THE EARTHLY INHERITANCE SERIES of BIBLE SUBJECTS
Various Bible study guides in subjects pertaining to
New Earth prophecy, as taught by Paul Phelps.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD,
they shall inherit the earth. Psalm 37:9
THE ORIGINAL HEBREW SABBATH
Bible quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version
except for my own translations or as otherwise indicated.
The original seven-day week and sabbath system is
one of the Hebrew calendar’s most forgotten secrets.
A Bible study project by Paul Phelps.
After several years of study this writing was completed in 2000.
The word sabbath is from the Hebrew word SHABÀT, meaning ‘cessation,’ or
‘time of rest.’ In the beginning God worked, but he also rested. Work and rest
are both in God’s plan, and both are in nature. God finishes all that he starts.
His created works were finished. Genesis 2:1,
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.
God’s work has no accidents. God planned his creative work to be finished
in six days. His rest time likewise is not accidental but is planned. Gen. 2:2-3,
And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done,
and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.
So God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it, because on it
God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
The Bible allows commemorative sabbaths (rest days) for various occasions.
All main feast days are sabbaths (rest days) and are dated from the new moon.
The word sabbath is used Biblically in more than one way: as a memorial day,
as a main feast day, or as the seventh day following a six-day work span.
The Bible frequently mentions the seventh day sabbath. This day is important
for it is one of ten covenant laws commanded by Moses to the people of Israel.
Deut. 5:1-21; Ex. 20:1-17 (vv 8-11 quoted),
Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.
For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day
is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—
you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave,
your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day;
therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
God did not at first speak this law for all people, else he would have told it to
Noah as part of his covenant for the whole world (Gen. 8:21-22—9:1-17), but the
law of sabbath will become law for the whole world in the Messianic New Earth.
The Sabbath will be observed by all peoples.
And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
and hold fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt-offerings
and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
The Messianic kingdom will bring the earth in line with God’s law. Sabbaths
will be observed in the New Earth (Ezekiel 44:24). Isaiah 66:22-23,
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make,
shall remain before me, says the LORD,
so shall your descendants and your name remain.
From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD.
v 1, Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east
shall remain closed on the six working days; but on the sabbath day
it shall be opened and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened.
v 3, The people of the land shall bow down at the entrance of that gate
before the LORD on the sabbaths and on the new moons.
The Bible links new moon observance with seventh day sabbath observance
in agrarian communities. New moons are sabbaths (rest days) and work should
cease, as in any seventh day sabbath. Amos 8:5,
... saying, When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale?
In the Bible, new moons are the beginnings of months and have reference to
calendar time keeping. Months are critical time dividers in agrarian societies.
The first day of every month is set apart as a sabbath and there is no work.
The first day of a month is a sanctification. But six days of work with a following
seventh day of rest is a commemoration of God’s finished creation work. This
reminds us that all things are God’s creations and He wants us to keep sabbath
in a manner pleasing to Him. Isaiah 58:13-14,
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own
interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight, and the holy
day of the LORD honourable; if you honour it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;
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 your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
When God renews his covenant for earth he will again require seventh day
sabbath keeping. In Israel’s first covenant under Moses, Sabbath keeping was
taken as a sign of covenant relation to God. Ezekiel 20:19-20,
I the LORD am your God; follow my statutes,
and be careful to observe my ordinances,
and hallow my sabbaths that they may be a sign between me and you,
so that you may know that I the LORD am your God.
The Hebrew calendar law is given in Genesis 1:14-15,
And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky
to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and
for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the
dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.
(Heb. OTÒT, ‘signs’) (Heb. MOA’DÌM, ‘fixed seasons, appointed times’)
The only correct basis of time division is the three celestial light sources: the
stars, sun and moon. Stars define the year cycle from the sun’s position among
the stars as seen from earth. The sun defines a day cycle, called the solar day.
The sun also divides the day into light and dark times—daytime and nighttime.
The sun determines agricultural seasons of seedtime and harvest but these are
not fixed, because seasons are relative to latitude. The day length is relative to
the earth’s rotational speed.
The moon determines the month cycle. Unlike other calendars, the Hebrew
calendar preserves months unaltered, usually going in a sequence of 30 days,
29 days, 30 days, from new moon to new moon (just over 291/2 days). There are
twelve months (moon cycles) in a year, and there are also 107/8 additional days.
The Hebrew calendar deals with this complexity by adding a thirteenth month
when needed. Twelve-month years have 354 or 355 days, thirteen-month years
have 384 days. We shall explain how the moon schedules the six working days
and seventh day sabbath in the context of agrarian communities.
The signs of sky gazing in Genesis 1:14 are lunar phases. These signs are not
Zodiac signs (the Bible mentions MAZARÒT Zodiac sky signs only in Job 38:32).
The moon is unlike the sun or stars because it has phases, which serve as signs
for earth. As the moon orbits earth, the moon phases are visual indicators of its
position in orbit. Each month has four moon phases with approximately seven
days in each phase. In the ancient past moon phases were taken as seven-day
time markers. In this way seven-day time units could be linked to the months,
but the first day of the months (a new moon) is not counted. The next day starts
the count of four successive seven-day time units. Jews count the days starting
at sundown when moon phases are best seen. Israel had this system until their
captivity to Assyria and Babylon.
Moses' Law does not attach the Sabbath to any year calendar nor does he say
it is an unbroken cycle. He simply says in effect— ‘If you ever work so much as
six days continuously you must rest the following day.’ A seventh-day sabbath
was intended to follow six working days. If a person does not need to work, he
may decide to rest continuously on his own account, but then there is no longer
a real reason to keep Sabbath; God's six working days are not being observed.
(The Book of Proverbs counsels everyone to keep busy in some useful work.)
In any collective or agrarian society there should be common agreement for
Sabbath observance, because then the Sabbath is not individual but collective.
Some Jewish Rabbis accept that seventh-day sabbaths were timed according to
moon phases in former times and that New Moons are special days not counted
as part of any week. This idea is further explained by various Bible teachers at
http://www.lunarsabbath.com/ Babylon’s calendar had a seven-day unbroken
cycle (the week cycle) and when Jews returned from Babylon they brought this
system back with them; so we are saddled with this concept until now.
Based on Genesis 1:14 the moon phase system is reasonable for any agrarian
or collective community. But the primary law that governs Sabbath keeping is
Moses Law: a seventh-day rest can only be after six working days. If we can
identify the meaning of seventh-day sabbaths in this way, Sabbath keeping in
modern settings can be directly applied to any individual’s own timing system,
(no more tied to traditional calendars).
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