What the Bible says about
Creation, Seventh Day
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Genesis 2 records God's creation of the seventh-day Sabbath and hence, the institution of the weekly occasion. In this passage as well, neither the word moedim (appointed feasts) nor khodesh (new moon) appear even once:
By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 [HCSB])
What is strikingly stressed in this passage is the cycle of the seventh day, not the arrival of a new moon. Other verses that stress the concept of “the seventh day” as a definitive element in the seventh-day Sabbath's timing include Exodus 23:12; 31:15, 17; 34:21; 35:2; and Deuteronomy 5:13-14.
Finally, khodesh and moedim are conspicuous by their absence in the Sabbath commandment itself—not even a hint:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11 [HCSB])
In each of these pivotal passages concerning the weekly Sabbath, the word moedim is absent. Its absence shows that the weekly occasion is not an “appointed feast” and therefore not part and parcel with the annual occasions, which are defined by a separate cycle. In addition, in each of these same passages, the word khodesh is also absent, indicating that thenew moon is not a factor in determining the coming of the seventh-day Sabbath.
In summary then, lunar Sabbatarians ignore the clear fact that God has instituted two discrete cycles and with them, two different methods of determining the fall of Sabbaths. Lunar Sabbatarians apply the method of counting the holy days—which at its core does involve the new moons—to determining the occurrences of the weekly Sabbaths. However, the Scriptures do not support using the same method for both cycles.
To reiterate: The new moon and the lunar month are irrelevant in determining which day the seventh-day Sabbath falls on.
The Lunar Sabbath or the Seventh-Day Sabbath: Which?
The Sabbath is clearly stated, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, to have two major purposes. The Sabbath is to remind us that God is Creator; we look back on Him creating. But it is also designed to show us that the Sabbath is the day that He has given to keep us free; it reminds us that we were once slaves.
Remembering God as Creator is good, but because it happened in the dim past, it does not always help us in our immediate concerns. But every Sabbath we are also reminded that God is our redeeming Liberator, and that we keep the Sabbath because we are free—and because we want to remain free. Those who are redeemed who do not keep the Sabbath do not retain their liberty.
Nations establish memorials for specific reasons. Here in the United States we have a Presidents' Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Armistice Day, and so on. Why do we have these days? Our nation's leaders want us to be periodically reminded of our heritage. They want us to remember why we have what we have, why we should hold on to these things, and why we should strengthen what we have.
God's Sabbath—His memorial—is so important to His purpose that He has it recur every week! Not once a year, but every week! It is a constant reminder of our spiritual heritage from Him and of our release from sin, and it reorients us in any area in which we may have turned aside.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 2)
We see the Sabbath in several different lights. First, it commemorates the completion of the Creation Week (Genesis 2:1-3). God is Creator. Second, in Deuteronomy, we see that it commemorates redemption (Deuteronomy 5:15). In the Gospels we see Jesus acting upon this redemption motif with regard to the Sabbath. God has gotten us out of spiritual Egypt. Now the question becomes, how do we use the Sabbath? So Jesus magnifies it by showing that we should use the Sabbath to produce liberty. We might almost say that the first thing we need to make sure is that we are free and stay free. Therefore, we have to strive to keep the Sabbath! Third, it prefigures a time yet future when the people of God enjoy the rest.
So, now we see the Sabbath doing what?
It points to the past—the Creation.
It points to the present—redemption and sanctification.
It points to the future—the Kingdom of God.
These three areas are the parameters within which Sabbath use and obedience fall.
"For there remains yet a keeping of the Sabbath." This is really beautiful. What it shows in the Greek—which, incidentally, is probably the most beautiful Greek in the whole Bible—that the Sabbath rest has already begun if we are striving to use it right. We have already begun to enter into it. If a person works on the Sabbath to earn a living, has he entered into it? Obviously not! Keeping the Sabbath is vital to entering God's rest.
This ties very closely to the term "eternal life" in the Bible. Eternal life is not merely a period in which there is life without end. To God, eternal life includes the quality of life being lived. It would be no good to have eternal life if we had to live like a demon. But eternal life is only good when it is lived as God lives it.
Now, are we starting to live like God? If we have begun to live like God lives—having His attitude, doing the things that He does in terms of what Christ has showed us—then we have begun to enter into eternal life. Therefore, we are already beginning to enter into God's rest. It is a beautiful picture!
Paul's point to the Hebrews is that the children of Israel did not enter into God's rest because they did not hear God's Word and obey. The illustration is the Sabbath, for the breaking of which both Israel and Judah (as Ezekiel and Jeremiah show) went into captivity. What is so interesting here is that this is written to the first-century church, and it is introduced as an illustration of what they are to do with their lives.
Think about this. If the Sabbath had been done away, the illustration was useless. This is one of the strongest proofs in the entire New Testament that the first-century church, the church of the apostles, were still keeping the Sabbath—and reinforcing its keeping by using it as an illustration of the very Kingdom of God, the rest into which we will enter. Far be it from the apostles to say that it was done away! That is patently ridiculous. Maybe the spiritually blind cannot see that, but we should be able to see it clearly.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 4)
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