Thursday, September 24, 2009

Should we observe the Sabbath on Saturday?

I have heard much debate over what day of the week God insists we observe as a Sabbath. This isn't a new debate but existed after the church had lost revelatory direction (ie no one was worthy of revelation from God any more). At least three concepts emerged during this time, and still are debated today. This subject may seem very confusing, so I hope the following will clear this up for you. Even though what I'm about to present is involved I will endeavour to make it simple at the time of conclusion. These three arguments are 1. That we must have a Sabbath day on Saturday. 2. That we must have a Sabbath day on Sunday. 3. That it doesn't matter what day you observe it on, as long as you have one.

This particular post will only be examining the concept of whether we should be holding our Sabbath days on Saturday. I will get to the rest in further posts.

Talk about people being sun worshippers because they worship on Sunday and other such superstitious nonsense will be avoided: Using such logic I would therefore have to conclude a person worshipping on Saturday to be a Saturn worshipper - as Saturday is named after Saturn. Also the claim that the sun is symbolic of the light of the gospel and so worshipping on Sunday brings us out of spiritual darkness is an argument to the ignorant. So I will be sticking to logical arguments from Scripture only.

Let's look at the Scriptures quoted by those trying to prove that you MUST worship on Saturday.

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Genesis 2:1-3

This is quoted to point out that God has had a Sabbath, and to propose that because the Jews honoured the Sabbath on Saturday at the time of Christ, it must have been a Saturday that God honoured at the creation. I will come back to examining this claim when the other scriptures have been presented.

"In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre." Mark 16:1-2&9 "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun." & "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils." Luke 23:54-56 "And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." Matthew 28:1

These are quoted to suggest that Christ rested on the Sabbath day, which at this time was a Saturday. However, firstly, Saturday was the day that they were holding their Sabbath. Therefore even if this was a demonstration of a Sabbath rest, it doesn't hold that he would not have rested on Thursday (for example) had the Jews observed that day. The rest of this interpretation could only be the case if there is no doubt that A. Christ stayed in the tomb, and actually did rest: B. That he only spent the Sabbath (one day) in the tomb: and C. That he stayed in the tomb to demonstrate a Sabbath rest. However all of these are questionable. A. I Peter 3:18-19 suggests that when put to death Christ's spirit went and preached to spirits. B. It is proposed that when Christ said he would spend three days in the earth that he must have meant Friday night, Saturday and the night, and the beginning of Sunday. But is this true? In Matthew 12:40 Christ said, "For as Jonas was three days and three NIGHTS in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three NIGHTS in the heart of the earth." This means all Thursday, all Friday and then all Saturday. Then to rise on Sunday morning. Confusion arises because the Scriptures talk of the body needing to be quickly buried because of the coming Sabbath. But the coming Sabbath spoken of wasn't the weekly Sabbath (in the law of Moses there were several Sabbaths, not just the weekly one). That year there was another Sabbath due on Thursday. So he was crucified on Wednesday and quickly buried to be "in the heart of the earth" for the three days and nights and arose Saturday night to be already risen when the women came to the tomb Sunday morning. C. Neither Christ, any of the apostles with him nor Paul (ie the New Testament) ever claimed Christ stayed in the tomb to demonstrate a Sabbath rest. Which they would have done had it been a point Christ wished to demonstrate.

Luke 4:16 states regarding Christ, "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read."

This is presented to show that Christ had a custom of going into synagogues on the Sabbath day (a Saturday at this time). Two points stand out regarding this. Firstly he spent 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-2) not going to the synagogue on a Saturday. Secondly he obviously would obey the Law of Moses and observe the Sabbath on the Saturday they were observing it on. This, again, doesn't prove that a Sabbath must be held on Saturday.

Revelation 1:10 "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet." Along with this is quoted Ephesians 3:9 "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ."

It is stated that the Lord made the Sabbath in the beginning (during creation). Then this Sabbath is associated with this quote of the Lord's day (saying it must be the same day). Then it is proposed that because Saturday was the Sabbath at the time of Christ and the Lord made the Sabbath originally, that this Lord's day is a Saturday. This is pure supposition however. I should briefly point out here that there isn't even any evidence that the original Sabbath was a Saturday (as this claims).

"For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day." Matthew 12:8

This is quoted to present the idea that Christ ("the Son of Man") is here accepting the Sabbath (Saturday) as important and his. However when we look at what he is talking about we find very differently. Verse 1 of this chapter has stated, "At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were hungry, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat." Christ then mentions to the Pharisees (who were accusing him of letting his apostles break the Sabbath) of people breaking the law where necessary, to justify his apostles breaking the Sabbath commandment. An example being verse 5, "Or haven't you read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?" So in verse 8 he is stating his ability to ignore the Sabbath, as its Lord.

"But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates" Exo 20:10

No one denies the existence of the Sabbath commandment in the law. But this states nothing about this day being observed on a Saturday. Nor do any Old Testament books claim that Saturday was the day they observed, at the time Moses gave the law to them.

"But pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day" Matt 24:20

This is used to present that the Sabbath was still observed after Christ (as this was presented regarding the future - particularly just before Christ's coming). It is then proposed that this Sabbath must be the Saturday then observed. We would have to ask, though, why would people be worried about fleeing on a Saturday (these days) when they aren't even observing a Sabbath on Saturday? There are more people observing other days as Sabbaths in Jerusalem today. Then there is the point that we still don't have a statement here that Saturday is the day this Sabbath would be on. On top of that we have no statement that Saturday is the day it has to be on. So it's still all speculation and unstated inference (ie no statement of Saturday at all).

"For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the LORD." Isaiah 66:22-23

This speaks in future tense and mentions the observance of Sabbaths. It should be noted, on the other hand though, that it also mentions new moons (an observance of the Law of Moses not practiced today). So it is questionable whether this pertains to a time after Christ (remembering this was written around 700 years before his birth). All that aside, we again have nothing about a Sabbath being on Saturday (the object of the claim).

"And he said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" Mark 2:27-28

What is Christ presenting here? He was answering those who were complaining because of him healing on the Sabbath. He has stated that the Sabbath was made to serve man, not man being made to serve the Sabbath. In other words people are more important than the Sabbath day. Should we then believe that this same Christ will send people to hell for holding their Sabbath on some specific day of the week?

"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Gen 2:23-24

With this it is stated that as God hasn't changed this law of marriage given just after the creation neither has he changed his Sabbath given at this time also. And therefore he wouldn't change the day. But we know that God has given different laws to different people depending on their readiness to observe them. Hebrews 3:16-4:2 tells us that the people that Moses lead out of Egypt had the gospel of Christ preached to them, but they rejected it. Thus God gave them what is termed "the Law of Moses". Sacrifices also became unnecessary with Christ having come and demonstrating their point. So God has changed laws given. And therefore why would I believe that something as simple as what day of a week something is done on, could not easily be changed - if we are to believe that was originally a Saturday anyway?

"And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath." & "And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God." Act 13:42&44

Here we have Paul and Barnabas attending a Jewish synagogue. But did they attend it to honour the Sabbath day on Saturday or did they attend to preach to the Jews there? Some may argue, "both". This isn't stated either way. But two things come to mind. Firstly Acts 21:24&26 has Paul going into the temple and purifying himself ready to do sacrifices. These things were no longer necessary observances. Yet Paul did them so that it could not be said that he had no respect for the law (verse 24). Attendance at a synagogue would say exactly the same. Secondly he not only preached to the Jews there, but the Gentiles showed interest also. Where could he find a better audience to preach to? So to claim that their purpose in going to the synagogue was to worship God on Saturday is a guess at best. Whatever we believe it would be purposeless to go on another day, because Saturday is the day that people would be there for a service.

"And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." Acts 17:2

This isn't saying anything different, but just mentions that going into synagogues and reasoning with them was his "manner" (something he did). In fact it points more to the idea that he was there for that specific purpose rather than to honor Saturday.

In summary of this subject the only reasonably provable argument is that Christ was brought up going on Saturday and didn't say anything in objection to the day of the week he was observing. Yet this argument can only have possible merit if we are to believe that God now insists that we practice it on some other day of the week (such as Sunday) instead - thus making the particular day observed an issue.

This idea seems to be an example of where Christ warned to beware of the leaven (added ideas) of the Pharisees.

I'll come to the Sunday only concept next.


Dan Knudsen said...

I have questions on the part where you quote Matthew 12:40, on Jesus being three days and three nights in the earth. You then said that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and buried quickly and was in the tomb all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and then He rose Sunday morning. That makes 4 nights (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) and three days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) in the tomb, which then disagrees with Matthew’s statement that “the Son of man would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” How can that be? Was Matthew wrong?

Doug Towers said...

Dan Knudsen

Thanks for pointing out that error. Much appreciated.

I should have said that he was already risen by Sunday morning; having been raised during Saturday night. I have now corrected that.

We see that the women came to the tomb "as it was about to dawn" on Sunday morning, and found it already empty.

yeti said...

So, just trying to read Hebrews 3:16-4:2 in context, and I do not think that the Gospel of Christ was preached.
From reading Exodus 20, a God speaks to all the people the Ten Comandments. I believe this is what is being refered to in Hebrews. What causes you to think otherwise?

Doug Towers said...


The reason I quoted from Hebrews 3:16 - 19 was purely to establish that it was Israel at the time of Moses, that he was referring to.

I assume you have no problem with that.

That assumption being correct, we look at Hebrews 4:2

"For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."

This states that the gospel was preached to "them". The "them" referred to was established in the previously quoted verses - Israel at the time of Moses.

He states that they didn't profit from it.

This being the case, God gave them the lesser laws.

The commandments (whether there are ten or actually eleven is debatable) given in Exodus and Deuteronomy are part of a NEW covenant _

"The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day." (Deut 5:2-3)


You posed a question on my question site that you didn't qualify for me to answer. I don't normally post comments on that site. The comment part is for questions.

"really? is that approved of in the doctrine?"

You would need to be more specific of your concerns. Who's doctrine do you want it approved of in? And why you don't find the Scriptural reference to such sufficient?

If you are not LDS or a relatively new member I can understand your lack of knowledge of some points raised. I'm quite happy to demonstrate these things from the Scriptures for you. But if you're not LDS it would be a more restricted list of Scripture references that I could use. So please let me know one way or the other on that issue.

yeti said...

I think I can now see where you are coming from, but I am not sure that I see that meaning in the texts.
I guess it comes down to the word "Gospel". is that not a word that has been transliterated, having the original meaning "good news"? I see that the author of Hebrews is paralleling between these situations, rather than saying they are the same. In one sense the good news would have been the same for the people Moses led out of Egypt and those to whom this letter was written.
The good news for the recently freed Israelites would be rest in the promise land. But when they got in proximity of this land they failed to believe that God was powerful enough to give the land over to them and were sent wandering around the desert for a long long time, until all men of that generation, who had not enough faith to enter the land had died.
I think maybe the author is paralleling this to an eternal rest which can be entered (though to be honest, I am not exactly sure), although 4:3 suggests that the rest has already been entered by those who believe. What do you see this rest as being? Perhaps it is a rest from the law, sacrifice and striving?
So the good news that they would enter a land of rest was preached to the Israelites, but since they didn’t have faith that God could take them into the land they died in the wilderness. I don’t see where you are getting the idea of a “lesser law” from this passage. It sounds to me that God gave them one statement of good news “you will enter the promise land”, and then laws came with that, because they were necessary if the promise land was going to be good.

(why there were probably Ten Commandment: see Deut 4:13)

Doug Towers said...


Thanks for the reference of the ten commandments. One of them comes out as if it is two.

I see the "rest" as being of the heart: That our hearts are at peace; being one with God.

While I feel that I understand your thoughts in regard rests and another gospel I would ask you to consider Galations 1:6-9. Paul warns against people trying to preach another gospel.

"I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be accursed."

It isn't my intension to speak against the ten commandments. In these last days God has given direction through Joseph Smith for the commandments to be followed. It should be noted, however, that we are to rise above these basic commandments eventually in our growth toward becoming like our heavenly parents.

yeti said...

very cool definition of "rest"

I still do not get this lesser laws idea. Also, (my mind is currently a little confused, so i may not write anything that make sense)If Moses had preached the Gospel of Christ, and the people chose against accepting it, did he then preach a different Gospel that the people chose to accept? Because then he would be guilty of preaching a different Gospel, and well, that would be bad.
But what if the good news preached by Moses was at a more basic level, and then Christ came, and fulfilled and completed it. The Gospel perhaps has always been God's promised rest for those who believe. that would have been the good news for Abraham, and then maybe for Moses too, and then the Good news that Jesus Preached. As for my question on the other blog, i do need to get around to that sometime, but probably not today, I will wait for a time when i have more time... and more desire to think about it. i will have to read over it again to figure out what i was really trying to ask.

Doug Towers said...


Its good to see you have an open and enquiring mind. It sometimes helps me to toss around ideas with others to get my thoughts in some order.

The ten commandments are given to us as basic concepts of how to behave. Each is designed to improve the natural man and move us closer to what God wants of us.

For example the Sabbath day (as that is the subject). What is the point of God getting Israelites to stop working one day? That is all the commandment says. It doesn't say anything about going to church or thinking about God etc.

But God knew that if they did take this day off that some would eventually start thinking about him and life. This would increase over time. Soon they would start to think about these things on other days (as you are).

Eventually it starts to become part of you and your whole life becomes spiritual. You are then living 7 Sabbaths a week (as God does). This is the higher gospel principle.

Christ outlined some of these gospel principles in the Sermon on the Mount - They said of old time don't kill but I say don't get angry at people (you may get angry at the evil they do, of course, but not at them).

This is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as contained in the Bible and Book of Mormon.

Moses' law isn't the good news, but only a school master to send us in the right direction.

Once Christ came sacrifices weren't really required because we can all read what they were pointing to, by reading of his atonement and resurrection.

yeti said...

Thanks. Sometimes I feel like having an inquiring mind is looked down upon in the Mormon Church. As I try to read through the Book of Mormon I have many questions, but I feel like when I have asked them I am told to not worry about the details, just read and feel. But if I am supposed to pay attention to my feelings, they are saying, “I am confused”. I appreciate your depth, and the answers provided throughout your blogs.

Doug Towers said...


If you have anything you are having trouble understanding I have a questions and answers site at

You just put it in any of the comments feilds. It won't be listed, but I will get it. If you want it answered privately, rather than on the site, just put in your email address. I'll answer as soon as possible.