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What the Bible says about Breaking the Sabbath
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 16:28

The subject of this chapter is the Sabbath. Here, God begins the process of revealing to them which day is the Sabbath by bringing a double portion of manna on the day before, and on the Sabbath day, no manna at all. Of course, some of the people try to gather manna on the Sabbath day. Thus, God responds, in verse 28, the way He does. Besides His obvious exasperation, in asking, "How long?"He is implying that the Sabbath already existed by this time—indeed, since creation!

Israel, as a nation, began breaking the Sabbath from the get-go. Even before they reached Sinai, they were already rejecting the fourth commandment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 2)

Exodus 16:29

God finds it necessary to repeat Himself yet again on this point which He considered to be so important:

  • God had given the Sabbath Day of rest as a blessing for His children.
  • God gave them twice as much manna on the sixth day.
  • They were not to go out to attempt to collect manna on the seventh day.

Some have misconstrued the latter part of this verse as meaning that Sabbath-keepers should not even leave their homes on the Sabbath Day. This is not what is being said at all. God is chastising the disobedient Israelites who had just blatantly broken His Sabbath instructions! He was telling them not to go out of their homes on the Sabbath for the purpose of collecting manna. To extrapolate this concept for New Testament Sabbath-keepers: We should not venture from our homes on the Sabbath for the purpose of doing any kind of work.

Staff

Ezekiel 20:10-13

God is referring to Israel's Sabbath-breaking in their wilderness journey, quite early in their relationship with Him. In addition, if there was any time—in all of the history of Israel's relationship with God—this was a time during which they had no excuse for breaking the Sabbath. He was with them at all times in the cloud and the pillar of fire. They were also a completely closed society. There should have been no other God to worship.

All of the people were gathered in one general location. There was no place to go. Double manna fell each Friday, and no manna fell on the Sabbath. They had no excuse for losing track of what day it was. God, jarringly, had a man executed for Sabbath-breaking to remind them how important the day is and to instill in them respect for it. Yet, God says they still rebelled, suggesting that God was mostly concerned with how they were keeping it.

They undoubtedly gave lip-service to the Sabbath, setting it aside on the calendar. When that day came around, any commercial business in the wilderness probably came to a halt on that day. They did not travel. It was what they were doing or not doing personally and individually on that day that harmed their relationship with God. That was the issue.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)

Ezekiel 20:12-13

What caused one house (Judah) to retain its identity and the other (Israel) to lose it? God gives the answer—the Sabbath. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible (at verse 12) states, “The Sabbath was the visible sign to the Hebrews and to the world that they were his, and that he was theirs.”

A sign identifies. An example is a burqa, the long, loose garment covering the whole body from head to feet, worn in public by many Muslim women. A woman wearing a burqa is an unmistakable sign that she is Allah's and that he is her god. It is a sign that separates and identifies.

With these verses in chapter 20 of Ezekiel, God guarantees that if His people keep the Sabbath—the sign that signifies who they are and who they worship—that sign would assure their identity. To be separate requires a definable identity. God, by their observance of the Sabbath, guaranteed they would remain separate and set apart, preserved as a select people unmixed with the nations.

Throughout history, the house of Judah has continued to observe the Sabbath. As a result, they have retained their identity. On the other hand, the house of Israel rejected the Sabbath, and true to Ezekiel 20, they have disappeared from view. They have lost their identity. They no longer have the sign that tells them, or the rest of the world, who they are.

The house of Israel chose to rebel against the Sabbath, a proclivity that began as far back as the wilderness journey:

Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, 'which, if a man does, he shall live by them'; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them in the wilderness, to consume them. (Ezekiel 20:13)

So, the Bible clearly and consistently identifies as Israel those nations that have become known as the “Ten Lost Tribes,” rather than the house of Judah.

Pat Higgins
The Nation of Israel—Biblical Israel? (Part One)

Ezekiel 20:18

In verse 18, God speaks about not walking in "the statutes of your fathers, [and] . . . their judgments," which means, in this context, "Do not follow the choices of your parents." He makes this statement in relation to the Sabbath commandment to the second generation of those who came out of Egypt. The whole first generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness, so as Ezekiel 20 opens, He is speaking to that generation. By verse 18, the context has shifted to the generation which went into the land, and He warns them against making the same bad choices as the previous generation.

No other people are more influential to children than parents, so He tells them to avoid making the same unsound judgments, particularly regarding Sabbath-breaking that so-called influential people have made in the past. He also tells them not to follow their idols. Why?

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4, 20)

God holds us individually responsible. Just because influential people, like parents or ministers, made judgments in the past on how to keep the Sabbath, does not mean they were correct. Each person is personally responsible to God to follow His laws as God gave them, not as someone has interpreted them. Just because we saw a minister say or do something regarding Sabbath-keeping does not necessarily mean he was. Maybe it was. Maybe it was not. We must judge the situation and come to our own conclusions. He will not accept the justification that we were just following what our parents or minister did. If they did what was right, fine; but if they did wrong, then we must have the character to keep it correctly, despite what they taught.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)

Ezekiel 20:21

Ezekiel 20:21 appears in the midst of God's charge that He was sending Israel into captivity because of idolatry and Sabbath breaking. There are three possibilities regarding Israel's Sabbath breaking:

  1. They rejected God's Sabbath for another day entirely;
  2. They polluted what they did have of God's true Sabbath by careless, self-centered observance; or
  3. Most likely, it was a combination of both. Some completely rejected it, others treated it carelessly.

Whichever it was, it resulted in their captivity. Keeping the Sabbath day properly is a serious issue to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part Two): Christ's Attitude Toward the Sabbath


 




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