The Sabbath. Introduction

Ted Noel

Ted NoelWhen I wrote my first study (Daniel) I said that I did not know why I was compelled to write it. I have learned that the process of writing has refined my knowledge of God’s Word, bringing me closer to what Daniel refers to as “insight”. A few of my acquaintances have asked to look at my work, and I pray that they have been as blessed by reading as I have been by writing.

This study represents a side trip for me. I was deeply involved in the companion study to Daniel: Revelation. As visions of fantastic beings and events filled my notebook, our pastor chose to present a sermon on the Sabbath. (Please note that, as I began writing this study, I was attending the Church of the Nazarene, a spirit-filled, but Sunday keeping church.)

I found myself in profound disagreement with Pastor Page on a number of points as he spoke. After the sermon he asked me to come during the week and study the subject with him. I prepared as rapidly as I could, hoping to find a Biblical excuse for Sunday observance.

This study has grown out of that session. Continue reading The Sabbath. Introduction

Does it Matter? (Is Doctrine Important?)

Ted Noel

Romans 6:14

14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.

This text presents the classic antinomian (Greek nomos = law) argument: “We are under grace, not under the Law.” The implication is that the Law is no longer important. God’s grace will take care of everything. You don’t have to worry about obeying the old commands: they have been abolished! This is clearly an attractive thought for many people. However, taken logically, this is absurd. For if the law doesn’t matter, then we can rape, pillage, and murder, and God’s grace will cover it all.

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What Law?

Ted Noel

What is the law? Where do we find it? In the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 4, we find two sets of laws mentioned.

13 “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.
“And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it.

ДекалогGod gave the Ten Commandments. He spoke them (Exodus 20:1) and wrote them with his own finger on tables of stone (Exodus 31:18). God also commanded Moses to instruct the people in “statutes and judgments”. We find these “statutes and judgments ” discussed at length in Exodus and Leviticus. They are the laws of civil governance and of the ceremonies of the Tabernacle. Moses wrote them down, then commanded in Deuteronomy 31:26

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God’s Plan for the Sabbath: Does It Still Exist?

Ted Noel

A large number of Christians (nearly all) make no pretense of observing the Sabbath. In fact, most of them are largely unaware of any concern regarding the issue. To them, Sunday is the natural day to go to church and observe an hour of worship prior to the sporting event of the day. Can all those people be wrong?

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The Apostolic Record: Which Day Did They Keep?

Ted Noel

The New Testament, after the Gospels, is largely the record of the apostolic church. If the Apostles taught that Sunday was the proper day to observe, then we certainly should see evidence of it. Many theologians think that they see such evidence. Let’s look at it.

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Apostolic NT Practices

Ted Noel

Since we have found that the texts purported to support Sunday observance are incapable of withstanding examination, what evidence do we have of Sabbath observance? Is the NT as silent about Sabbath as it is about Sunday? Or did the apostles leave a record of their Sabbath-keeping?

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The Apostolic Record: What Did the Apostles Teach?

Ted Noel

As the truth of the Sabbath is presented, one difficulty repeatedly presents itself. No matter how much one tries, there can be found in the NT no explicit repetition of the Fourth Commandment. Five of the ten are quoted in full, and four of the other five are implicit in numerous statements. But, of all ten, the NT after the gospels appears on first glance to be silent on teaching the Sabbath. Are we to assume that they taught nothing about it? Or, did they teach about it, but regard it as so fundamental that it required no further written explanation?

Continue reading The Apostolic Record: What Did the Apostles Teach?

How We Lost the Sabbath

Ted Noel

Since it must be clear by now that Jesus kept the Sabbath, the apostles kept the Sabbath, and the early church kept the Sabbath, what happened? How, without anything remotely approximating a divine command, did the common day of observance get changed from Sabbath to Sunday? I will attempt to briefly summarize the history of the change. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive review. Anyone wishing to pursue the issue in greater depth is referred to the books by Bacchiocchi and Odom.

The first hint of change did occur during the lifetime of some of the apostles. The first Jewish revolt (66-70AD) led to a change in the way the Jews were treated by the Romans. It began with a decision by the priests to quit offering prayers for the benefit of the Emperor. Cestius Gallius, the Roman governor of Syria, marched to Jerusalem to put down this insurrection. The church, heeding Jesus’ warning (Matthew 24:15-20) left the city when Gallius inexplicably withdrew. The revolt continued, and in 70AD, the Roman army under Titus destroyed the city with massive loss of life, but without loss to the church.

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Is the Sabbath Really Saturday?

Ted Noel

No historical fact is better established than the fact that the Sabbath which Jesus observed began at Friday sundown and extended to Saturday sundown. This is so well established that most modern theologians simply take this fact as a given when writing on the subject. But some Christians have objected, pointing out the obvious fact that the Bible does not use the word “Saturday” for the Sabbath. How do we really know that Saturday is the Sabbath?

It has been pointed out by many authors that the weekly cycle was observed carefully since creation. However, we do not need to go back that far. When Jesus was on the earth, he observed the Sabbath. In doing so, He, as God, confirmed the correctness of the observation of the weekly cycle since creation up to His time. Our task, then, is to confirm the maintenance of the weekly cycle since Christ. In the process, we can attach modern names to days.

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The Sabbath at the Time of the End: The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast

Ted Noel

Why are we looking into the book of Revelation? After all, the word “Sabbath” doesn’t even appear in John’s prophecy! Could it be that there is something in the time of the end that bears on whether we should keep the Sabbath? I know that as I first considered the question, I figured it was nonsense. I rejected any thought that the seal of God or the mark of the beast had anything to do with the Sabbath. It had to be a feeble effort by Sabbatarians to strengthen their arguments for the Sabbath. The Bible should allow me to refute any connection. Then, as I followed God’s command to study (2 Timothy 2:15), I faced a choice: either I accepted the role of the Sabbath in the time of the end or I rejected the Bible.

What was so compelling? Let’s take a look. Continue reading The Sabbath at the Time of the End: The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast

What Now?

Ted Noel

It is clear that God intends for us to observe the Sabbath. His example makes it clear that He wishes it to be a day of rest, restoration, and redemption. Ideally, it should come as close to heaven as we can be on earth.

The Sabbath is an act of faith par excellence. It is not a moral law which can be deduced from nature. The seven day week does not reflect any natural solar, lunar, or other cycle. It stands alone as a sign of the Christian’s total commitment to his Creator’s will.

Continue reading What Now?