The first mention of the Sabbath day appears in Exodus 16:4-5, 22-30. Moses had to explain in detail what the Sabbath meant and how the people were to observe it. Despite Moses’ explanation, many Israelites failed to keep the Sabbath regulations on the first Sabbath. After all, they never heard of the Sabbath before that time. They had never kept such regulations in the past. The book of Genesis never mentioned any human being observing a day of rest.
The next mention of the Sabbath occurs in Exodus 20:8-11 where the observance of the day is made a part of the Ten Commandments, which were an introduction for a long series of laws which run from Exodus 20 to Exodus 23. All these laws were recorded by Moses as mentioned in Exodus 24:3-4. God then invited Moses to climb Mt. Sinai where He would give Moses a copy of the commandments on stone (Exodus 24:12). Adventists emphasize that the finger of God wrote the commandments on stone to show the permanence of His Law (Exodus 31:18). Ironically, it was this set of tablets that Moses smashed as he came down the mountain when he saw the people worshiping an idol (Exodus 32:15-19). The stone tablets did not last even a day. Moses returned to the mountain with another set of blank tablets (Exodus 34:4). Moses was told to engrave the second set of tablets (Exodus 34:27-28). It was this second set which was placed in the ark of the covenant.
Adventists claim that the Ten Commandments are a universal law, applicable to all of mankind. God stated, “So the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a SIGN between ME and the SONS of ISRAEL forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16-17). It was limited to one nation and that nation was Israel. God told the prophet Ezekiel that Israel was chosen from among the nations to be His people (Ezekiel 20:5) and that the commandments, especially the Sabbath, were given to Israel as a sign of the covenant between the people and God (Ezekiel 20:10-12).
Moses said, “The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all of us alive here today.” (Deuteronomy 5:2-3) Not only were the commandments unique to the nation of Israel; Moses plainly stated they did not exist in the past.
The children of Israel were slaves in the land of Egypt with no time allotted to them for rest. When God gave them freedom, he also gave them a day of rest to remember their freedom (Deuteronomy 5:15). Such a remembrance would only apply to the children of Israel. No other nation started in slavery.
The prophet Jeremiah stated, “Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord,’ when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt . . . ” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The covenant was changed for the Christian. Hebrews 8:7-10:25 Paul makes the same point in Romans 7:4-7 by stating that Christians had died to the old law so they could be bound to a new law. The entire Old Law, including the Ten Commandments, was no longer binding on Christians.
In Colossians 2:9-12, Paul illustrates that instead of males being circumcised under the Old Law, all are spiritually circumcised through the act of baptism under the New Law. In verses 13-15, Paul further presses his point by stating that Christ canceled “the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us” when he died upon the cross. In Ephesians 2:14-18, Paul makes the same point. Christ’s death destroyed the barrier between Jews and Gentiles. He abolished the enmity (hatred) which Paul declared was “the Law of commandments contained in ordinances.”
Christians are not to be judged on the observance of Old Testament laws, such as food and drink regulations, festival keeping, new moon festivals, or Sabbath day keeping (Col 2:16-17). Seventh-Day Adventists want to keep the Sabbath day, but they ignore the other things included by Paul with the Sabbath day. They do not follow the Old Law’s rules about food and drink restrictions. They do not keep the Passover Feast, the Harvest Feast, the Feast of Booths, or the Day of Atonement. They do not even observe the monthly New Moon Festival.
James warned that a person cannot pick and choose which pieces of God’s Law a person wants to follow (James 2:10-11). Binding one piece of the only law means you acknowledge the entire law as binding on you. It is not consistent to say that” One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled” (Mt 5:18) to means that the 10 commandments are binding today, and then say some parts of the old law are not binding. If the 10 commandments are still binding today, so is the law of sacrifice and all other old testament laws (613 laws). No one can have it both ways. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (Jam 2:10).
The Old Law stated that a partial follower has placed himself under a curse (Galatians 3:10-12). The covenant engraved on stones (The 10 Commandments) was a ministry of death (II Corinthians 3:5-11). The Old Law was to pass away while the New Law remains. Christians are not under the Law given at Mount Sinai, which included the Ten Commandments (Galatians 4:21-26, 30-31).
Does this mean that Christians are allowed to worship other gods, to kill, to steal, or to lie – all things forbidden by the Ten Commandments? NO! Nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated under the Law of Christ, although each were amended by Christ (Eph 4:24 ff; Heb 13:4, I Cor 10:7; Mt 5). Only one of the Ten Commandments is not found within the pages of the New Testament, and that is the commandment to observe the Sabbath day.
Yes, Jesus observed the Sabbath as did all other faithful Jews. He also was circumcised and kept the festivals, such as the Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacles. Yet, all of these have passed away as well. Jesus lived under the Law of Moses and died under the law of Moses. With His death, the Law of Moses passed away (Col 2:14). The new Law of Christ did not become effective until after His death beginning first at Pentecost (Heb 9:16-17 f; Acts 2:37-47).
The Bible speaks of people observing the Sabbath after Jesus’ death, such as in Matthew 24:20. There are still people observing the Sabbath day today. Jews to this day cling to the Law of Moses and refuse to acknowledge the Messiah. However, this does not prove that Christians were observing the Sabbath. It only proves that some Jews continued to observe that which had been abolished and nailed to the cross of Jesus (Eph 2:15 f; Col 2:14).
The early new testament church partook of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). They were commanded to give of their means on the first day of the week (I Cor 16:2). Adventist partakes of the Lord’s Supper 4 times a year and that on Saturday. They tithe on the Sabbath and not on Sunday. They tithe instead of giving freely and not of necessity as the new testament commands us to give (2 Cor 9:6,7).
The holy day for Christians is the first day of the week. This is the day when our Lord and Savior arose from the grave (Matthew 28 ff; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20). It was on the day of Pentecost, a Jewish holiday which always fell on a Sunday, when the church was established (Acts 2 ff; Lev23:15-16). It was on this day of the week that early Christians worshiped God by partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7) and giving to the church (I Corinthians 16:2).
If you are honest with yourself, you who desire to keep the old law and the Sabbath day, you will admit that you are breaking the Sabbath day continually. You have electricity in you houses on the Sabbath, which by definition is a fire. Fire is prohibited on the Sabbath. You drive your cars on the Sabbath, which are a combustion engine, which is a fire (Ex 35:3). You travel more than the 1,000 yards allotted for travel on the Sabbath in the old testament (Josh 3:4). If you break the Sabbath, according to the law of Moses, you shall be stoned to death (Ex 31:14). If you fail to keep the whole law of Moses you are guilty of it all (Jam 2:10). If you keep the old law you are fallen from the grace of the new law (Gal 5:4). “ In that he says, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13).