What is the Sabbath Day?

In this post, discover what the Sabbath Day is, its origin, who commanded it, and why you should keep the Sabbath of God.


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The Sabbath Day is a special day set aside by God to serve as a blessing to all His people. 

However, because of ignorance, deception, and sometimes, willful hostility against God’s commandments, a lot of Christians today are not observing the Sabbath Day.

So, the first thing we must understand is, “What is the Sabbath Day?”

Let’s discuss.

The Sabbath in the Beginning

A lot of Christians today would argue that the Sabbath Day was only given to the Israelites and that it was only made as a commandment when the Ten Commandments were written in the tablets of stones.

However, right in the first book of the Bible, we read how God instituted the Sabbath.

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).

From these 3 verses alone, we can learn a lot of important facts about the Sabbath.

Let’s go through them one by one.

When is the Sabbath Day to be kept?

First and foremost, the Sabbath Day is kept on the SEVENTH day. The first verses of Genesis 2 make it very clear that it was “on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”

Notice, the Bible DIDN’T say on the first day, second day, or third day, or any other day. BUT it says on the SEVENTH DAY!

You can’t be clearer than that.

So, if you look into your calendar, what is the seventh day of the week?

Well, you could see that it is SATURDAY!

Is it Sunday? No, because Sunday is the first day of the week.

Yet, the majority of Christians today would meet on Sunday!

What is the difference between the Sabbath Day and Sunday worship?
What is the difference between the Sabbath Day and Sunday worship?

What time does the Sabbath start?

Now, it’s a shock to most people.

Did you know in the Bible, the day starts in the evening instead of midnight?

Actually, how we recon time today is humanly devised. It is not according to God’s timing.

When you read the Bible, you will see that a new day starts at sunset.

Let me prove this point to you.

In Genesis 1, we read how the Bible repeatedly mentions “evening” first before “morning” comes.

Notice:

  • Verse 5: God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
  • Verse 8: And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
  • Verse 13: So the evening and the morning were the third day.
  • Verse 19: So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
  • Verse 23: So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
  • Verse 31: Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

As you can see, evening is mentioned first to indicate that a day starts in the evening.

This is further proven by the following verses:

  • Exodus 12:18 – In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.
  • Joshua 8:9 – And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.
  • 2 Chronicles 18:34 – The battle increased that day, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Syrians until evening; and about the time of sunset he died.
  • Nehemiah 13:19 – So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day.
  • Mark 1:32 – At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed.

If these verses are not enough, you will read Leviticus 23:32 as clear instruction on when the Sabbath should begin:

“It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”

As you can read, it is always from evening to evening NOT midnight to midnight.

Time reckoning in the New Testament

In the New Testament, the same way of time reckoning is practiced. 

I have already shared to you Mark 1:32 where we read that the people waited after the Sabbath to come to Yahshua or Jesus Christ to be healed.

We also read Joseph of Arimathea who waited until evening to come to ask for the body of Christ after His crucifixion:

Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed (Matthew 27:57-60).

Mark 14:42-43 even make this clearer:

Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (Compare Luke 23:40-43 and John 19:31).

With all these in mind, we can know when the Sabbath Day should be observed.

It should be observed on the seventh day which starts in the evening.

In other words, the Sabbath Day is kept from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

Because it is God who created the universe and it was He who created the Sabbath, it is only Him who has the authority to tell us when the Sabbath should be kept.

When we keep the Sabbath during the official appointed time, then we are following God. BUT, if we keep the Sabbath on other days that God didn’t command, then sadly, we are following men and not God.

The Biblical proofs that the Sabbath should still be observed by Christians today!
The Biblical proofs that the Sabbath should still be observed by Christians today!

Studying the word, “Sabbath”

In Genesis 2:2, we read:

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

So, what did God do on the seventh day?

He ended His work and He RESTED on the seventh day.

The word “rested” here came from the Hebrew word, “Shabbat.”

In Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, it is numbered as H7673 and it has the following meaning:

A primitive root; to repose, that is, desist from exertion; used in many implied relations (causatively, figuratively or specifically): – (cause to, let, make to) cease, celebrate, cause (make) to fail, keep (sabbath), suffer to be lacking, leave, put away (down), (make to) rest, rid, still, take away.

From the verses we read, we understand that God rested on the seventh day by ceasing from His work.

The intensive form of “Shabbat” is the Hebrew word “Shabbath,” which is the word translated to “Sabbath” in the English Bible.

The set-apart Sabbath

Continuing in Genesis 2, we read in verse 3:

Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Now, this is a very important verse.

God didn’t just bless the seventh day but He also sanctified it!

It was God who blessed and sanctified the Sabbath.

God placed His BLESSING on the Sabbath Day, the time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset!

So, who blessed other days to become a Sabbath? Well, obviously, it wasn’t God but men!

If you want to receive God’s blessings, you need to keep the Sabbath and not other days that men instituted!

Now, notice how God sanctified the seventh day. It means that Yahweh has set apart the seventh day for a SPECIAL purpose.

In effect, God made the Sabbath a HOLY time. It is not a time for us to defile and use for our own pleasures and plans. It is not for us to decide how we should keep the Sabbath.

Genesis 2:1-3 greatly emphasized that God didn’t work on the Seventh Day, setting an example for us to follow.

The Sabbath is God’s day of rest and those who want to follow God should also do the same on the Sabbath Day.


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The Sabbath before the Old Covenant

As you can see, the Sabbath Day has been blessed and sanctified way back in the creation week.

This dispels the argument that the Sabbath is only to be kept by the Israelites.

However, some may argue that the word “Sabbath” wasn’t mentioned in Genesis 2:1-3, therefore, there’s no command that we also should rest on this day.

One should only check the Hebrew word for “rest” on these verses and they can easily see the word “Shabbat,” which is the origin of the word Sabbath.

There’s no denying that Genesis 2 is the origin of the commanded day of rest and it was kept by the first human beings!

Some would still argue that Genesis 2:1-3 isn’t a command but simply describing what God has done on the seventh day.

However, this is a wrong interpretation of Genesis 2:1-3. For one, why would Yahweh set apart the seventh day, bless and sanctify it and don’t expect Adam and Eve to observe the Seventh Day as holy?

Obviously, once God has pronounced a blessing on the Sabbath, Adam and Eve are required to keep it as a blessing and also set it apart from other days of the week.

It follows then that all the faithful servants and people of God from the time of Adam and Eve to the time of the inauguration of the Old Covenant, have also faithfully kept the Sabbath Day.

Notice what Genesis 26:4-5 says about the obedience of Abraham:

And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham OBEYED My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” 

This statement was made centuries before the founding of the Israelite Nation!

Even before the Ten Commandments were codified in Mt. Sinai, God already has commandments and laws in place for His people to follow — and those laws include the Sabbath command.

Now, remember, Adam and Eve were not Israelites. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and other faithful servants of God were not Israelites. So, this means that the Sabbath isn’t only for the Israelites, but also for all of the people who would like to follow God.

If you are truly a believer and servant of Yahweh, you would do what He commands you to do. You would obey His voice and follow His will for you.

God said to keep the Sabbath.

Will you believe and follow Him?


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