Many have said that they believe that we should be keeping the Sabbath on a fixed day of the week. Others say that we should keep every day as a Sabbath. What does the word of Yahuah have to say about these things? Lets examine the first statement concerning the first day of the week being the Sabbath. There are only eight passages in scripture that speak of the first day of the week. They are often used to "prove" a change of the Sabbath to fixed Sunday so lets look at all eight to see whether any of them prescribes, allows or supports changing the Sabbath.
Matt 28:1 (NKJV) Now after the Sabbath, as the first [day] of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
The two Mary's waited until the ending of the Sabbath--as the first day of the week began to dawn--before they went to Yahusha's sepulchre. Being Sabbath observers, it is reasonable that they would wait until the ending of the Sabbath and the beginning of the first day of the week before venturing out. This scripture says nothing of changing the Sabbath.
Mark 16:1 (NKJV) Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary [the] [mother] of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first [day] of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
As Matthew 28:1 shows, the two women observed the Sabbath before venturing out on their mission to anoint the body of our Savior. They had the spices already purchased before the Sabbath. Now was a regular work day for them and not a new day of worship, as some claim.
Mark 16:9 (KJV) Now when [Yahusha] was risen early the first [day] of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Just because Yahusha appeared to Mary Magdalene on the first day of the week, it does not mean that He changed the Sabbath. There is no statement here even hinting that.
Luke 24:1 (NKJV) Now on the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain [other] [women] with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Master Yahusha.
Clearly, Yahusha was already risen and gone before sunrise, which raises the question as to why there are Easter sunrise services? But again, nothing is said about resting or changing the Sabbath to fix day as Sunday a day in the Roman Catholic Gregorian pagan calendar that took the moon out of the calculation of the months.
John 20:1 (NKJV) Now on the first [day] of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw [that] the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
John's account coincides with the others and still there is no mention of changing the Sabbath to a different day.
John 20:19 (NKJV) Then, the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Yahusha came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace [be] with you."
Some claim that this was a 'secret' meeting to change the Sabbath to a fixed day as Sunday. But the passage says Yahusha came and stood among them. He had died, was buried and had risen. The disciples, now locked in a room, were hiding from the Jews now that the Messiah had died. Suddenly, Yahusha stood in their midst. This would have been the perfect time to set them straight and now tell them that their had been a change in the Sabbath to the fixed first day of the week. But their is no mention of anything of this sort. A week later, when Thomas had doubts about Yahusha, the Savior returned, but said nothing about worshipping on the fixed first day of the week.
Acts 20:7 (NKJV) Now on the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
This is probably the scripture most quoted by those who believe that the Sabbath day was changed. Following Sabbath services, they had gathered in the evening. Paul was an esteemed visitor. Undoubtedly everyone wanted to talk with him after the Sabbath. They probably had many questions to ask him. This was not a fixed Sunday worship service, but an after dinner talk lasting until midnight. Again, there is no mention of a change in the Sabbath from a lunar month.
1Cor 16:1 (NKJV) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
We find in Acts 11:28-30 and Romans 15:26 that the people in Jerusalem were having a great famine. The brethren were in dire need of food and help. Paul wants the brethren to prepare a collection of food and clothing on the first day of the week and keep it at home. He would come by and pick up the collections, bringing them to the needy in Jerusalem. This had nothing to do with bringing an offering to any meeting or worship service. It was a time consuming gathering of foodstuffs and clothing for the needy which the Corinthians were to do for transporting to Jerusalem. Now notice: Paul is not telling the people to "rest and worship---but to WORK by preparing the collections. The word day in the King James is in italics. This means that it is not in the ancient manuscripts. "Day" has been added because the translators assumed that Paul meant Sunday. Rather than reading "the first day of the week" we should be reading "the first of the week." It could have been any day of the Roman calendar and still have been the first part of the week. For more on Paul's teachings, see the section on Is the Sabbath for today?
Our Pleasure on the Sabbath?
Some people feel that the end of Isaiah chapter 58 is referring to the weekly Sabbath; however, the context of the whole chapter is about the High Sabbath of the Day of Atonement ("the day of your fasting" verse 3).
Let’s look at the Scriptures that first tell us about the Sabbath and what it is.
Exod 16:29 (KJS) See, for that Yahuah hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.Yahuah didn't want men to have to labor by gathering food on the day of rest that He created for them. The last part of this verse has even been perverted to mean that we cannot step out of our house (later by Rabbis, 2000 cubits) on the weekly Sabbath, when the obvious intent here was not to go out to gather the food, part of the normal daily toil of survival.
Exod 20:8 (KJS) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.Here is the first place in Scripture where we are told what is required to keep the Sabbath holy (set apart); we are not to do the work that we normally do the other six days. We are to rest from our normal work (cease working) as Yahuah ceased working after the six days of creation.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of [Yahuah] thy [Mighty One]: [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:
11 For [in] six days [Yahuah] made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore [Yahuah] blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (set it apart from other days).
Exod 31:14 (KJS) Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it [is] holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth [any] work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.Again, only work is described as "defiling" the Sabbath. It is being made clear that Yahuah wants us to cease from the work we do on the other six days and to make this day free of toiling for our existence.
15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh [is] the sabbath of rest, holy to [Yahuah]: whosoever doeth [any] work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Exod 35:2 (KJS) Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to [Yahuah]: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.Again, only work is described as prohibited on the Sabbath; Added here is the statement not to start a fire on the Sabbath. This required gathering the wood and the task of getting the fire going and stabilized; quite a bit of work. Doing this before the Sabbath started made it simple and non laborious to just add a log occasionally to keep the fire alive. The Sabbath concept is not one of a list of "do not’s," but one of being relieved of much of the normal daily struggle to survive.
3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.
Levi 23:3 (KJS) Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day [is] the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work [therein]: it [is] the sabbath of [Yahuah] in all your dwellings.Again, the repeated statement about the keeping the Sabbath is do not work as you do on the other six days. A set apart assembly is described here on the weekly Sabbath; this means meeting with others in worship.
Nehe 10:31 (KJS) And [if] the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, [that] we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day…Nehemiah instructs the people of Yahuah not to interact with people who are breaking the Sabbath by working, even though they are not of the people of Yahuah. Again, working for a living is the focus of what is prohibited on Sabbath.
Jere 17:24 (KJS) And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith [Yahuah], to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;The burden being referred to is commercial supply, so that people understood that even though they didn’t go to work, as in their shops, they shouldn’t stock up their businesses on the Sabbath even though the doors of business were technically closed.
Matt 12:1 (KJS) At that time [Yahsha] went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.Now, we can see the error of the Pharisees who had come to teach that almost any physical labor broke the Sabbath; the disciples had picked the grain to eat it themselves, not as their normal job engaged in during the other six days of the week and not as a gathering of food to stock up for the day.
2 But when the Pharisees saw [it], they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
Mark 2:27 (KJS) And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:This statement by the Messiah clarifies the concept of the Sabbath; to allow men, women, servants, and their animals to be relieved of their daily jobs that they do during the week for compensation (money or room and board). The repeated instruction over, and over, and over is not to do the work you do on the other six days. The set apart assembly is most likely set on this day since the distractions of a work day are removed including the gathering food and starting a fire.
THE SABBATH CONCEPT
It has been stated 1 that when Yahuah finished creation, His blessings overflowed upon his creatures and upon man. Man did not have to toil daily for existence, everything was provided. This was lost through the fall of Adam, but not forever; through redemption and mercy Yahuah will restore it. This "rest" of Yahuah is the goal creation is destined to reach. The weekly Sabbath was commanded for man to see, and experience in a small way, what was lost under the curse of sin 2; a restful, peaceful existence to enjoy life and walk humbly with our creator 3.
Thus, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Man is not to afflict himself on the weekly Sabbath, he is to enjoy it and the freedom it gives him from having to "go to work to make a living." His praise and worship is offered up to Yahuah during the set apart assembly of the day, and he should enjoy the gift of life either alone or with others; such as letting the children play and perhaps playing with them, enjoying music, CDs or playing his own musical instrument, or reading Yah's word in his recliner. It is a day of peace to look forward to and remind us of the rest Yahuah will give his people as he provides for us eternally under the new heaven, on the new earth and in the New Jerusalem.
1) Unger’s Bible Dictionary p.940
2) Genesis 3:17-19
3) Genesis 3:8 and Micah 6:8
SABBATH TO AFFLICT ONE’S SOUL
Some have mistakenly used the following Scriptures out of context to conclude that the weekly Sabbath must be a solemn day with no pleasures of life allowed. These Scriptures all refer to the Day of Atonement, which is one day of the year of "afflicting" one’s self; this being interpreted by most to mean fasting for 24 hours and denying ourselves of life’s pleasures. Since Messiah did suffer and die to provide our atonement, this attitude for this one day seems correct today as it did in ancient times for other reasons.
Levi 16:29 (KJS) And [this] shall be a statute for ever unto you: [that] in the seventh month, on the tenth [day] of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, [whether it be] one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:2)
30 For on that day shall [the priest] make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, [that] ye may be clean from all your sins before [Yahuah].
31 It [shall be] a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
Levi 23:27 (KJS) Also on the tenth [day] of this seventh month [there shall be] a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto [Yahuah].3)
28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it [is] a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before [Yahuah] your [Mighty One].
29 For whatsoever soul [it be] that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
30 And whatsoever soul [it be] that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
31 Ye shall do no manner of work: [it shall be] a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
32 It [shall be] unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth [day] of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
Isai 58:3 (KJS) Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.The above Scripture in the beginning of Chapter 58 identifies the day being referred to as the High Sabbath of the Day of Atonement by describing it as "the day of your fast." The only day the people kept as a fast was the Day of Atonement, an Annual Sabbath day. The subject of the entire chapter of Isaiah 58 deals with the people’s attitude while they were fasting on the Day of Atonement. The "Sabbath" referred to in 58:13 below is the Day of Atonement; it should not be taken out of context as though it was the weekly Sabbath. However, read on.
Isai 58:13 (KJS) If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of [Yahuah], honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in [Yahuah]; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of [Yahuah] hath spoken [it].
THE PROBLEM IS IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE UNDERLINE PHRASE ABOVE
As you have seen, of the many Scriptures we have read commanding us not to work on the weekly Sabbath, none mentions "afflicting your souls" or a prohibition of "doing thine own ways, finding thine own pleasure, or speaking [thine own] words." The problem is how some define this phrase. In Isaiah 58, this phrase is referring to unrighteous and unloving behavior toward others. It is an idiomatic phrase from the Hebrew language. A word to word translation without considering the context of the chapter leads to misunderstanding, which is why some think that the phrase means "having fun" (good clean fun), and that it is to be eliminated on weekly Sabbaths as part of "ye shall afflict your souls," which they also erroneously think refers to the weekly Sabbath. So, they eliminate playing ball with your son in the back yard, listening to some classical music, asking someone how their family is (non-biblical topic), and taking their daily shower; these are not unrighteous actions that Yahuah wants us to eliminate.
Yes, we should turn away from unrighteous and abusive behavior toward others (as described in chp 58) at all times, not just on one High Day.
But, let us not make our weekly Sabbaths an incorrectly restrictive day due to the misunderstanding of a few words. Let us
back away from the tree and look at the whole forest (ops an idiom!). Let us cross check our ideas of what we think one line
of verse means, to see if it fits the Sabbath concept. The weekly Sabbath rest looks forward to the eternal rest, and we will not be continually afflicting ourselves in the eternal rest.
In conclusion, I offer a review of Isaiah chapter 58. May Yahuah Bless you.
Chapter 58 is a chastising of the people by Yahuah.
In verse 1 Yahuah tells Isaiah to openly and loudly inform the people that they are in rebellion.
In verse 2 Yahuah says they seem eager to know my ways
as if they were a nation that does what is right!
as if they had not forsaken the commands of Yahuah!
they seem eager for yahuah to come near them!
But Yahuah says they are actually in rebellion because they are not really eager to know His ways, or do what is right; they forsake Yahuah's commands and are not eager for Yahuah to come near them.
In verse 3 they are complaining that they have fasted and Yahuah has ignored them (has not rewarded them for their fasting).
So, in verse 4 Yahuah says, "Well on the day of fasting you just act like you always act - unrighteously." (my paraphrase)
Verses 4 gives examples of their unrighteousness and Yahuah says, "You cannot fast on this day and act unrighteously and then expect me to reward you just because you fasted." (Paraphrase)
In verse 5, Yahuah says, "I have not chosen a fast day just for one to humble himself, bow his head, and lye on sackcloth and ashes. Is that what you call a fast day acceptable to Yahuah?" (paraphrase)
In verse 6, yahuah says,"This is the kind of behavior I expect to go along with your fasting:
loose the chains of injustice
untie the cords of the yoke
set the oppressed free..."
Verse 7 is more examples of behavior that Yahuah desires to accompany the fasting; basically describing the type of people Yahuah wants them to be.
In verse 8, Yahuah says, "be like this and you will get rewards." Then through verse 12, yahuah tells the people the rewards they will receive for being righteous and loving to others.
Then in verse 13 and 14, Yahuah summarizes, (again my paraphrase) "So, if you keep this Sabbath day of the fast (Atonement) with this proper attitude of righteousness and love, not abusing and taking advantage of people (In no way "doing thine own ways, finding thine own pleasure, speaking thine own words"), (Speak His words by reading and meditating (Seeking his face)in the word. Then you will find joy in Yahuah and He will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and feast on the inheritance of Yahuah's Kingdom."