Keeping the Sabbath

Why change the day?

Why the change away from the sabbath? An incident when Jesus was with his disciples provides an important indication of a fundamental change in the covenant.

At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.” Matthew 12:1,2

The incident referred to is narrated in 1 Samuel 21, and we need to note certain details of the story so that we can see why the incident could be used to explain the disciples’ gathering of corn on the sabbath day.

Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee? And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place. Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present. And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women. And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel. So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.” 1 Samuel 21:1-6

The significant statement is the last sentence, which provides the reason why David was able to take the bread. For the bread was about to be replaced by a new lot, and was therefore of no further use to the priest. Although the loaves had been holy, they no longer were, because they were about to be replaced. And so we can see its application to the circumstances surrounding the disciples eating the corn on the sabbath. Technically they were erring against the Law, but it was excusable, because that Law was about to be superseded by a new and better one, which was to make the sabbath day redundant. The new bread, the ‘bread of life’, was about to replace the old.

A fading Law.

Of great importance to the subject is a New Testament passage in which Paul argues that the Ten Commandments, as such, represented “a ministration of death, written and engraven in stones… which was to be done away” (2 Corinthians 2:7). One cannot but conclude that the sabbath was part of that which was “written and engraven in stones”. Paul’s comment was that the children of Israel “could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished” (v13).

Can sabbath-keepers today recognise the truth of this statement, or are they like those of whom Paul mentioned that could not recognise an end of an era? This passage is a very powerful, unambiguous, testimony against the belief that the Sabbath is binding today.

This replacement of the Law is emphasised frequently by the apostles in the New Testament. Take, for instance,
For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Hebrews 7:12
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

Jesus had illustrated these changes.
Ye have heard that it hath been said… But I say unto you…

In this way, and in his teaching, Jesus affirmed and amplified nine of the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment, relating to the sabbath, was the only one not reaffirmed by Jesus. Neither did any of the apostles reaffirm it. So nowhere in the New Testament is the Christian commanded to observe the sabbath.

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    BobbyB YoungNoel GoetzKshearesJason Recent comment authors
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    thomas
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    thomas

    How comes all 9 laws(commandments) are still put into practice till now while the 4th law being ended? no place where the bible abolished that commandment.
    why you said that these laws have being replaced by grace through Jesus while others still active? why the one to be abolished while the rest still in use?

    Jason
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    Jason

    Hi Thomas,Thank you for your comment.Let’s not confuse two issues: those that are timeless and that which is not. The law against murder is timeless—it has been since Creation: Cain was guilty of it. The Sabbath observance however was only introduced at the time of the Ten Commandments and was exclusively given to the Israelites.“Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: and madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy… Read more »

    Ksheares
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    Ksheares

    I encourage all to let scripture be your guide and not mans opinion… The word of God cannot contradict itself. If there is a contradiction found one must attribute it to mans incorrect interpretation. Exodus 31:16 ESV Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant FOREVER. -God explained the Sabbath was to be observed FOREVER! So weather given before Moses or for the first time in the wilderness, forever means forever… If it was the intent of God to do away with it once the Messiah came, HE (not being… Read more »

    Bobby
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    Bobby

    To answer Noel’s query, there is not one law for the Jews and one law for the gentile believer:
    Lev 24:22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.

    Noel Goetz
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    Noel Goetz

    Exodus 31:16 “Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath.”- I take it people of Israel means the Jews. Therefore, if you are a Jew you should thereby keep the commandment. If you are not, then you are under no compulsion.

    B Young
    Editor

    Hi Noel, You are correct in your thinking. It was also re-stated in Ezekiel 20:19–20 as a reminder, “I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.” It was specifically to those in Israel, and of course their descendants who would be the Jews of today. However, it was introduced just days prior to the Law of Moses, which of course was done away with in… Read more »

    Bobby
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    Bobby

    Could you elaborate where in scripture G-d expunged non-observance of Shabbat.

    Robert Janko
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    Robert Janko

    “Im a Christian but i believe the Ten Commandments still abide. Iam writing this with nothing but loved but you forgot to quote the second part of hebrews 8 so u made it seem that the new covanent was going to be something completely different from the ten comandments but if you read hebrews 8:10 “”This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”” so this… Read more »

    Suday Kumar Rout
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    Suday Kumar Rout

    “It seems that Jesus Christ has been replaced with Paul (a self styled apostle). At the outset of His famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells “”Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or Prophets ; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfil (Matt.5:17).”” No weekly days has been mentioned in the Bible i.e. Sunday, Monday or Friday etc. Israelites were counting the days by observing the moon. Very simple commandment has been given by our Almighty Father God Through Moses that””Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day… Read more »

    Bobby
    Guest
    Bobby

    Exactly Suday. Sabbath was never a token numbered day, it simply means ‘a complete cessation of ceasing’. There was a Sabbatical year – the shmita, a rest to the land. To add to Mat 5;17, which I am sure you are completely aware many Christians believe that fulfill think that this equates to completion, hardly, the Greek G4137 πληρόω plēroō play-ro’-o From G4134; to make replete, that is, (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, Misunderstanding this integral element of the jig-saw puzzle will render most of Paul (shau’ul’s) writing and… Read more »