What is the Sabbath and how is it relevant to the New Testament believer today?
Beginning at Genesis.
After God ended His creation, it is recorded that He rested on the seventh day. As we examine the fifty chapters of Genesis, there was no mention that the first man nor woman also rested on this seventh day. In addition while reading of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, no scripture record supports the idea that these also rested on the seventh day. Thus for the first 2,500 years of mankind’s history, there is a notable silence in scripture concerning mankind’s keeping of the Sabbath. It was not until the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt while they were safely on the other side of the Red Sea that the seventh day rest was 1st mentioned again (Exodus16:22-30). This command to rest on the seventh day was not directed to any other group or nation but the people of Israel, as the scripture states it would be as a sign between Israel and their God (Exodus 31:16-17, Ezekiel 2o:12).
Hosea chapter 2.
Here is a prophecy concerning Israel and “a people that were not God`s people” (the Gentiles). In this chapter, God is speaking in another tone concerning the keeping of the Sabbath. Israel is first rebuked sharply for her spiritual adultery, the Lord then proceeds to pronounce judgment on her before allowing the Gentiles to receive salvation (verse 23). As we examine Hosea Chapter 2, it can be noted that before the Gentiles could be called a people of God, the Lord would first cause Israel`s Celebrations, Feast days, New moons, Sabbaths and Solemn feasts to cease (verse 11)
As Jesus died on Calvary`s cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top down. For the first time the Holy of Holies (the presence of God) was opened and available to everyone. No longer would salvation be hinged upon one being Jewish, or one needing to keep Jewish customs such as Circumcision, Solemn feasts, Special diets, and Sabbaths to be saved (Galatians 4:4-11, Colossians 2:16-17), for all of these were a type and shadow of things to come.
When Jesus came.
A new Covenant of Grace was given to all mankind through Jesus Christ, that whosoever, Jew or Gentile, Bond or Free. would now have access to freely receive this grace and be “Born again” (John 3:1-7).
It can be noted that out of the ten commandments given to Moses for the Children of Israel, only nine are repeatedly encouraged in the New Testament. Worship of God (53 times), No Idolatry (20 times), No Profanity (4 times), Honoring Parents (6 times), Not Murdering (7 times), Not Committing Adultery (12times), Not Stealing (6 times), Not Lying (4times), Not Coveting (9 times). There is though no record in scripture of Jesus nor His disciples instructing or teaching that the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath or any other Jewish custom is necessary for the New Testament believer to be saved.
The apostle Paul does in turn write Romans 14:4-12.
Why worship on Sunday?
The first day of the week is associated with the New Testament believers. Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week (Matt. 28: 1). The church was established and the gospel was first preached in its fullness on Sunday (Acts 2). It was on the first day of the week when Christians came together to observe the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20: 7). It was also on Sunday that Christians gave of their means into the treasury of the local church (1 Cor. 16: 1,2). Also according to Matthew 6:33, God deserves first place in our lives, as such we gather together to start our week with the Him. While the Sabbath was part of God’s covenant with the Jews, the first day of the week is the day associated with Jesus’ new covenant or testament (Heb. 8: 9).
Not just Sunday.
Every day to the New Testament believer should be one of Holiness, Worship and Rest (from sins). In Christ we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are now daily resting in the salvation of our Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).