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Christians And The Sabbath - Part 2

To begin, while examining the Sabbath obligations of the Old Testament period, it may be useful to note that, in addition to the seventh-day Sabbath, the Hebrews were obliged to observe a number of additional "Sabbaths."

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To understand the background, please read PART ONE.

DECALOGUE

On the Sabbath, Israel proclaimed complete reliance on her covenant with the Lord, who was more than capable of upholding His people even if they hung up their shovels, set down their ploughs, and rested from their labours for one day out of seven.

So the issue is not whether Israel should have observed the Sabbath under the Old Covenant, but whether Christians should do so under the new. Is it appropriate for Christians to observe the Sabbath? Some may find the question incomprehensible. Do we maintain Commandments one through three and five through ten? So, what's the point of skipping number four?

However, there is compelling evidence throughout the New Testament that the Sabbath has found its completion in Christ and the new covenant which we will get to later.

OLD COVENANT

Leviticus 19:3 -- You shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 26:2 -- You shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

Extra Sabbath days, for example, were observed in conjunction with the five holy festivals like Passover, First Fruits, etc. Every year, the Hebrews observed fifty-nine Sabbaths.

Leviticus 23:7-8 -- In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.

Leviticus 23:21 -- And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation to you: you shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

Leviticus 23:24-25 -- Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. You shall do no servile work therein: but you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.

Leviticus 23:32 -- It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.

Leviticus 23:39 -- Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.

SEVENTH YEAR

Furthermore, every seventh year was a sabbatical year.

Leviticus 25:1-4 -- And the LORD spoke to Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest to the land, a sabbath for the LORD: you shall neither sow your field, nor prune your vineyard.

FIFTIETH YEAR

Every fiftieth year was also a sabbatical year.

Leviticus 25:8-13 -- And you shall number seven sabbaths of years to you, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty and nine years. Then shall you cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee to you; and you shall return every man to his possession, and you shall return every man to his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you: you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of your vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee you shall return every man to his possession.

LANDS FALLOW, DEBTS FORGIVEN

During these periods, the land was to be left fallow, and debts were to be forgiven.

Deuteronomy 15:2 -- And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lends ought to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD's release.

Over a fifty-year period, the devout Hebrew would keep 5,830 Sabbaths, to varying degrees based on the particular requirements of the Torah. Contrast that with the reality that the typical person keeping the Sabbath today would just honor 2,600 Sabbaths in the same time period – maintaining Saturday alone — falling 3,230 Sabbaths short of the holy norm.

NO PATRIARCHAL COVENANT

Second, as previously stated, the Sabbath was limited to the Israelites as a religious obligation. It was not included in any patriarchal covenant with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.

Deuteronomy 5:2-3 -- The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

Rather, it was a commandment revealed at Sinai that functioned as a "sign" between Jehovah and his chosen people. As a result, Gentiles have never been required to keep the Sabbath.

Nehemiah 9:13-14 -- You came down also on mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And made known to them your holy sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses your servant:

Ezekiel 20:12 -- Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

Third, examine the following rule,

Exodus 35:3 -- "On the Sabbath day, you shall not start a fire in any of your dwellings."

This demonstrates unequivocally that the Sabbath was never meant to be a universal obligation.

CHRIST OUR SABBATH

The physical observance of the Sabbath as the law has come to an end. The Scriptures state unequivocally that the Sabbath observance is no longer required. According to the New Testament, the law of Moses (in all of its components, including the Sabbath) has been repealed.

Paul said that the "law of commandments" had been destroyed "by the cross."

Ephesians 2:15 -- Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace;

Similarly, the "bond inscribed in ordinances" (which included things like feast days, sabbaths, and so on) was removed out of the way by being nailed to the cross. Christ is the Sabbath rest for us today.

Colossians 2:14-16 -- Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days..."

Sabbath keepers, on the other hand, claim that only the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic covenant (such as animal sacrifices) were abolished at the cross. It is claimed that the moral aspects of the law (for example, the ten commandments) remain to this day.

This is an arbitrary, contrived stance that will not stand the test of scripture. Take note of the following.

I hope by the context of scriptures provided, you are able to now realise what the Bible actually speaks with regards to keeping the Sabbath.

Stay tuned for the next part and share this one with friends and family. 

Blessings,

Godwin.



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