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How the Lord Gave Us the Sabbath


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The Lord, having opened my eyes and revealed to me the truth about the Sabbath, has humbled me; He has set me in awe that all these years I should not have known what is perfectly obvious to me now. But I am so very thankful.

Is not the debate decisively ended as to which day is the Sabbath?

Ever since the year I came to believe, periodically would come a prodding, a prick of the conscience concerning the Sabbath. Somehow I was conscious that there was something lacking on this matter, something contradictory. But I went on, satisfying myself that Romans 14:1-6, Galatians 4:8-10 and Colossians 2:16-22 were sufficient justification for keeping Sunday or any other day besides the Sabbath as the day of rest.

Then about one to two years ago, my 6 or 7 year old son and I were reading the Bible in Exodus when he asked me what the Sabbath was and if we kept it. I tried to explain to him that we keep Sunday. “Why don’t we keep the Sabbath?” he asked me. I tried to answer with the usual explanations but came away from the conversation asking myself, “Why should it be so hard to give an answer on one of God’s commandments to a child? Shouldn’t it be simple enough?” I believe that conversation was the final straw. Finally a Messianic Jew spoke of the Sabbath and the time was ripe for me to believe and obey.

Jesus said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall IN NO WAY pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

He also said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:18, 19).

I ask the reader, “Does not the Lord say it all right here? If we did not delve into any more Scripture, and if we believed and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ implicitly and explicitly, and sought to obey Him, is not the debate decisively ended as to which day is the Sabbath and whether we should keep it or not?”

In the very beginning, God established the seventh day as the day of rest in which He Himself rested. Nowhere but nowhere in the Scriptures is there the slightest suggestion that He changed His mind. Nor could He change the law, seeing that He doesn’t change, and the law is a reflection or expression of His nature.

Up to that general time, Christians kept the Sabbath.

But one of His creatures comes along, namely the Roman Emperor Constantine, in 321 A.D. (this is a matter of record), and decrees that the first, not the last day of the week be kept holy, and that it be observed in honor not of the Creator Who rested on the Sabbath from all that He had created, including man, declaring that day holy by law, but in honor of the pagan Sun god (as in “Sunday”), a god which man created in his own imagination.

Up to that general time, Christians kept the Sabbath (the seventh day, which day alone IS the Sabbath). In the words of Peter to his earthly (but not ultimate Heavenly) superiors, we all who name that blessed Name of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, ought to declare to all those who presume to contradict God’s Word to us, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken to you more than unto God, judge for yourselves.” And with those words, Peter refused to obey men who resisted God, and continued steadfastly to obey God (Acts 4:19).

I marvel that evangelical preachers everywhere go about boasting, “We believe in the Bible, the Word of God as the final authority; if it isn’t in the Bible, we don’t preach it.” They also ardently declare that talk is cheap, that one must “walk the walk as well as talk the talk.” Yet on many doctrines they believe, preach and practise, they utterly contradict themselves, and when confronted to prove their beliefs and preachings from the Scriptures, they can give nothing more than feeble interpretations and reasonings, using excuse after excuse such as, “That was then, this is now (That was the old dispensation)” and “God didn’t mean that” (giving their own interpretations of Scripture to suit their doctrines, as if He didn’t say what He meant and mean what He said). The doctrine of Sunday being the holy day of the week is one of these cases.

They also speak vehemently against the Catholic Church and take pride in how they are not like the Catholics or Anglicans in doctrine and practice, yet they preach and practise Sunday as the “Sabbath,” having inherited that custom from none other than the Catholic Church. (Constantine wed church and state which resulted in the “Holy Roman Catholic Church”).

Many prominent preachers and leaders of many nominal Christian denominations acknowledge that the Bible does not at all substantiate Sunday as the Sabbath, and that in fact it clearly declares the seventh day (Saturday) as the Sabbath, without contradiction, yet they go on observing Sunday. Why? At least two reasons:

1) Lack of knowledge and vision:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children” (Hosea 4:6), and, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).

“Remember that you keep holy the Sabbath day.”

2) Manpleasing or fear of man:

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue (church, congregation): for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12: 42, 43).

Jesus has not committed Himself to those who know one thing but do another: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).

Let this be known to all, that though you preach fiery sermons from the pulpits, and though you testify to great crowds, and though you give your body to be burned for what you call the gospel’s sake, the Lord Whom you preach has not committed Himself to you because you do not love Him. Why can I say you don’t love Him? Because He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” and, “he that has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me.” One of those commandments is, “Remember that you keep holy the Sabbath day.”

If I had to “play it safe” with God, forced to make a choice as to whether to keep Sunday or Saturday as the day of rest, there is not a doubt in my mind which day I would keep…the Sabbath. I have no doubt that many others who practise Sunday-keeping would do the same. If I had to choose which day the Bible declares to be the rest day of God, how could I (or anyone else for that matter) possibly argue, with any understanding at all, against the Sabbath and for Sunday?

“But,” you say, “it isn’t a matter of playing it safe. We ARE saved, by God’s grace. It isn’t up to us to keep the law to save ourselves. We’ve been redeemed from the law. You have fallen into the trap of legalism, living by the law, keeping Saturday as the Sabbath.”

And I say, “Wow!” Again I say, “Wow!” So let me get this straight: God says, “Remember that you keep holy the Sabbath (seventh) day.” I keep God’s day, obeying, honouring God, and I am a legalist. Constantine comes along, contradicting God, his Creator, some four millennia later and says (with threatenings by decree), “Remember that you keep holy the first day of the week in honor of my pagan Sun god.” You keep Constantine’s Sunday and you are living in the grace of God! Again, with breath utterly taken away, I force myself yet another, “Wow!”

I think that grace and iniquity (lawlessness) are confused by many, almost as though they are apparent twins.

When you and your church follow manmade precepts, you are the legalist.

This I say to those who hear or read these words: If you are one of those people I address as believing, declaring and practicing Sunday-keeping, please let me tell you that if anyone is the legalist, YOU, and not I, are the legalist. You live by a law made by man. The Pharisees made many laws, many of which contradicted the law of God, imposing them upon as many as they could. That was legalism. You would say so yourself. So when you andor your church follow this manmade precept, making God’s law “of none effect” (Matthew 15:6), I say that YOU are the legalist. On the other hand, if I obey God, then I, in His sight, am not a legalist but simply obedient, howbeit by grace, not merely worshipping in vain with my lips, not merely hearing the Word, but doing it.

How is it that you MUST go to church on Sundays, dress up in your “Sunday best,” refrain from working or doing unnecessary chores on Sunday according to your beliefs, and see yourself and your household as in grace while if I rest on the Sabbath, setting aside the day He asked for, I am “under the law”?

I have a wonderful secret to tell you (though you may deny it, but it is true nevertheless): When you keep Sunday and do all those things, you aren’t in grace in that matter at all and you certainly don’t feel in grace. You know it; admit it. I know…I’ve been there. But why couldn’t I and why don’t you feel in grace? I’ll tell you why. Because grace comes from God and God alone, and He cannot bestow grace upon iniquity (lawlessness – the breaking or the not keeping of the law of God). He cannot bless man’s substitutions, and especially not man’s traditions nor customs which directly contradict Him and His will or laws.

And of course you may retort that it isn’t a matter of feelings but of faith. Faith? What faith? Faith in God and His Word or faith in man and his decrees? What good is your faith in Constantine or in the Catholic Church, or in any church for that matter, if what they teach or require of you is contrary to God? From God’s standpoint, that is not faith but UNBELIEF, and not only unbelief in some cases, but outright iniquity. I say, “in some cases” because many follow the Sunday-keeping teaching because they don’t know any better.

There is a price to pay in today’s society for setting aside Saturday (the Sabbath).

I marvel that evangelicals and others pretty much exclude Seventh Day Adventists from evangelical circles, from their activities such as “crusades,” as for example when Billy Graham may come to town to preach, and from general socializing. I marvel because while these evangelicals claim to preach the Bible but deny the law of God which the apostle Paul has declared believers are to establish and not deny, they ostracize the Seventh Day Adventists primarily because these acknowledge the immutability of the law of God concerning the fourth commandment.

On the other hand, I recognize that Seventh Day Adventists are as likely to shun communion or fellowship with all those who keep Sunday as the day of rest, especially if those Adventists believe that keeping Sunday is the “mark of the beast,” which I do not believe but do grant that it is part of the picture.

And the very Scripture evangelicals themselves use in their defence of Sunday-keeping, they specifically and categorically disallow for the Adventists, i.e., “Who are you that judges another man’s servant…One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regards the day regards it unto the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it” (Ro. 14:4-6). If they don’t BY WORD deny the Adventists these verses AS THEY interpret them, they do so by their actions and attitudes and are thus guilty of hypocrisy.

I say, “as they interpret them” because they interpret them erroneously. These verses say nothing of the weekly Sabbath. I’m so thankful to know that now. There is also no doubt in my mind that if evangelicals were granted benefit of doubt in their misguided interpretation of those verses, the Adventists would come out comparatively (or should I say, contrastingly) shining, because while I hear evangelicals hemming and hawing their absurd rationalizations about Sunday, without conviction, many or most of the Adventists are indeed “fully persuaded in their own minds” about the Sabbath.

And no wonder! They need to be! There is a price to pay in today’s commercially-minded and pleasure-loving society for adhering to and setting aside Saturday (the Sabbath). And those who honor the Sabbath must as well contend for the faith with a mainstream religious community which blindly follows the precepts of men. Surely, it is quite understandable that a Sabbath-keeper “be fully persuaded in his own mind” on this matter.

How could I have been so blind? All these years I have failed to observe the seventh day, the Sabbath, even though I thought I knew the Scriptures fairly well and more importantly, walked with the Lord, which I did. It does indeed humble me to realize how in the dark I have been on this matter. Granted, I did not advocate Sunday as THE Sabbath; however, I kept it for convenience and am thus ashamed that convenience took precedence over obedience to and faith in God.

These misinterpretations kept me from embracing the truth of the Sabbath.

If it seems I’m condemning Sunday-keepers, I ask that the reader or listener see it as condemning not Sunday-keepERS but Sunday-keepING. Nevertheless let the chips fall where they may if necessary. If there are those who keep Sunday, knowing better, they truly condemn themselves and need nobody else to do so.

Though there are other passages of Scripture which could be discussed, I will limit myself to the three already mentioned which are most commonly misinterpreted and used to argue against the observance of the weekly Sabbath. These misinterpretations certainly kept me from embracing the truth of the weekly Sabbath for some time.

1) Romans 14:1-6, particularly verse 5 which says: “One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

It is often assumed that in this passage starting with verse one, laws of God are being discussed, but this is not so. Firstly, you will find that the Scriptures do not get into laws concerning vegetarianism. For the first four verses, Paul talks about vegetarianism. In this context, the next two verses that follow also pertain to issues outside of the Biblical commandments. The debate is about days that people kept, but there is no reason to assume that Sabbath days were spoken of.

Why would Paul encourage one to freely esteem any day of the week above the one God has esteemed above others and commanded to keep holy? Paul has often spoken in favour of the commandments of God, encouraging believers to keep them, as for example when he said to the Romans earlier on, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Ro. 3:31). Remembering to keep holy the weekly Sabbath is one of those laws, every bit as binding to this day as the other nine.

2) Galatians 4:8-11, particularly verses 9 and 10 which say, “But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years.”

I think that for now it is sufficient for me to point out that Paul is speaking not of the law of God which he refers to with reverence, as for example when he says in Romans 7:12: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good,” but to “WEAK AND BEGGARLY ELEMENTS.” It is clear that Paul would not have called the law of God, of which Jesus said not one jot or tittle would pass before heaven and earth passed, “weak and beggarly elements.” Verse 8 also clarifies this by stating, “Howbeit then, when you knew not God, you did service to them [these elements] which by nature are no gods.”

The weekly Sabbath was declared in the very beginning.

3) Colossians 2:16-17: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or in the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”

The Sabbath days Paul refers to here are the Feasts of the Lord which are called Sabbaths. These Feasts were a shadow of what Christ would come and fulfill, and which He did. They were instituted under Moses when the children of Israel came out of Egypt. The weekly Sabbath, however, was declared in the very beginning, when God created all things and rested on the seventh day from His works.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the meanings of the Feasts, which were shadows, but the Fourth Commandment was a Law, and not merely a shadow, not only for Jews, but for all men. Again, of the Law Jesus said that not one jot or tittle would pass, that heaven and earth would pass first. Seeing that heaven and earth are still here and the other nine Commandments are still in force and valid, we don’t have the option of discarding the Fourth Commandment – keep holy the Sabbath day.

Let’s take a closer look at the context here. Verses 20-22 are as follows:

“Wherefore if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances: Touch not; taste not; handle not – which all are to perish with the using – after the commandments and doctrines of men?”

Paul speaks of ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men, and the Fourth Commandment isn’t one of them, for it is a commandment of God. I would argue that keeping Sunday is one of the ordinances Paul would condemn, because it is an ordinance of man, not of God.

It is also true that men can take God’s commandments and make them into their own ordinances. That’s what the Seventh Day Adventists have done with the Sabbath, which they only keep in appearance, not in spirit. They are no different from the Pharisees, who did the same in their day. Regarding the Sabbath, didn’t they say to the Lord, “Touch not”?

“Now it came about that on the Sabbath He was going through the fields of grain, and His disciples took the heads of the grain for food, crushing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why do you do what it is not right to do on the Sabbath?’” (Luke 6:1-2 BBE)

And what did the Lord reply?

“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath also” (Luke 6:5 LITV).

In this letter to the Colossians, Paul is talking about believers not making themselves subject to physical observances like circumcision – “according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Circumcision of the heart by Christ was never effected by the physical ordinance. The same goes for the prescribed sacrifices, which never put away sin with finality. Even the Sabbath, an eternal Commandment, never brought men into rest by carnal observance.

“Because by the works of the Law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20 HNV).

While these things were given by God, isn’t it a doctrine of men to do them for righteousness’ sake? Wasn’t it the “Judaizers” who compelled Gentiles to get circumcised?

“But some of those from the sect of the Pharisees, having believed, rose up, saying, It was necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5 MKJV).

So we know the Law is good, but we need spiritual understanding to separate what is eternal from what was temporary, and to fulfill all of God’s Commandments by faith in Christ.

Having said what I’ve said about the Sabbath, and having said that I have been in the dark about observing the literal weekly day, I perceive that though I have walked with God all these years, and He has taught me many things, yet has He in His wisdom kept me from this truth by His ways past finding out, and has in these last days granted me the wonderful and precious gift of the Sabbath within, and hence the benefit of the weekly Sabbath without as well.

I consider the keeping of the weekly Sabbath a gift and privilege more than a law. I also perceive it to be a crown, signifying that which the Lord has given to me within, that rest which the Hebrews writer describes or refers to in chapters 3 and 4. Indeed, the Sabbath is a cessation from works, from religious effort to be Christian or good or holy or righteous or of value to God, to others and to ourselves in our own power. What an impossible task! What a relief to be delivered! How good it is to walk in the grace of God!

The rest we labor to gain is in this life.

I see that so very many who observe the weekly Sabbath, teachers and leaders included, as sincere, earnest and knowledgeable as they may be, have not entered into their rest held in store for those believers who patiently press in. These may assume they received that rest when they first received Christ. But this cannot be so.

Was not the Hebrews writer addressing believers when he spoke saying, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” and, “For we which have believed DO (not did) enter into rest” and, “There REMAINS therefore a rest to the people of God?” This does not refer to a state in the hereafter but here in this life and therefore the writer urges us, saying, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Consider that the ancient Hebrews were denied entry into that rest in this life and in this world, and if so, the rest we labor to gain is also in this life, in this world though not of it.

As well I perceive that to Adventists the keeping of the Sabbath is an idol. They are doctrine and Sabbath-centered rather than Christ-centered; they keep the sabbath by law, by doctrine, and find their life, their identification and importance therein when in fact, the Lord Jesus Christ is the end of the law; He is the Sabbath, our rest; He is the Life; it is He Who is to be worshipped, and He alone. Were not the Pharisees keepers of the Sabbath? Did they not accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath? Did they not crucify the Christ? Can it be said that those who worship the Sabbath, howbeit unwittingly, hate the Lord?

Certainly such was the case with the Pharisees. Somehow we picture them as these black-robed, bearded, nasty, miserable men with gnashing teeth and dark countenances, hanging around the temple all day. I think they were men, women and young people in everyday life who could be the sweetest people one may want to meet, many well-dressed and groomed, sociable, amiable, apparently believing, loving and understanding, not unlike many “good, church-going folk today.” Just don’t cross them, and don’t tinker with their doctrines, that’s all, as good as those doctrines may be in themselves (and many are not).

Some day the Lord will open eyes and ears and hearts; the blind shall see, the deaf shall hear and the dull of heart shall have understanding.

Now I had rest as never before, and God gave me the weekly Sabbath to enjoy.

Before my spiritual journey began in consciousness (our journey begins long before we know), I was told by my nominal, mainline, Christian church, family and friends that there was no more to be had spiritually than what I had. They were wrong. Over twenty-seven years ago, I was converted to God, experiencing the first of the three solemn feasts of God…Passover. I rested within in such a way I had never known.

Soon I was informed by some believers that there was more of God to experience, that being what was referred to by some as “the second blessing” or “the baptism with the Holy Spirit.” By my new circle of evangelical friends, I was told, “Not so; no such true thing!” They were wrong. Nearly two years after conversion, I experienced, by the baptism with, or receiving of the Holy Spirit, the second solemn feast of God, that being Pentecost. Again I experienced an inner rest I had never known, well above the former (although the painful fires of purging had come with the Spirit as John and Jesus promised would come – Matt 3:11 and Mark 9:49).

Almost immediately, I began to wonder if there was not yet ANOTHER experience in the Lord that He willed for me (not that having experiences was what it was all about, but going into a deeper relationship with God). I began to hear from some that there WAS more, an entrance into of yet a third dimension, referred to as “sanctification” or “entering into rest” (Hebrews 3 and 4).

This time there did not seem to be any who would declare that there was no more to be had of/from God, although there were those who claimed to be preaching the “full gospel,” meaning conversion AND baptism with the Holy Spirit, not realizing that they were only preaching 2/3 of the gospel, and thus in effect, denying a third experience.

But God had ordained 3 feasts and the third one proved to be elusive to, and almost phantom for me until the time of fulfilment, nearly 25 years later! In this third spiritual blessing of “entering into rest,” I experienced the fulfilment of the third and final feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, within. Now I had rest as never before and on the heels of this rest, God gave to me the weekly Sabbath to enjoy.

I am so thankful, so thankful to God for granting me the rest, that Sabbath within, and now as a crown, without. The Lord of the Sabbath, the Lord Jesus Christ be praised forever. He is faithful indeed.

Victor Hafichuk

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