Why Don't We Keep The Sabbath Day?
A visitor to our web site e-mailed a good question this past week, asking why we do not keep the Sabbath day, since it is the day of worship given by God in the Ten Commandments.
Indeed, the Sabbath day was the prescribed day of worship in the Law of Moses. Exodus 20:8, 11 reads:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. ...the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
In Leviticus 26:2, again we read:
You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD.
So, why don't we keep the Sabbath today? Quite simply, we are not commanded to. The observance of the Sabbath was commanded in the Law of Moses, which was given to the nation of Israel (Exodus 25:2; 31:13-17; Deuteronomy 4:44-45). The Law of Moses was given to national Israel, when they were the chosen people of God.
The New Testament reveals time and again that we are no longer subject to the Law of Moses. Notice what the inspired writers have said:
...having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man, from the two, thus making peace. (Ephesians 2:15)
Again, Paul wrote the same message to the Colossians. Hear his words:
...having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)
The practices of the Law were not to be laid upon the Gentiles; that was not the law by which they (or their Jewish brethren) would be judged. The Law of Moses had been nailed to the cross. It had been abolished. The Hebrew writer plainly stated:
...if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says, 'Behold the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah --' ...In that He says, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:7-8, 13)
“The Law of Moses had been nailed to the cross.”
We are no longer subject to that which Paul refers to as the "ministry of death" and again, "the ministry of condemnation" (2 Corinthians 3:7, 9). It has passed away (v 11).
When false teachers came teaching the Gentiles, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved," (Acts 15:1), Paul and Barnabas disputed with them, and eventually went to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and elders. During the discussion at Jerusalem, some rose up declaring that "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." (v 5). Peter stood up in their midst and asked,
...why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers, nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they. (Acts 15:10-11)
The letter which eventually went forth from Jerusalem to the Gentile Christians stated,
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law' -- to whom we gave no such commandment... (Acts 15:24)
We are subject to no part of the Law of Moses. Our instruction for doctrine and practice comes from the law of Christ - the New Testament.
That being the case, Christians do not keep the Sabbath, which was the day of worship given through Moses for the Jews. Rather, Christians assemble on the first day of the week, as instructed in the New Testament. It is on this day that the early Christians
- partook of the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7)
- took up a collection (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
- received a message / instruction (Acts 20:7)
The first day of the week is the day revealed by God for Christians to meet and worship upon. The Sabbath observance is no more, though we wait for the eternal sabbath - our rest with the Lord Jesus in heaven (Hebrews 4:9).
Answering The Atheist
The Atheist's Complaint:
When did God kill Leviathan and the sea dragon? Did He do so sometime in the past (Psalm 74:13-14), or will He do it sometime in the future (Isaiah 27:1)? Is there a contradiction?
The questioner has made the false assumption that the destruction of dragons and Leviathan must be either past or future. These words are not used in either text of a literal dragon or creature named Leviathan, but of enemies of the Lord's people. God has at various times destroyed the enemies of His people.
Psalm 74 was written by a man named Asaph during a time when the temple of God was in ruins (v 3-7) and when no prophet of God was in the land ministering to the people (v 9). In such a distressful time, the writer inquires of the LORD, "Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand?" (v 11) In hope, he continues, "Take it out of Your bosom and destroy them. For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth."
Asaph calls to mind the mighty works of God from the days when God brought His people Israel forth from Egypt, when He "...divided the sea..." and afterward "...broke the heads of the sea serpents..." (the Egyptian army). At that same time, He "...broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces...", destroying the power of Egypt, the Pharaoh.
Isaiah 27 speaks of another occasion when God will bring destruction upon the enemy of His people. His people "poured out a prayer" before Him (26:16). He promises to come and "...punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity..." (26:21). At that time, He will "...punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent..." (27:1). It is again the figurative language of judgment.
There is no contradiction.
This article is in response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible.