Intelligent and Informed People Read SnyderTalk!
The Sabbath Day is Saturday
Exodus 20: 8 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Every Word spoken by Yahweh is important, but this command is distinctive because it is fourth on the list of the Ten Commandments. I point that out so that you will understand that the Sabbath day (Shabbat in Hebrew) is very special to Yahweh, and I want you to know that changing it in any way requires an explicit and unequivocal command from Yahweh Himself.
Exodus 20: 9-11 provides details about the Sabbath. In a nutshell, Yahweh commanded us to set it apart for rest and for fellowship with Him, and the day He referred to is Saturday — not Sunday. The Sabbath actually begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday because Yahweh counts days from sundown to sundown — not from 12:00 midnight to 12:00 midnight.
Between the time Yahweh issued that command and the time the Messiah came, Jewish rabbis concocted a lengthy list of “laws” governing the Sabbath day, and Jewish people were required to obey their laws or suffer the consequences. Even today in Jerusalem, if you drive your car through some orthodox Jewish neighborhoods on the Sabbath, you are likely to get stoned, and I mean that literally. They will throw rocks at you because they believe that driving a car is forbidden on the Sabbath.
Ancient rabbis came up with a distance that people were permitted to travel on the Sabbath and referred to it as a “Sabbath day’s journey.” It’s the distance between the top of Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and the top of the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount. It’s not very far, and if you went any farther, you were violating the Sabbath.
The ancient rabbis also made up rules about lighting fires or lamps, so many contemporary orthodox Jews refuse to turn on a light switch to avoid breaking the Sabbath. Yahweh did not say these things. They are simply traditions that are accepted by many Jewish people, and in Jerusalem not knowing about them can get you stoned — literally.
When the Messiah came, one of His goals was to explain what Yahweh actually intended when He proclaimed the Ten Commandments, and His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5 through 7) is the best example of this in the New Testament. But He also performed many miracles on the Sabbath to demonstrate that the rabbis had gone far beyond what Yahweh had in mind when He told us to set the Sabbath apart and to keep it holy.
Although the New Testament includes many examples of the Messiah challenging the rabbis on the Sabbath, I will present only one. It’s discussed in Luke 13: 10-17. The Messiah was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, and a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit for 18 years was in the congregation. When the Messiah saw her, He called her over, laid His hands on her, and said,
“Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” (Luke 13: 12)
Her healing was instantaneous. She stood erect for the first time in almost two decades and immediately began praising God. But the “president of the synagogue” (Luke 13: 14 from The New Jerusalem Bible) was indignant because the Messiah healed her on the Sabbath, and in his mind that was work and work was forbidden on the Sabbath. He said,
“There are six days in which work should be done; therefore come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” (Luke 13: 14)
The Messiah was furious. He looked directly at the rabbis and said,
“You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13: 15-16)
Everyone in the synagogue except the rabbis rejoiced. Luke 13: 17 refers to the rabbis as the Messiah’s opponents, or His adversaries, and the Bible describes Satan as Yahweh’s adversary. In this instance, the rabbis were following Satan’s lead. Although the president of the synagogue aimed his remark at the healed woman, the Messiah was his real target because He had violated their tradition by “working on the Sabbath.”
With a simple demonstration of Yahweh’s healing power, the Messiah showed everyone, including the rabbis, that their traditions were way off base. He was setting the record straight by revealing Yahweh’s point of view on this critical issue, but not once in the New Testament did He challenge their belief that the Sabbath is Saturday. That fact is crucial, and its importance should not be minimized.
Charles Ryrie is one of the world’s leading Bible scholars and author of the Ryrie Study Bible. In his note on Exodus 20: 8-11, he says,
“This is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated after the day of Pentecost. The church made Sunday her day of worship (Acts 20: 7), commemorating the resurrection of Christ.” (Ryrie Study Bible Expanded Edition, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 122.)
Since Ryrie references Acts 20: 7 as the sole basis for changing the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday, you would expect that verse to be crystal clear on the subject. Take a look at it and see if it provides clear and unambiguous instructions to change the day for Sabbath observance, and keep in mind that this change represents a major modification in one of the Ten Commandments:
“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.” (Acts 20: 7)
As you can see, this verse says absolutely nothing about the Sabbath day. It merely points out that a group of believers, including Paul, gathered together on Sunday to share a meal before Paul set off on a journey. Acts 20: 7 also says nothing about what they did the day before, and it certainly doesn’t qualify as a ringing endorsement of Sunday as the Sabbath day. If you were a lawyer presenting this verse in court as your sole justification for making that change, the judge would laugh at you and throw your case out of court, and you don’t need to be a lawyer to understand why.
Two other passages of Scripture are used frequently to support the argument that Sunday is the Sabbath day: Galatians 4: 9-11 and Colossians 2: 13-17. Let’s take a look at them and see what they say:
“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.” (Galatians 4: 9-11)
Does Galatians 4: 9-11 sound like an unqualified endorsement of Sunday as the Sabbath day? Hardly.
“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Therefore, no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2: 13-17)
Again, in Colossians 2: 13-17, does it sound like Paul is saying that the Sabbath is now Sunday instead of Saturday, or is it more likely that he is alluding to the fact that we are not obligated to keep all the “laws” regarding the Sabbath day that were made up by ancient rabbis? The Messiah addressed that subject and He made it clear that they went way too far, but He said nothing about changing the Sabbath day and neither did Paul.
Some people believe that Hebrews 4: 1-10 suggests that people who are saved (i.e., born again) have entered God’s rest already and that it no longer matters which day of the week they choose to observe the Sabbath. They point to Hebrews 4: 3 as the pivotal verse:
“For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Hebrews 4: 3)
Now let’s consider what Paul said in Hebrews 4: 3. While it’s true that believers have “entered His rest” in the sense that we can look forward to spending eternity with Yahweh in heaven, it is a real stretch to think that we’re living presently here on earth in the ultimate rest that He has in store for us. Crime, disease, natural catastrophes, and other hardships that we confront here on earth each day simply cannot be a part of the final “rest” we will experience with Him in heaven.
Genesis 2: 2 is even more telling:
“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” (Genesis 2: 2)
It is obvious that the “seventh day” is the day of rest that Yahweh has in mind when He refers to the Sabbath, and the “seventh day” is Saturday — not Sunday. Saturday is the last day of the week. Sunday is the first day of the week.
Finally, take a look at Matthew 5: 17-19. These verses are part of the Messiah’s Sermon on the Mount, and they shed some light on this important question:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 17-19)
Orthodox rabbis have identified more than 600 Laws in the Scriptures, and the Ten Commandments are without question the most important ones of all. In Matthew 5: 17-19, the Messiah said that every Law in the Scriptures will stand firm “until heaven and earth pass away.” Since that hasn’t happened yet, there is no reason to believe the Ten Commandments have changed in any way.
In His Sermon on the Mount, the Messiah explained that the “laws” made up by the rabbis were of no consequence and that they went far beyond what Yahweh intended. Yahweh’s Laws are a completely different matter, though. According to the Messiah, they are binding on everyone. That was a bold statement challenging the rabbis’ authority because they regarded themselves as “Yahweh’s police force,” so to speak, and they made Jewish people obey their “laws” as if they had come directly from Yahweh. In effect, they built a religion around obedience to man-made decrees which became well-established traditions that superseded Yahweh’s Law. The Messiah made it clear that the rabbis were dead wrong.
As I said, if Yahweh ordained a change in the Sabbath day, it would be crystal clear in the Scriptures. The command to keep the Sabbath holy is one of the Ten Commandments, and it ranks just below not worshipping false gods and ahead of not committing adultery and not stealing. As I said, a change of that magnitude requires a clear and unequivocal command from Yahweh alone.
Arguments supporting a change in Sabbath day observance are very weak, and they don’t hold up under careful scrutiny. Through prayer, Bible reading, and study, Yahweh has made that very clear to me. Even though this view goes against Christian tradition, it does not contradict anything that Yahweh said.
I observe Sabbath on Saturday. That doesn’t mean that I have a problem with worshipping on Sunday or on any other day of the week. It simply means that I know Yahweh set apart Saturday as the Sabbath day, and I want to obey Him. If that means I must abandon a longstanding Christian tradition, then so be it.
In a nutshell, when Yahweh’s Word is straightforward and clear on an issue, I abandon any opinions and any feelings that I have suggesting that He meant something besides what He actually said. I know that Yahweh’s Word is true, but I don’t have that same confidence in my opinions and feelings. Neither should you.
An Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood in Jerusalem on Shabbat
Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem on Shabbat. It’s usually a very busy street.
A Sabbath Day’s Journey
This SnyderTalk editorial was adapted from the book What Will You Do with the Rest of Your Life? by Neil Snyder.
Email Distribution List:
I have created an email distribution list that I use to notify people when I post a new SnyderTalk. If you would like to be on that list, send your email address to email@example.com, and put “add me to your distribution list” in the subject line. If you know others who are interested in SnyderTalk content, tell them to send me their email address, and I’ll put them on the list.
Hosea 2: 1-5
Say to your brothers, “Ammi,” and to your sisters, “Ruhamah.” Contend with your mother, contend, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; and let her put away her harlotry from her face and her adultery from between her breasts, or I will strip her naked and expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land and slay her with thirst. Also, I will have no compassion on her children, because they are children of harlotry. For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
- God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This [Yahweh] is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3: 15)
- “Therefore behold, I am going to make them know—this time I will make them know My power and My might; and they shall know that My name is Yahweh.” (Jeremiah 16: 21)
- “Behold, the days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘Yahweh our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23: 5-6)
- Yeshua said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8: 58)
Click here to download the entire audio presentation for free and with no strings attached. Share it as often as you want.
Hosea 4: 6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Clifford D. May: Postcards from the edge of Syria— Jordan is now home to an estimated 560,000 Syrian refugees. And if Assad wins, he may not welcome them back with open arms.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison: President Obama’s Belfast Blarney— President Obama’s recent trip to the G-8 Summit in Belfast, Northern Ireland, included an address at the Waterfront hall. There, he criticized Catholic and Protestant schools and compared them to segregated schools in the U.S. when he was a boy. His remarks were hailed by British atheists. They took his speech for what it was: an attack on faith-based education everywhere.
Daniel Greenfield: Irish Bishop Blasts Obama’s Anti-Catholic Bigotry—Obama is obscenely eager to describe the troubles in Northern Ireland in religious terms, but completely refuses to acknowledge that his Syrian Civil War is a religious conflict.
Daniel Pipes: What Turkey’s riots mean— How much the current unrest changes the role of Islam in Turkey depends primarily on the economy.
Michael van der Galien: Inside the Turkish Protests—The battle taking place in Turkey touches the very core of the Turkish Republic and its future. The country’s secularists who were in power for decades, but who have for the last ten years taken a backseat, have taken to the streets demanding the separation of mosque and state, while the Islamists led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan aim to Islamize the country faster and more thoroughly than ever before, while cracking down on all possible dissent.
Jordan Hoffman: In Turkey, ‘World War Z’ is no World War Zion—The summer zombie blockbuster, opening June 21 in the US, is the greatest piece of cinematic propaganda for Israel since ‘Exodus.’ So how come one version censors references to the Jewish state?
Alan Baker: Preconditions Have No Basis in Law or Fact—All the agreements between Israel and the PLO are based in their preambular paragraphs on the call by the international community, in UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967, for “secure and recognized boundaries.” The Palestinian leadership has repeatedly committed and agreed to this formula, which basically means that the pre-1967 military armistice demarcation lines – never intended to become borders – would be replaced by agreed-upon borders answering the Security Council criteria.
Jonathan S. Tobin: “Khaybar” – A Middle East Reality Check—The political culture of the Palestinians makes peace improbable if not impossible. If Palestinians have never found the will to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn, it is in no small measure because doing so is viewed as treason to the general anti-Zionist cause.
Yoel Guzansky and Benedetta Berti: The Arab Awakening and the “Cascade” of Failing States—The post-revolutionary stabilization period is likely to both exacerbate preexisting cleavages as well as weaken central authority. As such, the short term may indeed be characterized by weak or failing states. This cascade of state weakness also extends to states that have not been at the center of the protests of the Arab Spring, such as Iraq.
Raymond Ibrahim: Christendom’s Greatest Cathedral to Become a Mosque—While unrest in Turkey continues to capture attention, more subtle and more telling events concerning the Islamification of Turkey—and not just at the hands of Prime Minister Erdogan but majorities of Turks—are quietly transpiring. These include the fact that Turkey’s Hagia Sophia museum is on its way to becoming a mosque.
Blessings in the Book of Revelation is a book that you need to read, especially now. There are blessings throughout the Scriptures but Revelation is the only book in the Bible actually containing a specific blessing for reading it. It’s repeated twice, once at the beginning and again at the end. This is the reason that I believe Revelation should be the first step toward studying biblical prophecy. Though not easy to do, Revelation can be broken down and understood by anyone, not just the academic elite. So, Revelation’s blessings are for everyone. Click here to order the eBook. Click here to order the paperback.
Other Books by Neil Snyder
- Stand! is a suspense novel that exposes the lies, corruption, and greed underlying the theory that man-made CO2 emissions are responsible for global warming. Professor Wes Carlyle and Karen Sterling, his research collaborator, carefully scan the audience for their would-be attacker—a member of the enviro-gestapo who has been following them for days. Wes spots his man in the back of the room leaning against the wall. Suddenly, another man in the audience steps forward and moves toward Karen at a menacing pace. With a vicious stroke, he swings a billy club at her head. Click here to order the eBook. Click here to order the paperback.
- What Will You Do with the Rest of Your Life? deals with a question that every Christian has to consider: what should I do with my life? Click here to order the eBook. Click here to order the paperback.
- Falsely Accused is a true story about a young woman who was accused of committing a double homicide. It’s about a travesty of justice, and it reveals Yahweh intervening in the life of a believer to rescue her from danger in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Everyone will enjoy the book, but young people in particular need to read it because the mistakes made that led to the problem could have been avoided. They were the kinds of mistakes that young people are prone to make. As they say, forewarned is forearmed. Click here to order the eBook. Click here to order the paperback.