"THE SABBATH OF THE LORD"
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God:
in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son,
nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor they maidservant,
nor thy cattle, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is
within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven
and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested
the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed
the seventh day, and hallowed it."
Is it an absolute necessity in this dispensation of New Testament times for the sabbath day to be ritualistically observed on every Saturday of the year? Is it necessary that the Old Testament commandments concerning the Sabbath be kept in a literal sense at all? The Jews think so. So do some Christians. He who has a spiritual ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches how that now for His righteousness sake, He alone does "magnify the law, and make it honourable." Isa.42:21 KJV.
The word of God says, "Let no man judge you in meat or drink....or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon or of the Sabbath day, which are a shadow (of good things to come like unto all ceremonial laws [Heb.10:1] that were meant merely to foreshadow and reflect Christ and) of things to come, but the body is of Christ." Col.2:16,17 KJV. Yes, "the real things are in Christ." Col.2:17 Beck. This tells us that natural observances and works under the old decayed covenant (Heb.8:13) were, like unto the tabernacle in the wilderness (Heb.chptr.9 & 10), merely "a figure for the time then present."Heb.9:10 KJV. Now we have a new and more excellent spiritual reality wherein anything that is done in the flesh profits nothing - Jn.6:63. Now, "Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement---a more excellent and more advantageous covenant." Heb.7:22 Ampl.
As spirit filled Christians, God "hath made us able ministers of the New Testament [covenant]; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life." 2Cor.3:6 KJV. Now if the old religious service which resulted in death, although its law as carved in letters of stone, was introduced with a splendor so great....why should not this spiritual service (of life) be attended with much greater splendor? For if the service connected with condemnation had such splendor, the service resulting in right standing with God will surely far surpass it in splendor. For on account of its surpassing splendor, what was once so splendid has now no splendor at all. For if what was passed away was introduced with splendor, with how much greater splendor must what is permanent be attended? 2Cor.3:7-11 Wms.
Overall, the old law was in its time, excellent, glorious, and splendid and tended to serve God's dispensational purposes well. Yet, How much greater now is all the new covenant law of the "Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom.8:2 KJV) wherein the old law has been fulfilled in "Him who is the fulfillment of its types" (Rom.10:4 Ampl.) and its shadows. In this new dispensation, the splendid and glorious righteousness of God's new and permanent law is being "fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." Rom.8:4 KJV. Paul said, "Practice occupying your mind with the things above, not with the things on the earth." Gal.3:2 Wms. "If you are guided (led) by the (Holy) Spirit you are not subject to the law." Gal.5:18 Ampl. After all, "the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient." 1Tim.1:9.
"We know that the law is good if a man use it lawfully"(1Tim.1:8 KJV), but observing and practicing the letter of the old law does not in any way give spiritual life. Anyone, as well as the Jews, can observe and practice the letter of the law with respect to meat and drink, or of holy days, or of the sabbath in the Old Testament type of religious works and service, but the truth is...that service is, was, and ever will be, void of the things above--void of the real Spirit of life. Observing the Sabbath in this way has nothing to do with the Spirit of life in Christ, and therefore nothing to do with salvation by grace.
The Jew's Sabbath was always Saturday, and for them to continue to observe such a law was good until they came into the understanding of a better thing under the new law called "grace". Grace is beyond mere "good". It is in the realm of perfect holiness and perfect love. Paul told believers that they were "no longer under the law but under grace." Rom.6:14 KJV. Paul condemned former ceremonial practices on the Sabbath and any laws they were in pursuit of which could not give true righteousness. "And Why? Because they were pursuing a righteousness which should arise not from faith, but from what they regarded as merit ...ignorant of the righteousness which God provides, and building their hopes upon a righteousness of their own, they have refused submission to God's righteousness. For as a means of righteousness "Christ is the termination of Law to every believer." Rom.9:32-10:4 Weym. He has fulfilled it for us. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." Rom.10:4. KJV.
"By the law is the knowledge of sin" Rom.3:20 KJV. The strength of sin is the law. The old law does not have the strength nor power of righteousness nor holiness, "for the law made nothing perfect." Heb.7:19 KJV. Nor will the observance of it in a natural, literal, letter of the word sense, ever make anything righteous, holy or perfect. It is only the indwelling Spirit of God in Christ which can perfect. So then, "now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, where- unto ye desire again to be in bondage. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." Gal.4:9,10 KJV. O foolish ones, "who hath bewitched you?" Gal.3:1
Paul beseeched the foolish Galatians who in different respects were reverting back to forms of Judaism, saying, "Be as I am" (Gal.4:11), free from the suffocating bondages of the ceremonialism, formalism, and legalism found in their law. "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Gal.4:1 KJV. After the same manner Paul exhorted the Pharisees asking, "Why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" Paul taught that "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from Grace." Gal.4:4 KJV. He believed that only "through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." Ac.15:11 KJV.
There are some believers even in this day and age who believe they are justified in attempting to literally keep the Sabbath day laws. Some say they are not under the law but rather serving the Sabbath of creation found in Gen.2:3 as well as the commandment later in Ex.16:23-30 where no manna was to be gathered on the Sabbath day. This clearly predates the law and commandment in Ex.chptr.20. Some argue that they need a Sabbath rest, for God Himself rested. But of a truth, since sin entered into the world, God's rest in creating has ended---for God now worketh in man both to will and to do of His good pleasure-Phil.2:13; 1Cor.12:6.
In John chapter 5, Jesus healed a sick man and told him to pick up his bed and walk. That day was a Sabbath. "Today is the day of rest," the Jews told the man who had been healed. "It's wrong for you to carry your bed...The man...told the Jews it was Jesus who had made him well." Jn.5:8-15 N.A.S. "Because Jesus was doing such things on a Sabbath, the Jews started to persecute Him. But Jesus answered them, My Father has been working until now, and so I am working. Then the Jews were all the more eager to kill Him, because He wasn't only abolishing the Sabbath but even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal to God." Jn.5:16-18 Beck.
Jesus okayed the picking of corn by His disciples on the Sabbath much to the Pharisees dismay. Among other things, He also asked the Pharisees if they had "read in the law that the priests in the temple work on a Sabbath as on other days and yet do no wrong?" Matt.6:5 Beck. Are not all believers and servants of Christ now a part of His holy temple (Eph.2:13-22) and are they not all part of an holy priesthood of this spiritual house? 1Ptr.2:5,9. Though the law was still in effect for unregenerate man at the time Jesus was on the earth, for those who were His servants and followers, he revealed that He was the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt.6:8) and in Him alone was found the authority and immunity from the letter of this law. He even told the Pharisees it was lawful for them to do any kind of good or fruitful work on a Sabbath day-Matt.12:12. On the same day, He healed the man with the withered hand and loosed the woman with infirmity.
If the literal keeping of the Sabbath is so essential to Christians, would not Jesus and others like Matthew, John, Paul etc. have made it plain enough that it must be observed? The fact is, just the opposite is the case. On the other hand, the old covenant laws certainly are plain enough. In Ex.35:1-3, man was to be put to death for lighting any kind of fire on the Sabbath. There was to be no fire in their habitation. Very few if any observe and believe this is applicable today. Obviously, the Jewish Sabbath could not possibly be kept now in a cold climate. Nor are Christians expected to stone one another to death for not observing this law. Likewise, "whosoever doeth work therein (on the seventh day) shall be put to death. "Ex.35:2,3 KJV. How many seemingly faithful sabbath keepers are willing to enforce this part of the law?
Where is the observance today in the fulfilling of these things? Are some laws to be carried out in full and others only in part? Either all these things are to be carried out to perfection, or none at all because now, as many as are depending on the works of the law are under the curse, "for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Gal.3:10 KJV. If one is to be consistent and ritualistically observe the sabbath day, then that one of a necessity also must keep the sabbath year and all its requirements. However, thanks be to God for His grace, for as Christians, we should know that "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.." Gal.3:13 KJV. Not just part of it but all of it.
The Lord spake unto the children of Israel saying, "Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations...Ye shall keep the sabbath...for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death.: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days work may be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surly be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the sabbath through-out their generations for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed." KJV. The Hebrew word for "perpetual" and "forever" simply means...an unknown, indefinite period of time in God's dispensation of the allotted ages. It does not at all mean "eternal", "everlasting" nor any of the other English words we use to denote timelessness.
The Sabbath as shown here [in comparison to the real spiritual Sabbath which it foreshadowed...see Hebrews chapters three and four] the statutes (Ex.27:21; 28:43), the sacrifices and offering (Lev.chptrs. 23 and 24; Heb.10:1-18), as well as the Aaronic order of the changeable Levitical priesthood (Ex.40:15; Heb.7:11,12)..... were obviously to be observed for "ohlahm" time only--as evidenced in the abundance of New Testament teaching concerning the old order covenants, laws and priesthoods. Bringing in the new order covenant for the "House of Israel", even the "Israel of God" (Gal.6:16) in Christ, and "not according to the covenant...made with their fathers" (Jer.31:31-33), clearly supersedes the former (Heb.8:6-13) covenant and laws which were "imposed on them until the time of reformation." Heb.9:10 KJV.
As the new and reformed covenant laws came into effect, new light began to dawn upon many of God's servants. "Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them." Ac.20:7 KJV. So The Catholics were not the first ones that changed the day. Paul said that the collection for the saints was to be laid up for him in store as the saints gathered each week on the first day of the week-1Cor.16:1,2. So their giving and the Lord's supper was on Sunday rather than Saturday. This was a brand new day the Lord had made. It typified the eighth day, a day of new beginnings, a day of the beginnings of the new covenant church. The old religious system rejected Christ, His new laws, His new ways and His new church. The psalmist declares, "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord hath made." Psa.118:23,24. Acts 4:10,11 confirms that upon Christ's resurrection, the Lord began a brand new day.
Now, most people regard Sunday as a main day of rest and worship but observance on that day isn't absolutely necessary either, for one is free through the Spirit to gather and worship just as effectively on Wednesday, Saturday, any day, or every day of the week. The Bible says, "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth everyday alike, let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." Rom.14:5 KJV. What is it now that replaces the original Sabbath, the original rest of the Lord if it isn't Saturday, Sunday, or any particular day? In a nutshell, it is the peaceful loving Spirit of Christ. "For Christ is our living peace" (Eph.2:14 Phi.)..."He annulled the law with its rules and regulations (Eph.2:15 NEB) thus producing peace."(vs.15 Phi). "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." Isa.26:3 KJV.
What is it that transcends and fulfills all law? Is it anything we might do in observance of the Sabbath day? Is it natural work that we might not do? Not at all! True peace and rest finds its fulfillment only in the Spirit of God, for God is the Spirit of love-1Jn.4:7,7; Jn.4:24. "For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." Rom.13:8 KJV. The true working of love is all that the law demands. In its operation, all the required works of every law of God are completed. In the operation of loving the Lord thy God with all thine heart and loving thy neighbour as thyself (Matt.22:37-39), all the commandments and laws of Exodus 20 are fulfilled-Ro.13:9. They are fulfilled in Christ!
"The whole of the Law and the prophets is summed up in these two commandments." Matt.22:40 Weym. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." Ro.13:10. Christ loved us and bore our burdens, so fulfilling the law-1Jn.4:7-12. "Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Therein, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."Gal.6:2 KJV. We are not bound to any of the old law or commandments therein, but rather we are required to live and serve under the new law of the "Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom.8:2) which which frees us from any law that still contains the elements of sin and death. Jesus also reveals this law in saying, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Jn.13:34-35.
All the foregoing has been laid as a foundation to reveal that there is now a spiritual Sabbath---a true spiritual rest that is laid up in store for the children of God. No longer does the Lord require those who are partakers of Christ's love and grace to observe and obey the literal Sabbath day. The law and all its works are totally satisfied and fulfilled in the love and works and righteousness of the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. Faith and obedience to the Spirit of Christ brings the true Sabbath rest. "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest." Heb. 4:11. Ceasing from our own carnal works (Heb.4:10) and allowing the works of the Holy Spirit to be done in us and through us, brings us true peace and rest-Matt.11:28-30. "Return unto thy rest, O my soul" Psa.116:17. He, who is our Lord of the Sabbath, is also our true and holy Sabbath..
Both the seventh day Sabbath, and the land of Canaan, is used in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 to symbolize the true Sabbath rest of the Lord. God calls it "My rest". The Holy Ghost saith, "I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into My rest....So we see they could not enter in because of unbelief." Heb.3:19 KJV. "To whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed--who had not listened to His word, and who refused to be compliant or be persuaded? So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest] because of there unwillingness to adhere to and trust and rely on God--unbelief had shut them out.[Num.14:1-35.] Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it.
For indeed we have had the glad tiding [of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good new of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith [that is, with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness] by those who hear it; neither were they united in faith with [Joshua and Caleb] the ones who heard [did believe].
For we who have believed---who have adhered to and trusted and relied on God---do enter into that rest, in accordance with His declaration that those [who did not believe] should not enter when He said, As I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into My rest; and this He said although [His] works had been completed and prepared [and waiting for all who would believe] from the foundation of the world. [Ps.95:11.]
For in a certain place He has said this about the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works. [Gen.2:2.] And [they forfeited their part in it, for] in this [passage] He said, They shall not enter into My rest.[Ps.95:11.] Seeing then that the promise remains over [from past times] for some to enter that rest, and that those who formerly were given the good news about it and the opportunity, failed to appropriate it and did not enter because of disobedience, Again He sets a definite day, [a new] Today, [and gives another opportunity of securing that rest,] saying through David after so long a time, in the words already quoted, Today, if you would hear His voice, and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts. [Ps.95:7,8]. [This mention of a rest was not a reference to their entering into Canaan], for if Joshua had given them rest, He (God) would not speak afterward about another day. So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath rest reserved for the[true] people of God; For he who has once entered into [God's] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own [Gen.2:2].
"Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter into that rest [of God]--to know and experience it for ourselves--that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell]." Heb.3:18-4:11 Amplif.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."Matt.11:28,29.