Unfounded Statements about Sabbath Keeping.

I just read the following statement from D. L. Moody that illustrates how so much error has been allowed to continue in the church:

The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. The fourth commandment begins with the word remember, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?

Few seem to question statements like this, but instead, well-meaning but misguided people continue to perpetuate ideas like this by repeating them without examination. Consider these statements with me one by one, and ask yourself whether you could support them with plain and unambiguous texts of Scripture.

1. “The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since.”

If the Sabbath was binding in Eden, then God must have commanded Adam and Eve to “observe the Sabbath” by ceasing from their normal activity on a day he had sanctified. I have searched the early chapters of Genesis trying to find that commandment. In reality, God’s rest from his creating activity on the seventh day was an ongoing rest. All the activity in which he is now involved, which, by the way, was not suspended on the seventh day in which he rested from his creative activity, involves his work of providence, in which he governs all his creatures and all their actions. He has not ceased to rest from his work of creation. Though he has ceased from one activity, he is very active in another. I can’t find any command for Adam and Eve to enter into that rest.

So, perhaps you can help me find the verse which “bound” Adam and Eve to keep the Sabbath in the garden.

You might also want to ask from what Adam was to rest since he was never involved in arduous
labor until after he fell into sin. Earning his bread by the sweat of his brow was part of the curse that resulted from his sin.

Additionally, why is it that in the thousands of years that passed between Eden and Sinai do we not find a single commandment to observe the Sabbath or hear of anyone who was condemned for failing to observe it?

If it is still binding, why is there not a single commandment in the New Testament Scriptures for new covenant believers to observe it? One would think that such an important commandment would be mentioned at least once. No such commandment exists.

2. “The fourth commandment begins with the word remember, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai.”

This does not take into account the fact that there are occasions when the word “remember” is forward looking. For example, when Moses was instructing the Israelites concerning the feast of unleavened bread, he said to them before they ever left Egypt, “Remember this day in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . .(Exo. 13:3). When he spoke these words, they were still in Egypt. Would anyone argue that this exodus had already occurred because Moses told them to “remember” it?

3. “How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?”

The answer to this question is simple. The fourth commandment was the ceremonial sign of the Old Covenant (see Exo. 31:17). It was intended to endure as long as the covenant endured of which it was the sign. Since the Old Covenant has been superceded by the New Covenant, the Old Covenant sign, the Sabbath, has been superceded by the New Covenant sign, the communion cup. In addition to this, the other nine commandments are repeated as a part of Christ’s law; the Sabbath commandment is not.

The Jewish Sabbath pointed to two Old Testament events, both of which pointed forward to the redemptive work of Christ. One was God’s completion of creation (Exo. 20: 9-11) and finds its fulfillment in Jesus’ establishment of the New Creation. The other was God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage (Deut 5:15), a type of the our deliverance from sin’s bondage. Both these types find their fulfillment in Christ, the New Covenant believer’s “Sabbath rest.”


7 Responses to “Unfounded Statements about Sabbath Keeping.”

  1. 1 seventh son
    October 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks for the post….very timely, as I reading about the sabbath a few days ago in a reformed commentary on Luke. The author presented the sabbath as an abiding commandment and the arguments were not unlike Mr. Moody’s above. His arguments did not satisfy me as scriptural, but as usual, I was left with not much more than an inward uneasiness regarding the whole issue. I finally just asked the Lord for help on this.

    The objection that popped into my mind was this: If it is an abiding commandment, why is it not still to be practiced on the seventh day? I guess the common answer is that the early Christians switched the sabbath to the first day of the week for obvious reasons. However, I would say that abiding is abiding. No one has the authority to change a commandment of God but God himself, and we don’t see the Lord changing the sabbath to a different day in the NT. Seems like they want to have their cake and eat it too.

    Your post has given me more to consider, so thanks. Are there any other resources you could recommend for further study?

  2. October 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Seventh Son,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I think you are correct in you observation that “abiding is abiding.” The reality is that the early Christians did not change the day from the seventh day to the first day of the week. As a cursory reading of the book of Acts will reveal, Paul and his companions continued to teach in the synogugues on the Sabbath along with meeting with believers on the first day of the week. There is not a single instance in which the first day of the week is called “the Sabbath.”

    To me, the most significant issue is that the Sabbath is identified as the “sign” of the Mosaic Covenant. When that covenant was replaced by the New Covenant, the sign of that covenant passed away with the covenant itself.

    There should be no question that the Apostle Paul stated the 10 commandments were ecliplsed by the New Covenant and that the Old Covenant/10 Commandments were passing away. He referred to the Old Covenant as “the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone” (2 Cor. 3:7). This was the Covenant. No other words were inscribed on the tables of stone apart from the 10 Commandments. Paul clearly had more in mind than the civil and ceremonial aspects of the covenant; he was writing about the covenant itself.

    That does not mean the Law of God has been abrogated. It simply means the Jewish expression of God’s law has been fulfilled by Christ in his establishment of the New Covenant.

    I would suggest the following link for further study:


    Thanks again for your comments.

  3. 3 seventh son
    October 4, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks much!

  4. October 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Seventh Son,

    The following is a list of titles suggested by Dr. Morey on this subject. I have not read them all and do not necessarily recommend them all.

    The Sabbath in Colossians is Chapter 7 from Discovering the New Covenant: Why I Am No Longer a Seventh-day Adventist by former-SDA pastor Greg Taylor.  This is an excellent and highly readable study of Colossians 2:16-17.  Shared by author’s permission.
    The Seventh-Day Sabbath Was the Sign of the Mosaic Covenant! is Chapter 7 from John G. Reisinger’s book Tablets of Stone & The History of Redemption, published by New Covenant Media.  Thanks to the author and publisher for granting permission to share this study on Sabbatismos!
    The Sabbath: A Test Case is Chapter 13 from New Covenant Theology: Description, Definition, Defense by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel.  Many thanks to author Fred Zaspel and New Covenant Media for granting permission to share this excellent study on Sabbatismos. 
    The Law of Christ in Relation to the Law of Moses: Discontinuity is Chapter 12 from A. Blake White’s book The Law of Christ: A Theological Proposal, published by New Covenant Media in 2010.  This study is shared here by permission of both the author and publisher.
    Some Surprising Statistics is Chapter 10 from Tom Wells’ book The Christian and the Sabbath.  In these excerpts, the author gives illuminating statistics on and analysis of the words “holy” and “Sabbath” in the Old and New Testaments.  Shared by permission.

    Sabbath Revelation is Chapter 13 from The Stonecutter’s Bride by Samuel Pestes.  Read the fascinating story of how God revealed the true meaning of the Sabbath to the author through the text of Genesis, chapters 1 and 2.  Shared by permission.
    Additional Online Resources
    (off site)
    How Is Jesus Our Sabbath Rest? is answered superbly here by the online Christian ministry Got Questions?
    True Sabbath Rest through Christ is a brief gospel study of Hebrews 4:9-10. 

    Enjoy Sabbath Rest Today is an excellent article by Sheryl Barker, featured in a 2011 issue of Proclamation! magazine.
    Our Sabbath Rest Fulfilled in Jesus Christ is an 8-point study on the Sabbath by Grace Tabernacle.
    Are the Sabbath laws binding on Christians today? is a brief Sabbath study by Pastor John MacArthur’s ministry, Grace to You.
    Jerry Rector’s study on the Sabbath is available to read on the Life Assurance Ministries Web site.  Jerry is Joe’s brother.
    Pastor Mark Martin has an excellent study titled The Sabbath & Sunday: Common Misunderstandings.
    Who Moved the Sabbath to Sunday? is Rev. Ken Collins’ brief historical answer to this question that is so vital to Adventists.
    The Christian Church and the Lord’s Day study by Cherry Brandstater features many quotes by the early Church fathers regarding their common day of worship.
    We recommend this booklet by a former-Sabbath keeper and leader in the Worldwide Church of God (now Grace Communion International), Dr. Mike Feazell’s The Christian Sabbath: Divine Rest in Jesus Christ.
    For those who prefer audio content, we especially recommend sermons by Pastor Mark Martin.  You can listen to his excellent presentations on the topics of The Gospel & the Covenants and several sermons on the Sabbath (under the heading of “Messages on the Sabbath”) on his Web site.  Pastor Mark’s sermon titled The Sabbath Keeps Me is Jennifer’s favorite!
    Sabbath in Christ by Dale Ratzlaff is an in-depth study of the Sabbath in Scripture, written for laypeople.  Originally titled Sabbath in Crisis, New Testmant scholar D. A. Carson wrote the foreword to the first edition of this excellent Sabbath study.
    Discovering the New Covenant: Why I Am No Longer a Seventh-day Adventist by Pastor Greg Taylor
    40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law by evangelical scholar Thomas Schreiner ~ Question 37 directly addresses the Sabbath issue, but the whole book is very helpful for understanding the role of law in the life of a Christian.  We highly recommend Dr. Schreiner’s clear and concise work.

    From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Theological, and Historical Investigation, edited by D. A. Carson, is a scholarly work but an excellent resource for those wanting to dig more deeply into the Sabbath issue.
    Sabbath, Circumcision, and Tithing: Which Old Testament Laws Apply to Christians?  by Michael Morrison, formerly a Sabbath keeper and leader in the Worldwide Church of God, is accessible online.  You may also order a copy on Amazon.

    Perspectives on the Sabbath: Four Views  ~ In this 2011 publication, edited by Christopher John Donato, Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary presents the “Fulfillment” model that Sabbatismos Ministries supports.  Adventist Pastor Skip MacCarty defends the SDA position, which upholds Saturday as the required day of rest and worship.

  5. 5 seventh son
    October 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    What wealth of resources! I will copy and paste it to a file as I study on. I am just beginning to learn about new covenant theology and I’m sure this will be helpful. Thanks for putting so much time into your response.

  6. March 9, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Wohh precisely some pointers i was looking for, regards for posting.

  7. May 31, 2013 at 5:32 am

    I likewise believe thus, perfectly composed post!

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