Yeshua’s disciples plucked grain on the Sabbath passing through fields and were accused of violating God’s commandment (Mat 12:2). But Jesus defended them and explained why they were not guilty (Mat 12:7). Something greater than the Sabbath, and even the Jerusalem Temple, had arrived.

What can be more important than the Sabbath? In first-century Jewish thinking, Sabbath laws could be set aside for certain reasons. For example, because of danger to someone’s life, a need to perform circumcision, or any duty in the Temple. Indeed, Temple sacrifices always took precedence over Shabbat prohibitions. To everyone’s amazement, Jesus explained, “something greater than the Temple is here” (Matt 12:6).

Before rushing to the familiar notion that it is Jesus himself who is greater than the Temple, notice that Yeshua did not say “someone,” but rather “something greater” (μεῖζόν; meizon). That is, he was not speaking about a person; he did not speak of himself in the neuter! Immediately after Jesus says that “something greater than the Temple is here,” he quotes Hosea 6:6: “God desires compassion more than sacrifice” to help his hearers connect the dots. The word translated as “compassion” (ἔλεος; helios) is neuter in Greek. This “something greater” is “God’s favor” — the kind of divine grace that is often translated “loving kindness” (חֶסֶד; chesed). It is God’s favor — his chesed — that is even greater than the Temple.

As Jesus’ disciples walked through the grain fields on the Sabbath they were hungry, and despite the fact that it was a day of rest, Jesus offered his hungry disciples chesed — the compassion and the grace that allowed them to satisfy their hunger. This kind of loving kindness will always be more central than the Sabbath or the Temple in people’s relationship with their heavenly Father.

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56 COMMENTS

    • Dear Mike, I think the answer is obvious considering how you put the question. How can it not exist if we are discussing it? People can pick and choose what they do and how they live. That’s freedom. By the way, you know that Yeshua’s words in the gospels are not directed to non-Jews. “Christians” did not follow him all over Israel… Whether the NT specifically obligates non-Jewish Christians to keep the Sabbath is another question. But that is not the topic of my article. 🙂

    • Yes! There is no evidence in scripture that the sabbath was abolished. Scripturally and historically increasing evidence shows that the Beast has changed Yahweh’s times and laws. See Daniel 7:23-25. The book of Maccabees (which isn’t in our present version of the Bible) does show how Israelite oppressors made obsolete the sabbath and other portions of Yahweh’s law. The sabbath was set apart from the beginning even before Israelites existed. We should follow Yahweh’s example, as believers of Y’shua.

      • Janice, the Sabbath exists but it no longer needs to be the seventh day (Saturday). Jesus declared that he was our Sabbath rest; even in his death, Jesus rested from his work on Friday and his body rested over the Sabbath. His resurrection on the following day established the “new day” and new era, which brings peace to all who believe. That is why Sunday is regarded as the “Lord’s Day” and a reminder that our day of worship is one that proclaims our risen and ascended Lord.

        • The sabbath day was made holy from the beginning of time.

          Based on your response you are saying that according to Daniel 7:23-25 the beast is Y’shua (Jesus) who changed the times and law. “And he shall speak words against the Most High [God] and shall wear out the saints of the Most High and think to change the time [of sacred feasts and holy days] and the law; and the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, two times, and half a time [three and one-half years]. [Rev. 13:1-6.]” Daniel‬ ‭7:25‬ ‭AMPC

  1. One should also take into consideration that Yeshua was heralding the arrival of a new and better covenant, wherein God would place the temple of His Spirit within the follower of Messiah ( a temple not made by human hands(; wherein the laws would be written on their hearts of flesh and not one of stone. [1 Corinthians 6;19-20]

  2. Praise our Father in the Outer Space, thank you, Father for your loving kindness and mercy. Thank you for helping us obey your Torah that comes out of your mouth. Blessed be Your Name!

  3. I am most intrigue by your article which raises our interpretation of the scripture to higher dimension. I have always studied the particular scripture, wondering if it should have been “someone” rather than “something” . . . Is here. You made that utterly clear. However, I found your response to the question on today’s relevance of the Sabbath evasive even though, rightly, was not related to your article. I posit that the relevance of the Sabbath today depends on your belief as a Jew as oppose to a Christian. And it will be so until Christ returns. Great work.

  4. I feel it was the refining of the law to love to perfect Gods law he was talking about, as Yashua said ” I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfil it.

  5. Mike, Take a good look at a few Scripture passages; The Sabbath was made “for” man. Mark 2:27 “All” things came into being ( or were made ) by Him ( Christ ). John 1:3 There “remains” therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Hebrews 4:9. Kefa ( Peter ) wrote to Gentile Christians, “…..but “now” you are the people of God;…..” 2 Peter 2:10 Since the Sabbath is so much associated with Christ and the finished creation of the world and also His finished work of sacrificial redemption, why wouldn’t any knowledgeable Christian observe the Sabbath?

  6. Prof. Pinchas, Your article was very interesting. Whether it was due to limitation of space, or you planned to expand on it later, you left out the extent of God’s grace in relation to worship in the Jewish Temple. Yeshua said, “…..an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, “nor in Jerusalem”, shall you worship the Father……But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. Worship of God is no longer limited to one place, the Temple Mount.

    • Of course, that is another great text on the temple, James. But I generally follow a strict rule it Scripture interpretation… I stick to the specific context and do not blend texts which are not connected naturally. I love that passage in John, but it addresses an entirely different matter with an entirely different audience – the Samaritans. Yeshua would not have put it like this to Pharisees from Jerusalem. If we want to understand that passage we have to focus on the world of Samaritans because this rabbi speaks straight to their hearts.

  7. Shalom! If the Shabbat is the 4th commandment and God himself encourage Israel to keep all of his Commandments so we can become holy as he himself is holy; Why then Cristianity ignore the Shabbat and those who say: I believe I repent from my sins and I received the Holy Spirit? If Yeshua said: ADONAI is one, then why believers continue to divide God by using the trinity? Matthew 5 said; I didn’t come to abolish any of the commandments, but to fulfill it. An act of love does not brake the Shabbat, that was his point.

    • That depends on your answer who “us” is? Israel was commanded to keep God’s commandments, of which Shabbat is one. Jesus never commanded anything to the nations. His apostles were charged to make disciples among the nations and they instructed as the master gave them wisdom.

  8. Professor, I see you take great care in interpreting the Scriptures in considering the immediate local context of the Bible. But if we believe in the unity of the Bible and that it really has one Author ( God ), we would see how certain doctrines are related, whether it’s the Sabbath or anything else. I am aware that it can be taken out of context whether for good or ill and it is not my intention to confuse people on what certain passages mean. We need to look at the “broader” context of the whole Bible.

    • Of course, you are right, James, the big picture from the same author always counts! Not as much on the meaning of specific points, but the big principles can always work. Let me explain where we get lost… Imagine with me for a moment. You speak a lot and you express a lot of diverse ideas. Sometimes you do so by using similar language and your topics can overlap. That does not mean that I can take all of what you said about let’s say “discipline of children” and harmonize it together theologically. One time you were addressing a particular matter, talking about a particular incident or misunderstanding. You probably gave words of advice and/or judgment just for that unique situation. Then a year later you were teaching young parents in your church and expressed many generic ideas that relate to raising children and discipline. Yet at another time you wrote in your journal and lamented about your own shortcomings as a parent, brokenhearted that your own children have gone astray or caused pain. And you express wishful ideas on how you should have given then better/harsher/stricter discipline. Now imagine blending all that. All of this would be true in its own specific context, but not necessarily blended together in a “James’ theology of disciplining of children”. It might actually twist and misrepresent what you meant. 🙂 I hope you see my point.

  9. Dario, Christians ignore the Sabbath for three reasons; tradition is one, outright rebellion in spite of the true facts is another, and blind ignorance ( they don’t know ). It takes time to grasp a good understanding of what the Bible teaches and there are people hard pressed for time to do it right. As for the Trinity ( should be called Triunity instead ), we would recognize the personhood of Yeshua’s Father in heaven Himself, and the Holy Spirit. When we say God or the Lord is one, we are saying that these three persons are in perfect unity.

  10. Dario, one more thing, one is also a synonym for unity. Singleness is not the only meaning of one though we can define it as singleness of purpose and mission. I suggest you obtain a copy of “The Trinity” by Edward Bickersteth to get a handle on this significant subject. Don’t be swayed by those who teach that it is unbiblical when in fact it is the opposite. The writers of the Bible didn’t have all the information in their specific time but we are now blessed with all the information on this side of the flow of human history.

  11. Thank you for this message. It made perfect sense to me. This subject often gave me a lot to think about. I wonder why the Christians chose a Sunday for the Sabbath (the day of rest) and not Saturdays. In addition, I believe God’s Feasts are relevant but are completely ignored

    • Joan, most Christians observe Sunday to honor and recognize the primacy of Messiah’s ( Christ’s ) resurrection without a divine command to so. While this fact ( the resurrection ) is very significant, it doesn’t comply with Yeshua’s ( Jesus’ ) teaching and example in what His religious observances were. While the Jewish Feast Days were more applicable to the Jewish people because of their history, the seventh day Sabbath predates them by virtue of the fact that God set apart and blessed that day at the conclusion of the creation of the world.

  12. While Father desires mercy, chesed and fellowship, He also wants to be with us. Like in the garden before sin separated He and His children. It was a flaming sword because Father burns sin. It is why an altar with fire goes before Father’s house. Father wants to come home.

  13. Awesome illustration of a Father who provides the needs of his children and not allow them to experience unnecessary pain because of His own given Laws. “An exception”, to save a life. Avinu Malkeinu, how precious is your love towards humanity. Thank you Yshua for reminding us to preserve life.

  14. How did this change of “day of rest” come about and who initiated it? Did the apostles do that or later Christians? And why?

    • I am not sure what your question is getting to. No human can change what God authoritatively and emphatically established and revealed. God does not change because he is God. Whether people twist what God said, whether they choose to pay heed to it, is a different matter. Our attitude of lack of obedience does not change what God established. Even if no one adheres, God’s truth remains.

  15. That’s a fantastic point prof! Perhaps Rabbi Yeshua’s reasoning is that since the needs of King David and his men are greater than the Temple and the needs of the Temple are greater than the needs of the Sabbath, then mercy to Messiah’s needs must be greater than the Sabbath.

  16. To establish some credibility and with total respect for Dr. Shir. I’m afraid that I want to say so much that I might run out or words. If so, there will be follow-up posts. 1) re the Saturday/Sunday concerns aspect of Saturdy/Sunday discussion there is a very crucial part. NEXT

  17. Crucial aspect: the reason why “SUNday” became a “Sabbath”. Once the Faith became primarily influenced by what would be known as Roman Catholicism (central & W. Europe), then the change. Catholicism has always been willing to include pagan beliefs if the Pagans joined the “Church” and took the Sacraments. Nex-more

  18. #3-an example? Haiti is called a “Catholic” nation but the Priests have no problem with parishioners engaging in Voodo practices late into Saturday as long as they come to church SUN and receive the sacraments of the
    church! It compromised on anyting as long as you join the next

  19. #4 join the church and can have the “Church” grow in number and power. MY POINT? Sunday was a day of the pagan worship of the sUngods, A huge factor in W. Europe especially. Any questions or comments? I’ll do my best to answer or reply -B.Hal Miner MA, MHS,+

  20. #5 — for now. I tried to sign off with: B. Hal Miner MA, MHS, Ph.D. (in BIblical Theology with a substudy in Mid. East Archaeology. NOW Thank you James N.Benko and some others who actually started this question of “why Sunday?” & thanx to the one who brought .next

  21. This is to those who are ‘messing’ with me! A) after all my work, why are all my posts shown as “…awaiting moderation”?? B) it is obvious that I’m restricted to many less ‘words’ than others. WHY??A!? -(now @ 5 words) Anyone know how I can get help? Please help

    • Bruce, welcome… I do not mind your multiple posts. But keep in mind that I am here primarily for the IBC students, who enjoy no word limits. Though everyone’s comments are always moderated. You should join our learning community too and enjoy the benefits. 🙂 Degrees or not, as you know, learning never stops. An article about Sunday, you might enjoy. https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/early-christ-followers-worship-sundays/ That is where I prefer to hash out any Sunday questions because this post not about days of the week at all.

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