QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SESSION WITH PASTOR CHRIS OYAKHILOME.
WHEN IS THE SABBATH EXACTLY?
QUESTION – Gertrude (South Africa): Dear Pastor, are we supposed to consider the Sabbath? When is the Sabbath exactly, and what are we supposed to do on that day? I ask because, in Matthew 24, Jesus says we should pray that His coming will not be on a Sabbath.
ANSWER: Okay, well, Sabbath is a day of rest in the Jewish calendar. It’s the 7th day – the last day of the week. And, the Bible says that on the 7th day God rested. When you study the account of creation in the Book of Genesis, it tells us what he did on the 1st day, 2nd day, 3rd day, 4th day, 5th day, 6th day, and the 7th day and it says “…on the seventh day, God rested…” [Genesis 2:2]. So, when He gave the laws by Moses to the children of Israel, He told them to rest on the 7th day which is the Sabbath, and that they should do no work.
Now, Jesus came in and fulfilled the law and abolished it, so we don’t have to live by that Law of Moses anymore. In fact, it was never given to those who were non-Jews; it was only given to those who were Jews. So, it’s been abolished by Jesus. So, we function in His new Law of Love today. Now, here is the important thing – you said “in St. Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says we should pray that His coming will not be on a Sabbath.” He actually said that they should pray that their flight should not be on the Sabbath, and I want to read it to you – Matthew 24:20: “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:” Why did He say that? Because it would be difficult for them [he was addressing the Jews, and I want you to remember that; He was addressing the Jews here] and He was talking about the desolation that Daniel the Prophet talked about – when Israel is invaded – that’s what He was talking about, so he said “…pray that your flight be not…on the Sabbath” [Matthew 24:20] because the Jews had a limit on how far you could travel on the Sabbath Day. In fact, they placed a limit on one mile; you couldn’t go beyond one mile on the Sabbath day. So, if their flight took place – their escape [he wasn’t really talking about going to Jesus at His coming but an escape from their enemies – their invading enemies]. If that day is on the Sabbath, then you can’t run very far; you can’t move very far because the Orthodox Jew believed that on the Sabbath Day, you shouldn’t travel more than one mile and that was really the reason Jesus mentioned that.
But beyond all of that, you want to know what do we do on the Sabbath day today? The Sabbath day is no longer a day for the Christian because the Law has been fulfilled by Jesus and abolished. And now, what He says for us to do is to live everyday unto Him – unto Christ.
But then you notice all around the world, most Christians worship, primarily, on Sundays. How did they come about that? Was it that the Sabbath was moved from Saturday to Sunday? No. The Sabbath wasn’t moved from Saturday to Sunday, but a day was picked by the early disciples to meet as God’s children and it was significant that they picked the first day of the week, because that was the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was raised from the dead on the first day of the week. I want to read something to you from St. Matthew’s gospel Chapter 28, from verse 1: “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week [that means the Sabbath was the last day of the week – the outgoing week], came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” [Matthew 28:1-2] And then He goes on to tell us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but what I want to notice there is the Sabbath day ending and the first day of the week coming in because of what I want to say next.
We’ll go to the Book of Acts Chapter 20: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” [Acts 20:7] It says “the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” So, it was a special day – the first day of the week – that day that Jesus was raised from the dead. The day of His resurrection is the first day of the week. Now, the Christians marked that day and began to gather together. And, that’s very important for us to remember. 1 Corinthians Chapter 16, from verse 1; I’ll read from verse 1 to 2: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” [1 Corinthians 16:1-2] He’s talking about the disciples putting offerings together for a purpose – there was something they wanted to do – but he says they would gather, they would meet on that day [the first day of the week] and they would bring their offerings on that day [the first day of the week].
So, the first day of the week was a special time for the early disciples. They picked that day; in fact, they called it ‘the Lord’s day’. I want to read that to you from the Book of Revelations chapter 1, from verse 10: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,” [Revelations 1:10] That’s the first day of the week that he was talking about: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” Remember, he had been banished to the Island of Patmos and while he was there, he says he was in the spirit. So, this is what it is today; we meet generally on Sundays. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t meet on other days. We do meet on other days as the Bible also shows. The early disciples, in fact, sometimes they met every day, breaking bread every day. So, you could do that as well; you could pick any day of the week.
Let me read something else to you that I believe will be helpful to you. In Colossians chapter number 2, reading to you from verse 16: ”Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” [Colossians 2:16-17] So, he’s letting us know that the choice of the Sabbath was a shadow. It was a shadow of things to come; it was a type of “the real” and now Christ has come and things have to change according to what the Spirit of God wants us to do over in the New Testament. So, if you notice he says: ”Let no man, therefore, judge you therefore in meat [the kind of food you’re to eat], or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:” See, so he’s telling you this doesn’t matter anymore. Praise God!