THE SABBATH AND THE MODERN-DAY SABBATHARIANS
By TOMAS C. CATANGAY
"Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work - neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy." (Exo. 20:8-11, Today's English Version)
This commandments concerning the observance of the Sabbath is undoubtedly a law of God. It was the Lord God who sanctified the Sabbath. However, the ancient Israelites were exclusively mandated by God to observe the Sabbath:
" Moses called together all the people of Israel and said to them, “People of Israel, listen to all the laws that I am giving you today. Learn them and be sure that you obey them." (Dt. 5:1, Ibid)
Take note that it was only to ancient Israel, having been rescued by God from slavery in Egypt, that the commandment to keep the Sabbath was given. The Israelites were to observe the Sabbath to remember God's power and mercy in bringing them out from the bondage in Egypt:
"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the Lord your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to observe the Sabbath." (Dt. 5:15, Ibid.)
At present, however, there are several religious groups that insist on keeping the Sabbath. The most well-known of these is the Seventh-day Adventist Church which claims that there are verses in the Holy Scriptures that support its observance of the Sabbath. In this article, we will closely analyze some of these verses.
CHRIST ENTERED THE SYNAGOGUE ON THE SABBATH DAY
"Then Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath he went as usual to the synagogue. He stood up to read the Scriptures" (Lk. 4:16, Ibid.)
This is one of the verses cited by the Seventh-day Adventists to support their allegation that Jesus Christ observed the Sabbath. This particular verse, however, does not say that the Lord Jesus Christ observe the Sabbath day. What then His purpose in entering the synagogue on that particular Sabbath day?
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed
and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.
"Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All the people in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on him, 21 as he said to them, “This passage of scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read." (Lk. 4:16-21, Ibid.)
The Lord Jesus Christ entered the synagogue on that particular Sabbath day to prove His commission as God's messenger, as recorded in the prophecy of Isaiah. He proclaimed and preached to the Jews His authority and power being the Messiah. He entered the synagogue, therefore, not to observe the Sabbath but to prove His commission.
NOT TO DO AWAY WITH THE LAW
The official position of the present-day Sabbatharians, the Seventh-day Adventists, is that the Sabbath remains enforced to this day because Jesus Christl allegedly did not come to do away with the law of the Sabbath but to make such teaching come true or, in other words, to fulfill it as Christ allegedly meant in His words recorded in Matthew 5:17:
"Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true." (Ibid.)
The Seventh-day Adventists erroneously understood what Christ emphasized. Christ's statement in Matthew 5:17 does not mention the Sabbath. His words are clear and explicit: Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets... but to make their teachings come true." This particular statement of Christ does not concern the law of Sabbath. The Gospel according to Luke sheds light on the subject of Christ's words, thus:
"Then he said to them, “These are the very things I told you about while I was still with you: everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the writings of the prophets, and the Psalms had to come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer and must rise from death three days later." (Lk. 24:44-46, Ibid.)
Absolutely nothing was mentioned concerning the observance of the Sabbath.
'THE SON OF MAN IS THE LORD OF THE SABBATH'
The Seventh-day Adventists also misunderstood Christ's statement that "... The Son of Man - Jesus Christ (cf.Mt. 16:13-16) - is Lord of the Sabbath" (cf. Lk. 6:5, TEV) with their assertion that since Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath, people are obliged to observe the Sabbath.
Why therefore, did Christ say that He is the Lord of Sabbath?
"Not long afterward Jesus was walking through some wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began to pick heads of wheat and eat the grain. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Jesus, “Look, it is against our Law for your disciples to do this on the Sabbath!
"Jesus answered, “Have you never read what David did that time when he and his men were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his men ate the bread offered to God, even though it was against the Law for them to eat it—only the priests were allowed to eat that bread. Or have you not read in the Law of Moses that every Sabbath the priests in the Temple actually break the Sabbath law, yet they are not guilty? I tell you that there is something here greater than the Temple. The scripture says, ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ If you really knew what this means, you would not condemn people who are not guilty; for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Mt. 12:1-8, Ibid.)
The above-cited verses narrate the event when Christ disciples plucked and ate some ears of grain which, if based on the law given by God to the ancient Israelites concerning the observance of the Sabbath, was unlawful to do on the Sabbath day. Yet, Christ justified the action of His disciples by informing the Pharisees of what David and His men had done during the time of Abiathar, the high priest. Then Christ emphatically declared:
"... 'The Sabbath was made for the good of human beings; they were not made for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." (Mk. 2:27-28, Ibid.)
Christ justified what the disciples did and yet, in so doing, He did not sin (cf. I Pt. 2:21-22), thus proving that the people in the Christian dispensation are not bound to keep the Sabbath.
Hence, the vaunted claim of the Seventh-day Adventists regarding the alleged continuing validity of the observance of the Sabbath remains a claim based on the erroneous understanding of the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
To insist in observing the Sabbath which is no longer commanded in the Christian era is a violation of the teachings of God.
PASUGO GOD'S MESSAGE | OCTOBER 1998 | PAGES 22-23