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Is Sabbath observance necessary today? Isn’t it a Jewish custom which Christians later changed to Sunday? Beyond Today television presenter, Steve Myers, describes how, as a young man, he came to question the widely accepted custom of observing Sunday instead of the seventh day Sabbath.
Mr Myers had been brought up to believe that Sunday was the day of worship, but by the time he went to college he had become aware there were Christians who observed the Sabbath. He wondered why they would do that. He had been brought up to believe that as long as you take time out of your week to give to God you were adhering to biblical instruction.
Occasionally he would question why Jesus observed the Sabbath. Was it just the fact he was Jewish or could there possibly be more to it? Was the Sabbath changed, or is it now obsolete?
He believed in Jesus as his Saviour and as the example he should follow, but did worshiping on the same day Jesus did mean anything? Should a Christian observe the Sabbath day from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset?
He considered all the arguments against observing the Sabbath: “The Sabbath has nothing to do with salvation. The Gospel is freedom. We are not restricted to just a particular day of the week. The Sabbath day was changed to Sunday.” We have all probably heard these arguments and wonder why there is such controversy and confusion over this one commandment.
Jesus’ practice was to keep the Sabbath day from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, and we are told it was His custom (Luke 4:16). The fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it thou shalt not do any work ...for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth the sea and all that’s in them and He rested on the seventh day, the Sabbath day, and He hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).
Mark 2:28 tells us, “Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” According to Jesus Christ, the Lord’s Day, the day over which Jesus is Lord, is the seventh day Sabbath. Steve wondered, can a church organization change one of the Ten Commandments? Jesus Christ never once told the church it has the authority to change or alter the Sabbath to Sunday worship.
He also considered the argument that Jesus only kept the Sabbath because he was Jewish, but then noticed what Mark 2:27 says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” He realized the Sabbath wasn’t an Old Testament commandment for the ancient Israelites or, in more recent times, for the Jews. Mark 2:27 points out the Sabbath was made for the benefit of all people for all time.
His research revealed it wasn’t till the 4th century that the Roman church officially confirmed the first day of the week, Sunday, as the day of rest rather than the seventh day Sabbath, as God commanded. This raised the question of whether all days of worship were alike. Is one just as good as another? Did Jesus change the law? Was the Sabbath bondage?
After tracing the historical changes in the approach to the Sabbath Steve became convinced the Sabbath is the day of worship God established at creation and it is still valid. He then reveals: “So did I drop everything on Friday and Saturday and then begin to observe the Sabbath and go to church and worship on the biblical Sabbath? Nope. I wasn’t really all that happy about it.”
Steve then came across Hebrews chapter 4, which begins by telling what you might call the Sabbath story starting at creation and then going on to the Israelites coming out of Egypt and entering the Promised Land. Verses 9 and 10 clearly say: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” This passage was written more than 30 years after the crucifixion of Christ and reveals the New Testament Church was worshiping on the Sabbath day, observing the Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
Once he understood what these verses were saying Steve was faced with the issue of what he was going to do about it? He knew he was being challenged as to whether or not He would obey God’s Word. He realised that it came down to if he truly wanted to follow Jesus Christ as a Christian, then he must keep His commands including the Sabbath observance. 1 John 5:3 was ringing in my ears: “This is the love of God, that you keep His commandments and His commandment aren’t burdensome.”
God is calling all Christians to examine their life and the way they worship God, and there is no doubt what the Bible has to say about Sabbath observance. He created a special weekly appointment for our benefit, and even made it one of the Ten Commandments.
Beyond Today Televison