The Rest of the Story

There is a pivotal principal that God warned us to remember. Perversely, we have done all we can do to forget this principle and ignore it. This principle is vital in our relationship with God and helps us to understand and know who God is. It identifies which God we worship. Understanding of this topic is important for every Christian. Watch the video to learn more.

Video transcript:

Earlier in this series of programs, we discussed the law of God. We saw that the law of God is still in effect for Christians in the present age, but we did not examine any of the laws in depth. In this program, we are going to take a close look at one of the laws God has given us.

This law is vital in our relationship with God, because it helps us to identify who God is. God told ancient Israel that by keeping this commandment, they would know who He was. When Israel neglected this ordinance and combined that negligence with idolatry, God condemned them for profaning His name among the nations. When we fail to observe this important law, we cut ourselves off from God as when we commit idolatry.

Lets examine the relationship with this law and it’s connection to the identity of God:

EXO 31:12 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 13 Speak also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

There is something about observing the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week, that helps us to identify who God is. Observance of the Sabbath is a sign that identifies God to the people who worship Him. God had spoken this command to Moses at Mount Sinai:

EXO 20:8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: 10 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor thy stranger that is within your gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

God tells us to remember this day and to keep it holy. First, let’s talk about keeping it holy. We can keep this day holy, only because God has made it holy. We do not have the ability to make a day holy to God, but He has told us that we have the ability either to keep it holy or to profane it. When did God make this day holy? The answer is in the book of Genesis. God had just finished the work of creating the heavens, the earth, all the life forms on the earth, and then, on the sixth day of creation, He made man. After that, God assessed what he had done”

GEN 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

In six days of work, God had created the habitat for His sons and daughters. It was found to be complete and perfect in every detail. What God did then was completely different:

GEN 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

After a week of hard work, God rested. He took the day off. He was refreshed from his labors. He also did something that is very important: He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. When God sanctifies a thing, He sets is apart for a special purpose. God had sanctified many things. He sanctifies his people, He has sanctified places, such as the tabernacle, he has sanctified things, such as the furnishings of the tabernacle and even the garments the priest wore as they attended to their duties. But the very first thing that God sanctified for a holy purpose was a block of time, the seventh day of the week.

God made the seventh day holy and then He commanded man to keep it holy. We keep the Sabbath day holy by following God’s example. We are told to cease from our weekday tasks, from work. The Sabbath is a day of REST. We are commanded to rest from our work on that day.

When God gave the Ten Commandments, He told us to remember the Sabbath. One of the vagaries of human nature is that we often tend to do exactly the opposite of what God has told us to do, and then to justify our actions. The modern Christian world has forgotten to keep the Sabbath day holy, as instructed. Instead, Christianity has decided to attempt to keep another day holy instead--a day that God never sanctified. The modern world of mainstream Christianity observes the first day of the week, forgetting to keep holy the day that God sanctified.

Christianity has developed a complex rationale to justify the observance of Sunday rather than the Sabbath. A central argument is that since Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, God has changed the Sabbath to Sunday. Erdman’s Bible Dictionary says this:

“Christian worship on Sunday, “the first day of the week” was based on the occurrence of Jesus’ resurrection during the early morning hours of a Sunday morning…”

There are a number of problems with this idea. First of all, Jesus was not resurrected on a Sunday morning, as is popularly believed. Additionally, He was not crucified on a Friday. This information will surprise most Christians, but it can be easily proved by the Bible. The truth is that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday. His crucifixion began at 9:00 AM and he died at about 3:00 PM. He was buried by Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus just before sunset on that same day. Jesus predicted that He would be in the tomb for three days and three nights. He was resurrected near the end of the following weekly Sabbath, very late on Saturday afternoon, near the setting of the sun. Mary Magdalene was the first to arrive at the tomb on Sunday morning. It was still dark when she got there and Christ had already arisen.

JOH 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and saw the stone taken away from the sepulcher.

Mary’s visit to the tomb occurred very early, before the sun was up, before dawn. Christ had been resurrected before her arrival. The tomb was already empty and the stone had been rolled away from the entrance before Sunday morning. If you would like to have some material that shows the crucifixion-resurrection chronology in great detail, please write to me at the email address you see on your screen. This material proves that the resurrection did not occur on Sunday.

There is another striking proof that God did not change the Sabbath. It involves how the early church and their critics responded to changes in Jewish custom and practice. At the time of Christ’s death, it had been Jewish custom and practice for about eighteen centuries to circumcise baby boys on the eighth day after their birth. This ritual was instituted by God in His covenant with Abraham, by my reckoning, in about the 18th century BC. For 1800 years, Jews had been circumcising their sons as required by the Abrahamic covenant.

Several years after the resurrection, God made it known to the church that He was extending the promise of salvation to the gentiles as well as the Jews. There was a faction in the early church that contended that these gentile Christians needed to be circumcised also, in order to be saved. Lets read about this controversy in the book of Acts:

ACT 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

This was a really big deal for Jewish Christians. It was inconceivable to some of them that an institution they had observed since the founding of their race was not required for gentile converts as well. Later in the chapter, a conference of the leading men of the church is described, convened to decide the matter. It wasn’t easy for them to come to a decision. There was a lot of arguing and perhaps some of it was heated:

ACT 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, …

There was much disputing. There were arguments and rebuttals. There was investigation and quarrelling. This was a big deal. The traditionalists and the ultra-conservatives were not going to let go of this idea. There was great resistance to this change in policy and doctrine. This faction of the church were following Paul and Barnabas and attempting to co-opt those who had been converted by Paul’s preaching. This example shows how resistant the New Testament church could be to a change in doctrines, even those changes inspired by God. Ultimately, the elders decided that God had lead them to the understanding that circumcision was unnecessary for gentile converts.

The Sabbath doctrine was no less a cherished tradition of the Jews of the early church. The Jews knew that God had cast them into exile for breaking two of the commandments, the ones about idolatry and the Sabbath. When Judah came back out of exile in Babylon, they rigidly enforced the keeping of the Sabbath and dozens of statutes they had created to make Sabbath keeping more rigorous. Ask yourself, “If the Sabbath day had been changed wouldn’t the same Jews who protested about circumcision being waived for gentiles complain even more fervently about the abolition or the changing of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday?” Wouldn’t there have been an Acts 15 type of conference to sort this out? Wouldn’t there have been disputing and quarrels that would outstrip the contention that arose over the circumcision controversy?

Would there not have been some miraculous demonstration to rival the thunder, lightning and earthquakes that were experienced at Mount Sinai when the law was given to Israel? Wouldn’t a great miracle from God be needed to validate this change in the law?

Wouldn’t there be scriptural evidence that the Sabbath law had been changed? Wouldn’t God tell us explicitly in scripture that He now expected Christians to worship on the first day of the week?

Search the entire Bible. I challenge you to find one scripture that indicates that the Sabbath commandment has been changed. There is not the slightest suggestion in the Bible that Sunday has been made holy and that the need to observe the Sabbath has passed. The authority for this idea comes from men, not from the Bible, not from God.

The truth is that God had plenty of chances to show Christians that He was changing the day of rest and worship and He did not take advantage of any of these opportunities.

Jesus, for example, passed up numerous chances to set an example of Sunday, rather than Saturday rest and worship. Yet, the Gospel writers report to us that His custom was to observe the Sabbath. Lets read about it in Luke 4.

LUK 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16 And he 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 for to read.

It was Jesus’ custom to observe the Sabbath. He could have set us an example by teaching His disciples to rest and worship on Sunday instead. He did not. Jesus observed the Sabbath and kept it holy. His critics accused Him of Sabbath breaking, but He only broke the man-made laws about the Sabbath. He never profaned the law of God concerning the Sabbath.

The apostle, Paul, after the resurrection, had numerous opportunities to lead both Jewish and gentile Christians into observance of Sunday as the Sabbath. This idea never occurred to Paul, as he continued throughout his career as an apostle to teach both Jews and gentiles to observe the Sabbath. Paul worshipped in the Synagogue on the Sabbath with Jews.

ACT 13:13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

Paul didn’t teach the gentiles to worship on a different day than the Jews. Surely he would have wanted them to assemble on a Sunday if the Sabbath law was changed.

ACT 13:42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

Here we see Paul teaching the gentiles on the Sabbath! Why didn’t he set these people straight and have them reconvene the next day? He was, by example, teaching the entire gentile city to keep the Sabbath.

In Philippi, Paul taught gentiles on the Sabbath day:

ACT 16:12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spoke unto the women which resorted thither.

These are gentiles, being taught by Paul and Luke to keep the Sabbath. Later, Paul teaches on the Sabbath in Thessalonika, a city in Greece.

ACT 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

When Paul lived in Corinth, he preached to Jews and gentiles every Sabbath.

ACT 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

Verse eleven tells us he did this for eighteen months.

If the Sabbath was changed to Sunday because of Christ’s resurrection, Paul missed a great opportunity to teach Jews how to observe the correct day. He taught them on three consecutive Sabbaths. He taught them about the resurrection. This would have been a perfect set-up, an irresistible segway to introduce the new day of worship, if there had been a new day! But there was no new day of worship. It had been and would continue to be, Paul’s custom and the custom and observance of the early church to rest and worship on the Sabbath day, not on Sunday.

If the Sabbath had been changed, the leaders of the early church, including Jesus Himself, wasted many precious opportunities to set a new example and to teach us the theology and doctrine of the change. On the contrary, they all continued to set us an example of Sabbath keeping. Furthermore, there is not a hint in New Testament scripture that there is a change in the fourth commandment or the day of it’s observance.

In the book of Hebrews, there is a direct statement of the necessity of the people of God to observe and keep holy the Sabbath day. The admonition is in the fourth chapter and is set-up by the writer’s skillful use of word play. The translators of the King James Bible have not done us any favors in this section of scripture. They have rendered this passage in such a way as to hide the real meaning more or less completely. Lets read the passage, beginning in Hebrews 3:11.

HEB 3:11 So I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.

The writer of Hebrews is quoting from Psalm 95, where entrance into the Promised Land is referred to as “rest”. Continuing in verse 18:

HEB 3:18 And to whom swore he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limits a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.

In these verses, the word, “rest” appears eleven times. The first ten occurrences are from the Greek root word, “katepausen”. This word means simply to rest from one’s labors. Verse 9 contains a completely different word, however. When verse 9 says that there remains a rest to the people of God, the word translated “rest” is the word, “sabbitismos”! If the translation had been done correctly, verse 9 would read,

“There remains therefore a Sabbath rest to the people of God.”

Several modern translations render this verse correctly.

The indication is that the keeping of the Sabbath is still required of the people of God. Keep in mind, the writer is talking about the seventh day, the day that God made holy, the day He commands us to keep holy. He isn’t referring to Sunday! The recipients of this letter would have understood that it is the seventh day of the week the writer is referring to. He is telling us that as Israel came into the land God promised to them, Christians in this age anticipate resting from their labors when the promise of salvation is at last granted. Then he says…

HEB 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

We are then admonished, with more word play, to work, or to labor, to enter God’s rest. The warning is that we can fail to enter it, just as ancient Israel did. Their rest was the promised land. Our rest is salvation in the Kingdom of God. The keeping of the Sabbath is a weekly type, a reminder of what we work toward and is a requirement for modern Christians.

Some Christians contend that Sunday is “The Lord’s Day”, referred to in the first chapter of Revelation. John says of his remarkable vision…

REV 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

They refer to Sunday as the Lord’s day because of the belief that Jesus changed the day of worship to Sunday, the day they erroneously believe He was resurrected. John’s vision didn’t occur on a Sunday, but rather during the period of time known prophetically as “The Day of the Lord”. There are more than thirty prophecies in both the Old Testament and the New Testament about what will occur on the Day of the Lord. The entire book of the prophet, Joel, concerns the events that occur in the Day of the Lord. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to John in vision, shows us what happens on the Day of the Lord and ties together and gives details about the ancient prophecies of that awesome and fearful period of time, the Day of the Lord.

So Sunday is not the Lord’s day and John’s vision wasn’t on a Sunday. In fact, Jesus once referred to Himself as the “Lord of the Sabbath”, so Sunday is truly not the Lord’s Day.

My friends, God has created a day of rest and peace. He has never changed or abolished the requirement for us to keep that day holy. Men did that. Despite the admonition to remember the Sabbath day, we have forgotten it. We have tried to substitute another day that God never sanctified or made holy. We have neglected and ignored the fourth commandment. The REST of the story is that the Sabbath remains as a day Christians must observe in order to obey and be connected to God.

We have seen that Sabbath breaking is akin to idolatry, because the Sabbath identifies who the true God is. Violation of either of these commandments obscures the identity of God. When we have lost sight of God, we can begin our return to Him by observing the Sabbath day rest.

If you would like to return to God we are here to help you. We invite you to keep the Sabbath with us, or to help you find a group near you where you may worship on the Sabbath day in obedience to God’s command. Please write to us at the address you see on your screen. We are here to help you find your way back to God.