Lifting the veil on one of the most misunderstood days in the Bible.

We all know the story of creation and how God (Yehovah / Yahweh / YHWH) famously took a break on the 7th day of creation. How profound that the creator of us and our world took the time to rest. I know that many people today can learn from that.

The Sabbath day has come under fire in modern times. We hear things like "Always on the grind", "Never stop", "Work harder", etc, and taking time off to rest has become demonized. Christians have also lent on Paul's letters and some of Yeshua's words in the Gospels to argue that we do not need to observe the Sabbath anymore.

In this in depth teaching, we will dive deep into all of this, and attempt to answer everything we can, including:

  • Definition of the Sabbath
  • The Sabbath, God, and the 10 Commandments
  • The True Definition of "Work" on the Sabbath
  • Is the Sabbath on a Sunday, Saturday, or every day?
  • Did Yeshua's 2 Commandments overrule the Sabbath
  • Does Paul's Letter in Colossians Prove the Sabbath is done away with?
  • Did Yeshua break the Sabbath?
  • Conclusion - How to Follow the Sabbath

Let's go!

Part 1: Definition of the Sabbath

As we do for all our teachings, we will go straight to the Greek / Hebrew translated work of Sabbath, from the Blue Letter Bible:

H7673 – שׁבת – shâbath – shaw-bath’ – A primitive root; to repose, that is, desist from exertion; used in many implied relations (causatively, figuratively or specifically): – (cause to, let, make to) cease, celebrate, cause (make) to fail, keep (sabbath), suffer to be lacking, leave, put away (down), (make to) rest, rid, still, take away.

The main takeaway is that the Sabbath is synonymous with REST.

Part 2: The Sabbath, God, and the 10 Commandments

a close up of a number on a rock
Photo by Adrian Curiel / Unsplash

The first time we hear about a Sabbath day is in Genesis:

Gen 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

 Gen 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

God made the seventh day HOLY, or SET APART from the other days.

This "Set Apart" theme continues when God gives Moses the 10 Commandments:

Exo 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Exo 20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

Exo 20:10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.

God placed huge importance on this rest day if he included it in the 10 commandments. As it gave God rest, it was a gift for man to rest on the 7th day and be refreshed.

Part 3: The True Definition of "Work" on the Sabbath

cup of coffee near MacBook Pro
Photo by ian dooley / Unsplash

The verse in question is from Exodus 20:9:

Exo 20:9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work,

Labour – H5647 – עבד – ‛âbad – aw-bad’ – to work (in any sense); by implication to serve, till, (causatively) enslave, etc...

Work – H4399 – מלאכה – melâ’kâh – mel-aw-kaw’ – properly deputyship, that is, ministry; generally employment (never servile) or work (abstractly or concretely); also property (as the result of labor): – business, + cattle, + industrious, occupation,....

According to the definitions above, doing work or labour is considered anything that you do to earn your living (your day job, side hustles, business, etc..), and more importantly, it does NOT say that things like cooking, cleaning, eating, healing, praying, etc... are forbidden. This is an important fact to note later on, when we come to the Gospels when Yeshua rebukes the Pharisees for saying otherwise.

There is a verse which can be seen as a contradiction to what I have written above:

Exo 35:3 Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

Is God saying we cannot cook or keep warm? This does not sound like work. At first glance, it seems that God is saying this, but if we look at Exodus 12:16, we see God now says it is OK to cook on the Sabbath:

Exo 12:16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.

We now have a contradiction. One says do not light a fire (Which was needed to cook food) and one says you must make food. God's Word is perfect, and no contradictions should arise. We then need to ask what are we missing.

According to my research, it seems like the fire Moses is referring to in Exodus 35:3 pertains to lighting a fire for work - i.e. lighting a fire to make things to sell or to make your living, as fire was essential to make anything out of metal. This removes the contradiction and makes sense considering the context of the passage.

Part 4: Is the Sabbath on a Sunday, Saturday, or every day?

From a historical and Biblically accurate point of view, the short answer is the Sabbath is on a Saturday.

Several pieces of evidence point towards this:

1) Yeshua's Crucifixion

Doesn't it make perfect sense that Yeshua died on Friday (Before the Sabbath), and then rose on a Sunday (After the Sabbath)?

2) The word Sabbath

The word Saturday in Greek is Sabbato, which is translated to Sabbath in English.

Where did Sunday come from you might ask. Well, if you listened to our podcast or read our teaching on Why We Don't Celebrate a Pagan Christmas, you will have an idea.

It all comes down to the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was big on worshipping the sun. One of the sun gods was Sol Invictus. Emperor Constantine changed the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday and declared it as the Roman day of rest (Do you see -> Sun-Day = Sun Worship Day) to unify all the pagan practices and Christianity under one day of celebration. This happened in the year 321.

Ultimately, if you worship God on a Sunday, there is no issue with that. In fact, that is awesome! However, you cannot claim that you are doing it on the Sabbath day, as this day is clearly defined as a Saturday and is SET APART by God. You do not have the authority to set apart another day and call it a Sabbath.

However, we do live in different times and I do believe God sees that as well. Back in those times, you would struggle to find anything open on a Sabbath day. Zero business and zero work would occur, so it would be easier to observe it back then. Praise God that His grace is abundant and He sees your heart. However, that is still not a reason to intentionally not observe it when you can.

Part 5: Did Yeshua's 2 Commandments overrule the Sabbath (i.e. The Law)

We will probably do a separate teaching on this topic because it is extremely important to understand.

The two commandments that Yeshua told are a summary of the 10 Commandments.

Here are the 10 Commandments:

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 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.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

To summarise them:

  1. Do not worship other gods
  2. Do not make idols
  3. Do not take God’s name in vain
  4. Keep the sabbath day holy
  5. Honour your father & mother
  6. Do not commit murder.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  10. Do not covet your neighbour’s belongings.

Isn't it interesting how God gave 2 tablets for these commandments? If we divide them in two parts, we see an interesting grouping:

  1. Do not worship other gods
  2. Do not make idols
  3. Do not take God’s name in vain
  4. Keep the sabbath day holy
  5. Honour your father & mother

The first tablet - Shows how to LOVE GOD.

  1. Do not commit murder.
  2. Do not commit adultery.
  3. Do not steal.
  4. Do not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  5. Do not covet your neighbour’s belongings.

The second tablet - Shows how to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR.

(Your mother and father are not chosen by you, so by honouring them you are honouring God's choice, and therefore loving Him)

This all lines up nicely to what Yeshua says:

Luk 10:27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

Thus showing that what Yeshua says is just a summary of the 10 Commandments.

Part 6: Does Paul's Letter in Colossians Prove the Sabbath / Law is done away with?

For background, I encourage you to read our teaching on Peter's Warning Against Paul's Teachings.

As we always do, we must take the entire chapter in context. The people of Colossi were Gentiles who were new to the faith. They were not always familiar with the keeping of festivals or food laws.

Paul commends the new converts for living for Yeshua:

Col 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,

 Col 2:7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Paul then continues to warn the new converts about the "Traditions of Men", originally from the Talmud or the Oral Law from the Pharisees:

Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

This is the context so far. We have new believers, who are being influenced by the Pharisees / Talmud / Traditions of Men.

Paul then mentions how Christ has brought them to fulness by taking away the curse of the Law (Note it does not say the Law was a curse):

Col 2:14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

Then we come to Col 2:16, which is often quoted to justify doing away with the Law, especially for Gentile believers:

Col 2:16 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.

What is Paul saying? Is he telling new believers to not care what they eat or drink? (i.e. not follow the food laws). Should they not follow the Sabbath, whereas the Jews should? Sounds confusing!

But if we look in the context, and we understand what Yeshua's sacrifice actually did, this verse is clear. Yeshua's death got rid of the curses of the Law (Which was death if you did not follow it), and the barrier that said Gentiles could not become grafted into Israel.

In context, Paul is telling the Gentiles to not let anyone judge THEM for keeping God's commandments. Most Christians will argue the converse of this, saying that they should not be judged for NOT keeping the Law. This argument is tough to argue if you read the letter in context and study Paul's life. Paul was someone who always lived according to the Law, and preached everyone to follow it. So if he is now saying to the Gentiles to follow a different set of Law's - this is a contradiction.

More evidence of this stance is found in verses 20 - 23:

Col 2:20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:

Col 2:21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?

 Col 2:22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.

What rules is Paul rebuking here? The "traditions of men" or God's Law? The context is very clear. Paul is telling the Gentiles not to fall into the trap of following the Oral Law / Talmud / Traditions of Men! God is the one who introduced the Sabbath, so when Paul says "based on merely human commands and teachings.", he cannot be referring to the Law, as man did not introduce the Sabbath.

Part 7: Did Yeshua break the Sabbath?

No, Yeshua followed God's Law perfectly. The verses in question are found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Here is Luke's account:

Luk 6:1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.

 Luk 6:2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

 Luk 6:3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?

 Luk 6:4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

 Luk 6:5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

As we stated in Part 3, resting on a Sabbath means not working (specifically monetary gain). It mentions nothing about eating corn. Yeshua is once again rebuking the Pharisees and their Oral Law / Talmud. In fact, in every occasion where you see Yeshua rebuking the Pharisees, it is because of their own "Traditions of Men" and NEVER about God's Law.

Part 8: Conclusion - How to Follow the Sabbath

In this in depth teaching, we have touched on all the aspects of the Sabbath. We saw that the definition of the Sabbath is to rest, specifically from doing the normal work you do that earns you money. It is a day sanctified by the Lord, set apart for all mankind to use.

The Sabbath was originally set on a Saturday, before the Roman Empire changed it to unify the Christian Sabbath to their own pagan idol, Sol Invictus on a Sunday. Many Christians argue that the Sabbath is not important as we do not follow these commandments anymore - However examining Yeshua's commandments, we saw that he simply summarized the 10 commandments and always preached to follow God's Law. Paul's letter in Colossians backs this statement up.

So, how can we follow the Sabbath in today's busy world?

  • Celebrate it by not doing your ordinary work / job.
    • You are free to go to the beach, pray, watch football, play football, go on a date, etc.... you are free to do anything except work for money!
    • Of course, you should always make time to spend with God during this day, like every other day!
  • Celebrate it on a Saturday (When you can)
    • God sees your effort, if it is not possible to observe Sabbath on a Saturday, it's OK, but make every effort to do so! Back in Yeshua's time, it was impossible to find a business open on a Saturday.
    • Do not claim to have your own "Sabbath" day on another day. God chose Saturday, and you do not have the authority to move HIS Holy day around.
    • Don't only worship God on a Saturday. Your relationship is a daily walk!
  • Don't let others judge you for observing the Sabbath.
    • Quoted directly from Colossians, gentile believers were being pressured into following the Oral Law, but Paul encouraged them to not let others affect your keeping of God's Word!

I hope you enjoyed this teaching! Be blessed!