"There remaineth therefore a keeping of a sabbath to the people of God" ó Hebrews 4:9 marg.
In the Introduction to this work (on pp. ix-xi above), it was seen that the crucial problem of sabbath observance crystallized out into two main queries, namely: (1) "Is the sabbath of perpetual obligation?" and (2) "Was the historical change of the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday Scriptural or not?"
In attempting to find the right answers to these two queries, a generally historical account and theological analysis of the teaching of Godís Word (and relevant extra-Scriptural history) on the covenantal sabbath was then presented. Accordingly, at this point it should prove useful to give a summary of what has been presented in the above pages, and then proceed to answer the queries.
* * *
In Chapter I, a general theological examination of THE EVERLASTING COVENANTAL SABBATH was offered. Firstly, it was seen that the word "sabbath" is derived from the Hebrew "shabbath" with the primary meaning of "rest" or "cessation", although it more remotely seems to involve other ideas too, such as that of "sevenness". To the extent to which the Triune God "sabbathed" before creation, "sevenness" was only involved in (at least the eternal actual counsel of) His essential, but not in His notional, activities. On the other hand, "sevenness" (as well as "oneness" and "threeness") characterize all created reality, and the hebdomadal or sevenfold cycle (with its sabbath demarcator) permeates all anthropo-terrestrial time.
Coming to the realization of the covenant, it was seen that the sabbath (on the first day of manís weeks before the fall and after Calvary) is the sign of the Adamic covenant both with the first and with the Second Adam, and that the Latterís fulfilment thereof and His entry as man into Godís eternal rest, thereby in principle ushering in Godís Eighth Day, the Day of the new creation, necessitated the change of the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday. Henceforth the Lordís day portrays the (Eighth) Day of the Lord which arrived in principle on Resurrection or Easter Sunday.
It was also seen that Sunday must now also be
the sabbath day, and not merely a non-sabbatarian memorial day,
because the sabbath constitutes part of the unalterable moral law
of God, and because the Saturday sabbath (together with the other
temporary ceremonial sabbaths) was nailed to the cross of Christ.
Hence the sabbath as such was seen to be the one enduring sign of
the Adamic covenant (both in Eden as well as in all its later Noachic,
Abrahamic, Mosaic and Christian re-manifestations), eschatologically
motivated from its very institution in Eden and especially from
its renewal at Calvary (whenceforth it was accordingly demarcated
from morning to morning), while maintaining its importance in the
realm of common grace, and unfolding harmoniously through time towards
its final destination in the cosmic sabbath of God and His universe.
In Chapter II, a largely historical account was given of THE ADAMIC COVENANTAL SABBATH from creation until the flood. It was seen that Godís creation sabbath rest applies only in respect of the preceding terrestrial formation week, and that His sabbath rest has continued uninterruptedly right down to New Testament times, although Adamís first sabbath terminated only a short time after its commencement simultaneously with that of Godís.
It was seen that the week is not of astronomical, astrological, numerical, historical or logical, but of divine origin, as is its sabbath demarcator, which originated not after the exile not even at Sinai, but in Eden, when God finished and rested from His creation works and blessed and sanctified the sabbath pre-eminently for the sake of man, although it also had significance to God Himself, to the land, to the animals, and possibly also to the angels.
As far as Adam was concerned, the sabbath was seen to be of commemorative, eschatological, religious, temporal and physical significance. Before the fall, he observed it on the first day of the weeks of his life, from morning to morning (conceivably as from midnight to midnight), by resting from his labours to praise God, to meditate upon His works and His spoken Word, to instruct his descendant(s) in matters of religion, and probably to "commune" with the Lord by partaking of the tree of life and bringing a non-bloody offering.
The fall, which possibly took place on the first or a subsequent sabbath day, changed all this. Sin, toil and death entered into the world: man lost his rest, and the observance of the sabbath, which henceforth fell at the end of manís weeks instead of at their beginning, now became even more essential, spiritually and especially physically. But the covenant of grace with its blood offerings, instituted immediately after the fall, in principle restored that rest: it pointed down through the centuries to the blood offering of the Second Adam Himself on the last Saturday sabbath altar of Calvary and to His entry (as man and for men) on the following day (Resurrection Sunday into Godís sabbath rest of eternal life.
Then the further history of the Adamic sabbath was traced from the fall to the flood. It was seen that the offerings of Cain and Abel were performed on what was almost certainly the sabbath day, and that the sabbath number seven was incorporated into the sevenfold mark of vengeance which Cain received as a result of having murdered his brother on that day. It was also seen that Adamís descendants developed into two distinct races of men ó the sabbath-desecrating Cainites and the sabbath-keeping Sethites who "began to call on the Name of the Lord".
Lamech the Cainite, it was seen, was the seventh from Adam, and swore to be avenged seventy-seven fold; whereas Enoch the Sethite, also the seventh from Adam, walked with God. Next, a scrutiny was made of Lamech the Sethiteís longed-for rest, and it was established that it was the redeeming Lord of the Sabbath and the eternal sabbath rest which He would bring in, for which Lamech longed.
Then, attention was given to the terrible sins of the days of Noah ó intermarriage between wicked Cainites and Godís covenant people the Sethites, vastly increasing godlessness and almost certainly large-scale desecration of the sabbath ó sins which will abound at the end time (and, significantly, do today) as they did "in the days of Noe".
Finally, it was seen how God purposed to destroy
His ancient creation in the great flood. For the Adamic covenant
and its sabbath had been transgressed, and punishment could no longer
be postponed. And so, "after seven days . . .
the flood came upon the earth". (Gen. 7:10).
In Chapter III, a considerably shorter presentation was offered of THE NOACHIC COVENANTAL SABBATH. Here it was first noted that the months mentioned in the account of the flood were lunar months of twenty-nine and one-half days each, rather than "Ethiopian" months of thirty days each, but it was emphasised that in either case the Biblical data still implied sabbath observance during the flood.
Next, attention was drawn to the specific days mentioned in the flood account, and it was seen that no less than nine recorded events ó the notice to embark; the shutting in; the grounding of the ark on Ararat; the despatch of the raven; the first, second and third weekly journeys of the dove; the uncovering of the ark; and the exit ó all took place on a regularly recurring seventh day. It was also noted that the "sabbath day exit" was marked by the "sabbath day offer" of a sacrifice from man to God, by the institution of human government (with power to punish sabbath desecration?!), and by the renewal of the covenant by the appointment of the sign of the seven-coloured rainbow by God to man as the covenantal guarantee.
Then the history of the sabbath from after the flood to the tower of Babel was traced, as well as its subsequent deformation in the life of the nations which were scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, as a result of the confusion of tongues. However, it was noted that the profane Babylonian sabbath underwent less deformation from its postdiluvian pre-Babelic ancestor than did the Hamitic and Japhethitic "sabbaths", on account of its proximity to the site of the postdiluvian cradle of the nations of humanity, i.e. the tower of Babel, and also on account of the influence of godly pre-Abrahamic sabbath-keeping Semites resident in the vicinity of Babylon.
Finally, traces of the sabbath in the life of
Biblical non-Abrahamic postdispersional Semites were scrutinized,
and the sabbatical importance was uncovered of Balaamís significant
sacrifice of seven oxen and seven rams on seven altars, of Jobís
sonsí festive days, of Jobís burnt offerings on their behalf, of
the days when the sons of God came to present themselves before
the Lord, of Jobís friendsí week-long vigil, of their burnt offering
of seven bullocks and seven rams, and of Jobs resurrection expectation.
In Chapter IV, attention was drawn to THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANTAL SABBATH, where the history of the sabbath was related from the time of Abraham down to that of the giving of the Decalogue on Mount Sinai.
Firstly, it was noted that Abraham came from the Babylonian vicinity of the godly sabbath-keeping Semites, and that he is described as having kept the Commandments, statutes and laws of God, which must have included Godís moral law, i.e., the moral substance of the Ten Commandments, and hence the sabbath.
It was also seen that the frequently mentioned cases of sacrifices and renewal of the covenant also very probably took place on the patriarchal sabbath, and that the no less frequent instances of swearing and child circumcision suggested the importance of the seventh day and the eighth (= first) day respectively. Then it was noted that the patriarchsí realization of their sojourning on earth implied their consciousness of an eternal sabbath rest which awaited them at the end of their lives, which again implied the demarcation of the latter and the portrayal of the former by the constant occurrence of the weekly sabbath day.
Then attention was given to the significance to the sabbath of Jacobís marriage week; of Labanís seven daysí pursuit of Jacob; of Josephís interpretation of Pharaohís sevenfold dream; of the Egyptiansí seventy days of weeping for the deceased Jacob; and of Josephís seven days of mourning for Jacob.
Next, attention was given to the way in which the patriarchal sabbath was probably observed. It was noted that it was probably kept at that time as a day of joyful rest on which daily work ceased, a sacrifice was offered to God, words of prophecy were spoken, thanksgiving rendered for mercies and deliverance from punishment, the fellowship of the covenant people enjoyed, and the Name of the Lord, the redeeming "Yahveh", called upon.
Then reference was made to the sabbath after the time of Joseph. It was seen how Godís people were brought into bondage, and the bearing of their burdens on their inability to keep the sabbath was noticed. It was seen how Moses was called to liberate them from their burdens, and an account was given of their request to go and sacrifice in the wilderness ó which Pharoah refused, complaining that Moses would make the people rest (= "to sabbath") from their burdens.
Then the redemption of Godís people was described ó the seven daysí fulfilment after the first plague, the night of the Passover and its foreshadowing of the complete redemption to be brought about by the Lord of the Sabbath. In this respect, further attention was given to its congregational nature, the correspondence between the fifteenth Nisan, the first day of the unleavened bread in Egypt (the day after the Passover), and the first day of the New Testament week on which the Lord rose from the dead (the day after the burial of the Passover Lamb). One also noted the great likelihood of that first Passover having fallen on the sabbath day, and hence of the next day, the first day of the unleavened bread, the day of redemption from Egypt, having fallen on the first day of the week, thus foreshadowing the Lordís resurrection and Sunday observance. One also noted the covenantal significance of the Passover, and also that no uncircumcised person may partake thereof, observing that such circumcision (performed on infant males on the eighth day) foreshadowed the circumcision, death and resurrection of the Lord of the Sabbath, and His reappearance eight days later on the next Sunday.
Then a description was given of the Exodus from Egypt on the fifteenth Nisan, noting that that day, a prototype of the first day of the week, the day of the Lordís Exodus from the tomb, was to be kept as a day of holy assembly on which no work was to be done, and to be observed as a sign and a memorial day forever. An account was next given of the various encampments on the route from Egypt to Sinai, and it was shown that they ideally fitted into the number of weeks which that journey lasted, and that the encampments must have taken place over the various sabbath days of those weeks; and reference was then made to the injunction given at Mara to observe the Commandments and statutes of the Lord.
Attention was then given in some detail to the episode of the manna in the wilderness, and the congregational nature of the episode and the identification of the sabbath ordinance as part of the law which Israel was required to walk in, as one of the Commandments which they refused to keep, was pointed out. It was seen that that Sabbath Commandment was compulsory and politically enforced, and that God required His people to labour evenly six days per week, making regular, special provision for their material needs for the sabbath day, but not on the sabbath day on which no work was to be done: no unnecessary preparation of food, gathering or travelling. It was further seen that the sabbath was to be observed as a weekly day of rest, and that the people automatically made provision therefor on the sixth day, thus indicating the sabbathís previous observance before the giving of the manna.
After the first giving of the manna, the sabbath was obviously observed on each of the following at least four weekly sabbaths until God repeated His law at Sinai, and, of course, for a long time afterwards. During those at least four weeks, at least two sacrifices were brought, probably on successive sabbath days.
Then the arrival at Sinai and the giving of the law was noted, and the Fourth Commandment concerning the ordinance of the sabbath was studied, and found to be in the very heart of the other nine. It was seen that the word "remember" at the beginning of the Sabbath Commandment pointed back to its pre-Mosaic observance, and it was also noted that the Commandment requires one to labour six days a week, and rest one day a week, which is to be kept holy, i.e. to be set apart from the other six days. The reasons for such remembrance were seen to be twofold; firstly, as a memorial to the Lordís six daysí creation, and secondly, as a memorial to His re-creation or redemption of His people from Egypt, where they had been servants. Hence the Israelites were to allow their servants to rest on the sabbath, remembering their own restless plight under Pharaoh.
Lastly, notice was taken of the stipulations
for sacrificial offerings which immediately follow the Decalogue
in Exodus 20, which probably confirm that pre-Mosaic sabbaths were
very likely marked by sacrifices to the Lord and vice-versa.
In Chapter V, on THE MOSAIC COVENANTAL SABBATH, the historical development of the institution was further traced from the giving of the Decalogue on Mount Sinai up to the time of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath.
Attention was first drawn to the sabbath and the Mosaic laws. There it was seen that the hebdomadal structure of the pre-Mosaic sabbath was transferred to many Mosaic ritual acts in general and to their duration in particular. It was also seen how the pre-Mosaic sabbath influenced the whole sabbatical system of Israel, and how those non-weekly Mosaic sabbaths all revealed the seventh-day weekly sabbath of the past as their root, and the first-day (or eighth-day) weekly sabbath of the future as their destination. Then it was also observed how the pre-Mosaic sabbath was modified during the Mosaic economy in respect of its nationalization, its attachment to central sanctuary worship and the double sabbath sacrifice, its extremely rigid enforcement and the prescription of capital punishment for its transgression.
An account was then given of the temporary Mosaic sabbath in the life of Moses. It was seen how Moses repeatedly instructed the people with the necessity of sabbath observance, prohibited the lighting of fires on that day, and stressed the connection between the Fourth and Fifth Commandments on the one hand and between the sabbath and the sanctuary on the other, as well as the idea of Canaan as the land of sabbath rest.
This was followed by a survey of the history of the weekly post-Mosaic and permanent sabbath after the death of Moses, from Joshua to Christ.
Under Joshua the people entered into Canaan, marched round Jericho on the sabbath day, and ultimately "rested" from their conquered enemies. But from the death of Joshua to that of Saul, it was observed how both the "sabbath land" and Godís people only had "rest" from their enemies to the extent that the Israelites served the Lord of the Sabbath.
In the days of David, it was seen how he fled from Saul and ate the shewbread on the sabbath, appointed temple officers with sabbath duties, composed many liturgical Psalms with sabbath significance, and brought all in readiness for his son Solomon to build the house of God in which the Lord could "rest". Solomon thereupon built the temple, God entered into that "resting place" after a seven daysí dedication, and the people went home after observing a solemn assembly on the eighth day. Solomon also performed sabbath offerings and made sabbath appointments thereafter, and probably composed at least one of the Psalms of sabbath significance.
After the division of the Solomonic empire, it was observed how God maintained His covenant, particularly in Judah, in spite of increasing formalism. In the days of Elisha, prophets often officiated at local worship on the sabbath, and in the days of Joash, elaborate changes of the temple officers occurred on that day, as well as the coup díetat against Athaliah. Yet Joel and other prophets forecast the Pentecostal Sunday outpouring of Godís Spirit and the coming of the Day of the Lord.
In the northern kingdom of Israel, sabbath formalism had so increased, that God threatened through the prophet Amos to turn the sabbath into a day of mourning and through the prophet Hosea to make the sabbaths cease. Yet in His wrath, He also promised deliverance on condition of repentance.
Isaiah it was who protested against the wickedly formalistic sabbath observance of the southern kingdom of Judah, but who also Messianically looked past the future Babylonian captivity to the peopleís restoration, their "delight" in the sabbath, its universalization amongst all nations, and its eschatological destination in the new earth. Jeremiah warned against the desecration of the sabbath by the carrying of burdens, but when he was not heeded, he forecast the Babylonian captivity whereby the land would be able to be compensated for the sabbaths of which it had been robbed. When this came to pass, he it was who lamented the destruction of the restless Jerusalem while her enemies laughed at her sabbaths.
During the captivity, Ezekiel surveyed the role of the sabbath and its transgression in the life of the people from the days of Moses to the captivity, and forecast its role in the rebuilt Jerusalem. Danielís prophecy of the seventy weeks was seen to be bound up with the sabbath curse of the captivity and the sabbath blessing of the coming of the Lord of the Sabbath; and under Zerubbabel the "house of rest" was rebuilt, to which Zechariah attached strong Messianic significance as regards the coming Lord of the Sabbath.
After the institution of the Purim feast in the days of Esther, it was seen how first Ezra and then Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and re-established the holy feasts, and how Nehemiah in particular determined to put an end to all outward sabbath desecration in public life, even by resorting to political force to achieve this. It was also seen how their contemporary, the prophet Malachi, forecast the coming of the Lord of the Sabbath and of the Day of the Lord, the new "Eighth" Day which God would "create".
Finally, the role of the sabbath was surveyed
in the period between Malachi and the advent of Christ. The increasing
"next-world-ification" and of the dayís meaning
as a result of political subjection only led to an intolerable externalization
and legalistic casuistry in the manner of its observance. Some examples
of Talmudic sabbath legalism were then studied, and it was seen
that by the time of the advent of Christ the whole theory and practice
of sabbath observance cried out for reformation. And so, to institute
this reformation, the Lord of the Sabbath Himself was shortly to
come to His people and to inaugurate the New covenant.
In Chapter VI, on THE NEW COVENANTAL SABBATH, the historical development of the sabbath and the change from Saturday to the Sunday sabbath was traced in great detail from the birth of Jesus Christ up to the completion of the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation; and this was then followed by a survey of the position of the Sunday sabbath in the Patristic Church (or Church of the Formation), the Mediaeval Church (or Church of the Deformation), and the Protestant Church (or Church of the Reformation), right down to the present day in the nineteen-seventies.
In the first section of the chapter, concerning the sabbath and Jesus Christ, and looking first at His earthly life, it was seen that He, the Messenger of the covenant, was born in fulfilment of Malachiís prophecy that the "Sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings", circumcised eight days later, observed the Passover Feast and the seven-day Feast of the Unleavened Bread, attended the weekly sabbath synagogue services in His youth, and was baptized at the age of thirty in what was probably a sabbath year, when the Spirit of the Lord "rested" on Him.
Having then called His first disciples on what was probably the sabbath day, He declared that "the time is fulfilled" and taught in the synagogues. Then, after preaching His eschatological sermon from Isa. 61 in the synagogue at Nazareth on the sabbath day "as His custom was", and probably during a Jubilee sabbath year, He healed an infirm man at the pool of Bethesda on the sabbath day commanding him to take up his bed and walk.
Next, having called His twelve disciples in Galilee and having then taught and healed a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue of Capernaum and Peterís mother-in-law in her own house on the sabbath, He preached and healed throughout Galilee on the sabbath, enjoining the heavy laden to come unto Him and find rest for their souls.
Walking through the cornfields on the sabbath day, He defended His hungry disciples from the Bible for eating of the ears of corn when they were attacked for so doing by the hypocritical Pharisees, declaring that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath, and that He, the Son of man, was the Lord of the Sabbath. On another occasion, He healed a man with a withered hand on the sabbath to the horror of the Pharisees, whose sinful hardheartedness He again exposed.
Casting out restless evil spirits, He emphasised the unalterable obligation to observe every part of the Decalogue in His Sermon on the Mount, after which He fed the multitudes and revealed Himself as the Bread of Life on what was very probably the sabbath, and denounced those anti-Scriptural vain traditions of the Pharisees which made the Commandments of God of no effect.
After being acknowledged by Peter as the Son of the Living God and prophesying His death and Sunday resurrection on what was possibly a sabbath, He was transfigured in glory eight days later on a mountain, a preview of His entry into His glory, His sabbath rest, on Resurrection Sunday. Then He denounced the Jews at Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles for "injuring" people by circumcising them even on the sabbath, denounced them herefor solely because they had nevertheless condemned Him for healing others from their injuries on that day; and on the next sabbath He underlined His denunciation of the Pharisees and increased their fury against Him by healing a man blind from birth.
Going to Perea, He taught in a synagogue and healed on the sabbath a daughter of Abraham who had been infirm for eighteen years. After again forecasting His death and resurrection, He then ate in the house of a Pharisee and healed a man suffering from dropsy on the sabbath day. And shortly thereafter He insisted to an enquiring rich young ruler that the keeping of the Decalogue is essential in order to be able to inherit eternal life.
Returning to Bethany one week before His death, He was anointed by Mary on Friday and rested there on the Saturday. On Sunday He went to Jerusalem where He was gladly acclaimed by the joyous crowds, in partial fulfilment of the prophecy of the "day which the Lord hath made", the day of joy and gladness of Ps. 118. On Monday He cleansed His temple. On Tuesday He summarized the Decalogue in the "Great Commandment", the epitome of the Christian life, and advised His disciples to pray that their flight from Jerusalem in A.D. 70 "be not in the winter or on the sabbath day".
Betrayed by Judas on Wednesday, on Thursday He instituted the sacrament of the Lordís Supper, destined to be commemorated particularly on future Sundays, and, after His arrest and "trial", He was crucified and buried on Friday "toward the sabbath", while His disciples went and "rested the sabbath day according to the commandment", even as He had so thoroughly taught them so to do.
The earthly life of Jesus Christ, then, is characterized by a progressive fulfilment of the sabbatical system and other prophetic ordinances such as circumcision, by a dedicated observance of the sabbath day according to the Scriptures in both His practice and His precepts, by His merciful sabbath alleviation of the sufferings of sick people so that they too may "rest" and enjoy that day, by His utter rejection and condemnation of the anti-Scriptural sabbath traditions of the rabbis, and by His progressive revelation of His post-mortal entry into the sabbath rest of His glorified human life on manís behalf on Resurrection Sunday.
Looking secondly at the death of Christ, it was seen how He kept the Adamic covenant and atoned for its transgression by propitiatorily bearing in His crucified body the results of that covenantís breach ó sin, grief, sorrow, sickness, death and hell. Uttering His seven words as the sun was darkened and the sabbath drew on, He pronounced the fulfilment and abolition of all the foreshadowing Mosaic ritual, including its sabbath, with the words: "It is finished", and His pronouncement was confirmed by the resurrection of the dead saints in Jerusalem and the rending of the Mosaic temple veil. Commending Himself to the Fatherís rest, He entered the first phase of that eternal sabbath rest in death, and, after His burial, sanctified the grave for His seed by resting there in death throughout the sabbath day, whereas the Jewish leaders desecrated that last Saturday sabbath by labouring to seal His grave to prevent His resurrection and the advent of the new Resurrection Sunday sabbath.
Abjuring to rise on the Saturday sabbath, the Lord of the Sabbath passed it by in death, but burst the tomb with His resurrection unto life eternal at a point in time between late Saturday night and before dawn on Sunday morning on the Lordís day, whereby He sanctified it as the memorial day of the new creation. He waited till "the sabbath was past" ó past forever ó waited until the Saturday sabbath had completely become dead and buried together with Himself, before He inaugurated the New covenant, early on Sunday morning before sunrise, and probably at midnight. The Saturday sabbath was past forever, and the new Sunday sabbath had arrived, thereby evidencing that Godís Seventh Creation Day had in principle passed forever, and that Godís Eighth (Re-)creation Day had in principle arrived forever, the Day of the Lord, to be thenceforth commemorated by the weekly observance of the Lordís day, the Sunday sabbath, on which day the Sun of righteousness had arisen with healing in His wings. For Sunday reached back over the head of the seventh-day infralapsarian sabbath and linked up with the restored and perfected supralapsarian "Sunday" sabbath of Eden. Henceforth Sunday ó albeit with only gradual yet ever-increasing consciousness thereof ó would be observed as a day of sabbath rest by Christís Church in communal worship, meditation on the Scriptures, breaking of the bread, commemoration of the Lordís resurrection, and expectation of the resurrection of the Lordís children on the coming Day of the Lord.
Thirdly, an account was given of the sabbath and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There it was seen that Christ rose on Resurrection Sunday (after which His dead saints came out of their graves to proclaim the arrival in principle of the eschatological Day of the Lord), and then revealed Himself to His disciples on that day, revealed that He (as man) had then started to enter into His glory, His eternal sabbath rest on their behalf. This He revealed by visibly manifesting Himself, by breaking the bread (and thereby setting aside the weekly Sunday in particular as the appropriate day herefor), by preaching the Scriptures, and by visiting His congregated disciples well after sunset yet still on that same Easter Sunday, thereby vitiating sunset and suggesting midnight as the point for the future demarcation of the Sunday sabbath. Altogether, He transformed Sunday into a day of joy and gladness, as prophesied by Ps. 118.
Having deliberately absented Himself from His disciples the following Saturday, He next appeared to His congregated Church only and precisely one week later on the next Sunday, again bringing them peace and joy, and gladness to Thomas in particular. During the next four weeks between the Sunday after Resurrection Sunday and His ascension into heaven, He manifested Himself at least four times to groups of disciples, quite possibly on each of the four Sundays of those four weeks. Then, enjoining His disciples on the day of His ascension to remain in Jerusalem until He had sent them His promised Spirit to lead them further into all truth, the Lord of the Sabbath left them to pray and meditate on Godís Word for the next ten days, during which time they obviously observed the Lordís day or the Christian Sunday sabbath on the last Sunday before Pentecost Sunday, Just as they had done beforehand on previous Sundays.
In the second section of the chapter, the history of the Lordís day or Christian Sunday sabbath was traced in the Apostolic Church ó that is, from the descent of the Holy Spirit into His Church on Pentecost Sunday up to the time of the Holy Spiritís inspiration of the last book of the New Testament in about A.D. 96 on "the Lordís day" (Rev. 1:10).
First it was pointed out that the roots of the Church go back before the day of Pentecost, and that the descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost Sunday had not only been symbolized in the Old Testament in its references to "eighth-day rituals" and in its prophecies regarding the future outpouring of Godís Spirit in connection with the coming cosmic Day of the Lord, but had also been foreshadowed in the New Testament in Christís entry into Jerusalem as the Spirit-anointed Davidic King on Palm Sunday and His outbreathing of the Spirit on His disciples on Resurrection Sunday.
On the day of Pentecost, which was almost certainly a Sunday in that year of 30 AD., the Holy Spirit fulfilled the Old Testament Feast of Firstfruits by "baking" the Church to one loaf as though by fire, thus also indicating the advent of an even further phase of the Day of the Lord according to Malachiís prophecy, and caused that Pentecost Sunday to be characterized as yet another Sunday of joy and gladness by the congregation of His Church, the preaching of His Word, persevering in prayer, the exaltation of Christís Sunday resurrection, the celebration of both sacraments and the strengthening and extension of the Kingdom of Christ.
After Pentecost Sunday, while continuing to evangelize the Jews and to explain to them the advent of "the Day" of Ps. 118 in Christís Sunday resurrection, the disciples met as previously particularly on Sundays in the upper room, where they preached the Word, prayed, broke bread, exalted the risen Christ and took care of their poor. When persecution drove the Christians out of Jerusalem, they took their Sunday observance with them throughout Lydda, Saron and Joppa in Judea, and into Samaria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Antioch and Damascus; and it is quite probable that Peter journeyed from Joppa to Caesarea on a Saturday and baptized Cornelius on a Sunday, on which day of baptism a supplementary outpouring of the Spirit took place.
After the persecuting Pharisee Paulís conversion, the churches had rest, and James enjoined the observance of all of the Ten Commandments in his Epistle, emphasising the importance of the resurrection of Christ and particularly of the coming Day of the Lord. Then, after strengthening the Christian Church in Antioch two years later in 47 A.D., Paul commenced his first missionary journey, preaching for evangelistic purposes on the old Jewish Saturday sabbaths in the Jewish synagogues of Asia Minor, while always extolling the risen Christ when so doing.
At the Apostolic Council of 49 A.D., although the Decalogue and its sabbath were not under discussion, four of the Ten Commandments were implicitly upheld in the Councilís pronouncements, and Paul and others were commissioned to publicize this decision. This they did on Paulís second missionary journey, during which Paul travelled through Western Asia Minor and Greece, again evangelizing the Jews on Saturday in their synagogues, but always preaching the risen Christ Who rose on the eighth day of the week and Who was coming to judge the world on the Eighth Day of the Lord, and establishing Sunday-keeping Christian churches at Thessalonica, Philippi, Corinth and elsewhere.
During Paulís eighteen month stay in Corinth, he wrote two Epistles to the Thessalonians in which he mentioned their diaconal generosity and their expectation of the advent of the Day of the Lord. Then he wrote to the Galatians, and after implicitly re-enjoining their adherence to the Decalogue, he warned them against their observance of days ó almost certainly including Saturday sabbath days ó fearing that his labours to convert them to the risen Christ had thus all been in vain, while yet enjoining the Galatians to set aside their gifts for poor Christians on every first day of the week, thus underlining the necessity of their observance of the Lordís day on each Sunday.
After returning back via Ephesus to Jerusalem, Paul started out on his third missionary journey in A.D. 52, strengthening the disciples in Galatia (where he enjoined Sunday contributions towards a special collection for the Jerusalem saints) and Phrygia. Then, arriving and remaining for two years in Ephesus, during which time the rift between the Synagogue and its Saturday and the Church and her Sunday became final, Paul wrote his First (extant) Epistle to the Corinthians in which he implicitly re-enjoined every one of the Ten Commandments, and stressed the importance of Christís Sunday resurrection and Sunday contributions towards the collection for the Jerusalem saints, while yet remaining utterly silent about the old Jewish Saturday sabbath.
Leaving Ephesus via Troas for Macedonia in 54 A.D., Paul wrote his Second (extant) Epistle to the Corinthians, instructing them that the Spirit of the Lord must write on their hearts the moral law of the God Who shone forth light on the first creation day, Who raised Jesus from the dead on Resurrection Sunday, and Who spiritually resurrected them unto good works (such as the special Sunday diaconal contributions towards the Jerusalem collection). Then, leaving Macedonia, he arrived and remained in Corinth for three months, during which time he wrote his Epistle to the Romans in 56 A.D., warning Christians not to judge one another in respect of the observance of days, yet implying that those who did observe days were strong Christians, and also recording that Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power by His (Sunday) resurrection from the dead.
Returning to Macedonia in A.D. 56, Paul spent Easter Sunday in Philippi, doubtless instructing the Christians there in the significance of the then anniversary of the Sunday of Christís resurrection and perhaps also preaching there again on the first Sunday after Easter as well, after those seven "days of unleavened bread". Then, after a five daysí journey to Troas, and after spending a full "seven days" in Troas, almost certainly including two Sunday sabbaths, Paul gave his farewell address "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 then went to Assos, Mitylene, Samos and Miletus, at which latter place he addressed the elders of Ephesus, probably on the Sunday sabbath over the next week end. Then, travelling further via Coos and Rhodes and Patara, he arrived at Tyre, probably the next week end, where he "tarried seven days", probably including two Sunday sabbaths, and thence proceeded via Ptolemais and Caesarea to Jerusalem, probably arriving there just in time to celebrate Pentecost Sunday with the congregated disciples.
Imprisoned at the instance of the Palestinian Jews, Paul testified of the resurrection of Christ from the dead before the Jewish Council, before the governor Felix and before King Agrippa. But having appealed to the Roman Caesar, he was put on a ship and sent to Italy, and, after being shipwrecked from midnight onwards after the crew had fasted for fourteen days or two weeks of seven days each (each demarcated by weekly sabbaths), and after being prevailed upon by the disciples of Puteoli "to tarry with them seven days" ó probably to preach to them on two successive Sundays ó Paul was imprisoned in Rome, where he continued to testify of the risen Christ.
In his prison letters, it was seen that Paul squarely condemned those who judged others for not keeping the old Jewish Saturday sabbath in his Epistle to the Colossians written in about 60 A.D., while implicitly emphasising the Decalogue and the resurrection and second coming of Christ, as he also did in his Epistles to the Ephesians and the Philippians; whereas the Apostle Peterís First Epistle, written in about 61 A.D., while similarly implicitly emphasising the Decalogue, the resurrection and the second coming of Christ, also referred to Christ as the Stone cast out by the builders in Ps. 118, even as thirty-three years previously he had connected that Psalmís reference to "the day which the Lord has made" with the resurrection of Christ.
After Paulís release from prison in about 62 A.D., he went through Ephesus and Macedonia to Laodicea, doubtless giving instruction on and concerning the first-day sabbath, from which latter place he probably wrote his First Epistle to Timothy implicitly emphasising the Decalogue and enjoining him to teach everything in the churches which he had learned from Paul. After his missionary journey to Crete, Paul then wrote a similar Epistle to Titus, while Peter wrote his Second Epistle and warned his addressees to prepare for the coming of the Day of the Lord.
After preaching the Gospel (doubtless on the first-day sabbath) in Nicomedia, Troas, Miletum, and Corinth, Paul was again imprisoned in Rome, whence he wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy, implicitly enjoining the observance of most of the Ten Commandments (and therefore, by implication, also of the Fourth), and explaining how Jesus had abolished death and brought life and immortality to light and was to judge the living and the dead at His appearing. Then Paul was martyred ó but not before he had handed down the precious Sunday sabbath doctrine to Luke, Timothy, Titus, Clement (of Rome), and probably Apollos and others, even as he had received it from Peter, John, and, most important of all, the risen Christ Himself.
Peterís secretary Mark it was who wrote the Gospel bearing his name in about 66 AD., to record the life of Christ for the encouragement and instruction of his own persecuted contemporary Christians at Rome. This purpose of his Gospel makes Markís mention of Christís sabbath preachings and healings particularly relevant to the Christians of 66 and therefore to the Church of all ages, and the same applies in connection with Markís mention of the institution of the Lordís Supper in the upper room ó probably his own motherís house ó where the early Church met for weekly worship on every Sunday for a long time thereafter.
Matthew bore similar testimony, writing his Gospel to Greek-speaking Jews in the diaspora in about 67 A.D., and so did Luke in his Gospel of about 68. But what makes Lukeís account particularly illuminating, is that he wrote as a Gentile Christian to a Gentile Christian, and yet nevertheless mentioned (unlike Matthew and Mark) that Jesusí disciples had "rested on the sabbath according to the commandment" some thirty-six years previously after Christís crucifixion in 30 A.D. Yet Luke also gives more Resurrection Sunday details than the other Synoptic writers, mentioning in detail Christís Sunday "breaking of the bread" for the Emmaus disciples and the Sunday night "gathering together" of the Jerusalem disciples, as well as the risen Christís Sunday entry in His "glory" ó all of which facts show the importance attached to these happenings by both Gentile Christian addressor and Gentile Christian addressee in about 68 A.D.
This is also true in respect of Lukeís other book, the Acts of the Apostles. There, drawing on reliable tradition, Paulís experiences and his own travels with Paul, Lukeís recordings regarding Sunday are most significant, reflecting what he (and the Christian Church) considered important in about the year 70 A.D. in which the Acts were written, namely: the coming of the Day of the Lordís Spirit to His congregated Church on Pentecost Sunday; Paulís evangelization of (only!) Jews and their proselytes on the old Jewish Saturday sabbath; and the Christian Churchís assemblies on the first day of the week to break bread and preach the Word of God.
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (perhaps Luke or Apollos or Clement of Rome), took pains in about 80 A.D. to instruct the Hebrew Christians that Christ, Whom God had raised again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant, had fulfilled the old seventh-day Saturday sabbath commemorating Godís entry into His rest from His works on the Seventh Day of creation, and had entered into the very rest of God promised in the days of Joshua and David. Yet the addresses were not only enjoined to enter themselves into that rest in Christís finished work, but also to remember that there remains the keeping of a sabbath for the people of God, who are not to neglect the assembling of themselves together, but to exhort one another so much the more as the Day of the Lord approaches.
The Apostle John, chiefly to oppose Docetic heresies, wrote his Gospel in about 90 and his three Epistles in about 92 A.D. In his Gospel, he recorded Christís sabbath healings in particular, performed some sixty years previously, and laid great emphasis on His resurrection from the dead at that time on the first day of the week, His appearance to and His out-breathing of His Holy Spirit on His congregated Church the same night after sunset, and His re-appearance to His congregated Church "eight days later" on the next Sunday. Both in his Gospel and in his Epistles, John stressed the importance of the Commandments of Christ, and implicitly emphasised the Decalogue as the Christianís rule of life.
In about 95 A.D., the writing of the New Testament was completed and the Biblical canon was closed, when (apparently just before his death) the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation ó in which the number seven predominates ówhile in the Spirit on "the Lordís day", a term quite universally employed in the early Church Fathers to refer to the Christian Sunday. Implicitly enjoining nearly all of the Ten Commandments, he described (amongst other things) the dead believerís sabbath rest from his labours yet incessant praise of his Creator in heaven, and the unceasing restlessness of the flames and torments of hell. Finally, he closed his book with a glimpse of the New Jerusalem on the new earth, where the saved will praise and serve God ceaselessly, and where the Lord of the Sabbath will rule His redeemed cosmos unto all eternity.
In the third section of the chapter, the further development of the Lordís day was traced during the Post-Apostolic Patristic period, that is, from the death of John, the author of the last canonical book of the Bible known as the book of Revelation, down to the fourth century Church Fathers.
Here it was seen from the late first century writings of Clement of Rome, the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas; from the early second century writings of Ignatius, Pliny and Justin Martyr; and from the late second century writings of Dionysius of Corinth, Melito of Sardis, Bardesanes of Edessa, the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, and the writings of Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria ó all of which writings had already been written less than a century after John first wrote of "the Lordís day" in the book of Revelation ó that weekly Sunday observance had already replaced the Saturday sabbath which was no longer enjoined in theory and which was fast disappearing in practice. During this hundred-year period, Sunday was "kept" (Barnabas), "lived" (Ignatius), "celebrated" (Dionysius), "kept as sabbath" (Irenaeus or Pseudo-Ignatius). Saturday had become a mere "working day", and Sunday was now "fully observed . . . according to . . . the Commandment" (Clement of Alexandria) as "the chief and most important of all days" (Justin Martyr).
In the third century, Sunday was being "solemnized" and "dedicated to rest" as "the Christianís festival" by "putting aside . . . worldly business" (Tertullian). It was being "kept" and "celebrated" as the day on which "the words which are preached" were like "manna from heaven" (Origen). Deacons had services "enjoined" unto them and the oblation was made "in bread and wine" (Fabian) on that day "on which the Lord should rise again" (Cyprian). For Sunday, as "the Lordís day", was now to be "clearly designated and distinguished" from "the [Saturday] sabbath" (Anatolius), which latter had now "gone to its grave with the signs and shadows of the Old Testament", having become "very unfamiliar" even to the Jews (Tertullian), "the (Old) Covenant" having "now grown old, which is the end of the sabbath" (Origen). All that remained to do on the Saturday sabbath was "to fast rigorously, . . . lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews, which Christ Himself the Lord of the Sabbath in His body abolished" (Victorinus).
The fourth century saw the beginnings of the nominal Christianization of the Roman Empire. Toleration was secured for the Christian religion in 313. By the imperial Edicts of Constantine in 321 and also by much subsequent sabbath legislation, provision was made for the progressive outward sanctification of Sunday in public life. All within the eighty years after Constantineís Edict up to the end of the century, Church Councils progressively urged the inward sanctification of the Lordís day as a day of rest on all Church members, as did all the major fourth century Church Fathers (Eusebius, Athanasius, Ephraem the Syrian, Hilary, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Augustine and Theophilus) of whom Ephraem, Hilary, Jerome and Chrysostom explicitly or implicitly enjoined such Sunday observance in terms of the Fourth Commandment.
So then, it is correct to state that during New Testament times and the Early Church period (0-400 AD.), Jewish and Judaistic Saturday sabbath-keeping was always clearly distinguished from the pure Christian observance of what was variously called the first day1, the eighth day2, the Lordís day3 or Sunday4 on which day the early Christians assembled both in the morning5 and in the evening6. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Saturday-keeping (like circumcision and anti-Trinitarianism) continually declined in the Churches7, and Saturday became more and more a normal working-day8 even amongst all Hebrew Christians, as indeed it had always been from the resurrection of Christ onwards amongst the vast majority of Hebrew Christians9 and especially Gentile Christians everywhere10.
On the other hand, although Sunday is rarely11 called the "sabbath" as such in the ancient Christian documents, it nevertheless became more and more observed as the day of rest12, to the extent that slowly changing socio-economic and political circumstances progressively allowed such observance. Centuries previously, sabbath-obligated Israelites13 were socio-economically unable to keep the sabbath while slaves in Egypt, until they re-acquired their freedom many years later14. Similarly, it was not till A.D. 321 that the previously illegal religion of Christianity was given the legal right and duty of publicly resting on Sunday in the Roman Empire. Hereafter, the sabbatarian character of the Lordís day progressively became more and more recognized and enforced both in the Christianized State15 and in the Christian Church16, according to the unalterable requirements of Godís Fourth Commandment17.
The next section of the chapter traced the development and deformation of the sabbath in the Mediaeval Church. In the first phase of this period, the state correctly sought to prevent sabbath desecration in public life (Honorius, Theodosius, Valentinian, Leo). The church correctly requested the state to do this too (Fifth Council of Carthage). And the church correctly sought to bring sabbath-desecrating church members into line (Third Council of Orleans).
However, when the state sought to force even non-Christians to observe the sabbath by coercing them to attend church services (King Gunthram, Charlemagne), and where the church sought to pressurize non-members of the church into sabbath observance (Council of Szaboles, Council of Bourges), so that both state and church increasingly transgressed the bounds of their God-given jurisdiction, deformation set in, and church and state both lost sight of their essentially dissimilar and limited functions (Innocent III, Alexander III). This process was not enhanced by the prescription of severe physical punishments for sabbath desecration (Council of Macron, King Stephen of Hungary), the growth of anti-Scriptural superstitions and Talmud-like legalisms regarding the observance of the Lordís day (Peter Damian, Eustace of Flaye, Tostatus), and especially by the endless multiplication of church feasts and saintsí days alongside of and increasingly vested with the same authority as the Sunday sabbath (Council of Budapest, Antoninus of Florence, Bellarmine). The Deformed Church just could not continue in this direction. It was ripe for Reformation.
In the last section of the chapter, an account was given of the history of the reformation of the Sunday sabbath in the Reformed Church. Martin Luther, while condemning Saturday sabbath-keeping sects, particularly demanded the abrogation of all church festivals except Sunday ó for a weekly day of rest was necessary in terms of the Fourth Commandment, and the sabbath as such was instituted in Eden. Melanchthon stressed the perpetuity of the Ten Commandments, and taught that Christ Himself had changed the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday. Zwingli insisted that love of God and neighbour demands a fixed day of worship and rest. Bucer and Latimer helped Cranmer, who declared that "we observe Sunday". The Articles of the Church of England insisted on the perpetuity and universality of the moral law. And John ŗ Lasco warned against Sunday sabbath desecration by "idleness, jest, drunkenness, gambling, play and other works of the flesh."
Most important of all were the views of John Calvin, who, while stressing that the Saturday sabbath had been abolished in Christís death and resurrection, also stressed that the sabbath was instituted in Eden for all men in perpetuity; that true Christians now give attention to "the observance of the Lordís day"; and that the Fourth Commandment in Deut. 5 is "equally applicable to us as to the Jews", so that "our shop windows are shut on the Lordís day, when we travel not after the common order and fashion of men", for "if we employ the Lordís day to make good cheer to sport ourselves, to go to the games and pastimes, shall God in this be honoured? Is this not mockery? Is not this an unhallowing of His name?" Indeed, "there should be no other feast-days, except one in seven, which we call the Lordís day."
Not essentially different were the views of Calvinís contemporary Reformers. Bullinger stated that it would be against all godliness to decline to sanctify Sunday in terms of the Fourth Commandment. Beza wrote that the Apostles at the dictation of the Holy Spirit had exchanged the pre-Sinaitic seventh for the first day of the week: Knox insisted that "the sabbath must be kept strictly"; Olevianusí and Ursinusí Heidelberg Catechism called Sunday "the sabbath" in terms of I Cor. 16:2 and Isa. 66:23; and Ursinus taught the Edenic antiquity and perpetuity of the sabbath in his Commentary on the Catechism.
While the Dutch Synods of 1574, 1578, 1581 and 1586 were demanding that the state prohibit all public works, shopkeeping and entertainments on Sunday in terms of the Fourth Commandment, the British Puritans Field, Stubbs, Greenham and Bownd were demanding rigid Sunday observance in their own country ó until persecution forced many of their successors to emigrate to America, where Governor Eaton enacted that "whosoever shall profane the Lordís day, or any part of it, by work or sport, shall be punished by fine or corporally." Meanwhile, the great international Synod of Dordt declared that "Christians are obliged solemnly to keep the Lordís day" and that "we should abstain from all servile works at that time, excepting those of charity and necessity; as likewise from all such diversions as are contrary to religion."
Back in England, Hall and Ley came out in favour of the maintenance of Sunday as the Sabbath, and the famous Westminster Assembly, in its Confession of Faith and its Larger and Shorter Catechisms, masterfully stated: that the sabbath is of Edenic origin; that it is of perpetual and universal obligation; that it was changed from the seventh to the first day of the week from the resurrection of Christ onwards; that it is even today to be kept holy by resting from all works, words and thoughts about worldly employments and recreations", the whole day being taken up "in the public and private exercises of His worship and in the duties of necessity and mercy." And this position was vigorously defended by the then contemporary Lightfoot, Owen and Baxter.
In Holland, Perkins, Udemans, Teellinck, Walaeus, Amesius, Essenius, Hoornbeek, Lodensteijn and especially Voetius defended a similar position, Voetius in addition denying the permissibility of purchasing, writing business letters, cleaning out oneís house, hunting or studying ordinary arts and sciences on Sunday, all of which activities he regarded as a hindrance to Sunday religion. Petrus ŗ Mastricht, Witsius, Francken, Tuinman, Van der Kemp, Smijtegelt, Š Brakel and ŗ Marck all held to the orthodox doctrine in Holland as did the anti-Amyraldian Heidegger, Turretine and Gernler in Switzerland, who stated in their 1675 Helvetic Consensus that "we not only hand down sincerity in accordance with the divine Word, the especial necessity of the sanctification of the Lordís day, but also impressively inculcate it and importunately urge its observance."
Since the eighteenth century, the constant spread
of the sabbath-desecrating and anti-Christian principles of the
French Revolution (and the Russian and Chinese Revolutions in its
wake) have deliberately sought to oppose the Lordís day and the
Lord of the Sabbath. Yet notwithstanding this, God has still raised
up a line of vociferous Sunday-keepers such as: Wesley,
Horsley and Raikes at the end of the eighteenth century:
Wilson, Edwards, Hodge, Henderson,
Gray, Kelman and Lilley in the nineteenth century;
and Kuyper, Geesink, Smeenk, Van Rooyen,
Eloff and Legerton in the twentieth century. And even
in the nineteen-seventies, conservative church synods and Christian
writers continue to advocate perpetual and universal Lordís day
observance and to condemn Lordís day desecration ó and, in obedience
to the Commandments of the infallible Word of God, they shall continue
to do so till Jesus comes again.
In Chapter VII, the present chapter on the CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE COVENANTAL SABBATH, a summary of this work has just been given, prior to attempting an answer to the two main queries.
It was seen in the Introduction (on pp. ix-xi above) that the two main queries divide into a further fifteen sub-queries. It is to these latter that we must now turn our attention.
The first of the nine sub-queries towards the solution of the first main query ["Is the sabbath of perpetual obligation?"], was: "What is involved in the term "sabbath"; merely rest, or rest on a hebdomadal or sevenfold principle permeating the demarcation of time?" The answer to this must be that the term "sabbath" as such only implies rest, and not sevenfoldness, although it is temporally usually connected with the sevenfold or hebdomadal cycle. (Gen. 2:1-3; Lev. 23ó25; Heb. 4:1-11; Rev. 14:13).
The second sub-query enquired: "What is the nature of Godís sabbath rest, both in eternity and on the seventh day of creation?" Here it can only be replied that to the extent to which the Triune God "sabbathed" [in restful activity and in active rest] before creation, "sevenness" was only involved in at least His eternal actual and essential but not at all in His Triune notional activities; whereas Godís sabbath on the seventh day of creation is His still uninterrupted delight in the work of His hands and His still extended invitation to man to join Him in that blessed rest. (John 17:5 cf. Luke 24:1,6, 26; Gen. 1:26ó2:3; Heb. 4:1-11).
The third sub-query was: "What is the relation between the sabbath and Godís eternal counsel regarding His covenants with men?" And the answer is that God eternally purposed created man to sabbath weekly throughout his covenantal progress from his losable blessedness during Godís Seventh Day to his unlosable blessedness or eternal sabbath rest at the advent of Godís Eighth Day. (Acts 15:18; Gen. 1:26ó2:3; Hos. 6:7 marg., Heb. 4:1-11.)
The answer to the fourth sub-query: "Was Adam required to keep the sabbath; and if so, why and how?", is that Adam was so required to keep the weekly sabbath as the sign of the Adamic covenant of works (involving too the substance of the Fourth of the Ten Commandments of the moral law), and as the temporal demarcator of his progress towards the rest of God as the covenantal reward. The unfallen Adam kept the sabbath on the first full day of the weeks of his life, probably from morning (which probably commenced at midnight rather than at daybreak) to morning. It would appear that Adam observed the sabbath by resting from his labours thereon in order to praise God, to meditate upon His works and His spoken Word, to instruct his descendants in matters of religion, and perhaps by "communing" with the Lord by partaking of the tree of life and offering a non-bloody sacrifice. (Gen. 1:3-5, 26-31; 2:7-25; 4:3-4; Eccl. 7:29; Eph. 4:24; Rom. 2:13-15; 5:8-15; I Cor. 15:22, 45-49 and 16:1-2 cf. Luke 23:54ó24:1, 6, 26, 36-46.)
The fifth sub-query: "Was man required to keep and did he so keep the sabbath between the fall and Sinai?" must be answered in the affirmative. Especially after the fall (and the resulting sin, toil and death) did the observance of the sabbath become both spiritually and physically imperative to the fallen Adam and his descendants. In the fall, man lost his rest and the day of rest at the beginning of his weeks, which was henceforth kept at the end of his weeks. But immediately after the fall, man received the covenant of grace, which prophetically promised the restoration and consummation of manís rest and of the day of rest at the beginning of his weeks, and therewith his principial entry into Godís rest and the advent of Godís Eighth Day. Hence traces of sabbath observance are found in the lives of Adam, Cain, his descendant Lamech, Enos, Enoch, his descendant Lamech, and Noah; amongst the Semites, Hamites and Japhethites, and especially amongst the ancient Babylonians, Job and Balaam; amongst the covenantal patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph; and amongst the Israelites both during their enslavement in Egypt and during the Exodus and particularly in connection with the manna episode. The pre-Sinaitic sabbath was probably characterized as a day of joyful rest by the offer of a bloody sacrifice, the announcement of words of prophecy, the rendering of thanksgiving unto God and the enjoyment of the fellowship of the covenantal people. (Gen 4:3-4; 7:4-10; 8:6-12; 29:18-28; 31:23; 50:10; Job 2:13; Ex. 5:5-11; 7:15; 12:14-19; 16:4-30; 20:8-11).
The answer to the sixth sub-query: "How was the sabbath kept from Sinai till Calvary?", is that in spite of its nationalization and its extremely rigid enforcement by special Mosaic provisions (Ex. 31:14; 35:2; Num. 15:32-36), it continued to be observed as before, and opened new dimensions by its attachment to central sanctuary worship and, post-Mosaically, by its link to progressively revealed eschatological perspectives (e.g. Isa. 56:1-7; 58:13-14; 66 : 22-24; etc.).Yet its anti-Scriptural Judaization (in the few centuries after the completion of the Old Testament revelation and before Christís birth and the inauguration of the New Testament) necessitated its reformation. (Hos. 2:11; Am. 8:4-6; Isa. 1:13; Jer. 17:19-27; Lam. 1:7.)
In answering the seventh sub-query: "How did Jesus the Second Adam keep the sabbath?", it may be said that He progressively fulfilled the sabbatical system by a dedicated observance of the sabbath day according to the Scriptures in both His practice and His precepts, by His merciful sabbath alleviation of the suffering of sick people so that they too might "rest" and enjoy that day, by His utter rejection and condemnation of the anti-Scriptural sabbath traditions of the rabbis, and by His progressive revelation of His post-mortal entry into the sabbath rest of His glorified human life on manís behalf on Resurrection Sundayí. (Luke 4:16, 31; 6:1-11; 9:28-31; 13:10-17; 14:1-24: 18:18-20; 23:46, 54-56; 24:1, 6, 26-47.)
The eighth sub-query: "Is man governmentally and personally required to keep and did he so keep the sabbath after the resurrection of Jesus?", must be answered on general principles. It is submitted ó that as the principle of government or dominion even in respect of the sabbath was already germinally present in Adam and in his descendants (Gen. 1:26ó2:3), that as the pre-Mosaic Noah governmentally encouraged sabbath observance and conceivably punished its desecration amongst all his subjects (Gen. 7:4, 10; 8:6-12; 9.1-7), that as the pre-Sinaitic Moses and the rulers forbad the nation to gather manna and indulge in unnecessary travelling and food preparation on the sabbath day (Ex. 16:22-28), that as the Fourth Commandment itself forbids all the people and their dependents and even their animals and sojourning strangers to work on the sabbath within the (city) gates (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14), that as the post-Sinaitic temporary Mosaic governmental provisions (later abolished in the death of Christ ó Col. 2:8-16) required the execution of the death penalty for the transgression of the sabbath (Ex. 31:14; 35:2; Num. 15:32-36), that as the permanent post-Mosaic sabbath provisions all required the legal enforcement of sabbath sanctification in public life (Jer. 17:19-27; Neh. 13:15-22), and that as the imperial government did the same as soon as it had become nominally Christianized in the fourth century AD. ó that (both local and central) governments definitely have a duty to hallow the sabbath day in public life even in this New Testament dispensation. And as regards the personal sanctification of the sabbath under the Christian covenant, it is submitted that this is to be done as previously (under the Adamic, Noachic, Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants) by abstaining from all unnecessary (Ex. 16:22-30) food preparation, travel and labour (excepting works of religion or necessity or mercyóJosh. 6:1-5; 2 Kings 4:20-30; 2 Chron. 23; Matt. 12:5; Mark 3:4; John 5:15-17) and devoting oneís whole sabbath entirely to the things of God both in public and in private, both in the assembly and at home, and by encouraging oneís family, oneís employees and oneís visitors to do the same. (Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15; Isa. 56:2; 58:13-14; Heb. 4:4-11.) And that this is to be the case under the New Testament dispensation too, is also clearly implied in Isaiah 56:1-7 (cf. Mark 11:17 and 16:1, 9, 15) and Isaiah 66:23 (cf. Matt. 24:20 and 28:1, 7, 19-20).
The ninth sub-query: "Will the sabbath be kept in heaven and on the new earth; and, if so, how?", must be answered in the affirmative. For in heaven the sabbath will be observed incessantly (proving that sevenfoldness is not of its essence), and probably in the New Jerusalem too. In both places it will be observed by praising and serving the Lord, in heaven according to the soul alone and on the new earth according to both body and soul ó whereas the unbelievers in hell "shall have no rest day or night". (Isa. 57:20-21; 58:13-14 and 56:1-8 cf. Mark 11:17; Isa. 66:22-23; Heb. 4:9-11; Rev. 4:1,8; 7:15; 14:6-13.)
The above answers to the first nine sub-queries enable an answer to be given to the first of the two main queries, namely: "Is the sabbath of perpetual obligation?" And the answer can only be unequivocally in the affirmative, noting however that sevenfoldness is not of the essence of sabbath observance, particularly after death and on the new earth.
"There remaineth therefore a keeping of a sabbath to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest" (Heb. 4:9-11 and margin).
* * *
The first of the six sub-queries towards the solution of the second main query ["Was the historical change of the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday scriptural or not?"], was: "When did the undisputed historical change from Saturday to Sunday first come about?" Scripture answers by prophesying the change of day in the Old Testament, and by recording in the New Testament that the Sunday of Christís resurrection from the dead was indeed the turning point of history. (Lev. 23:6-7, 11, 15-16, 21, 34-36 cf. John 20:1, 19, 26; Ps. 118:22-24 cf. Acts 4:10-12 and Mark 16:2, 9; Ps. 95:11 cf. Heb. 4:1-11; Mal. 3:1-2, 17; 4:1-3.)
The second sub-query enquired: "Does the covenant of grace necessarily require such a change of day?" The answer is clearly in the affirmative. To deny this is to deny the finished work and entry into Godís rest of the Second Adam who kept the Adamic covenant the first Adam had transgressed; to deny the principial advent of Godís Eighth Day, the Day of the Lord on Resurrection and Pentecost Sundays. (Hos. 6:7 marg.; Mal. 4:1-3; Rom. 5:12ó6:4; I Cor. 15:22-28, 45-52; 16:1-2.)
The third sub-query: "Was Saturday observed after Calvary; and if so, by whom and how?", is easy to answer. Saturday continued to be observed in a legalistic fashion by the Jews, who rejected Christ and His resurrection entry into Godís rest; by some misguided Hebrew Christians and sects; and by such Gentile Christians who fell under their influence. (Acts 13:14, 27, 42; 16:13; 17:1-2, 10-11, 32). But Saturday was never once kept after Resurrection Sunday by the Scripturally-informed and Spirit-led Hebrew Christians or Gentile Christians both in Apostolic and post-Apostolic times. (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1-2; Gal, 4 :9-11; Col. 2:8-16.)
The answer to the fourth sub-query: "When was Sunday first observed, and how?", must be that Christ and His Spirit progressively taught its observance in the hearts of Godís children by example rather than by precept particularly from Resurrection Sunday onwards. And in so teaching, They then probably indicated that, like the Adamic sabbath before the fall and like the Resurrection Sunday of Christ the Second Adam, the New Testament Sunday observance was to run from midnight to midnight (Matt. 28:1,6,13; Mark 16:1-2,9; Luke 24:1, 13, 24-36; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:6-7, 11 cf. Ex. 11:4; 12:6, 12-16, 27-29, 42 cf. Gen. 1:3-5, 31; 2:1-3); and They so most certainly indicated that Sunday was to be characterized by the assembly of Godís children (and therefore, by implication, by the laying aside of their labours in order to make this possible), by the reading of and/or meditation upon the Scriptures, by the remembrance of Christís resurrection and (also partly to that end!) by the administration of the sacraments, and by the extension of Godís Kingdom. (Luke 24:1, 6, 158; John 20:1, 19-22, 26-30; Acts 2:1-4 cf. Lev. 23:10-21; Acts 20:6-7; I Cor. 16:1-2; Rev. 1:10.)
The fifth sub-query: "Is Saturday still the sabbath day?", is easily answered. It is still the Mosaic sabbath which no longer obtains, but it is neither the supralapsarian Adamic nor the ultralapsarian Christian sabbath, and its obligatory observance is categorically condemned under the New covenant. (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1-2,9; Gal. 4:9-11; Col. 2:8-16.)
The sixth and last sub-query, is: "If Saturday is not still the sabbath day, when did Sunday become the sabbath day (if it indeed is), and how should it be observed (personally and governmentally)?" The answer can only be that as Saturday is no longer the sabbath, but as the sabbath is of perpetual obligation, Sunday must now be the sabbath day. But Sunday could only have become the sabbath day on its sanctification thereas by the example and teaching of the risen Christ on Resurrection Sunday and again by that of the descended Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. Even though the Church did not immediately realize the significance of these events at that time, the promised Spirit progressively led her into the truth that the day had indeed been changed. And as and when the Church realized this, to the extent to which it was socially and politically possible, the Christian Sunday was observed both personally and governmentally as was the pre-Mosaic sabbath and the post-Mosaic sabbath. (John 20:1, 19-26; Acts 2:1-4; 20:6-7; Heb. 4:1-11; Rev. 1:10; 14:13; cf. Isa. 58:13-14; Jer. 17:19-27; Neh. 13:15-22; 2 Tim. 3:16-17.)
The above answers to the last six sub-queries enable an answer to be given to the second of the two main queries, namely: "Was the historical change of the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday Scriptural or not?" Again, the answer can only be in the affirmative. For the change was prophesied in the Old Testament, recorded in the New Testament, enforced in the early Church, recognized and observed by mainstream Christianity throughout all subsequent centuries, and is in fact demanded by the doctrine of the covenant.
"I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord . . . The Stone which the builders refused, is become the Head Stone of the corner. This is the Lordís doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Ps. 118:17-24.)
In modern times, however, the spirit of sabbath desecration is rampant! Yet even today, there are still those who, like the true Church down through all the centuries, refuse to bow the knee before Baal and who "earnestly contend for the faith once [and for all] delivered unto the saints"18. Here are they that follow in the footsteps of Jehovah, and that follow His sabbath-keeping children Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elisha, Joash, Amos, Hosea, Hezekiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nehemiah, and Jesus and His disciples19. Here are they that love the Lordís day, the first day of the week or Sunday, and who seek to observe it as did Jesus, Peter, Paul and John20: and as did successive generations of early Christians such as Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Eusebius, Athanasius, Ephraem, Hilary, Jerome and Chrysostom21. Here are they who gladly abide by the sabbath teachings of the Councils and the Confessions of the true Church: the early Church Councils of Laodicea, Carthage and Orleans; and the later Reformed Church Confessions such as the Articles of the Church of England, the sabbath report to the Decrees of Dordt of the Church of Holland, and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms of the Churches of Scotland and Ireland22.
Here are they that follow sabbath-conscious Protestant Reformers such as Laski, Calvin, Bullinger, Beza, Knox and Ursinus23; that follow godly sabbath-keeping Puritans like Field, Stubbs, Greenham, Bownds, Ames, Perkins, Ley, Lightfoot, Owen and Baxter and their Dutch brethren like Teellinck, Walaeus, Hoornbeck and Voetius24. Here are they who love the God of Wilson, Kelman and Kuyper25, and who call the sabbath a delight and the Lordís holy day honourable (cf. Isa. 58:13f). "Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus", for here are they that do "rest from their labours" (Rev. 14:12-13) and who, like the Apostle John, are "in the Spirit on the Lordís day" (Rev. 1:10). Indeed, here are they that believe (in the words of Heb. 4:9) that each week, even for the New Testament Christian, "there remaineth therefore a rest (or: Ďa keeping of the sabbathí) to the people of God".
Here are they that "labour therefore to
enter into that rest" (Heb. 4:11) ó the rest in the finished
work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the rest in and on the Lordís day,
and the rest in the coming Day of the Lord. Here are they that repose
in the saintsí everlasting rest, for "blessed are the dead
which die in the Lord from henceforth: ĎYeaí, saith the Spirit (Rev.
14:13), Ďthat they may rest from their labours; and their works
do follow themí". For here are they that believe Godís promise
(Isa. 66:22-23)26 that "as the
new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before
Me, . . . it shall come to pass, that . . . from one sabbath
to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me."