In Part 1 of How Keeping the Jewish Sabbath was Abolished in Christianity, we looked at the command to keep Shabbat (Sabbath) and why.
We looked at a couple of Christianity’s arguments that are presently used to justify no longer keeping Shabbat.
We looked at Luke and how he stated that:
On Shabbat the women rested, in obedience to the commandment
which is significant since Luke wrote this 45-70 years after the crucifixion of Yeshua. Had it been abolished even then, you would think he would have written something a little different or omitted it completely. If you believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then this is significant for you because you realize that God also inspired this very line too.
I have given this brief summary of part 1 because this is where a majority of people believe that the Sabbath (Shabbat) was abrogated – at Yeshua’s death.
It is with this summary that I offer the following:
How Keeping the Jewish Sabbath was Abolished in Christianity:
Let’s start with Yeshua (Jesus). What does His actions or words tell us about the Jewish Sabbath being abolished?
Luke 4:16 (CJB)
16 Now when he went to Natzeret,
where he had been brought up,
on Shabbat he went to the synagogue as usual.
He stood up to read,
This tells us that it was Yeshua’s custom to go to synagogue on Shabbat. He read from the scroll of the prophet Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah). He then sat down. When a Rabbi (teacher) read from the Torah, he stood. If he had something important to say about what he had read, he sat down. The place where he sat down would have been Moshe’s seat (the throne of Torah) – it would be understood by those in attendance that He was in a position of authority – that by sitting He was going to expound on what He had just read from Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) 61:1-2 and 58:6 which states:
Isaiah 61:1-2 (CJB)
1 The Spirit of Adonai Elohim is upon me,
because Adonai has anointed me to announce good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted;
to proclaim freedom to the captives,
to let out into light those bound in the dark;
2 to proclaim the year of the favor of Adonai and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn,
Isaiah 58:6 (CJB)
6 “Here is the sort of fast I want —
releasing those unjustly bound,
untying the thongs of the yoke,
letting the oppressed go free,
breaking every yoke,
You have to remember something here – Yeshua didn’t read from the Newer Covenant (New Testament) . . . there wasn’t one! It hadn’t been written yet! The Hebrew Bible was all there was. So expound He did:
Luke 4:20-21 (CJB)
20 After closing the scroll and returning it to the shammash (deacon or attendant),
he sat down;
and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21 He started to speak to them:
“Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled!”
Doesn’t seem to be abolished at this point since it was His “custom,” does it? What about after His death? It would seem that if it had been abolished at His death, that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) would have guided them towards that, doesn’t it? Instead we see them observing the Sabbath day’s journey:
Acts 1:12 (CJB)
12 Then they returned the Shabbat-walk distance
from the Mount of Olives to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).
From this simple statement (Sabbath day’s walk), we know that Sha’ul observed Shabbat. We have numerous accounts of him attending synagogue such as the following:
Acts 17:1-3 (CJB)
1 After passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia,
Sha’ul and Sila came to Thessalonica,
where there was a synagogue.
2 According to his usual practice,
Sha’ul went in; and on three Shabbats
he gave them drashes from the Tanakh, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah
had to suffer and rise again from the dead,
and that “this Yeshua whom I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.”
Just like with Yeshua where it was His custom to attend synagogue, we see the same thing with Sha’ul. This shouldn’t surprise anyone – Yeshua and Sha’ul were Jewish. Yes, it really is that simple.
Sha’ul was born 2 years after Yeshua’s death. By the time he was speaking in the synagogues, many years had passed since Yeshua’s death which tells us that Shabbat (Sabbath) doesn’t seem to be abrogated at Yeshua’s death according to the customs of Sha’ul and others many years after Yeshua’s death.
The writer of Hebrews states something startling. It has been allegorized, explained away and flat rejected by many apologists. I am not here to debate those arguments. I will make some points though that I think are significant:
Hebrews 3:12 (CJB)
12 Watch out, brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you
an evil heart lacking trust,
which could lead you to apostatize from the living God!
If repentance is turning from sin towards God, isn’t this verse the antithesis of that? Doesn’t apostatize in the context of this verse say the opposite? Doesn’t it say or at least imply turning from God towards sin? It goes on to say in the next verse as a result of the deceit of sin you will become hardened:
Hebrews 3:13 (CJB)
13 Instead, keep exhorting each other every day, as long as it is called Today,
so that none of you will become hardened by the deceit of sin.
You have gone with me this far so let’s take a moment and examine ourselves. Why do we get angry when someone points out something that seems to be in contradiction to what we have accepted to be true concerning religious dogma or tradition? Is it righteous indignation? Are we defending the faith? Is it fear? Fear that we will be tricked? Fear that we have been wrong? Fear that we will have to face something we aren’t ready too face? Maybe you have fear that brother Bill is a nutjob and you don’t know how to help him . . . Let’s continue while being mindful that we may in fact already be in a hardened condition or at least bristling up at this point:
Hebrews 3:17-4:1 (CJB)
17 And with whom was God disgusted for forty years?
Those who sinned — yes, they fell dead in the Wilderness!
18 And to whom was it that he swore that they would not enter his rest?
Those who were disobedient.
19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of lack of trust.
1 Therefore, let us be terrified of the possibility that,
even though the promise of entering his rest remains,
any one of you might be judged to have fallen short of it;
Yes, we can fall short of entering His rest because of our own lack of trust – our own disobedience – our own hardness. The writer of Hebrew continues:
Hebrews 4:2 (CJB)
2 for Good News has also been proclaimed to us,
just as it was to them.
But the message they heard didn’t do them any good,
because those who heard it did not combine it with trust.
40 years? This is talking about the exodus and all the grumbling, you probably know the story. Maybe in your mind, you see Moshe as Charlton Heston. I will summarize it with the following statement to save time – “We wish we were back in Egypt!” Not exactly a statement of trust, eh? Let’s continue. I am going to expand this verse with the actual verse that is quoted so that you can see some context:
Hebrews 4:3 (CJB and amplified by me)
3 For it is we who have trusted who enter the rest.
It is just as he said,
Psalm 95:10-11 (CJB)
10 For forty years I loathed that generation;
‘This is a people whose hearts go astray,
they don’t understand how I do things.’
11 Therefore I swore in my anger that they would not enter my rest.”
He swore this even though his works have been in existence since the founding of the universe.
I have to confess – I don’t understand how He does things either. However, I do trust Him, and in the end, trust seems to be the important point here based on the text. We are again told that “God rested on the 7th day (Shabbat) from all of his works,” and then the text kind of pokes us in the eye if we carefully pay attention to it ( I have amplified this one too):
Hebrews 4:6-7 (CJB and amplified by me)
6 Therefore, since it still remains for some to enter it,
and those who received the Good News earlier did not enter,
7 he again fixes a certain day,
saying through David, so long afterwards, in the text already given,
Psalm 95:6-9 (CJB)
6 Come, let’s bow down and worship;
let’s kneel before Adonai who made us.
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people in his pasture,
the sheep in his care.
If only today you would listen to his voice:
8 “Don’t harden your hearts,
as you did at M’rivah,
as you did on that day at Massah in the desert,
9 when your fathers put me to the test;
they challenged me,
even though they saw my work.
Verse 7 and 8 is what is referenced by the writer of Hebrews. I included verse 6 and 9 to add to the context of the understanding here. This is about disobedience – it is about testing God in that disobedience. We are shown by the writer of Hebrews, using the text as the proofs for his argument that:
- Disobedience is based on a lack of trust in God.
- That a lack of trust can cause us to turn away from God (apostatize).
- That we are unable to enter his rest when we are being disobedient.
- That we can enter his rest by combining the message with trust.
Therefore we get to one of the most difficult passages in the text for those that believe that Sabbath has been abrogated:
Hebrews 4:8-11 (CJB)
8 For if Y’hoshua had given them rest,
God would not have spoken later of another “day.”
9 So there remains a Shabbat-keeping for God’s people.
10 For the one who has entered God’s rest
has also rested from his own works,
as God did from his.
11 Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest;
so that no one will fall short because of the same kind of disobedience.
Verse 9 is significant. Many have allegorized it and explained it away. I am not going to go into those battles because we will soon see in part 3 that the church around 350 AD still recognized the Sabbath as distinct from the Lord’s Day – how? You will have to wait to see in Part 3!