The Errors of Sabbatarianism
There are two basic views of Sabbatarianism within the main stream of professing Christianity. There is Saturday (Seventh Day) Sabbatarianism and Sunday (First Day) Sabbatarianism. Both are incorrect views for the Church Age. Sunday Sabbatarianism is actually a Reformed Theological (Replacement Theology) view of the Jewish Sabbath, replacing the Saturday Sabbatarianism of the Mosaic Covenant with Sunday Sabbatarianism. In a correct biblical view, Sunday is not the new Sabbath Day. The first day of the week represents the first day of the New Creation (“the regeneration”) “in Christ” Jesus. A person should not be considered a traditional Dispensationalist if he holds to Sunday Sabbatarianism.
Sunday Sabbatarianism is part of Reformed Theology and Covenant Theology. Christians worship on Sunday, not because it is a rest day, but because they have entered into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:1-11), “in Christ” and in “the regeneration,” and are “complete . . . in Christ” (Colossians 2:10). Although “the regeneration” was complete “in Christ” from the foundation of the world in the plan of God, the first day of that eternal New Genesis began with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you” (Matthew 28:1-7).
Matthew 28:1 is one of those texts that we read through quickly, but miss an important truth because we do not carefully look at what God is saying. The Sabbath technically began at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday. As we see in Matthew 28:1, the chronology is at dawn on Sunday. The Sun was already rising in the sky (“it began to dawn”). The weekly Sabbath day had already ended at least twelve hours earlier. The twelve hours of nighttime between Sunset and Sunrise were not part of the ending of the Sabbath Day. Therefore, the words “In the end of the Sabbath” are telling us something else. We need to do some investigation to find out what that meaning is. I believe it is a critical dispensational truth transitioning from the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant and the Dispensation of Grace (Church Age).
God’s prophecies through the prophet Hosea spoke of the harlot wife of Hosea as typical of the spiritual adultery of Israel in the licentious and pornographic practices of the pagan Hedonism. It was into this Baalism that the vast majority of the nation of Israel had been seduced. The prophecies of Hosea involved both the temporary rejection of national Israel and her future restoration in the Kingdom Age. This temporary rejection of Israel is spoken of in God’s prophecies regarding the “seventy weeks” (Daniel 9:24) through the prophet Daniel to which Christ referred to in Luke 21:24 as “the times of the Gentiles.” Although the book of Daniel is placed before the book of Hosea in our Bibles, the prophecies of the book of Hosea actually took place about 150 years before the prophecies of the book of Daniel. Daniel is actually in the Babylonian captivity that is prophesied in the book of Hosea.
Why is all of this important to our understanding of Matthew 28:1 and the statement, “In the end of the Sabbath”? It is important because God tells us in the book of Hosea of a day when He will cause the Sabbaths to end for a time.
“6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. 8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. 9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. 10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. 11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts” (Hosea 2:6-11).
God will restore the Sabbath Day in the Kingdom Age. However, at the beginning of the Church Age God caused the “Sabbaths” to cease for the rest of the “times of the Gentiles.” This cessation would extend through the Dispensation of Grace until the restoration of national Israel at the beginning of the Kingdom Age. It is to this statement in Hosea 2:11 that the words “In the end of the Sabbath” refer. The statement is referring to the actual point in history when God fulfilled this prophecy regarding the cessation of Israel’s “feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.”
The word “sabbath” in Matthew 28:1 is translated from the word sabbaton (sab'-bat-on). Interestingly, the word can be translated singularly or as a plural. A number of commentaries correctly translate the word as “sabbaths” (plural). The Scofield Reference Bible discusses that this should be the proper translation with some interesting notes.
“Margin: end of Lit. end of the sabbaths. The sabbaths end, the first day comes. Cmt. on Mt 12:1. Also see, Joh 20:19; Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:2; Re 1:10.”
The Scofield Reference Bible then goes on to make the following comments of the dispensational transition from the Sabbath (seventh day) to the first day of the week in Sunday (the day of the resurrection of Christ) becoming the day the Church would assemble throughout the Church Age.
“(3) The Christian first day perpetuates in the dispensation of grace the principle that one-seventh of the time is especially sacred, but in all other respects is in contrast with the sabbath. One is the seventh day, the other the first. The sabbath commemorates God’s creation rest, the first day Christ’s resurrection. On the seventh day God rested, on the first day Christ was ceaselessly active. The sabbath commemorates a finished creation, the first day a finished redemption. The sabbath was a day of legal obligation, the first day one of voluntary worship and service. The sabbath is mentioned in the Acts only in connection with the Jews, and in the rest of the N.T. but twice. Col 2:16; Heb 4:4. In these passages the seventh day sabbath is explained to be to the Christian not a day to be observed, but a type of the present rest into which he enters when ‘he also ceases from his own works’ and trusts Christ.” (Bolding added)
The marginal notes of the Scofield Reference Bible regarding the statement “In the end of the sabbath” says, “Lit. end of the Sabbaths. The sabbaths end, the first day comes. Mt. 12:1, note; John 20:19; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10.” This first day referred to here is actually the first day of the New Genesis or “the regeneration . . . in Christ” due to Christ’s resurrection. Through His resurrection and glorification, Jesus became the “firstborn” of the New Creation (“the regeneration”). Therefore, Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, becomes the actual first day of “the regeneration,” or the New Creation with Christ, the new Federal Head (Lord), as the “firstborn.”
Therefore, the statement, “In the end of the sabbath” in Matthew 28:1 is actually referring to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Hosea 2:11 when God caused Israel’s “feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts” to cease. The transitional historical event that prompts this causation by God is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. From this day forward until the beginning of the Kingdom Age, Israel’s “feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts” would cease.
We should not assume that the present names of the days of the week were the same names Israel used. They are ancient names that probably existed before the time of the Exodus, but the simple fact of the matter is that every seventh day was the Sabbath Day, whatever day of the week that originally fell on. The present names of the days of the week are not found anywhere in Scripture. Therefore, we cannot with any surety say that the present day we call Sunday was actually the day Jesus was resurrected, nor is it important that we know the actual name of the day of the week. The important issue is that we understand that every seventh day was a Sabbath Rest Day and now the eight day, or first day of the week is the Day of Resurrection portraying the believer’s New Life in Christ and the believer’s regeneration in Christ.
There are numerous Old Testament references to the “eighth day.” These Old Testament eighth day practices all typically point forward in time to the first day of “the regeneration” looking forward to the final creation of the New Heaven/Earth after the 1000 year Kingdom Age on earth. These eighth day practices are all Old Testament prophetic types pointing to actual realities in “the regeneration.” We tend to get bogged down in the typologies and miss the realities to which they point.
“1 And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel; 2 And he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. 3 And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering; 4 Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD; and a meat offering mingled with oil: for to day the LORD will appear unto you. 5 And they brought that which Moses commanded before the tabernacle of the congregation: and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. 6 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do: and the glory of the LORD shall appear unto you” (Leviticus 9:1-6).
There is an important theological distinction regarding dispensational transitions that needs to be noted in this text as detailed by Henry W. Soltau’s comments on Leviticus 9:1 regarding the “eight day.”
“The next chapter of Leviticus, the 9th, opens with ‘the eight day.’ This is a singular expression, because it is an additional day to a week already ended. And this eight day would necessarily be the first day of a new week. Thus we have a type of resurrection. For resurrection could not be unless there has been a preceding creation, which had failed, having been ruined by sin. Resurrection is something entirely new, and yet it comes in upon that which is old.
The only feast which had an eighth day was the feast of Tabernacles. Lev. xxiii. 36, 39; Num. xxix. 35. . . Circumcision was on the eighth day. Lev. xii. 3. In this rite there was evidently a shadow of what resurrection effects. The true circumcision; ‘the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh.’ Col. ii. 11-13. ‘We are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.’ Phil. iii.3. As the man-child was on the eighth day circumcised, so on that day the firstling of the oxen and sheep were given to God. Exod. xxii.30; Lev. xxii.27.
Another shadow of death and resurrection. It is also deeply interesting to observe that the leper, when healed of his disease of leprosy, and fulfilling the ritual appointed for his ceremonial cleansing, had an eighth day service, which in many respects approached very nearly to the ritual appointed for the consecration of the priests. . . . A cleansed leper obtained that to which no ordinary Israelite who had never suffered under the fearful disease of leprosy, was entitled. A saved sinner is raised by the grace of God to an infinitely higher position, and is a far higher being in the scale of existence, than was Adam before his fall.”
The Word of God is an exact revelation of God’s eternal Plan of the Ages. The Mosaic Covenant and many aspects of the sacrificial Law of God were eschatological fingers of God pointing to the believer’s eternal future “in Christ.” One of these eschatological fingers of God was the eight day celebration of the Feast of First Fruits, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.
“33 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. 35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. 37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: 38 Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD. 39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. 40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. 44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD” (Leviticus 23:33-44).
There are some overwhelming theological truths revealed to us in the “eighth day” throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. The “eight day” portrays the future day of resurrection “in Christ,” the putting off of the sins of the flesh as portrayed in Old Covenant circumcision (also done on the eight day after birth), and the future New Creation (“the regeneration”) of a New Heaven/Earth. In this New Heaven/Earth, God in all His glory will dwell with His redeemed. We might deem this New Genesis to be the final dispensation of God beginning at the “end of the sabbath” (or on the “eighth day”). The “eight day” dispensationally is the ultimate and final new beginning.
The instant Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead, all believers from all Ages were immediately delivered into “the regeneration.” These believers had been held in Abraham’s Bosom (also referred to in Scripture as Paradise) until Christ Jesus finished His Cross work of redemption, propitiated the wrath of God upon sin, and gave the gift of the Holy Spirit (the actual righteousness of Jesus Christ; actual justification) to all believers. Although all believers still await the “redemption of the body,” after the resurrection of Jesus, to be “absent from the body today is to be present with the Lord.”
“17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:17-29).
Within the Christian faith, we speak often of the resurrection of Christ and the “blessed hope,” of the believer’s future resurrection, and of the redemption of the body. In fact, the resurrection is spoken of with such shallowness; it has become an area of distanciation. Distanciation happens when there is no fusion between a theological doctrine in a tangible connection to reality resulting in an absolute transformation of our lives and a complete change in the way we view our lives lived out in this world. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually took place, the reality of that, and how it affects our future, should shake our lives to the very core of our present existence with a view of another new and completely different existence beyond this life.
The importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a doctrine and as a reality within the Christian faith cannot be over emphasized. To deny the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a denial of Christianity itself.
“12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Corinthians 15:12-19).
“1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:1-18).
“23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. 27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:23-30).
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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.