbath day can be viewed in different perspectives in many nations. In the West and in India, it is on a Sunday, while in the Middle East, it is taken as a Friday. God expects His people to keep the Sabbath day "Holy," but will not rebuke a man to be a sinner if he does not honour the Word of God. In Mark 2:27 Jesus says, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for Sabbath. So the Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath." Jesus healed people on the Sabbath and the Pharisees were angry as how such an act could be done on a holy day as seen in Matthew 12:8 and Mark 2:27. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ reveals to all men that by shedding His blood and sacrificing His life on the cross at Calvary, the Sabbath Day should be kept Holy with reverence to God in supplication and prayer. "Therefore, let no man pass judgement on you in question of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath" (Col. 2:16).
Ashok Abraham, New Delhi

A few denominations of Christians observe Sabbath day very regularly, in the sense, many are not observing at large, giving less or no importance to it. But no one is against or protesting it. Ten Commandments are not strict rules or assertive commands, instead to keep the Christian morale and love towards God to make a man, a loyal God-fearing human being. Failing to observe Sabbath day is not denial of God's words, but failure of practising a religious norm due to some reasonable cause. This does not harm or hurt anyone by words or actions, and also not instigating to do wrong or evil things besides not ruining others' faith in God. Hence it cannot be a sin.
B. P. Pereira, Madurai

This was perhaps the perception of the Jews and that was the reason they opposed Jesus Christ, as Jesus did most of the miracles on Sabbath days. Paul compared the Ten Commandments to a yoke and on a Sabbath day no one was supposed to do any work, but observe complete rest. The Jewish community diligently followed it, though they continued to violate several other very important Commandments. It is exactly true when we compare with the ways of modern Christians too. They do all kinds of wrong things, but come for Sunday worship very religiously. If Jesus Christ visits our churches today, like He visited the Jerusalem Temple 2000 years ago and took drastic steps of flogging all of them out, what would be His reaction? We must remember that Jesus Christ absolved the Jews then for their utter hypocrisy. They were unconcerned of human sufferings/problems in their obsession to follow the Sabbath so rigidly. When a woman, who was held in captivity by Satan for long years and couldn't even straighten herself up, was healed by Jesus in a Synagogue on the Sabbath day, all the Jews assembled there criticised Jesus for violation of Sabbath, but His reply made all of them dumbstruck. The Son of Man is greater than Sabbath. This is what we should understand from the parable of the Good Samaritan. The characters like Priest, Levites and the Samaritan, who all passed thereby, were the three typical attitudes to a problem. It is very much alive and is kicking even today, though that portion from the Gospel is preached for the last two millenniums in all churches. Therefore, what I perceive on this question is: to do good deeds on Sabbath day is not a sin. Perhaps, the Priest and the Levites did not help the wounded, as they were more concerned of observing the Sabbath day than lending a helping hand. But the Samaritan did what exactly Jesus did in the Synagogue on a Sabbath day. For the New Testament believers, therefore, the Old is gone and everything is made anew.
R. K. Kutty, Bhopal

Yahweh commanded the Israelites to observe Sabbath, the seventh day of the week by availing complete rest and keeping it holy. Those returned from captivity observed Sabbath in sanctity (Neh.13:22).Gradually the religious leaders incorporated many restrictions which made practically any act of daily life defiling Sabbath. Jesus broke such rules to do good work. Being the Lord of Sabbath (Mk. 2:28), He taught that Sabbath was made for man's benefit, and man's needs are more important than the law of Sabbath. Although the apostles preached in synagogues on Sabbaths to reason that Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 18:4-5), they worshipped and broke bread on the first day of the week, as the Lord rose up on that day (Acts 20:7, 1Cor.16:1-2). Later they stopped the Synagogue visits altogether. Remember, Apostle John had the revelation of Jesus Christ on a Lord's day (Rev.1:10)? Believers prefer to serve the Lord on the Lord's day, rather than resting themselves, as is the case when observing Sabbath.

As for me, being born-again, I am not under 'Law, but am under 'Grace'; also, I am delivered from and dead to the Law (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 6:14;7:6,4). I won't choose to keep a few things from the Law and others from the Grace 'packages,' because both cannot coexist (Gal. 4:30-31). Even if I prefer to be justified by Law, I cannot keep the Law piece-meal, in which case I am accursed (Jas. 2:10-11,Gal. 5:3, Deut. 27:26,Gal. 3:10). But the most important reason why I won't observe Sabbath is: Sabbath is a sign between Yahweh and the Israelites, forever (Exo. 31:13,17). It doesn't apply to a believer. Am I a sinner for not observing Sabbath?
Donald J. Godfred, Secunderabad

After the strenuous activities of six days' works of creation, God rested on the seventh day and blessed it. The children of Israel, as slaves in Egypt, didn't enjoy rest. Hence, when they were redeemed, God gave them the Sabbath to be observed on the seventh day and to be kept holy. None including the animals should work. The law-breakers were punished by death by stoning. Jesus kept the Sabbath holy, even though He broke the man-made rules about it, for healing people. The Apostles after Jesus' ascension, preached in Synagogues, and to Gentiles on Sabbath days. But later, they stopped visiting Synagogues on Sabbaths; instead, assembled for worship and breaking bread on the first day of the week (Sunday). The NT believers follow this teaching on worship on Sundays (or any other day due to the present day pressure on employment). The believers never observe Sabbath because they know that any person will be justified by faith in Jesus Christ and not by the works of the Law (Gal. 2:16).

The happy note is that, in spite of all the present restrictions, worship on Sabbath and its observance will be reintroduced in the 'new heaven - new earth' era (Isa. 66:23).
Dominic Godfred, Secunderabad

As per Ten Commandments the 'seventh day' is a day of rest dedicated to the Lord. On that day no one is to work... (Exo.20:8-11, Gen.2:2-3). All English calendars display 'Sunday' as the 'seventh day'- 'day of rest'- 'Holiday'. Moreover, our Lord Jesus' 'Resurrection Day' was also Sunday and therefore, Sunday is our 'Lord's Day' (Matt.28:1-10). Christians should therefore always take holiday from work on Sundays and begin the Lord's Day with attending Church-Lord's Temple to praise and worship our Lord and learn and understand Bible through Pastor's sermon. Christians working on Sundays, in order to earn more money, giving priority to money over God and not attending the Church, are just ruining themselves.

Anyone still adamant about the 'Sabbath Day' should read Mk.2:23-28, Mk.3:1-6, Matt.23:13-28, Lk.11:37-42, wherein we learn how Lord Jesus condemns the hypocritical way of following God's laws and commands. In the N.T., our Lord Jesus gave us a complete insight into the O.T. laws and commands and urged us to follow the core (heart) of each commandment and not the superficial ritual.
Mallika Accountant, Mumbai.

God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh day-this was the first Sabbath. When Jesus was crucified and buried, He rested in the grave on the seventh day and came up only on the first day of the week. There is no doubt that Saturday is the Sabbath day. In our day-to-day affairs, especially due to the Gregorian calendar, one is forced to work on Saturdays. In my opinion, if somebody has to, perforce, do something on a Sabbath day, it would not tantamount to sin-as Jesus, walking through the field had told His followers.
Tapan Chakraborty, Ranchi

Now, Sundays are holidays, reserved for merry making, picnic, shopping, movies, visiting relatives etc. God Himself rested on the seventh day. In the Old Testament times, He commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy and that would differentiate His chosen race from the races around. Any kind of work or business was forbidden that day and that applied to the servants, cattle and also the strangers in their midst.

The Pharisees made much of the letter of the Law whereas Jesus went by the spirit behind it. In Matthew 12:11, while healing a man with a withered hand, He said that acts of mercy should be allowed that day. He asked them, is it lawful to do well on the Sabbath day? He also commented that necessary work like losing the animals from the stalls and watering them should also be allowed. He commented 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for Sabbath' (Mk. 2:27).

According to prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, those who love the Lord will refrain from pleasing themselves, but will hallow the Sabbath Day (Isa. 56:2,4, 58:13, Jer.17:22). Such people will delight themselves in Him and will get richly blessed.
Janet Edwin, Chennai

The Creation Week culminates in the creation of Sabbath, during which God "rested from all His work, which He had made" (Gen. 2:2-3). It was required to be observed by the Israelites after their deliverance from bondage in Egypt (Exo. 20:8-11), and as a sign of their covenant relationship with God (Exo.31:17). However, under the New Testament, Christians are not required to observe the Sabbath, and it is not a sin (Jn. 5:15-18).

In fact, the New Covenant is silent about observing any particular day as a day of rest and worship. As true worshippers, Christians are required to worship God in spirit and in truth, but not on any particular fixed day. The early Christians, on their own, chose to observe the first day of the week in commemoration of Christ's resurrection. As stated by J. F. Dake, "The day early Christians observed, not by commandment, but by choice, was the first day, Sunday. Christ and no Apostle commanded to keep the old Jewish Sabbath or any other day, but did command all men not to be bound by any particular day (Rom. 14:5-6; Gal.4:9-11; Col.2:14-17)."

The Sabbath portrays "spiritual rest in Christ" (Heb.4). It is thus fulfilled in those who are truly converted, and are sanctified "in Christ." Next, it portrays the entrance of saints into total spiritual rest in God's Kingdom at the second coming of Christ (Heb. 4:9,11). As such, the weekly seventh day Sabbath "has in view the millennial age when all will be so ordered as a result of divine working, that rest will be brought into the very scene where all the disorder and darkness have been. It will be a triumph of God in relation to all the conditions which have come in here as the result of sin and Satan's power" (C. A. Coates). Satan, who is now working overtime, will be forced to take rest, once God's Millennial Kingdom is established on earth. May God hasten that day for our complete deliverance from sinful flesh, Satan, and the world.
Joaozinho da S. F. A. Martins, Goa

Sabbath observance was included as a Commandment as God rested that day after creation (Gen. 2.23; Exo. 20.8-11). This works out to be a Saturday. So Jews not only abstained from work, but also worshipped God that day. But as their Lord was raised from the dead on a Sunday, early Christians switched their worship to that day (Acts 20.7; 1Cor.16.2). In the Gulf countries, local laws force Christians to worship on Fridays. When we simply switch the day of worship, due to valid reasons, where is the question of sinning? More importantly, our Lord Himself has re-interpreted the (Mosaic) law, including Sabbath observance, that doing good on Sabbath is perfectly in order (Matt.12.12; Mk.2.27; Lk. 6.5; 13.15,16). So, be assured that the good Lord will appreciate the Church, His bride, switching the Sabbath to Sunday.
Rev. Fr. Abraham Thomas, Kochi

As a Jew, Jesus Christ observed the Ten Commandments in their true spirit (Gen. 2:2, Exo. 20:8). When it came to the observance of Sabbath, Jesus added empathy and commonsense to it. As the followers of Jesus Christ, we Christians are bound to observe the Sabbath. Lord the God specifies only the seventh day to be the Sabbath. The Jews observe Saturday as their Sabbath. As the resurrection of Jesus occurred on Sunday, the Christians observe Sundays as their Sabbath. The first Christians in Jerusalem, who were Jews and Benjaminites earlier, observed their last Saturdays Sabbath and their first Sunday Sabbath consecutively. Thereafter, their Sabbaths were Sundays, which are their seventh days, fulfilling the commandment obligation.
C. T. Mathew, Pathanathitta




Light of Life