Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Sabbath

Is it for born-again Christians or has it been nailed to the cross?
When I was 34 years old, I first heard the gospel message that Jesus died for me. I responded with baptism. The spiritual changes I had gone through up to this time were common to people growing up in the 60s. I was raised a Catholic and attended parochial school. After graduation I moved through agnosticism, deism and finally atheism. I did a lot of reading about Zen and other philosophies of life. From this state, through the grace of God, I responded to His call and was born-again. The question of the seventh-day Sabbath was posed to me within the first year. At first I dismissed it. But my recent conversion and the knowledge that I had deceived myself for so many years about God and His love, made me wonder if I was being honest and open to God's leading with this issue. As I prayed, I let go of my preconceived ideas and asked God to open my eyes to His word. I promised to act on whatever he revealed to me. Here is a summery of some of the things I learned in studying the Scriptures on this subject. I am using the New American Standard Bible.
In Mark 2:27 Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." Since it was made, it must have had a beginning. When I thought of the Sabbath, I thought of Exodus 20, the 10 commandments. But that was not its origin. In fact the fourth commandment begins by asking us to "Remember…" Exodus 20:8. The origin of the Sabbath is found in Genesis 2:2,3. Here we learn that God did three things that first Sabbath:
RESTED - Ceased from creative activity.

BLESSED THE DAY - There is a blessing to be received on this day.

SANCTIFIED THE DAY - made the day sacred. Set the day apart for holy use.

I had also been told that the Sabbath was made for the Jews. The Jews are the descendants of Abraham. How many Jews were living on the earth when the Sabbath was made? Not one! Only Adam and Eve, the parents of the human race. Perhaps that is why Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man…"
But wasn't the Sabbath nailed to the cross? This idea comes from Colossians 2:14,16,17. Here we learn that certain "ordinances," "Holy days," and "sabbath days" were "nailed to the cross" "Which are a shadow of things to come…" In other words these ordinances, holy days, and sabbath days, were a type, an object lesson pointing to a future reality. In the light of the cross these shadows were no longer needed.

Sabbath days were mentioned as being "a shadow" fulfilled by Christ. Lets look at Leviticus chapter 23. Here we find 7 annual Sabbaths: the beginning and ending of the feast of Unleavened Bread; Passover; Trumpets; the Day of Atonement and the beginning and ending of the feast of Tabernacles. Notice verse 38 - "besides the Sabbaths of the Lord…" There is a distinction made between these annual sabbaths, which fell on different days of the week, and the seventh-day Sabbath. Another distinction is that, only the seventh-day Sabbath is part of the 10 commandments, written by the finger of God on stone tablets and placed inside the Ark (Deuteronomy 10:5). While the 7 annual ceremonial sabbaths were written by Moses in a book and placed beside the Ark (Deuteronomy 31:24-26).
Let's examine one of these sabbaths, the Passover, and look for symbolism, shadowy types of Christ's atoning sacrifice.

Verse 5 - unblemished lamb - Jesus is "the Lamb of God"

Verse 5 - unblemished lamb - Jesus was without sin.

Verse 6 - sacrifice the lamb - Jesus was "slain for our transgressions."

Verse 7 - application of the blood - His shed blood cleanses us.

Verse 7 - application of the blood - We must accept His atonement personally.

Verse 8 - unleavened bread - Leaven is a symbol of sin. Jesus was without sin.

Verse 8 - unleavened bread - Jesus is the bread of life.
Is the Passover a type of Christ's sacrifice? Does it point forward to His redemptive work? All Christians agree that this is so. That is why Christians need not celebrate the Passover. Christ fulfilled it, "nailed it to the cross" with the reality of his sacrifice. We study the Passover to gain insight into the plan of salvation.
Now, let's examine, in the same way, the seventh-day Sabbath as recorded in Exodus 20:8-11.
"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 of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the 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."
Is the seventh-day Sabbath a type of Christ's sacrifice? Does it point forward to His redemptive work? Are there any symbols such as shed blood, to connect it to the atonement? I think an honest answer is No! I don't find any symbols of Jesus as our sacrifice here. What I do find is that those who observe the seventh-day Sabbath acknowledge God as their Creator and rightful sovereign. We are the works of His hands and the subjects of His authority. What a rebuke to evolution this is. No one who keeps the Sabbath could possibly believe in evolution. This Sabbath is a memorial of creation, and not a type of Christ's sacrifice. Therefore it could not have been fulfilled at the cross. In fact, when it was instituted, Adam and Eve had not yet sinned. It is interesting to note that marriage and the Sabbath are two things our first parents were allowed to take with them from their Eden home.
Some say that every day should be a Sabbath day. But this is not possible; "in it you shall not do any work…" and "Six days you shall labor and do all your work…" Others say that it doesn't matter which day you choose as long as you keep one in seven. But the Bible doesn't say one day in seven. It says, "the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God…" Now someone will say "how can we know when the seventh-day is? Hasn't the calendar been changed?" Even though the calendar has been changed over the centuries, the weekday cycle has never altered. The seventh-day today is the same as when Jesus walked the earth. Most Christians have no problem accepting Sunday as the first day of the week, the same day that Jesus rose from the dead. Our Jewish neighbors still keep Saturday as the seventh-day Sabbath. And they have been keeping tract of it for centuries. God made sure the Israelites new which day was the Sabbath by the miracle of manna falling on every day of the week, except the Sabbath, for 40 years. See Exodus 16:4-30.
Created before sin entered - Genesis 2. The Sabbath was instituted before Adam and Eve fell into sin, so it could not be a type or shadow of Christ's redemption.

Exodus 16:26 - The Sabbath existed before Sinai. A month before He would give the Sabbath commandment, God rebuked the people for breaking the Sabbath, Exodus 16:28.

Mark 2:28 - Christ is "Lord of the Sabbath" Why? John 1:3, 10; Hebrews 1:2; and 1 Corinthians 8:6 tells us that Jesus was the one who rested that first Sabbath day. He created the Sabbath. That is why He is "Lord of the Sabbath."

Luke 4:16 - "as was His custom…" Jesus kept the Sabbath.

Luke 23:56 - "and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." The disciples obviously didn't know anything about a change at this point.

Acts 17:2 - "according to Paul's custom…" Acts 13:14; Acts 16:13; Acts 18:4 (for one and a half years at Corinth) Paul kept the Sabbath!

Matthew 24:20 Christ expected His followers to be observing the Sabbath at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, 40 years after Christ's resurrection.

Isaiah 66:22-23 - "New heavens and new earth" The Sabbath will be celebrated in the future when sin is done away with and God establishes the new heaven and new earth. This is because it is not a symbol of Redemption, but a memorial of Creation.

Some say that the forth commandment is the only commandment not repeated in the New Testament. We have just mentioned several texts in the New Testament but here is another one. Hebrews 4:4, 5 "For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, "AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS"; and again in this passage, "THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST."
The law can't save anyone! That is not its purpose! James 1:23-25 describes the law as a mirror. It shows us where we fail. It reveals our need of a savior. Romans 7:7,12 - Paul's sin became utterly sinful because of the law.
Ezekiel 36:26,27 - "A new heart" This is the born-again experience. "I will cause you to…walk in my statutes…" Jeremiah 31:31,33 - "Write the law on their hearts" "new covenant" The law of God is not done away with under the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit writes it on our hearts. God's people will delight to do His will, as revealed in His law.
John 14:15,21 - "If you love me, keep my commandments."

John 15:10,11 - "Joy made full" in keeping God's commandments.
It may seem strange to some, to talk about commandment keeping and faith in the same sentence. But that is just what God's Word does. Rev. 14:12 - "Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." When you enter into God's rest, you cease relying on your own works to gain salvation and trust in the work that only God can perform. Your creator is your redeemer.

I have been keeping the seventh-day Sabbath for over 17 years now. It is truly the best day of the week. I put aside all my concerns about business and things needing to be done around the house. I have divine permission to take a break and spend special time with God, my family and others. What a blessing it is when the TV gets turned off, the newspaper is put away. A peace comes over my home. My family has special things that we do on Friday evening like having ice cream and reading a spiritual book to each other. We have prayer and share spiritual thoughts when the Sabbath ends Saturday at sundown. When my checkbook is low, the Sabbath reminds me that God is in charge. I pray that this little examination will prompt you to dig deeper with the Holy Spirit's leading. If you set the day apart for holy use, you will receive the blessing that Jesus put on His special day.

No comments:

Post a Comment

How has God spoken to you through this post?