HKEA

Evangelistic Alliance

A Christian service for the digital age that explains the way of salvation through trusting belief in Jesus Christ. We also tackle difficult questions that mystify believers and unbelievers.

SABBATH CLARITY

JESUS AND THE SABBATH

Jesus worked hard to preserve, protect and defend the 7th day Sabbath. He kept it in life and in death. (the only whole day He spent in the tomb was on the 7th day.) He risked His entire ministry to show how the Sabbath should be kept. (Mark 3:1-6). He did for the Sabbath what He did for the other 9 commandments - He freed it from religious distortions. He worked 7 miracles on the Sabbath and proclaimed it a day to celebrate God's redemption.

The Gospels preserve details relevant for the church after the cross, and contain many references to the Sabbath. In His last sermon Jesus instructed the disciples to pray regarding Sabbath observance under persecution that would occur at a future time - decades after the cross. (Matt 24:20).  If the Sabbath was abolished at the cross, this makes no sense.

Just before the NT's first reference to the Sabbath, Jesus invites all to receive His rest that comes from faith in Him and in His finished work. (Matt 11:28-30.) The Sabbath is a Gospel parable. Physical rest on the 7th day is an emblem of heart rest we enjoy in the week ahead because of Christ's finished work. (Hebrews 4:3).

Gone is the Sabbath of Judaism with its oppressive laws and its rituals applying to sacrifice and temple. Gone are the additional laws that surrounded most of the Ten Commandments as in the Torah. Forever remaining is the Sabbath of Eden. It was for the first man and first woman and is for the last man and last woman and for every man and woman in between.  


SABBATH UNDER NEW COVENANT

Both Old and New Testaments support the 7th-day Sabbath, but does it vanish under the new covenant? No. All the covenants of Scripture are just topical variants of the one great everlasting covenant. We can't draw hard and fast distinctions between the Sinai covenant and the new covenant, as if to suggest they were in complete opposition. 

Sinai was a replay of the Abrahamic covenant. (Psalm 105:9-11). In 'new covenant' the word 'new' means 'renewed' as with the 'new' earth and the 'new' heart. It is a renewed covenant, not a replacement. Hebrews 8:8-12 says the essence of Exodus law is written in the heart. 2 Corinthians 3 does not say that idolatry, blasphemy, disobedience to parents, murder, adultery, theft, lying, covetousness and Sabbath-breaking were abolished by Christ's cross. Without the Gospel and the Holy Spirit all law becomes a ministration of death. 


FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Most Christians accept 9 of the 10 Commandments. The 4th is a problem. Was it a temporary commandment intended only for Jews?

Of the 149 references to the 7-day Sabbath in the Bible, proportionately the NT contains more than the OT. This can't be said for circumcision in OT and NT or to the Lord's Supper or baptism in the NT.

The NT reveals Jesus opposed Pharisaic perversions of the Sabbath but not the Sabbath itself.

Paul is silent on the Sabbath. Does that mean the Sabbath commandment is irrelevant for Christians? It could also mean Paul took it for granted. The OT is also silent about the Sabbath for centuries but it was observed it during those silent years. e.g. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon don't mention it but the readers and writers of those books observed it.

The exact center of the 10 Commandments in the Hebrew text is the phrase "the seventh day is the Sabbath." The given reason why it should be remembered is that God made heaven and earth. This is not a Jewish reason. It doesn't include ceremonial features or rituals such as sacrifices. It just invites humanity to rest from secular activities and to keep holy God's appointed day.

Whenever the NT refers the 10 Commandments it takes for granted that it's still in force (Ephesians 6).

Only the 4th commandment says it is the Creator's right to legislate. It alone gives the foundation of all worship and obedience. Without it the law could be the product of a pagan deity. Only the 4th is prefaced by "Remember".  It's the most detailed, lengthy and comprehensive of the 10 and comprises 1/3 of the whole.

The first 4 commandments teach who to worship, how to worship, the attitude of worship and the time for worship. These are still needed.

The positioning of Sabbath law among the 10 is significant: to eradicate it we must clamber over 3 eternal laws, or from the other direction clamber over 6 eternal laws. The Sabbath is fenced in by divine inspiration and divine proclamation.

A law proclaimed by God himself, written with His finger among the fanfare of thunder and lightning should be removed in the same way. There is no such retraction. Not only are the 4th and 5th commandments positive ones, they also refer to the two institutions of Eden which are the source of all the 10: marriage and the Sabbath.