The fourth commandment, depending on which list of the ten you’re reading, says that we are to rest on the seventh day or to “keep the Sabbath.”
So when exactly IS the Sabbath? That may seem obvious, but from Creation throughout the Bible, the days didn’t begin and end at midnight like the do on the calendar most people use today.
Genesis 1:5 And YHWH called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
A day began at the end of the previous day, at sunset. The evening came first and then the day came after. This is also how YHWH ordered the Israelites to keep the feasts:
Leviticus 23:32 It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest… from evening unto evening, you shall celebrate your Sabbath.
“Evening” was the time that the sun disappeared beyond the horizon (sunset).
Deuteronomy 16:6 But at the place which YHWH your Elohim shall choose to place His name in, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at evening, at the going down of the sun, at the season that you came forth out of Egypt.
So, Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. This period IS the “seventh day.”
So what do we do on Sabbath? Well, the real question is – what DON’T we do? We do not work. We do not allow anybody in our house to work. We do not obligate anybody else or even an ANIMAL to do any work for us during Sabbath.
Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of YHWH your Elohim. In it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates. For in six days YHWH made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Wherefore YHWH blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Sign of the Covenant:
Keeping the Sabbath is more than just a chance for us to rest. Setting this day apart is our sign that we’re keeping the covenant with YHWH.
Exodus 31:16-17 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days YHWH made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.
As with any Law, if you want to know how serious a crime is, you must consider the punishment attached to its violation. In the case of the Sabbath, YHWH assigned a very harsh punishment on those who would work on that day.
Exodus 31:15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to YHWH. Whosoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
In other words, in the eyes of our Creator, working on the Sabbath is as serious of an offense as murder!
As far as work is concerned, there is a never-ending debate over what is and isn’t considered work, but one thing we know for sure is off limits is cooking. We do not cook on Sabbath. We only eat simple foods requiring little or no preparation.
Exodus 35:3 You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day.
For this reason, the day before any Sabbath is labeled a day of preparation:
Mark 15:42 And now when the evening was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath…
But enough about what we CAN’T do on Sabbath. Something we CAN do on the Sabbath is good works!
Matthew 12:11-12 And he said unto them, “What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath.”
Did the Apostles Keep the Sabbath After Messiah?
As many people in the churches teach against the Sabbath and strive to convince people who haven’t studied that Messiah took the Sabbath away, changed it to the first day of the week (Sunday), or otherwise rendered it invalid, an important question to ask would be – “Did the Apostles Keep the Sabbath After Messiah?”
And the answer is – of course they did!
Hebrews 4:3-11 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, “As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, “And Elohim did rest the seventh day from all His works.” And in this place again, “If they shall enter into my rest.” Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief. Again, He limits a certain day, saying in David, “Today, after so long a time;” as it is said, “Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
For if Yahshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest to the people of YHWH. For he that is entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as YHWH did from His. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, unless any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
So, in conclusion, our Creator commanded us to abstain from work on the seventh day of every week. This is one of the ten commandments, and strangely the only one of the ten that almost all of the churches reject. But in our Bibles, there was no mention of any change or removal of this commandment so, if you’re practicing something else, you should do a little investigating and see who or what you’re actually following.
Like anything else of controversy, read your Bible. See what the Creator said. Do as the Messiah did. Be faithful in the examples of the Prophets and Apostles who wrote your Bible instead of men with ear-tickling sermons who would take your money and lead you down a different path.
Watch Mitch Houston of Outcry Ministries and myself discuss the Sabbath: