Dr. C.S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
DOES GOD HONOR THE SABBATH?
Indeed, He created it. But is it for everyone? Listen to this question from a dear sister:
“Dr. Lovett, I’ve moved to a new location and made some dear friends. The only trouble is, they go to a church that worships on Saturday rather than Sunday. Would I be sinning against the Lord if I went to church with them?”
This lady, formerly of my congregation who knew God had set aside the old Jewish worship system, phoned to ask if it was sinful for New Testament believers to worship with Old Testament Sabbath-keepers. I thought you might be interested in my reply.
“If you find Jesus’ love in these people and you enjoy them, by all means, don’t break fellowship with them over a housekeeping rule. As long as you know what true, spiritual worship is all about, leave them to their convictions. You won’t sin by going to church with them.”
BUT ISN’T SUNDAY THE SABBATH?
Let me state quickly that Saturday is the JEWISH SABBATH. Some Christians mistakenly refer to Sunday as the Sabbath, but they should not. Sunday is NOT their Sabbath. The Christians’ Sabbath IS CHRIST (Rom. 10:4). They were never given ANY DAY to keep.
But that is not true of the Jews. They were given a day. After God brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt, He gathered them before Him at Mt. Sinai. There He offered them a proposition. If they would accept the deal, He would make them His personal nation on earth. As such, they would be the custodians of divine revelation and control the only access to God. They liked that idea—so they agreed.
If they were to represent Him on earth, God wanted them to be totally unlike all other nations. He wanted them DIFFERENT. The deal He offered them not only included the TEN COMMANDMENTS and a unique worship system, but TWO SPECIAL SIGNS—the SABBATH and CIRCUMCISION. Just as a groom gives his bride a wedding ring in token of their union, so God gave Israel THE SABBATH to let the other nations know she was His.
THE SABBATH—EXCLUSIVELY JEWISH
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe MY SABBATHS. This will be a sign between Me and you for the generations to come. It will be a SIGN between me and you and the Israelites FOREVER’” (Exod. 31:12,17).
Anyone can check back in the Old Testament and see how the Sabbath was given solely to Israel, as a part of her worship system and never to anyone else. It was totally Jewish. The prophet Nehemiah reveals exactly WHEN the Sabbath was given:
“You came down on Mount Sinai. You gave them regulations and laws. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees, and laws through your servant Moses” (Neh. 9:13,14 NIV).
The Jewish people knew nothing of any Sabbath until God gave it to them at Sinai. So it was not something handed down from prior generations. From Adam to Moses, no one ever heard of such a thing. It was completely unique for Israel at Sinai. It has never had anything to do with Gentiles.
WHEN THE SABBATH ENDED
Did the Sabbath really end? Yes. After Jesus came as God’s perfect sacrifice, God Himself terminated Israel’s WORSHIP SYSTEM, including its Sabbath. In an official act, the Lord RIPPED the veil of the Jewish temple from top to bottom. It was a miracle, for that veil measured about 60 X 20 feet in size and was 4 inches thick.
Please notice I did NOT SAY He set aside the nation of Israel—only the worship system. Because of His promise to Abraham, God still has plans for the nation. But Israel’s religion—JUDAISM—is another matter. That is finished. The tiny nation is no longer the custodian of divine revelation, neither does she control the access to God. That is the church’s role now.
When Jesus died, everything changed. The old system, with its Sabbaths and sacrifices, was fulfilled. Its job was done, and it was no longer needed. The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear the old system had to give way to a new one:
“By calling this covenant ‘new,’ He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” (Heb. 8:13 NIV).
When the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and the Jews scattered, Judaism was dead. That was God’s death warrant. The system was discarded, along with its SABBATH. Believers enjoy a different program today. No Longer is it a matter of EXTERNAL RULES, but internal fellowship with God. Our bodies are now temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).
WHAT DAY SHOULD CHRISTIANS KEEP?
None—IF THAT’S THEIR DESIRE, OR ANY DAY THEY CHOOSE. However, God wants believers to gather regularly, scolding them if they forsake the assembling of themselves (Heb. 10:25). But what day should they use? For things to be orderly and consistent, it seems there should be an appointed day.
The earliest believers elected to meet on SUNDAYS! Why? That was the day Jesus rose from the dead. Also, after His resurrection, He made His appearances on Sundays (John 20:19). They probably got used to the idea right there. But more significantly, the church WAS BORN on Sunday—at PENTECOST! What better day for the church to meet than on its birthday. There was no church (as a living organism) before Pentecost. So Sunday is a good choice.
But do not misunderstand me. Sunday is NOT BINDING on anyone. Tuesday would do just as well, or Wednesday, or Saturday. The apostle Paul was most definite about that.
“One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5 NIV).
Observe the apostle is speaking ONLY OF A DAY set aside for the Lord. He is not putting forth a principle by which we formulate our beliefs. Since the day of worship is a matter of PERSONAL ELECTION, an individual can choose it for himself. When it comes to beliefs, however, those are settled by the Word of God.
WHAT ABOUT MODERN SABBATH-KEEPERS?
Not a problem. They have every right to choose Saturday as their day. There is no sin in preferring Saturday. Neither is anyone obliged to observe on Sunday.
Some Sabbath-keepers are very legalistic. There are extremists in this matter, as in anything else. Some go so far as to claim Sunday worship is the “Mark of the Beast.” Maybe you have not heard that one. But I have seen it stated in numerous writings by Sabbath-keepers.
THAT’S VERY INTERESTING
You see a day is coming (not far off now) when the “BEAST” of the Revelation is going to REVIVE THE SABBATH AND USE IT. Not only will he restore Judaism, but he is also going to make it the OFFICIAL RELIGION OF THE WORLD. Can you guess why?
After his rise to power, he plans to pass himself off as the Messiah of Israel. He will do it too. The Jewish people will be delighted when he rebuilds the temple, restores the sacrifices (see Ezek. 45:22, 46:12), and commands the KEEPING OF THE SABBATH. For nearly 3,000 years, Zionist Jews have entertained such a hope. So you know they will buy it when the antichrist sets out to revive Judaism (John 5:43).
The Jewish people will be deceived, of course, but who can blame them. This exciting “prince” will have the power to exalt Israel as the empress of the world. When he finally takes over as a false Messiah, you can be sure SABBATH-KEEPING will be a distinguishing mark of the antichrist’s reign. That is why I find it most interesting to have modern Sabbath-keepers speak of Sunday as the “mark of the beast.” Saturday will come much closer to it. Strange how things work out.
I have no interest in debating Sabbath-keeping versus Christian liberty. I do not care WHAT DAY a person keeps, as long as he keeps it UNTO THE LORD. Of course, if someone gets too legalistic about it, saying Sabbath-keeping is necessary for salvation, that is another matter. I would separate from those individuals and fellowship with those who believe salvation is without works of any kind.
But most Sabbath-keepers are not like that. They are inclined to be loving leaving room for their brethren with their varying preferences. And that is why I gave that counsel to the lady who had become involved with Sabbath-keepers. As long as they loved her and did not try to impose the Sabbath on her, she could enjoy them, and they could enjoy her. God is delighted when we minimize the things that divide and maximize the things which make us one in Christ.
There is something that will convince you of what I have said better than my words—THE BOOK OF HEBREWS. Did you know that book is full of WARNINGS against going back to the old Jewish system with its SABBATHS and RITUALS? It will convince you that God has thrown out that old system, replacing it with a fellowship in the Spirit. If you read Hebrews, you will be delighted, perhaps amazed to see how Jesus has fulfilled EVERYTHING JEWISH for you. You should also read the book of Romans, which sets forth God’s plan for Israel today.
Equip yourself with this kind of knowledge, and the convictions of your Sabbath-keeping friends won’t faze you. You will be able to love them and enjoy their friendship, yet at the same time be aware of the role of the Sabbath in the future. Their commitment to the SEVENTH day should not disturb you. In fact, you ought to be able to join them on a Saturday, now that you know that one day is no different from any other. . .
AS FAR AS GOD IS CONCERNED!
C. S. Lovett
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