Often times I find myself discussing the Sabbath Day observance with Christians and I always hear the same reasons why they do or do not observe the Sabbath day. The Ten Commandments are clear that we are to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy, though few mainstream Christians actually do so. I wondered why and after many discussions and reading I have come up with the top 7 Reasons why a Christian would decide not to keep the Sabbath day holy.
1. The Sabbath Day is for the Jews
Many believers claim that The Sabbath Day is only for the Jews and the Sabbath is a sign of their holiness. To understand this, we need to ask ourselves, who are the Jews?
Today we think of the Jews as anyone who lives in the state of Israel with long curly sideburns, dangling tassels and a black top hat. The real, most simple, answer is a Jew is any descendant of the tribe of Yahudah (Judah). Ya’akov (Jacob) had twelve sons that formed the twelve tribes of Yisrael. Among these tribes was the tribe of Yahudah, or Judah, from which the Jews descend from. It is true that the commandment regarding the Sabbath Day was given to the tribe of Yahudah as a statute, it was also given to the whole nation of Yisrael which inclusively consisted of 11 other tribes aside from the “Jews”. Also, foreigners were legally grafted into this people, naturalizing themselves as citizens by obeying the law of the Yisraelites. These foreigners did not pertain to any tribe but left with the people of Yisrael from Egypt to follow the one true God of heaven and Earth.
After the reigns of King David and his son Solomon, the Kingdom of Yisrael had split into two territories; two tribes formed the southern territory (Kingdom of Yahudah) and the remaining ten tribes formed the northern territory (Kingdom of Yisrael). After being conquered by the surrounding empires of Persia and Babylon, the Kingdoms of Yisrael and Yahudah were scattered as a people to the four corners of the earth. Some from the tribe of Yahudah, who were held captive in the Persian Empire, were allowed return to their native land to rebuild their temple fulfilling the prophecy written in their scriptures. Thus the “Jewish” people were able to retain their identity and lineage. Because the other ten tribes never had the opportunity to publicly return as a people the collective of natives in the land of Yisrael have come to be known simply as, the “Jews”, regardless of any other tribal relations or lineage one might have.
The reason most Christians believe the Sabbath is only for the Jews is simple, because the Pharisees (a branch of religious leaders in Judaism) taught the Sabbath was made just for them. The religious leaders within Judaism of that time often made legislative enactments to many of the “Old Testament’s” commandments and laws and deemed them God’s commands. Now whether these enactments were God inspired or not is up for debate, but one thing is for certain and that is Yeshua (Jesus) was correcting them by saying that the Sabbath Day was made to be a blessing for ALL man and not a day of legalistic rules that they had turned it into. (Mark 2:27). He did not say that the Sabbath Day was made for Jews but for ALL man. Another “New Testament” citation to this is found in the book of Acts chapter 13. Gentiles are hearing the word of God on the Sabbath Day, nearly the whole city gathered to hear the word of God.
An older dated proof that the Sabbath is not just for Jews is found in the book of Isaiah 56:6-7. “Also the foreigners who join themselves to Yehovah, to minister to him, and to love the name of Yehovah, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Shabbat from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples..” Clearly the Sabbath is for “all people,” not just for Jews. In Isaiah 66:22, 23, again, it says that “All” mankind will keep the Sabbath in the New Earth. “For as the new heavens and the new Earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says Yehovah, so shall your seed and your name remain. It shall happen, that from one new moon to another, and from one Shabbat to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says Yehovah.”
Clearly the Sabbath Day is a day for all men and not just the “Jews”. This common misunderstanding leads to jealousy and separation among the children and followers of God and his word. This claim is debunked!
2. The Sabbath was given to Israel not the world
This one, like the previous, is true in its literal context but often taken out of context and misunderstood. As we learned the Sabbath is for ALL mankind and not one race, but it was indeed intended to be for the children of Yisrael. This is to mean that anyone who believes and follows the God of the Bible is indeed part of the nation of Yisrael.
The origin of the name Yisrael is from God and was first given to Ya’akov and has a meaning. Genesis 32:28 “And he said, your name shall be called no more Ya’akov, but Yisrael: for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” If you are not Yisrael then you cannot be under the Messiah’s covenant, commonly referred to as “the New Covenant” as it was only made with Yisrael.
Commonly, Christians mistake themselves and label themselves as “Gentiles” a word meaning, basically, every other nation besides the nation of Yisrael. Although one can be descended from any race or creed of people, to claim to follow the God of the Bible, Yehovah, or the Messiah Yeshua and his teachings then you are inadvertently or intentionally claiming a citizenship through naturalization into the Nation of Yisrael. That is what it means to be a Christian and a believer.
In the book of Romans 9:6-8 it is stated that not all physical Yisrael will be the collective “Nation of Yisrael”. In addition, Galatians 3:28-29 says that all who believe in Messiah (Yeshua) are the seed of Avraham and are considered one, heirs according to the promise. Being heirs, one must be part of the people and not of another nation thus nullifying the idea that Christians are Gentiles. Isaiah 41:8 states that those who belong to Messiah are Yisrael today and Avraham’s seed. That includes both Jew and any other grafted in race or peoples. In your Messiah you have now become one and the same, as a people.
So, this reason is true and false. True in the sense that it was indeed given to the children of Yisrael as a commandment to remember and keep the Sabbath Day holy. It is however, false in the sense that most Christians are the seed of Yisrael and do not realize it yet so to say that only Yisrael needs to keep it is true, but to call yourself a Christian is to include yourself into the Nation of Yisrael. A subtle misunderstanding that has many believers in Messiah confused about who they are. This claim has had some light shed upon it and hopefully the misunderstanding has been corrected.
3. Perpetual future means “Time Indefinite”
Many Christians who claim the Sabbath is not for them cite the verse in Exodus 31:16, where Yehovah mentions the Sabbath as a perpetual covenant. Perpetual, in English, meaning never ending or changing. These Christians create their own understanding of this word to mean “time indefinite”, “to be changed at a later date”, or “a future that cannot be seen yet”. The Hebrew word for “perpetual” and “forever” used in Exodus 31 is (H5769 ‛ôlâm) and because the word does not literally mean forever many claim this Sabbath Covenant is not forever. The Hebrew language is a complex language, but the simple answer is that in this context it does mean forever or all eternity.
If other verses are referenced as to how this word is used, although literally not equal to the English word for forever, it can be clearly seen that it is used to mean forever or all eternity. Below are a few examples of this word being used in the same frame of meaning:
Genesis 3:22: “Do those who eat from the tree of life live forever?” For a Christian to suggest this Hebrew word doesn’t mean forever is to go against their own theological belief that one will live eternally in heaven after death.
In Genesis 9:16 The word “Olam” is used when Yehovah makes an everlasting Covenant with Noah where he promised not to ever flood the whole earth again. Are Christians making the claim that God is going to flood the earth again in the non-foreseeable future or is His promise good? Isn’t His covenant for all eternity?
Genesis 21:33, When Avraham used the word “Olam” to describe the name of Yehovah as everlasting. Is God everlasting or does God come to an end at a time we cannot see yet?
When King David is describing His mercy and righteousness using this term “Olam”, suggesting that it last forever and ever in Psalms 103:17 and Psalms 119:142, do they last forever or is it depleted after a while? Or how about Psalms 145:13 when referring to His kingdom? Does God’s kingdom last forever or does that also end, consequentially meaning no eternal life either?
How about God’s word? Is His promise good forever, as referenced in Isaiah 40:8? The grass does wither, and the flowers do fade but His word doesn’t endure forever? That ain’t right.
This claim that forever doesn’t mean forever is a diversionary tactic that some Christians cling to as to not disrupt their misunderstood beliefs about the holy Sabbath. Perpetual covenant means forever and ever!
4. Christians are under the “New Covenant”
Basically, a covenant is an agreement between two parties based upon mutual promises. There are two covenants referred to amongst believers when discussing salvation from sin. The “old” and the “new”. The old referring to what is often called the Mosaic laws (containing ceremonies and rituals of sacrifice and religious practices), and the new referring to the messianic biblical concept that Yeshua died on the cross and by faith alone one can receive forgiveness from sin, original and personal. The New covenant is to believe that the Messiah of prophecy came, died and fulfilled the laws of old requiring only belief in this sacrificial gesture to be saved from your sins, in turn nullifying all laws and commands given in the old testament.
This is the next misconception of why a Christian doesn’t keep the Sabbath. The Messiah Yeshua somehow nullified the Covenant made in the “Old Testament”. It has its roots in the “Old Testament” prophets and is realized in the “New Testament” teachings of Yeshua where, simply put, Christian claims are made that the old commandments are no longer needed to be followed as the new commandment of love and grace supersedes the old. This is a misunderstood and mal interpreted rendering of the prophecy in Jeremiah.
This belief has its core root in Jeremiah 31:33 “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith Yehovah, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Christians mistakenly take this verse as a foreshadow that the commandments given to the children of Yisrael will be nullified and erased when their Messiah comes. Rather, on the contrary, it means the commandments will be magnified and written in their hearts and their desires will be to follow them.
They claim that when Yeshua was nailed to the cross so were the commandments of the old testament, including the Ten Commandments. This is a way for some Christians to avoid following the everlasting covenant made by Yehovah with His people. Those trying to avoid God’s law have said that the Old Covenant was made with Yisrael and so the Ten Commandments were only for Yisrael, which we have previously shed light upon already. But note that the New Covenant was also made ONLY with the “House of Yisrael” and as we found out earlier any follower of Messiah is included in the House of Yisrael.
What is it that Christians are being “saved” from by the Messiah’s sacrificial gesture? Sin. And what is sin? Sin is a transgression of the old testament’s commands and/or laws. Plain and simple. Is this to say since the commandments are no longer required that sin no longer exists? No, because we know sin still does exist. It only means that sin is no longer the master of mankind and that although it still exists, by keeping his commandments (just as Yeshua did himself) we can have faith that his death was not in vain and that Yehovah’s covenant with his people remains and is magnified even further to perfection.
The New Covenant is the Old Covenant, only magnified to a greater purpose with the same promises and blessings. Is the New covenant still a reason to forget the Sabbath day? Not a chance. If anything, it is more reason to remember it and continue to revere it as a set apart day of rest.
5. Christians are not under the law, but grace
This belief is the most popular reason I hear when discussing the old testament commandments. It plays off reason number 4 in that most Christians believe with the coming of Yeshua and his sacrifice that all the commandments and laws of the old testament get thrown out the window. His sacrifice was the fulfillment of these laws and are no longer required to be practiced because these laws enslaved the people and Yeshua freed them from this enslavement. This is a belief created by a misunderstanding of Paul’s letters and New Testament scriptures. It is a slap in the face (no pun intended) to all that Yeshua taught and meant for his people.
A common saying you hear is that the laws were “nailed to the cross”, insinuating that because Yeshua was sacrificed, and because he was perfect in obeying all the laws, that those laws and commandments died with him on the cross as a sacrifice for all human sin. To believe this is to misunderstand the scriptures. In Matthew 5 Yeshua clearly states he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. To fulfill it does not mean that after he fulfills it it’s gone forever, it simply means he fulfilled it. Simple! It’s not an impossible task for any man if you have faith in Yehovah. Now do like me and show others what you have seen.
To believe this is also to suggest that the old testament had no grace. There was an abundant measure of grace under the law of Moshe. Noah found grace in the eyes of Yehovah long before the Mosaic system was written (Gen. 6:8). Moshe found favor in Yehovah’s sight in Exodus 33:13. In Deuteronomy 7:12, Yehovah states that by obeying his ordinances and commandments he will keep the covenant of loving-kindness he made with our forefathers. Loving kindness? That sounds graceful. In Jeremiah 31:13 again, it is revealed that after constant disobedience and transgression from His people, Yehovah still decides that he has drawn for us His loving-kindness. Ultimate Grace.
Were it the case that man is not under law today, then it would follow necessarily that sin would not exist today, for sin is a transgression of the law (1 Jn. 3:4). As Paul wrote, where there is no law, there is no sin (Rom. 4:15). And since this is not the case, reason number 5 debunked.
6. Christians are exempt from the Old Testament Commandments
Again, in the same spirit of 4 and 5, reason 6 brings the argument that all Christians are exempt from the commandments because they have been; figuratively, nailed to the cross, they’re saved by grace, Yeshua was a sacrificial lamb (or goat), or that there is only one great commandment now. This commandment says that you are to love your neighbor as you love yourself, and if you love yourself and do all things in love then you are encompassing the whole of all the commands in all the old testament combined. Basically the golden rule you learned in school, “a do unto others” kind of thing.
In Matthew 22 Yeshua is provokingly asked by religious leaders which of the commandments is the greatest, in return he quotes Deuteronomy and says to love god with all your heart, soul, mind, and everything. This is a customary ritual, culturally, amongst all Yisraelites to quote this verse 3 times daily, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed. If you did not already know this, it would seem as though Yeshua was creating a new law or condensing them into one. He was simply quoting the most known verse in all Yisrael and Judaism, knowing that in keeping this command one would be following all the other commandments and laws given. To follow all the commandments of Yehovah is to prove you love him with everything you have, mind, body, and spirit. It is not to say that doing things with good intentions is to follow all the commandments of Yehovah, this has been the common mix up among Christians today. In Galations 6, it states you are to bear your brothers burdens, this is often cited when making claims that, with this type of love, you can fulfill all the commandments. Sadly, another misunderstood interpretation of the scriptures with the same backwards approach to Yeshua’s message.
How do we know what love is according to how Yehovah sees it? How do we know right from wrong if not from old testament? The answer is we don’t. The Old Testament is the only way to know how to love God, what is right and what is wrong in the eyes of Yehovah. It is by these actions that we prove our love to him with all of our everything. Reason 6 has just been deep sixed.
7. The Sabbath Day is on Sunday
The last and final reason why some Christians refuse to keep the Sabbath day is that they already keep it! On Sunday! This belief is a debate over when the Sabbath Day is.
In Daniel 7:8, Daniel says, “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws”. This prophecy was speaking of a future power that would change the words of God for their own purposes. Christians observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea, (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday. The reasons for this are many but for the simplest answer is, it was done to popularize the Christian movement and gain more followers. Previously, Constantine merged Sun God worship practices of the time with Christianity and united the common people with a new religion. All good for politics but not so good for obeying Yehovah and pleasing Him. Epic fail on behalf of the early church.
Worshiping God on Sunday or any other day is not a problem, the only issue is when it comes to observing a Sunday Sabbath as a day of rest instead of Saturday. Reason 7 why Christians don’t keep the Sabbath is yet another misunderstanding of scripture that is easily remedied.
I address all brothers without malice in my writings, and with all due respect and courtesy to the Christian and Jewish religions there are many things that some believers will jump out and accuse another for. I call for all believers in the bible to remove the 2 x 4 from their eye before telling their neighbor to remove the sliver from theirs. Only when we see the scriptures clearly can we then attempt to adjust another brothers walk with God. May Yehovah make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, may he keep you and bless you and give you peace.
-The NorthWest Hebrew