Christian Churches of God

No. CB133





The Sabbath Days of the One True God

(Edition 2.0 20090216-20210530)


This paper addresses the weekly seventh-day Sabbath and the other annual Sabbaths of the One True God. We will also see how the Sabbath rest is extended to include the Jubilee and land systems.



Christian Churches of God





(Copyright © 2009, 2021 Christian Churches of God, ed. Wade Cox)



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The Sabbath Days of the One True God


Why we keep the Sabbath Day

The Sabbath is holy time and we do not work or cause others to work on our behalf. God wants us to keep His Sabbath Day always.


Exodus 20:8-11 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, 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 the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it. (RSV)


The Sabbath is a day of rest from doing the ordinary things that we might do on the other six days of the week. It is a time to study God’s word, pray to Him and think about all the things He is doing for us. The Sabbath is a sign or seal between us and God, who makes us holy. It is commanded for all time (cf. Ex. 31:12-16).


The Sabbath is one of God’s Commandments to us. God gave us Ten Commandments and we will see below that the command to keep the Sabbath holy is the fourth one.


The Ten Commandments are:

1.    You should have no other gods but me.

2.    You should not make any graven images for yourselves.

3.    You should not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

4.    Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

5.    Honor your father and your mother.

6.    You should not kill.

7.    You should not commit adultery.

8.    You should not steal.

9.    You should not lie to or about your neighbor.

10. You should not covet.


We have to obey all of God’s Commandments but in this paper we are only discussing the Fourth Commandment. Learn more about the other Ten Commandments in the paper The Ten Commandments (No. CB17).


We work six days and rest on the seventh

We are to work for six days a week. We are not to be still or lazy (Prov. 6:6-11).  Whatever we find to do we should do with all of our might (Eccl. 9:10). We should learn to work hard and always do our best no matter what the job. We should also be willing to help people who need help. This can be for people we know or for people we don’t know (Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:18; Isa. 1:17; Jer. 7:6; 22:3; Hsa. 14:3; Zec. 7:10; Ps. 10:14; 68:5; 82:3; 146:9; Jas. 1:27). While it is always good to be friendly and helpful to others, we should never talk to strangers or go with people we don’t know before asking our parents.


The seventh day is the Sabbath

The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week which is called Saturday.  The Bible doesn’t use names for the days of the week, it just uses numbers. Genesis 2:2-3 tells us when the first Sabbath occurred. 

Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation. (RSV)


The Sabbath is calculated or figured as the seventh day from the day of rest during the creation. The seventh day of the week is in a continuous cycle and therefore the Sabbath can not be any other day but Saturday. Many religions today go to Church on Sunday rather than Saturday and that practice started a long time ago because the Roman system has always opposed Sabbath-keeping (see the papers General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)).


We, as Christians, keep ourselves close to God by keeping God’s Law.  The Law is to be kept by all in Israel – strangers and Israelite alike. Now, all who keep God’s laws are part of spiritual Israel. Nehemiah is an example of how to keep the Law of God with regard to the Sabbath:


Nehemiah 10:28-31 Now the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, all those who had knowledge and understanding, 29are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given through Moses, God’s servant, and to keep and to comply with all the commandments of God our Lord, and His ordinances and statutes; 30and that we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. 31As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day; and we will forgo the crops of the seventh year and every debt. (NAS)


We see from Isaiah 56:2-5 that we are blessed when we keep the Sabbath day holy.  It is a day of delight when we choose to put aside our own pleasures and focus on God (Isa. 58:13-14). We are to be a light to the world by keeping God’s Sabbaths holy. In James 1:27 we learn pure undefiled religion is to help those in need like the widows and orphans.


James 1:27  Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (NAS)


The Preparation Day

We should always prepare for the Sabbath. Young people should help with the Sabbath preparation, yet parents guide and direct them in all things that need to be accomplished.


The day before the weekly Sabbath (Friday) is the day we should prepare for the Sabbath (Ex. 16:5). We call this the preparation day.


On the sixth day of the week, Friday, we should do our shopping, clean our houses and prepare our food to be ready to observe the Sabbath. This is so that all may rest and focus on the Sabbath Day.

Exodus 16:23 he said to them, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay by to be kept till the morning.'" (RSV)


(See also the paper The Juma’ah: Preparing for the Sabbath (No. 285).)


We are to remember the time of the exodus when God, through the Angel of the Presence, brought us out of Egypt. From this period the lesson of the Sabbath was also reinforced with two portions of manna being delivered on the preparation day for each man, woman and child.

Exodus 16:22-26 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers apiece; and when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay by to be kept till the morning.'"  So they laid it by till the morning, as Moses bade them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it.  Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field.  Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none." (RSV)


The Sabbath Day

The Sabbath starts when it gets dark on the 6th day of the week, Friday evening, and ends when it gets dark on the 7th day, Saturday evening. It cannot be moved to any other day.  Dark is about an hour after sunset and called End Evening Nautical Twilight (EENT).


The Sabbath is special to God. It is the day He also rested after creating everything (Gen. 2:2-3).

Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation. (RSV)


We should follow God’s lead and rest or abstain from our normal activities on the Sabbath.


Parents and other adults don’t go to work on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11). Children don’t go to school either. We should not buy anything or sell anything on the Sabbath (Neh. 10:31).

Nehemiah 10:31 … and if the peoples of the land bring in wares or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day; and we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.


We don’t involve ourselves in activities that require us to spend money or make others work on our behalf on the Sabbath. Instead, we try to focus on things that help us draw closer to God. This could include caring for others or helping others in need, showing and demonstrating God’s love through our actions. (Jas. 1:27, Mic. 6:18)


As much as possible we should keep away from people, places and things that would distract us from the Sabbath. We learn to know these things as we grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Law. When we are young, we do as our parents direct us.


The command thou shall not kindle a fire thoughout your habitations (Ex. 35:3) refers to working with fire. There are people who use fire to work with metal and glass, and we are not to make a fire for the reason of work and profit. It does not mean that we cannot use our stove, fireplace, or a candle or other light.


The priesthood kindled more fires on the Sabbath than on any other day of the week.  God expects that everyone heat their homes properly and allow for freshly cooked meat.  Every Sabbath is a Feast day.


The tithe system with its eating together before the Lord is done to properly feed the poor at least one time a week. Everyone tithed to the priesthood and then much of it was cooked and eaten. In this way, the poor were provided a healthy meal on the Sabbath to maintain a healthy mind and body.


Jesus’ disciples picked corn on the Sabbath and people got angry with them because they thought Jesus was breaking the Sabbath. However, Jesus showed us that he was Lord of the Sabbath; not that we do not have to keep the Sabbath, but rather that it should be kept the way he did it (Mat. 12:1-12). He taught us that it is alright to pick enough food to eat on the Sabbath, but not to harvest crops for gain or to do excessive work.


In Luke 14:1-5 it shows Christ healed on the Sabbath.


Luke 14:1-5 One sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him.  And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy.  And Jesus spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath, or not?"  But they were silent. Then he took him and healed him, and let him go.  And he said to them, "Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well, will not immediately pull him out on a sabbath day?" (RSV)


We can go to the hospital if we get hurt, or if we are sick, or to have a baby. We can help the needy. We should always plan ahead if it is possible, but sometimes accidents happen and people get sick, and we have to deal with these situations. God understands that and allows us to tend to these things. This is called “the ox in the ditch” situation. It is something we did not plan, but nevertheless must be dealt with, even on the Sabbath.


The priests did more work on the Sabbaths, New Moons and Feasts than on any other day of the week. In fact, there were more sacrifices carried out on the Sabbath than any other week day. (See Introduction to the Sacrifices and Offerings of Eloah (No. CB119).)  Therefore, the priestly work of the elect on the Sabbath is part of God’s laws (Mat. 12:5; Num. 28:9-10).


The Sabbath is a day to be happy, not a day to be sad. We should rejoice in the Sabbath and bring joy to the House of God.

Isaiah 58:13-14 "If you turn back your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."


There are things we can do on the Sabbath to make it a joyous and memorable time. It usually means spending the day with our family and often with other people who keep God’s Sabbath holy. Most parents organize special treats and activities for their children to do on the Sabbath. Some families go to the park or other outside places so they can enjoy God’s natural creations. Learning about the One True God and His Laws can be fun too. These are usually things that we don’t do on the other six days, as it is a special time.


Keeping the Sabbath holy also includes meeting together with likeminded people so that we can fellowship and grow in the knowledge of God’s ways. This was taught by Jesus’ apostle, Paul (Heb. 10:24-25).

Hebrews 10:24-25  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as we see the Day approaching. (NIV, emphasis added).


We should help each other and show that we love each other as Jesus Christ loves us. We must continue to learn about God’s Law. As we obey Him He directs our thoughts and we grow in understanding (Prov. 16:3).


Luke 5:5-14 tells a story about Jesus showing others that if they followed him, then he could change their lives for the better. Also, with his help, they could help others do the same thing. As Christians, we are to follow Christ by keeping the Laws of God.


Was the Sabbath changed to Sunday?

Some people say that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday, or that we do not have to keep the Sabbath at all. However, God does not change (Mal. 3:6, Jas. 1:17) and neither does His Sabbath Day.


Malachi 3:6 "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (RSV)


Jesus said that the Law would not pass away until all is accomplished (Mat. 5:17-18). So, until all the things in the Bible are done we must keep God’s Law, and keeping the Sabbath is one of God’s Laws.


Matthew 5:17-18  "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. (RSV)


No man or church has any authority to change God’s Law. The Sabbath is a sign of God’s people (Ezek. 20:12). So those people who keep Sunday holy are not obeying God’s Law. Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath, and the Feasts, and Holy Days of God; so did the apostles and the early Church and so should we. Do not believe people when they say, “the Sabbath was changed to Sunday”. That is not what God says in the Bible.


The Sabbath in the Koran

There is also mention of the Sabbath Day in the Koran (see the paper The Sabbath in the Qur'an (No. 274)). 

Chp. 7:163 "Ask them (O Muhammad) of the township that was by the sea, how they did break the sabbath, how their big fish came unto them visibly upon their sabbath day and on a day when they did not keep sabbath came they not unto them. Thus did we try them for that they were evil-livers."


God tested their Sabbath observance by bringing fish only on the Sabbath day. He would not have done so had they been obedient. The end result was that they were tested and punished, having the fish come to them only on the Sabbath and not the other days of the week. The Koran says that if we do not keep the Sabbath we are simply like apes.


The expanded meaning of the Sabbath Day

As we may recall from other lessons, there are three Feast seasons or Harvests of Eloah. There are seven major Holy Days within these three Feast seasons. The sixth of these annual Holy Days begins the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles is also called the “Period of Just Rule”.


The weekly Sabbath pictures this 1000-year period when Messiah has returned to the earth. The Marriage Supper of the elect has then taken place, and the planet is finally functioning under the Laws of God with Joshua the Messiah – our elder brother, High Priest and King – as the new Day Star of the planet enforcing Eloah’s Laws.


We see from Leviticus 26:34 that the Sabbaths extend into the Jubilee and land systems. God does everything at the right time and with perfect order. Due to Adam and Eve’s sin the land became cursed and the Jubilee system was started. Since that time the years have been counted and every seventh year the land is to rest just as on every seventh day of the week we are to rest from our labours.


In the same way as every seventh day is sanctified and set apart as holy, so too is every seventh year. The Sabbath Year (or Seventh year) is the year of rest for man and the planet. During the Seventh year commercial crops are not planted so as to allow the soil to rest and recover.  We can plant our house-gardens in the Sabbath year to provide for fresh vegetables.  Also, our house-garden soils are constantly replenished with compost and as such the gardens remain fertile.


Anyone who owes us money is freed or released from the debt in the Seventh year. This means we tell them they no longer owe us anything.

Deuteronomy 15:1-2 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. (NIV)


At the Feast of Tabernacles in the Seventh year, the Law of God is read (Deut. 31:10-11; Neh. chapter 8). This is commanded by God so that we all may hear and learn to fear the Lord our God, and observe all the words of His Law (Deut. 31:12).


1984, 1991, 1998 and 2005 were Sabbath years. Then, as the cycle continues we see 2012, 2019 and 2026 are also Sabbath years.


Just as we count the days in the weekly cycle, we count the years in the Jubilee cycle.  As we know, Pentecost means count 50, and we have seven complete weeks from Wave Sheaf to the day of Pentecost, so the same applies to the Jubilee Year. When we have seven sets of seven-year cycles (or 49 years), the next year is the 50th year or Jubilee.


In the 49th year on the Day of Atonement a ram's horn or Shofar is blown to signal the Jubilee Year. The horn signifies that we are to hallow the 50th year and proclaim liberty throughout the land (Lev. 25:10). From the blowing of the horn signalling the Jubilee Year all the lands are returned to their rightful owners.


Just as in the Sabbath Year of land rest we do not plant crops, so it is also in the Jubilee Year. God provides us a double harvest to get us through the Seventh year until we plant again for the First year of the cycle (Lev. 25:21). So also with the Jubilee, God will provide a treble harvest in the 48th year to see us through till the First year of the next cycle. 


Therefore, we do not plant or harvest, but we may eat of the land that which grows by itself (cf. Lev. 25:11-12). See also the paper Law and the Fourth Commandment (No. 256).


We must remember the land belongs to God and it cannot be sold forever. It is ours to use according to His Plan (Lev. 25:23). God’s system is a perfect and just system for man and the planet. Even if a family gets into debt and loses a lot of money, the Jubilee provides them with the opportunity to start again after they learn how to correct their mistakes.


The Jubilee occurs in the years 24 and 74 BCE and 27 and 77 CE in each century. The last Jubilee year was 1977. The next Jubilee, which is the Fortieth Jubilee since the ministry of Messiah, is in the Sacred Year 2027/8. For more information on the Jubilee system see the paper God’s Calendar (No. 156). 


We continue to go faithfully through God’s Festival Plan learning more and more as we obey Him (Prov. 16:3).


The expanded meaning of the week

During the first 6000 years, Eloah gave His Law to Adam, the prophets and patriarchs. Israel was His chosen nation to demonstrate to the world how great the God of Israel was. Israel rebelled and repented many times. The creation was given this time to work and prepare to get the entire planet ready to keep the Period of Just Rule which occurs during the Millennium.


Messiah came as the perfect acceptable sacrifice and freely gave up his life so man and fallen Host could be reconciled or brought back to the Father. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church in 30 CE. Then it was the Church’s responsibility for the last 2000 years to get the gospel of peace to the world so the period of Just Rule could be ushered in by Messiah at his return as King of Kings.


The Bible and the plan of Eloah are so amazing. There is layer upon layer. From the physical we learn the spiritual (Rom. 1:20).  Try to keep that in mind as we study God’s word. Here we see the simple pattern of the week expanded to 7000 years. For a day is a thousand years unto the Lord (2Pet. 3:8). God and His Law do not change, so we continue to see the pattern that Eloah set up ages ago repeated through various aspects of His Plan.


Will the Sabbath be kept in the future?

As we may remember in the series on the sacrifices and offerings of Eloah there will be a functional temple to be set up in Jerusalem. See Sacrifices and Offering of Eloah During the Millennium (No. CB119). There will be a physical priesthood administering the morning sacrifices on the weekly Sabbaths, New Moons and Feasts. Messiah will be ruling the planet as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is, and will be, our High Priest. The priesthood will be expanded to include those humans that are in the First Resurrection and they will assist Messiah and his physical church in governing and ruling the planet under the Laws of God.


Historically, Nehemiah commanded that the aliens, or foreigners in the land, also keep the Sabbath. Nehemiah 13:22 shows us that it is the responsibility of the priesthood of the Lord, the new priesthood of the elect, to cleanse themselves and keep the laws of Eloah and sanctify the Sabbath.


The Sabbath will be kept for all flesh when they will come to worship before the Lord; from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another (Isa. 66:23). People will be given the choice to obey or disobey. If they disobey they will not get rain in due season and they will grow hungry and endure cursings in the form of plagues and pestilence (cf. Zech. 14:16-19).


In Summary

The Church of God is small and we must meet together when we can. It is always good to be with other people who do what we do, and believe what we believe. There have been many attempts over time to stop worship on the seventh day. This will happen again. We should not be afraid. If we obey God’s Law He will look after us.


Exodus 14:13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever.


2Chronicles 20:17 Ye shall not [need] to fight in this [battle]: set yourselves, stand ye [still], and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD [will be] with you.


If you have a parent, or parents, who keep the Sabbath Day holy and teach you about the One True God and His Laws, then you are blessed. Remember, you are sanctified – that is, made holy – by your parents before you are old enough to be baptised into the body of Jesus Christ, which is the Church of God (1Cor. 7:14).


Luke 23:54 shows that we must prepare for the Sabbath. Think ahead, do good to one another. Show that we love one another as Christ loves us. Let us all grow in faith so we are made whole, just like the man Jesus healed of leprosy (Lk. 5:12-14).


We are a small flock who work together under affliction. Every one of us has a responsibility to God to keep His Sabbath Day holy.


See also the paper The Sabbath (No. 031).