The Seventh Day Adventists and other Sabbath-keepers are right—keeping a day of worship, according to Scriptures. This is as long as they do so without considering what other people say or do, in their environments, citing clear scriptural references. This is noble and highly commendable.
However, this does not take away some truth in that Christians are not under the Law (Galatians 5:18). It is a question of knowing what a Christian is and what a Christian is not. Albeit, those despising Sabbath-keepers may actually be more in ignorance than those despised?
Sabbath-keeping was given as Law to the Israelites. This is as Sabbath-keeping is included in the Ten Commandments—requiring observance, when surviving in flesh. The apostle Paul was very clear on what it means to survive in the flesh, as compared with surviving in the spirit. Unfortunately, to survive in the flesh infers imprisonment, embracing death that humanity was subjected to, since Adam:
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. If in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him”(Romans 8:6-9) (ESV).
The real challenge is in knowing what God’s Law entails. Indeed, the Law is necessary for humanity, formed in physical flesh, susceptible to sinfulness (Genesis 2:7). However, what was formed of the dust was not the image of God, as described in Genesis 1:26-27. It is important to keep this in mind. This is exactly where both Sabbath-keepers and non-Sabbath-keepers miss it—when engaging in arguments of this nature. See [Everything starts at the beginning—Part Two].
After God had formed Adam of the dust of the ground, He subjected him to the principle of Law-keeping: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’”(Genesis 2:16-17) (ESV).
The starting point is in appreciating the creation of humanity in Genesis 1:26-27. Everything created was pronounced as very good (Genesis 1:31). Everything else was created after its own kind. But humanity was created after God’s kind. One cannot understand humanity, before appreciating the significance of ‘God’s kind’. Adam was not created, but formed of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7).
If God is not flesh and blood, humanity—created in God’s kind—should not be flesh and blood. God is as free as not to be under any Law. Humanity—created in God’s kind—ought to be as free as not to be under any Law. If it is impossible for God to sin, it ought to be impossible for humanity to sin. Being in God’s kind implies that humanity ought to be as free as God is free.
However, Adam is of the soil: The personal name Adam is derived from the Hebrew noun ha adamah meaning “the ground” or “earth”. While God breathed the breath of life in Adam, whose formation is of mud, that mud could not be the likeness of God.
The Spirit of God was breathed into that lump of mud—as typified in human shape of Adam. That human shape should not be mistaken for God’s shape. The lump of mud in the shape of Adam, could not be God’s likeness. This is why to Adam, God later declared:
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you: in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field, By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return”(Genesis 3:17-19) (ESV).
The emphasis on this curse being on “….till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”Indeed, Adam was dust, and to dust he returned. All of us, regardless of race, are dust, and to dust we shall return.
A human being can be as proud as a peacock. But this does not take away the fact that the same person would return to the ground from whence he/she came. This is an inescapable reality. We may be consumed by fire, or die in sea. Our physical nature points to perishing, as to be no more—one way or the other.
Whatever the fantastic achievements a person may have acquired. That person does not escape the fact that he/she is dust and to dust he/she shall return. If a woman, one can be most beautiful among those who ever lived—but to dust she shall return. If handsome and the most charming man who ever lived, to dust he shall return. There is nothing Godlike about the lump of mud in human shape.
Interestingly, human excretion needs to be buried into the ground, to avoid foul smell. This is just as the body of a dead human being needs burial, to avoid foul smell. We should be clear in that the physical nature of humanity is exactly the opposite of what was created in God’s image. (I feel sorry for the proud people, known to exist in this world).
This brings us to the reason for Jesus’ Messianic role, on this planet. The teachings of Jesus are primarily centred on servitude. This is the opposite of being served. The life of servitude invites taking away the focus on self-interests. When truly serving other people, the Sabbath rest is inapplicable. This is why Jesus quarrelled with the Pharisees, who accused Him for healing on Sabbath days:
“And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’ This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God”(John 5:16-18) (ESV).
The principle of working, as practiced by Jesus, when compared with Adam’s labour—being curse, after sinning—is three-fold. (1) Like His Father, Jesus’ occupation is not for His own personal benefit, but for the benefit of others. (2) The servitude of Jesus is not enforced by anything or anyone. Jesus derives pleasures in serving other people, more than serving His own interests. (3) Jesus could not be stopped by anyone, on His principle of servitude.
This way of life, as practiced by Jesus implies adoption of eternal life. It portrays God’s mind, in whose image humanity was created. Let us now consider the Seventh-day Sabbath-keeping commandment, as was given to the Israelites:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.Six days you shall labour, and do all your work,but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”(Exodus 20:8-11) (ESV).
The Sabbath day commandment requires six days of labour, doing one’s own work. This is different from Jesus’ sustained workmanship to serve God’s interests, rather than His own—as shown in John 5:16-18. To Him, working for God was as sweet as being willing to die for it, as Jesus knew that in God there was no death. See [Created to solve, rather than creating problems].
Sabbath-keepers are driven by desire to receive God’s blessings, more than desire to serve other people. They also commit themselves to work—six days in order to earn a living. The focus is on self, more than serving other people. They are not as free as Jesus is free to serve other people without consideration of self-interests.
For humanity, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). What humanity lost at the Garden of Eden is retrievable through Jesus. But why was the Seventh-day Sabbath commanded to the Israelites—yet Jesus did not emphasize Sabbath-keeping, during His time? The answer lies in the following Scripture:
“Therefore, the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever.It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed”(Exodus 31:16-17) (ESV).
To the Israelites, the Seventh-day Sabbath is a sign between God and His people. A sign signifies something momentous—as would eventually come thereafter. The Sabbath sign was fulfilled in Jesus’ appearance. But God’s people did not know—to the point of killing the Man in whose fulfilment of the Sabbath sign pointed at. See [The Seventh-Day Sabbath is a sign of God’s Kingdom].
As included in the Ten Commandments, the Seventh-day Sabbath cannot be taken lightly. It is as important as the other nine commandments are important. But these are only as important as applying to physical humanity. Their significance was emphasized in Jesus’ lecture; commonly known as Sermon on the Mount:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20) (ESV).
Indeed, these laws will not pass, until Heaven and earth have passed away. This will take place after the Great white throne judgment, at the end of the millennial reign of Christ (Revelation 20:11-15 & 21:1). Those surviving in flesh and blood, need God’s Law, as codified in the Ten Commandments. This implies that Sabbath-keeping, is not wrong after all?
What does Paul mean then, when declaring that a person under Christ is no longer under the Law? “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law”(Galatians 5:18) (ESV). Being led by the Spirit means that it is no longer you that lives, but Christ that lives in you (Galatians 2:20).
As long as Christ has taken over in your life, you cease to be of this world. You become a new Creation. Flesh and blood would have ceased to be of significance in your life. Death is no-longer anything to be dreaded—whenever it comes. Like Jesus, no-one can ever control your life, as you take your orders directly from God. See [Unpacking the myth about Law and Grace].
For a person having committed his/her life to Jesus, he/she attains freedom in Christ. That person has his/her mind controlled by Jesus, as he/she takes his/her orders directly from God. Unfortunately, most Christian pastors emphasise on grace, more than directing converts to consider what Jesus said in Luke 14:25-33.
Without clearly appreciating what Jesus said in Luke 14:25-33, you have converts remaining stuck in sinful nature—assuming being saved by grace. Such people assume being Christians, when the opposite would be true. This is just as those benefitting from Jesus’ services, during His time, were not necessarily converted to become His followers.
However, I admire those emphasising on Sabbath-keeping; as long as not demanding it of others. The deception enveloping most people is in assuming that they will be rewarded for their scrupulous observance of the Law. I suppose Romans 14 can help many people desiring freedom from such deception.
The Messiahship of Jesus is everything, as far as our salvation is concerned. But without appreciating that Jesus is everything; obviously, one cannot benefit from Jesus’ services. When Jesus declared that He could provide rest to those desiring rest, He meant those forsaking everything to follow Him (Matthew 11:28-30).
In Jesus we have perpetual Sabbath rest. It is no longer necessary to think in terms of six-day work and weekly Sabbaths. But to focus on enjoying perpetual Sabbath throughout the days of one’s life (Matthew 6:25-34). Those whose lives have been taken over by Jesus, think like God, in everything they do. The only problem is that, like Jesus, they are surrounded by astute enemies of God, who constantly persecute them.
However, Sabbath-keepers should disabuse themselves of assuming being Christians, necessarily. They may just be religious people and therefore not different from the religious Jews—surviving in the flesh. A Christian is directed by every word of Jesus and Jesus Himself dwells in that person. Jesus leads him/her on every direction—which may not necessarily be to do with Sabbath-keeping.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99