I was given a paper by a dear friend of mine, a paper AGAINST
Sabbath observing, a paper that claims the Sabbath command is
"done away with" today, and only was for the people of Israel
under the Old Covenant. My friend wanted me to rebut the
arguments put forth, by the Worldwide Church of God, an
organization that for 50 years or so taught OBSERVANCE to the
FOURTH commandment of the mighty 10 Commandments.
I have decided NOT to take the time to answer the arguments
presented. First, they are not new arguments at all, but have
been used by many in the last 100 years to teach the 4th
Commandment is abolished and need not be obeyed today. Secondly,
I believe ALL the arguments are answered somewhere in all the
studies on this Website. Thirdly, all the arguments have been
answered in the books and debates on radio, by Dr. Sammuele
Bacchiocchi. If, after reading Dr. Sam's books on the Sabbath
question, one is not convinced the FOURTH commandment is STILL
binding on christians today, to obey and follow, then I fear
NOTHING more I can say, will change the minds of those who refuse
to serve and obey the 4th commandment as set down in the
wonderful 10 COMMANDMENTS.
I will though answer in a nut-shell, the very first argument of
the present Worldwide Church of God.
It is true that God is God and He can make holy and unmake holy
anything He likes and when He likes. The fact is the 7th Day of
the week was made holy from creation, and IS STILL holy to this
day and will be holy until at least the end of the 1,000 reign of
Christ on earth. Again, I say this is proved by the studies found
on this Website and by the many books written on the subject by
The argument goes on to say that there is NO Sabbath command
before the days of Moses, no humans needed to observe Sabbath
before Moses, God did bless the seventh day and made it holy, but
that does not mean (the argument says) that he required people to
rest on it.
This is theology that is blind-folded or like putting on
eye-blinders on horses so they cannot see what is all around them
(some horses need that to function in certain sports or duties
that men want to use them for). It is a theology that is has
TUNNEL vision. A theology that ignores what is going on around
the rest of the Bible, a theology that does not put Scripture
with Scripture, or does not allow God's word to INTERPRET itself.
The Bible speaks of "sin" over and over again. The writing
of Paul in Romans makes it clear that ALL have sinned, not one
human being was not guilty of sinning, except Jesus the Christ.
All have sinned, all need a Savior. Now sin is defined by God,
not by the ideas of men or women. It is the Bible, the Word of
God that must TELL YOU - yes DIRECT YOU - as to WHAT SIN IS!!
And God's word tells you in 1 John 3:4 that sin is the
transgression of the LAW! Paul tells us in Romans 7:7 that he
knew sin by the law, the law told him what sin was. And Paul then
goes on to recite some of the Ten Commandments. James said that
if we keep the law yet offend in ONE point. we are guilty of all
- James 2:10 and he then quotes from the 10 Commandments. 1 John
5:17 says that all UNRIGHTEOUSNESS is SIN! Now, one Bible
definition of RIGHTEOUSNESS is found in Psalm 119:172.
Over and over again in studies on this Website you are
given simple Bible TRUTHS, that any child can understand, just by
reading the entire Bible.
Now, with simple child-like faith, just read verses 12-14 of
SIN was in the world at the time of ADAM, death came upon
all mankind, because ALL have sinned. Even UNTIL the law was
given in a codified form by Moses to Israel, SIN WAS IN THE
WORLD. Sin CANNOT be imputed, cannot to declared upon anyone WHEN
THERE IS NO LAW! Yet, DEATH DID REIGN FROM ADAM TO MOSES!
If there were no law that DEFINED what sin was, then sin
could not have been laid upon those people before Moses. But Paul
has told us that ALL have sinned, before and after Moses. There
was a law before Moses.
The NT says nothing about a DIFFERENT law than the Ten
Commandment law, that defined sin before the Ten Commandment law
was given through Moses to Israel. We are given by God, through
His words, ONLY ONE basic defining as to what SIN IS - and that
defining we have seen from the clear Scriptures above - the LAW -
and that definition in those verses goes on to quote from the 10
Sin was in the world from Adam - ALL have sinned - SIN IS
the transgression of the LAW - the law quoted is the TEN
COMMANDMENT LAW. It should be pretty simple to figure from these
verses that the 10 Commandments WERE FROM THE BEGINNING - FROM
THE DAYS OF ADAM AND EVE.
The 7th Day was SANCTIFIED, SET APART, MADE HOLY, FROM that
first week. Adam and all MANKIND were to obey it. To not obey the
Holy Sabbath day command was SIN, from the very START, from the
And that FOURTH commandment is STILL a part of the very TEN
COMMANDMENTS that are STILL IN FORCE TODAY.
As one church organization (the Worldwide Church of God)
steps away from Sabbath observance, many parts of Christianity
are stepping TOWARDS observing the Sabbath.
Now, to what some have said about Mark Buchanan's book on
Praise for "The Rest of God" and Mark Buchanan
"Buchanan campaigns persuasively for readers to revive the
Sabbath as a refuge from out pervasive and spiritually
destructive culture of busyness. His prose is fresh and
immediate, earnest and self-effacing at the same time."
- Publishers Weekly
"With the easiness of long intimacy and a very deft hand,
Buchanan here braids together into one gracious and sustaining
strand the beauty of the Sabbath, the wisdom of its keeping, and
the generosity of God in gifting us with it. These pages are not
just a blessing, they are a psalm that cries out to be joyfully
-Phyllis Tickle Religion Editor (ret.) Publishers Weekly and
compiler of The Divine Hours
"It seems very unsabbath-like to describe a book about Sabbath
with the adverb "urgently" - but we urgently need this book. Mark
Buchanan shows us that our business is killing us---killing
us---and that Sabbath is our best cure, our best path for rest
and reverence and discipleship."
Best-selling author of Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath
"Mark Buchanan's writing always leaves me moved, stimulated, and
convicted. I find myself mulling it over days later and wishing
for more." -Philip Yancey Best- selling author
"Buchanan's book hits the mark with finely turned phrases that
make reading this a joy"
-Punblishers Weekly (review of Things Unseen)
"Buchanan masterfully wields a pen, like Edgar Martinez, a
baseball bat. Buchanan brings a background in literature and
writing into his life as a pastor in British Columbia. To his mix
of literature and theology, he also brings an eye for
personality, a nose for story, and the heart of a shepherd. The
"Mark Buchanan holds familiar things up to the light and
rediscovers for us the depths and the mystery of what it means to
be alive. In his hands the concept of Sabbath is transformed from
an archaic inconvenient humbug into a life-giving, life-restoring
gift we simply cannot afford to ignore. Mark invites us to stop
and rediscover the rest of God, and gives us permission to enjoy
-John Ellis, Lead Tree63
"A craftsman skilled with words, Mark Buchanan has written a
penetrating book with an easy contemplative tone. This is
enjoyable reading about something precious most of us have lost,
and some of us have never known. I needed to sit back, relax and
savor this heart-moving, thought-provoking book. I suspect you
-Randy Alcorn, Best-selling author
Here I present to you a PART of one of the many delightful
chapters in this Sabbath book by Mark Buchanan - Keith Hunt
WE'RE NOT IN EGYPT ANYMORE: Stopping to Remove the Taskmasters
Michele has an identical twin, Nicole. Both are beautiful.
Early on, I was always stumped by who was who and which was
which. They're mirror images: the high, fine cheekbones
and the soft, dark eyes, the lilting cadence of speech, the
delicate artistry and polished musicianship - these are perfectly
duplicated in each.
Around that time, my daughters were captivated by a remake
of the movie Parent Trap, in which actress Lindsay Lohan
single-handedly portrays, with the help of special camera
effects, identical twins. The story revolves around the twins
elaborate scheme to pose as each other, a scheme so flawlessly
executed that they fool their own parents. Watching it with my
daughters, I wondered if Michele and Nicole ever did that,
pretended to be the other, just to mess with our heads. Back
then, I figured I'd be an easy rube.
But as I got to know the twins better (especially Michele,
who goes to church where I'm a pastor, Nicole lives in another
town and visits only from time to time): I began to see subtle
but distinct differences. Their smiles are not exactly alike.
carry themselves with enough degree of difference that you can
distinguish one from the other just by watching their postures,
their gestures, their expressions, the way they walk. You can
tell by listening to the timbre and texture of their voices. In
so many ways they are the same, yet in so many ways each is
unique - it's like hearing a single Mozart piece played by two
different but equally proficient orchestras.
I've known the twins, especially Michele, for close to a
decade now. It would take great cunning indeed for me to mistake
one for the other.
The Bible provides two complete renderings of the Ten
Commandments, one in Exodus 20, the other in Deuteronomy 5.
(Deuteronomy literally means "the second law," or "the law once
over.") The two renderings are virtually identical. They're
conjoined twins, separated by a clean, almost invisible cut. The
two versions are so dose that the slightest variations between
them, like a birthmark on one that's missing on the other, take
on large significance. After long association, you can easily
spot one from the other.
The two Sabbath commands feature a crucial variation. Exodus
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you
shall labor 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your
manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien
within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens
and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he
rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the
Sabbath day and made it holy (v.8-11).
Deuteronomy says this:
Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your
God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor 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, neither you, nor your
son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor
your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien
within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant
may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt
and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a
mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your
God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day (v.12-15).
Exodus grounds Sabbath in creation. Deuteronomy grounds it
in liberation. Exodus remembers Eden, Deuteronomy Egypt.
In Exodus, Sabbath-keeping is about imitating divine example
and receiving divine blessing. In Deuteronomy, it is about taking
hold of divine deliverance and observing divine command.
Exodus looks up. Deuteronomy looks back. Exodus gives
theological rationale for rest, and Deuteronomy historical
justification for it. One evokes God's character, the other his
redemption. One calls us to holy mimicry - be like God; the other
to holy defiance - never be slaves again. One reminds us that we
are God's children, the work of his hands, the other that we are
no one's chattel, not Pharaoh's, not Nebuchadnezzar's, not
Xerxes', not Beelzebub's.
One is invitation. The other is warning.
The Exodus command, with its call to imitation, plays on a
hidden irony: we mimic God in order to remember we're not God. In
fact, that is a good definition of Sabbath: imitating God so that
we stop trying to be God. We mirror divine behavior only to
freshly discover our human limitations. Sabbath-keeping involves
recognition of our own weakness and smallness, that we are made
from dust, that we hold our treasure in day jars, and that
without proper care we break.
This is not true of God. He neither sleeps not slumbers. He
runs no risk of breakdown, burnout, exhaustion, injury. God
doesn't need Sabbath or sabbatical. He doesn't pine for vacation.
He doesn't require a good night's sleep to clear his head or
steady his hand. He doesn't run ragged and run amok, pushing
himself beyond his limits, patching himself together between
bursts of striving and binges of workaholism. God is not waiting
for the weekend. God is complete without rest.
But not us. For us, rest is indispensable. Indeed, all
things not God, all things made by God--goats and oaks, scarab
beetles and pine needles, dragon lizards and dragonflies - need
And maybe especially us. Because, unlike goats and beetles
and flies and lizards, we try to outwit and out run our limits.
We think were the exception, the one for whom busyness will
translate into fruitfulness. We think, because we've figured ways
to build impossibly tall, lithe buildings and dig immensely deep,
broad holes, to spy on babies in the womb, to tease out strands
of DNA, to send whole computer files from New York to Nairobi in
a split second - we think because our industry and ingenuity seem
boundless, we can also figure a way around our God - imposed need
for stillness. We can't. The need is not conjured away by
meditation, technology, discipline, cleverness, sheer
willfulness. It always comes back to take its due.
So God, knowing both our need and our folly, took the lead.
He set the example. Like a parent who coaxes a cranky toddler to
lie down for an afternoon nap by lying down beside her, God woos
us into rest by resting. "For in six days the Lord made the
heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he
rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath
day and made it holy."
God commands that we imitate him in order to discover again
that we're not him, and that we need him.
Sabbath is a return to Eden. That's Exodus.
Deuteronomy, the other twin, gives a different rationale for
keeping Sabbath. "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that
the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and
an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded
you to observe the Sabbath day."
You were once slaves. There was once a day you were denied
any choice in this matter. Rest? Work? There was no option. The
choice was made for you, day in, day out. The point was
reinforced with bullwhips, in case you missed it or were the
least inclined to ignore it. The point was, you worked. Period.
Rest was for other people. Rest was for Pharaoh. But Pharaoh
couldn't rest if you didn't work - he had such overlarge
ambitions, so many things he wanted to accomplish, so many tall,
pointy monuments he wanted to be remembered by - somebody had to
That somebody, that nobody, was you. And to make sue you did
it, and didn't ever, ever, ever slack off, he placed taskmasters
over you, to smile sinister smiles and clench their forearms into
tight braids of muscle whenever you looked even the tiniest bit
as if you might sit down a spell.
That's what life was like before.
God drowned them all. He smote them. He went to extravagant
lengths - a full-scale house of horrors, with swarms of gnats,
blood - thick waters, hailstones large and hard as fists, and, as
a show-stopper, a collapsing wall of sea - just to remove that
scourge from among you, to take you away from it and it away from
Was there something about those days for which you are
nostalgic? Is there something back there you miss? Are you lonely
tonight, mooning for all those galley masters and pit guards,
longing for the sting of their whips and their curses?
Here's the logic of the Sabbath command in Deuteronomy:
Don't revive what God has removed. Don't gather and piece
back together what God smashed and scattered. Don't place
yourself in a yoke that God broke and tossed off with his own
hands. Just as we ought not pull asunder what God has joined, so
we ought not to join what God has pulled asunder. If you loathed
life under the threats and taunts and beatings of taskmasters,
why reprise it?
Because that's what the refusal to rest amounts to: living
as though the taskmasters still hover and glower, ever ready to
thrash us for the smallest sign of slowing down. It is to strive
and toil as though we have no choice, as if we'll be punished
To refuse Sabbath is in effect to spurn the gift of freedom.
It is to resume willingly what we once cried out for God to
deliver us from. It is choosing what once we shunned.
Slaves don't rest. Slaves can't rest. Slaves, by definition,
have no freedom to rest. Rest, it turns out, is a condition of
God calls us to live in the freedom that he won for us with
his own outstretched arm.
Sabbath is a refusal to go back to Egypt. That's
There is one very large, very grim obstacle to keeping
It is the problem of taskmasters. God drowned the
taskmasters, it's true - dragged the whole Egyptian army to the
muddy, weedy sea bottom. Only, some survived: they clung to the
flotsam of our guilt and worry and ended up marooned in our
heads. It's actually worse: we helped them survive. We threw them
ropes, pulled them ashore, resuscitated the unconscious ones.
Now, there's a whole noisy, jostling colony of them still with
us, and they lapse into old habits the minute we try to rest.
They swagger and bark like men in authority - and ought to, since
we're inclined to give way.
When I try to step back from my days work, the taskmasters
in my head rise up, look at me menacingly, advance toward me.
What do you think you're doing? Uh, just taking a few minutes to
... sit down. You're taking a few minutes to sit down? How
quaint. How charming. You're taking a few minutes to sit down, as
though there's not a huge, stinking pile of things that you've
left undone. You are so weak and pathetic. I'm warning you. There
are a thousand things to do. There are a million things to worry
about. Get off your lazy, sprawling backside and get busy!
This happened just today - even though I should know better.
I lay down for no reason other than to lie down. Within a minute,
a taskmaster in my head spotted me, strode over, started his
tirade. "When are you going to clean your office? Have you phoned
the mechanic yet to have that rattle in your truck motor looked
at? What about the situation with that couple at church - when
are you going to attend to that? Do you know how many e-mails you
haven't responded to? Do you think you can just wile away an hour
here on the couch when all this hangs over you? You are so smug
so rude, so slothful. What kind of time-frittering
excuse-mongering sad sack of a sluggard are you anyhow, lolling
about as if the work's all done? You should be ashamed of
Taskmasters despise rest. They create a culture where rest
must be stolen, savoured on the sly, and of course then it's not
rest: worry over getting caught plunders rest's restfulness. Even
if they never lay a hand on you (hard to do, since they're
imaginary), they mount a ruthless psychological war, a propaganda
campaign at once cunning and artless, that defeats you more than
Maybe you, too, have a taskmaster or three living with you.
I am learning how to let them drown.......
This Sabbath book I highly recommend you obtain, and savor its
message many times. The full title is "The REST of GOD -
Restoring Your Soul by Restoring SABBATH" and again its author is
Mark Buchanan. Most Bible Book Stores will be able to obtain it