Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 14, 1958
NUMBER 15, PAGE 6-7b

Remember The Sabbath To Seep It Holy

Jack L. Holt, Cullman, Alabama

The title of this article is the fourth of the ten commandments God gave to Moses at Sinai. It was given to him that he might in turn give it to a people only recently delivered from bondage. To the Jew the Sabbath was a glorious day. Its observance was to be a happy occasion for it reminded him that God had brought the Jewish nation out of the "fiery furnace" of Egypt on "eagles' wings." It was to commemorate this great deliverance that God gave them the Sabbath day. This is easily seen from Duet. 5:15: "And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand an outstretched arm: therefore Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." The word "therefore" has the force of "for this reason." Thus we see that God commanded the children of Israel to keep the Sabbath "for the reason" that He had delivered them from Egypt. They were not, therefore, commanded to keep the Sabbath because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob supposedly kept it, for there is no record that they did. Nor were they commanded to keep it because it is of eternal force for it is not. The foregoing verse tells who was to keep it and why.

It was at Mt. Sinai that God made known the Sabbath observance, and not immediately after the creation of man. There is no record of anyone keeping the Sabbath until after the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt. That the Sabbath was a new institution entirely is clearly seen from Neh. 9:13-14: "Thou camest down also upon Mt. Sinai and spakest with them from heaven, and gayest them right ordinances and true laws, good statues and commandments, and madest known unto them thy holy Sabbath . . ." Thus we see that God made known the Sabbath at Mt. Sinai. It is true that "God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it.' The Bible also reveals why He blessed it: "Because that in it he rested from all His work." But Gen. 2:3 only reveals what God did with reference to the Sabbath, and does not reveal WHEN He did it. Besides, what God did on the Sabbath day, and why — and when He revealed it to man, and why are different matters entirely. That God "rested the seventh day," is a matter of revelation. When He gave the Sabbath to man is also a matter of revelation. So is the reason why He gave the Sabbath to man. Does what God did on the Sabbath prove when He gave the Sabbath? God gave the Sabbath, a day that was His, to the Jews at Mt. Sinai, because He had delivered them. God blessed the Sabbath, "because that in it He rested from His work." The Jews were to keep it because they had been delivered; not because God rested on that thy. In giving the Jews a day to keep God gave them the same day in which He rested, but not for that reason.

No lover of truth would in any way attempt to disparage the Sabbath, diminish the glory thereof, nor belittle the majesty of God and the solemnity of the occasion when it was given. But if we love the truth, we must accept its teaching. The Truth teaches that the glory of the Sabbath, and of the whole Jewish dispensation was subsidiary to the glory of the dispensation of Christ, and only temporary in its nature. This is clearly and forcibly set forth by Paul in 2 Cor. 3:7 - 14. In verse 7 we read: "But if the ministration of death," this is identified as that which was, "written and engraven on stones came with glory, which glory," he says, "was passing away," (8) "how shall not the ministration of the spirit be with glory?" Thus Paul tells us that the Ten Commandments glory was passing away and the gospel glory is superior. This is clearly seen in verse 11: "For if that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which remaineth is in glory." Verses 12-14 pictures vividly the end of the law "written and engraven in stones." A tragic picture is presented of the hearts of men then, and so often today. "But their minds were hardened: for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth, it not being revealed to them that it is done away in Christ." Let not our minds be veiled to the truth that is so plainly revealed in these verses.

Essential to a clear understanding of the two covenants is the knowledge that the Old Covenant was never meant to be permanent. It was a temporary arrangement only. It was a schoolmaster to lead the Jews to Christ. "Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster." (Gal. 3:24-25) The Holy Spirit terms the Old Law a schoolmaster. He reveals its purpose — "to lead to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" — and then He teaches that "we are no longer under the schoolmaster," or the law. The faith, or gospel system has come and by it alone men are justified. While the law was in force, and considered by the people as an eternal rule, its end was prophesied by Jeremiah: "Behold the days come saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not according to that covenant that I made with their fathers . . . . (Jer. 31:31ff) Thus we see the temporary nature of the law, and the promise that a new covenant would be given. That God fulfilled this promise is evident from Heb. 8.

What day are we to keep in honor to God and His Son if not the Sabbath? The day Christians are to observe is clearly set forth in the New Testament. It is an admitted fact that we cannot separate memorial days from the events that made them. Should we observe a day that commemorates the deliverance of Abrahams seed from Egypt? This day has no significance to us. We are to celebrate the day that reminds us of the victory we may have over the bondage of sin and the furnace of death. This is the first day of the week. The day the Lord arose from the dead and brought hope to blaze and burn in a sin darkened world. With this day in view David could sing: "This is the day which Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psa. 118:24) Besides this is the only day ever given to all men everywhere to observe in honor to God. The Sabbath was a memorial day to one nation — the Jews. (Ex. 16:31) No Gentile as such was ever commanded to keep the Sabbath. Now the gospel is to flow from sea to sea, to every nation and people, and with that new covenant came a new day with a new event to remember — the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Let us "rejoice and be glad in it."

The Examples in the New Testament of the worship of the early Christians reveal the day they met /or worship. The New Testament church never kept the sabbath as their day of worship. True, Jesus kept the sabbath. He also kept the passover and circumcision. But while He lived the law that provided for these was still in force. (Gal. 4:4) That law was abrogated — taken away by virtue of His death on the cross. A new law has been given with a new day. It might be interesting to inquire what day would Jesus keep if He were here now? Would He meet with His disciples on the first day? (Acts 20:7) Or would He meet on the day that commemorated the Jews deliverance from Egypt?

Let us "Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy," by observing God's teaching toward it. It was a day to be observed by the Jews to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt. It was to last only as long as the covenant which provided for it lasted. The Pope did not change the Sabbath. It was done away by virtue of the death of Christ on the cross. A new covenant with a new day — not a changed one — has been given. Let us, therefore, meet upon the first day of the week — "the Lord's day," and remember Him who gave us victory over death, hell and the grave.