Is the Sabbath Only for Israel?
Many have asked if the Sabbath is only for the Jews but some are also asking if the Sabbath is for Israel only. The answer is that all Ten Commandments are for Israel in the Old Covenant and all Ten Commandments are for Israel still today with the New Covenant. (It would be beneficial to read is the Sabbath only for the Jews as it contains relevant information that will not be covered here)
The origin of the name Israel is from God and was first given to Jacob and has a meaning. Genesis 32:28 “And he said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
So Jacob’s new name became the name of a nation that sprang from him. The name Israel is a combination of three words The first being yiśra[h], which means “he fights” or “he rules,” and the second is from śarah, which means “to fight” or “to rule,” and the third is ’El, which means “God.” The full meaning as explained by God is “he fights with God” or “he prevails over God” or “he rules with God.” So the name was first given to Jacob and his descendants by God as symbolizing His people, which He is free to change and give it to whomever He pleases such as those who accept Him and His son.
Now the interesting fact that many have missed is that if you are not Israel then you cannot be under the New Covenant as it was only made with Israel. You may now be thinking that cannot be, but it is and this is something that the majority do not understand. Please allow me to explain.
Let's begin with scripture as this is what all truth is based on. Below is what Jeremiah the prophet wrote in respect to the New Covenant that was coming. Note that the prophets always foretell what is coming in the future and this would also include changes to God's law if there were any. Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” For instance, if God had intended on abolishing one of His Commandments such as the Sabbath, one of the Old Testament prophets would have foretold this. But scripture is silent on this matter because there was to be no change to any of God's Ten Commandment law. See also does the New Covenant abolish the Ten Commandments.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
So who did Jeremiah say the New Covenant would be made with? Observe the following to see if Jeremiah was correct, and of course we know he was as it was God who instructed him.
Hebrews 8:8-10 “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:”
So how can Gentiles be under the New Covenant unless we are Jews or Israel? We have to be Israel or we are excluded! This is what so many have missed.
Scripture of course has the answer but most miss it as the verses are short and direct and you need to be paying close attention while reading. Note in the following passage that Paul speaks of two Israels and states that not all those who are literal Israel are Israel anymore and confirms this by saying that the literal seed of Abraham is not Israel today, and then confirms it again by saying that the children of the flesh (literal Israel) are NOT the children of God. This is pretty hard to miss if you are paying attention. So if literal Israel is not Israel any more than who is? Read the passage below over a few times until it sinks in as this is crucially important for the answer.
Romans 9:6-8 “Not as though the word of God has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall your seed be called. 8 That is, they which are the children of the FLESH, these are NOT the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”
Paul states in unmistakable words that the children of the flesh (Israel by birth) are not the children of God but the children of the promise are. So who are the children of the promise now? Galatians 3:28-29 has the answer and explains this in a manner that cannot possibly be misunderstood. Romans 2:28-29 also sheds light.
Galatians 3:28-29 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
The seed of Abraham of course is where literal Israel descended from. So when did God change who is Israel today?
When the Jewish council (Sanhedrin) rejected God's message from Stephen (Acts 6:8-7:60) and stoned him, this ended the 490 years God gave Israel to end their sin and rebellion against Him. (Daniel 9:24) When Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy concluded, the following points of scripture became fact. He is not a Jew which is one outwardly, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly and so if we are Christ's then we are Abraham's seed and thus children of Israel and heirs according to the promise.
Below is the passage that has caused some to ask is the Sabbath for Israel only, and without an understanding of the previous passages one might understand why.
Exodus 31:13-17 “Speak you also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a SIGN between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the LORD that does SANCTIFY you. … 15 Six days may work be done; but in the Seventh is the Sabbath of rest, Holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a PERPETUAL covenant. 17 It is a SIGN between me and the children of Israel FOR EVER: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the Seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”
It is very important to note that the words “perpetual” and “forever” in the Hebrew mean precisely what they say. The word “perpetual” in Hebrew here means it literally “never ends” or literally “goes forever.” So is the Bible wrong? If it is only for Israel than how can it be literally “never ending” and “forever?”
Anti Sabbatarians came against this truth by claiming that the true meaning of the Hebrew word for “perpetual” and “forever” in Exodus 31:13-17 (H5769 ‛ôlâm) does not actually mean forever and so claim this Sabbath Covenant is not forever. To expose this lie keeping it simple, here are some other verses where this Hebrew word has been translated to the words “forever” and “everlasting.” The word in bold is the same Hebrew word that is used for “perpetual” and “forever” in Exodus 31:13-17. Do those who eat from the tree of life live forever? If this Hebrews word does not mean “forever” then nobody lives forever in heaven either! Genesis 3:22. And what about the everlasting Covenant from God where he promised not to flood the whole earth again. Is God going to flood the earth again or is His promise good and this Covenant everlasting also? Genesis 9:16. And to really make the point, is God everlasting or does God come to an end? Genesis 21:33. And what about God's mercy and righteousness? Do they last forever or does God run out of mercy and righteousness? Psalms 103:17, Psalms 119:142. Does God's kingdom last forever or does that end and there will no eternal life either? Psalms 145:13. And what about God's word? Is His promise good forever? Isaiah 40:8. I believe the point has been made and the lie exposed. This Sabbath Covenant is as everlasting as God is.
As you have no doubt already realized, the promise made to Abraham now goes to anyone that belongs to Christ and not to literal Israel anymore! If you belong to Christ then you are Israel and this is why the New Covenant does apply to those who do and also why this perpetual (never ending) covenant goes forever and ever and applies to anyone who belongs to Christ. This is also further confirmation that the Sabbath is to last forever as will every one of the Ten Commandments.
The Mosaic Law which contained all the sacrifices was only for the Jews as Christ ended this law at the cross before the Gospel went to the Gentiles. The Ten Commandments, on the other hand, are to last as long as Heaven and Earth. Please read the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law for an understanding of these two laws.