Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sabbath Musings, Part 2

"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." Genesis 2:2-3

I had always been under the impression that the command to honor the Sabbath had passed away under the Old Covenant, and that since the church was under the New Covenant we were on to "bigger and better things". I confess, I am no theologian. God-fearing men, much wiser than myself disagree passionately as to how we are to interpret and apply the scriptures of the Old Testament in the New Testament era; however, God has made clear to us that all of His word is inspired and profitable for doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16-17) meaning that the OT couldn't have just been for Israel with no application for the church whatsoever or else why did the Lord stir Paul to declare it profitable for the use of the Church?

Looking Back
As a basic foundation for this study we need to understand that Jesus Himself declared that the law would not pass away until all had been fulfilled, for He had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-19). Texts such as the book of Hebrews make clear to us Christ's fulfillment of the Levitcal priesthood and the sacrificial or ceremonial laws and passages such as 1 Timothy 1: 8-11 declare that the judicial and moral law still maintains it's authority over law-breakers. I'm afraid that to go into much more detail on that is beyond the scope of this study. But the question ought to be asked, where does the Lord's day fall into in the midst of all this? I used to believe that all the law had "passed away" and certainly without a doubt the ceremonial; at that time, I thought that the sabbath was part of the ceremonial law and therefore had most certainly been fulfilled; somehow, I was under the impression that 9 of the ten commandments still applied execpt the 1 almost smack-dab in the middle.

The ceremonial law consisted of types and foreshadows of things to come, particularily of atoning work of Christ as well as illustrative of man's utter depravity and is inability to appease the righteousness of God by his own merits. Did the keeping of the sabbath have anything to do with the above? What is it's purpose, what is it's foundation? Let's look at the passage in Exodus:

"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 . . . for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: where fore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Ex. 20:8-11

Interestingly enough, the foundation on which God based the sabbath day was His own example of work and rest during the creation week. Looking back to that time we read,
"and God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." Gen. 2:3
Prior to the giving of the Mosiac law, God had determined a day of rest (and I think the argument can be made that He also established it as a day of worship at that time), which means that even if all the mosiac law had passed away/been fulfilled the sabbath would remain, as its foundation was established before Israel was instructed at Mt. Sinai.

Context Clarifies
Consider also the position of the fourth commandment; in the first four commandments God gives specific details regarding worship: the 1st commandment fixes the object of worship ("I am the Lord thy God. . . thou shalt have no other gods before me"); the 2nd gives the means ("Thou shalt not make any graven image. . . thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them"); the 3rd explains the manner ("thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" i.e. worship is to be given with reverence and fear); and the 4th establishes the time ("Six days shalt thou labor . . . but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God.")
Why would the object, means and manner of worship still be in place and observed by the Church and yet the time somehow done away with?

To Be Continued in Part 3

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