Guard the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahuwah your Elohim. You shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Mitzrayim and that Yahuwah your Elohim brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
The Third Matter is the signature commandment of the Covenant between the Creator and mankind. It instructs its readers to imitate Elohim in ceasing from laboring on the seventh day of the week. The reason for doing this is rooted in his creative acts. The Shemot 20 version of this Third Matter reminds us that it is because Yahuwah worked six days and then rested on the seventh.
For in six days Yahuwah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahuwah blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Shemot [Exodus] 20:11)
This is pointing back to the creation account where we are told what Elohim did on the seventh day following the six days of creating:
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day Elohim had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And Elohim blessed the seventh day and separated it, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Bereshith [Genesis] 2:1-3)
Those who seek relationship with the Creator are implored to imitate him in this matter.
The commandment tells us in Devarim 5 to “guard the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” The Shemot 20 version tells us to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” The reason we should be doing this is that Elohim rested on the seventh day after creating heaven and earth. On the first Sabbath day, Elohim blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy – which is to say, he separated the seventh day from the other six days. The seventh day was to always have a special and unique agenda for mankind made in the image of Elohim.
The other six days of the week were appointed by the Creator to be days of labor and work. All vocational and occupational work is to be done on those six days. But, the seventh day is to be separated from the other six by ceasing from labor in order to experience the fellowship with Elohim that he created us for. Elohim himself did this separating of the seventh day from the sixth, and he calls on his people to do the same.
Why does the Creator ask us to do this? How can he demand it of us? Everyone has the free will to chose the path he will walk, but those people who seek Elohim and love him with all their heart, soul and strength will obey him in whatever he asks. Elohim can demand the guarding of the Sabbath day because he created the heavens and the earth. He owns it all and he owns all of us. Thus, he has the right to command us in this matter.
But he gives another reason why he can demand of us to keep the Sabbath day holy. It is because he ransomed his people from slavery:
Remember that you were slaves in Mitzrayim and that Yahuwah your Elohim brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Devarim 5:15)
So, because he owns us by his act of creating us and by his act of redeeming us, he then has the right to demand of us to imitate him in the matter of keeping the Sabbath day holy.
The four commandments that make up this third of the Ten Matters of the Covenant tell us how to properly navigate this issue of the Sabbath. First, we are to guard the Sabbath. This means we are to protect it and defend it. Yahuwah has given us this instruction, so we should stand up for it and make sure that we do not forget it or disregard it or trample on it.
The second and third commandments of this Third Matter tell us to do all our labor on the six days but then we are to rest on the seventh. Just as important as resting on the seventh day is to labor the other six days. Elohim has not created us to be slothful or lazy. We have plenty of work to do. And all of this work is to be done on the first six days of the week.
But we must cease from all our laboring on the seventh day. And not just me, but everyone in my family and this includes all who are under my roof. Anyone who works for me and lives on my estate is to also rest on the seventh day. Even my working animals are to stop working on the seventh day.
And the fourth commandment of this Third Matter tells us to remember something. We are to remember that it was Yahuwah who rescued us from the tyranny of Pharaoh and our slavery in Egypt. Because he has done this, he has the right to command us to keep the Sabbath day holy. So, this fourth commandment is to remember why we are keeping the Sabbath – it is because the One who established the Sabbath is the One to whom we are accountable.
Now when you look at the body of the Ten Matters, you will notice that this Third Matter is dead center in the very middle of the Covenant. Keeping the Sabbath is at the very heart of the Covenant and the keeping of it is indicative of one’s love for the Creator. In another Scripture we are told that the Sabbath matter all by itself is a Covenant between the Creator and his people!
Say to the sons of Yisrael, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am Yahuwah, who makes you holy. Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to Yahuwah. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The sons of Yisrael are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the sons of Yisrael forever, for in six days Yahuwah made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested. (Shemot [Exodus] 31:13-17)
Note that the Sabbath is called a lasting covenant. The fact that the keeping of the Sabbath day is to be a sign between Elohim and Yisrael indicates that all by itself, the Sabbath day reveals who are the genuine people of Elohim and who are not!
In fact, it has been made clear throughout history who the people are who really belong to Elohim. Throughout their journeying, the Israelis who hated Elohim have instinctively disregarded his Sabbaths. And on into the present era, those believers in Messiah who aren’t devoted to Elohim have shown this to the world by disregarding the Sabbath day commandment of the Covenant. How can one really love Elohim if they refuse to obey his commandments, just as he said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
The keeping of the Sabbath has always been and will always be the sign which the genuine people of Elohim carry and display which shows that they are faithful and loyal to the Creator. This is one of the purposes of the Sabbath. It will always reveal the difference between the sheep and the goats, between the real followers of Messiah and the wolves, between the saved and the lost. Those who love the only living Elohim will guard the Sabbath. Those that are just pretenders and all who are deceived will make excuses why they don’t have to keep Sabbath.
Did Jesus do away with the Sabbath? Does the New Testament teach that Sunday has replaced the Sabbath? Not in your wildest dreams! Nowhere will you find any such statement or indication that the Sabbath isn’t just as binding on the disciples of Messiah as it was on the Old Testament people of Israel. The Sabbath is eternal. It was established at creation and will be kept on into the Messianic Age. It remains at the heart of the Covenant between Elohim and man. Even the book of Hebrews tells us that the Sabbath rest is still valid:
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of Elohim; for anyone who enters Elohim’s rest also rests from his own work, just as Elohim did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest… (Ivrim [Hebrews] 4:9-11)
The only work that Elohim ever rested from is the work of creating in six days. Therefore, it is very clear that those who enter into Elohim’s rest (believer’s in Messiah) will cease from work on the seventh day, “just as Elohim did from his.” This is so, because keeping Sabbath is the sign that Elohim is making you holy.
The third of the Ten Matters is the most difficult of the commandments for Christians to accept, though it is not because it is hard to understand. Most Christian churches and denominations have dismissed the commandment to keep the seventh day Sabbath, because they believe their long standing man made traditions instead. Their leaders have been teaching for many centuries that this commandment was “done away with” and so they ignore it or change it.
It is common for Christians to insist that the commandment to keep the seventh day Sabbath was changed by Jesus. They have been persuaded that the resurrection event, which allegedly took place on “Sunday morning,” was in their view the signal that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. But it is not anything written in the Bible that has proved this or suggested this! Yet, that doesn’t matter because tradition is often more convincing than a plain “thus saith the Lord” from the Scriptures.
There are several reasons why Christians simply refuse to believe that the Sabbath commandment is “for us today.” First, their theologians have taught them that Sunday is the new “Lord’s day.” Secondly, all their popular teachers, preachers and televangelists teach Sunday is the Lord’s day and that the Sabbath has been done away with. And thirdly, people reason that if so many great Christians for so many centuries have believed that Sunday has replaced Sabbath, then it must be true.
Of course, none of those reasons make it true. This is why it is so amazing that the Christian world rejects the very plain teaching of the Third Matter of the Sabbath day. If one would take the time and interest in doing just a little research into the history of the Lord’s Day, they would see the plain evidence that the Roman Catholic Church by her own authority, and not by the authority of anything written in the Bible, changed the dignity of the Sabbath day to Sunday.
James Cardinal Gibbons, in The Faith of our Fathers (88th ed., p.89) claims the sanctification of Sunday is an act of the Catholic Church:
But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.
Gibbons also insists that this act of changing the Sabbath to Sunday is the very mark of authority of the Roman Catholic Church:
It could not have been otherwise, as none in those days would have dreamed of doing anything in matters spiritual and ecclesiastical and religious without her. AND THE ACT IS A MARK of ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters. (From a letter written by James Cardinal Gibbons cited in Vance H. Ferrell, The Mark Of The Beast, Pilgrim’s Books: Altamont, TN., 1985, p.56)
Even the Catholic Catechism claims that Sunday observance was instituted by the Church:
Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her-she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority. (Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism 3rd ed., p. 174)
Another Catholic catechism says the same thing:
Question: Which is the Sabbath day?
Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday. (Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 1957, p. 50.)
Protestants are led by their own theologians and teachers to believe that Sunday observance is based on some New Testament principle. But this is simply not so. It is by the authority of the Catholic Church that Sunday has its place in modern day Christianity. According to a Catholic weekly, even the Protestants, by virtue of their Sunday keeping acknowledge the authority of the Pope:
Protestants…accept Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made the change…But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in accepting the Bible, in observing the Sunday, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the Church, the Pope. (Our Sunday Visitor, Feb.5, 1950)
There are many others similar quotes from Catholic sources and from Protestant sources as well. All of these point out the popularly unknown fact that the Scriptures plainly teach Sabbath observance, while the man made Church institutions promote and sanctify Sunday as the “Lord’s Day” in place of the biblical Sabbath.
Yahuwah’s Sabbath day always has been and always will be on the seventh day of the week. This is the day he has blessed and sanctified. And this is the day which if you guard it, you are displaying the sign that you belong to Yahuwah and to his Messiah. So what will you do with this information?