DO NEW COVENANT CHRISTIANS – TRUE FOLLOWERS OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, HAVE TO KEEP THE OLD COVENANT LAW OF THE SABBATH?
Let us look at the first few passages in Scripture, in the Hebrew portion of the Holy Bible, on the Sabbath.
In the KJV Bible there are 137 references to ‘sabbath’ in both testaments.
‘Sabbath’ according to Strong’s Analytical Concordance means simply “intermission”. In the old covenant days, there were a number of sabbaths , or intermissions that they had to keep. The Greek meaning as Strong’s AC show is – “Of Hebrew origin [H7676]; the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se’nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications: – sabbath (day), week.”
Exodus 16: 23, 26, 29, 30, are the first four instances. “And the people rested on the seventh day. ” (16:30)
The practical meaning of the sabbath is rest, cessation of work, to repose.
Now look at “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy; six days you shall labor and do all your work; and the seventh day is a sabbath to Jehovah your God; you shall not do any work, you, and your son, and your daughter, your male slave and your slave-girl, and your livestock, and your stranger who is in your gates.
For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all which is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; on account of this Jehovah blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it.” Exodus 20:8-11.
In this account to God establishing the seventh day as the fist ‘sabbath’, note the phrase “He rested on the seventh day” in the last paragraph.
Then in verse 3 we have the same thought expressed “And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because He rested from all His work on it, which God had created to make.”
“He rested from all His work”.
Now look at what happens in Numbers 15. “And while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness they found a man gathering sticks on the sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. And they put him under guard; for it had not been declared what should be done to him. And Jehovah said to Moses, Dying the man shall die; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp. And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones. And he died, as Jehovah commanded Moses. Num 15:31-36.
On the sabbath day a man is gathering sticks no doubt to fuel his fire for family cooking and heating. Is he out looking after the needs of his family? Most likely. But God judges him guilty of breaking the command of the sabbath. God said Rest. And he didn’t rest. That is the Law. The Law demands obedience, and it is unyielding.
Now have a look at Exodus 31. “And you shall keep the Sabbath, for it is holy for you; the profaners of it dying shall die; for everyone doing work in it, that soul shall be cut off from the midst of his people. Work may be done six days, and on the seventh day is a sabbath of rest, holy to Jehovah; everyone doing work on the Sabbath day dying shall die. And the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to do the Sabbath for their generations; it is a never ending covenant. It is a sign forever between Me and the sons of Israel; for in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. Ex. 31:14-17.
God says that the sabbath is a sign.
It is a sign between God and the children (sons) of Israel (Jacob – Genesis 32:28).
Israelites – children of Jacob their father, whose named God called Israel. were to keep the sabbath.
The keeping of the sabbath (day, the weekly sabbath) was to rest – desist, cease from work on each seventh day, throughout every generation of Israelites. As we have seen, they were not even allowed to gather sticks.
Now let us read on as to what God also says about this fourth commandment given at first in (Ex 20.
“Work may be done six days and on the seventh day it shall be holy to you, a sabbath of rest to Jehovah; everyone doing work in it dying shall die. You shall not kindle a fire in all your dwellings on the day of the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2, 3.
This is the law in detail concerning the keeping of the weekly sabbath, 48 times a in the Jewish year.
No gathering sticks. No work. No kindling of fire.
This is not the judgment of a man, but the Law of God.
Now for all you Christians who are convinced that all Christians must keep the sabbath; Do you gather sticks on the seventh day – the sabbath?
Sticks were gathered to provide fuel for the fire, for cooking and warming.
If you do you are not keeping the sabbath.
Do you rest in your houses?
If you do not, you are not keeping the sabbath.
Do you desist cease, rest from work on the sabbath?
If you don’t, you are not keeping the sabbath.
The Law required that those breaking the sabbath were to be stoned. If you are going to keep the sabbath, then you must uphold the punishment given in the Law for breaking the sabbath. It is hypocrisy to insist that Christians must keep that Law yet not be bound by its punishment. You can’t pick and choose.
So must Christians keep the sabbath? You must decide.
James says that if anyone breaks 1 law then they are guilty of breaking all. It is no good keeping the sabbath yet lusting after another in your heart, or coveting your neighbours wife/husband, goods or possessions, or lying with your lips or in the heart, or slandering someone, or hating someone in your heart? If you are going to keep one of the Laws for salvation, you must keep all.
But hear what is said about Jesus Christ
“And that no one is justified by Law before God is clear because, “The just shall live by faith.” (see Hab. 2:4) But the Law is not of faith, but, “The man doing these things shall live in them.” (see Lev. 18:5 ) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us; for it has been written, “Cursed is everyone having been hung on a tree;” (see Deut. 21:23 ) that the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:11-14.
You cannot be justified before God by keeping the sabbath, let alone any other of the laws of the first covenant. Only Jesus Christ of Nazareth kept every law perfectly always. It is only through His death, burial and resurrection that we can have faith and righteosuness through Jesus Christ.
Those who did not keep the Law including the sabbath keeping, were under the curse of the Law. But Jesus was made a curse for us, so that we may not have to bear the weight of the Law which was unyielding in it’s application.
Jesus is our sabbath rest, our repose.
Gentile Christians in Antioch were very troubled because some Jewish believers were imposing the Law back on them – You must keep Moses Law.
But when James summarised the apostolic consensus, he does not impose the keeping of the sabbath upon them, nor the law of cirmumcision. You can read the story of that in Acts 14-15.
In the keeping of the sabbath in the old testament there is no specific instructions that they had to go to worship God, in fact every day they were worshipping God by virtue of the fact that offerings had to be made daily before God, morning and evening, or as it was, evening and morning. And, whenever anyone had committed sin they were supposed to bring their offering for that sin to the priests to obtain a covering for their sin. All these constituted worship to God. This would have been happening daily not just on the sabbath.
Jesus is our Sabbath. And He is Lord of the old sabbath Law.
If you want to keep the sabbath, keep the ‘rest’ of God for that is what sabbath means, then keep Jesus in your heart and soul. Jesus asked which is greater, the Temple or He who dwells in the Temple?
Jesus tells us. God is greater than the Temple. And this is no different to the sabbath. Which is greater, the sabbath day or the one who put the old sabbath day in place? Of course, it is Jesus who is greater.
Paul writes to the Gentile/Jewish assembly in Colosse, “Then do not let anyone judge you in eating, or in drinking, or in part of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths, which are a shadow of coming things, but the body is of Christ. Colossians 2:16, 17.
Here Paul states that the sabbath is but a shadow of ‘the coming things’, that is of that which was to come through Jesus Christ, and His inaugurating the new and permanent covenant.
The old covenant was but a shadow of the new covenant established by Jesus when He shed His blood in His death on the cross.
Is the keeping of the shadow better than the keeping of the better thing? The better thing in respect to this study is the everlasting Sabbath – Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:14 says that Jesus is our peace. The Greek behind peace also includes ‘rest’.
“So, then, there remains a sabbath rest to the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9.
And then “For he entering into His rest, he himself also rested from his works, as God had rested from His own. (see LXX-Psa. 95:11; Gen. 2:2) Therefore, let us exert ourselves to enter into that rest, that not anyone fall in the same example of disobedience. ” Hebrews 9:10,11
Therefore let us exert ourselves to enter into ‘that’ rest. that sabbath, that repose. Lest we fall into the same example of disobedience.
If you want to keep the sabbath, in order to keep the law, then you must keep it to the detail as God has described. But it will not justify you before God. Same with circumcision.. If you are circumcised in order to keep the law then you will be brought back under the curse of the law…that is a terrible place to be in…by doing so, you would be despising Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for sin.
Yes we must obey Jesus. “Blessed are the ones doing His commands, that their authority will be over the Tree of Life, and by the gates they may enter into the city. ” Revelation 22:14.
Jesus’ most important command is to REPENT! Turn from your sins and flee from them, forsaking them totally. Hurl yourself onto Jesus Christ. He will save you from the wrath to come. Keep faithful to Him and trust wholly in Him alone.
The wrath of God is about to break out on those who obey not the gospel of the our Lord Jesus Christ. Where will you be? Safe in Jesus? Or outside the ark?
Keeping the sabbath?
Keep close to Jesus!!!
He is your true Rest.