PART 1 The Seventh Day Sabbath
The purpose in writing about the topic of the 7th Day Sabbath or any other biblical topic is to allow the reader to look at this subject from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, see the related verses that pertain to it, and to be able to make up their own mind concerning whether observing the 7th Day Sabbath is to be observed by Christians or not. Some will say that observing the 7th Day Sabbath is for today, because this is the teaching that their church promotes, so therefore it must be true. Others might say their church does not promote observing the 7th Day Sabbath, but promotes observing Sunday. And still others might say who cares whether you observe the Sabbath or Sunday, as long as you are assembling to worship the Lord. I believe that if the church we are attending advocates observing the 7th Day Sabbath, we should know what the scriptural basis is for supporting this belief. And conversely if the church we are attending advocates observing Sunday as the day of worship, we should also know what the scriptural basis is for supporting this belief.In Acts 17:10-12, Paul and Silas have left Thessalonica and arrived in the city of Berea. They entered the local synagogue and preached unto them the gospel. What they found was that the Bereans were willing to listen and examine as to whether the promises and types (of the Old Testament) corresponded with the alleged fulfillment in the person, work, and sufferings of Jesus Christ. In other words, the Bereans made a careful and exact research against the scriptures in order to see if what Paul said agreed with what the Scriptures said.1
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Beroea: who when they were come thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed; also of the Greek women of honorable estate, and of men, not a few.
Shouldn’t we have this same mindset? Like the Bereans, we should be attentive and respectful concerning the doctrinal teaching from those in leadership. However, we should also examine what is said by means of scriptural analysis in accordance with the leading and guiding into all truth by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This topic will be presented according to opposing views. Don’t be afraid of this approach. Examine the scriptures concerning both of the perspectives presented. If you initially believed that observing the 7th Day Sabbath is for today, and you still believe this, then fine. If you initially believed that observing the 7th Day Sabbath is for today, and you have decided to change your mind about this view, then fine. If you changed your mind, hopefully this will not cause you to express anger toward the view which is still being espoused by those in leadership. I would hope there would be an opportunity for you to share your changed view with them in humility and kindness with the result being that a dialogue takes place which fosters an exchange of scriptural ideas in the hope of further clarifying this topic according to a scriptural foundation. Before we take a look at various scriptures which pertain to this subject, I would like to present to you one of the major reasons as to why there are at least two different views not only in relation to this study, but also in relation to most biblical topics.
CHAPTER 2There Are Two Ways to Formulate a View on Any Doctrinal Topic
Before we attempt to read about these two ways, we are going to take a look at a very important word, which is called dispensation. Let’s define it and then take a look at where it is found in scripture. Dispensation: A dispensation is a period of human history defined in terms of divine revelation.2 The doctrine of dispensations is the vehicle by which believers living at a specific time can orient to God’s will, plan, and purpose for their lives.3There are two words which we will take a look at from Acts 1:6-7. One of which is where the word dispensations comes from.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
The background of these verses is that just before Christ ascended into heaven, his disciples asked him about when he would restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus responded by saying it was not for them to know the times or the seasons. The word times is from the Greek word chronous and it refers to time as a succession of events, one following the other in chronological order.4 The other Greek word is seasons which is from the Greek word kairous, which denotes an era, a system, or order of chronology.5 This noun is frequently used for the organization of historical events in their dispensational categories.6 So, there you have it. The word dispensations comes from the word seasons (kairous).
1. Dispensational This idea states that time is divided into eras or dispensations. A dispensation is a period of time in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different biblical covenants.
A dispensationalist believes that human history is divided into seven dispensations.
1. The Age of the Gentiles: a period of time from Adam and Eve to the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses.2. The Age of Israel: from the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses to the birth of Jesus Christ.3. The Age of the Hypostatic Union: from the birth of Christ to the day of Pentecost.4. The Church Age: from the day of Pentecost to the rapture of the church.5. The Age of Tribulation: from the rapture of the church to Christ’s Second Coming (return to earth).6. The Millennial Age: from Christ’s return to earth to the end of his 1000 year reign. 7. The Eternal State: eternity.
According to the dispensationalist, the view on any biblical topic is to be derived from the scriptures that relate to that particular period of time. Some examples of a dispensational viewon various biblical topics are as follows.
Example 1: Tithing (a mandate to give a tenth of; a way to give of one’s sustenance). During the Age of Israel, firstfruits, tithing, and free will offerings were the protocol for giving under the institution of the Mosaic Law. However, during the Church Age, the age in which we currently live, tithing is no longer the protocol for giving. Giving is based on one’s free will while operating under the leading, guiding, and prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Example 2: Addressing sin which is committed by those in leadership. During the Age of Israel, King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had her husband, Uriah, killed. God dealt with David personally by sending the prophet Nathan to disclose to him the consequences for his sins. Under the Mosaic Law, the penalty was the same for committing adultery or murder, which was death. David was responsible to God alone concerning the addressing of and the consequences for his sins.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightiest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalms 51:4)
During the Church Age, the age that we currently live in, if a person in leadership (e.g. apostle,prophet, evangelist, pastor-teacher) commits adultery, then Matthew18:15-17 is to be followed.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
1 Timothy 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
The witness (eye or ear) to the sin of someone in leadership should approach him/her alone inorder to address the matter. If an admission of guilt is made, the issue is resolved. If the personin leadership refuses to admit guilt, then the person, who originally met with him/her, should goback and meet with him/her again, this time bringing another eye or ear witness with them. If an admission of guilt is made, the issue is resolved. If the person in leadership still refuses toadmit guilt again, then the issue is to be brought before those of the church who have beenassigned to handle these kinds of issues. If it is determined that the person in leadership hascommitted such sin and still refuses to admit guilt, then he/she is to be removed from the assembly indefinitely. If he/she does admit guilt, then a church censure would be imposed, which would set forth the amount of time that he/she could to be removed from participating in anyaspect of the assembly. 2. Non-DispensationalPrinciples, policies, traditions or particular emphasis are continued to be promulgated orpromoted throughout history. Under this approach, those in leadership can use any verse of scripture as the basis to formulate a view on any topic. Whatever view is derived should serve as the basis for interpreting any other verses which pertain to the same topic. Some examples of a non-dispensational approach on various topics are as follows.
Example 1: Tithing as instituted during the Age of Israel is still operative today. After the titheis given, the believer may follow this up by giving a free will offering. Any verse which relates to giving will be interpreted as referring to tithing/offering unless it is specified otherwise.
Example 2: Addressing sin which is committed by those in leadership. Addressing someone in leadership, who has committed an egregious sin, is to be looked at in light of how God dealt with David, the king of Israel in respect to having committed adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband Uriah murdered. David said unto the Lord, Against thee and thee only have I sinned in Psalms 51:4. Any of the verses, which are contained in the New Testament epistles that relate to the issue of addressing the sin of someone in leadership, are to be interpreted as to how God dealt with those, who were in the leadership positions of the Old Testament. When someone in leadership (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers) commits a sin, such as adultery, he/she is only accountable to God and God alone.
The verses that follow in this study will be looked at from both a dispensational and non-dispensational perspective. However, the scriptures will be grouped in a dispensational manner.
There are four dispensations that this topic will be looked at from:
a. The Age of the Gentiles: a period of time from Adam and Eve to the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses.b. The Age of Israel: from the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses to the birth of Jesus Christ.c. The Age of the Hypostatic Union: from the birth of Christ to the day of Pentecost.d. The Church Age: from the day of Pentecost to the rapture of the church.
For a non-dispensationalist, the sections that are grouped dispensationally should not interfere in his/her approach as to their choosing of a particular verse or verses from anywhere in the bible to support their perspective. At the end of each dispensational section, I will provide a summary. Along with this will be included a brief outlook of the topic at hand from the perspective of a dispensationalist and a non-dispensationalist as to how each of them would view the such based on the scriptures, which had previously been covered.
CHAPTER 2The Age of the Gentiles
From the creation of Adam and Eve to the Exodus
This period of time encompasses the creation of man and the fall of man. Evil ran rampant after the fall. After a period of time, God decided to destroy all of the inhabitants of the human race by means of a flood because of universal wickedness except for a God-fearing man named Noah and his family. Following the flood, the human race repopulated, and was of one language. God confused mankind’s language at the Tower of Babel effectively separating the human race into groups. Subsequently, God called a man named Abram, a Gentile, to be the father of the Jewish race. He had a son named Isaac, who had a son named Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons, who were the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. At some point in time, Jacob and his family lived in the land of Canaan, when a great famine arose. One of Jacob’s sons named Joseph, who Jacob thought had died years earlier, became food commissioner of Pharaoh in Egypt. When Jacob and his sons came before him for food sustenance, Joseph recognized them and made himself known to them. Eventually, his family left Canaan and dwelt in Egypt. As the years passed, a new Pharaoh ruled over the land and their descendants became his slaves. This captivity lasted for 430 years. It was at this time that God determined to free his people from this bondage. And so, he raised up a man named Moses to bring them out from their captivity.
Try to remember as you proceed in this study:A non-dispensationalist will look at the instances in which observing the 7th Day Sabbath was mentioned throughout the Bible, and will choose those ideas that support the perpetuation of this practice for the New Testament believer to observe.A dispensationalist will look at the instances in which observing the 7th Day Sabbath was mentioned, and determine from the dispensation at hand as to whether there is scriptural support to observe it.
Definition of the word SabbathThe noun is shabat, meaning the day of rest. The verb is shabbath meaning to rest from labor or cessation from exertion. The Jews referred to their days of the week as the first of the Sabbath cycle, the second of the Sabbath cycle, etc. The seventh day is known as the Shabat (Sabbath). Each of these days began and ended at sunset. The first day of the week followed the Shabat, the seventh day, at sunset. On the 7th day Sabbath and the Day of Atonement every occupation was to rest. Not only were ploughing and reaping, pressing wine and carrying goods, bearing burdens, carrying on trade, and holding markets prohibited, but also collecting manna, gathering wood, and kindling fire for the purpose of boiling or baking.7 Whatever could have been finished yesterday, or postponed till to-morrow is the idea to keep in mind. For instance, it was not lawful for judges to give a hearing to two litigants, but if anyone had violently assaulted his neighbor, it was allowable to give relief to the unoffending person, because the necessity of the case admitted of no delay. It was not lawful to cook food for your guests, which should have been prepared the day before, but if an ox or an ass had fallen into a pit it was to be taken out from it, because aid would have been too late on the morrow.8 So, all work except for acts of mercy, necessity, and worship were forbidden on the Sabbath.9 Let’s begin our study by asking this question.Was God’s rest on the seventh day of creation considered a Sabbath rest?
1. God rested on the seventh day:Suggested Reading: Genesis 1:1-2; 2:2Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
In the beginning, God began to create everything in the universe including the earth. Initially, the earth was considered as the grand mass of matter without arrangement. Over a period of 6 days, God brought forth light and darkness; the atmosphere; the composition of the earth as comprised of land and sea; every living creature of the sea, every living creature of the land; every winged fowl; and man and woman. On the seventh day, God rested or ceased to create.
Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
Even though this day is not called a Sabbath (Shabat) day, many believe that God’s 7th day rest is prophetic of the 7th Day Sabbath. The analogy being that as God rested from his works on the 7th day, so was man to rest from his works (manual labor) on the 7th day Sabbath.
●Many believe that God’s 7th day rest was prophetic of the 7th Day Sabbath. As God rested from his works on the 7th day, so was man to rest from his works (manual labor) on the 7th day Sabbath. Genesis 1:1-2; 2:2
How would the dispensationalist or non-dispensationalist use these verses in relation to their perspective on this biblical topic?
The dispensationalist would not use any of the ideas concerning God resting on the 7th day as a basis for instituting or supporting the idea that the New Testament believer should observe the 7th Day Sabbath. They will wait until verses from the Age of the Church, which is the age we currently live in, are used to either support or not support the continuation of this practice.
The non-dispensationalist would indicate that God resting on the 7th day was prophetic of mankind observing of the 7th Day Sabbath, which was instituted when Israel became a nation under the institution of the Mosaic Law. They would infer that if this observance was so important to God that He used the 7th day to signify his own rest, then this type of observance should continue to be kept by the New Testament believer.
Before we proceed on, let me mention one more thing. Not everyone who is a non-dispensationalist will support the idea that a New Testament believer must observe the 7th day Sabbath. It’s interesting to note that many non-dispensationalists will use Old Testament verses to support a particular view which was instituted under the Mosaic Law. However, this seems not to be one of them. Some would argue that the reason they don’t support this view is because there is no longer in existence a temple in Jerusalem as it was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. I believe there could be another reason for not supporting this view.
If we were to take a look at the Jewish day, what we would find out is that each day began and ended at sunset (6:00pm) and was described as the first day after the Sabbath, the second day after the Sabbath, etc. The Roman day, however, began and ended at Midnight (12:00pm) and its days were given names, i.e. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Melding these two ways of describing time we could say that the Jewish Sabbath would begin on Friday at 6:00pm and end on Saturday at 6:00pm.
With this in mind, when would the New Testament saints gather together for worship?
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 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.
The New Testament saints decided to gather on the first day of the week, the day following the Sabbath, which began after 6:00pm on Saturday night. Over time, when Christianity spread throughout Europe, Sunday was considered the first day of the week.
Revelations 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
Scriptures indicate that the reason why Christians met on the first day of the Jewish week was because it was considered the day Christ was raised from the dead, the day which is otherwise called the Lord’s day. There didn’t appear to be a commandment as such as to having to meet on this day for worship. This was probably decided by the leaders of the early church.
1UBS New Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 1 Jan. 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.2R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1989).3R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1989).4R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1989).5R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1989).6R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1989).7Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 1 Jan. 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>. 8Calvin's Commentaries Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 1 Jan. 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>. 9Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 5 Jan. 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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