“Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts.” –William Shakespeare
“NOW PLACE THIS RING -“
I still remember the slight struggle that my wife had as she placed my ring that she had bought for me on my left hand during our wedding ceremony. It is a ring that brings me smiles, as well as functions as a constant visual reminder of my commitment and love for her and as a sign to others that I have been set apart and belong only to her. Unlike quotes I have seen online, I do not wear my ring because I have to, but because I relish the relationship I have with her.
These are the feelings that I feel should be associated with one’s wedding ring, but there are, unfortunately, many among God’s people who do not feel this way towards the wedding band that God has given to His Bride at all. They have removed it from their lives and have even been taught to view it as “bondage” and “legalism.”
A PHYSICAL SIGN
In the book of Exodus, God proclaims the following:
You must observe My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, so that you will know that I am the LORD who sets you apart. Observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you. (Exodus 31:13-14a)
The word translated as “sign” here is the Hebrew word ‘oth, and it refers to “a sign” or “a pledge.” Just as my wedding band is a “sign” or “pledge” that I have been set apart for my wife, and her’s is a “sign” or “pledge” that she has been set apart unto me, so the Sabbath is a “sign” – just like our wedding bands – that God’s people have been set apart unto God. This same image of the Sabbaths being a “sign” is seen again in verse 17 of the same chapter:
It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.
Our observance of God’s Sabbath and His Feasts (they all make up His Sabbaths) is a sign, much like the wedding ring, that God has set us apart to Himself, and that we belong to Him. This same image of the Sabbaths being a sign is also seen in two passages of Ezekiel:
And I also gave them My Sabbaths to serve as a sign between Me and them, so they will know that I AM the LORD who sets them apart as holy. (Ezekiel 20:12)
Keep My Sabbaths holy, and they will be a sign between Me and you, so you may know that I AM the LORD your God. (Ezekiel 20:20)
Just as my wedding band is a physical sign that I have been set apart for my wife and that I belong to her, the Sabbaths are God’s wedding band that He has set us apart as His Bride and that we belong to Him. No where in the Tanakh (“Old Testament”) is it seen as a good thing for one to be without God’s Sabbaths.
YESHUA (JESUS) OBSERVED THE SABBATH
Not only is Sabbath observance clearly taught in the Tanakh (“Old Testament”), but it is also taught in the B’rit Chadasha (lit. “Renewed Covenant” but usually trans. “New Testament”) by example. For instance, Yeshua (Jesus) observed the Sabbath. In the Gospel of Luke, we read,
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. (Luke 4:16)
As we can see noted, Yeshua’s (Jesus’) custom, or way of life, was that He was a regular reader of the Scriptures in His local synagogue on the Sabbath. This tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) has a nice sounding voice because Jewish teaching says that the reading of the Torah should be a pleasant sound to one’s ears. Not only was He a regular reader at His synagogue, we discover a few verses later, that He also taught at other synagogues as well:
And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And He was teaching them on the Sabbath (Luke 4:31)
Again, we see Yeshua (Jesus) attending the synagogue on the Sabbath and teaching those in attendance. And this was a regular custom of His. For example, in Matthew 4:23, we read,
And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (emphasis mine)
And again, in Matthew 9,
And Jesus was going about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Matthew 9:35; emphasis mine)
Consistently, the portrayal that we get in the Gospels is that Yeshua (Jesus) observed the Sabbath by attending the synagogue and teaching there. Obviously, these synagogues would not allow any stranger to just walk up and start teaching. He must have been well known within these areas, and as His ministry grew, He became well known throughout the country.
But not only did He observe the Sabbath growing up and during His years of ministry, but He even observed the Sabbath after His death, burial and resurrection. For example, in reading the book of Acts, we discover that the day of His ascension was likewise a Sabbath:
And after He [Yeshua/Jesus] had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their midst. (Acts 1:9)
And on what day did this occur?
Then they [His disciples] returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet (or Olives), which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath’s day journey away. (Acts 1:12; emphasis mine)
Notice that the distance was “a Sabbath’s day journey.” The only day of the week in which it mattered how far they were to walk was the Sabbath. Consequently, by saying this was a “a Sabbath’s day journey,” we learn not only on what day of the week the Lord ascended into heaven, but we also learn that the distance traveled was within the accepted distance one could walk on the Sabbath. Therefore, illustrating again, our Lord’s custom of observing the Sabbath.
YESHUA (JESUS) EXPECTED HIS DISCIPLES TO KEEP THE SABBATH
Finally, not only did He Himself observe the Sabbath, but He expected His disciples to do the same, even after His death, burial, and resurrection.
But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. (Matthew 24:20-21)
Some Christian theologians believe this occurred during the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., while others believe this is describing a yet future event, known as the great tribulation. Both events are still after the death and resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus). He told His disciples that they were to pray that their flight from the city would not be in the winter or on a Sabbath day.
If the Sabbath observance ended at the cross, as I have heard Christian ministers preach for years, then what difference would it be if their flight was on a Sabbath day? Obviously, since Yeshua (Jesus) is teaching and warning His disciples to pray that their flight may not be on a Sabbath, Yeshua (Jesus) fully expected His disciples to still be observing the Sabbath at this time. This clearly shows that if Sabbath observance ended at the cross, as mainstream Christianity teaches, then no one informed Yeshua (Jesus) of this because it is clear from His instructions that He is totally oblivious to this idea.
THE DISCIPLES OBSERVED THE SABBATH
Not only did Yeshua (Jesus) observe the Torah, God’s Sabbaths, but so did His early Jewish disciples. According to non-biblical sources, such as the writings of Eusebius, the disciples continued to be extremely zealous in their passion to observe the Torah throughout their lives. This is alluded to in a couple of passages in the book of Acts. For example, in Acts 21:
And when they [the disciples] heard it, they began glorifying God; and they said to him [Rav Sha’ul/Paul], “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed and they are all zealous for the Law. (Acts 21:20)
For the disciples, the fact that all of the Jews around them who have come to faith and are all zealous (passionately observant) for the Law (Heb. Torah), which would include their observance of the Sabbath, was something to glorify and praise God about. Their attitude towards the Torah (“Law”), including the Sabbath, is in complete opposition to many in Christianity today.
Among the disciples, James (Heb. Ya’acov), “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19), was especially zealous in his observance of the Torah, which again, would include the Sabbaths. In fact, James argues in Acts 15, that the reason Gentiles (non-Jews) coming in to the faith only had to begin by keeping the four laws they agreed upon for the following reason:
But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day. (Acts 15:20-21)
Why would James (Heb. Ya’acov; “Jacob”) send these new Gentile (non-Jewish) believers to the synagogue? Were these “Messianic synagogues” who believed in Yeshua (Jesus)? No, they weren’t, but they taught people the Torah that God Himself gave to Moses and His people. And by him saying this, it suggests that the only real difference that James saw between him and the other Jews of his day was his belief that Yeshua (Jesus) was the promised Messiah who had died for his sins and had been resurrected from the dead to give him newness of life in God’s Spirit, but beyond that, his faith was the same as the rest of those in Second Temple Judaism of his day.
SHA’UL PAULUS (PAUL) OBSERVED THE SABBATH
If the Sabbath and Feasts ended at the cross, as Christianity teaches, then why do we find Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) keeping the Sabbath and feasts during his lifetime? In fact, during his first missionary journey, we find him in the synagogue in Salamis (Acts 13:5), and then when they arrived in Antioch of Pisidia, they went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, just like many Jews do today. Paul did not know he would be given an opportunity to speak to the congregation, because it says that he was not asked to speak until after the reading of the Law and the prophets (Acts 13:15). So if he didn’t know he was going to speak, then we can assume he went to attend the service.
And then after the service, there was a group of Gentiles (non-Jews) who wanted Paul to teach them some more (Acts 13:42). So if the Sabbath ended at the cross, then why didn’t Paul just say, “Just come back tomorrow, and I will be glad to teach you”? But he doesn’t. Instead, he has them wait until the following Sabbath, a whole week later (Acts 13:44).
Then, we see Paul continue to attend synagogue services wherever he goes. For example, the synagogue in Philippi (Acts 16:13); and the synagogue in Thessalonica (Acts 17:2). In fact, in Acts 17, Luke writes,
And Paul as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days, he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. (Acts 17:2)
Orthodox synagogues are open every day, so why didn’t Paul just continue on his discussion on Sunday and Monday? Why did he wait until the following Sabbaths? It doesn’t make sense. unless we realize that Paul continued to honor and keep the Sabbath himself. Paul did not stop keeping the Sabbath. For example, see Acts 17:17; 18:17, 19, 26; 19:8; and notice what he says in Acts 26:11 before King Agrippa regarding his persecution of the early believers:
And I punished them often in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
And as we know from the Scriptures, it was on one such journey to Damascus that Paul had his life-changing experience when he met the resurrected Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). But his statement only further supports that the early disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) continued to attend and worship in the synagogue.
THE SABBATH WILL BE OBSERVED DURING THE FUTURE KINGDOM AGE
Finally, if Yeshua (Jesus) died to do away with the Law, then why is He going to bring back the Sabbath, the New Moon feast, the biblical feasts, and even Temple worship during the coming Millennial Kingdom? For example, at the end of the book of Isaiah, Isaiah writes,
And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another; and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the LORD. (Isaiah 66:23)
Notice that it doesn’t say, “all Israel” or “all Jews,” but “all flesh,” meaning everyone, Jew and Gentile (non-Jew) alike. We also find this in the book of Ezekiel, where the prophet Ezekiel writes,
...and they shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My assemblies; and they shall hallow My Sabbaths. (Ezekiel 44:24)
During the Millennium, all of God’s congregations shall keep and hallow the Sabbaths, so if we are going to do it any way, then why not now? Another couple of references can also be found two chapters over in the book of Ezekiel –
Thus says the LORD God; the gate of the inner court that looks towards the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened. (Ezekiel 46:1)
Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the Sabbaths and in the new moons. (Ezekiel 46:3)
Notice that the door of the Millennial Temple shall be shut during the six working days, and it will only be opened on the Sabbaths and the new moons, which is when the people of the land shall also come to worship the LORD, just like Isaiah also wrote. So again, if we are going to worship the LORD on the Sabbaths and new moons, then why are we waiting? Why not begin now? I mean, in the book of Isaiah, God promises us a special blessing if we keep His Sabbaths:
If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath from doing your pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words [thoughts/ideas]: Then shall you delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it. (Isaiah 58:13-14)
Why would you not want God’s special blessing in your life? Look what else God promises us Gentiles (non-Jews) in the book of Isaiah:
Also the sons of the stranger [i.e., Gentiles / non-Jews], that join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of My covenant; Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer to all people. (Isaiah 56:6-7)
Again, why wouldn’t we want God’s blessings in our life, and the promise that one day, we will be allowed in His house of prayer?
When we look at the evidence of the Bible from cover to cover, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence in support of us observing God’s Sabbaths and Feasts. I have examined every verse offered for why Christianity says that they ended at the cross, and they all fall apart when we put them back into their historical, cultural, or textual contexts. The extra-biblical (evidence outside of the Bible) strongly supports that it was not God who changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, but people acting on their own initiative and bias.
We are now living in the days when the Lord is coming back to receive His Bride for the great Wedding of all weddings. So in lieu of that, don’t you think it’s about time that we place God’s “sign,” His “wedding ring,” back into our lives? He gave His Sabbaths to us to make us distinct and set apart for Him, just as my wedding ring is a sign that I have been set apart for only my wife, and her ring is a sign that she has been set apart only for me. So if we love God, as much as we say we do, then what is the problem in putting them back into our lives, particularly when we know when He returns that we will have to do it anyway? So wouldn’t it be better to place His ring out of love for Him, rather than waiting until it is a “have to”?