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God required the Israelites to keep the Sabbath under the Old Testament. However, the Bible makes quite clear that the Sabbath was the seventh day of the week (Ex. 20:9,10). Note that it was a day of rest on which work was forbidden ("sabbath" means "rest").
In the New Testament, however, Christians had the Lord's supper and the collection on the "first day of the week" (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1,2). No passage anywhere indicates that the first day of the week is a day of rest. Rather, it is a day on which we worship God by remembering Jesus' death, etc.
Since the "seventh day of the week" and the "first day of the week" are clearly two different days, it follows that the first day of the week is not and never has been a weekly "Sabbath" or day of rest.
But consider the evidence more closely. To make sure people understood His meaning in Ex. 20:8-11, God explained that the Sabbath was "the seventh day of the week" like the fact that He rested on the "seventh day" after creating all things in six days. So the seventh day "Sabbath" was clearly the last day of the week.
To further emphasize this point, please look at the creation account in Gen. 1 and 2. Each day of creation is counted, and we are told what God did on each day. Specifically, He made the light on "the first day" (1:3-5). After a total of six such days of creation, we are told that He ended His work and rested "on the seventh day" (2:1,2). Furthermore, Genesis 2:3 says He blessed the seventh day because it was the day on which He rested.
Based on the creation account, there can be no doubt that the "first day" means the day that begins the week, and the "seventh day" means the day that ends the week. There is simply no way that any day can be both the "seventh day" and the "first day of the week." They are two distinct days. To deny this would be to deny the plain statements of Scripture. Furthermore, it is clear that the Sabbath was the "seventh day," not the "first day."
To bind a Sabbath of any kind today is to bind what God expressly states should not be bound (see Col. 2:14,16). As a matter of personal preference, of course, one may simply choose to rest on any day he wishes; but he will not be doing so as an act of obedience to any command of God for us today.
But God does want us to worship Him on the "first day of the week," as shown above in Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:1,2. There is simply no way that "the first day of the week" can be the same day as "the seventh day of the week."
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2/5/2005
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