It’s early on a Saturday morning. Your neighbor walks out of his house, neatly dressed, family following suit, carrying their Bibles. You see them drive away and wonder to yourself:
- Why do some Christians go to church on Saturday?
- Do Adventists share common beliefs with the Jewish faith?
- What is the meaning of the Sabbath and why should I keep it?
These are great questions!
It may seem like Adventists and Jews have a lot in common when it comes to observance of the seventh day Sabbath. But as you’ll learn today, the meaning and practice of Sabbath differs between Jews and Adventists in several ways. You’ll also discover a few key theological differences between Adventists and Jews.
Understanding why Seventh Day Adventist Christians keep the Sabbath will help you understand the Biblical reasons for keeping the fourth commandment in your own home. You’ll also feel more confident in your decision to keep the Sabbath day holy.
Why was the Sabbath Made?
The Sabbath was given to human beings at the very beginning of time. God created the Sabbath on the seventh day of creation when He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.
“So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:2,3
God saw all He had made and declared it good. When He finished His work of creation, God set aside a day to spend together with you.
The Sabbath was given to us as a gift from our Father in Heaven. It’s a day when we find respite from this world and stay connected to Him.
“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
In the book of Exodus, we read God led the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness. The Jewish people had been oppressed with much affliction in the land of Egypt. They spent generations under the rule of Pharoah and the bondage of slavery.
Moses was given the ten commandments on top of Mount Sinai. God wrote the laws with His own finger on two tablets of stone. The fourth commandment is about keeping the Sabbath.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
The Sabbath commandment reminds us the seventh day was set aside and made holy at the time of creation. It’s the only commandment that deals with time.
God asks us to give Him our time one day a week to celebrate the Sabbath – a day He made holy and sacred. And by doing so, we acknowledge His sovereignty over our lives.
It’s by faith we keep the Sabbath. Unwavering faith is about more than doctrine or rules for conduct. Your faith is what sets you apart from the rest of the world. It’s a way of life!
Faith gives meaning and purpose to life because without God nothing would exist.
Jews and Adventists believe the Sabbath is a memorial of creation. Each week, both Jews and Adventists are reminded that God is the Creator and worthy of our worship.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” Psalm 95:6
In both Judaism and Adventism, the Sabbath is the high point of the week. It’s the day in which all other days revolve. The ritual of the weekly Sabbath brings renewal to the heart and mind as well as the body.
To think the Sabbath is only about physical rest implies that if we are not tired there is no need to keep the Sabbath. Observing the Sabbath is about so much more than simply resting.
Why is the 7th-day Sabbath observed in Judaism today?
Sabbath observance is very important to the Hebrew community. The rituals around the Jewish Sabbath have a great deal of meaning to the Jewish family.
We are commanded to remember Shabbat; but remembering means much more than merely not forgetting to observe Shabbat. It also means to remember the significance of Shabbat, both as a commemoration of creation and as a commemoration of our freedom from slavery in Egypt.Tracy Rich, Judaism 101 1
The Sabbath is not only a memorial of creation. It’s a reminder to the Jews of how God freed them from the bondage of slavery and offered them rest. They remember the Exodus and God’s faithful provision every Sabbath.2
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath.” Deuteronomy 5:15
The Jewish people have observed the Sabbath each week on the seventh day since the days of Moses.
After the Exodus, God provided bread from Heaven for the Israelites to eat. On the Sabbath, the Jewish people remember what God did for them in the wilderness. They remember the faithfulness of God.
It is in the Exodus that the Jewish people experienced God up close and personal. He dwelt with them in the wilderness. He desired to be close to His people and share a personal relationship with them, just as He does today.
The Jewish people spent many years in the wilderness. They witnessed God working in such a profound way there was no doubt in their hearts and minds that He was their God. They began faithfully keeping the Sabbath in the wilderness.
Today the Jewish people are reminded of these words of Moses each week:
“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna… that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3
The ten commandments are a vital part of Judaism. And the fourth commandment is central to their faith.
Why is the 7th-day Sabbath observed in Adventism today?
Adventists practice keeping the Biblical Sabbath on the seventh day of each week. This practice shares some similarities with Jewish believers. But as you’ll see, their reasons for keeping the Sabbath are different.
Why would a Christian denomination worship on the Jewish Sabbath? Especially when most modern Christianity worships on Sunday? Let’s find out.
As we established above, the Sabbath was given at the time of creation. And the Sabbath was made for man3 – not man for the Sabbath!
The Bible doesn’t say the Sabbath was made only for the Jews – it says the Sabbath was made for all mankind!
God set aside the seventh day in the beginning and He never changed the day of worship. God’s Word tells us that the seventh day is the Sabbath.
“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation.” Leviticus 23:3
The Bible also tells us that the Word (Scripture) was God:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
And the Bible tells us God never changes.
“For I the LORD do not change.” Malachi 3:6
Not only was the Sabbath made for all mankind. God created the Sabbath to be celebrated for all time.
In fact, all of creation will come together to worship on Sabbath in heaven!
“From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD.” Isaiah 66:23
For Adventists, the Sabbath is a perpetual sign of the everlasting covenant between God and His people. We worship God because He is our Creator and He alone is worthy of our worship.
On Sabbath we come before Him to worship and acknowledge His sanctifying power in our lives. We recognize He is our Lord. In keeping the Biblical Sabbath we worship in obedience to His commandment. Jesus said:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
You see, remembering the Sabbath and keeping God’s law (the ten commandments) isn’t about earning your salvation. It’s an outpouring of love. We keep the Sabbath because He asked us to – not because we have to.
There is nothing you can do on your own to earn salvation. Nothing at all. Your salvation is solely dependent on Christ’s death on the cross and your faith in Him. All you need to do is believe.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
When you’ve given your heart to Jesus, you want to follow Him. As Bible believing, evangelical Christians, Adventists seek to be obedient to His Word.
“Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23
Jesus is our only hope for salvation! We are all sinners in need of a Savior.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
The ten commandments point out what it means to sin. Through the words of the decalogue, God shows us how to be obedient. Sin is a transgression of the law.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20 NKJV
The law can never justify you before God – only the blood of Christ can do that. Everyone will one day stand before the judgement seat of Christ.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 5:10
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:7
Adventists keep the Sabbath in faithful obedience out of love for Jesus. Remember His words:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
Like the Jews, Adventists trust God to provide for their needs when they keep the Sabbath.
Observing the Sabbath on a different day of the week from the majority of Christian denominations has its own set of challenges. Because Adventists follow Biblical guidelines on how to keep the Sabbath holy, they must trust God to provide for their needs.
The good news is God is faithful when we trust Him. Keeping the Sabbath is not to be a burden but a delight! God promises to bless you when you trust Him in your Sabbath keeping.
“”If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath, from doing whatever you want on my holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy day of the LORD honorable… I will make you ride over the heights of the land, and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 58:13,14 CSB
The Sabbath is a blessing to all who choose to honor it. God is our provider.
In the book of Genesis there’s a wonderful story about provision. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Issac. Abraham believed in faith that God would provide. And in fact, God provided a sacrificial lamb to take the place of Abraham’s son on the altar.
God loves us so much that He provides for His people – even when the cost is great.
God provided a lamb for a burnt offering in place of Issac. And He sent His own son, the Lamb of God, to take your place as well so that you may live with Him for eternity.
“Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:8
“And he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!'” John 1:36
When we obey God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath in faith, He will provide for our physical needs. God is not only our Creator – He is our Provider, Jehovah Jireh.
While we desire to be obedient to God’s commandments, we keep the Sabbath because of our love for Him. Remember, there is nothing you can do to earn your salvation. We are saved through grace by faith – not by works!
Celebrating the Sabbath as Adventists or Jewish Believers
Traditions that surround the holy day allow Sabbath keepers to experience the sacredness of the Sabbath in a more meaningful way.
In both Jewish and Adventist homes, the Sabbath is a special day. It’s a day the whole family looks forward to! The Sabbath is the pinnacle of the week – the day every other day revolves around. It’s a day that is anticipated with gladness as each one prepares to welcome the Sabbath on Friday evening.
Sabbath keepers are always anticipating the Sabbath. As each day of the week passes and the Sabbath looms near, you feel it’s closeness. And as the sun rises on Friday you acknowledge it’s time to prepare.
As the sun slips over the horizon on Friday evening, a feeling of peace slips over your soul. It’s Sabbath.
Preparing for Sabbath
In both Jewish and Adventist homes the Sabbath is a day anticipated above all the rest. The preparation for the Sabbath is what makes the day extra special. As Friday evening approaches, you’ll find Sabbath keepers making final preparations all over the world.
Think about it. You would give time and thought to preparing for a wedding or other special event. The Sabbath is made much more special when you give your attention to making the Sabbath meaningful.
For families with busy schedules, Sabbath preparation may begin early in the week. Regardless of when the preparation begins, by Friday everyone in the household knows it’s time to prepare because Sabbath is coming!
Both Jews and Adventist Christians prepare for the Sabbath ahead of time. Everything they need to have done is complete before the sun sets on Friday evening.
Welcoming the Sabbath
Welcoming the Sabbath in Jewish homes is usually observed by the lighting of candles. The woman of the household will light the candles just before the sun sets. She will then cover her eyes and speak a blessing.
If there are any children in the household, they will be blessed. Then the wine and food will be blessed.
After that, the challah bread will be uncovered often by the head of the household. Challah bread is a braided bread Jewish families traditionally eat on the Sabbath. The family will then enjoy the Sabbath evening meal together.
In Adventist homes, Sabbath is also welcomed with sweet anticipation. Often the family will set a pretty table and prepare a special but perhaps, simple meal.
The Sabbath meal is frequently followed by family worship or Friday night vespers. The worship time is usually begun with singing and includes a devotion time and prayer time.
The Sabbath Greeting
If you were visiting a Jewish family for Sabbath you would likely be greeted with a special greeting. They will often say, “Gut Shabbos,” which is Yiddish for “Have a good Sabbath.” Or you may hear them say, “Shabbat Shalom” which means they wish you peace on the Sabbath.
Just like Jews greet each other with a smile and kind words, Adventists also like to greet each other on Sabbath. They will greet each other and say, “Happy Sabbath!”
Both Adventists and Jewish believers will attend corporate worship services on Sabbath morning. Jews attend services at their local synagogue. Adventists attend services at their local Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In the Jewish synagogue the congregation often participates in the Torah Study. That’s then followed by a sermon or other short teaching from the Rabbi4.
In the Adventist church you’ll find Sabbath School classes for different age groups. Sabbath School is followed by a sermon from the pastor in the sanctuary.
What are the key differences between Adventism and Judaism?
There are some beliefs Adventists and Jews share in common. For instance, keeping the seventh day Sabbath from sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night.
Adventists do not believe the law of Moses (the Torah) has been done away with. They uphold the ten commandments and respect the dietary laws found in the Old Testament.
There are, however, some key differences between the two religious groups.5
Different Religions & Views on the Messiah
First of all, Adventism and Judaism are two different religions. Both worship the same God of Abraham. But Adventists are Christians and believe Jesus Christ, the son of God, was the Messiah.
The Jewish people are still looking for the Messiah to return and do not believe Jesus was the Messiah. They believe in the coming of the Messiah at the end of time, when God establishes peace and redeems the world.6
Different Understandings of the Torah
One of Adventists’ fundamental beliefs concerns the Law of God given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Adventists believe all ten of God’s commandments are still valid today.7
The Jews also keep all ten of God’s commandments. And they submit themselves to the oral 613 laws or the Torah be al pe.5
Different Views on What Happens When You Die
Jews believe in the immortality of the soul and that your soul will go to paradise or hell when you die. Some Jews believe in reincarnation.
Adventists believe in the Biblical view of the unconscious state of the dead. They believe that when you die you await the second coming of Christ. When Christ returns those who have died in Christ will be resurrected.
Different Feast Days and Liturgy
Adventists and Jews have different traditional ceremonies and liturgy. Liturgy is the way in which public religious worship services are conducted.
Jewish people celebrate numerous festivals. Some of these include Pessah, Shavuoth, Rosh Ha-shanah, Kippur, Purim, and more. The Jewish life cycle is marked by two important ceremonies:
- Circumcision which symbolizes the covenant between God and Israel
- Bar mitzvah, for thirteen year old males and symbolizes the commitment of the adult man to devote himself to the obedience of God’s commandments
Jews follow the liturgy transmitted through the ages and pray in traditional Hebrew prayers.
The Adventist life cycle is also marked by two important ceremonies:
- Baptism, which symbolizes Christ’s death and resurrection, become a new creation in Christ and a public commitment to follow Jesus
- Adventists celebrate the Lord’s Supper which is reminiscent of the Jewish Feast of Passover. The Lord’s Supper brings to mind Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.
Adventist liturgy is similar to most Protestant churches. Personal prayers are often said aloud during the worship service at appropriate times.
Different Interpretation of the Levitical Dietary Laws
Jews never mix dairy products with meat and do not eat meat with its blood. Animals are slaughtered in a special way to keep the blood out of the meat. Jewsish people do not eat unclean meat. They eat a Kosher diet.
Adventists also believe you should not eat unclean meats found in the Bible such as pork or shellfish. Beyond that, Adventists promote vegetarianism as a healthier way to live. They believe a plant based diet promotes health and healing for all people.
Different Beliefs in the Day of Judgement
Adventists believe according to Bible prophecy that judgement happens during the final days of earth’s history. The judgement began in 1844 (known as the Investigative Judgement) and ends with Jesus’ second coming.
Jews believe you are judged at the time of your death which contradicts their other belief of final judgement and resurrection.
Different Understandings of Redemption
The Adventist church believes redemption comes only through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and was resurrected. Salvation cannot be earned through works but is a gift from God. Redemption comes by faith through grace.
Jewish people believe they find redemption for themselves through the act of mitzvoth and prayers. It’s interesting to note that Jews understand their religion to be a set of deeds they perform which they then derive their theological beliefs. This belief is based on Exodus 24:7.
Different Views on the Sabbath
Adventists love and enjoy the Sabbath in much the same way that Jews love and enjoy the Sabbath. However, they may view the Sabbath differently.
For Adventist Christians the Sabbath is a day to worship God. They enjoy time with family. Many families will participate in missionary activities of spreading the Good News.
A Jewish person is perhaps more in tune with the beauty and spirit of the Sabbath day. The day is full of celebration and sacred rituals. They enjoy time spent with their families as well.
While Adventism and Judaism have similarities in their beliefs there are key differences in why and how they hold these beliefs.
You can learn more about Adventist beliefs by reading the Fundamental 28 Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.