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Keeping the Sabbath falls under the Ten Commandments, and the Ten Commandments are referred to as "the law of God," and these are to be distinguished from the Jewish ceremonial and civil laws which are called "the law of Moses." So if you consider Saturday the Sabbath then you are honoring God according to a Jewish custom. If on the other hand you consider Sunday the Sabbath, then you are honoring God according to a Catholic custom and the custom of most of the other Christian denominations.

Which day is the right Sabbath day? Is it Saturday or Sunday?

Sabbath means rest and the fourth commandment of God contains principles which are applicable to all people. It recognizes the moral duty of man to worship his Creator, as well as ceasing from the ordinary employment's of life. It recognizes also the basic need of man for a weekly day of rest. Man's history has demonstrated his need for the recuperation of his physical and mental energies once in every seven days as well as his need for a day of the week set apart for spiritual devotion and instruction. The Sabbath command provides for these needs.

Many people say that God was talking only to Israel and the Jews when he brought the Sabbath day into Jewish existence and that the Sabbath doesn't even apply to the rest of us, but, keeping the Sabbath is the 4th commandment of God so there is no way that you can just toss out one of the commandments. If you do, then you must believe that it is OK to kill or commit adultery or break any of the other commandments. So it is impossible to "weed out" one of the 10 commandments?

So how did Saturday became that day of the week that the Sabbath was honored on?
Why did a whole nation of people choose Saturday as that day? Did God say Saturday was the day that the Sabbath day should be on?

The only reason why Saturday was the day picked to become the Sabbath day was because of "man made" Jewish customs and rules. It was the Jewish nation that established Saturday as the Sabbath day, and once the nation of Israel established Saturday as the Sabbath day, they then went on to establish a great many other rules and regulations regarding the Sabbath. Things like the fact that you could not travel more than a certain distance (supposedly about a mile) on the Sabbath. You could not gather or fix any food, do any work, couldn't start a fire, couldn't mend a fence so that your livestock would be prevented from wondering off, couldn't even pull one of your cows out of a ditch if he fell in. And if he fell in and broke his leg you couldn't do anything to fix or mend his leg on the Sabbath. You couldn't even pull a sliver out of your little girl's finger on the Sabbath.

There were all kinds of things that you could not do on the Sabbath, and every single one of them was a man made rule. They were Jewish rules and Jewish customs. Rules and customs just like the man made rule that said that Saturday was the official Sabbath day. That was a Jewish law. Celebrating the Sabbath day on a certain day is a man made custom because God did not give us a specific day to honor him, only that you honor him when your work week was finished.

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But still, the Sabbath question has been a concern to mankind throughout the religious history of the human race. So each believer has had to wrestle with the problem of which day is the correct day to honor the Sabbath. And the sad thing is that regardless of how much research you do on the subject, it seems that there is still always doubt. But a good point to remember is that the Creator Himself, after six days of labor, rested on the seventh day - the day after all his work was finished. It never says that he rested on Saturday or on Sunday, but that he simply rested after his six work days were over. Another thing to remember to is that his work days took hundreds of millions of years, and at the time he established his Sabbath, there were no Saturdays or Sundays or any other days of the week. The days of the week were not even named yet.

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Now please ask yourself this question. What is the purpose of the Sabbath? What three things did God want all men to do on that day? Let's see what God's instructions were regarding the Sabbath.

Exodus.20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; Six days shalt thou labor, 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, nor thy son, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, 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 is in them, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath and hallowed it.

So the three things are:
1 - He rested (after his six days of labor, and he wants us to do the same).
2 - He blessed it (he made it a holy day - a day to honor and commune with God).
3 - He sanctified it (he set it apart for a special use - for rest and a time to honor God).

The thing to remember here is that God did not wait until the Jews reached the Sinai, or until Abraham or Moses were born before making the day following his work days, the Sabbath day. He didn't wait until he created the Jewish Nation to establish the Sabbath because the Sabbath day was created long before any Jews ever existed. God didn't even wait until there was such a thing as a Monday or a Saturday or a Sunday. He rested on the seventh day, that day after all his work was finished.

Now let's look at God's additional instructions to the Jews regarding establishing a Sabbath day, but keep in mind that he is speaking to the Nation of Israel and that this is occurring twenty-five hundred years after the creation when God first established the Sabbath. And what God is telling Israel is a brand new command - and it is a command to the Jewish Nation.

Exodus 31:16-17 "Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed."

Genesis 2:2 tells us, "And on the seventh day God ended his work which He had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which He had made."
Not one thing in the above verse or in Exodus 31:16-17 is said about a Saturday or a Sunday. Nothing is mentioned about what day of the week the Sabbath day should fall on. Just that it take place after their work week was finished. And this is because only after their work week was finished, could they truly devote themselves to rest and recuperation and the honoring of God.

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The basis for the command to observe the Sabbath, as stated in Exodus 20:11, is that God rested on the seventh day after "his" six days of work, and that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. The Sabbath day was instituted as a day for our rest and it gives us a time not only to rest up from our labors, but to also worship God. The people of God were to follow God's example in His pattern of work and rest. First work, and then rest. However, as Jesus said in correcting the distorted view of the Pharisees in the following verse,
Mark 2:27 "And He said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

But Mark 2:27 is an extremely interesting verse. It appears that the verse is saying that the Sabbath was not instituted to be a hindrance or to enslave people in a rigid framework, but rather it was there to benefit man. The Sabbath gave man a chance to rest after his work was done and it also gave man a chance to honor and worship God. So doesn't it seem as if this verse means that the Sabbath day could be any day that man chooses, so long as it comes after his work week was over, and so long as what ever day the Sabbath was on, man was able to rest and honor God? Or does Mark 2:27 mean that God established the Sabbath to be on Saturday or Sunday with absolutely no exceptions.

Doesn't it appear that God wants mankind to separate his secular work days, from the Sabbath day so that man can take one day out of the week to rest up and honor God? That if you work Monday through Saturday, then he wants you to consider Sunday as your Sabbath? And if you worked Friday through Wednesday, then doesn't it appear that he wants you to honor him on Thursdays? Doesn't it seem as if Jesus regarded the Sabbath as a provision for man's need and welfare, and not as a burdensome legal requirement.

Remember what God said in Exodus.20:8-11. "Six days shalt thou labor, 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.

The Sabbath is identified as being one day in seven. It is identified as whatever day it is that occurs after all your work days are finished. It is considered that one particular day of the week that you do not have to work or labor, so you can use that day to rest and honor God. The seventh day that God is talking about is the last day of your week when YOU don't have to work. And this day can be different for different people depending on what days they have to work on.

Mark 2:27 "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."
Doesn't this verse tell you that the Sabbath is to be flexible for man. That it is not to be rigid and unbending, that after man's work week is finished, then man should take the next day and use it to honor God and rest up from his work. Rest and build his strength back up and get ready for the next work week and while you are doing all that you should also be honoring and praising God. And as I said above, the incredible thing is that the Sabbath day can be different for different people depending on their work weeks. That is the flexibility found in Mark 2:27.

So what is the Sabbath day? The Sabbath day is that day after all your weekly work is over. The Sabbath day is that day that you devote to resting and rejuvenating your body. The Sabbath day is that day that you can devote to honoring God without your secular work interfering.

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In Conclusion
So now I think we come to an answer. Keeping the Sabbath falls under the Ten Commandments, and the Ten Commandments are referred to as "the law of God," and these are to be distinguished from the Jewish ceremonial and civil laws which are called "the law of Moses." What God wants in a Sabbath day, is a day that man can rest and honor God. So if you consider Saturday the Sabbath then you are honoring God according to a Jewish custom. If on the other hand you consider Sunday the Sabbath, then you are honoring God according to a Catholic custom and the custom of most of the other Christian denominations. If you have to work on both Saturday and Sunday then your Sabbath day will be that week day that you don't have to work. Regardless of which one it may be, you honor the Sabbath by resting and honoring God on that day, and the commandment to keep the Sabbath is fulfilled.

The words of the Fourth Commandment are, "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." Forget about all the man made rules and customs and consider what this commandment is actually saying. It is saying that after you have spent the first six days of the week working, then take the seventh day to rest and honor God. Honor and praise him for his great glory, for your life, for all the many blessings in your life. Thank him, praise him, and honor him for the creation, and for everything in that creation. Praise and thank God for all of the good that he has done for you and for others. And also keep in mind that the Fourth Commandment of God says absolutely nothing about any particular day of the week, except that the Sabbath be that final last day of your work week, when YOUR work week is over.

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The flexibility that Jesus had towards the Sabbath
Lets look at this flexibility a little further and see what surprising things Jesus said and did about the Sabbath. Also keep in mind that the two main reasons why the Jewish religious leaders hated Jesus and why Jesus was murdered, was his views about the Sabbath day, along with the fact that he was telling the Jewish people that he was the Son of God. These two things more than anything else is what led to his crucifixion.

On a great many occasions, Jesus came into direct conflict with Jewish prejudices in regards to the Sabbath which made the Jewish religious officials see red, and it is extremely interesting to see Jesus' thoughts regarding the Sabbath day. A handful of those occasions which show the incredible flexibility that Jesus had towards the Sabbath, are below.

1) Jesus defended His disciples for plucking grain on the Sabbath, by alluding to the time when King David and his men were starving and they ate the bread of the Tabernacle. The supposedly sacred Showbread that was going to be offered up to God as a sacrifice. (Matt 12:1-4; Mark 2:23-26; Luke 6:1-4). By so doing, Jesus placed this Sabbath regulation in the same class as the ceremonial law which prohibited the eating of this sacred bread by anybody other than the priests. Jesus was teaching here that human need took precedence over any legal requirements of the Sabbath.

Matthew 12:1-4 "At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath! But He said to them, Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him. How he entered the house of God and ate the Showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?"

2) There were times when Jesus reminded His critics that the priests in the Temple profaned the Sabbath and were guilt ridden men. One example can be found at Matthew 12:5 "Have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath?" Here Jesus is referring to the practice prescribed by Jewish law of circumcising a male child on the Sabbath if that were the eighth day after his birth (Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22, 23). Thus the ceremonial law, requiring the circumcision of the child on the eighth day, took precedence over the law of the Sabbath.

Thus Jesus asked the Jewish religious leaders the following question which they could not and would not answer. John 7:22-23 "Moses therefore gave you circumcision, and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, why are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?"

3) Another time, Jesus expressed anger over those Jews at the synagogue in Capernaum who showed more concern for the meticulous observance of the Sabbath than for a human being who was deprived of the use of a hand. Jesus proceeded to ignore Jewish law and custom and went ahead and healed the man's hand before the entire Jewish religious leadership, and he did all this on the Jewish Sabbath day.

Mark 3:1-5 "And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Step forward." Then He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other."

4) On another occasion, when the ruler of the synagogue became indignant because Jesus healed a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years, Jesus defended His action by appealing to the practice of untying one's domestic animals to lead them to water on the Sabbath, even though Jewish custom forbids this.

Luke 13:10-16 "Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity." And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; And the ruler of the synagogue said to the crowd, "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day." The Lord then answered him and said, Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, be loosed from this infirmity on the Sabbath?

5) Again, when Jesus, under the critical eye of the Pharisees, healed a man on the Sabbath who had dropsy, He defended His action by asking His critics, even though it was against Jewish custom, if they would not rescue an ox or a donkey if it had fallen into a ditch or a pit on the Sabbath day.

Luke 14:1-6 "Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. Then He answered them, saying, "Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" And they could not answer Him regarding these things."

6) Once Jesus healed a sick man at the pool of Bethzatha on the Sabbath day and defended his right to heal on the Sabbath on the grounds that his Heavenly Father was the one who actually did all of the healing because Jesus received all his power from the Father. So if healing on the Sabbath was against the wishes of God the Father, then he would have never allowed his Son to heal the man by the pool.

John 5:19-21 "Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will."

In all of these instances, Jesus showed that He placed human need far above the mere external observance of the Sabbath.


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