Hebrews 4:1-16 The Sabbath Rest For God’s people

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First century Roman culture was a culture of despair.  Some historians would refer to it as a culture of suicide.  It was violent, it was bloody, it was dangerous, it was oppressive, it was full of death and disease.  On top of that the religious establishment had created such religious oppression that people lived in bondage.  Most had given up any thought that they could ever stand right before a holy God.  It was into that context that Jesus uttered the words, “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  About three decades later, the writer of Hebrews would give a message to people on the threshold of bloody persecution.  The message was not a message of health, wealth and prosperity.  It was a message that in the midst of the pain, you can enter His rest.  So here we are two thousand years later.  I think we all get this.  Sometimes the world can be very, very painful, hurtful, heartbreaking, confusing, devastating.  In the midst of all of that, what Jesus offers us is rest.  That’s what we want to talk right now.  If you have a Bible, turn to Hebrews, Chapter 4.   
 
One of the terms that we’ve seen a lot in the book of Hebrews is the word therefore.  You know the old adage: Whenever you see the word ‘therefore’ you stop to see what it’s there for.  And it basically reminds us that all of these truths are connected.  You can’t take any one passage in Hebrews and pull it out of its contextfor one truth leads to another truth leads to another truth and it’s all connected together.  It’s good that we keep remembering that.  Chapter 3 was all about the cost of unbelief, which then leads us to Chapter 4 verse 1: 
 
Therefore (in light of that, the cost of unbelief), then let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, anyone of you may have seemed to have come short of it. (*NASB, Hebrews 4:1)
 
So what’s the fear?  The fear is that even though there’s still a promise of rest, it wasn’t just about people thousands of years ago entering a land.  It wasn’t just about people in the first century.  It’s every bit as true for us today.  There is a promise of rest.  The word promise is really an important word in the book of Hebrews.  As a matter of fact, no New Testament book uses the term more than the book of Hebrews.  What do you say to a group of people that are on the threshold of bloody persecution?  You remind them, there’s a promise.  There is a promise that, in the midst of the storm, I will give you rest now, and a glorious future to come.  But the concern is that they won’t believe it.  It’s interesting that he says, anyone of you may seem to have come short of it.  This basically confirms what we talked in the last chapter—that when the writer is looking at the first readers, his audience, he’s identifying them primarily as believers but he’s not convinced they’re all believers.  There is no New Testament writer who could know that everyone who will receive this letter is a believer.  So there seem to be some who perhaps don’t believe.  Maybe they’re giving lip service; maybe they’re just going with the flow, but he says, “But it may seems like you’re coming up short.  You don’t really believe it.”  So that’s our audience—primarily believers—but the writer is not convinced that everybody believes, and that’s part of his concern here.  Verse 2: 
 
For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united (mixed in) by faith in those who heard.   
 
So the children of Israel heard good news.  We talked about this last time.  The good news was that God will give you the Promised Land—a land flowing with milk and honey.  But the truth was not mixed with faith; therefore it did not profit them.  They did not believe.  The writer is saying, in the same way we have good news.  We, too, have an offer of rest that we can enter into—a promise of rest.  But that promise has to be mixed with faith if we are going to profit from it.  It is a reminder that even though Jesus died for the sins of the world, the message is not universalism.  It’s not, “Everybody’s in!” The truth has to be mixed with faith.  There’s God’s part and there’s our part—that’s always the way it is.  God’s part is He has done the work, and He offers rest.  Our part is we have to believe, mixed with faith, in order for that truth to profit us.  Verse 3:  
 
 For we who have believed (the writer puts himself in there) enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.
 
So what is he talking about there?  He’s saying we who have believed enter into this rest.  When David said to the children of Israel in Psalm 95 that with belief they can enter God’s rest—My rest —God says, there’s a reminder that even though they were in the land, David was concerned that they would not enter into His rest.  In other words, the land wasn’t the point.  The land was a picture; the land was a shadow.  Are we saying today that in order to enter into God’s rest, we have to all fly to Israel and enter the land?  And we all understand, “Of course not!”  So the land was a picture, a metaphor.  David comes along with Psalm 95, They’re in the land—David’s king over the land; he’s reigning over the land—but his concern is they still won’t enter His rest because the rest isn’t just the land; it’s just a picture, a metaphor.  So what is it?  It’s God saying, “My rest,” which goes all the way back to Genesis 2:2 where it says the rest of God started all the way back at the foundation of the world.  In Genesis 2:2, we’re told that “on the seventh day God rested.”  He quotes that in verse 4:
 
 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” (VS. 4-5) 
 
So here’s what he’s saying: On the seventh day of creation, God rested.  Why did God rest?  Was He worn out?  Had he had a really hard week?  God didn’t rest because He was tired; He rested because the work was done.  The text says that when God had completed His work, He rested.  Then He placed Adam and Eve in His rest.  This is essentially what defined paradise.  God had done the work; once it was completed He rested, He didn’t begin another work and rest cycle. He rested from creative work once and for all. Adam and Eve entered into that state of rest.  This is what God has always wanted for people made in His image.  But as you know the story, Adam and Eve sin; chaos enters the world, yet God still promises rest—“to enter into My rest.”  Was it the land? Was it a day? The land was just a metaphor, just a picture.  David comes along hundreds of years later and he still desires for the people by faith to enter God’s rest.  It wasn’t just the land; it wasn’t a day. It was something far more than that.  Now one of the interesting parts of Genesis 2:2: When God rested is not on day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6—each one of those days ends with, “There was morning and there was evening.”  But on the seventh day, when God rested, you don’t read those words because the rest of God was not a day of the week.  It was not one day of the week.  It was a state.  God had now completed the work; it was a state of rest, and He wanted people made in His image to enter into that rest daily.  So the Jewish promised land is a shadow, the Jewish Sabbath day of the week is a shadow, but God’s rest is something far more than that.  Verse 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,”  
 
So today there remains a rest for us to enter into, but we do so by faith.  We talked about this: Disbelief leads to disobedience!  Whenever I don’t believe God tells the truth, then I do it my way.  Whenever I don’t believe that God’s going to meet some need in my life, I do it my way.  Disbelief always leads to disobedience; that’s the concern of the writer. So verse 7:
He again fixes a certain day
Okay, there it is!  He again fixes a certain day—a day of rest.  What day is that?  Well, it’s today!  Oh, it’s Sunday.  Last time I said, “It’s today,” and they said, “Oh, it’s Saturday.”  This has been a longstanding debate: Is it Saturday or is it Sunday?  Are we still under the Sabbath of the old covenant?  Or is Sunday, the new covenant Sabbath?  Answer:  “Neither…Neither!”  This has nothing to do with whether or not you mow your lawn on Saturday or Sunday; it has nothing to do with whether or not a business is open or closed on a Saturday or Sunday; it has nothing to do with whether you have worked the fields on a Saturday or Sunday; it has nothing to do with whether you took a nature walk or went to church on a certain day!  The Sabbath rest today is today!  Ask me on Tuesday; I’ll say, “It’s today!”  Ask me on Friday, I’ll say, “It’s today!”  It’s not a holy day of the week; that was just a metaphor; it’s just a shadow.  It’s not a holy piece of ground or “the holy land” (Zec 2:12); it was just a metaphor—a shadow.  Ultimately it is a state to enter into the rest of God.  That’s what he’s saying: “What day is it?”  “It’s today!”  Verse 7:   
 
He again fixes a certain day, (what 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.” For if Joshua had given them rest, He (God) would not have spoken of another day after that. (Vs. 7-8) 
 
So Joshua is the Hebrew version of the name Jesus.  So Jesus is the Greek version.  The Hebrew version of the exact same name is Joshua, and it reminds us that Joshua in the Old Testament was a type or a picture of the Messiah to come, a picture of the Jesus to come.  So what did Joshua do?  Joshua led them into the land of promise.  They claimed the land.  They observed weekly holy days. But God still promised that day of rest was yet to come.  So what he’s saying is, “If entering and possessing the land was the rest, then there would be no reason to say there’s still another day of rest coming, unless the land was merely a metaphor, a picture.  Just like the day of the week is a shadow of the ultimate fulfillment to come.  Verse 9: 
 
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.  
 
Now that phrase Sabbath rest is actually one word in Greek.  It’s not found anywhere else—this is the only place it is found. It doesn’t say that there is a Sabbath day; it says there is a Sabbath rest.  So what is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God today?  It’s not a piece of land; it’s not a day of the week; those were just shadows; they were just pictures.  What is it?  Verse 10: 
 
 For the one who has entered His rest (how did he do that?) has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.  
 
There it is right there—verse 10!  This is the main theme of the gospel all throughout the New Testament.  Who is it that enters into God’s rest by faith? Not God’s work and rest cycle, but God’s rest.  It’s the one who ceases from his or her works and enters into God’s rest.  On what day? Today. So what is the Sabbath about today?  It’s about not working.  What does that mean?  It has nothing to do whether or not you mow your lawn on a Sunday.  It has nothing to do with whether or not your business is open or closed on a Saturday.  It has nothing to do with whether or not you are working the fields on a Sunday.  It has nothing to do with that.  Sunday is not the new covenant Sabbath.  It has nothing to do with that.  What does it have to do with?  The idea of works is used consistently throughout the New Testament as defining those things we’re doing to somehow try to merit favor with God—efforts of self-righteousness, religious activity, things we’re trying to do to make ourselves good enough for God. The world is full of religion.  Religion taps into our desire to be our own god.  I want to do it myself; I want to make myself righteous; I want to make myself spiritual; I want to measure up on the basis of my own efforts.  But religion is oppressive; religion is damaging; religion is full of hopelessness and despair because every day you are reminded that you’re actually just a loser that will never measure up to the standard before a holy God.   
 
We know from the book of Hebrews what the work is that God completed—the fulfillment of a promise that at a point in time, the Creator God of the universe took on human flesh.  He blazed a trail of salvation by conquering sin and death once and for all.  As the ultimate High Priest, He offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for sin to make propitiation for sin.  Chapter 1 said to make purification for sin.  He was buried; He rose again; He returned to the Father and what did He do?  We learned this in Chapter 1: He sat down.  The priest was never allowed to sit because their job was never done, because it was only a foreshadowing of the promise of One who would ultimately pay the price for sin.  Jesus uttered on the cross, “It is finished!”  When He rose from the dead, He returned to the Father and the great High Priest sat down!  Mission accomplished; paid in full!  What did He do at the right hand of the Father?  He rested.  He created the rest of God that God has always wanted for people made in His image.  How do we enter into that rest?  By faith!  We cease from our own self-righteous works.  We give up our own attempts to merit favor with God through religious activity, and in brokenness and humility we acknowledge the only hope we have is what Jesus did for us.  We enter into the finished work of Christ.  This is a consistent message throughout the New Testament.  We’re going to throw a couple of verses on the screen just to remind ourselves of this message: 
 
But to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. (*NASB, Romans 4:5)  
 
This is the theme of the New Testament.  This is verse 10.  There is a Sabbath rest.  “Is it a piece of ground?”  “No, it’s not!”  “Is it a day of the week?”  “No, it’s not!”  Those were just shadows or pictures.  But ultimately Sabbath rest is when we rest from our own attempts at self-righteousness and we simply rest in what God has done for us through Jesus.  Sometimes people will say to me, “How come you don’t keep the Sabbath?”  Answer: “I keep it every day.” What a shame just to keep one day of the week. Ask me on Tuesday, I’ll say, “It’s today!”  I rest in the finished work of Jesus on the cross today.  Ask me on Friday, I’ll say, “It’s today!”  I rest in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It has nothing to do with mowing your lawn, opening your business, or working in the field.  It has to do with resting in what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  There is a Sabbath rest.  Verse 11: 
 
Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall through following the same example of disobedience.  
 
Now clearly rest is not automatic.  It’s not even automatic for believers.  That’s why he says, “…be diligent; work really hard at resting.”  There are those who have never trusted Christ.  They need to believe this is true.  Perhaps they’ve been used and abused and beat up by religion and need to hear, “That’s not what it’s about.”  But it’s also possible for those of us who have trusted Christ to still be miserable because we don’trest in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  The enemy comes along and he whispers in your ear, “You’re a loser; you’re a failure; you’ll never measure up. Who do you think you are that God just hands out some kind of a salvation as a gift? You’ve got to be kidding me.  God probably is so annoyed that you’re in His presence because you’re a loser.”  How many lies does the enemy whisper in our ears and we’re anxious; we’re fearful; we’re hopeless, and we’re despairing because we are not diligent to rest.   
 
Can I come to the end of a day where I’ve blown it, biffed it, and disappointed God and myself again and still be at rest?  Answer:  “Yes!” …resting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  I need to be diligent to rest because when I rest, when I think that way, when I remember what’s true, that is the most likely scenario where I’m going to be repentant, where I’m going to confess, where I’m going to do it differently tomorrow—because I remember again who I am in Christ!  Verse 12: 
 
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able  to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Vs. 12-13)   
 
In other words, Him with whom we will be accountable.  So the Bible is not just words on a page. It’s a living, breathing book.  It’s the God-breathed Word of God.  God takes His words with His Spirit and He penetrates and He judges and He sorts out, and He presents us naked. That’s literally what it says—naked before a Holy God—the One to Whom we will give an account.  For some people that is an absolutely terrifying thought.  For some people they will avoid the book because the book terrifies them because it penetrates and it judges; and it discerns and it sorts out; and it presents us naked before a Holy God.  But for those of us who believe, it is where we find the truth. 
It’s where we find grace and mercy.  It’s where we find relief from the bondage of religion and enter into the rest of God.  It’s where we find guidance; it’s where we find life.  When we understand the truth about God’s rest, I am not terrified to be presented naked before a holy God because I know I stand in the rest—the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It’s the living, active Word of God that gives me life, that gives me hope, that gives me a future, that gives me what I need to rest in my most difficult moments in life.  Verse 14: 
 
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens (meaning back to the Father to be seated), Jesus the Son of God (that’s His humanity and His deity), let us hold fast our confession (our statement of faith, what we believe).  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence (boldly) to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Vs. 14-16)   
 
When we go through the most difficult moments of life, we cry out not to a god who is so abstract and disconnected we have no sense that he understands what we are going through.  That’s not who He is.  It’s the One who actually took on human flesh.  As remarkable as that may seem, the God of the universe actually became one of us—and He walked on this earth.  He knows our struggle; He knows our pain; He knows our trials and our temptations; This is the God who loves me; this is the God who saved me; this is the God who’s experienced the struggle and the pain that I’m going through.  I come boldly and confidently into the presence of God, and in my hour of need I find grace and mercy.  I find what I need to get me through another day! 
 
There is a Sabbath rest.  It’s not a day of the week; it’s not a piece of ground.  It’s a Person.  It’s a Person who did for me what I could not do for myself—and He offers it freely as a gift!  If mixed with faith, I believe and enter into His rest.  
 
He’s just inviting you, by faith, to enter that rest, to experience the forgiveness of sin, and to experience a relationship with God.  I would invite you this morning, to enter into that rest.  What day is the Sabbath rest? It’s today!  Why would you wait?  Why would you wait until tomorrow?  Why wouldn’t you enter that rest today?  
 
Our Father, it’s really just so hard to comprehend that the God of the universe actually took on human flesh to make a way of salvation, to conquer sin and death once and for all,  to make payment for sin, and to simply offer it freely as a gift.  Lord, we’ve been reminded that truth has to be mixed with faith.  We have to choose to believe that’s true to enter into Your rest.  Lord, may today be our day of Sabbath rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 
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Why the First Day or Lord’s day?

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Is it sin to worship God on the First day?
 
Many Christians around the world meet on Sunday and there’s a reason for that.  It didn’t happen by accident.  It’s not because Constantine or Roman Catholic Church or Mithraism changed it to Sunday. In fact, it goes back, and back, and back, and back, and back, and all the way back to the New Testament time.  Christians, the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, have worshipped God daily, but they also have met and worshiped on the first day.
 
Now let’s kind of pick up where we left off last time in answering that question.  Remember, Genesis 2 we were not commanded to rest. So there is no way any one should tell us how to observe that day. Neither were we commanded to set seventh day as a day of worship. In fact, God’s people are to worship God every day (Psalm 145:2). Hebrews 4 explains that we can enter God’s seventh day daily when we believe the work has been done, and Jews did not experience this God’s rest though they had the Mosaic Sabbath. 
 
This was also the understanding of the mainstream Jews that no one observed a sabbath day in Genesis, neither was it commanded to Gentiles. The Jewish Talmud says, “The children of Noah…were given seven Laws only, the observance of the Sabbath not being among them” (Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:21 (Soncino edition, p. 23).
“A non-Jew who observes the Sabbath whilst he is uncircumcised incurs liability for the punishment of death. Why? Because non-Jews were not commanded concerning it…. The Sabbath is a reunion between Israel and God, as it is said, ‘It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel’ (Exodus 31:17); therefore any non-Jew who, being uncircumcised, thrusts himself between them incurs the penalty of death…. The Gentiles have not been commanded to observe the Sabbath.” (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 25:11 (Soncino edition, p. 314); ibid., p. 74.)
Early Christian fathers some of whom learned from the mouth of the apostles clearly saw what God’s Word said about a Sabbath day in Genesis.
 
Justin Martyr, who wrote only 44 years after the death of St. John, and who was well acquainted with the doctrine of the apostles, denied that the Sabbath originated at creation. Thus after name Adam, Abel, Enoch, Lot and Melchizedek, he says: “Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned, though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God.”Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 19.
 
Irenaeus (AD.130) says: “Abraham believed God without circumcision and the Sabbath.” Adv. Hoeres, lib 4, c. 30.
 
Tertullian, A.D. 200, said: “Let them show me that Adam Sabbatized, or that Abel in presenting his holy offering to God pleased him by Sabbath observance, or that Enoch who was translated was an observer of the Sabbath.” Against the Jews, section 4.
 
Eusebius, A.D. 324, the father of church history, says: “They (the patriarchs) did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath, nor do we.” Eccl. Hist., book 1, chapter 4.
 
Later Christians and learned men of Scripture came to the same conclusion:
 
John Bunyan says: “Now as to the imposing of the seventh day Sabbath upon men from Adam to Moses, of that we find nothing in holy writ, either from precept or example.” Complete Works, page 892.
 
The first mention of Jewish Sabbath observance then is in Ex. 16, and the command was to rest. That’s how Sabbath is to be observed. Later the Sabbath law was codified in the covenant with Israel which is the Mosaic law, and  when God ordained a sabbath day for the people to observe, He put restraints (cease from all activity, no cooking, no travelling, no buying and selling etc.) on them to remind them of that original seventh day rest, when God ceased from all activity. Again, complete rest from labor is the way Israel was to observe the Mosaic Sabbath day, not worship or synagogue attendance, although the latter was added via man’s traditions.
 
Now I will not go through all the details that show that sabbath is a ceremonial law. Evidence is overwhelming. Sabbath day was No. 1 in the list of God’s holy feast days given to Israel (Lev.16), which was also placed in the middle of Ten Commandment as a sign of that covenant with Israel, which Gentiles were not part of. All signs in the old testament ritual such as circumcision, Passover, weekly Sabbath dealt with external rituals, and were treated as such. Ask any mainstream Jew and they will say that Sabbath is the only ritual law among the Ten Commandments. Notice, Jesus, who was born under the Jewish law, and how He treated the weekly Sabbath. Go to Matthew 12.
 
Mathew 12:1–2 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry andbegan to pick the heads of grain and eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”
 
Now Pharisees did add sabbath rules to God’s sabbath rules, but Pharisees are not simply accusing Jesus based on their rules. Remember God commanded Israel, “Stay in one place on the sabbath” (Exodus 16:29), no one was to go out and gather food on the seventh day (Exodus 16:24). The law required them to cease from all activity completely, “On it you shall not do any work” (Ex 20:10). Friday was to be a preparation day, and disciples and Jesus apparently had forgotten to prepare for sabbath on Friday or to observe the Sabbath according to the Law of God (Ex. 16: 24,29). That was the accusation. Now the Pharisees weren’t really observing the law either by following Jesus to accuse him. Reminds me of my days in Adventism, and when I claimed to observe the weekly Sabbath. It’s fascinating how  modern day Sabbath keepers do not observe these sabbath laws, yet some accuse others of breaking the sabbath just like the Pharisees.
 
Now their hypocrisy is not the interesting part. It’s the way Jesus responds and defends His disciples Sabbath activity. Now you can expect a defense from Jesus that He and His disciples were actually not breaking the Sabbath. Jesus will surely put the Sabbath law above man, will He? Remember, Jesus elevated moral laws. He said, looking at a woman lustfully is as good as committing adultery (Matt. 5:28). That’s a moral law. Now how does Jesus treat the Sabbath and what does He compare the Sabbath law to?
 
Mathew 12:3-5 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?
 
Pharisees accused Jesus of doing not lawful things on the Sabbath. What does Jesus do? Jesus defends by showing that David also did ‘not lawful’ things when it came to eating showbread sanctified only for the priests, and yet David was innocent. David didn’t sin by breaking a ritual law. Its gets more clearer.  Jesus clarifies further.
 
Mathew 12:4 Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
 
On the Sabbath the priests break the Sabbath and are innocent? Wait a second? Sabbath can be broken? Here Jesus instead of defending the Sabbath law, He gives examples of people such as David breaking another ceremonial ritual law and priests breaking the ritual Sabbath without sin. 
 
Please ask yourselves: What type of law was David breaking? Moral or ceremonial? It is obvious, it was ceremonial. David was never above the moral law. He had to pay dearly for his sin with Bathseba! In both of these scenarios given by Jesus Himself, what category is the Sabbath placed under? Moral or ceremonial? Its ceremonial.
 
Could a priest covet, murder, commit adultery in order to do his calling? No, never. Can he break the Sabbath to carry out his duties? Yes. These ceremonial laws such as Sabbath were never seen as being above the moral law! If David could break the ceremonial law, if priests could break the Sabbath without sin, then Jesus is over and above the ceremonial Sabbath law. Jesus is Matt 12:8 “Lord of the Sabbath.” He has authority and sovereignty over the Sabbath. He gave it, He can break it without sin, and He can set is aside. Jesus desires love and compassion, not rituals like sacrificial laws, and sabbath laws (Mathew 12:3-6), which are in the same category.  Isaiah 1:13: “Bring no more futile sacrifice, incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the SABBATHS”
 
No moral law is spoken in this manner.  Jesus went on to say that man is not made to conform or serve the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). God gave Sabbath as a day in Ex. 16 not just for man, but even for asses to rest, “thine ox and thine ass may rest” (Ex 23:12). Man was not created to worship God by resting the Sabbath day; it was ordained as the day for men to let them and their asses rest (Mark 2:27). Jesus declared God did not make man for the Sabbath, thus limiting it to a mere aid for refreshment (Mark 2:27). 
 
Go to Colossians 2 . We’re just going to follow through some scriptures and I’ll kind of let you draw the conclusion.
 
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 – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
 
The greek word for Sabbath in Col. 2:16 is the same word used in the new testament to refer to weekly Sabbath (Luke 4:16) that Jesus attended as a custom (ritual). If Sabbath in Col. 2:16 is ceremonial, so is the weekly Sabbath day Jesus observed. Jesus confirms Sabbath is ceremonial. Old testament confirms it. The New Testament does it. Jews did it. Early Christian church did it. 
 
So, what about the Jewish sabbath day?  It is gone, right?  Let no one hold you on to the Sabbath. No one is to judge.
 
Hebrews 7:12 ‘For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also’
 
So whatever we’re talking about on Sunday, we’re not talking about the sabbath.  The sabbath was the seventh day of the week. Not first day. It was instituted under the Mosaic law between the fall of man and Moses.  There were no sabbath laws in Genesis.  There was no sabbath observance in Genesis.  That came in the Mosaic law.  Centuries went by, none of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) had any kind of sabbath laws.
 
Colossians 2:16-17 said clearly “Don’t let anybody hold you to a sabbath day.”  It’s gone.  It is part of Judaism that has been replaced by the new covenant (Christianity).
 
Jesus said, man was not made for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Yes, God made many laws ‘for’ man including circumcision, Sabbath days, but man was not made to observe the Sabbath. So no one can make our salvation dependent on observing the Sabbath. Adventists can’t! God doesn’t!
 
On the seventh day, after creation, you remember God rested and God blessed that day.  Why?  Because He was utterly satisfied.  And so that seventh day was always going to be a reminder of God as our Creator.  How we remember it? And we worked through that in Genesis 2. How we enter that rest? Daily (Hebrews 4). 
 
Besides the Jewish Sabbath was not a day of worship, it was a day of rest. No cooking, no travelling, no buying and selling. No fires or barbeques. It’s hypocritical to claim Sabbath observance today without observing all those sabbath laws God gave Israel. Jews later added synagogue gatherings out of tradition after Babylonian captivity, and it was Jesus’ custom or tradition to visit synagogues. There was no command to visit synagogues, the command was to rest (Ex. 20:10).
 
How did Jesus treat the Sabbath? Jesus was clear, the ceremonial Sabbath law could be broken without sin, set aside, and He defended breaking it, by comparing it to David breaking the law of showbread, and Priest profaning and breaking it every sabbath. Priesthood is gone, the ceremonial law is gone. The ceremonial seventh day Sabbath is gone. That covenant is obsolete, and we are under a new, and there is no command to observe the seventh for Christians (Hebrews 8,9). Neither a condemnation for not observing it.
 
But when you come to the new covenant, you have a new kind of meeting, not observing a day as a rest, but meeting together on account of our Savior.
 
Now let’s see how this kind of all kind of happened.  Go to the end of the gospel of Matthew.  Suffice it to say, the argument from history is that the church has taken this seriously since the New Testament times.  (Of course there are some who still observe Saturday for the Lord, there are some Christians still observing circumcision for the Lord). Well, they are free to do so (Romans 14:5), but there is no command or example for new covenant Christians to do either.
 
Let’s pick it up from Matthew 28, it’s the day after the sabbath, that would be the first day, Sunday.
 
Matthew 28:1-10,“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet andworshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
 
It is dawn on Sunday morning, familiar scene, right?  This is the Sunday when Jesus arose and appeared to Mary Magdalene, to Mary the mother of James.  This is resurrection day.
 
Jesus said, “Go quickly and tell His disciples He has risen from the dead.”  Tell them quickly because there’s a lot that’s going to happen in this day.  This is right at daybreak, you remember.  Once the Lord rose from the dead on the first day of the week, the first day of the week would never be the same again because if you remember the first seventh day, and if you memorialize it (daily or weekly), as it were, you certainly want to memorialize the resurrection, don’t you?  By the way Jews celebrated days in remembrance of victories God gave them over their enemies without a direct command from God (Esther 9:21). We can too. If you celebrate God as Creator, you certainly want to celebrate Him regularly and even more joyfully as Savior.
 
By the way, you have the first Sunday worship service in verse 9.  “They came to Him, clasped his feet and worshiped him”. Small service, but a service of worship. What a day!
 
Turn in your Bible to Luke 24 and we’re just kind of constructing the scene, and I’m not going to go into all the detail.  But the interesting thing to think of in that verse, verse 7, is “quickly,” get the message out because this day is going to be packed full.
 
Luke 24:1-12 “On the first day of the week, …They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus… 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened
 
You remember Peter and John went to the tomb, as the other gospel writers tell us, and they realized the resurrection had taken place.  Again, it is dawn on Sunday.  The women are first.  They go back, they report.  And more come, and the Apostles come, and it becomes apparent very, very early in the morning that the Lord is risen and He is alive, which means that He has accomplished redemption on the cross.  He has been raised for our justification.  He has conquered sin, and death, and hell.  He has borne our sins in His own body on the cross, been made sin for us, and He has risen from the dead in triumph.
 
And it’s still early.  Again the same day, verse 13,
 
Luke 24:13-32 “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas,asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied…He [Jesus] said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?
 
Quite a day.  Quite a day.  In the morning He appears to the apostles and the women.  In the afternoon He appears to these two on the road to Emmaus, two disciples unnamed, except for Cleopas, the other one unnamed.  But there’s more yet.  There’s more yet. And they celebrate a blessed meal that Sunday.
 
Boy, this is some Sunday.  And by the way, you had the first Sunday worship, and you also had the first Sunday sermon.  It’s in verses 25-27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophetshe explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”  The first sermon was an expository sermon on the first Sunday.
 
First worship service, the first Sunday, and it’s not over.  It’s not over.  They, having come to realize Jesus was alive, “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon’” (Luke 24:33)
 
John’s chronicle is also quite interesting.  Turn to John chapter 20, and again we’re not trying to cover details, but just give you the big picture.
 
Now we pick up the story in John 20:19-23: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors shut for fear of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
 
So it is the first day of the week, and the doors were shut. Jesus came through the wall.  He showed them His hands and His side.  The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  He gives them a reiteration of the gospel commission.  And then “He breathes on them and says to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ ”
 
What a day.  What a day. All these happen on a first day.
 
By Friday night when Jesus is dead, their hopes are smashed, and crushed, and dashed.  The best that they can imagine is that they can rest on the sabbath as per the Mosaic covenant because they can’t do any work or take any kind of trip, so even the women who were going to anoint His body have to wait till the Jewish ceremonial weekly sabbath is over and they’ll go and do it. It will be a nice thing to do, anoint the corpse of Jesus.  That was the best that they could have hoped for was some act of kindness to the dead body of the one they had put their trust in. (hmmm, wonder why I didn’t observe the sabbath according to the commandment as those women did when I was an Adventist, yet I claimed! No work, no trips, no funerals that’s how old covenant sabbath was to be observed. After His resurrection, Sabbath ritual is  no more!).
 
By the time that Sunday is over, they all know Jesus is alive from the dead.  Peter knows it, John knows it, Mary Magdalene knows it, the other Mary’s, the other women know it, other disciples know it.  And by Sunday evening, all the disciples know it with one exception, who was absent?  Thomas.  Thomas was absent.
 
Pick it up in John 20:21-24: “Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
 
Such a doubter, was probably off in the corner saying, “I was right.  I had every reason to doubt.” So the disciples told Thomas.
 
John 20:25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he [Thomas] said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.
 
This is fabulous.
 
John 20:26, “After eight days [a week later] His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!” ”
 
The expression eighth day or eight days later was used to refer to the day after the seventh day in early Christianity. What day would that be?  Sunday.  Nothing happened in the seven days in between.  It is not until that eighth day that the disciples again are gathered together, and Jesus comes not on Saturday, but Sunday on inspired record.
 
Were they gathered together in the other days?  You better believe they were.  I mean, they were hiding.  But when specifically does Jesus meet His disciples after the resurrection Sunday? He meets them on the following Sunday.
 
The point that I want you to notice is Sunday all of a sudden became a very, very special day.  Jesus makes two miraculous post-resurrection appearances to the disciples, both of them on a Sunday, both of them on a Sunday.  If you believe the Bible is inspired, then there are no accidents. It is on a Sunday that they know He is alive from the dead.  It is on a Sunday that they know the Old Testament is being fulfilled.  It is on a Sunday that they know the Father has affirmed His redemptive work on the cross.  It is on a Sunday that He pledges to them that they will receive the Holy Spirit to be empowered for ministry in the future.  It is on a Sunday that all the past of His ministry and His death comes to make sense, and what a Sunday.
 
Jesus rose from the dead on that Sunday.  Appeared on that Sunday in the morning.  Appeared on that Sunday in the afternoon.  Appeared on that Sunday in the evening.  Showed Himself alive to the women on that Sunday.  They had thefirst worship service on that Sunday.  Jesus preached the first sermon on that Sunday.  Met two disciples on that Sunday.  Broke bread with them and disclosed Himself to them and miraculously vanished, and appeared again not on a Saturday, but Sunday. What a day.  What a day.  And it was a Sunday, and prior to that, Sunday had absolutely no significance, none.  But from that day on, Sunday took on a completely different meaning.  Sundays would never be the same again.
 
Sunday became new covenant resurrection day in their minds.  If that first seventh day reminds about God as Creator, here was another day. Lord’s resurrection Sunday. This was a day to celebrate salvation.  Resurrection was the dawning of a new day, and so the new covenant has a new day. “A new and living way He has opened for us Heb 10:20.
 
Now it doesn’t end there.  Why eight days later?  The Lord was saying something about Sundays, instituting a new covenant day of commemoration.  Turn to Acts 2 and let me reinforce that a little bit, Acts 2.
 
Acts 2:1-4, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them
 
By the way, go back to Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”  And the Spirit came, as we all know, to empower believers to fulfill the commission of proclaiming the glorious gospel, as well as to affirm their faith, to seal their faith, to give them assurance and confidence, to give them internal testimony to the validity of the gospel.
 
And fascinating, isn’t it, that it happens on the day of pentecost?  This is when the new testament church was born.  This is when the disciples were empowered.  This is the first baptizing work of Christ as He baptizes believers by means of the Spirit into His body.  This is the day when the kingdom comes to life.  This is a glorious, marvelous day.
 
And you remember that in Acts 2:14 Peter stands up on that day, gives this great sermon concerning the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Acts2:37, “they’re pierced to the heart.  He says, ‘Repent, be baptized for the forgiveness of sin; receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” Three thousand people are converted.
 
Why am I bringing this into the discussion?  Did you ever wonder what day of the week it was on Pentecost?  Do you know what day of the week it was?  Just happened to be Sunday.  It’s Sunday again.
 
Pentecost happens on a Sunday.  As unique as this is, all these references are short of commanding us to observe the first day of the week as if it had some special sort of Mosaic significance.  So far, we just have the very obvious fact that God deliberately filled that day with the most significant events in the founding of His church, namely the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the arrival of the Spirit of God. They happen on a Sunday and the Lord, then, has picked out His own day. 
 
It is the worst thing possible for people who call themselves Christians to take restrictions intended for the Mosaic sabbath and try to impose them on Sunday.  That’s opposite the intention of our Lord.  Don’t let anybody hold you to a sabbath day.  You’re not under the Mosaic law anymore. You’re not under the constraints, and ceremonies, and restrictions, and restraints of the Mosaic law. 1 Corinthians 9:20, I myself am not under the law [of Moses]”. We are under the teachings and laws of Christ, and the apostles (1 Corinthians 9:20–21). Jesus has settled the ceremonial sabbath issue. He said man was not made to conform to it. The Sabbath ordinance has been abolished.
 
Eph 2:15 “By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is (what?) the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace”.
 
What did the Ordinances include?
 
“I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and observe them. Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:19-20)
 
We have a new day.  We left Judaism behind. We left the old covenant behind. We left the sabbath behind.  We left the leaders of Israel behind.  We have a new covenant.  We have new ministers of that new covenant and we have a new day.  It’s not like the Mosaic sabbath, not at all.
 
Oh, you can still think of the seventh day, Saturday, in a sense as the day that reminds us that the Lord created everything in six days.  I think that’s a wonderful thing to do.  You can do it daily. You can do it weekly. You can do it yearly. But there’s nothing in the New Testament that takes old covenant restrictions and restraints from the Mosaic sabbath and imposes them on the first day of the week.
 
Keep in mind, please, that from Genesis 2 where God rested until giving the Mosaic law, there were no restraints on anyone’s behavior on Saturday.  There were no restrictions and no restraints.  That didn’t even come till Moses.  It started with Moses and it ended with the abolishing of the old covenant and the establishing and the ratifying of the new covenant. That law was added 430 years after Abraham and that law was to last until Jesus came.
 
Galatians 3:19, “Why, then, was the law (including the Sabbath) given at all? It was added because of transgressions until [when?] the Seed [Jesus] to whom the promise referred had come
 
New covenant Sunday, then, is kind of like the first seventh day from Genesis. There were no restrictions on how to observe that day.  When God instituted a day of rest originally under Moses, it was a day of anything but rest.  But the Lord’s Resurrection Day for us is to be a day of delight.  It’s to be a day of blessing.  It’s to be a day not fraught with external regulations.
 
In Galatians 4:9, “Now that you have come to know God, to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?”
 
You don’t want to go back to that.  “You observe days and months and seasons and years.” (Galatians 4:10).  Don’t do that.  “I fear” God says “for you, perhaps I’ve labored over you for nothing.”  I mean, have I wasted my time setting you free in Christ?  Are you going to go back to observing days, weekly sabbath days, new moons sabbaths, yearly festivals?  We’re not under any sabbath law at all.
 
Well, the Sunday of resurrection was a very special Sunday.  The following Sunday was a very special Sunday.  Pentecost was a very special Sunday.  Certainly, after Pentecost, Sunday was very well established in the hearts of the people of God.  Did they worship only on Sunday?  No, no.  They worshiped how often?  Every day.
 
You know, they were experiencing that every single day, and that is what Sunday should be.  It should be a day of coming together.  It should be a day of devoting yourselves to the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer.  It should be a day of taking meals together with gladness, sincerity of heart, praising God.  It should be a happy, joyous day.  It’s not a day of restraint like the Jewish Sabbath. It’s not a day of rest. Its not a holy day. It’s not a day when we come under the fearful threat of the law.  It’s a day when we celebrate our redemption.
 
And so they met every day, but it didn’t take long before they landed again on a special day orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.  Turn to Acts 20. This is from Youngs Literal Translation. A translation of the original Greek word to word.
 
Acts 20: 7, “And on the first of the week, the disciples having been gathered together to break bread, Paul was discoursing to them, about to depart on the morrow, he was also continuing the discourse till midnight
 
Did you notice that? The disciples at Troas “were gathered together” [passive voice in greek] upon “the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7). Now this is not a common meal but this the celebration of Lord’s supper or communion. The passive voice indicates that the assemblage was orchestrated by someone other than the disciples. It was of divine initiative. By the way Sabbatarians gives all kinds of excuses about this text, but their arguments don’t stand just like their claims to observe the old covenant Sabbath law. 
 
Isn’t that interesting?  No law has been given to establish this.  But here we are well into the ministry of the apostle Paul.  Years have passed since the resurrection of Jesus Christ and it’s remarkable.  It’s matter of fact, “When we were gathered together to break bread on the first day of the week.” That’s what they did.  They’re still meeting, Paul is preaching and it is orchestrated by the Spirit. And Paul tarried there several days waiting for the regular day of worship to come, the first day of the week. And by the way, they had an evening service.  They met all day.  How do you know it’s an evening service?  Because he preached “until midnight.”
 
Turn to 1 Corinthians 16.  Paul writes to the Corinthians, he’s writing about the offering, the collection.
 
1 Cor. 16:1-2 “Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to doOn the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made”.
 
So Paul has this notion of collecting offerings for the saints in Jerusalem in the same way as he directed (how many?) all the churches in the region of Galatia to do it, he wanted the Corinthians to do it too. Remember there is no tithe law, you give moved by the Spirit.  And here is the command for the first day offerings in worship. Is there a command to set aside offerings on Sundays for Christians? Yes there is.  Inspired by the Spirit, it was commanded to Galatians. It was commanded to Corinthians. It is commanded to us. Paul is saying, I just want you to make it a matter of course in your Sunday worship.  Offerings were taken on the first day of the week.
 
Again, it’s not a day when we’re more holy than others.  It’s not a day when there are some restraints on how we are to behave.  It’s a day when we celebrate our salvation, and give our offerings to the poor.  It’s a day when we glorify God, when we focus on what Christ has done for us.  That’s why we come together and pray.  That’s why we come together and sing hymns.  That’s why we come together and read Scripture.  It’s a day when you look at the most important reality in your life, and that is your salvation. Now does that mean we can’t do these good things on other days? Or we can. But sunday was a special day for Christians after Jesus rose. 
 
So on the first day of the week, God’s people: They assembled together. They had a sermon. They had the Lord’s supper. They gave for the poor. Well, eventually this first day became so precious to the church that it got its own name.  Turn to Revelation chapter 1.  Revelation 1:9, John, is on the isle of Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus, because he’s been exiled there by the enemies of the gospel.
 
And he says in verse Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day”.
 
“On the Lord’s day.”  Some people think this means “the Day of the Lord,” the eschatological day of judgment.  Hardly, hardly.  John did not experience the final Day of the Lord judgment on the island of Patmos.  Besides, the Day of the Lord, tē hēmera tou kuriou is a distinct phrase, the Lord’s Day is tē kyriakē hēmera, completely different phrase used only here.  This is not the eschatological Day of the Lord.  This is a non-eschatological statement.  This is also not the weekly sabbath days or annual sabbath days which God calls my holy days – these are abolished. This is the Lord’s Day and he doesn’t even give an explanation.
 
Now when is John writing?  Well he’s writing 30-40 years after Paul.  So at the end of the first century, (by the way the first day was never called Sunday at this time..it was always referred to as the first day or eight day, and now it is “The Lord’s Day.”  A reference to Lord’s resurrection day. It doesn’t even need a further explanation.
 
It was on the Lord’s Day that John received his vision and he turns around and sees Christ ministering in the candlesticks, Christ ministering in His church.  This is the Lord of the church serving His church, and he got the vision of the Lord moving in His church on Sunday.
 
There are all kinds of testimonies in the second century which was just a few years later since John’s writing in the first century, to the fact that in the second century this was the customary way to refer to the first day of the week.  First day of the week was the Lord’s Day.  This title for first day or Lord’s day or eight day is commonly found in many, many early Christian writings, has continued through all church history even down to the present. Christians in Africa, Asia, Europe, they all met on the first day after the manner of the apostles. This is what the early Christian leaders say about Lord’s day.
 
Ignatius of Antioch (AD 110): “If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death (Letter to the Magnesians(shorter) Chapter IX.—Let us live with Christ [A.D. 110]).
 
Justin Martyr (AD 155): Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” (The First Apology of Justin, Chapter 67)
 
Bardesanes, Edessa (AD 180 – from Asia): “On first day of the week, we assemble ourselves together.” (Book of the Laws of Countries).
 
Clement of Alexandria (AD 194 from Egypt) wrote: “He does the commandment according to the Gospel and keeps the Lord’s day, whenever he puts away an evil mind . . . glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself. (Vii.xii.76.4)
 
Tertullian (AD 203): “Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath..(An Answer to the Jews Chapter II.—The Law Anterior to Moses. [A.D. 203]).
 
Many early Church leaders and followers of Christ such as Ignatius, Polycarp and Justin Martyr, to name a few, suffered severe persecution and eventual martyrdom at the hands of the Romans for spreading the Gospel of Christ. They stood for the truth.
 
What about Christian meetings on Saturday? The New Testament does not give a single example of non-proselyte gentile Christians conducting their religious services on the Sabbath. Sabbatarians who read Sabbath verses in the book of ACTS often imagine a church service, where Christians assemble, and the offering plate is passed around and a lovely sermon about the Lord Jesus Christ being preached. However, none of these examples in Acts were Christian gatherings. Rather they were functions held by the Jews in their places of worship, either in synagogues or open places.
 
These synagogue services that took place were in accordance with the Torah. Those who gathered to the synagogues in each of the stories were not gathered to glorify Jesus Christ, nor knew Jesus neither were they worshiping within the parameters outlined for Christians. The worshipers in the synagogue never partook of the Lord’s supper or baptism. In fact the worshipers were not Christians at all. Rather their religion was Judaism! In each of these instances, Paul disrupts the normal ceremonies practiced by the Jews on the Sabbath in synagogues or outside places and introduces the gospel of Jesus Christ to them for the first time. Here’ an example
 
Acts 16:12-13, “And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
 
Philippi being a Roman colony, the Jews were not allowed to have a synagogue in it; wherefore Paul and his company, whether on the Jewish sabbath day, or on any other day of the week, took a walk out of the city; either for the sake of a walk, or rather to converse together, and and to look out for an opportunity to preach the Gospel; and they came to a place. These women in Acts 16 were gathered to the proseucha or “place for worship and prayer” to worship the God of Abraham.They were proselytes, a title given to gentile followers who converted to Judaism and observed the customs of Moses. They were not Christians. The women had their first contact with Christians that morning by the river. They didn’t even know about the gospel of Jesus, so the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message for the first time (Acts 16:13).
 
Being consistent with his convictions as stated in First Corinthians 9:20-22, Paul preached to the Jews or God worshippers (proselytes) in the synagogue or outside places on the Sabbath and worshiped with the Gentiles in the marketplace every other day of the week (Acts 17:17). There is no Sabbath ever involved with gentiles when Paul met them, for they were never asked to observe the Sabbath nor were they observing it. They worshiped God daily. Ceremonial Sabbath day is gone.
 
Did early Jewish Christians (Jewish converts to Christianity) observe the laws of Moses including the sabbaths and circumcision? Yes, they were observing not only the sabbath, but all the customs of Moses including sacrifices, and circumcision (Acts 21:20). It’s is also true that some them observed the sabbaths and met on first day in view of the Lord’s resurrection. Yes, the church was in transition, and it was not easy for Jews to let go of Moses. There have always been a minority who has held on to old covenant Sabbaths, circumcision etc. from the time of the apostles, and today the largest of them are the Seventh day Adventists.
 
Back to Lord’s day in the new covenant. What does the Lord expect of us on His day?  That we would celebrate Him as Savior, that we would rejoice in His cross, that we rejoice in His resurrection, that we would pray together, fellowship together, break bread together around His table and that we would listen to the apostles’ doctrine, and hear the preaching of the Word, and embrace its glorious truth.  I’m not talking about legalism.  We’re not talking about some kind of old covenant sabbath laws imposed upon us.  But grace certainly doesn’t require less than law, does it?
 
We want to make sure that we do not, according to Hebrews 10:25, “Forsake our assembling together, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”  As we get closer to the return of Jesus Christ, we ought to ramp up our fellowship, not diminish it, right?
 
I guess the question is how much do you love Christ?  How strong is your desire for worship?  We’re not going to drop any external rules on you.  Everything about the new covenant is better than the old covenant, everything, including the day.  Because this day is not burdensome.  It is joyous.  We have the reality, the true rest in Christ daily (Col. 2:16, Heb 4).
 
So, rather than ask what shouldn’t I do on Sunday, ask what should I do?  What is my love for Christ ask me to do?  What does my heart for Him ask me to do?  I’m not forbidden to work.  I’m not forbidden to play.  But the high ground is to say this is a day of all days in which I will find my greatest delight.  And what is my greatest delight?  My greatest delight is to worship and fellowship with God’s people.
 
Father, thank You again for Your Word, for the refreshment of it, the beauty of it, the simplicity of it, and the richness of it, the consistency of it really overwhelms us.  And even though we study it week after week, year after year, it comes to us with a kind of freshness that brings joy to our hearts.  We worship you every day, but on your resurrection day that you made is special, we want to fill it with all the things that focus on You, delighting on You, loving You, loving Your people, loving Your truth, setting our hearts aside from the things of the world, setting our affections on things above, to be determined, of course, not by what we don’t do, but what we do, to be determined by what we’re not allowed to do, but what our hearts long to do.
 
May all of our lives be filled with a special, special understanding of how wonderful is the weekly reminder of our eternal salvation built in to the Lord’s Day.  Give us a love for it because there’s a love for you built into it.  We thank You in Christ’s name.  Amen.

Adapted from: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-380/why-sunday-is-the-lords-day 

God’s rest is not the Jewish Sabbath

gods-rest

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 

There is something called His rest or God’s rest in the Bible. That’s why Hebrews 4:1 says that we can still enter His rest today. How do we enter?

Hebrews 4:2-3 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they [Israel] heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.  For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, They (Israel) shall not enter My rest,”

All who look to Jesus, and place their faith in Jesus, are entering God’s rest. It’s clear this is not the seventh day Sabbath rest of the Jews commanded in Exodus 16 and after, for Jews entered the Sabbath day by ceasing from labor, not by believing. Here God’s rest is a different rest, that we can enter by believing.

But wait! Didn’t God rest thousands of years ago in Genesis 2? How can it be possible for us to enter something that is long gone? The author deals with this objection by bringing it up:

Hebrews 4:3-5 Although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this passage, “They (Israel) shall not enter My rest.” 

So God’s rest or My rest is the first seventh day He blessed and sanctified. The author of Hebrews observes that God’s work has been finished ever since, but His rest still stand for us to enter. This is a fitting explanation for why God did not demarcate the seventh day with an ‘evening and morning’ so that His rest was open from the time of Adam to everyone to enter daily. His rest was available for the ancient Israelites; otherwise there would be no point in saying, “They will not enter my rest.” God’s seventh day rest was available to them, but they refused to enter, yet they observed the seventh day Sabbath (they would have been stoned had they not-Numbers 15:32-36).

Hebrews 4:6 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

God’s rest is still available to us, too: “it remains open for some to enter it.” The offer is still open, and it is made even more clear and compelling through Jesus Christ. The Israelites at the time of Moses, “those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience.” Their disobedience was evidence of their lack of faith. They did not believe that God would give them what he had promised.

Hebrews 4:7 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.

Many years after Moses, God again spoke about His rest, urging people to not harden their hearts and thereby fail to enter His rest. Hear him today, David urged. The offer was still good. People could enter God’s rest today (not weekly), if they listened with faith and willingness. But didn’t the people enter God’s rest when they entered the Promised Land? No.

Hebrews 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.

If Joshua had given them God’s rest, God would not through David speak later about another day.

Hebrews 4:9-11 So there remains a Sabbath rest (Sabbathismos) 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. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

The author then concludes: “So then, a sabbath like rest still remains for the people of God.” Is he bringing up a new subject? No — he is still on the same subject, using different words to develop it further. He is saying, since people did not enter God’s original seventh day rest in Moses’ day, nor in Joshua’s day, and yet we are still exhorted in the Psalms via David about God’s rest, the conclusion is that this rest still remains for the people of God today. It is still available.

Why does he call this a sabbath rest? He is not slipping in a command for the seventh-day Sabbath. That would be totally out of context. His exhortation throughout this book is telling Jewish people to look to Jesus. He is not urging them to do a better job of keeping Jewish customs. The ancient Israelites, even though they had the Sabbath, did not enter God’s rest. God’s rest is entered by faith — by believing the gospel (verses 3-4). The author is not interested in a day of the week — he is concerned about how people respond to Jesus. A person who keeps the weekly Sabbath or any day but rejects Christ has not entered God’s rest. We enter God’s rest only by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God rested from his creative work, but what kind of work do we rest from? What do we quit doing when we come to have faith in Christ? The work of trying to earn our salvation, the work of trying to qualify for the kingdom, the work of trying to be accepted by God. When we look to Jesus for our salvation, we quit looking to ourselves.

Hence, the Adventist and Sabbath keeping assumption that God’s rest = Jewish Sabbath rest is erroneous. There is no command in Genesis to observe a day for man because the rest of Genesis 2 is God’s rest, not man’s. Genesis 1&2 commands marriage for mankind (Gen 2:24). Even commands the married couple to ‘be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Not only that, God even commands the first parents to ‘not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Gen 2:27). But never does God command man to observe the seventh day nor condemns man for not observing a day (He condemned Cain on his offering even though there was no explicit instruction). Besides, the word Sabbath is no where associated in Genesis with God’s rest for a very good reason. The first time God ever commanded Israel to take a weekly Sabbath day was in Exodus 16.

“This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest. For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain 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 16:29:30

Jesus addressing the Jews who put the Sabbath law above man, said “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Man was not made for the Sabbath or to serve its requirements. It was other way around. The weekly Sabbath ritual was made and commanded for the Jews in Exodus 16, not any time before. When God made man in Genesis, He did not make man to serve a Sabbath. Man was to experience God’s fellowship daily (Hebrews 4), and not just one-day in seven. Paul shows that the Jewish weekly Sabbath day came to be for man as a ‘shadow’ of God’s rest. We are no longer under the ‘shadow’, as God commands the church that Sabbath observance or not is no longer a matter of judgment since Jesus has come and He is the ‘reality’, our Sabbath rest (Col. 2:16).

Galatians 4:10-11, “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you

Questions and Answers

Doesn’t Sabbath was “made” for man (Mark 2:27) takes us to Genesis?

There is nothing in the statement that Sabbath was made for man that would suggest when it was given to man. In this verse, Jesus did not use the word for create — he used egeneto, which is usually translated “came to be.” Literally, the greek should read, ‘the sabbath for the man came to be, and not the man for the sabbath’. Sabbath came to be in Exodus for Israel. Not at the creation because, this word (came to be) does not point to the creation account nor can any stress be put on the English word “made,” since it is not in the Greek. Even if the word  MADE is implied, there is no evidence of a weekly Sabbath for man in Genesis. The festivals, lamb sacrifices, Sabbath, all were made ‘for’ human benefit, and the rite of circumcision was instituted ‘for’ human benefit and these laws do not imply that they were made before sin.

Doesn’t Hebrews 4 says we are to rest ‘as God rested’?

Yes, God ceased only once, and He did not cease every seventh day. Similarly, Hebrews 4 shows that we enter His ceasing today, not every seventh day.

 

Adapted: GCI