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What Day Is the Sabbath Supposed to Be On?

QUESTION: Please I am confused about the Sabbath day, what is the exact day for the Sabbath?

ANSWER: Exodus 20:8-11

MISINTERPRETATION

This commandment states that the seventh day of the week, Saturday, is the day the Lord selected for rest and worship. However, in the New Testa­ment, the Christian church began to worship and rest on the first day of the week, Sunday. Are Christians violating the Sabbath commandment by worshiping on the first day of the week rather than the seventh day? Some Sabbatarian groups, such as Seventh-Day Adventists, think so.

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION

The basis for the command to observe the Sabbath, as stated in Exodus 20:11, is that God rested on the seventh day after six days of work and that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. The Sabbath day was instituted as a day of rest and worship. The people of God were to follow God’s example in his pattern of work and rest. However, as Jesus said in correcting the distorted view of the Pharisees, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). The point Jesus made is that the Sabbath was not instituted to enslave people, but to benefit them. The spirit of Sab­bath observance is continued in the New Testament observance of rest and worship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).

It must be remembered that according to Colossians 2:17, the Sabbath was “a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (NKJV). The Sabbath observance was associated with redemption in Deuteronomy 5:15 where Moses stated, “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God com­manded you to keep the Sabbath day.” The Sabbath was a shadow of the redemption that would be provided in Christ. It symbolized the rest from our works and an entrance into the rest of God provided by his finished work.

Although the moral principles expressed in the commandments are reaffirmed in the New Testament, the command to set Saturday apart as a day of rest and worship is the only commandment not repeated. There are very good reasons for this. New Testament believers are not under the Old Testament law (Rom. 6:14; 2 Cor. 3:7, 11, 13; Gal. 3:24-25; Heb. 7:12). By his resurrection on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1), his continued appearances on succeeding Sundays (John 20:26), and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Sunday (Acts 2:1), the early church was given the pattern of Sunday worship. This they did regularly. Sunday worship was further hallowed by our Lord, who appeared to John in that last great vision on “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10). It is for these reasons that Christians worship on Sunday, rather than on the Jewish Sabbath.

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Bio

Dr. Norman Geisler, PhD, is a prolific author, veteran professor, speaker, lecturer, traveler, philosopher, apologist, evangelist, and theologian. To those who ask, “Who is Norm Geisler?” some have suggested, “If you can imagine a cross between Thomas Aquinas and Billy Graham, you’re not too far off.”

Norm has authored or co-authored over 100 books and hundreds of articles. He has taught theology, philosophy, and classical Christian apologetics on the undergraduate and graduate level for over 50 years. He has served as a professor at some of the finest seminaries in the United States, including Trinity Evangelical Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary. He now lends his talents to Norman Geisler International Ministries, Veritas International University, Southern Evangelical Seminary, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

Education:
-William Tyndale College, 1950-55 (diploma)
-University of Detroit, 1956-57
-Wheaton College, 1958 (B.A. in philosophy)
-Wheaton Graduate School, 1960 (M.A. in theology)
-William Tyndale College, 1964 (Th.B.)
-Wayne State University Graduate School, 1964 (work in philosophy)
-University of Detroit Graduate School, 1965-66 (work on M.A. in philosophy)
-Northwestern University, Evanston, 1968 (work in philosophy)
-Loyola University, Chicago, 1967-70 (Ph.D. in philosophy)

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