Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

No Night On the Sabbath Day!

The seventh-day Sabbath is a commandment, a symbol, a sign, a principle, a blessing, a prophetic hope, and perhaps other things. Like a giant piece of Velcro much important biblical data is firmly attached to it. While there remains some mystery to the Sabbath -- it isn't a "'thing" as such but a dynamic of time -- there is so very much we can know about it. Sadly, our world is poorer because it is largely ignorant of the power and blessings attached to the seventh-day Sabbath.

by Kenneth Westby

Genesis [1] means "beginnings" or "origins," and the book of Genesis functions as the template of key themes for the rest of the Bible. Creation and redemption are themes begun in Genesis and worked out throughout human history. The promise of a savior or messiah in Genesis 3:15 becomes a hopeful theme in all the Old Testament which comes to its full flower in the New Testament. The Sabbath is another Genesis template that thematically continues through the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Writings [2] and on to the last book in the New Testament.

The apex of the creation story is the Seventh Day. It concludes the grand complex of creative acts and the sequence of days is the dominant structure of the cosmogony. The climax is the seventh, the goal reached, and now YEHOVAH God does something that He did on no other day. He rested, and declared the day blessed and sanctified -- the only day in the sequence so honored.

This day was unique among the days for only it was blessed and made holy and only it memorializes something personal to the Creator Himself. He didn't create plants, fish, or animals or even the man and woman for whom He was preparing the earth. The day isn't defined by what He made. It is defined by what He didn't make so that He could cease His work and rest. There is a note of celebration to this seventh day. A note of victory and triumph.

"On the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done" (Genesis 2:2-3).

Why did YEHOVAH God bless it and make it holy? The explanation is twice given: He rested (Heb. sabat, "ceased") from His work. What YEHOVAH does is of supreme importance. His actions tell the story of what He is like and what He is doing among those made in His image. His image-bearers must apply their minds to study what He does, for therein reside lessons to learn and actions to imitate.

What does YEHOVAH's resting mean? Previously I mentioned a celebration of victory. Victory over what? The Creator had triumphed over chaos which is the picture presented in Genesis 1:2 where the earth is presented in a condition of "formless and empty" (Heb. tohu wabohu) indicating a negative, "not good," state of the earth. This primordial chaos is dark, barren of life, and hostile.

This is a different state from what is pictured in Genesis 1:1 where YEHOVAH God creates "the heavens and the earth," a biblical compound phrase [3] that indicates the totality of an organized universe -- the cosmos. How the earth became a chaotic state is largely a mystery, as are the origins of evil and the Serpent. There are many biblical hints that might clarify aspects of the mystery, but no detailed narrative.

What we start with in Genesis 1:2 is a state of chaos needing redemption, order, and, first of all, light. This is clearly a negative state in contrast to that in Genesis 1:1. The Old Testament scholar Brevard S. Childs says, "It is rather generally acknowledged that the suggestion of God's creating a chaos is a logical contradiction and must be rejected." YEHOVAH's very acts in the six-day creation sequence are actions of redemption from chaos that move the story forward to new rulers destined to have dominion over earth. 

Creation is a salvation event -- the earth is saved from darkness and chaos. Creation in its biblical setting has transcendent meaning. A loving, hands-on God is able to bring light to triumph over darkness and chaos, which are hostile to life, and to make it habitable for those He made in His image, to those He gave dominion to rule.

YEHOVAH God overcomes the primordial chaos in six creative days, and we have now a beautiful world, a verdant garden of delights for man and woman to enjoy, and YEHOVAH God walks among them. The seventh day was YEHOVAH's moment to rest and celebrate His triumph over darkness and chaos. It was Paradise on earth, at least for a while.

No Night

To say the seventh day is unique is almost an understatement. Not only is it the "first holy thing"' (see Mr. Westby's article on our website) and the only "blessed" day, but is the only day that has no evening to end it. That's right. Go back and read the story of the seven days of creation and you will see that day one through six all have the rhythmic refrain "and there was evening, and there was morning." Not so with day seven. No evening mentioned. No night there.

This omission of a mention of night suggests its theological importance. As Bruce K. WaItke notes in his fine work, An Old Testament Theology [4]:

"Instructively, this day is represented -- surely intentionally -- as having no evening/night, God's rest is conceptualized as having no darkness, a negative theological symbol for oppression and death. On that day the horrific primordial chaos is banished forever. In other words, by resting on the Sabbath, Israel experienced the world to come, a world of untarnished blessing that they are destined to inherit in the Eschaton [Gk. "last thing"/Day of the Lord]."

YEHOVAH God interrupts oppressing chaos and brings order and beauty, light and life. His rest on the seventh day celebrates what goodness He has done. Moreover, His sanctification of this time reminds mankind that there is something eternal beyond just territory and things. There is something glorious waiting in the future upon which the darkness of night and death will never descend.

If you think the world is a chaotic mess and that people are in the dark about the most important information, you are right. The knowledge of YEHOVAH God is the zenith of knowledge, and such knowledge isn't even on the mental radar for most of earth's seven billion people. Spiritual darkness yet abounds, but there is also light. And there is great hope of a yet brighter time of the earth being full of the knowledge of YEHOVAH God as the sea beds are with water, and where chaos and evil are forever banished from the earth. The mighty works of YEHOVAH God in the six days (whether taken as literal or symbolic) are proof of YEHOVAH's ability to triumph over darkness and evidence that He will complete what He has begun.

Why is the seventh day not closed with the same "evening/morning" formula of the previous six? Can we say, "let the wise understand?" Details like this count, especially in these template texts of Genesis where there was but one critical witness to pass on the story...YEHOVAH God! Moses undoubtedly put the Genesis material together, but he couldn't compose it, for he was not born for another two to three thousand years. The detailed facts came from YEHOVAH God and were passed down in written or oral form to Moses, or perhaps given directly to him by YEHOVAH. The Hebrew Bible is thoroughly, carefully, and artfully crafted by YEHOVAH's inspiration and his servants faithfully were led by His spirit as they wrote and edited Holy Scripture. Genesis 1-3 of all Scripture requires our utmost attention to detail where every word counts.

Light Is Eternal, Darkness Is Not

It should be noted that YEHOVAH God does not call the earth good until it is restrained by light and by land that will foster human life (Genesis 1-10). Light was the first thing created. YEHOVAH's first words recorded in Genesis are, "Let there be light." The Old Testament constantly associates light with YEHOVAH God. It is His garment, [5] it lives with Him, [6] and New Testament writers declare that "God is light and in him is no darkness at all" [7]; YEHOVAH God dwells in light and He is "the Father of lights" and His first-born Son is called "the light of the world." [8] 

No evening, no darkness is associated with creation's seventh day -- only light manifested by YEHOVAH's presence and by His blessing. Since light is linked so closely with YEHOVAH and with goodness, it serves as a symbol of YEHOVAH's blessing. "To see the light" means much the same as "to be alive." [9] As darkness cannot triumph over light, it is fitting that YEHOVAH God ends the creation week on a high note -- no darkness, only light, YEHOVAH's presence and blessing. The Sabbath, symbolically, pictures YEHOVAH's ultimate victory over darkness and the evil it represents. YEHOVAH God wins. And all those walking in His light will celebrate victory.

The Age-to-Come hope for YEHOVAH's people may be expressed in terms of YEHOVAH being their "everlasting light" -- a light that replaces the light of sun and moon and never ceases. [10] The prophetical richness of the seventh day is a deep well from which we can draw refreshing truth. The Sabbath is the fitting symbol of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, the Kingdom of Light and of life everlasting. The eschatological or cosmic Sabbath has no darkness, no night, and no end to the eternal rest in YEHOVAH's Kingdom.

A Shift to Saturday and Sunday?

If all this rich meaning attaches to the seventh-day Sabbath, why was the true Sabbath discarded by Judaism and Christianity and replaced by Saturday and Sunday? This anomaly perplexes many of us who don't see YEHOVAH God reversing what He sanctified and made holy and further either eliminating the fourth commandment from the ten or crossing out "Sabbath" with a red pencil and inserting "Saturday" and "Sunday." The story of this deviation from the seventh day to Saturday and Sunday is preserved in Rabbinic literature and in post-biblical church history -- and many good books document it thoroughly. [11]

There is no evidence from the New or Old Testament to indicate a shift from a seventh-day Sabbath to Saturday or to a Sunday celebration. The shift can be documented in the centuries of Rabbinic and church history following the days of James, Peter, and Paul. Nothing the Messiah or his apostles said could remotely be understood as revoking the Fourth Commandment or moving the command from one day to another.

The authority to change such a core religious practice would reside solely with YEHOVAH God. But He never did. But history is clear and well documented that the change was authorized by Rabbis when they altered YEHOVAH's lunar calendar and by bishops of the nascent Roman Catholic Church when they introduced pagan sun worship which was later institutionalized by Roman emperors. In the centuries following the time of the Messiah leaders of the then largely Gentile church found reasons to make Christianity more palatable to the pagan Hellenistic world. All things Jewish were being stripped from church doctrine and practice and replaced by more familiar and prevailing pagan religious concepts.

Christianity was being adapted to the prevailing religious culture. No doubt the motives for such syncretism of pagan Greek notions with biblical teachings were noble and justified as making conversion to Christianity easier for former pagans by removing Jewish "obstacles" -- the Sabbath being chief among them. But was it right? Did they realize that the Jews were observing the wrong day? Was it destructive to truth? Did it confuse and weaken the biblical witness?

Clear scriptural justification for such a monumental shift in a sacred God-given doctrine is not to be found in the New Testament. Surely, if YEHOVAH God were behind such an important change in His day of rest and worship, and the day of such rich symbolism, an unambiguous, crystal clear and lengthy statement of explanation would be required. Would YEHOVAH God leave it up to Pharisaic Rabbis and Catholic bishops, centuries after New Testament times, to make this change from the true lunar Sabbath to either Saturday or Sunday?

Resurrection Celebration Replaced the Sabbath?

Well, how then did theologians of the so-called Christian Church [12] justify the change and how is it justified nowadays? Their main argument is simply that the resurrection of the Messiah, which is uncritically assumed to have been on a Sunday, was so important to early Christians that it replaced the Sabbath. There are many problems regarding this Sunday resurrection tradition. Here are a few.

Most Christians today believe that Yeshua (Christ) died on a Friday afternoon and rose from the dead at dawn on Sunday -- the first day of the week on the Gregorian calendar we now follow.

There are, however, a number of Christians who hold the view that Yeshua died on a Wednesday afternoon and was supposedly resurrected late on the Saturday afternoon. Matthew 12:38-40 is quoted as the primary support for a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday resurrection since, it is said, Friday afternoon to Sunday at dawn does not encompass three entire days AND three entire nights -- or 72 hours.

If the Messiah were speaking these words today, counting back three days and three nights from a Sunday would indeed lead us to a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion (depending on how one counted) and a "Friday" crucifixion would be ruled out. But we have to realize that the Messiah spoke these words in the first century A.D. and people, at this time, did NOT count days as we do today. We also have to remember that there are MANY Biblical verses and also MANY passages in early Christian literature that clearly indicate that the Messiah died on the Preparation Day for the Passover (which also happened to be the Preparation Day for the weekly Sabbath) -- Nisan 14. So HOW are we to interpret the "three days and three nights" of Matthew 12:40?

Writes Colin J. Humphreys --

"According to Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, a PORTION of a day and a night counts as a WHOLE day and night (an Onah)." [13]

When the Messiah died at 3 p.m. on the Preparation Day this therefore counts as a WHOLE DAY AND NIGHT (sunset 5th Day of the Week to sunset of the Preparation Day). The body of the Messiah was in the tomb on the SECOND day and night (sunset Preparation Day to Sabbath sunset), and, according to the gospels, he rose from the dead on the THIRD day and night (Sabbath sunset to sunset of the 1st Day of the Week). Counting in the way Jewish people counted in the first century A.D., a Preparation Day crucifixion and 1st Day of the Week resurrection are therefore CONSISTENT with the Messiah being dead for three Onahs -- that is, for "three days and three nights."

"Although," adds Humphreys, "this INCLUSIVE method of counting days and nights seems strange to us today, I do not think it would have seemed strange at all to Jewish people living in the first century A.D., because this was the way they would have been brought up to count" (ibid., p. 24).

Those who teach a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday resurrection believe that during those 72 hours -- while Yeshua lay in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb -- the Jews supposedly observed TWO Sabbaths. First the Passover, beginning at sundown on Wednesday, and second, the weekly 7th day Sabbath, beginning at sundown Friday. A common work day -- Friday -- would then separate the two Sabbaths. (Passover is called "THE Sabbath" in Leviticus 23:15).

Notice what John 19:14 says --

"And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him."

Here we see that Yeshua died on "the preparation [day] of the Passover." If we now go to Luke 23 we learn that this day was ALSO the preparation day for the WEEKLY SABBATH! Notice:

"And that day [of Yeshua's death] was the preparation [day], and the SABBATH drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was layed. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; AND RESTED THE SABBATH DAY ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT (23:54-56)."

What "commandment" is this? The FOURTH COMMANDMENT, of course: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of YEHOVAH your God" (Exodus 20:8-10).

David H. Stern leaves no doubt as to which day Luke is referring to here:

"It is sometimes claimed that the New Testament says nothing about keeping the fourth commandment. This verse [Luke 23:56] contradicts that claim, so it is important for a Jewish understanding of the New Testament. On Shabbat the women rested, in obedience to the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15; also Exodus 16). Of course they did! They observed Shabbat every week. The writer [Luke] mentions it only to explain why they didn't go to Yeshua's tomb the very next day. '[B]ut on the first day of the week, while it was still very early' -- as soon as it was practical to do so -- 'they went to the tomb' (24:1). The Greek has the correlative conjunctions 'men...de' in this sentence; the sense is not easily translated word-for-word, but it implied the just-explained 'of course...but' relationship between the parts of the sentence: 'Of course [they observed the Shabbat], but [as soon as they could, they went].'" [14]

Yeshua died on the afternoon before the Passover began -- on Nisan 14. At the time of Yeshua's death the Passover (1st Day of Unleavened Bread) fell on the weekly Sabbath -- as it did every year according to the lunar calendar kept by the Jews during this time. The "preparation" day was for BOTH the Passover AND for the weekly Sabbath.

It should be carefully noted that at the time of Yeshua -- and for several centuries thereafter -- the Jews did not name their days. This was a custom later introduced by Roman influence. The Jews simply called the days "the first day of the week," "the second day of the week"..."the Preparation Day," and "the Sabbath." Evidence indicates that in the year of the Messiah's death (31 A.D.) the Preparation Day (14th of Nisan) fell on a Tuesday in our Gregorian calendar, while the Passover/weekly Sabbath (15th of Nisan) fell on a Wednesday -- making the First Day of the Week (Nisan 16) to fall on a Thursday. For more information read our articles, Three Days and Three Nights -- When Did Yeshua Die? and Was Yeshua the Messiah Really in the Grave for Three Days and Three Nights?

There simply is, however, no resurrection observance or celebration service recorded in the New Testament. This speaks volumes. The resurrection was a spectacular event and filled believers with joy, but no new worship day resulted as there was no need. The mighty truth of the resurrection fit perfectly within the themes of the Sabbath that YEHOVAH God had blessed and the Messiah observed.

The Book of Acts distinctly reveals there was no change in the celebration patterns among the primitive church of the apostles. True Christians continued to meet on the Sabbath as several passages in Acts matter-of-factly note. No resurrection/Sunday celebrations can be found. No Easter, no Christmas, but there are several mentions of Sabbath services, and mentions of the annual Sabbaths of YEHOVAH such as Pentecost and the Day of Atonement. Acts is the one history book of the early church, and it fails to record a change from the true Sabbath to a Saturday or to Sunday, or for that matter, a change from Passover to Easter. Those changes you will have to document in the arguments of second, third and fourth century theologians.

Did the Ascension of the Messiah Create a New Sabbath?

Did not the ascension of the Messiah to heaven (Acts 1:1-11) represent an even larger event if we are looking for events that could inspire a change in worship days? Catholic theologians chose the resurrection of the Messiah as reason to change the day of worship, never mind the fact of no witness or proof that it is the actual day of his resurrection on the calendar we keep today. But, if later theologians were looking for an event to justify a change in the Sabbath, why not choose the Messiah's glorious ascension to heaven?

This was the event prophesied and pictured in Daniel (7:13--14) where Yeshua is glorified, ascends through the clouds to heaven and is enthroned by the Ancient of Days, the Father, YEHOVAH. This is the event that vindicates the Messiah as YEHOVAH God's chosen one, as the martyr Stephen noted. [15] The resurrection was the necessary and preparatory miracle for this climactic, dramatic event: Yeshua the Messiah leaving the earth to join the Heavenly Father. It is from heaven he now heads the Spiritual Church of YEHOVAH God and prepares to assist in bringing YEHOVAH's Kingdom to earth.

That great event was witnessed by all the apostles as they stood on the Mount of Olives watching him lift into the clouds. The amazed apostles, mouths open wide, staring into the clouds in anxious wonder were further shocked to hear the words of two witnessing angels: "Men of Galilee...why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).

If the apostles were looking for a day to celebrate to replace the Sabbath, this would be the most powerful candidate. It was witnessed by all the apostles and attested to by angels and was clearly pointing to the Second Coming and hope of all Christians to join the Messiah in YEHOVAH's presence here on earth. The apostles also knew the exact time of -the Ascension (some 40 days after the resurrection), but there is no New Testament evidence that the Ascension became a new "Christian Sabbath." There was no need as the Sabbath was designed to encompass the mighty works of YEHOVAH God.

A Sabbath Celebration for the Magnalia Dei

Neither the resurrection nor the ascension -- both marvelous works of YEHOVAH God -- changed the celebration patterns of the church that the Messiah built. Why not? Well, there was no need to change what YEHOVAH God had so brilliantly created, sanctified, and made holy.

Take note that the fourth commandment is the only one of the ten that enshrines the mighty, marvelous acts of YEHOVAH God, the magnalia dei. It employs them as reasons to worship our great Creator­Savior God. The earlier Exodus version declares YEHOVAH's creative acts in Genesis, capped by His resting, as reason to remember and hallow the seventh day. The later version in Deuteronomy adds another of YEHOVAH's magnalia dei to the Sabbath commandment -- deliverance of a whole nation out of slavery and placing them on a path to the Promised Land. This added event is further reason to celebrate the Sabbath as a day of freedom and liberation. The Sabbath expands to include the most spectacular and ongoing deeds of YEHOVAH God.

In the title drop-head above I suggested the Sabbath was like Spiritual Velcro. Consider how the mighty acts of YEHOVAH God continue and do not cease and can attach to YEHOVAH's day which features such works. New magnalia dei exploded in the Messiah's life -- a Son born, a Son killed, a Son resurrected to eternal life, a Son glorified, exalted, and seated at the heavenly Father's side and given rule over Israel. These magnalia dei rank, and perhaps eclipse, in magnitude a nation being delivered from slavery.

Consider how the Sabbath embraces the marvel of both the resurrection and ascension, how its tapestry displays the unsurpassable greatness of YEHOVAH God and His love.

Sabbath themes, as given in the commandment itself (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5), are those of freedom and life; of being set free from slavery and death and given peace, created anew by YEHOVAH God for life in the land of promise. Ultimate bondage is death. It is the enemy of life and will be swallowed up by life through YEHOVAH God bringing resurrections from the dead, just as He did with the Messiah. Peter preached, "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our father, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed...but God raised him from the dead" (Acts 3:13, 15).

Sin is personal bondage and leads to death. The Sabbath pictures deliverance from slavery and bondage (Egypt is symbolic of sin) into freedom and safety with YEHOVAH God. The Tree of Life is the Creator's great present to His children, and it grows at the center of His garden: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life" (Romans 6:23). The seventh day of creation reminds us that our Maker wants us to be sanctified by Him, made holy, and to partake of the Tree of Life and enjoy rest in His never-ending Kingdom.

The Sabbath not only points toward receiving "deliverance from this body of sin and death" as YEHOVAH delivered His people from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15), but as in the First-Resurrection the bodies of believers "sown in dishonor, are raised in glory." [16] Speaking of the Messiah, Paul writes, "'The last Adam [became] a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual." [17]

The Sabbath was made when the first man was made and is a memorial of the Creator -- The Life­Maker -- and of His marvelous works (Exodus 20:11). The creation Sabbath is left open, no night there, pointing toward a Second Adam, who would lead YEHOVAH's children to the Tree of Life. The natural, physical came first in creation, yet the fullness of the Sabbath concept was the spiritual, epitomized in the life of the Messiah, his resurrection, and his ascension to YEHOVAH's presence.

The Messiah preached repentance from sin and its enslaving bondage. He lived a life of holiness dedicated to pleasing YEHOVAH God and serving YEHOVAH's children. He also celebrated the Sabbath his entire life and declared that YEHOVAH God had made it for mankind's benefit -- not as a burden, but as the special day to celebrate freedom and life in YEHOVAH God. [18] 

Sabbath Points Forward

The writer of Hebrews clearly understood the forward-looking themes of the Sabbath as the perfect symbolic picture of the everlasting Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. He likened entering the seventh-day rest akin to entering YEHOVAH's rest, the Promised Land. Speaking of a future Great Day in YEHOVAH's plan, he writes: "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his" (see the entire context in Hebrews 4:1-11).

The Sabbath pictures the ultimate rest from all mankind's futile labors and the entering into His never-ending Kingdom of peace, the Millennium and beyond, Paradise, Heaven on earth. "Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (4:7). This "today" has arrived according to the author of Hebrews, "so then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God...." YEHOVAH God invites you and me to join in celebrating His rest.

The Sabbath is an idealistic theme picturing in its ultimate iteration a future time when "There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He [YEHOVAH God], who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!"' (Revelation 21:4-5). Again, we see YEHOVAH God actively creating as the Sabbath Age comes to earth.

The resurrection (deliverance from sin and death), and the ascension (entering the Creator's presence and rest in the eternal Eden) both harmonize and expand the meaning of the powerful symbolic Sabbath themes. The Messiah is now at the center of YEHOVAH's magnalia dei, the center of the Sabbath celebration of the mightiest of YEHOVAH God's mighty works.

1). Resurrection. The Exodus version presents the creation of life: Yeshua the Messiah is the first of the new creation, the first to overcome the darkness of the grave in victory, the first to receive eternal life to take of the Tree of Life. The Messiah completes the creation theme of Exodus 20.

2). Ascension. The Deuteronomy version presents salvation for YEHOVAH's people allowing them to proceed into their promised inheritance: Yeshua is the Joshua (Heb. YEHOVAH Saves) that leads the people of YEHOVAH God through the gulf of death and into the glorious presence of YEHOVAH God to enjoy His rest, the inheritance of the Saints -- the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.

The Sabbath did not need to be replaced to include these great events in the life of the Messiah; the Sabbath is YEHOVAH's matrix for their magnificent necessity.

The "no night" Sabbath leads our eyes to see the picture of the Kingdom of Peace with YEHOVAH God and the Lamb ruling, and all sons and daughters of YEHOVAH God alive and in cheerful rest. This is the future for which the prophets exulted, the Day of the LORD, the Messianic Banquet, the Sabbath rest, when men will beat their swords into plowshares, wars will cease, and when joy, prosperity, and the knowledge of YEHOVAH God will fill the earth.

The First and Last Page

The last page of our Bible completes the picture begun on its first page. On the first page YEHOVAH God is the central character, the life-making Creator who closes every day except the seventh with the "night and day" refrain.

Triumphantly, the seventh day has no night attached to it. The inspired description of the days of creation is telling us something, surely intentionally. YEHOVAH's rest is conceptualized as having no darkness, a negative theological symbol for oppression and death. Resting on the Sabbath is a mimicry, an acted out mime as it were, of the ultimate reality -- resting with YEHOVAH God in His eternal Kingdom. If understood, it has tremendous educational power. Resting on the Sabbath is experiencing for a moment a world of untarnished blessing, the Eschaton, or jubilant age to come.

The Sabbath commemorates the eruption of YEHOVAH's rule over oppression and mankind's liberation from darkness into light, and from death to life (Psalm 33). The Sabbath pictures the offering of YEHOVAH's grace (Heb. hesed) to the needy. Religious people who see the Sabbath as simply a religious obligation miss its meaning. The fourth commandment is the longest of the ten, and yet it is probably the least understood and the most ignored. It deserves our deepest meditation.

YEHOVAH built the seventh day into the order of creation and into the very structure of His universe and He stands behind its observance. The fourth commandment is a transition; it is holy to YEHOVAH God, but it is prepared for us to enter into eternal rest with Him.

The Last Page of the Bible

If you haven't actually opened your Bible to any of the various verses discussed so far, I urge you to do so with this one on the last page of The Book: Revelation 22:5. Once again, YEHOVAH God is the central character. This is what the seventh day on the Bible's first page was pointing toward -- the ultimate rest for the people of YEHOVAH God; continuing happiness and excitement ruling the universe with our heavenly Father and His Son. It is a glorious day that will never end.

"There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."

No night there. Shalom and Happy Sabbath!

-- Edited By John D. Keyser.

End Notes:

[1] The first phrase in the Hebrew text of 1:1 is bereshith ("in [the] beginning"). Depending on the context it can mean "'birth," "genealogy," or "history of origin." It is the book of beginnings.

[2] Called the Tanak or Tanakh which is the canonical Old Testament. Tanak is an acronym formed from the initial letters of the titles of each of the three major divisions of the Hebrew Bible in their proper order: Torah ("Law"), Nebiim ("Prophets"), Ketubim ("Writings"). Apparently this was the order of Scripture during the times of Jesus (Luke 24:44).

[3] A phrase of opposites, a merism, that indicates the totality of the things. Similarly, the merism "day and night" means "all the time," and "summer and winter" means "year round." The English word cosmos comes from the Greek kosmeo, to put in order, to arrange.

[4] Waltke, Bruce, An Old Testament Theology, Zondervan, 2007, p. 187.

[5] Psalm 104:2

[6] Daniel 2:22

[7] 1 John 1:5

[8] 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 1:7; James 1:17; John 8:12; 9:5

[9] See Job 3:16; 33:28, 30; Psalm 49:19; Micah 7:8f

[10] Isaiah 60:19f; 30:26; Zechariah 14:7 (see The Int. Std. Bible Encyclopedia article on "Light")

[11] See Samuele Bacchiocchi's work, From Sabbath to Sunday, Biblical Perspectives.

[12] Of course, not all churches accepted this Hellenistic drift away from the Hebrew roots of Christianity. Many Christians and Christian churches continued to celebrate the Sabbath. Since they were a minority they were largely ignored by contemporary historians and in some cases even persecuted.

[13] Humphreys, Colin, The Mystery of the Last Supper, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 24.

[14] Stern, David, Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[15] Acts 7:54-56

[16] 1 Corinthians 15-43

[17] 1 Corinthians 15:45-46

[18] Mark 2:27-28; Luke 4:16-19 where he proclaimed on the Sabbath the meaning of the time of YEHOVAH God's favor when the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God is preached and freedom, healing, and release from oppression abound -- Sabbath themes.


Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!

Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.

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