Why don’t Christians observe the original Sabbath?

Thanks for asking!
This issue has been a sticking point between sabbatarians and the rest of the Body of Christ for some time…but it shouldn’t be. The Bible is very clear on this subject. Let’s forget for a moment about Constantine, or that the Sabbath was a sign between God and the Israelites of their covenant (and so completely out of date) and focus on God’s purpose for the Sabbath.
Let’s start in Genesis…
The word “sabbath” means “rest”. This isn’t the kind of rest we need after a good workout. The word literally means ‘the ending of activity’. God didn’t rest on the seventh day because He was tired. God had finished creating the world, and so He stopped. He didn’t pick up where He left off when the weekend was over…He was done.
Let’s move to Exodus…
God’s covenant with the children of Israel included a lot of religious activity, including the creation of a tabernacle, sacrifices of animals, and so on. This activity only stopped on the Sabbath. Now, remember: the Sabbath isn’t about being tired…it’s about being finished with your work. The priests couldn’t stop working the way that God did in Genesis. They took a day off and went right back to it the next day. Why? Because the work wasn’t finished. They did the same things day after day, year after year. They were even forbidden to have chairs in the tabernacle because sitting down would suggest that their work was done!
Let’s keep going to the New Testament…
The Exodus Sabbath was a symbol of God’s rest in Genesis. It told the children of Israel that they would someday be able to stop working…to stop sacrificing for their own sins. When Jesus died and rose again, that day had finally come. In Hebrews 10:11-12 we see the comparison between the Jewish priests and Jesus:
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
Jesus finished His work and rested, just as we see God doing in Genesis.
What about us?
How then should we view the Sabbath? God rested when His work was done, and Jesus rested when His work was done. The ancient Jews never enjoyed that rest, but it’s available to us today, as Hebrews 4:9-10 tell us:
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
Let’s look at Colossians 2:16-17, which should erase any doubt about the nature of the Sabbath:
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
From all of these verses we can see that the Sabbath clearly isn’t a day of the week. It’s neither Saturday nor Sunday! We enter into the Sabbath rest when we stop working, and that only happens when we accept that Jesus’ sacrifice was for each of us. His work is done, and He invites us to join Him.

8 Comments

  • Joe says:

    God rested on the 7th day and made it holy… He made THAT day holy…
    It doesn’t say he temporary made that day holy, but that day (Also translated as “sanctified it”).

    So if this is true, why would it suddenly not be holy now? Jesus was holy, he was always holy, no change. Same concept here.

    Jesus rested on the Sabbath (Saturday) when he died. He died on Friday, rested through Saturday, even his disciples that were preparing his body for burial quit preparing him all Saturday and rested on the Sabbath (not working). Jesus rested on Saturday and rose Sunday…

    The list goes on and on…

  • Tony Scialdone says:

    Thanks for your question, Joe!

    Look in Exodus 20:8-11, to which you refer:

    Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    To make something holy, as you point out, is to “sanctify” it. That literally means ‘to set it apart’. The implication, whether it’s a person or a tool or money, is that it’s set apart for a specific purpose. God did set apart the seventh day, of course.

    The command to remember the Sabbath day is directly tied to God’s rest in Genesis, right? God ‘set apart’ that day…but for what purpose? If you look in Colossians 2:16-17, you’ll see the nature of the sabbath:

    …do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

    See? The sabbath day was a SHADOW of things to come. God’s people no longer perform animal sacrifices because Jesus fulfilled them. They were done to point us to Him. The sabbath is exactly the same, Joe. The observance of sabbath in Judaism pointed to Jesus, who is the true and real sabbath.

    Is Jesus holy? Of course. Do we remember (observe) the sabbath? Christians should, of course…not a day, but what the day meant: Jesus finished our spiritual work for us, and we can rest in Him.

  • Joe says:

    Thank you for your response. I was taught that the bible reference you quoted talked about Jewish Sabbaths (holidays and Old Testament practices), not Saturday Sabbath.

    If we no longer need to keep the Sabbath, do we no longer need to keep any of the other 9 (of the 10) commandments either? “jesus came to fulfil the law not abolish it.”

  • Rui de Barros says:

    You’re making a big mistake ! You have to study the OT again ! Colossians 2:16 is talking about the ritual sabbaths not the sabbath holy day ! God has a sign between Him and His people. Jesus said that He is the Lord of Sabbath not from Sunday and I’ve a document from Vatican that proves that they changed it because (they say) that the church has the power to do that. Are you keeping just 9 commandments? Because the 10 commadments are still remaining in our days. See also Exodus 16:16-30
    And don’t say that it is not valid just because it is in the OT ! God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow. And just because it says Old doesn’t say that it is not to do! The bible never mention the sunday as the holy day. And by the way you will keep the sabbath in new earth as Isaiah says in the chapter 66. And the sabbath is a specific day ! God was not tired on the seventh day ! He was giving us the example! And we must do the same. Blessings to you

  • Tony Scialdone says:

    Rui:

    I’m willing to listen to your argument. Please provide a reason – from Scripture – to believe that Colossians 2:16 is talking about “ritual sabbaths” and not the regular sabbath.

  • Tony Scialdone says:

    Joe:

    In discussions like this one, it’s easy to use words that cause confusion. I don’t observe the sabbath as they did in the Old Testament. Why? Because Jesus fulfilled the Law! What is the sabbath for Christians? Look at Hebrews 4:9-10…

    There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

    I don’t observe the sabbath on Saturday, or on Sunday. I observe the sabbath every single day, because I have entered into God’s rest. It’s a spiritual rest, just as the priests performed spiritual work in the Temple. I don’t have to perform religious ceremonies over and over, doing never-ending spiritual work to please God. Jesus has completed the work, and our rest is in His finished work.

    It’s sometimes difficult to say these things clearly. I don’t fail to observe the sabbath. I observe it all the time! I rest in Christ all day, every day…that is the true sabbath.

  • Rui de Barros says:

    Sure I can do that,
    The bible mention two kinds of sabbaths : Sabbath seventh day the comandment and the anual sabbaths. The anual sabbaths they are connected with the history of Israel. Col 2:16,17 says quoting from KJV : Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath {days}: {in meat…: or, for eating and drinking} {respect: or, part}Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body {is} of Christ. Also Hebrews 10:1 connects the law of shadow with the animal sacrifice. Paul quoted Ez.45:17 in the same way as used in Col.2:16,17 e it is connecting to the cerimonial system Lev.23;3 presents the sabbath seventh day and Lev. 23:5-32 the cerimonial sabbaths. God bless you

  • Tony Scialdone says:

    Rui:

    Let’s look closely at Colossians 2:16-17, okay?

    1. The word “sabbath” is SABBATON. Grammatically, it refers to any kind of sabbath. Because there’s no indication in the text that Paul is talking about only special sabbaths, or “high sabbaths”, you can’t draw the conclusion you’ve drawn from the text itself. Instead, you are inserting your preferred interpretation into the text, which is a mistake.

    2. Your use of Hebrews 10:1 to LIMIT ‘the law of shadow’ to animal sacrifices is simply not supported by the text. Paul explains that the law is insufficient for making us righteous, and then – pay close attention – tells the believers to not stop meeting together, as some had done. Why would they stop meeting together? Quite obviously, they recognized that the weekly sabbath (the reason they had been meeting) was no longer in effect. Paul wanted them to continue to meet regularly, to encourage one another. Had the sabbath still been in effect, Paul would have addressed not meeting together in a different way.

    Were you to speak with a Jew and ask them “what is the law?”, you would undoubtedly be told that it is the law given to Moses, and everything that comes from it. The distinction that you and others make between ‘ceremonial law’ and ‘spiritual law’ doesn’t come from the text, or from any serious study of the text. It’s an idea that’s been overlaid on Scripture, not one drawn from it.

    The New Testament is clear, and adamant about the law: we are no longer under law. Paul wrote about it all the time, encouraging believers to not use their freedom unwisely. Were we not free to ignore the law, we would not have these instructions.

Leave a Reply