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In this partly restored synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus taught the Jews on the Sabbath (Mark 1:21). The Bible reveals that all the righteous men of old kept God's holy Sabbath. They understood His OVERWHELMING PURPOSE for giving it to mankind. We need to fully understand HOW God kept this great day identified from the time He created it, and WHY the Sabbath is the MOST IMPORTANT day!
THE SABBATH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY!
GOD CONSIDERS Sabbath keeping so IMPORTANT that He repeatedly performed a tremendous miracle every week for FORTY YEARS!
Forty long years God miraculously fed the Israelites manna from heaven to teach them EXACTLY WHICH DAY of the week IS THE TRUE SABBATH!
There is a reason God was so careful to REMIND His people of the Sabbath. One of the greatest sins you could commit — one that harms you as much as any other — is Sabbath-breaking. Understand why.
New Testament Example
Jesus Christ was very careful TO KEEP God's Sabbath. Luke said it was His "custom" to keep it (Luke 4:16). And God's New Testament Church, which Christ built through His twelve apostles, ALSO KEPT GOD'S SABBATH DAY!
Immediately after Christ's crucifixion, God was very careful to point out to us that "the end of the SABBATH" dawns "toward the FIRST day of the week" (Mat. 28:1).
God made it clear that His Sabbath PRECEDES Sunday!
And God wants to point out to us today that the SEVENTH day of Creation Week — the SABBATH Day — has CONTINUED from the time of creation in the SAME GOD-ORDAINED RELATIONSHIP to the other six days of the week! That the Sabbath was, and STILL IS the SEVENTH day of the week — NOT Sunday, the first day. God wants us to realize it is the SEVENTH-DAY SABBATH WHICH HE COMMANDS ALL MANKIND TO KEEP TODAY!
There is a VITAL UNDERLYING REASON why God kept this great day identified down through the ages, and why the people who obeyed Him have ALWAYS kept the Sabbath.
Let's begin to understand.
Why So Important
God created the Sabbath so that on it we may rest and have personal constructive CONTACT with the One who is creating us to be His spirit-born Sons. For God's very PRESENCE is among those who keep His Sabbath — those who SUBMIT to Him as their Creator and Ruler.
PHOTO CAPTION: Another view of the synagogue in Capernaum.
No other day of the week compares with this remarkable day. Why? Because no other day pictures the SUPREME CREATIVE WORK of Almighty God!
The Sabbath pictures the PINNACLE of God's creative endeavors — the creation of His SPIRITUAL CHARACTER in mortal mankind, and our ultimate spiritual birth into God's Kingdom as His very SONS!
No wonder God ordained this day to be OUTSTANDING above all others. NO OTHER DAY even remotely represents such tremendous heights of achievement! And so God set aside ONE-SEVENTH of man's time to be a REMINDER of God, our Creator, and His great purpose for mankind!
Those who REALLY KNEW the true God and His Plan down through the ages have ALWAYS KEPT HIS COMMANDED SABBATH. Yes, they kept the SEVENTH day — commonly called SATURDAY! They did NOT OBSERVE any other day of the week such as Sunday!
Let's begin to learn about these men of God who zealously kept His Sabbath Day. Let's see how their Sabbath keeping is an EXAMPLE FOR US TODAY!
Seventh-day Sabbath Continues Unchanged From Creation
Would God set apart a certain day of the week, put His blessing on it, make it holy time, command that it be kept holy forever, and then let that day be lost so we would not know WHEN to keep it?
We can be certain God's seven-day weekly cycle has remained UNALTERED from Creation Week until today! And that the Sabbath Day — the SEVENTH day of each week — has been kept by those whom God called to be His people.
Let's begin to understand this marvelous truth by first reviewing a few facts.
1. Did God refashion and create every physical thing of our present world in just SIX days? Review quickly Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31.
2. And what did GOD do on the SEVENTH day — the SABBATH Day? Gen. 2:2. Does the Bible plainly say He RESTED? Same verse. "Sabbath" means REST in the Hebrew and Greek languages.
3. Did God also "sanctify" — that is, SET APART and make HOLY — this first seventh day by RESTING on it? Gen. 2:3. Notice the words, "sanctified it: BECAUSE that in it He had RESTED."
COMMENT: This special SEVENTH day which God created by RESTING, and set apart and made Holy, and put His blessing upon (verse 3), is THE ONE AND ONLY DAY out of each seven-day week GOD COMMANDS MANKIND TO KEEP HOLY!
4. Did righteous Abraham OBVIOUSLY keep God's Sabbath? Gen. 26:5. Does this prove Abraham was not confused about which day of the week is the true Sabbath? And doesn't Luke 13:28 show that Abraham will inherit the Kingdom of God?
COMMENT: God could not have positively stated that Abraham kept all of His commandments if he had been keeping the WRONG day! If Abraham kept the wrong day for God's Holy Sabbath, he would have broken this one point of God's law and thereby been guilty of breaking the WHOLE law! (Jas. 2:10.)
It was utterly impossible for Abraham to be mixed-up about the weekly cycle, because Jesus Christ (Melchizedek, his close friend — Jas. 2:23; Gen. 14:18-20) was in Jerusalem to INSTRUCT him! Yes, we can be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that Abraham kept the RIGHT day — the SEVENTH day of the week!
5. Later, was Laban, the Syrian and father-in-law to Jacob (Israel), FAMILIAR with the WEEKLY CYCLE? Gen. 29:26-27. Notice the word "week." (Laban lived just a few hundred years before Moses — about 1750 B.C.)
COMMENT: How could Laban have known of the WEEKLY CYCLE UNLESS that knowledge had been preserved by God's Sabbath-keeping servants during the nearly two thousand years that elapsed since creation?
This is further evidence that righteous men of old preserved the weekly cycle by keeping the SEVENTH-DAY Sabbath holy!
6. Did even the HEATHEN know which day is God's Sabbath?
COMMENT: Yes, they did! In the library of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (6th Century B.C.), archaeologists found MANY clay tablets relating to the epic of creation, according to the limited knowledge of the Babylonians. One of these tablets reads: "The SEVENTH day was appointed a HOLY DAY (the Sabbath) and to cease from all business (God) commanded" (Pocket Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley, archaeological note under Gen. 2:1-3).
Here is absolute proof from the ancient records collected by this Assyrian king that the Babylonians KNEW God set apart the seventh day of the week to be kept as a Holy Day of rest!
PHOTO CAPTION: EGYPT — Where enslaved Israelites were forbidden to keep God's Sabbath. Sphinx and pyramids are pictured.
However, with the passing centuries the heathen lost all semblance of the true Sabbath, although many Near-Eastern nations kept a form of a seven-day week. Of this form of the week it is said: "Its antiquity is so great, its observance so widespread ... that it must probably be thrown back as far as the creation of man. The week and the Sabbath are thus as old as man himself!" ("A Dictionary of the Bible", by William Smith, page 745.)
Exact Day for Sabbath Revealed to Ancient Israel
Recall that the ancient Israelites, who were descendants of righteous Abraham, went down into Egypt (Ex. 1:7) — the country God considers as a TYPE of sin — and were enslaved by the cruel Egyptians (verses 8-14).
The Egyptians did not know God because they did not have God's seven-day week. They did not rest on the Sabbath Day which IDENTIFIES the true God. From the time of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9), their pagan ancestors REFUSED to keep the Sabbath and therefore did not know the true God.
Because the Israelites were slaves in pagan Egypt for hundreds of years, they lost the knowledge of the correct day for the Sabbath. So the Israelites literally dwelt there in SIN because of not keeping the Sabbath Day. That is why God had to specially show the Israelites exactly WHICH DAY IS the true Creation Sabbath, shortly after delivering them from Egypt.
Let's study now the astonishing manner in which God revealed the true Sabbath Day, and learn the LESSON INTENDED for us TODAY!
1. Did God say He would rain bread from heaven for the Israelites? Ex. 16:4. What was this bread called? Verse 15. Be sure to READ this entire chapter before going any further.
2. For what PURPOSE did God rain down this bread? Ex. 16:4. Notice the words, "My law."
COMMENT: The word "law" here refers to the SABBATH Commandment (Ex. 20:8), as we shall soon see.
3. Was this manna also to serve as food for the Israelites? Ex. 16:32. Were they told NOT TO save manna overnight for the next day? Ex. 16:19. What HAPPENED to the manna the disobedient ones saved for the following day? Verse 20.
COMMENT: Notice that ALL manna left overnight for the next day BRED WORMS and STANK!
4. But were they to gather TWICE as much manna on Friday as they gathered on the other days of the week? Ex. 16:5.
5. Was this DOUBLE portion of manna to be enough for TWO days — enough for both Friday and the next day — SATURDAY, the SABBATH Day? Ex. 16:23.
6. Did the manna which was saved for the morning of the Sabbath — the seventh day — stink and breed worms as it did if saved overnight for any of the previous six days? Verse 24. Why not? Verse 25.
7. Did God say He would NOT have them WORK at gathering manna on the SABBATH DAY since He would MIRACULOUSLY WITHHOLD IT FROM FALLING ON THAT DAY? Ex. 16:26.
8. But did some of the people disbelieve Moses and thereby DISOBEY God by going out into the fields on the Sabbath to try to gather manna? Verses 27-28.
9. Did God have to command them AGAIN not to work on the Sabbath? Verse 29. What did the people finally do on the Sabbath? Verse 30. Did God's withholding of manna on the seventh day clearly show them WHICH DAY of the week is the TRUE SABBATH?
COMMENT: The absence of manna on the seventh day POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED exactly WHICH DAY is the Sabbath on which they were to REST from all their labors. Thus God miraculously revealed the TRUE Sabbath Day to the Israelites!
Notice that God performed THREE great distinct miracles each week to point out the exact day of the Sabbath to Israel: 1) God miraculously GAVE them manna on the first six days of the week, including a DOUBLE portion on the sixth day; 2) He miraculously WITHHELD the manna each Sabbath Day; and 3) God miraculously PRESERVED the leftover portion of Friday's manna so it could be used for the Sabbath, thereby giving the people a REST from gathering it on the Sabbath.
As each weekly Sabbath made its appearance, God identified it to the Israelites by the special miracle of WITHHOLDING manna on that day. HE DID THIS WEEK AFTER WEEK FOR FORTY LONG YEARS!! (Ex. 16:35.)
God performed a total of 2,080 special miracles spaced exactly seven days apart, SOLELY for the purpose of burning into the Israelites' minds the fact He expected them to KEEP the SEVENTH DAY holy!
God NEVER before performed such a continuous set of miracles to convince man of his need to obey one of God's commandments! That is just how IMPORTANT resting on the SABBATH Day really is!!
Yes, for forty long years Israel was drilled exactly as to WHICH day of the week is the memorial to God's creation!
God allowed them enough ADDED blessing so they DID NOT HAVE TO WORK at gathering manna on His sanctified Sabbath Day. He miraculously preserved enough of the manna which they gathered on Friday so it would take care of their Sabbath needs. They could REST on the Sabbath Day and still be AS WELL OFF AS THOUGH THEY HAD WORKED ON IT!
The LESSON for us to learn from all this is that God will BLESS us in a similar way today, if WE will OBEDIENTLY rest on His commanded Sabbath Day, instead of DISOBEDIENTLY observing any ordinary day of the week such as SUNday — the day of the SUN!
Christ Kept the Sabbath
Jesus Christ, the messenger of the New Covenant, came with the POWER of the Holy Spirit — power which all of us may share. And by that power Jesus KEPT the Sabbath commandment as it was intended to be kept!
By keeping the Sabbath, Jesus also became our living flesh and blood EXAMPLE to show us HOW to keep it.
Yes, Jesus Christ KEPT the Sabbath, and so did all those who FOLLOWED Him. And their examples are recorded in the Bible for us TO FOLLOW TODAY!
1. Let's begin to understand by reviewing a few things. Was Christ (the "Word") WITH God from the beginning? John 1:1.
COMMENT: Remember that before there was an earth there existed God, who became the Father, and God whom we know as the Logos — the "Word" or "Spokesman" — the One who later became the Son, JESUS CHRIST!
2. And wasn't it CHRIST who actually created ALL things? John 1:3 and Col. 1:16. Wasn't it also CHRIST WHO CREATED THE SABBATH? Same verses and Gen. 2:2-3.
COMMENT: The Bible plainly tells us it was CHRIST who actually created the Sabbath! He is the One of the God Kingdom (presently composed of two divine beings) who created the SABBATH and ALL creation.
3. Isn't this the reason why Christ referred to Himself as "LORD of the Sabbath"? Mark 2:27-28 and Luke 6:5.
COMMENT: We learned in previous lessons that Jesus was the "LORD" or GOD of the Old Testament. And He was the One who MADE the Sabbath during creation Week, just as He originally created everything else that exists.
For this reason Jesus has AUTHORITY over the Sabbath. As the "Lord" — one with authority, the master, the ruler — Christ WAS and IS the ONLY ONE to determine WHEN and HOW the Sabbath should be kept!
4. Did Christ — the Lord God of the Old Testament who created the Sabbath and was (and is) Lord of it — come to this earth as the HUMAN Jesus? Heb. 2:9, 14 and I John 4:2.
COMMENT: Jesus Christ had the Holy Spirit from birth. He had SPIRITUAL knowledge, wisdom and power. Even at the early age of twelve He was TEACHING learned men! (Luke 2:46-47.)
As Creator of the Sabbath, Ruler, and God-in-the-flesh, Jesus Christ knew exactly WHICH DAY to keep as the Sabbath, and He knew exactly HOW TO DO IT! Jesus rebuked the Jews for wrongly trying to make the Sabbath a burdensome yoke of bondage BY REMINDING THEM HE WAS THE "LORD" WHO CREATED IT! (Mark 2:23-28.)
Jesus therefore kept the Sabbath PERFECTLY because He had the fulness of the Holy Spirit to guide and empower Him from birth. He NEVER ONCE broke the Sabbath! Had Jesus ever broken it in the slightest point, He could not have become our Savior! Hebrews 4:15 says He was "WITHOUT SIN"!
5. Did Jesus set His Church the EXAMPLE of how the whole Christian way of life is to be lived? I John 2:6. Does Jesus, the "Lord" of the SABBATH — the TRUE "Lord's Day" — therefore teach us, His disciples, WHEN and HOW to keep the Sabbath?
COMMENT: Jesus taught His disciples, the future leaders of His Church, EXACTLY how He, as the "Lord of the Sabbath," intended that day to be used!
Yes, Jesus showed by His EXAMPLE and TEACHING how the true Sabbath ought to be kept, and set His Church the EXAMPLE of how the WHOLE Christian way of life ought to be lived!
God intended the Sabbath to be a BLESSING for mankind — not a CURSE! And Jesus showed us by His living example, in principle, and by direct teaching, exactly HOW the Sabbath is to be kept so it can be a GREAT JOY and BLESSING to us all!
6. Was it Christ's "custom" to attend Church services on God's Sabbath? Luke 4:16, 31.
PHOTO CAPTION: Scroll being read in a village synagogue of the nation called Israel. The scroll Jesus read from on the Sabbath may have looked much like this one.
COMMENT: Jesus did not meet with the people on the Sabbath because it was a "convenient" opportunity to preach to them. He met with them in OBEDIENCE to GOD'S COMMAND to convoke for worship services on the Sabbath Day! (Lev. 23:3.) This is the day He would obviously keep holy since He is the One who originally MADE the Sabbath and COMMANDED it to be kept holy!
It was Jesus' "custom" or HABIT to keep the true Sabbath from His early youth. Once a person does a thing consistently for a length of time, it becomes a HABIT with him and a CUSTOMARY thing. So it was with Jesus. He did NOT keep Sunday or any other such practice instituted by man!
7. Are WE commanded to FOLLOW Christ's perfect example of obedience to God, which includes Sabbath keeping? I Pet. 2:21 and I Cor. 11:1.
"SATURDAY" Is God's Sabbath.
God has carefully seen to it that the knowledge of the proper day for His Holy Sabbath has been preserved since the death of Christ. Let's notice how:
1. Immediately after Christ's death, did God CONCLUSIVELY show — leaving not a shadow of doubt — that Sunday, the first day of the week, is NOT the day we are to keep holy? Mat. 28:1.
COMMENT: Within only three days after Christ's crucifixion, God pointed out in clear language for us today that His Sabbath is FOLLOWED by Sunday, the FIRST day of the week — AN ORDINARY WORK DAY! God points out that although Christ was crucified, the SABBATH STILL REMAINS, as always, the SEVENTH day of the week ... SATURDAY. SATURDAY IS PLAINLY THE DAY ON WHICH GOD COMMANDS US TO REST!!
2. Doesn't Mark 16:1-2 also verify the fact Sunday is the FIRST day of the week, and that it directly FOLLOWS the Sabbath which still is the seventh day? Notice the words, "When the SABBATH was PAST ... early in the morning of the FIRST DAY of the WEEK."
COMMENT: Obviously it does! Be sure to send for Mr. Armstrong's free booklets, "Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?" and "The Resurrection was Not on Sunday!"
3. Does Luke 23:56 and 24:1 also verify the fact it is the Sabbath — SATURDAY — on which we are to rest?
COMMENT: NOWHERE in your Bible will you find a command to observe Sunday! And NO HINT anywhere that the Sabbath has been done away. God has been careful to see that the Sabbath remained IDENTIFIED down through the centuries for us today!
We can see the Bible clearly tells us the Sabbath is the SEVENTH day of the week. And FOLLOWING the Sabbath is the FIRST day of the week — which we know as SUNDAY.
The question is: where did the erroneous idea that SUNDAY IS the commanded day of rest come from? Did it come from the Bible?
NOWHERE does the Bible command you to keep Sunday — the FIRST day of the week! Sunday observance can easily be traced to PAGANISM which crept into religion shortly after Christ's death. (This will be explained thoroughly in coming lessons.)
The word "Sunday" does NOT appear anywhere in your Bible (except in the corrupt New English Bible). But the phrase "FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK" is found exactly eight times. IF God's TRUE day of rest was changed by BIBLE authority — the ONLY authority which is FROM GOD, HIMSELF — we must find that authority in one of these eight texts, OR NOT AT ALL!
The eight places where the phrase "first day of the week" appears are: Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2 and 16:9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1 and 20:19; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2.
IN NOT ONE OF THESE EIGHT TEXTS IS THERE FOUND AUTHORITY FOR CHANGING THE SEVENTH-DAY SABBATH TO SUNDAY — THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK! Send for Mr. Armstrong's free booklet, "Which Day is the Sabbath of the New Testament?" which explains each of these texts in detail.
Apostles and New Testament Church Kept the Sabbath
There is clear and conclusive proof that Christ's Apostles and New Testament Church CONTINUED TO keep the seventh-day Sabbath after His death and resurrection. Here is that proof!
1. Did the Christian women who came with Jesus from Galilee still observe the SABBATH Day very shortly after He was crucified? Luke 23:55-56. Was the FIRST day of the week — Sunday, the day AFTER Saturday — still a REGULAR WORK DAY? Luke 24:1.
COMMENT: Notice the words "according to the commandment" in Luke 23:56. Just a few days after Christ's crucifixion, the early CHRISTIANS KNEW THE SABBATH COMMANDMENT WAS STILL IN EFFECT AND WERE KEEPING IT!
And the FIRST day of the week, the day AFTER Christ's resurrection, was still an ORDINARY WORK DAY — the day on which the women brought their spices to anoint Christ's body. However, they first "rested the Sabbath Day according to the commandment"!
2. Wasn't it always the apostle Paul's "MANNER" to keep the Sabbath, just as it was Christ's "CUSTOM" to keep it? Acts 17:1-2 and Luke 4:16, 31.
PETRA — Where Paul may have resided while being personally taught by Jesus Christ three years in Arabia.
3. Was it Paul's "manner" to keep the Sabbath because he felt like it, or because Jesus Christ DWELT in him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Gal. 2:20. Is Christ always CHANGING His mind about which spiritual laws of God are to be obeyed and which day should be kept as the Sabbath? Or does Christ's will REMAIN THE SAME FOREVER? Heb. 13:8.
COMMENT: It is quite plain the apostle Paul observed the TRUE SABBATH. And if Christ lives His life in us today through God's Holy Spirit, WE WILL ALSO BE KEEPING THE SAME DAY JESUS KEPT!
4. Was the apostle Paul PERSONALLY taught by Christ Himself in preparation for his ministry? Gal. 1:11-12, 15-10.
COMMENT: After Christ's death and resurrection, He personally taught Paul, ALONE, in Arabia. Had Christ done away with any of His Father's laws or CHANGED the true Sabbath to some other day, He certainly would have revealed it to Paul personally. But NO CHANGES were made and Paul returned and taught the true Church of God exactly what Christ commanded him to preach regarding it!
5. Did Paul labor at a job for SIX days of the week, and then observe the seventh-day Sabbath by RESTING and PREACHING? Acts 18:1-4, 11.
COMMENT: For EIGHTEEN MONTHS in the city of Corinth, Paul labored unceasingly during the first six days of each week as a tentmaker. But he did not preach on Sunday, the first day of the week. He preached on the SABBATH — Saturday, the seventh day!
If we could find even ONE text in the New Testament giving as strong authority for Sunday observance as this one does for SABBATH keeping, we should certainly have BIBLE AUTHORITY for observing the first day. BUT WE CANNOT! IT JUST ISN'T THERE!!
6. Notice how the Sabbath was regarded by converts in the early Church. Did Paul preach to the Jews AND Gentiles on a Sabbath Day? Acts 13:14-16. After the JEWS left the synagogue, did the GENTILES ask him to preach to them again on the next Sabbath? Verse 42. On the next Sabbath, how many from the city of Antioch came to hear Paul? Verse 44.
PHOTO CAPTION: CORINTH — Where Paul preached to Gentiles on God's Sabbaths. Shown is general view of Corinth excavations with Temple of Apollo in background.
COMMENT: Notice carefully that it was the practice of many GENTILES to meet with the Jews on the Sabbaths. And because these Gentiles were interested in the Gospel, they besought Paul to speak about Jesus again on the very NEXT SABBATH DAY!
Paul, the apostle to the Gentile nations, said NOT ONE WORD here or elsewhere, that the Gentiles should cease their practice of assembling on the SABBATH for worship! Yes, the Sabbath Day was kept by God's early church years AFTER Christ's death and resurrection!
7. Since Paul followed the example of Jesus Christ who dwelt in him, did he COMMAND the GENTILE Christians at Corinth to FOLLOW HIM EXACTLY AS HE FOLLOWED CHRIST? I Cor. 11:1. Did he command the Philippians to do likewise? Phil. 3:17.
COMMENT: Paul taught the converted Gentiles to imitate his obedience to God AS HE IMITATED CHRIST'S. BECAUSE of this command, the Gentiles always assembled on the SABBATH DAY JUST AS CHRIST DID WHILE IN THE FLESH, in order to KEEP the day God commands in His Word!
In like manner today, all SPIRIT-BEGOTTEN CHRISTIANS will be IMITATING the OBEDIENCE of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and all of God's true ministers — by KEEPING the Sabbath Day holy!
8. Did Christ plainly show that His Church would REMAIN a Sabbath-keeping Church, even until the time of the end? Mat. 24:20.
COMMENT: Christ clearly shows here that His Church would respect and keep His Sabbath commandment. His Church — the true Church of God in its infancy — fled from Jerusalem before the city was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. True Christians were KEEPING the Sabbath at that time!
This great prophecy is DUAL and its main fulfillment is YET in the very near future. This shows Christ knew true Christians would be keeping God's Sabbath TODAY!
The evidence of your Bible proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Christians in God's original Apostolic Church observed the seventh-day Sabbath! The FACTS from the Bible and recorded secular history to this effect are OVERWHELMING!
FOR OVER 1900 YEARS, God's true Church has CONTINUED to keep the seventh-day Sabbath and the "testimony of Jesus Christ" — the teachings of the Bible! (Rev. 12:17; 14:12.) (Be sure to read the free booklet, "The True History of the True Church".)
More Proof Time Has NOT Been Lost
We have clearly seen that God's Sabbath commandment has continued in force down through the ages. Here now is more proof that the associated, recurring seven-day WEEKLY CYCLE — which makes the exact day of the Sabbath so easily identifiable — has continued UNBROKEN to this day!
1. After God miraculously revealed His Sabbath to Israel in the wilderness, whom did He COMMISSION TO PRESERVE His Laws? Rom. 3:1-2 and John 7:19.
COMMENT: Paul plainly shows us that God's inspired Word of Old Testament times was committed to the JEWS for preservation.
God gave His revelation through Moses for the entire Old Testament Church (the twelve tribes of Israel). Yet He chose only the ONE TRIBE OF JUDAH to preserve His Word!
2. Was God's Word given to the Jews to be preserved for their DESCENDANTS, and consequently for all of us who have become "spiritual Jews" — FOR ALL TRUE SPIRIT-BEGOTTEN CHRISTIANS? Last eleven words of Acts 7:38 and I Peter 1:10, 12.
3. Even though the Jews were disobedient to God's laws, does their disobedience do away with the FACT that God guided circumstances so the Jews would preserve the Old Testament Scriptures and His calendar accurately? Rom. 3:3.
COMMENT: When the Jews rejected Christ, they collectively cut themselves off from any national service in God's New Testament church government. From that time forward, Jesus COMMISSIONED OTHERS — His New Testament ministry — to preach His spiritual message worldwide.
However, even though the Jews disbelieved the Scriptures and substituted their own traditions for much of the truth, their sins DO NOT MAKE the Hebrew Old Testament and God's calendar NULL AND VOID! Romans 3:4 further explains it: "God forbid: yea let God be true, but every man a liar."
4. How did Jesus ABSOLUTELY RECOGNIZE the Jews' AUTHORITY in preserving the Old Testament Scriptures? Mat. 5:17-18 and Luke 16:17.
COMMENT: The Jews carefully preserved God's Word. Jesus plainly indicated it was INTACT then and dogmatically stated it would NEVER BE LOST! The Jews also preserved God's CALENDAR which includes the weekly cycle and the true Sabbath day!
5. What text absolutely proves the Jews preserved and kept the RIGHT DAY for the Sabbath up to Jesus' time? Luke 4:16.
COMMENT: Notice it was Jesus' "custom" to keep the SAME DAY the Jews kept. He also gave His OFFICIAL APPROVAL of the scriptures the Jews preserved by reading them aloud in the synagogue on the Sabbath day!
6. What startling fact conclusively proves the Jews have PRESERVED the knowledge of the weekly cycle and the true Sabbath up to the PRESENT TIME?
COMMENT: After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Jews were driven into EVERY NATION on earth. They have remained SCATTERED and SEPARATED until now.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Jews in China had no way of communicating with the Jews in Africa. Nor did the Jews in Europe have any means of communicating with those in other parts of the world.
Yet when communications were established over every part of the world, we find ALL the Jews observing the SAME seventh day of the week!
If the weekly cycle had been changed or mixed up, the Jews in one part of the world would be observing one day for the Sabbath, while the Jews in another part would be observing another day. But EVERYWHERE, IN EVERY NATION ON EARTH, we find the Jews have always been keeping the SAME IDENTICAL DAY JESUS KEPT — the SEVENTH DAY, or SATURDAY!
The Jews are an IRREFUSABLE PROOF that we have not lost the right day for God's Sabbath! Jesus said His Word would be PRESERVED. IT HAS BEEN! (Send for Mr. Armstrong's free booklet, "Has Time Been Lost?" for more proof.)
The Sabbath Day is NOT a day of any man — or group of men — or denomination — or nation — or race. It's GOD'S SABBATH — the true "Lord's Day"! And God commands the ENTIRE WORLD to keep it today!
BLESSINGS for Keeping God's Sabbath
God makes it plain that we must keep His Sabbath if we are to receive God's glorious gift of eternal life and inherit His Kingdom.
But in addition to this glorious future, God promises to bestow many other wonderful BLESSINGS HERE and NOW upon those who hallow His Sabbaths, and make them a "delight"!
1. How does God reveal He will bless us MATERIALLY if we faithfully keep the Sabbath? Isa. 58:13-14. Notice that God promises to cause us to "ride upon the HIGH places of the earth."
COMMENT: The "heritage of Jacob" is the inheritance of righteous Abraham and all the righteous who are Abraham's "seed." God promises us — if we are Abraham's "seed" through Christ — tremendous material and spiritual blessings, including eternal inheritance of this earth.
God promises to bless us with food, shelter, clothing, knowledge, AND MANY OTHER THINGS THAT IT OFTEN SURPRISES US TO RECEIVE — if we obediently keep His Sabbaths.
To be in God's good grace and favor and therefore to be blessed by God — to be caused to "ride upon the HIGH places of the earth" — is very IMPORTANT! And even more so now in the end of this age when this desperately lawless generation is bringing untold suffering upon the WHOLE WORLD. YOU JUST CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO KEEP THE SABBATH!
Here is an excerpt from a typical letter the Worldwide Church of God with headquarters here in Pasadena, California received, and the answer to it based on God's promises in the Bible:
"My employer has told me he will have to fire me if I do not begin working on the Sabbath. Jobs are very hard to find in this locality. Should l keep the Sabbath regardless, and trust God for another job?"
The immediate question that always comes to mind when faced with the decision to obey God and keep holy the day He made holy is: "How am I going to support my family?" The answer is that we must not look to the physical circumstances involved, but trust God in BELIEVING FAITH. Have you ever read II Cor. 4:18; 5:7 and Jas. 2:18?
Many of God's people who thought they would lose their jobs have been surprised to learn their employers changed their minds about firing them. Others who DID lose their jobs for refusing to break God's Sabbath Day soon had equal or better jobs!
We are told in Matthew 6:31-33, "... Take NO thought (ANXIOUS thought or worry), saying what shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU."
The person who accepts God at His Word, and is willing to STEP OUT IN FAITH BY EXERCISING IT, and trusting Him to supply every need, is a person upon whom God will look with favor and to whom God will see that work is supplied.
This takes real courage and faith in God, but we know we have His SURE PROMISE that He will provide for our needs. God may allow you to be temporarily jobless to test your faith, but as long as you obey Him and follow Christ, your perfect example — AND KEEP LOOKING FOR A JOB — you will find work. GOD WILL NOT FORSAKE YOU (Deut. 4:30-31).
But there is one thing to remember. You must be a hard and trusted worker! God will not intervene for one who is LAZY!
Pray for God's guidance and intervention on your behalf so you will have His help in finding the right job should you be fired. The chances are you will keep your job or find a better one if you do lose your present job for obeying God.
2. Aren't those who keep the Sabbath promised they will also be "refreshed" physically? Ex. 23:12
Now that we have learned about the MATERIAL blessings God promises those who keep His Sabbaths, let's learn about the far more important ETERNAL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS God promises us if we keep His Sabbaths properly.
3. WHY should we forsake our own ways and even our own thoughts on the Sabbath? Isa. 55:8-9.
COMMENT: Since the Sabbath is the "sign' which IDENTIFIES US as God's obedient children, and since it points directly to our eternal GOAL of becoming sons of God with supremely powerful and efficient spirit bodies, we are to LEARN TO BE MORE LIKE GOD ON THIS DAY! Here's how we learn:
As human beings we do not, by our carnal nature, THINK the spiritual thoughts God thinks constantly. Therefore the way we begin to think GODLY THOUGHTS on the Sabbath is by STUDYING, DISCUSSING and MEDITATING upon God's Word, and by PRAYING TO God!
You might say we are, in a sense, practicing to be very God on the Sabbath when we literally SATURATE OUR MINDS with the PRINCIPLES OF GOD'S LAWS which reveal His character — how GOD thinks and acts! So then, by properly keeping the Sabbath, we are acting out or portraying our future destiny — that of being Gods in the very Kingdom of God!
Yes, the Sabbath will become a great "delight" (Isa. 58:13) to us as we learn the ways of God and thrill to the prospect of becoming His very Sons.
And keeping the Sabbath as God instructs will give us the SPIRITUAL LIFT and INSPIRATION needed to help us do the next six days of work with joy and real purpose. It will help us to realize that our everyday experience of putting God's Word into practice in our lives is BUILDING the very CHARACTER OF GOD!
Only when we keep the Sabbath in this way can we fully realize why Jesus said it was made "FOR MAN" — to be a great BLESSING for mankind! (Mark 2:27.)
4. What "name" does God promise those of us who faithfully observe His Sabbath every week? Isa. 56:4-6. Will God make faithful Sabbath keepers His joyful Sons with POSITIONS of rulership in His own house, His temple — the headquarters church of the whole world? The first 15 words of verse 5; first 18 words of verse 7 and Rev. 3:12.
COMMENT: God specifically promises us that if we do not pollute His Sabbath, but keep it in the SPIRIT — BECOME SPIRITUAL "EUNUCHS" WITH NO PROSPECT OF REBELLION — and keep it in the letter by RESTING PHYSICALLY, we will inherit an "everlasting name" — the name "GOD"! We will become the born Sons of His family — the GOD FAMILY — and be co-rulers with Christ in the Kingdom of God, with headquarters in JERUSALEM, PALESTINE!
What a TREMENDOUS REWARD for being the obedient servants of God!
5. Does God also give us a glimpse of the eternal city in which we'll live and rule as His Sons? Rev. 21:1-2 and 22:14. SKIM RAPIDLY the rest of the 21st chapter and verses 1-5 of chapter 22 for the glorious description of the breathtaking beauty and splendor that will surround us in the NEW JERUSALEM!
COMMENT: ALL of these tremendous spiritual blessings can be yours if you have the "sign" of obedience to God which will distinguish you — SET YOU APART — as one destined to inherit God's incomprehensible riches — eternal life of never-ending joy and accomplishment in the kingdom of God!
CURSES for Polluting God's Sabbath
We now know the wonderful blessings our loving Creator will shower upon us if we obey Him and keep His Sabbath Day.
But what if we don't keep God's commanded Sabbath? Is there anything WRONG with that? Can we just keep any day WE PLEASE, or not keep any day at all? Can't we just go on ignoring God's Sabbath WITHOUT reaping the CONSEQUENCES?
God made the Sabbath at creation — BEFORE there were any NATIONS. But God intended the Sabbath to be kept by ALL people as a great blessing to mankind. And God included Sabbath keeping as one of His Ten Commandments — as part of the first four which explain what our relationship to GOD should be. It is the KEY commandment which brings us into CLOSE contact with our Creator!
Let's understand, from the history of Old Covenant Israel, just how EXTREMELY IMPORTANT Sabbath keeping really is in God's sight!
1. Is Sabbath keeping so important that God DOUBLY COMMANDED it by making a special separate Sabbath Covenant with ancient Israel? Ex. 20:8 and 31:16. Did God ordain "death" for any person in ancient Israel who worked on the Sabbath? Ex. 31:14.
COMMENT: Sabbath keeping is so IMPORTANT that in Old Covenant times the DEATH PENALTY was God's righteous judgment upon those who refused to keep His Sabbath Day! Anyone breaking the Sabbath was immediately put to DEATH! Today the punishment is delayed, but just as sure if one PERSISTS in breaking the Sabbath.
2. What did God command Israel to do in order to receive His great blessings? Lev. 26:2-3. (Notice that the Sabbaths are so important they are mentioned SEPARATELY from the rest of the commandments — verse 2.) What were the great material blessings God promised the nation if they would keep all of His commandments? READ and SUMMARIZE verses 4-13.
3. How else did God say He would bless Israel for obedience to His commandments, among which Sabbath keeping plays such an important part? READ and SUMMARIZE Deuteronomy 28:1-13.
4. Did God even promise that Jerusalem would remain FOREVER IF the people would keep His Sabbath? Jer. 17:21-22, 24-25. Notice especially the last seven words of verse 25.
5. BUT NOW WE COME TO THE IMPORTANT PART OF THIS SUBJECT! What terrible CURSES did God say would come upon Israel if they did NOT keep His commandments? READ and SUMMARIZE Leviticus 26: 14-39. WASN'T EVEN THE LAND TO HAVE ITS "SABBATHS" — REST from their working it — BECAUSE THEY WOULD BE AWAY IN CAPTIVITY? Verses 34-35. Notice the word "sabbaths" is used three times in these two verses.
PHOTO CAPTION: The land will lie desolate during the imminent captivity of the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel.
6. What else did God say He would do to Israel if they would NOT obey His commandments? READ and SUMMARIZE Deuteronomy 28:15-68.
COMMENT: God pronounces TERRIBLE CURSES upon people or nations that do not keep His Sabbath commandment! But Israel REFUSED to keep God's commanded Sabbaths.
7. Did God CARRY OUT the curses He promised to bring upon the House of Israel for their disobedience? II Kings 17:18. Why? Verses 16-17. Were they removed to a FOREIGN land? Verse 23. (Remember that Israel was the nation composed of ten tribes collectively known as the House of Israel, and two tribes collectively known as the House of Judah.)
COMMENT: In 721-718 B.C., the House of Israel went into the GREATEST national captivity and punishment that has ever befallen any nation in all the history of the earth! This great punishment extended over a period of 2520 years!! It is a stark WARNING for us not to break God's Sabbath TODAY!
The reason for that punishment was the SAME REASON God punished Israel in the wilderness — for rebelling against Him, and SPECIFICALLY FOR BREAKING HIS SABBATHS! They even went after strange gods — which would not have happened had they kept the Sabbath.
None of the House of Israel were left behind in the land. Only the House of Judah remained free from onerous and cruel captivity. But this was to continue for only a short time since the CURSE was upon them too!
8. And what did God do to the House of Judah for not keeping the Sabbath? Did He cause King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to FULFILL the curses which God warned would befall Judah if they refused to keep His Sabbath? II Chron. 36:5-7, 16-19, 21. What happened to those who were not killed? Verse 20.
COMMENT: GOD MEANS BUSINESS!! Only CURSES can result for polluting His Sabbath!
The sacking and destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar, which began in 604 B.C., and the captivity of those who remained, was a DIRECT FULFILLMENT of God's warning to the House of Judah!
9. Notice in Ezekiel 20 the SUMMATION of why God punished Israel so terribly. Does God mention it was PRIMARILY because of their NOT keeping His Sabbath? Verses 12-13, 16, 20-21, 24.
10. And didn't God, for this reason, point out He would WITH FURY rule over them — with fury send them into PUNISHMENT? Verse 21, last part and verses 33-34. Does God say He will "PURGE OUT" or REMOVE "the rebels" — those who rebel against Him and do not obey? Verse 38.
COMMENT: These curses are DUAL in fulfillment! Sabbath-rejecting modern-day Israel, and this entire Sabbath-rejecting world, will be punished for their disobedience! (Read Mr. Armstrong's free book, "The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy", to learn the truth about Israel's identity today.)
Yes, the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel — the UNITED STATES and BRITAIN — are BREAKING God's laws and POLLUTING GOD'S SABBATHS!
Scan again Deuteronomy 28:15 through 68 and notice that these prophecies are NOW in the process of being FULFILLED before your very eyes! These curses will finally CULMINATE SUDDENLY in modern Israel's CAPTIVITY!
May God help you to understand and HEED HIS WARNING!
Those Being SAVED for Service Have God's "Sign"
Do you fully realize that even Christ, the very Son of God, HAD TO KEEP THE SABBATH in order to bear the "Sign" which identifies God's spiritual children — those whom God is SAVING for service in His Kingdom?
Jesus Christ was a human being exactly as you and I. He could not have received eternal life any other way than we may receive it. He, too, HAD TO KEEP God's commandments — which includes Sabbath keeping — God's "sign." Let's be sure we understand this vital truth.
1. Did Christ, the "Word" — the God who created the universe — actually become the MORTAL Jesus — the human flesh-and-blood son of Mary? John 1:1, 14 and Heb. 2:9, 14.
COMMENT: While Christ was on earth as the mortal son of Mary, he ALSO had to keep the Sabbath — have God's Sabbath "sign" — or die ETERNAL DEATH! "For sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4) — which includes the Sabbath commandment — and "the wages of sin is (eternal) death" (Rom. 6:23).
Christ would have incurred the eternal death penalty if he had disobeyed the SLIGHTEST point of God's law (Jas. 2:10).
But Christ knew God's Law and exactly which day to keep as the Sabbath. And Jesus Christ kept ALL of God's commandments PERFECTLY! He made it His "custom" to keep the Sabbath so He would bear God's "SIGN."
Because Christ was sinless and had God's "sign," He qualified to become our Savior. Therefore the Father raised Him from the dead, thus SAVING Him for service in His Kingdom. And so Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven as our High Priest and coming King of this earth.
Remember the simple fact that Jesus is our EXAMPLE. Since He had to keep the Sabbath to be saved, we MOST CERTAINLY MUST DO LIKEWISE TODAY!
2. But doesn't the Bible clearly show that Christ "LABORED" on God's holy Sabbath Day? It most certainly does! How did Christ "labor" on the Sabbath? Did He "work" mighty SPIRITUAL WORKS on the Sabbath Day? Mark 1:21; Luke 4:16; 13:10 and Mat. 12:5, 8-13.
3. How did Jesus uphold His "work" of preaching and healing on God's Sabbath? Did He make it plain it was lawful to do WELL on the Sabbath? Mat. 12:12 and Luke 6:9-10.
4. BUT did Jesus also warn against doing PHYSICAL LABOR on the Sabbath Day? Mat. 24:20.
COMMENT: Remember, Jesus NEVER ONCE broke the Sabbath! Had He ever broken it in the slightest point, He could not have become our Savior! Hebrews 4:15 says He was WITHOUT SIN!
The "work" Jesus said He and the Father performed were SPIRITUAL works! In John 5:10-21, Jesus plainly indicated that He was doing the SPIRITUAL works of the Father (healing, preaching, etc.) on the Sabbath — not the PHYSICAL works of men!
YOU too, although not a minister performing spiritual "works" for others on the Sabbath by preaching, can and should do other SPIRITUAL "WORKS" to PREPARE YOURSELF for God's Kingdom. You can do this by zealously STUDYING God's Word — the Bible — and by PRAYING to God on the Sabbath.
You can be literally FILLED with God's Holy Spirit on this day of especially close contact with God — the Spirit which will guide you into all truth (John 16:13). Then you will begin to GROW spiritually, though almost imperceptibly at first. But GROW you will! For you'll be schooling yourself on the Sabbath — PREPARING YOURSELF for the great work we are to perform in this physical world after we are born of God.
If you worship God every Sabbath by PRAYING to Him and STUDYING His Word and its APPLICATION in your life, and put it into DAILY PRACTICE during the week, then you will have God's Sabbath "sign" in the TRUE and SAVING sense. You will be PREPARING to enter God's Kingdom as a priest and ruler! (Rev. 5:10.)
And if you continue to grow and overcome, at Christ's coming God will CHANCE you by giving you a supremely efficient SPIRIT body capable of tremendous SPIRITUAL SERVICE IN His eternal Kingdom!
Your Next Step
If you have sincerely repented of your sins and desire to live by every Word of God, you will want to begin keeping the SAME DAY Christ and His apostles kept! You will want to keep GOD'S Holy Sabbath Day, commonly called SATURDAY.
You will have come to realize that you should WITHDRAW AT ONCE from all fellowship with churches that observe SUNDAY — a day God NEVER commanded mankind to keep!
You will also understand the necessity of WITHDRAWING from all fellowship with any church which congregates on God's Sabbath, but does not bear the NAME of God's Church — the "Church of GOD." God has only ONE true church, although many false groups have misappropriated the true name for their churches.
Through your study of the Scriptures you have seen that God is not in these churches of men which merely assemble themselves together on the Sabbath by their OWN AUTHORITY, and not by the command of God's called ministers! And you know GOD'S COMMAND: "Have NO FELLOWSHIP with the unfruitful works of darkness ..."! (Eph. 5:11.)
However, we do know it is the earnest desire of true believers to meet together with brethren of like understanding on the Sabbath in obedience to God's injunction found in Hebrews 10:24-25. But for a few this may NOT YET be possible because they are scattered as salt of the earth and consequently cannot assemble on the Sabbath. Our Heavenly Father knows about this situation and, therefore, does not expect them to attend one of His church services on the Sabbath when it isn't possible!
Remember that our fellowship must be first and foremost with the Father and with Jesus Christ, and then, if possible, with one another — but only in and through Christ (I John 1:3-7). Those not able to attend Sabbath services can have this communion and fellowship with God right in their OWN HOMES, or WHEREVER they happen to be on the Sabbath!
But zealous students who hunger for regular fellowship ask us to send them the names and addresses of other believers in their vicinity with the idea of establishing regular Bible studies together on the Sabbath and other days of the week, since they have no local minister of God with whom they can assemble.
At first glance, this may seem like a wonderful idea. But Scriptural teaching and the costly lesson of experience compel us to REFUSE! Here's why:
In Eph. 4:11-15 Paul explains that Christ gave evangelists, pastors, teachers, and other ministerial offices in the Church "for the PERFECTING of the Saints ... for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the UNITY of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto (a perfect man) ... that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness ... but speaking the truth in love, may GROW UP into Him in all things."
PHOTO CAPTION: Singing during a Church of God Sabbath service. One of many congregations scattered throughout the world.
Yes, it is the purpose of the MINISTRY to teach God's Church how to grow in love and in good works — exactly as Heb. 10:24 commands. But it is NOT God's will for the MEMBERS to teach one another!
If BRETHREN could accomplish this by assembling WITHOUT a true MINISTER of God, then Jesus wasted His time by training individuals to become ministers to His spirit-begotten children. Then He was mistaken in training His called disciples to spiritually feed the flock, if the flock could feed itself. But Christ, the living Son of God, is NOT MISTAKEN!
The very fact that Christ's chosen ministry is for the edifying of the Church of God is positive proof that assembling without a shepherd — a true minister of God — will NOT lead to unity and perfection in the knowledge of Christ.
Without a trained minister of God, disunity, contention and error will inevitably arise in a local group. They would soon be QUARRELING among themselves, or some dominant personality would lead the others from the truth into various WILD TANGENTS, or some wolf in sheep's clothing would come along pretending to be a true minister of Jesus Christ, only to DEVOUR and DESTROY the flock! Mr. Armstrong's past experience with such unshepherded flocks proves it!
So don't become discouraged if you can't fellowship with others of like understanding on the Sabbath. You can still keep in continual CLOSE CONTACT with God's true Church by spiritually feeding upon God's Word through THE WORLD TOMORROW broadcast, THIS Bible Correspondence Course, THE PLAIN TRUTH magazine, and the other free literature available from our headquarters office in Pasadena, California.
Through the BROADCAST, the scattered ones whom God has called are individually kept in CONSTANT CONTACT with Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and his son, Garner Ted Armstrong — the TRUE PASTORS God has CHOSEN and USED in bringing them to the truth and conversion. BY ALL THESE MEDIA YOU ARE CONTINUALLY BEING FED ON TRUE SPIRITUAL FOOD BY THE MOTHER OF US ALL — THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD!
Have you realized that you hear your pastor more often than most of this world's churchgoers who hear their pastors only once every Sunday? Every time you listen to THE WORLD TOMORROW in your own home you are, in a sense, attending the greatest church service on earth which is attended by MILLIONS of others every day! (The broadcast can be heard several times a day in many areas — check the "Radio Log" in THE PLAIN TRUTH magazine for times and stations.)
SO GROW in the knowledge of Christ and His Word right in your own home on every DAY of the week — ESPECIALLY on the Sabbath!
However, if you have FULLY REPENTED, want to keep God's Sabbath, and all of His commandments, we know you will still earnestly desire to meet with others of like understanding. THIS MAY BE POSSIBLE!
If you are one of these we just described, then write to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, Post Office Box 111, Pasadena, California (or to one of our other offices which may be closer to you — see inside front cover of this lesson for the addresses) regarding the possibility of attending God's Church on the Sabbath. BE SURE TO MENTION YOU HAVE COMPLETED LESSON 28 OF THE AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE!