Jesus kept the seventh-day Sabbath. His followers through history did too. Learn its value for you.
[Darris McNeely] Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28 Mark 2:28Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
American King James Version×). He kept the seventh-day Sabbath, Saturday, and He taught us how to keep it today. This may surprise you. Christ taught us how to use the Sabbath to worship the Father and Him. He showed how to do good on the day while keeping it holy. And He taught how to enjoy a fuller, more successful life by keeping the Sabbath day. Far from doing away with it, Christ showed us how to live in the world of the Sabbath and improve the quality of our life.
Bible prophecy shows us that in the days before Christ’s return, His disciples will be keeping the commandments of God, including the holy Sabbath day. Will you be included in that group?
Join us on Beyond Today as we look at “The Sabbath Yesterday, Today, and in Prophecy.”
Imagine yourself opening up a Bible for the very first time. You begin to read. And as you read, you read where God says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
You also read where Christ and His disciples kept the Sabbath day. And you see that it says, Christ is the “Lord of the Sabbath.”
What do you do? Do you follow Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath?
In her book, The Sabbath World, author Judith Shulevitz makes an interesting observation. She writes: “Whenever people begin reading the Book [talking about the Bible], they start keeping the Sabbath. And when they keep the Sabbath they read the Book.”
That’s exactly what happened to a group of believers in Transylvania in the 15- and 1600s. Faced with what the Bible itself says about the Sabbath day, they realized they had no choice but to obey God by keeping the Sabbath as He commanded.
What would you do if you read in the Bible that God commands us to observe the Sabbath? Well let’s consider what happened with these people.
Life in medieval Europe was nothing like life in today’s world. Imagine this: Your life is completely and totally ruled by other people. Kings, princes, governors, and priests, all of whom dictate where you live, what you do for a living, and what you believe.
Into the darkness of your life comes a bright, burning light: the Holy Bible, translated for the first time into your own language. You start reading the Bible and you realize that much of what you’ve been taught doesn’t match up with what God says.
What do you do? What did these Christians do in Transylvania?
In their search for truth, they discovered one of traditional Christianity’s darkest secrets: that Sunday worship is a man-made—not God-made—tradition, and that the seventh-day Sabbath was kept by Jesus and His apostles. What’s more, it meant that they, too, needed to keep the Sabbath.
In large part, their story is defined by their leader. A man by the name of Andreas Eossi. Eossi was a nobleman. Very rich in real estate, he owned three whole villages, we’re told, along with other, smaller estate properties. In many ways, he was a very sad man. He had a very a sad life. You see, Eossi’s wife and all three of his sons died prematurely, leaving him wealthy but lonely. And on top of that, Eossi’s own health was poor. He couldn’t even walk.
To fill his time and to heal his mind, Eossi read the Bible. Now remember what Judith Shulevitz discovered that we mentioned a moment ago? As people read the Bible, they begin keeping the Sabbath. Eossi was no different. His studies of the Bible led him to a deep conviction that the church establishment of his day was wrong to change the Sabbath to Sunday.
Soon, Eossi led a flourishing and a growing group of Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania. At the peak of the movement, there were upwards of 20,000 Sabbatarian Christians living and teaching in the forests and mountains of Eastern Europe.
But it wasn’t all fine and peaceful for these believers. The Transylvanian Sabbath-keepers had limited protection from the Muslim-ruled Ottoman Empire to the east. But the supposedly-Christian Church authorities persecuted them for their religious beliefs. In 1595 Sabbatarianism was outlawed by the political and religious establishment.
Once their Sabbath-keeping became well known, Eossi and his followers came under intense persecution. They faced the confiscation of their property and their real estate, their writings were collected and burned. In many cases, they were put in prison and beaten for their Sabbath conviction. The persecution from both Catholic and Protestant authorities would only worsen over time.
One particularly amazing story about the persecution Sabbath-keepers faced is in the life of Andreas Fischer, a student of Andreas Eossi. Fischer was a traveling minister who visited pockets of Sabbath-keepers all over Eastern Europe. He was threatened by the religious authorities to renounce his Sabbath-keeping and other religious beliefs that didn’t fall in line with the Lutheran concept of Protestant Christianity.
At one point, he and his wife were arrested and given an ultimatum: Give up the Sabbath. Give up keeping the Sabbath or be executed. They stood firm, refusing to compromise what they learned from studying the Bible. Tragically, Fischer’s wife was executed by drowning. When Fischer’s time came, he was hung from a fortress tower and left to die. But his story didn’t end there.
No one is sure exactly what happened, whether he was rescued by friends, or whether he benefited from a faulty rope, or whether he was on the receiving end of Divine intervention.
Whatever the case, Fischer walked away from his execution, escaping custody and living to preach for over a decade afterward, following another circuit of Sabbath-keeping churches throughout Eastern Europe.
Fischer’s ultimate fate would be the same as so many other Sabbatarians. About 11 years after his attempted execution, he was again captured. And this time, he did not escape.
When the persecution came for the rest of the Sabbatarian community in the mid-1600s, it came quickly and somewhat unexpectedly. Even though Sabbath-keepers were often threatened with punishment if they did not publicly renounce their Sabbatarianism, it was rare for the authorities to follow through on their threats. When the religious establishment finally did move on the Sabbatarians, they dealt quickly, and they dealt harshly with them.
Known Sabbath-keepers were arrested, tried and sentenced to death. Very rarely, however, was anyone actually executed. Instead they were imprisoned, and promised release if they swore to never return to Sabbath-keeping ever again. Though executions almost never took place, in almost every case a Sabbath-keeper’s property and possessions were confiscated, leaving them homeless and destitute.
The once large and booming Sabbatarian communities of Eastern Europe all but disappeared after the widespread persecution. Sabbath-keepers then were forced into obscurity, hiding among pockets of other minority Christians, keeping the Sabbath in secret, always fearing they would be found out.
The story of these men and the women who kept the Saturday Sabbath in history is a fascinating one. It was a time of religious awakening.
What these people saw through the Sabbath truth, the Fourth Commandment, was a glimpse into the long-prophesied Kingdom of God. Their own writings of belief reveal this thought. As they read Christ’s teaching on the coming Kingdom, they saw the Sabbath as a sign between the Creator and His chosen people. They believed that as they kept the Sabbath, and God’s holy festivals as well, that they entered a covenant relationship with the same God who delivered the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt and made them a nation.
This leads us back to an earlier thought. As people read their Bible, they discovered the truth of the seventh day, or Saturday, Sabbath. People were reading the Bible to gain understanding about God, the purpose of human life. They were looking for meaning and purpose to their poor, bleak existence. In a dark world, the Bible was a dawning light, a day-star breaking upon a confused and deceived European culture. Some few—and these people in Eastern Europe were among them—came to see the teaching of the Sabbath and embraced its teaching as part of their life. The Sabbath began to define their relationship with God and their entire life’s work.
They saw that by keeping the commandments on which God made a covenant with these ancient peoples, they too, entered a spiritual covenant with God. This new covenant was a better covenant with better promises. It was a covenant based on grace through Jesus Christ, the same God who made the first covenant, who came to earth and died for sins, who was resurrected and lives today as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
As they kept the Sabbath, they gained understanding and hope of the coming Kingdom of God. They saw that the rest that exists for the people of God through the Sabbath was the critical key to understanding the fullness of a coming Kingdom of God. The Sabbath is the biblical key to unlocking the mystery of the coming Kingdom to earth with Jesus Christ as Lord. You cannot understand this truth without proper knowledge and understanding of the Sabbath day.
Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28 Mark 2:28Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
American King James Version×). He kept the Sabbath and He taught us how to keep it today. The Sabbath is Saturday on your calendar. Now this may surprise you. Christ taught us how to use the Sabbath to worship the Father and Him. How to do good on that day while keeping it holy, and how to enjoy a fuller life by keeping the Sabbath. Far from doing away with it, Christ showed us how to live in the world of the Sabbath and improving the quality of our life.
When one properly observes this day to God, a spiritual connection is made that is real and honest and true. It is the foundation of the only meaningful relationship that can endure and see one through the challenges and trials, highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies of this mortal life.
Doesn’t a day of rest from work and the stresses of everyday life sound good? You see God designed a day, established at creation, for you to separate from your work and to connect with Him.
When Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” (John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×) He was showing the way forward through this uncertain life.
To enter the world of the Sabbath is to enter a dimension where God dwells. Keeping the Sabbath by worshiping and fellowshipping with others of like mind is like being with God and Christ in spiritual fellowship. It is a key to the restlessness of our modern lifestyle. All of us understand the stresses and strains of this life. But not everyone understands the key to getting in sync with God for the help to cope and to manage all the extreme stresses of today’s culture. Keeping God’s Sabbath is the missing key to successful living. To enter the world of the Sabbath is to enter the world of God.
There is another point that all Sabbath keepers, past and present, learn as they read the Bible. They understand there is a continuity between the Old and the New Testament. You understand how the two tell a complete story of God’s grace and offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. You understand how to put the Bible together. You also understand prophecy and how key prophetic prophecies of old are yet to be fulfilled in the future.
So here’s the challenge. Prove God by beginning to keep His Sabbath, the seventh day. Step out in living faith and prove what the Bible says about the Sabbath to be true.
In one remarkable statement in the book of Isaiah, God says this, “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights… ” (Isaiah 58:13-14 Isaiah 58:13-14 13 If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words:
14 Then shall you delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.
American King James Version×)
God’s Kingdom is coming to this earth and Christ will rule all. The book of Daniel tells us when this occurs the Kingdom set up “will not be left to other people” (Daniel 2:44 Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
American King James Version×). Who are those who receive the Kingdom of God? The book of the Revelation says those keeping the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Will you be among them?
In a moment, we will discuss this important topic with our fellow Beyond Today hosts. But first, let’s recap what we’ve seen so far:
• We have seen that when people read the Bible only, without any bias, they can see that the Sabbath is the day God blessed and set aside for men to worship Him.
• And we have seen the deep commitment people have made to put God first in their life and to obey Him.
• And we have seen the blessing God promises by observing the Sabbath and worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.
We now continue this subject with our Beyond Today panel. I’m joined by fellow hosts, Gary Petty and Steve Myers.
This topic about the Sabbath is one we have covered in a number of different programs on Beyond Today . But when you go into the history of people and a different time and place who experienced such persecution, I think it casts a whole new dimension upon the topic especially for us in a modern world where we have so much liberty. So, it’s a powerful story to think about and to try to translate for our audience.
The one point that was brought out in the book that I quoted, people read the Bible and they begin to keep the Sabbath. What does that say about the power of this Book, the Bible?
[Steve] It’s a powerful Book when you look at what’s there. It even tells us that it pierces right down to the core of who we are. And when you begin to read it, and you recognize the application for your life, it can change everything. When we’re overwhelmed by life, you read the Book, it will give you ways to cope in this kind of world. When you’re wondering why am I here, what is life’s purpose? Read the Book! And you can begin to discover those tremendous blessings of what the meaning of life is all about and so, it really can change us and transform our life.
[Gary] I’ve known people who know a lot about this Book that can quote verses and passages, but it has no application. The power in this Book is living it. This, as you said, it’s supposed to reach into us and change our thoughts, our motivations, our actions. And the power of this Book comes from faith in God and by living by this Book. So just to read it to gather information is like reading an encyclopedia.
[Darris] But you know, come back to the power of a book for a group of people who begin to read in their own language, to me that is a fascinating thing. Let me share with you why. I researched an article for Beyond Today magazine about again, the Bible, and I was reading about the Museum of the Bible that is in Washington D.C. that was opened. And here’s an entire half a billion-dollar facility devoted to just talking about the impact and history and culture of the Bible. And people will go there, and they will learn a lot about the Bible. And I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if as part of the displays in a huge museum with technology all over the place about the Bible, that they wouldn’t also begin to talk about the true doctrines and the true teachings of the Bible and open some displays about that. And show again, something even like this story of the power of the Book to transform whole communities and villages in the backwoods of Europe during the 1500s.
[Steve] Yeah, you make such an important point, when you think about this isn’t just a book, this is the inspired Word of God.
[Steve] And so, when it talks about history, it’s accurate. When it talks about the future, it’s accurate. It has fulfilled prophecy telling us future prophesies can be counted on. When you look at what it says for your life, these things can change the way you live! And when you apply them, then you can really begin to understand like Eossi did, the impact of what God’s Word is really all about.
[Gary] And what happened with those people in the story you told there, was that in the 15- and 1600s for the very first time, the Bible was being translated into languages that the average person, many places in Europe could read. It showed up in Germany. It showed up in England and in every place where the Bible was translated into a language where people could read, the very power that the Catholic Church had over dominating people’s lives was broken. Because they begin to discover truth.
[Darris] Yes, and then as that power is broken, you see people turning back even more to read more about the Bible. On the Sabbath, and every day of the week, to learn the deeper truths. And it’s like that keeping of the Sabbath is the key to opening up deeper understanding about the truths of the Bible.
[Gary] Well you know, the Protestant Reformation, there were numerous reformers who wondered if we should keep the Sabbath. There were discussions that could not break away from what they had already learned. But, that question was asked then and Protestants need be asking that question still today.
[Darris] That’s the unfinished revolution, right?
[Gary] Yes, that’s right.
[Darris] Or reformation. So why is the Sabbath God’s answer for human restlessness?
[Steve] I think in a way, when you consider ordering your life—ordering your life according to what God’s guidance gives us is so critical. Why do you do the things that you do? Eossi read that Book and said, remember the Sabbath. Keep it holy. And he began to do it. And it gave him a whole different perspective. What is God’s purpose for me? Why should I follow these things? And of course, we don’t have the same circumstances that Eossi did, but today we’ve got all the distractions that are out here. We have got all of the busyness. We have our jobs and all the challenges that modern life brings. Well God has made us, and He knows what’s best for us. He knows that we needed time to step back from all the craziness of this world and have a rest and have a refocus. And so this spiritual guide that God gives us in the Sabbath helps reset us, focus on our Creator and what is most important. I mean, are you missing time with your family? Keep the Sabbath. You’ll have an entire day to worship and honor God and be with family. Be with friends. Be with people of like-mind and it will change your life. So this Word, this gift of the Sabbath is such a powerful gift God has given us.
[Gary] You think of some of the things those people went through, just concerning the Sabbath and how blessed we are. We can keep the seventh-day Sabbath as Christians and not be persecuted for it. And, some people have told me well, they think keeping the Sabbath would be a burden. The truth is when you live under the pressures of this life, and when Friday night comes, because the Sabbath is from Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown—that’s the biblical Sabbath. When that time comes, and you turn off all the problems and the work, and the entertainment and the electronics, and you spend time with your family. You spend time in the Bible. You spend time in prayer. You spend time just being released from all this stress. You begin to realize, keeping the Sabbath greatly affects how you spiritually keep the other six days. If you keep the Sabbath correctly, it carries through and helps you spiritually throughout the rest of the week.
[Darris] You know one thing I find amazing is we are ministers, we have kept the Sabbath many years. We have taught that and we come together with our congregations on the Sabbath day. It’s when we see the fellowship that is created on that day among people of like-mind and the care, the love, the concern that they have for one another, the affection. That to me is one of the ways, that is a tangible cure for the restlessness and for the problems that we encounter with life that we can be with people who believe the same way and who care for one another because they have a relationship with God. And on that day, you just have to experience it and see it which is why it’s important for people to not only decide to keep it, but then to gather with others of like-mind in a true fellowship on that day. That’s what’s amazing to me.
[Steve] Yeah what a difference it made for his life then. And I think there is that application that I see it, I understand it. It’s not just that I know it, but then when I begin to do it and put it into practice, that opens up a whole difference horizon I think.
[Darris] Some listening to us today, they are skeptical. They know the challenge, they maybe are skeptic about the actual teaching. But, what about those who think about the Sabbath is not a requirement today or they look at it and they realize, this is going to cost me. Is it worth that cost?
[Gary] Let’s just ask that about any of the Ten Commandments. It’s one of the Ten Commandments. Either we are to keep the Sabbath, or it’s spiritualized away as something that is in our heart every day. But the Sabbath’s natural word that means an actual day and all Christian and all Jewish scholars agree on that. The word Sabbath means an actual day. If I am going to keep, if I am going to be loyal to my spouse, not commit adultery, is that worth the price? Am I not going to steal or I am not going to lie, is that worth the price? Well most Christians would say, well yes that’s worth the price! Because you are obeying God and that makes you a better person and it determines our character. It is righteousness. So if you are going to ask that question, is it worth the price about the Sabbath, you need to be honest. I guess you need to go through all Ten and ask that question about all Ten. That’ll give you the answer.
[Steve] And it challenges us too. Who is our God? That Book says the Sabbath was made for man. We can’t erase that and pretend it’s something else. Because our Creator knows what’s good for us. He made that day—Friday night to Saturday night—for us. He made it for a spiritual purpose for us. In fact, the Book says Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is the Lord of the Sabbath. And so I think, really be honest, I have to step back and say who is my Lord? And if I claim that the Father is my Creator, Jesus Christ is my Lord and Master, I better be observing the day that He is the Lord of. It only makes sense. And so Eossi found that, true readers of the Bible who recognize this and see it for what it is, have to say, I have to follow my Creator. I have to follow my Savior’s example.
[Darris] And people will find the same thing that these people in a different time found to be true. Let me make two offers to help you understand today’s subject.
The first is a free study aid, Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest . This is our single most complete work on the Sabbath. With it, you will learn from your own Bible how the Sabbath was placed by God as part of His eternal law. And you will discover how the Sabbath is part of the very creation. You will also read the story of how powerful church leaders falsely changed worship from Saturday to Sunday for political gain. You will find this a challenging read.
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So, what’s left for you to do? Well here’s a challenge: Pick up your Bible. Start reading it from the beginning in Genesis. You don’t have to go any farther than the second chapter to find the first reference to the Sabbath—and it continues throughout the whole Bible. Notice all the places where you find God’s Sabbath mentioned. Write them down.
You will find the same truth that people for centuries have found. You will find the Sabbath is a key feature of the Word of God. And you will find the same choice that they found. To keep the Book open, and to keep reading. Or you will close the Book and continue on with life as it is. We hope you will make the change and begin to walk with God on His holy Sabbath.
Thanks for joining us. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure and tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
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