Friday, March 4, 2011

Question From Reader:

Why do Jehovah Witnesses not keep the Sabbath Day?

Hello Timothy,
Before we conclude that a people keep, or do not keep an observance; we need to understand what the details of an observance are.

We might also say that Christians do not keep (observe) the Passover. Yet, if we perceive the meaning of the Passover; we would realize that Christians keep it in the fullest sense.


The central meaning of the Passover was only a foreshadowing of the reality to come. The Passover lamb, became Christ (1Cor.5:7).

The firstborn sons of captive Israel in Egypt, that were saved by the victim's blood, are fulfilled in the first-fruits (firstborn) of Christ (Hebrews 11:28; Hebrews 12:23; James 1:18; Rev.14:4; 20:6; Rom.8:23; 2Thess.2:13).

Christ's blood saves these Chosen "firstfruits" from their sins, enabling their heavenly resurrection from the dead (Rev.5:9,10; 20:6; Eph.2:6; Col.3:1; Rev.12:5; 2:26,27). 

Therefore, though these firstborn ones from the dead (through the first resurrection -Rev. 20:6) do not observe the elementary form of the Passover (Rom.3:20; 6:14; Heb.8:6,7,13; 7:19,22,25; Gal.2:21; 3:21), they do indeed participate in, and fulfill it's purpose of salvation, in the fullest sense (Heb.10:1; 8:5; John1:17).

Just as Christ fulfilled what was foreshadowed in the Passover; He also fulfilled what was foreshadowed in the Sabbath (Col.2:16,17; 2Cor.1:20).
Just as those in the NEW Covenant participate and fulfill the purpose of the Passover, they do also, the Sabbath.

As Jesus was the Passover Lamb of God who saved the 144,000; so too he is the *"Lord" of the Sabbath* (Matt.12:8), to these "lords" of "God's rest"...

(Rev.19:16) "And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords."

(Hebrews 4:8,9) "For if Joshua had led them into a place of rest, [God] would not afterward have spoken of another day. So there remains a Sabbath resting for the people of God".

(Hebrews 4:3) "For we who have exercised faith do enter into the rest"
(Eph.2:7,8; 1Pet.1:5,4)

(Hebrews 3:18-19) "But to whom did he swear that they should not enter into his rest except to those who acted disobediently? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of lack of faith."

Clearly, the scriptures indicate a meaning for God's Sabbath, greater than it's observance under Law.

Following are some thoughts and scriptures for you to consider, that will shed light on this reality....just as the Passover's meaning was fulfilled in Christ and his brothers; so too, the Sabbath.

The Law's Sabbath was instituted, to serve the physical and educational needs of man. It was not instituted for men to obey and serve (see Mark 2:27,28). The true observance of the meaning of the Sabbath, comes through faith and obedience to Christ. This includes the disowning of ourselves, and desisting from "dead works" of futility. (see Hebrews 4:3,9,10,11; 6:1; 9:14; Ex.20:10; 1Pet.4:3,2)

The inheritance and fulfillment of God's purpose for mankind, does not come through the physical aspect of the Law; but comes through the Abrahamic promise, and Christ's blood. (see Romans 3:17-21; 4:13,14,15;5:13,20,21; 6:14)

Observing the literal Sabbath day, does not declare us righteous. Deeds based upon faith in the forgiving power of Christ's blood, does. (see Romans 3:20,22,26) (2Cor.3:3-4)

The Law was to teach us about what was to come. In Christ, the Law is fulfilled, and all promises took place. (see Matt. 5:17,18; scriptures in opening paragraphs). Christ did not remove the law, but built upon it... bringing his disciples into a greater spiritual maturity, and freedom from sin (Matt.5:17-48) (Eph.4:13; 1Cor.14:20).
That can be illustrated in the process of education which a child engages. When he has advanced to a higher grade, he is no longer in an earlier grade (Eph.2:15)... Yet he has not discarded the knowledge which he previously, learned. That previous knowledge, is built upon.

The Law taught us moral lessons (Matt.7:12). 
Christ takes us into moral perfection, in God's commands (Matt.5:48; James 1:25) (Matt.5:17; John13:34; Gal.5:14; Rom.13:10).

According to scripture, the Law culminates and climaxes, with the arrival of John the Baptist. (see Matt.11:13) Since John, the focus advanced past the Law, and turned to fulfilling and working toward the Kingdom promises (the true and full meaning, of Sabbath), through Christ (see Matt.11:12; Luke 16:16,17)

With Christ, the Law and its' requirements, were realized (see Romans 10:4) Those who got the sense of the purpose of the Law, moved on from those elementary things. (see Gal.4:9,10)
(1Cor.7:19; Gal.5:6; 6:15; Rom.2:26,28-29; Heb.10:16; Col.2:11; Phil.3:3)

Paul recommended that the Jews becoming Christians, should move on from the Law (see Gal.3:24,25). Though a prominent Jew in the past, Paul no longer considered himself under the elementary aspects of the Law (see 1Cor.9:20) which was a tutor, leading to Christ" (Gal.3:24).

The New Covenant, replaces the Old Covenant (see Hebrews 10:1,9,10) because by means of it, nothing could be made perfect.

True hope, perfection, and intimacy with God comes through Christ (see Hebrews 7:18,19).

Jesus himself set the example of moving away from the old Sabbath, into the true fulfillment of its meaning. (consider John 9:14,15,16*; Luke 6:5,6,7,8,9)

Jesus himself was Master of the true Sabbath, fulfilling its meaning (see Matt.12:5,6,7,8). 

Jesus showed that God preferred the Law of the of mercy and love; not one of edict (Hosea 6:6; Matt.9:13). 

The "priests" and "kings" who share rule with Christ, are "guiltless", even if they treat the literal Sabbath as not sacred (Matt. 12:5).


Because they belong to the "Lord of the Sabbath" (Matt.12:8; Rev.19:16). In Jesus fulfilling the Sabbath, he is made above and over it. His teachings and ransom crystalized the central meaning and value of the entire Law, which is to love God and neighbor (see Matt.22:40) and to do the present will and work of God.

God entered His Sabbath rest, when He saw that His creative works were finished and were all good (Gen.1:31; 2:1,2). That "rest" all changed, when His creation fell into sin (Gen.3:13,15,16,21,23). 

God then needed to go back to work to restore His creation, and make it "new"
(John5:17; 2Cor.5:1; 1Cor.3:6,9; Eph.2:20,21,22; 3:1,2; 4:12; 2Cor.4:7; 6:1; Phil.1:6; Eph.4:12; Rom.16:20; 1Pet.1:23; 5:10). 
(John6:38; 10:25,37; 1Cor.15:24; John15:1; 17:4; 4:34; 5:36)    
(2Cor.5:17; Gal.6:15; Rev.21:1,5)
He makes provision to save those who would love Him (and do his will and his work), providing these ones, freedom from sin and death (1John2:17; Rom.8:19,20,21) in the Sabbath of God, which will last forever (Matt.11:28-29; Rev.14:13; Acts 2:26; Rev.6:11; Rom.2:17; Heb.4:1,9-11).

I suggest that you study Galatians 2:15,16,17,18,19; 3:12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25; 4:9, 10. The reasoning used here toward Jews who were prone to continue the Law, including "observing days and months and seasons". Perhaps the reasoning there will answer your question.
So, why do ***"Jehovah's Witnesses" not keep the Sabbath? 

Genuine Christians have no need to observe the literal Law, which was a tutor leading to Christ (Gal.3:24). The reality of these promises are fulfilled by Christ and those in the New Covenant (Mt 5:17; 2Co 3:14; Col 2:13,14). The reality of the Passover is the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29; Rev.14:1). The reality of the Sabbath is the Kingdom, over which is Christ it's King, the "Lord of the Sabbath" Matt.12:8; Rev.19:16).

*** Yet I will tell you, that I do not believe "Jehovah's Witnesses" to be the people to which the true Sabbath and Passover applies.

I think it is safe to assume that you harbor a common misconception. In order to answer this question fully, that misconception must be addressed.
To learn about this,
please consider: