Understanding Sunday and the Sabbath

There is no doubt that Christianity is rooted in Judaism. A brief look at the seven major Biblical feasts shows us they have duel meanings. Though they were prescribed for the Jewish people, each one points to Jesus and is fulfilled by Him! Furthermore, Jesus, our Savior, was born Jewish and labeled “King of the Jews” when He died on the cross for our sins. That is the basis of our Christian faith!

Relations between Christians and Jews have not always been cordial. That is understandable when you consider the many attempts, in the name of Christianity, to destroy the Jewish people. (The Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the Holocaust, to name a few.) Yet, over the past 30 years or so, Jewish-Christian relations have come a very long way. Jews, in general, now see Christians as their strongest ally, and Christians flock to Israel on tours and mission trips. It’s a beautiful thing.

However, there are now Christians who yearn to “be Jewish,” or to take on Jewish character! Many seem to want to live under Jewish law that has plagued our Jewish friends since the time of Moses. One such example is in keeping the Sabbath.

The Jewish calendar defines a day as beginning a sundown and ending at sundown the following day. Each week, they celebrate a Sabbath, which is Biblical, according to the Old Testament. Sabbath begins at sundown each Friday and concludes at sundown on Saturday. The idea of a day of rest, when virtually everything Jewish shuts down, not only has Biblical context, but is healthy. Law, however, is where the problem comes in.

Well-meaning, Israel-loving Christians sometimes believe we should observe “the Sabbath.” After all, Jewish law demands it! So, they take issue with Christian churches meeting on Sunday and declaring it a holy day. Jesus, though, taught us not to get hung up on that!

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 

~Colossians 2:16-17

Yes, Jesus is the substance! We are to look to Him, and the Sabbath points us in that direction! In fact, Jesus, not a day of the week, is our Sabbath rest!

The apostle John reveals something interesting in John 1:

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

~ John 1:29, 35-36

Jesus was identified first as the Lamb of God who takes away the in of the world on the Sabbath (Saturday) in verse 29, but repeated “the next day” on Sunday (verses 35-36). Could it be that He was sending a message to both Jews and Gentiles?

For Jews, the Sabbath was an Old Testament covenant that stood as law until it was to be made obsolete by a new covenant, according to Hebrews 8:6-13. It was a day of anticipation when the Sabbath rest would come.

Sunday was that day! Christians celebrate it as the Lord’s Day because that was the day of His resurrection. It was the day the Sacrificial Lamb arose from the dead to save us from our sins!

Thus, the Jews are not “wrong” to celebrate the Sabbath as a means of remembrance of the Old Testament law given to them. Yet, when that Old Testament covenant is not made obsolete, the new covenant loses its power! Commemorating a day is not wrong, failing to identify the substance is the problem.

Praise God, He…not a day of the week…is our Sabbath rest, even for our Jewish friends who will embrace that truth!

Fun Fact: in Israel, it is common to hear “Shabbat Shalom” on the Sabbath. It means “Sabbath peace.” For those going to Israel with us, learn the phrase! It will be the proper Sabbath greeting! (Interested in going with us? See EXPERIENCE ISRAEL TOUR 2023.

Shabbat Shalom!

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