The True Sabbath

Where did the true Sabbath begin and what was its original purpose?

In the beginning, Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. He created everything that exists in six days and that He ceased creating on the seventh day. This establishes the seven day week; six days of work, one day of rest.

Genesis 2:2 says “God rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.” The word translated “rested” in verse 2 is the Hebrew word Shabbat which is also called the Sabbath. It comes from this same word used in Genesis 2:2.

The Hebrew word Shabbat literally means “to stop” or “to cease” or to rest.”  

In Genesis 2:1-3, the first time a seventh day is ever observed, God applied the seventh day of ceasing work only to Himself and only with regard to the activity of creating.

But His rest wasn’t what we think of as rest. It doesn’t mean He was tired.

There was certainly no depletion of His energy in the act of creating the heavens and the earth. He spoke everything into being by divine fiat. He needed no physical rest.

His rest was in the form of ceasing from the activity of creating.  

It simply means He stopped creating on the seventh day. So in this sense, the Sabbath stopped a six-day pattern of labor and activity at the time of creation.

That is all it meant in that original use of the word Shabbat in Genesis 2:1-3.

Of course, it was only a short time later, in Genesis 3:21 after Adam and Eve sinned that the Lord God went back to work.

God made for them garments of skin to clothe them with a covering of grace.

It was a covering that God Himself designated through the shedding of the blood of an animal to make the garments of skin. It was a replacement for the hand-sewn fig leaves that Adam and Eve fashioned in a futile attempt to cover their own nakedness.

From the dawn of creation until Exodus 16 during the time of Moses, there is no indication that any human being ever kept or observed a Sabbath.

There’s no indication that Adam or Eve ever observed a Sabbath day of rest, either before the fall or after the fall.

There is no record in Scripture of any of the patriarchs ever keeping a Sabbath. It doesn’t appear that Abraham ever kept a Sabbath, or Isaac, or Jacob, or any of his sons. Altars are built and rituals are observed, but no Sabbaths are ever mentioned.

Even Job, a blameless and upright non-Jew from the land of Uz, in all the chronicles of his righteous activities, keeping a Sabbath is never mentioned, as far as the sacred record is concerned.

Whenever the Bible is silent on an ordinance during one era and then very explicit and detailed in another era on that same subject, it’s noteworthy and instructive. There is teaching in this silence for the observant reader of Scripture.

There’s no reason to infer from Genesis 2:3 that any human being ever observed a Sabbath until the time of Moses. In fact, the evidence points to the contrary.

It was hundreds of years later, after the exodus from Egypt, that God had to tell the Israelites through Moses to gather no manna on Saturday in Exodus 16.

This tells us it was a brand new concept to them. They had always gathered food on Saturday just like Friday and Sunday. But in Exodus 16, a new precept is introduced.

The pattern of seventh day rest was introduced by God at creation in Genesis 2, but it wasn’t applied to any person until the time of Moses in Exodus 16.

So it would be incorrect to call the Sabbath day of rest an “ordinance of creation” based on Genesis 2:1-3… since it only applied to God in the first instance; and it only applied to the activity of creating. In the beginning, there was as yet, no ordinance.

As noted, the ordinance didn’t come until the time of Moses.

And even after the ordinance was prescribed in the fourth commandment on Mount Sinai, it was only binding as a ceremonial law upon the people of Israel. Just Israel.

No other nation was ever faulted for breaking the Sabbath or any ceremonial aspects of God’s law as they were for violating the moral precepts of God’s law.

So the Sabbath ordinance began during the time of Moses and its purpose was for man’s rest and blessing. It was a holy time of worshiping God without labor. 

For Christians, the Sabbath (Saturday) is the day when we honor the Lord as the God of creation. We celebrate the fact that He created everything that exists in six literal days and that He rested on the seventh day. So we enjoy His creation on this day. 

We also acknowledge God as our law Giver, who gave us precepts for living. The Sabbath principle of rest is only truly fulfilled through saving faith in Christ; not by observing one day among seven in any ceremonial sense. 

In the OT the ceremonial day of rest was a shadow, but now the Substance has come to us in Christ. We cling to the Substance and the shadows vanish in the light of His presence. 

With love in the Truth,
Pastor Kevin



Why the doctrine of Hell Matters

Back in 2011 Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins made the subject of hell a very popular topic (I almost used the phrase “a hot topic” but the pun was too much for me).

People were debating the subject of hell not only in churches, but in the media. The book made the relatively unknown Bell suddenly famous in a way that he hadn’t been up to that point.

Among those who take the Bible as God’s literal Word, it has made Bell infamous. He misinterpreted what the Bible says and came up with his own view in place of Christ’s.

In the book, Love Wins, he redefined hell in his own understanding. In fact, he redefined it out of existence by making it consummated in things that happen in this life.

However, Bell’s aberrant theological views in this book are not the first time he has departed from Christian orthodoxy.

He had been gradually morphing toward liberal heterodoxy for some time.

The book brought new attention to the doctrine of hell. For this attention, I suppose we should be thankful. Perhaps it will cause the true church to more clearly proclaim the biblical truth regarding this basic tenet of biblical Christianity.

In a promo video for Love Wins, Bell exposes his misunderstanding of the gospel:

There is the question behind the questions, the real question: What is God like? Because millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message—the center of the Gospel of Jesus—is that God is going to send you to hell, unless you believe in Jesus.

And so, what gets, subtly, sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that; that we would need to be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good; how could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news.”

Bell’s view of Christianity is seriously distorted to say the least. Jesus does in fact rescue believing sinners from the wrath of God which we deserve for our sin. And this most certainly is good news for those who believe.

Yet the foundational premise of Bell’s misunderstanding of the gospel is that the center of the gospel message is that God is going to send you to hell, unless you believe in Jesus.

In other words, Bell asserts that hell is the punishment for not believing in Jesus, rather than hell being the justice that our sin deserves since we are born in trespasses and sins.

Unfortunately, many Christians don’t seem to understand the gospel any better than Bell does. He’s simply amplifying what the average church-goer already thinks.

The predominant thought in the church today is the premise that from birth man is basically innocent and headed toward heaven until he willfully chooses to reject Christ as his Savior. At that point, his destiny shifts from heaven-bound to hell-bound.

But this premise completely misses the point of the gospel and our falleness from conception. There’s a subtle twist in the way Satan and his messengers distort God’s truth to make God look unrighteous.

People don’t go to hell simply because they reject faith in Christ, although, that’s certainly the reason that they don’t go to heaven.

The fundamental reason any person goes to hell is because of their own unforgiven sin. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

Because of our birth in Adam’s fallenness, we were already headed to hell, already dead in trespasses and sins, already separated from God and without hope.

The reason Christians don’t go to hell is because God in His infinite mercy and grace rescues us from our natural orientation.

However, apart from the gift of faith in Christ’s gospel, we all would have gone to hell for our own sins, whether we had openly rejected the gospel or never heard it in the first place.

Justice is where unrighteous people get exactly what they deserve in hell.

Grace is where unrighteous people get precisely what they do not deserve in heaven: cleansing, forgiveness, mercy, imputed righteousness from Christ, and all the inheritance of Christ. This is amazing grace!

Keep in mind, Bell has frequently taught an unbiblical view of hell—one in which hell is not a literal place where sinners are justly punished, but more of a self-induced state of mind pertaining mainly to this life. In an interview in 2007, he said:

“I don’t know why as a Christian you would have to make such declarative statements. [Why would you] want there to be a literal hell? I am a bit skeptical of somebody who argues that passionately for a literal hell, why would you be on that side?

Like if you are going to pick causes, if you’re literally going to say these are the lines in the sand, I’ve got to know that people are going to burn forever, this is one of the things that you drive your stake in the ground on. I don’t understand that.” [Rob Bell, Ooze Interview (July 2007)].

For the Christian, beliefs begin with the truth that God has revealed in the Bible; beliefs don’t begin with what I may want to be true or not. We don’t get a vote on the moral laws (or physical laws!) that govern the universe.

I believe in a literal place of eternal conscious torment for unforgiven sinners because this is revealed by God in Scripture. My desires or personal wishes have no bearing on the truthfulness of any doctrine.

As a Christian who believes what God has revealed in Scripture, I believe all kinds of doctrines that are out of sorts with public opinion.

Almost everything I affirm as a Christian will put me at odds with one group or another and be deemed unpopular in the marketplace of ideas.

We can’t base our beliefs on how it will “play in the press.” The content of our preaching cannot be based on, “What do people want to hear?” Christians are under orders to proclaim God’s message to His people in the church and broadly to the world at large.

Rob Bell approaches Christian doctrines as one might go through a cafeteria line, picking those he finds appealing or tolerable and rejecting others for which he has no taste or desire.

We should pray for the church to have discernment regarding the subject of hell. People need to believe what God has revealed in Scripture and be changed to see God’s truth as both objective and knowable through His written Word, the Bible.

Love in the Truth,
Pastor Kevin