The Seventh Day: A Study of the Sabbath

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The Sabbath is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied topics in the church today. It seems modern Christians run to one of two extremes: either they view the fourth commandment as no longer valid, and therefore treat the Lord’s Day as any other day of the week, or they embrace a legalistic view of the Sabbath that prevents one from seeing the blessing of the Sabbath.

In this Bible study, I try to examine the Sabbath from a biblical perspective. I begin with the simple assumption that the Sabbath was given to mankind as a gift—a blessing—not a burden. I also begin with the assumption that most in the evangelical church today have lost all respect for the Lord’s Day, and words like “holiness” and “distinct” are foreign in the American church. In almost every area of life, there is little or no distinction between a 21st Century American Christian and the world in which we live. I argue in this study that there needs to be a distinction, and that honoring the Sabbath day to keep it holy is one place to begin.

My Background

I had the honor and privilege of growing up in a Reformed Church in the 1970s and 80s. Our church was a Sabbath-keeping church, although my family was not as strict, which essentially meant we would go out to a restaurant after church on Sunday while most of the other folks in our church would not.  Still, it gave me a perspective of what it means to “honor the Sabbath” in modern times.

One conflict serves as a good illustration: I remember in the 1970s the Dutch, Reformed stronghold of Orange City, IA was debating whether or not to allow a new restaurant to open in town. As I remember it, this was to be the first fast food chain restaurant, and as such, it wanted to be open seven days a week. In 1970s Orange City, this was not permitted. It became quite a debate, because as a college town, a fast food restaurant would be of benefit, but the town was not prepared to alter its Sabbath rules for a restaurant. As I recall, a compromise was reached in which the restaurant could be built, but it agreed to remain closed on Sundays.

The Focus of This Study

In this study we are going to look at the topic of the Sabbath. Specifically, we are going to look at:

  • the biblical teaching on the Sabbath, both Old and New Testament
  • try to discern whether or not the Sabbath should be viewed as a legal requirement or as a moral requirement
  • examine which day Christians should consider holy and what the precedent is for this teaching
  • answer the simple question, “so what does this mean to me, a 21st Century Christian?”

 

First Mention of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3)

1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. – Genesis 2:1–3 (ESV)

  1. This completes God’s creative work. It is finished (vs. 1 & 2).
  2. God rested, and He did so to establish a pattern for man.
  3. God made the seventh day holy. (See “Understanding the Biblical Term Holy.”)

The Three “It is Finished” Statements of Scripture

  • Genesis 2:1–2–it is finished. God finishes His creative work.
  • John 19:30–it is finished. Christ finishes His redemptive work.
  • Revelation 21:5–6–it is finished. Christ finishes His restorative work.

Genesis 2:1–2–Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

John 19:30–When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Revelation 21:5–6 (NLT)–And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.

Creation Ordinances

  1. The ordinance of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1–3)
  2. The ordinance of Marriage (Genesis 2:24)

Now, don’t let some important observations escape you here:

  1. When did God institute the Sabbath? As part of Creation. There are two laws that scholars refer to as “Creation Ordinances” — the ordinance of the Sabbath, as outlined in Genesis 2:1-3, and the ordinance of marriage, as outlined in Genesis 2:24.
  2. The Sabbath was established well in advance of the Law of Moses. The 10 Commandments did not create new law, but in many ways codified existing moral law. For example, we know from illustrations in Genesis and the first chapters of Exodus that to kill another man was morally wrong. The clearest example up front is the illustration of Cain and Able. So when God said “Do not kill” in the 6th Commandment, He was not establishing a new standard for Israel, but simply putting in stone commandments that had already been established through God’s moral law.

Israel and the Sabbath Before the Law

Exodus 16:22–30

On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” 24So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.” 27On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30So the people rested on the seventh day.

The Fourth Commandment

Exodus 20:8–11

8“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The Sign of the Mosaic Covenant

Exodus 31:13–17

13“You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. 14You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. 16Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”

Israel’s Penalty for Failing to Keep the Sabbath

Leviticus 26:27–35

27“But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 28then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 29You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you. 31And I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas. 32And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. 34“Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it.

70 Years of Babylonian Captivity

  • Israel neglected the sabbatical years for 430 years. During this time, the land missed 70 sabbatical years (Ezekiel 4:1–6).
  • The people were taken into Babylonian captivity for 70 years as a result of their neglect of the sabbatical years (Jeremiah 25:8–12)
  • Jerusalem was burned and ruined, and the land was allowed to lay desolate for 70 years (2 Chron. 36:15–21)

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

Mark 2:23–3:6

23One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Three Important Applications from Mark 2:23–3:6

  1. Jesus reclaims authority over the Sabbath.
  2. Jesus restores the true intention of the Sabbath.
  3. Jesus identifies the false motives for observing the Sabbath.

Legalism Leads to Religious Hypocrisy.

We should all be very thankful for the blessing of the Pharisees. As Bible students, their existence makes it very easy to often highlight the WRONG WAY TO INTERPRET SCRIPTURE! In many ways, the Pharisees are the antithesis of true Christianity. They were concerned with the exterior appearance, while Jesus was concerned with the heart. As we begin to draw into the application of the Sabbath for today, it is critical that we understand the false teaching of the Pharisees. If you leave here tonight motivated to honor the Sabbath because it will make you look good, then I have failed miserably as a teacher. That is not the goal of this teaching.

Again, Jesus references back not to the law of Moses, but to the Creation — the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was created to be a blessing for man, not a burden. We must keep this distinction in mind.

In Mark 2, Jesus places the Sabbath within a New Covenant context. It is no longer the day described in Leviticus, but the blessing created by God in Genesis 2.

The Lord’s Day (the First Day)

John 20:1

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

John 20:19

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Acts 20:7

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.

Revelation 1:9–10

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.

Did Paul Set Aside the Fourth Commandment and the Sabbath?

Romans 14:5–6 

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Galatians 4:9–11

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Colossians 2:16–17 

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Some Important Observations

  1. In each of these texts, Paul is addressing ceremonial and civil law that Jews were required to follow as part of the Mosaic Law. This included many ceremonial Sabbaths that were a part of the Jewish calendar, including the many feasts of Israel, each referred to as a Sabbath to the Lord (cf. Leviticus 23).
  2. Each of these special days were a foreshadow of Christ, and pictured a part of His redemptive work.
  3. Paul is arguing that these special days, which were an integral part of the Mosaic Law, were fulfilled in Christ, and therefore no longer a requirement in the New Testament age. The “shadow” reference in Colossians 2:17 points to the Law, not to creation.

The Christian and the Sabbath: How Should We Respond?

What conclusions can we draw from at this point:

  1. The Sabbath was instituted by God as a part of Creation. It predates the law and the prophets.
  2. The Fourth Commandment is an intricate part of the Ten Commandments, the most celebrated set of moral laws given to mankind. Moral Law and the Ten Commandments are strongly referenced and reinforced in the New Testament, and are never set aside or subjugated, as were the ceremonial and civil laws.
  3. The Fourth Commandment points back to the creation ordinance and God’s rest, not to the future and to shadowy images of Christ.
  4. Jesus reinforced the importance of the Sabbath as a gift to mankind and that the Sabbath will have a prominent place in His future Kingdom. No where does He indicate the Sabbath should be a burden.
  5. We must guard against pharisaical motives in keeping the Sabbath, which become an outward expression of righteousness while the heart is openly wicked.
  6. Jesus and His most intimate followers began to meet on the First Day of the week following His resurrection, a pattern that the apostles and the early church followed.

Principles to Guide Your Reflection of the Sabbath

  1. We are called by God to be a holy people, set apart from the world as a way of expressing His glory on the earth (1 Peter 1:13–16).
  2. Our weekly Sabbaths are intended to be joyful in the Lord and good for our body and soul (Matthew 11:28).
  3. The Sabbath is a check against the godless impulses of materialism and hedonism (Exodus 20:9; Leviticus 23:3).
  4. Those who discover a joyful observance of the Sabbath discover a true blessing and pattern to living that brings as much peace, fulfillment, and rest as is possible this side of eternity (Hebrews 4:9–11).

Philippians 1:9–11

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Understanding the Biblical Term “Holy”

Biblical use of the term “holy” has to do primarily with God’s separating from the world that which He chooses to devote to Himself. As God’s redemptive plan unfolded through the OT, the “holy” became associated with the character of God’s separated people conforming to His revealed law. When the time became ripe for the saving work of Jesus Christ, His redeemed people came to be known as saints (literally, “holy ones”). The cross made this possible by inaugurating the fulfillment of the preparatory OT teachings on the holy, opening the way for God’s Holy Spirit to indwell His people.

God’s Unique Holiness as Separation God alone is “majestic in holiness” (Exod. 15:11; cp. 1 Sam. 2:2; Rev. 15:4). The uniqueness of His holiness is stressed in the repetition of the seraphic cry: “Holy, holy, holy” (Isa. 6:3; cp. Rev. 4:8). Indeed, the frequent title of choice for God in Isaiah is “the Holy One of Israel” (e.g., 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 41:14, 16; 47:4; 60:9). But God’s perfect holiness—the complete perfection of His attributes such as power and goodness—is a humbling and even terrifying thing when revealed to weak and sinful men (e.g., Isa. 6:5; Luke 5:8; Rev. 1:17).

Those things that God separates to Himself become holy, too. These objects of the Lord’s choosing are set apart from the world. For instance, the holy place in the tabernacle and the temple is hidden from the eyes of the people, and the most holy place (“holy of holies”) is only entered yearly by the high priest with the blood of atonement and a cloud of incense lest he die (Lev. 16). The privilege of being “a holy people to the Lord your God” (Deut. 7:6; 14:2, 21; 28:9) is thus seen to carry weighty responsibility. Interestingly, not only can that which is holy be profaned (e.g., Lev. 21:6, 12, 15) but also contact with the holy transfers holiness to the profane (e.g., Ezek. 44:19; 46:20; cp. Exod. 29:37; 30:29; 1 Cor. 7:14).
The Ethical Mandate of God’s Holiness God’s chosen people, in separation from the world, are called to an ethical life in conformity to His revealed word. The command to His people is to “be holy; for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44–45; cp. 19:2; 20:26). This demand is not abrogated with the coming of Christ but is to find its fulfillment in the Christian community (1 Cor. 7:34; Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:22; 1 Pet. 1:16). Christians are to perfect “holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1 NASB). If necessary, God will discipline the followers of Christ for their own good so they “can share His holiness” (Heb. 12:10 HCSB).

The Ultimate Fulfillment of God’s Holiness David, fearing that his sin would separate him from God, prays, “Do not … take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Ps. 51:11 HCSB). John the Baptist, however, predicts that Jesus would inaugurate a new era for God’s people by baptizing them with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11). The atoning death of Jesus, by meeting the just demands of God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:21–26), makes possible this intimate relationship of God and His people. Jesus, as the true Holy One, does not see decay in His death as the prophetic Scriptures foretold (Ps. 16:10; Acts 13:35). Thus His resurrection signifies the accomplishment of salvation and the inauguration of the age of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:4) in which the followers of Jesus are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). This enduring promise for believers in every generation (Acts 2:38–39) is the empowerment to make them holy: the Holy Spirit makes them so (Rom. 15:16).[1]

Selected Bibliography on The Sabbath

Baxter, R., & Orme, W. (1830). The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter (Vol. 19). London: James Duncan.

Baxter, R., William Orme. (1830). The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter (Vol. 13). London: James Duncan.

Briscoe, P., & Hickman, P. (2004). Secrets from the treadmill: discover god’s rest in the busyness of life. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Bunyan, J. (2006). Five Questions About the Nature and Perpetuity of the Seventh-day Sabbath. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Campbell, I. D. (2005). On the first day of the week: God, the Christian and the Sabbath. Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Chantry, W. J. (1991). Call the Sabbath a Delight. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth.

Chesnut, L. J. (2005). The Sabbath Mosaic and Christian. James L. Fleming.

Cumming, J. (1854). Sabbath Morning Readings on the Old Testament: Book of Exodus. Boston; Cleveland, OH; New York: John P. Jewett & Company; Jewett, Proctor & Worthington; Sheldon, Lamport & Blakeman.

Dabney, R. L. (1882). The Christian Sabbath: Its Nature, Design and Proper Observance. Philadelphia: The Presbyterian Board of Publication.

Dabney, Robert L. (1890). Discussions by Robert Lewis Dabney: Theological and Evangelical. (C. R. Vaughan, Ed.) (Vol. 1). Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication.

Dobson, E. (2009). The year of living like jesus: my journey of discovering what jesus would really do. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Gaffin, R. B., Jr. (1998). Calvin and the Sabbath. Fearn, Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications.

Kasdan, B. (2007). God’s appointed times: a practical guide for understanding and celebrating the Biblical holidays (2nd ed.). Clarksville, MD: Messianic Jewish Publishers.

Lawrenz, M. (2011). Jubilee: everything is different starting now. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.

Morey, R. A. (1995). Is the sabbath for today? Orange, CA: Research/Education Foundation.

Owen, J. (1862). An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. (W. H. Goold, Ed.) (Vol. 19). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Pam Pierce, C. D. P., Pierce, C. D., & Pierce, P. (2010). The rewards of simplicity. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen.

Riggle, H. M. (2005). The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day. James L. Fleming.

Riggle, H., M. (n.d.). The Sabbath. Moundsville, WV: Gospel Trumpet Company.

Ripley, H. J. (1843). The Acts of the Apostles; With Notes, Chiefly Explanatory; Designed for Teachers in Sabbath Schools and Bible Classes, and as an Aid to Family Instruction (Stereotyped Edition.). Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln.

Rubin, B., & Rubin, S. K. (1998). The Sabbath: Entering God’s Rest. Baltimore, MD: Messianic Jewish Publishers.

Sleeth, M. (2012). 24/6: a prescription for a healthier, happier life. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale.

Swartley, W. M. (1983). Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation. Scottdale, PA; Waterloo, ON: Herald Press.

Weber, K. (2007). The Lord of the Sabbath: The Riches of God’s Rest. Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Wirzba, N. (2006). Living the sabbath: discovering the rhythms of rest and delight. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

(1989). Themelios, No. 3, April 1989, 14.

(2011). Tabletalk Magazine, June 2011: 4 Views of the Sabbath, 35(6).

Selected Scriptures Relating to the Sabbath

Genesis 2:1–3

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. 2 By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Exodus 16:22–30

22 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.” 27 It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? 29 “See, the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Exodus 20:8–11

8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 23:12

“Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.

Exodus 31:13–17

13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 ‘Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 ‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. 16 ‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

Exodus 31:16

‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’

Exodus 34:21

“You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.

Exodus 35:2

“For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

Exodus 35:3

“You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day.”

Leviticus 23:3

‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the Lord in all your dwellings.

Leviticus 23:32

“It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”

Leviticus 25:2

“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord.

Leviticus 25:3

‘Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop,

Leviticus 26:27–35

27 “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 28 then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you. 31 And I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas. 32 And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. 34 “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it.

Numbers 15:32–36

32 Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation; 34 and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Numbers 28:9–10

9 ‘Then on the sabbath day two male lambs one year old without defect, and two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and its drink offering: 10 ‘This is the burnt offering of every sabbath in addition to the continual burnt offering and its drink offering.

Deuteronomy 5:12–14

12 ‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

2 Kings 4:23

He said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.” And she said, “It will be well.”

1 Chronicles 23:31

and to offer all burnt offerings to the Lord, on the sabbaths, the new moons and the fixed festivals in the number set by the ordinance concerning them, continually before the Lord.

Nehemiah 9:14

“So You made known to them Your holy sabbath, And laid down for them commandments, statutes and law, Through Your servant Moses.

Nehemiah 10:31

As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

Nehemiah 13:15–22

15 In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of loads, and they brought them into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. So I admonished them on the day they sold food. 16 Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah on the sabbath, even in Jerusalem. 17 Then I reprimanded the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the sabbath day? 18 “Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble? Yet you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath.” 19 It came about that just as it grew dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and that they should not open them until after the sabbath. Then I stationed some of my servants at the gates so that no load would enter on the sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the traders and merchants of every kind of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem. 21 Then I warned them and said to them, “Why do you spend the night in front of the wall? If you do so again, I will use force against you.” From that time on they did not come on the sabbath. 22 And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come as gatekeepers to sanctify the sabbath day. For this also remember me, O my God, and have compassion on me according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness.

Isaiah 1:13

“Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.

Isaiah 56:2–7

2 “How blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who takes hold of it; Who keeps from profaning the sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from His people.” Nor let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 4 For thus says the Lord, “To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. 6 “Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath And holds fast My covenant; 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

Isaiah 56:2

“How blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who takes hold of it; Who keeps from profaning the sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Isaiah 58:13–14

13 “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word, 14 Then you will take delight in the Lord, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 66:23

“And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 17:21–27

21 ‘Thus says the Lord, “Take heed for yourselves, and do not carry any load on the sabbath day or bring anything in through the gates of Jerusalem. 22 “You shall not bring a load out of your houses on the sabbath day nor do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers. 23 “Yet they did not listen or incline their ears, but stiffened their necks in order not to listen or take correction. 24 “But it will come about, if you listen attentively to Me,” declares the Lord, “to bring no load in through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but to keep the sabbath day holy by doing no work on it, 25 then there will come in through the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever. 26 “They will come in from the cities of Judah and from the environs of Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the lowland, from the hill country and from the Negev, bringing burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing sacrifices of thanksgiving to the house of the Lord. 27 “But if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched.” ’ ”

Jeremiah 17:27

“But if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched.” ’ ”

Lamentations 2:6

And He has violently treated His tabernacle like a garden booth; He has destroyed His appointed meeting place. The Lord has caused to be forgotten The appointed feast and sabbath in Zion, And He has despised king and priest In the indignation of His anger.

Ezekiel 20:12

“Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.

Ezekiel 20:20

‘Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’

Ezekiel 44:24

“In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My sabbaths.

Ezekiel 46:1–3

1 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “The gate of the inner court facing east shall be shut the six working days; but it shall be opened on the sabbath day and opened on the day of the new moon. 2 “The prince shall enter by way of the porch of the gate from outside and stand by the post of the gate. Then the priests shall provide his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate and then go out; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening. 3 “The people of the land shall also worship at the doorway of that gate before the Lord on the sabbaths and on the new moons.

Hosea 2:11

“I will also put an end to all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths And all her festal assemblies.

Amos 8:5

saying, “When will the new moon be over, So that we may sell grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, And to cheat with dishonest scales,

Zechariah 12:1

The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him,

Matthew 24:20

“But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

Mark 1:21

They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.

Mark 2:23–3:6

23 And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” 1 He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” 4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Luke 6:2–5

2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 3 And Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, 4 how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” 5 And He was saying to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Luke 13:10–17

10 And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” 13 And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God. 14 But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? 16 “And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him.

Luke 23:56

Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

John 5

1 After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. 5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20 “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21 “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. 30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 31 “If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 “There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. 33 “You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 “But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 “He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 “And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. 38 “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. 39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43 “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? 45 “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

John 7:22–23

John 20:1

22 “For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23 “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

Acts 17:2

And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

Acts 18:4

And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Acts 20:7

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.

1 Corinthians 16:2

On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

Colossians 2:16

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—

Hebrews 4:4–10

4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

Revelation 1:10

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,


  1. Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., Butler, T. C., & Latta, B. (Eds.). (2003). In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.  ↩

    Chris Eller is a Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Pastor, Geek, Writer, Photographer, and Church Technology Consultant.

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