Heb 4: 1-11 As we discovered in the previous study, in gathering for worship on the first day of the week Christians were honoring the Lord on the day He rose from the dead and not observing the seventh day sabbath God commanded the Jews to observe in the Ten Commandments. Our question then is this: What about the seventh day Sabbath? If Christians believe it is still right to have no other gods before the Lord, to make no idols, to not take the name of the Lord in vain, to honor one’s father and our mother, to not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet, how can they dismiss the 4th commandment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy? Is the seventh day Sabbath still binding today?
Note: many Christians believe that the Ten Commandments are God’s eternal law and therefore the seventh day Sabbath of the Jews is still binding upon Christians. What is wrong with this understanding? Read Eph 2:14-15 and Rom 7:4-6; why is a true Christian no longer under the “Law of commandments contained in ordinances”? See again Gal 3:23-25 and cf. Heb 7:11-12. How do we know that the Law to which we die through the body of Christ includes even the law of the Ten Commandments? See Rom 7:7-8, cf. Exo 20:17. What is the central importance to the gospel truth of being dead to the law? See Rom 7:1-4, 9:30-33. Read 2 Cor 3:6-11; what was engraved on tablets of stone (2 Cor 3:3,7)? See Deut 4:13. What does Paul call the law of the Ten Commandments that were written in stone, and how does that contrast with the royal law of love that is written on “tablets of human hearts” by the Holy Spirit of God? See Heb 4: 7,9, and cf. Jer 31:31-33, Eze 36:25-27.
What does Paul mean in 2 Cor 3:11 that the law of the old covenant (epitomized by the Ten Commandments engraved on stones) “fades away” (NASB)? Note: KJV = “is done away”; the Greek word used means “is nullified, abolished, rendered of no effect”; cf. Heb 10:1, Col 2:17. In what way was the typewriter a shadow of the computer? How has the computer caused the typewriter to “fade away” (be nullified, abolished, rendered of no effect)?
Although the Ten Commandments “fade away” in Christ, what law remains? See James 2:8. In what way is the law of love an even higher law than the Ten Commandments? See Mat 5:17, 21-22, 27-28, Rom 13:8-10. If a person has the royal law of love written upon his heart by the Spirit of God, will he fulfill the spirit of the law with all of its righteous requirements? See Rom 8:2,4. I.e., will he honor his father and mother, not just in word but also in deed? See 1 Tim 5:8 and contrast Mark 7:10-13. Will he murder or commit adultery, not just literally but also in his thoughts? Will he have other gods like sports and Mammon before him? Will he make for himself idols of wood and stone, or cars and boats, or movie stars and doctors? Will he “keep Sabbath” by dying with Christ to cease from the works of his hands and enter by faith into the Lord’s rest? Will he do that on just one day of the week? See again Heb 4: 9.
Because we are now dead in Christ to the law are Christians under no sabbath obligation? See Heb 4: 9 and note: “Sabbath rest” there is most literally a “Sabbath-keeping” or “keeping of the Sabbath” Notice then the question for us as Christians is not, “Why don’t we keep sabbath on the seventh day as required by the 4th commandment?” but rather, “Why do we suppose that by observing the seventh day Sabbath, or the Lord’s day, or any other day, that we have fulfilled the righteous requirement of the 4th commandment to cease from our spiritual labors and find rest in the finished work of our Lord?” See Heb 4: 3!! The problem is not that Christians don’t keep sabbath on the seventh day, but that they don’t keep sabbath everyday as the Today of their salvation. The problem is not that Christians don’t take the time God afforded man one day a week on the Sabbath to be quiet before Him, meditate upon His word, and listen for His still small voice, but that they don’t take that time everyday.
So what about the seventh day Sabbath? Because we are now dead to the law, but alive to God through Christ’s resurrection, is it wrong for one to “keep sabbath” on the seventh day after the manner of the Jews? Should we not rather in honor of Christ’s resurrection regard the first day of the week above all others and worship God on that day according to the near universal custom of the Church throughout history? See Rom 14:4-6a and consider that Ignatius in 101 a.d. exhorted the Magnesians to observe the Sabbath in a certain manner in addition to honoring the Lord’s day.
What is the great danger of supposing that it is a requirement for salvation to keep sabbath by observing certain days, especially as dictated by “the commandments and teachings of men” (Col 2:22), whether it be the seventh day of the week as the Jewish sabbath, the first day of the week as the Lord’s day, or some other Jewish festival or Christian holiday? See Rom 9:31-33, Gal 4:9-11. What sin and deception tends to overtake people who advocate such requirements? See Rom 14:4, James 4:11-12, Col 2:16, and consider those whose religious confidence consists of not watching TV on Saturday, drinking lukewarm water, not celebrating Christmas, attending church (whether on Saturday or Sunday), or even not being baptized! In summary, what is the Christian sabbath and on what day of the week are we to observe it? Consider that in eternity there is no night (cf. Is 60:19-20, Rev 21:23,25, 22:5) so there is no passing of days—only one long, eternal day; what would be a good name to call that Day? See Heb 4: 9.
Heb 4: 11-13 What do these verses teach us about the ability of the word of God by which we will be judged to determine if one has kept sabbath and entered into the Lord’s rest? Where is such determination made? See Heb 4:12, Rom 14:6. Is God fooled by those who make a show of religion in the flesh by observing certain days but do not keep sabbath in their hearts? See also Col 2:20-23, Ps 40:6-8.
Note: For more information about the SDA doctrine that Sunday worship is the Mark of the Beast, see Daniel Word Studies.
1. See KJV text note, and for the verbal form of the same Greek word cf. Ex 16:30 LXX “the people kept Sabbath on the seventh day”, 2 Mac 6:6 “A man could neither keep the Sabbath, nor observe the feasts of his fathers, nor so much as confess himself to be a Jew.” See also Lev 23:32, 2 Chron 36:21.↩
2. Under the influence of Roman Catholic doctrine the Lord’s day became a “holy day of obligation” and worship on the Sabbath was at times forbidden to persecute the Jews who were branded as Christ-killers.↩
3. “Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; for “he that does not work, let him not eat.” For say the [holy] oracles, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.” But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ.”↩