Sabbath Keeping – Part I – The Old Testament

Have you run into people that are telling you how important it is to keep the Sabbath?

There is definitely a move away from Christ back to Judaism, today. Back to “Sabbath Keeping”. It is happening all around us. We all know people that say they should keep the Sabbath Holy. One of the big arguments they have is that the Roman Catholic Church instituted “Sunday Keeping” along with Constantine in the 4th century and that the Roman Catholic church attempted to change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. So, we are told that when we keep Sunday instead of Saturday, we are not keeping the Sabbath.

The reality is this, Bible Believers don’t keep Sunday and they do not believe that Sunday is the Sabbath. So, we are not worried about someone changing the day from Saturday to Sunday because we have a different Sabbath and the Sabbath is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of our rest and we keep no other day holy. Bible believers don’t think Sunday is the Sabbath or is the holy day. We don’t hold any day above another. All days are equally exalted in which we walk in God’s presence and in His Spirit and worship Him.

According to Galatians 5, if you disagree with the previous statement then you have fallen from grace. There is no end to how many, many groups from Seventh Day Adventists to British Israelism to the Hebrew Roots Movements, twist the scripture and attempt to modify this thing to make it fit. Now, I say this with grace because my hope is that I can steer you away from this.

Let’s first start with Genesis 2:2-3.

Gen 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
Gen 2:2 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.
Gen 2:3 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.

Well, you say that the Sabbath is not Mosaic and it is not under the system of laws that God gave to the Jews, but it is something that God founded in the very beginning. Does your Bible say that God founded the Sabbath for Himself here, or for man? Does your Bible say that man rested or that God rested?

There is no record of God giving Adam a commandment to rest on the seventh day. All we are told is that God rested. There is no record or statement at all that God revealed this to Adam at that time.

In Exodus 31:14, we find this:

Exo 31:14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall be called a bad Christian.

Is that what it said??? No, that is not what it said.

What does it say?

Ye shall be put to death!

Exo 31:14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that
defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
Exo 31:15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to
the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Exo 31:16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the
sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
Exo 31:17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six
days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and
was refreshed.

Who does the Bible say that God is talking to? The Children of Israel? That is correct.

Is this a covenant forever with the Jews or the Gentiles?

Yes, with the Jews and there is no passing away of this covenant. This is perpetual. The coming of Christ did not negate the keeping of the Sabbath for the nation of Israel.

Does the Bible say that it is a sign between God and the nation of Israel, forever? Yes.

In other words there is not going to be a future dispensation that nullifies Sabbath Keeping for the nation of Israel.

That means today in Israel and today in New York, the Jews should be keeping the Sabbath holy. It is their obligation to do so. And if they do work sometime after sundown on Friday night, then the other Jews according to God should pick up bricks and come down and bash their brains out. That is the Word of God! If they do not do that, then they are in violation of the Word of God. That is a commandment to the nation of Israel that has not passed away, has not changed.

Some people would like to make the penalty pass away but keep the law. But think hard about this. Do you have a law if you have no penalty? No! You cannot have a law without a penalty. The very nature of law is that it comes with a penalty.

I hear people dividing the law in what is referred to as the “moral commandments” and the “ceremonial commandments”. And they tell us that the ceremonial part has passed away but the moral part is not and they try to make Sabbath Keeping part of the “moral” part which has remained but the penalty part of it we are no longer under. Christ is supposed to have lifted that.

So they say that when Christ died, we are no longer punished for keeping the Sabbath but we are suppose to keep it, regardless. What?

I submit unto you that when God gave this law and it was perpetual, the penalty was part of it and the penalty cannot pass away unless the law passes away. And for the nation of Israel, the law of Sabbath keeping cannot pass away.

Looking at Exodus 31:14 again, there are those that try to tell us that the Sabbath was kept prior to this. They say that when God says to “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy”, that what it means is that, they have been keeping it and to remember what I told you. Keep remembering what your duty is, to keep the Sabbath and keep on doing what you know you should be doing.

That is a bit stretching the text there in Exodus 20:8.
Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

If you take the whole book of Genesis, the Bible talks about Abraham being a righteous man and it describes in detail, going to places and worshipping. It describes in detail, time and again, his offering of sacrifices and his falling down and praying and it talked of his righteousness, but it never mentioned him keeping the Sabbath. That is very strange. The Bible mentions his tithing, but it never mentions his Sabbath keeping. Then we have Isaac, who was also a righteous man and no mention of the Sabbath. Then we have Jacob and all his trials that he goes through with God and God teaching him and yet no mention of the Sabbath or Sabbath keeping. Then we have the 12 sons of Jacob and we have their devotion to God and Joseph going down to Egypt, and the Bible makes a big point of Joseph’s faithfulness to God. Down in Egypt, he worships God, he prays and they try to find some fault in him and yet, no mention of him ever keeping the Sabbath.

And then we come to Moses and we see Moses fleeing Egypt and then coming back but yet again no mention of Moses keeping the Sabbath. You find Moses dealing with the Jews for over a year and plagues coming but you find no mention of them ever keeping the Sabbath. And then when Moses tells Pharoah that he wants to take the people and go 3 days journey and worship, he never says that they want to go keep the Sabbath. Moses never said that they want to keep the Sabbath holy unto God. If they kept the Sabbath, this would be the place to say it!

There is a conspicuous absence of any Patriarch keeping the Sabbath until Moses receives it as a commandment from God. This is irrefutable from the KJV Bible and even other Bibles.

So, to tell us that God instituted Sabbath Keeping from the book of Genesis is absolutely false! He instituted nothing of the kind. The Bible tells us that He rested. That was His business! And when He got ready to reveal it, He revealed it to the nation of Israel and it was a sign between Him and the nation of Israel. Not between anyone else. A sign of a covenant. A covenant that he made with the nation of Israel. He never made that covenant with the nations of Gentiles. And the Gentiles have not entered into that covenant. The covenant that the Gentiles have entered into is the covenant that God made with Abraham to bless the world through his seed. Abraham was a Gentile not a Jew, not an Israelite and he did not keep the Sabbath.

When God made a covenant with the nation of Israel, He made it with the Jews, with the Israelites, not with Abraham and the Bible never speaks of us, the Church, as being the seed of Jacob (Israel) or the seed of Isaac. It speaks of us being the seed of Abraham by faith and that has nothing to do with the nation of Israel.
We are the seed of a Gentile that did not keep the Sabbath, not the seed of an Israelite or a Jew who was commanded to keep the Sabbath. This is powerful!! This is extremely significant.

Now what is the first mention of Sabbath keeping in Exodus 20:8? Let’s look at it.

Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Exo 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not
do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy
maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
Exo 20:11 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.

Now God commands this to the Jews and says not their menservants, thy maidservants and not their cattle, in other words, on the Sabbath, they could not hitch up their buggy and go to worship. The cows and horses couldn’t work. On the Sabbath they could not kindle a fire or carry any kind of load.

In Nehemiah 9:13 we have an interesting statement about the Sabbath.

Neh 9:13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from
heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and

Now verse 14 is the key: Look at this very closely.

Neh 9:14 And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst
them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:

What did Moses do?

When he came down on mount Sinai, he made known unto them the Holy Sabbath. Meaning they did not know about it before Moses knew about it.

So the Word of God tells us that this is when God made known unto the Children of Israel, the Jews, His Holy Sabbath. No one from Adam knew about the Sabbath or were ever commanded to observe it. How could they observe what they never knew about? And that is why we never see a record of Sabbath keeping before Moses.

God did not make known to them just one Sabbath. He made known to them many Sabbaths. And yet, most of the people today just keep one Sabbath, one weekly Sabbath.

One of the Sabbaths involved keeping 7 days of unleavened bread and another Sabbath that involved the 7th year and there was a Sabbath that involved the 7th month. And there were certain ways that the Sabbaths were to be kept in fastings and what they could eat and could not eat and the blowing of trumpets. And if you are going to keep a Sabbath you have to keep all of the Sabbaths. You can’t go and cut them in half and say, “Ok, God instituted this but I am going to observe part of it and I’m going to do it the way our church does it.” You are going to have to do it the way God commanded.

And then in Ezekiel 20:12, He says:
Eze 20:12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them,
that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctifieth them.

Did the Word just say Sabbaths? Plural, right? So there are multiple Sabbath keepings.

How was the Sabbath observed? Exodus 16: 5-23 tells us that there was no cooking of
food or preparation of food. You can’t use the microwave, you cannot boil a roast. You
cannot cook your food, between sundown Friday (if that is the Sabbath) and sundown
Saturday (if that is the Sabbath). I am not convinced that is the Sabbath. But if it is, if
that is when the 7th day is, I mean it could be Tuesday or it could be Thursday. I have no
proof that what we call Saturday, today is the Sabbath.

And then Exodus 16:29, “let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

In other words they did not go and have a big church meeting on the Sabbath. They did
not travel. They were to stay home and rest. Sabbath was about resting. They were
commanded to stay home. No one is to go to meetings on that day. I wonder how that
would go over. Probably not too well.

Exodus 20:10 – No one is to work. Not the son or daughter or the cattle. Nothing!

Exodus 23:12 – The ox and the ass are to rest also.

Exodus 35:3 – They are to kindle no fire. If you get’s cold you just stay cold.

Numbers 15:32 – Gather no firewood. They could not pick up a stick of firewood on the

They just had to lay down and relax on the Sabbath. They could not lift a finger to go
somewhere or to build a fire or to do anything.

Isaiah 58:13 – Says they are not to do their own ways, or do their own pleasures or speak
their own words.

Isa 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my
holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable;
and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine
own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

In other words, you can’t sit around and talk about the good times. You cannot talk about
fishing or hunting or sports or organic gardening or making bread. You can’t talk about
your new building project or what the kids have been doing that week and how funny it
was. You couldn’t get together with the family and friends and laugh and have a good
time on the Sabbath.

You couldn’t “speak your own words”. The Sabbath was the time to speak only the words
of God. So picture this, everyone is staying at home, no one is going in or out, no one is
carrying a load, no one cooking anything. Everyone in a state of total relaxation, just
praying, singing and speaking the words of God for the 24 hours. That is the way they
kept the Sabbath.

And if they violated this in anyway, the penalty was death.

We have an example of this in Exodus 31:14.

Exo 31:14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that
defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
Exo 31:15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to
the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Exo 31:16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath
throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

In Exodus 35:2, they are told not to kindle the fire.

In Numbers 15:32-36, the children of Israel found a man that was gathering sticks on the
Sabbath day, and they brought him unto Moses and Aaron and the congregation. God
had just given them this law and they found a father who was out picking up sticks so he
could bring them back to build up the fire to cook a little manna to eat.

Let’s see what happened.

Num 15:32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man
that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
Num 15:33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and
Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
Num 15:34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done
to him.
Num 15:35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
Num 15:36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

They waited until after the Sabbath because they could not lift stones on the Sabbath. So
they put him in jail (in a ward) until the Sabbath was over. All the congregation had to
bash their neighbor in the head with stones as the wives and kids stood by and
watched him die. Why? He violated the Sabbath.

God is real serious about Sabbath keeping and how dare anyone take away the
penalty that God gave, and say we keep it because it is a blessing to us. Ha! If you were to ask the Jews they wouldn’t have said it was a blessing to them. They would say it is
something our God requires of us under penalty of death. That is why they
observed the Sabbath.

Next: What was Jesus’ treatment of the Sabbath?

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