This is the sabbath, part 2.

God himself says this about the Sabbath.

Let us go straight to the Ten Commandments again and repeat what is said about the Sabbath there. God’s fourth commandment as we find it in Exodus 20,8-11 actually contains God’s seal or mark because here it is revealed who the creator is, his title, and his domain (what he created) and why this seventh day of the week is so important to the Lord God: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: 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.

As we see from the text, the Sabbath was instituted already at creation, and about 3500 years ago it was founded in the commandments. This alone should be enough for most people to see that it really is the seventh day of the week which is the Lord’s holy Sabbath. When the seventh day of the week, Saturday, is blessed and sanctified by the Lord and at the same time is enshrined in the Ten Commandments, it is no longer irrelevant which day it is. There is no other day that has such a mention in the Bible. The word Sabbath in one form or another occurs in 138 verses in the Bible, and the term the seventh day is used in 48 verses, a total of 186 verses these terms have been used (KJV), and in addition a number of references to the Sabbath without using any of these terms.

Below are some verses that tell us something about what God says about the Sabbath, the seventh day. Here it is explained why God instituted the Sabbath, what the Sabbath is, how we should relate to this special day and some promises to those who keep God’s Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep for it [is] a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that [ye] may know that I [am] the LORD that doth sanctify you. Exodus 31,13

Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I [am] the LORD your God. Leviticus 19,3

Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Deuteronomy 5,12

You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses. Nehemiah 9,13-14

Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy. Ezekiel 20,12

There are almost countless objections to the Sabbath being the seventh day of the week, our Saturday, and one of the many objections raised is as follows: That the Sabbath (the day of rest) should be on a Saturday, or on any other particular day, is not mentioned anywhere. On the other hand, it is mentioned that one should rest on the seventh day. I also understand that the Jews, and some others, kept and keep the seventh day on a Saturday. But it is up to the individual church to decide which day should be number seven. I do not think that God cares about which day is the seventh, but rather that we rest for a day after we have worked six days.

My answer to this objection is this: This tells the following about those who claim this that they care little about the wording of God’s fourth commandment. Paul concludes in Romans 7,12 as follows: So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. In other words, the law, to which Paul refers and which consists of the Ten Commandments, is good enough as it is and is immutable and has eternal validity. We must also take upon ourselves the order of creation as it is told in the Bible, with creation from the first day to the sixth day and with rest on the seventh day. Neither I nor anyone else can change this, it is just the way it is. God did not begin His week of creation with rest, nor did He rest on the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth day, but He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had made (Genesis 2,2). Not because God was tired, but to set an example to follow for the man He had created in his image.

Therefore, it is not unimportant or insignificant which day we keep holy. By keeping holy a day other than the day God himself has ordained, it is like saying to the Creator that he was wrong, and that God does not understand such a thing! Just look at what God Himself says about such thoughts through the prophet Isaiah: Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? (Isaiah 29,16)

But let us then transfer the mindset in the first objection to some of the other nine commandments, and we get a total anarchy. The commandments, the law, were given for us to learn what sin was. When the fourth commandment commands us to keep the seventh day of the week as the Lord’s holy Sabbath, we break the fourth commandment if we choose to keep Sunday, the first day of the week, as the Sabbath. Let me take a few examples.

1) Let us look at the eighth, ninth and tenth commandments:

The eighth commandment is: Thou shalt not steal. Here it says nothing about which people I should not steal from, or what I cannot steal. Is it then okay to steal from those who are not believers, but only what they have in abundance?

The ninth commandment is: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Nor does it say anything here about which of my neighbours I will not falsely testify against. Is it okay for you if I testify falsely against my neighbour who is an atheist? Because it cannot be so important with someone who does not share my faith !?

The tenth commandment is: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s. Nor is it mentioned here which of my neighbour I should not covet anything from. Can I covet the car of my neighbour who lives on my right side? It is not specifically mentioned that I should not covet anything from the one who lives on my right side.

Many will probably say that these are silly examples. But are they really so silly? Or are there relevant issues considering that it is not so important which day one keeps holy as his Sabbath? The eighth commandment states firmly and unequivocally that we should not steal. Not from anyone. Not under any circumstances. The ninth commandment just as clearly states that we are not to testify falsely – which is the same as lying, therefore our speech must be truthful, without falsehood, and it applies to all people. The tenth commandment states in the same way as the other two examples, we should not desire anything our neighbour has. We can therefore not compromise on the content of the eighth, ninth or tenth commandment. These commandments must be kept as they are, not a single change or adaptation is allowed.

2) Another example might be this:

I get an invitation to a party for a friend of mine to mark a special day, and to celebrate his birthday with pomp and splendour on Saturday. In this case, I take the same attitude as they have, who are not so careful with what day is the Sabbath of God, so I choose to decide for myself that it does not matter what day I choose to go in his party, and instead to go to the party on Saturday, I therefore wait until Sunday to go to him because this suits me best. How do you think he would react? Had he asked other guests to go home again because I was absent, or had he held his party regardless of whether I was there or not? This friend of mine had probably been disappointed that I chose not to come to him on his big day. Now, it so happens that God has given us an invitation to come to Him because He wants to celebrate a special day with us, and that is the day that God Himself blessed and sanctified, something He has not done with anyone another day.

3) A third example might be as follows:

Another friend of mine buys two tickets to a national football match and gives me one because he wants to go to this international match with me. This match is to be played on Wednesday. I am telling my friend I want to go to this match on Thursday instead of Wednesday. Can I expect the match to be played on Thursday instead of Wednesday just because it suits me best? If I am going to see the match, I have to relate to what is says on the ticket and be there at the specified place at the specified day and time. God has also given us a ticket, a ticket that He has bought and paid for us, and He wishes with all His heart that we will take time to come to Him on the day written on this ticket.

It is also that simple with the Sabbath commandment. If I want to keep God’s Sabbath, I have to relate to what is written about this in the Bible in the same way I have to relate to what day is on the invitation I received to my friend’s party or on the ticket to the national football match. I cannot expect anyone to postpone a party or a football match just because I choose another day than the specified day, be it my friend’s party or this national football match. So it is with the Sabbath of God. Although God is present to us every day of the week and 24 hours every day, I cannot expect God to be especially present on another day than the one he has blessed and sanctified. Only the presence of God can make something, such as a special day, holly. It says that we should do our work six days every week (Exodus 20,9), and it says that we should not do our own ways on the seventh day (Isaiah 58,13). We can have a rich fellowship with God through the first six days of the week, from Sunday to Friday, which are the days set aside for our work. On the seventh day we will give up our work to get closer to God than we do during the first six days of the week. Then we will feel the rich blessings that will flow down upon us from God when we keep God’s Sabbath in a way which it is for God’s pleasure.

If we look at the story of Passover in the New Testament in the light of Judaism and our own tradition, we find clearly defined which day Jesus died on the cross and which day he rose from the dead. Jesus died on the cross on the day the Jews call the day of preparation, a day that ever since has been called Good Friday. In other words, Jesus died on a Friday, and this day is thus the day of preparation, and the name refers to the day when the Jews prepared for the Sabbath. Furthermore, we know that when it says that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, we know from Jewish tradition that this was Sunday.

It is therefore very easy to know which day is the seventh day of the week. We must accept that the Jewish tradition is to be trusted. The Jews eventually became what we call slaves of the law, in other words they made themselves slaves under the law that was given to them to find the way to freedom and salvation, and which Jacob calls the law of liberty (James 1,25; 2,12 ). To avoid breaking the Sabbath commandment, the Jewish scribes introduced over 600 different rules and laws that required and forbade Jews to perform various things so that they could more easily keep the Sabbath commandment.

The objection has then become a contradiction for those who claim that it is not mentioned anywhere that the Sabbath (the day of rest) should be on Saturday, or on any other specific day. Because it has been explicitly stated that one should rest on the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday.

By the way: It was not until the first of January 1973 that the calendar in Norway, and large parts of the western world, was changed so that Sunday was placed as the last day of the week, and thus adapted to the pattern and the change initiated by the emperor Constantine in the fourth century, a change that Roman Catholic bishops and popes have pressed to their chests throughout history. However, many countries still adhere to the original calendar with Sunday being the first day of the week. Paradoxically, this occurs primarily in countries that we call Catholic countries in Latin America.

There are many who claim that the Sabbath was changed by Jesus ‘resurrection precisely because he rose on the first day of the week, and because Jesus’ resurrection is necessary for our salvation. But consider the following statement: It is a condition, however, that Jesus died for us, for without dying Jesus could not rise again, and therefore we can say that Friday should be the Lord’s holly and venerable day, the Sabbath. However, a Sunday keeper does not want to know about this argument and calls this a substitute argument. The fact of the matter is that the Sabbath from the creation was a sign that God had ended his creative work. Man was created on the sixth day of the week in the week of creation and crowned the process of creation. Man was perfect in a perfect world. God had finished his work, declared that it was very good, blessed and sanctified the seventh day, and then God rested on the seventh day together with man. Later in the story, in the week of Passover when Jesus died, we find a parallel to this. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the first day of the week, the second, third, fourth and fifth day of the week Jesus works in Jerusalem where the last thing he does is institute the Lord´s Supper. When Jesus hangs on the cross, on the sixth day of the week, when He had finished His work on earth he cries out in a loud voice just before he dies it is finished. Jesus himself thinks that the work he had done was exceedingly good, as He stated after He had created man. Then he was laid in the tomb, still on the sixth day and before the Sabbath. The seventh day of the week began, and Jesus rested in the tomb all the seventh day, the Sabbath day, just as He did during the week of creation where He rested the whole Sabbath day. That Jesus first rose on Sunday, the first day of the week, is something we should note.

Some of the promises that God gives to those who keep the seventh day, Saturday, as God’s holy Sabbath as the Sabbath commandment asks us to do.

There is no thing God will not give us if we keep His law, which includes keeping the seventh day of the week as the Lord’s Sabbath, and God will lead us to the place He has chosen for a dwelling for His name, and it will always go well for those who, in addition to keeping all other commandments, laws, rules and regulations, keep the Sabbath commandment. Here is a small excerpt from what God says through the Bible about the Sabbath and the commandments.

Ye shall keep My Sabbaths 1) and reverence my sanctuary: I [am] the LORD. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26,2-44

If ye love Me, keep My commandments 2) John 14,15                      

Before we move on, I want to think a little high about two expressions, God’s Ten Commandments and My Sabbaths. We find both expressions in the Bible, but why is it said this way? Is it not obvious that the commandments are God’s commandments and that the Sabbath is God’s Sabbath?

Well, I think there is a special reason for this. God, who sees the end from the beginning, saw that sometime in the future, long after this was stated and written down in the Bible, we would have an alternative to both God’s Ten Commandments and God’s Sabbath. Today we see that this has happened. We have on one side God’s Ten Commandments and Gods Sabbath, and on the other hand we have the pope´s Ten Commandments and the Pope´s Sabbath.

Regarding the commandments, see below:

1) The sabbath: What evil thing [is] this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Nehemiah 13,17 …//… everyone that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant Isaiah 56,6 …//…  and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Isaiah 58,13.

What day did God bless and sanctified? What day is the Lord’s Sabbath? What day is the Lord’s honourable day? The seventh day of the week is the day the Lord blessed and sanctified and this is the glorious day of God because that day God rested after the work he had done when he created.

2) The commandments: keep all my commandments always Deuteronomy 5,29 …//… keep my commandments Nehemiah 1,9 …//… he that hath my commandments, and keepeth them John 14,21 …//… if ye keep my commandments John 15,10

When such arguments are presented, many people are quick to make the following objection: Do not forget that the law has changed, and that Jesus fulfilled it when he died on the cross! However, this raises a number of questions.

Which law has changed?

What has changed in the law?

What does Jesus himself say about this?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5,17-19, Jesus says the following about the law:

a) Verse 17: Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (See also Romans 3,31.)

Here there are many who misunderstand, or misinterpret, what is actually said. It is the choice of the word fulfil that makes this more difficult than it should be. The Greek word translated to fulfil is plêrês (plêro´sai) which means to; fulfil (in the sense of filling something up); complete; satisfy; to make replete; (literally) to cram or fill up a net; level up a hollow; (figuratively) to furnish an office; finish a period or task; verify; accomplish; fill (in the meaning of filling up); make fully; make perfect.

It emerges from the context that it is not to fulfil the law in such a sense that it is invalidated after it has been fulfilled, but that the law is made perfect by making the meaning of it more clear and elaborated. Jesus goes on to say in verses 21 and 22: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Here Jesus is right on point. He begins by explaining the sixth commandment. He is thus referring to God’s ten commandments. He says that after the Jewish people received the commandments, they eventually understood the sixth commandment, so that to kill meant to kill, neither more nor less, (Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill), before continuing to say: But !!! I tell you … … and then He goes on saying that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment, and this is how Jesus fulfils the law – in the sense of filling up the law with an expanded content and make it perfect. There is probably no one who believes that Jesus filled up the content of the law and made the meaning more clear just to fulfil the law by destroy it three years later.

b) Verse 18: For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (See also Luke 16,17; 1 Peter 1,25.)

To describe the importance and validity of the law, Jesus refers here to the smallest letter or a single tittle. Interestingly, the smallest letter in both the Hebrew and Greek alphabets is the same, in Hebrew it is called jot, and in Greek it is called jota. A tittle, or the smallest dot with which it is translated in some editions, is a small chin or line that was used to distinguish some very similar Hebrew letters. Jesus says that not even such a small and relatively insignificant sign should be removed from the law or the commandments until everything is fulfilled. And what is to be fulfilled? The answer to that is the whole plan of salvation, and it will not be fulfilled until Jesus returns to order to deliver his faithful remnant.

c) Verse 19: Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (See also James 2,10.)

What is interesting here is what Jesus himself says about the consequences of not keeping the commandments and at the same time teaching others to do the same. The Ten Commandments are all part of this law Jesus came to fulfil (fill up) = to make perfect!

What Jesus did in his speech called the Sermon on the Mount was thus to sharpen the requirements of the law or tighten the requirements of the law and the meaning it has. Not even a dot or a tittle should perish in the law, and that must mean that the Sabbath as God instituted it at creation has neither been nor will be changed by God. The law, God’s ten commandments, as we have received them in the Old Testament, will in other words last until the last day as it has been since it was given to men, and for two reasons. First because God himself says it is so, and secondly because without the law we cannot find the way to God.

We can safely assume that just after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, they heard the Ten Commandments from God. All kingdoms and countries have their laws and rules, even the first humans had to have a set of rules and relate to them. Before humans ate the forbidden tree, they had only one law or commandment to obey. Then they lived in harmony with God. After sin, they lost the intimate contact they had with God, and sin took over the place in their hearts that God had before, and then they needed certain laws and commandments that could regulate their lives. The commandments were known to the first humans and were passed down through oral tradition from generation to generation, from the time of Adam until Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Now there are many who will erroneously claim that the people did not receive the Ten Commandments before at Sinai. What is true is that they got the commandments written down on two stone tablets at Sinai.

I do not mean that it is the law itself that saves us, but it tells us how to live and to stay on the path that leads to Heaven. It helps little to be saved and baptized if you do not let the letter of the law be a guide in your life. When Jesus then tells us that not the smallest letter or a single dot in the law will pass away – until everything has happened, well; then the ten commandments apply in their entirety and this includes the fourth commandment of the Sabbath as it was given by God first to Adam and Eve, and then 2500 years later at Sinai. Consequently, Saturday is still the seventh day of the week, and it is the Lord’s holy Sabbath and day of rest. In other words, no law has been changed.

The only change that occurred when Jesus died on the cross (the antitype) was that the symbolic acts that were practiced in Old Testament times (the type), ceased. All ritual sacrifices along with the Old Testament temple service had played their part. Today, Jesus Christ is our High Priest who at the same time brings forth the only sacrifice we need to be saved, namely himself.

Yet there are many who claim that the law does not apply to us because it says in Romans 6,14 that we are no longer under the law but under the grace. Those who make this argument seems to forget the introduction to verse 14 and the whole of verse 15, and thus deliberately ignore what these two verses are about. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Paul is saying here that sin shall not have dominion over us because we are under the grace of Jesus. This in no way repeals the law, because without the law we do not need God’s grace. God’s grace becomes part of us solely because we are lawbreakers – we fail to keep God’s ten commandments.

The law and the grace, and how they relate to each other

What does this mean for me?

1) The law:

Paul says in Romans 7,12: Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good..

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it says that they sinned. Sin is transgression, in other words, they transgressed the law of God. Paul explains this in Romans 5,12 where he says that … … by one man sin entered into the world (Adam) … …

The law reflects the character of God and is as unchangeable and eternal as God himself. It has existed since eternity, and in addition to being as unchangeable and eternal as God, the law is holy, just, and good. The law thus expresses God’s good will and love and is a guideline that tells us how to live our lives in relation to God and how to live our lives in relation to our fellow human beings so that we can live the best possible life on earth.

But the law cannot save me, nor can I save myself even if I kept the whole law of God to the point all my life. Besides reflecting the character of God, the law is for me a guideline, or as a road map, a GPS, which shows me which path I must choose to reach the final goal. Salvation.

2) Grace:

In Ephesians 2,8 we find the following: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

The understanding of the word grace, as used in the Bible, has its roots in the autocratic monarchy in the Middle East and Asia. When a king, such as King David, showed mercy, or grace, to one of his subjects, it always meant that he personally intervened in that person’s life and did something for him that he could never have managed to do for himself, by that he, for example, forgave him all the debt. When we talk about the grace of God, or the grace of Jesus, it means to me that God or Jesus gives me something that I am never able to achieve by my own deeds, something I can never deserve. Grace is one of God’s gifts. God gives me something – salvation – and God forgives me all my sins. I can do nothing but accept this wonderful gift of grace because I am a sinner according to God’s commandments.

3) The connection between the law and grace:

In John 8,1-11 we find the story of the woman who was taken in adultery, and which the scribes and Pharisees presented to Jesus because they wanted to find something Jesus did wrong so they could arrest him. The law is clear that a woman who is caught in adultery should be stoned to death. Jesus knew what the scribes and Pharisees were looking for, so he did not answer the question of whether this woman should be stoned or not but said that he that is without sin – with reference to the law – should throw the first stone. None of those who accused the woman threw stones at her, but all of them left.

in verses 10 and 11 we find what it is all about: … Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord.

From the Bible, I understand that God does not forgive anyone who does not repent his/her sin. We can therefore safely assume that Jesus could see that the woman had repented of all her sins, and Jesus answered the woman and said: … Neither do I condemn thee, and in this way He places the woman safely under God’s forgiving grace, … … before He goes says: … go, and sin no more! with which Jesus places her under the law.

For me, this story is a good picture of how we should perceive the law and grace, and how we must see the connection between them. What comes first is that we sincere repent all the sins we have committed. This triggers God’s grace, which in turn leads to God forgive us and cover over the sins we have committed.

Another picture of how the law and grace relate to each other is this. I am out driving on the highway. I am in a hurry because I have to make an important meeting, my speed is way too high. The police stops me and will give me a large ticket, which is my well-deserved punishment for breaking the law. I admit my guilt and explain why I drove too fast. The policeman looks at me and says: I will let mercy go right this time, tear up the ticket and let me drive on.

When I was stopped by the policeman, he placed me under the law, and according to the law, I was to be punished. When the policeman says I do not have to pay the ticket and can continue driving, then he places me under grace, something I certainly did not deserve. But what do I do now? Do I continue to drive too fast to arrive in time for this meeting because the policeman has placed me under grace, or do I drive according to what the law says I can do? Although the police showed me mercy by not giving me this fine, the Road Traffic Act has not been repealed. The law still exists. Grace does not repeal the law. I was shown mercy despite breaking the law.

So it is with our relationship with God. Because the law requires that he who breaks the law of God must take his punishment, which according to Paul is death, and because I am not able to pay the punishment required by the law, Jesus comes to me when I repent and repent of my sins and place me safe under His grace, with the message … go, and sin no more! This is what Jesus does when we come to him and ask forgiveness for our sins. We know we should not have committed these sins, yet we sin, and in this way we deserve all the punishment that the law imposes on us. But because Jesus loves us, He has in his great mercy taken the punishment that was ours, He died for us and through His death He has paid our debts, and the salvation He gives us is by grace…… and by grace alone, because: when I stood condemned, He took my place.

The Bible tells us through the law that we are sinners, but the law cannot help us. The law is only a mirror that tells us we need help and sends us to Jesus – who is the only one who can help us. Jesus is the source of grace. When we repent our sins, Jesus will forgive us and save us from the curse of the law, undeservedly by grace alone.

God’s covenants with mankind.

But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. Genesis 6,18

This is the first covenant God made with mankind. God promised to take care of all the people who went into the ark at God’s message (see Genesis 7,1). Later, God made several covenants with the people and we will look at them in turn and order.

God enters a new covenant with Noah. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that [is] with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This [is] the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that [is] with you, for perpetual generations; I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which [is] between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9,8-15

This pact is still valid, something we get confirmed every time we see the rainbow. This covenant was made because God repented that he had been so harsh that he wiped out all living things except Noah’s family and the animals they brought into the ark. This is a covenant between God and all life on earth for future generations to come.

God’s covenant made with Abraham. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This [is] my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. Genesis 17,7-11

Now there are probably many who will raise a finger to say: Listen, this applies explicitly to the Jews, because we are no longer circumcised in the flesh! It is both right and wrong. It is quite true that circumcision is not practiced by Christians, but still we Christians are circumcised, not in the flesh but in the heart. Even before Israel left Sinai, after receiving the Ten Commandments, God tells through Moses that there will be a future circumcision of the heart, and this is repeated several times:

a) And [that] I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Leviticus 26,41

b) Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart and be no more stiff-necked. Deuteronomy 10,16

c) And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. Deuteronomy 30,6

d) Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings. Jeremiah 4,4

Regarding this covenant with Abraham, it can be said that the covenant itself is of an eternal nature, but circumcision of the flesh was not an eternal ordinance. The circumcision of the flesh itself was a model of the ordinance that was to come after Jesus where we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and where we are circumcised in the heart at baptism. According to 1 Peter 3,20-21, baptism is a covenant of good conscience toward God: Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

It is clear from the verse passages as well. Already in Leviticus we read about what was to come, the circumcision of the heart, their uncircumcised hearts. Circumcision on the flesh, which was the outward sign of the covenant with God, is often used as an image of the conversion of the heart. In Deuteronomy it is said straight out, God will circumcise thine heart, and Jeremiah uses the term foreskin of the heart. This covenant, the circumcision, is an eternal covenant, it has admittedly changed character, but it is the same something that is clear from the scriptures and especially Deuteronomy 30,6. First, a visible sign of the covenant between God and man was given, carnal circumcision. Later this has been transformed into a spiritual circumcision as a sign of the conversion of the heart. So circumcision, whether it was a physical circumcision of the flesh or a spiritual circumcision of the heart, is an eternal covenant.

God’s covenant made with Moses. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, [for] a perpetual covenant. Exodus 31,16

This point too many people will contradict because this is a command given to the people of Israel as they walked in the wilderness. This raises a significant question. Who was Israel in ancient times, and who is Israel today? Israel is the name Jacob got when he fought with the Man before he met his brother Esau who wanted to avenge what Jacob did to him over 20 years earlier, (Genesis 32,22-32). In ancient times, Israel was both the name of Abraham’s grandson and Abraham’s descendants, and the Jews were one of the 12 tribes of Israel, after Judah, Jacob/Israel’s 4th son. But who is considered a Jew today?

Paul says the following about this in Romans 2,28-29: For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.. In plain language, this means that those of us who … are buried with Him by the baptism into death (Romans 6,4) are Jews according to Paul. Consequently, then, the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant God made with us, since we, still according to Paul, are Jews.

Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I [am] the LORD that sanctify them. Ezekiel 20,12

And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I [am] the LORD your God. Ezekiel 20,20

This covenant, too, is an everlasting covenant between God and his people. Words are used as from generation to generation and forever about this covenant as for the other two mentioned above, and I cannot understand why it should be different with this covenant, that is, to keep the Lord’s day of rest or Sabbath holy. Like God’s three memorials, there are three different covenants. Two of these covenants are easy to relate to, while the covenant God made with men that includes the Sabbath is almost impossible for most people to keep. Once again, I would argue that this is precisely because the Sabbath is enshrined in the Ten Commandments.

Let us also see what the book of Daniel says.

And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do [exploits]. Daniel 11,32

If we then read this verse on a general basis and in light of the fact that the Sabbath is the token on the covenant God made with Israel through Moses, it says that those who sin against the covenant, the covenant God made with men, do this because the devil lures them to apostasy with flatteries through their agents. We know from experience most of us that we like to hear what itches in the ear. It is not to be underestimated that it sounds very nice when lay people, bishops and popes say that it does not matter which day is kept holy, as long as one keeps a day holy – and then preferably Sunday, at least as long as it is not the Sabbath – Saturday. This is exactly what is warned against in Daniel 11,23, flatteries, words that itch in the ear and that people like to hear.

The consequence of not keeping the Sabbath of the Lord holy …

… or keep any other day as the Sabbath, as the majority of the world’s population do, both Christians and non-Christians, by calling Sunday, the first day of the week, the Sabbath.

Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked everyone in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded [them] to do; but they did [them] not. And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers. Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. Jeremiah 11,8-11

When Jeremiah prophesied this, it was a short time before the calamity struck Israel. The reason Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah was that the Jewish people had transgressed all the words of this covenant, including the Sabbath commandment. Here are some verses that say something about the punishment for not keeping God’s Sabbath.

But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, [but] that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it …//… And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. Leviticus 26,14-16.18

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Deuteronomy 28,15

And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that [were] round about them, [concerning] whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. 2 King 17,15

But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest [them] from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies; And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear. Nehemiah 9,28-29

Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which [if] a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. Ezekiel 20,21

The first day of the week.

The term the first day of the week occurs eight times in the Bible. Five times we find it used in connection with the resurrection of Jesus, which gives in-depth explanations of what day is the Sabbath, once when Jesus appeared to the disciples, once when Paul spoke in Troad and once when Paul organizes a fundraiser. Let us look at each instance in the order in which they appear in the Bible.

1) Matthew 28,1: In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first [day] of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

The Sabbath was over, it says, and we know that Jesus rose on the day of Passover, and this day of Passover we still celebrate on Sunday. In other words, Jesus rose on Sunday, the first day of the week, and then naturally the Sabbath was over, as it says here. In other words, Sunday has not yet become the Lord’s holy Sabbath. This is repeated and repeated in these five sections.

2) Mark 16,1-2: And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the [mother] of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first [day] of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Mark gives us some more information. He first says when the Sabbath was past, and in that lies the implication that it is after sunset on Saturday, and this was the first occasion that the women could go out and buy spices with which to anoint Jesus’ body and make all the necessary preparations for this in the evening after sunset. They could not do this earlier when the Sabbath occurs at sunset on Friday, which is called the day of preparation, and lasts until sunset on Saturday. Then he says that early in the morning on the first day of the week they came to the sepulchre, that is, early at sunrise on Sunday morning.

3) Marco 16,9: Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first [day] of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

It is also emphasized here that the first day of the week, which is Sunday, was the day Jesus rose from the dead.

4) Luke 24,1: Now upon the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain [others] with them.

Once again, the same thing is said as above. On the Sabbath, the last day of the week or Saturday, the women could do nothing but keep the Sabbath day holy.

5) John 20,1: The first [day] of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

John tells exactly the same thing. None of these five verses seem to contain any indication that Sunday has become the Lord’s holy day of rest, on the contrary. It is implicit in the stories that there is no activity on the Sabbath. Even Jesus rested that day, in the sepulchre. Had it been the case that Sunday had become the Lord’s Sabbath the women could not have gone to the sepulchre to anoint Jesus’ body on Sunday without breaking the law.

6) John 20,19: Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you.

Many people use this particular verse to explain that the Sabbath has been changed from Saturday to Sunday, but how can one read it from the text here? Here we must read the whole passage and try to find where it says that Sunday is the Sabbath. What is it that is conveyed by information in this verse? Well, it still says that it is the first day of the week and it is not mentioned that this day has become the Lord’s day of rest. It is also common nowadays to gather in grief after losing a loved one. Now this was probably not the only reason why the disciples were gathered on this day. Many of the disciples were visiting Jerusalem and did not have their own houses there in the city. They could not stay out in the streets for fear of being recognized and facing the same fate as Jesus. It is clear in this verse that they had shut the doors for fear of the Jews because they were afraid of being recognized, arrested and suffering the same fate as Jesus. Nor could they leave Jerusalem on the evening after Jesus’ death, because it was forbidden in the Jewish supplementary laws that regulated what could not be done on the Sabbath. Therefore, they were gathered in the place where they were when Jesus instituted the Lord´s supper because this room had been rented for the entire Passover.

7) Acts 20,7-12: 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. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing [him] said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive and were not a little comforted.

The next time we meet the first day of the week is in the Acts of the Apostles, and in connection with a speech that Paul gave just before he was to leave Troad.

Here, too, there is no information that Sunday has become the Lord’s holy Sabbath. True, it says that they had a gathering and that they had broken the bread, but this alone is not even an indication that there has been a change of the Sabbath/Lord’s day. However, we get a lot of information about other things in these verses. First, it is explicitly stated that it is the first day of the week and that they broke the bread. That they broke the bread may mean that it was the Lord’s Supper, but it may also mean that they ate a regular meal. The only commandment in connection with the Lord’s Supper is that we should do this as often as we can in memory of Jesus, and it is not necessary that this must be done on a special day such as the Sabbath. Secondly, we find out that they ate and talked, and that Paul spoke and that he should leave them the next day. It may be that Paul’s departure the next day is the reason why they meet tonight. The last thing we learn from these verses, and which may just as well be the reason we hear about this, is that the boy Evtykus fell down and killed himself, and that Paul raised him back to life. In any case, there is no indication that Sunday has become the Lord’s holy Sabbath.

8) 1 Corinthians 16,1-4: 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. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by [your] letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

This is the last place the first day of the week is mentioned. Here we are talking about a fundraiser for the poor in Jerusalem, and as the text shows, Paul is not sure when he will come, but he reckons that it will be on Sunday that he come (verse 2 b), the first day of the week. Therefore, they should set aside what they can, early in the day, so that the fundraising can go smoothly, and that they can send the money to Jerusalem as soon as possible. It is this, the fundraising, that is the theme of this sequence, and it could just as easily have been the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth day Paul came. However, the first day of the week is mentioned because the people received their wages on the last working day of the week, and therefore it was most appropriate to choose the first day of the week for collection, before they used up all the money. Here, too, there are no indications that Sunday has become the Lord’s holy Sabbath. If Sunday had become the Lord’s day, the Sabbath, Paul would have broken the law by raising money, which is considered as work, on the Lord’s day.