The command to observe the Sabbath day was given to Israel EXCLUSIVELY. It was not given to the Gentiles. It was given to Israel as the SIGN of the Mosaic Covenant
“Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” Exodus 31:16 (KJV)
The Reason for the Jewish Sabbath
If God instituted the “Sabbath” before the “Fall of Man,” it seems strange that the fact is not recorded in Genesis, and that Adam was not told to observe it. Nowhere in the Book of Genesis do we read of Adam, or any of his descendants, or Noah, or Abraham observing the Sabbath. The only hint we have of a “seven-fold” division of days is found in Genesis 7:4, 10, when seven days of grace were granted before the Flood came, and in Genesis 8:8-12, where a seven day period elapsed between the sending forth of the dove.
The first place we read of the Sabbath is in Exodus 16:23-26, in connection with the gathering of the manna–“Six days ye shall gather it; but on the SEVENTH day, WHICH IS THE SABBATH, in it there shall be none.” Here we have the “SEVENTH” day designated as “THE SABBATH.” That the “Seventh Day” of the “Creative Week” was a type of the Sabbath is clear from Exodus 20:11–“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.” But we have no evidence that the Sabbath was commanded to be observed until after the Exodus, and the reason is clear. God’s “Rest Day” was broken by the “Fall of Man,” and there could be no “rest” until redemption was brought in, and this was typically brought in by the redemption of the children of Israel from Egypt through the offering of the “Passover Lamb,” a type of Christ.
The purpose of their deliverance was that they might find rest in Canaan from the weary toil and slavery of Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). When a few weeks later the “Ten Commandments” were given on Mt. Sinai, the Lord said to Israel, “REMEMBER the Sabbath Day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), the Sabbath Day they were to remember was not the “Seventh Day” on which God rested, but the “Day” that God had appointed as the “Sabbath Day” at the time of the giving of the manna.
The Sabbath Was Given to Israel alone
The command to observe the Sabbath day was given to Israel EXCLUSIVELY. It was not given to the Gentiles. It was given to Israel as the “SIGN” of the “Mosaic Covenant.” “Verily My Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a ‘SIGN’ between Me and you throughout your generations” (Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12, 19-21). The Sabbath Day then belongs to the Jews alone and is not binding on the Gentiles (the world), or on the Church (Christians). Nowhere in the Bible do you find God finding fault with any nation or people, except the Jewish nation, for not observing the Sabbath. As a Jewish ordinance it has never been abrogated, changed, or transferred to any other day of the week, or to any other people. It is now in abeyance as foretold in Hosea 2:11 it would be.
It is to be resumed when the Jews are nationally restored to their own land (Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 44:24; 46:1-3). If this be true, then the “Sabbath” does not belong to the Church, and is not to be observed by Christians, for the “Sabbath Day” is a part of “THE LAW,” and Christians are not under “LAW,” but under “GRACE” (Romans 6:14). In his letter to the Galatian Christians Paul reproved them for going back to the “Law,” and declared that those who did so were “under the CURSE” (Galatians 3:10). “How turn you again to the ‘beggarly elements’ (religious ordinances) whereunto you desire again to be in bondage? You observe DAYS (Sabbath and Feast Days), and months, and times, and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11). “Let no man therefore judge you in meats or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the SABBATH” (Colossians 2:16). If Christians are under obligations to keep the “Jewish Sabbath,” then they are under the Jewish “Ceremonial Law” and should observe all the ordinances and Feast Days of the Jewish Ritual.
The Christian Church does not replace the Jews or Israel
As an institution of Judaism, the Sabbath, with all the “Feast Days” and other ritualistic ceremonies and offerings of Judaism, ceased to function with the close of the Jewish Dispensation. The JEWISH Sabbath was not changed to the CHRISTIAN Sabbath, any more than “Circumcision” was changed to “Baptism.” There is no such thing as the “CHRISTIAN Sabbath.” “Sabbath” has to do with LAW, and “Christian” with GRACE, and to join “LAW” and “GRACE” is to unite what God has forever separated. After the Resurrection, Christ and His Disciples never met on the “Sabbath” but on the “FIRST DAY of the week” (John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).
It is true that they went into the Jewish Synagogues on the Sabbath, but not to worship, but that they might have opportunity to preach the Gospel. The “First Day of the Week” is the day to be observed for rest and worship by the Christian Church. It is prefigured in the Old Testament as the “EIGHTH DAY,” or the “DAY AFTER THE SABBATH.” “You shall bring a sheaf of the ‘FIRST-FRUITS’ of your harvest unto the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you; on the ‘MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH’ the priest shall wave it” (Leviticus 23:10-11).
The Church and Israel are separate but equal
What did that “First Fruits” typify? Read 1 Corinthians 15:20–“Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the ‘FIRST-FRUITS’ of them that slept.” When did Christ rise from the dead and become the “FIRST-FRUITS?” Not on the “Sabbath,” for He lay dead in the tomb on that day, but on the “FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK,” on the “MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH.” The fact that the “Birthday” of the Church was at Pentecost, and that fell on the “First Day of the Week,” is further proof that the Church should keep the “First Day of the Week” and not the “Seventh” day or “SABBATH.” The Jewish Sabbath links man with the “Old Dispensation,” the “First Day of the Week” links man with the “New.”
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:” Colossians 2:16 (KJV)
It is claimed that the Roman Catholic Church changed the day of rest from the “Seventh Day” to the “First Day of the Week,” but the claim is false, for the Papacy did not exist until a long time after the “First Day of the Week” had become a fixed day for Christian worship. It is a noteworthy fact that the whole of the “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20:1-17) are reaffirmed in the New Testament, except the “Fourth Commandment” regarding the Sabbath (Romans 13:8-10; Ephesians 6:1-2; James 5:12; 1 John 5:21). Why this omission if the Law of the “Sabbath” is still in force?
It is called the “LORD’S DAY.” It belongs to Him. It is not called a “rest day” in the Bible. It is a day that should be filled with worship and service and holy activity. It is not a day to be spent in laziness or pleasure, or the giving of sacred concerts and the discussion of worldly betterment schemes, but a day for the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. Clarence Larkin 1918