If we focus on what God teaches us about the Sabbath in the Jewish Scriptures it will become obvious that not only did the followers of Jesus do away with God’s Sabbath (something that they never tried to hide), but that the belief system built around Jesus is the very antithesis of God’s Sabbath. It was through the Sabbath that God empowered and encourages the Jewish people to reject the claims of this self-proclaimed god-man.
The Sabbath is the sign that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, 31:12-17).
The one truth that is the underlying principle of the Jewish Scriptures is the fact that God is God and everything else are but His creations. This truth is stated explicitly in the first verse of the Bible, and is the implicit message of every verse that follows. This foundational truth: that God is the One Master of all, was made known to the Jewish people through the miracles of the exodus and through the Sinai revelation (Deuteronomy 4:35). God’s absolute sovereignty is brought home to the hearts of the Jewish people through the observance of Sabbath, and the Jewish people testify this truth to the world through the observance of Sabbath.
The heart of the Jew’s calling before God is that we stand as witnesses to the ultimate truth: the fact that God alone is Lord (Isaiah 44:8), and it is through observance of the Sabbath that the Jew dispenses his calling before God. It is for this reason that the Sabbath is the covenantal sign between God and His people, and it is for this reason that commandment to observe the Sabbath is situated together with the commandment against idolatry and the injunction to honor our parents (Exodus 20:1-12, Leviticus 19:3-4).
The commandment against idolatry is based on our understanding that God is the only one deserving of our devotion to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. The commandment to honor our parents reminds us, as does the Sabbath, that our own existence is not an intrinsic truth but rather a gift that God chose to grant us through the medium of our parents.
God granted man control of all of creation (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8:7). With the mastery of the earth placed in his hands, it is very easy for man to forget that he is a servant and fall into the illusion of thinking that he is master. By relinquishing control of the world once a week, the Jew reminds himself and testifies to all who care to hear, that we are not the masters, but rather, that we are all servants of the One Master.
Observance of the Sabbath gave the Jew an unambiguous and explicit perspective of reality. When the Jew encounters a rock, a plant an animal, a fellow human or an angel – the Sabbath tells the Jew – this form of existence is not your master – it is a creation of your God just as you are. While the populations around them were enslaved to the beliefs that they are subservient to forces of nature or to people who were born into a higher station in life – the Sabbath set the Jew free. The truth of the Sabbath gave the Jew the clarity to see through the intimidating posture of those who claimed to be the masters of men. The Sabbath reminded the Jew that there is but One Master, and that all are equally subservient to Him.
When the Christian missionaries presented Jesus as “man’s lord” (page 229), the nations who did not know the message of the Sabbath were taken in. They accepted this false teaching and believed themselves to be under the mastery of this Jesus.
The Jew, however, who had absorbed the message of Sabbath was enabled by the Sabbath to identify this teaching for what it is – a call to idolatry. The Sabbath taught the Jew that no-one but the One Creator of heaven and earth can lay claim to the title of: “Master”. When any one inhabitant of God’s creation claims to be the master – the Sabbath tells us – he is but a servant like ourselves.
The Sabbath is the very antithesis of Christianity. It is no wonder then that the followers of Jesus developed such a hatred and scorn for God’s holy day. As for us, we will walk in the light of God’s holy Sabbath until the darkness of Christianity is dispelled and all flesh will recognize that God alone is king (Zechariah 14:9).
“Observance of the Sabbath has been the hallmark of the Jewish people, separating us from other nations and identifying us with the covenant of God. Since Christianity changed the Sabbath, Christianity is obviously not for the Jewish people.”
Brown responds to this Jewish objection by pointing out that the gentile Church, who changed the day of rest from Saturday to Sunday, was not following Jesus. Jesus himself did not teach that the day of rest be changed. Brown therefore argues that one can believe in Jesus and still observe the Sabbath.
The question that Brown does not address is: Why did the later Church change the day of rest? Why did the gentile Church develop such a negative view of this covenantal sign? Is it merely a coincidence that those who deified a human chose to abandon the commandment that serves as a reminder that everything, including Jesus, are but God’s creations?
There is another message of the Sabbath that is antithetical to Christianity. The Sabbath serves as a testimony that God sanctifies Israel (Exodus 31:13). The Sabbath confirms that Israel was chosen by God to serve as His witness nation. Their role is to testify to the world that everything that exists is but a creation of God.
Christianity rejects this message of the Sabbath as well. Christianity denies Israel’s role as God’s witnesses. If they would have any respect for the message of the Sabbath they would pay heed to the witnesses that the Sabbath authenticates.
If a Jew accepts the doctrines of Christianity, he or she will have to turn their backs on the Sabbath. Yes, they can continue observing the Sabbath, but it will be a dead observance.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal