From the beginning, seven days have been established to comprise the week. This was counted from “sunset-to-sunset, “even-to-even,” And the 7th day is acknowledged to be Saturday in Julian and Gregorian Calendars.
The controversy is not about when is the 7th day, which is accepted worldwide for centuries to be Saturday. Rather, it is about how people keep it holy, aka., when to worship; Saturday, Sunday or any day. Does the mandate “remember (the 7th day Saturday sabbath) to keep it holy” really refer to a “worship-day, a specific day of the week to worship God ? Or , is this a planned time-period for this “rest”? What could be the reason for this “rest” that maybe a predicate to what God will do in the future. And, why was this instituted early on at Genesis creation and its relevance for the future? Moreover, does “Sabbath-rest” really mean no work for humans and God?
The 4th commandment about Sabbath-keeping is in the Decalogue which is a summary of Mosaic laws numbering 613 according to Rabbi Simlai in the 3rd century or the more accepted breakdown 365 according to Maimonides in the 12th century. But, many Christians confine the Decalogue to the Ten Commandments and called Aseret ha’Dibrot in Judaism.
It has been emphasized by “sabbath-keepers” that the 7th day/Saturday as the only one that has a mandate to “remember to keep it holy” in 22:42.(Doug Batchelor). Accordingly, other days are not to be, when people have to come to worship.
However, traditional Christianity maintains the day of worship, thereby keeping it holy, is on Sunday, 1st day of the week, because of change to the day of “the Lord’s resurrection”. Sunday resurrection is assumed because of an “empty tomb” which is an indirect proof , questionable for many reasons and because of “3 days and 3 nights like Jonah”. Nobody actually saw the actual event of resurrection, although numerous reliable witnesses attested for this post-facto and died taking this belief with them to the grave. Other Christians consider everyday holy sabbath, which functionally maybe tenable. So, this subject is indeed a “head-scratcher”.
As this is a contentious subject, proper analysis is needed, as guided by the Holy Spirit of truth.
The etymology of the English word “remember” comes from the Hebrew word “sakar/zawkar:02142/02145” meaning to mark, mention, recognize, be mindful. There are 253 occurrences in 12 translation of the word translated “remember” in English. In the Old Testament it is found 178x. In Greek, it is “mnēmoneúō:3421/3420”, and found 75x in the New Testament, with the same meaning as in Hebrew.
N. B. Every time “remember” is used, it always refers to what happened in the past in relation to what the future holds.
Keep it Holy:
Now that we know the context of what “remember” means, the next question is “how to keep it holy”. On this regard, we can only depend on what God told us through biblical records on “how” and his definition of “holy”.
History shows many churches, denominations and religious groups differ in the minutiae of “how to keep it holy”. It will be unproductive and futile to enumerate these vicissitudes as the interpretation of others would not cut it.
Together, let us review salient verses and narrative of this 7th day.
In Genesis 2:2 we read, “And 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.”
In Genesis 2:3 “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done”.
Notice that it was God who made it holy by resting after he finished his work as he planned. So, naturally he ceased from creating material things. He stopped creating, not due to Him being tired as Isaiah 40:28 says,
“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.”
And, He made it holy by resting on that 7th day, way before any covenants, including the Old Covenant. He was completely finished with His “material creative work” like plants , animals and man. Heavens and earth were already created in Genesis 1:1; that includes sun, moon, stars, earth, etc. The creation of “spirit-composed angels” were not referred to and had to be before the 6-days “re-creation”.
When the “heavens and earth” were created, as expected, they were “perfect”. God may do “templates”, “images” like humans that were “incomplete”, but nothing “imperfect” was ever made by God.
But, in Genesis 1:2 the earth became “without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep” most likely because of the “war in heavens” when Satan and 1/3 rd of angels rebelled against God. Then towards the end of Genesis 1:2-10, there was “reforming the creation” with light (covered by darkness) then re-appearing to divide from darkness (Night and Day; sun-moon-stars) and firmament(heaven) dividing the waters. Seas and dry land came about. God then looked at His creation, declared it “very good” (Genesis 1:31), and ceased from His finished timed and planned creation-activity.
Notice that he instituted this Sabbath-rest after Genesis 1:2; after “re-doing” the “earth which became without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep” , the first day of the week.
Additionally, there was no mandate for humans to “rest on the 7th day until Israel left Egypt. Referring back to original Old Covenant with Israel and Judah with Moses as mediator, in Exodus 20:8-11 it states:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it
Included were “all within the gates” of Israel-Judah (including strangers/Gentiles) , no human should “work” on the 7th day as even the Creator-God “ceased”, as planned and timed, from his “reforming the creation”( compare Genesis 1:2 and v-2). And, it was God who blessed and hallowed the 7th day; made it holy. Keeping it holy “by not working that 7th day”.
But then, here in Luke 13:10-17 “On a Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years.She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”
Notice, that “man-Christ Jesus“( the incarnated LOGOS,El-Shaddai, YHVH-Elohim, Creator-God) was “working on a Sabbath” as defined/understood by and to the chagrin of the synagogue leader. And Jesus rebuked the synagogue leader and called him “hypocrite” because “each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water”.
So, while there was a general prohibition against “working on a Sabbath”, it was not “all-or-none”. They themselves freed, untied from bondage, the animals, and gave them water to drink. Exception has been accepted depending on situation and time, i.e. to free from bondage, set them free and drink water to live.
Also notice this exception in Mark 2:23-28 “One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Again, exemption with emphasis on hunger and in need of sustenance to forestall death . This narrative has relevance to the future.
From the preceding facts, one can take-home the following messages:
1. This Sabbath-rest was instituted by God and set aside from the “creation week” in Genesis as the 7th-day, the last day of that week. God “worked” 6 days and himself “rested” on the 7th day. By so doing he sanctified it, made it holy. Humans cannot make the day holy, only God can.
2. It predates any of the subsequent covenants. And, it was presented de-facto and not as a covenant with any human. As to whether God will resume his “work” in the future was not revealed at that time.
3. There was no specific mandate for humans to “remember, to keep it holy” until the time Israel was freed from Egypt’s slavery. So to speak, this “rest day” is a “coming-out-of-slavery/bondage- day” , aka, “freedom-day”. This highlights the “association of the day of rest with freedom from bondage.” While only God can make the day holy, humans were asked “to keep it holy” by not working on that day.”.
4. Every time the word “remember” is used, it always refers to what happened in the past in relation to what the future holds.
5. As the Creator-God “rested” from his work that was planned and finished, so must humans “rest from their works”. Not only Israel was mandated but also “strangers/Gentiles within their gates
6. The prohibition against “working that 7th day”, has exception related to “works” that refer to freedom from bondage from disease/life-limiting like hunger/death event and towards attaining “waters of life”. This serves as a “works-predicate” for what will happen in the future “at time appointed”.
How to Rest on the 7th day
The relevance of the Sabbath-rest is in the utility of the Advocate/Helper/Comforter in implementing and ensuring this “rest”.
God finished all his planned “work and rested”, So, should humans work for 6 days and rest on the 7th day. But, he has a plan for “working again” in the future. As the Creator-God created heavens and earth and those on it in Genesis 1:1 and “re-did” the earth and others from Genesis 1:2-31, ceased from that planned work, so will he (at the appointed time) again “work” to create the “kingdom of God”, all spirit-bodied through Jesus.
Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Humans were really created in God’s image and likeness but “incomplete” and started as “templates”( temples ) where God will “in-dwell”
Currently, humans have not reached their “destiny” and do not have “dominion over all the earth” as we still die from diseases, accidents, etc. This promise is still future when we “change in a twinkling of an eye” from mortal to immortal spirit-composed bodies.
Adam and even now, humans are trying to attain salvation through their “own righteous works” which at best, are as “filthy rags”. Salvation has to be from and because of God, not “human works” so no one may boast as in:
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works(by you), so that no one may boast.”
It is really a gift of God, the Holy Spirit in-dwelling in us, such that “by grace we have been saved through faith”. Sabbath-rest comes when the “creative power/energy of God”, the “Comforter/Advocate”, the empowering tool, was given to resurrected Jesus Christ and to be subsequently given to humans, first to apostles, afterwards generally to others at Pentecost, then to “firstfruits” and “latterfruits” as planned from the foundation of the world. This is our “Sabbath-rest”, “God’s rest” with his Spirit working in us and not ourselves working out our salvation.
Yes, we rest, cease from working our own salvation(so not to boast) and consent freely (using freewill) for the Holy Spirit to be a “Helper” by in-dwelling in our “spirit-of-man” to will and to work for his good pleasure”.
Appointed-time for Sabbath-rest
The appointed time for this event to happen , its fulfillment, was prophesied by Isaiah and was quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:16-21
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Isaiah 11:2 “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD”
Isaiah 61:1-2 (NKJV) “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn –
New Living Translation
Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him..
English Standard Version
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.
The “man-Christ Jesus“ was the first to receive this Holy Spirit directly from the Father at Jordan River that rested in and empowered him to overcome Satan in the wilderness and to do miracles. Without this “power/energy”, he would not have done all these things. More importantly, this helped him to choose the Father’s will and not his own in Gethsemane.
Juxtaposing this to Paul’s teaching of freedom from bondage, death to life etc. not under the law that leads to death
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
“For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: ‘And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.’ There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:4, 9,10,
New International Version
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
New Living Translation
So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.
That day is today when “God rests in us”, i.e., in-dwell in us through the Holy Spirit and does for us His will, as in “not my will but let your will be done”.
Mark 14:36: And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (ESV)
Luke 22:42: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (NIV)
New Living Translation
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
English Standard Version
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
In the same way that this “power/energy” was the mechanism to “re-do” the earth that was void and formless as in Genesis 1:2 “…the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”, so shall it “re-shape” the “marred clay” as in Jeremiah 18:4 this time period.
The Holy Spirit is a “power tool” that automatically works in us ( with our consent) to do the works as we rest like God rests. But we need to push the bottom, say yes to it for it to work. ...”like any automatic power tool” turning the electric switch or pressing on “power on devices”.
Because “all our righteous acts are as filthy rags”, therefore let us all “rest” as God rests, while we let the Holy Spirit of power “work in us” to “will and to work for his pleasure”. Not our “own works”( as we are resting), but the “works and fruits of the Holy Spirit”.
Notice that God is consistent in “working” although “resting” as in Genesis where his creative power is expressed by the Holy Spirit. What the Holy Spirit is doing is still “work of God” ( the origin of this power) although emphasis is placed on his “rest” as it was his “power of the Holy Spirit in-dwelling or resting in us” actually working with our “freewill to consent” and allow “not my will but your’s be done”.
Remember how and what humans do to perform and create? When we were created, our composition inherently has “limits and boundaries” for a reason. Historically, in paleolithic age, they think, then to perform work they use their hands; nothing happened without “lifting a finger”. Then they used “stone tools”, but humanity advanced when discovery and invention occurred, then “more powerful tools” were used to “perform work”.
This shows how, those with “in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit”, are “resting now” . Also, the “future spirit-composed members of the God-kingdom“ will not use “any muscle or material body” because they will be “spirit-bodied” and will use this “empowering spirit-energy” to create and work. Indeed, God is teaching us that work can be done “without lifting a finger” because of this “newly gifted power”. Remember, the Genesis creation on how he worked/created: the “spirit of God” moved upon the face of the waters, he spoke and it was done, just his word and things happened. This is “human destiny”.
Thank God for this power/energy given as a gift by God to us on grace, through the faith of/and in Jesus Christ, the trailblazer, author and finisher of our faith.
Let us therefore “remember to keep the Sabbath holy” by “resting” while following the “law of the Spirit”, that brings forth “fruits”, not just on holy Saturday/Sunday that should continue, but “everyday” using ( not our own power which is lacking) the “power/energy” that comes with the “in-dwelling” of the Holy Spirit.
Original post: March 12, 2021
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Critique is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org after reading all for context.