Print This Bible Study

the contents of this page may take a few seconds to load . . . thank you for your patience...


The Greatest Book on Dispensational Truth in the World, 1918

By Clarence Larkin


If God instituted the “Sabbath” before the “Fall of Man,” it seems strange that the fact is not recorded in Genesis, and that Adam was not told to observe it.  Nowhere in the Book of Genesis do we read of Adam, or any of his descendants, or Noah, or Abraham observing the Sabbath.  The only hint we have of a “seven-fold” division of days is found in Genesis 7:4, 10, when seven days of grace were granted before the Flood came, and in Genesis 8:8-12, where a seven day period elapsed between the sending forth of the dove. 


The first place we read of the Sabbath is in Exodus 16:23-26, in connection with the gathering of the manna—“Six days ye shall gather it; but on the SEVENTH day, WHICH IS THE SABBATH, in it there shall be none.”  Here we have the “SEVENETH” day designated as “THE SABBATH.” That the “Seventh Day” of the “Creative Week” was a type of the Sabbath is clear from Exodus 20:11—“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the SEVENTH day; wherefore the Lord blessed the SABBTH DAY, and hallowed it.


But we have no evidence that the Sabbath was commanded to be observed until after the Exodus, and the reason is clear.  God’s “Rest Day” was broken by the “Fall of Man,” and there could be no “rest” until redemption was brought in, and this was typically brought in by the redemption of the children of Israel from Egypt through the offering of the “Passover Lamb,” a type of Christ.  The purpose of their deliverance was that they might find rest in Canaan from the weary toil and slavery of Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15).


When a few weeks later the “Ten Commandments” were given on Mt. Sinai, the Lord said to Israel, “REMEMBER the Sabbath Day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), the Sabbath Day they were to remember was not the “Seventh Day” on which God rested, but the “Day” that God had appointed as the “Sabbath Day” at the time of the giving of the manna.


The command to observe the Sabbath was given to Israel EXCLUSIVELY.  It was not given to the Gentiles.  It was given to Israel as the “SIGN” of the “Mosaic Covenant.” “Verily My Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a ‘SIGN’ between Me and you throughout your generations” (Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12, 19-21).  The Sabbath Day then belongs to the Jews alone and is not binding on the Gentiles (the world), or on the Church (Christians).  Nowhere in the Bible do you find God finding fault with any nation or people, except the Jewish nation, for not observing the Sabbath.  As a Jewish ordinance it has never been abrogated, changed, or transferred to any other day of the week, or to any other people.  It is now in abeyance as foretold in Hosea 2:11 it would be.  It is to be resumed when the Jews are nationally restored to their own land (Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 44:24; 46:1-3).


If this be true, then the “Sabbath” does not belong to the Church, and is not to be observed by Christians, for the “Sabbath Day” is a part of “THE LAW,” and Christians are not under “LAW,” but under “GRACE” (Romans 6:14).  In his letter to the Galatian Christians Paul reproved them for going back to the “Law,” and declared that those who did so were “under the CURSE” (Galatians 3:10).  “How turn you again to the ‘beggarly elements’ (religious ordinances) whereunto you desire again to be in bondage?  You observe DAYS (Sabbath and Feast Days), and months, and times, and years.  I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11).  “Let no man therefore judge you in meats or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the SABBTH” (Colossians 2:16).  If Christians are under obligations to keep the “Jewish Sabbath,” then they are under the Jewish “Ceremonial Law” and should observe all the ordinances and Feast Days of the Jewish Ritual.


As an institution of Judaism, the Sabbath, with all the “Feast Days” and other ritualistic ceremonies and offerings of Judaism, ceased to function with the close of the Jewish Dispensation.  The JEWISH Sabbath was not changed to the CHRISTIAN Sabbath, any more than “Circumcision” was changed to “Baptism.” There is no such thing as the “CHRISTIAN Sabbath.”  “Sabbath” has to do with LAW, and “Christian” with GRACE, and to join “LAW” and “GRACE” is to unite what God has forever separated.


After the Resurrection, Christ and His Disciples never met on the “Sabbath” but on the “FIRST DAY of the week” (John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).  It is true that they went into the Jewish Synagogues on the Sabbath, but not to worship, but that they might have opportunity to preach the Gospel.  The “First Day of the Week” is the day to be observed for rest and worship by the Christian Church.  It is prefigured in the Old Testament as the “EIGHTH DAY,” or the “DAY AFTER THE SABBATH.”  “You shall bring a sheaf of the ‘FIRST-FRUITS’ of your harvest unto the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you; on the ‘MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH’ the priest shall wave it” (Leviticus 23:10-11). 


What did that “First Fruits” typify?  Read 1 Corinthians 15:20—“Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the ‘FIRST-FRUITS’ of them that slept.”  When did Christ rise from the dead and become the “FIRST-FRUITS?”  Not on the “Sabbath,” for He lay dead in the tomb on that day, but on the “FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK,” on the “MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH.”


The fact that the “Birthday” of the Church was at Pentecost, and that fell on the “First Day of the Week,” is further proof that the Church should keep the “First Day of the Week” and not the “Seventh” day or “SABBATH.”


The Jewish Sabbath links man with the “Old Dispensation,” the “First Day of the Week” links man with the “New.”  It is claimed that the Roman Catholic Church changed the day of rest from the “Seventh Day” to the “First Day of the Week,” but the claim is false, for the Papacy did not exist until a long time after the “First Day of the Week” had become a fixed day for Christian worship.


It is a noteworthy fact that the whole of the “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20:1-17) are reaffirmed in the New Testament, except the “Fourth Commandment” regarding the Sabbath (Romans 13:8-10; Ephesians 6:1-2; James 5:12; 1 John 5:21).  Why this omission if the Law of the “Sabbath” is still in force?  It is called the “LORD’S DAY.”  It belongs to Him.  It is not called a “rest day” in the Bible.  It is a day that should be filled with worship and service and holy activity.  It is not a day to be spent in laziness or pleasure, or the giving of sacred concerts and the discussion of worldly betterment schemes, but a day for the teaching and preaching of the Word of God.



Editor’s Note:


The author of this website has no problem with anyone wishing to honor God on the seventh day of the week (as should be done on every day of the week), but that person should understand that God does not require this of the Church in the Dispensation of Grace.  Colossians 3:10 makes it quite clear that anyone wishing to keep the Sabbath requirement under the Law, is obligated to keep the whole Law, both ceremonial and moral.


Christ specifically stated that the Law and Commandments are summed up in the following:


Jesus said to him," 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)


The person who has placed his faith alone in Christ alone for his personal eternal salvation is no longer under the Law, but under grace.


For He [Christ] Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace. (Ephesians 2:14, 15)


And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He [Christ] has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13, 14)


The only “law” that applies to the Christian is the “perfect law of liberty,” which is found in the book of James (1:25; 2:12).  And although all the moral law of the Old Testament has not be abrogated for the Christian, the only way a Christian can properly keep it is by allowing Christ through “faith” to live it out through him (Colossians 2:6).