Keeping the Sabbath
In Part One of this series, Twisted Truth and Lethal Lies, the subject was law keeping. In Part Two I wish to zero in on sabbath keeping and what that means to us under the New Covenant.
The Lie: “ God said the seventh (sabbath) day is to be a day of rest and made the sabbath holy. Therefore we should also keep each seventh day sacred and set apart, and refrain from working on that day as God did.”
The Truth: There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (Heb. 4:9-11).
Traditionally ‘good’ Christians have gathered together on the seventh day of the week, (either Sunday or Saturday according to personal belief) in a vague kind of observance of the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8-10).
There is no problem with gathering together for worship and fellowship. This is spiritually healthy. Neither is resting from work at least one day a week a problem and is good for our physical and mental health. Rigid adherence to observing one day above all others as specially sanctified for those purposes, however, is a problem if we truly wish to honour Christ.
It is amazing how many Christians will cling tightly to the Old Covenant commandment concerning the sabbath, while giving hardly any regard to other commandments about lying, coveting, idolising or committing adultery. But the scripture is clear: to break one commandment is to break them all. To fail in one part of the law, which is far more than the ten commandments, is to fail in all (Gal. 5:3) If we are going to insist on keeping the sabbath, we must be consistent by keeping all the other laws passed down from Moses.
Jesus wasn’t just engaging in polite conversation when He implored:
Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)
He was speaking to a people whose daily lives were a continual observance of the law of Moses. Their burden was the law, their heavy labour was trying to keep it. And there was nothing gentle or lowly in heart about the Pharisees and scribes who had set themselves up as official interpreters and enforcers of that law. When addressing the Pharisees Jesus referred to Moses law as “your law” (John 8:17, 10:34, ) implying they had taken possession of God’s Word in a way He refused to identify with.
He was also telling them that all the books of the law as well as the writings of the prophets were simply prophecy of Himself, the Christ.
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (Matt. 11:13)
With the death of John the era of law was passing. Now here before them was their prophesied Christ, their Messiah, in whom they could find authentic, ceaseless rest. It was not rest from physical labour He offered . It was rest for their souls. It was to be found not in a day, but in a Christ who is the end of the law.
The apostle John understood and reinforced this when He wrote: For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17) Law is truth, but truth is an impossible taskmaster without grace.
Israel kept the sabbath day religiously, year in and year out, but still they never entered God’s rest due to unbelief (Heb. 3:7-19). We as the church can be guilty of doing the same by not believing in the all sufficiency of Christ’s Cross to deliver us from Old Covenant law keeping. Christ was born under the law in order to redeem those who were under law (Gal. 4:5). The really good news is that includes us!
There is no longer any day of the week that is holier than any other. All of the law, including the fourth commandment, is a shadow of what was to be fulfilled in Christ. In Christ every day is holy and every day is a day of worship. There is no day of the week in which followers of Christ enter into rest, for He Himself has become our Sabbath Rest. We enter and continue in rest by partaking of Christ. And the rest He brings us is not our own, it is the Father’s rest which He entered after six days of creation (Gen. 2:2,3).
For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Heb. 4:10,11)
We have entered into Christ, in whom it is always “today”. We can worship Him on Sunday, we can worship Him on Saturday, and we can worship Him any other day. We are free to do all and to bless each other whatever day we choose to gather in His Name (Rom. 14:5,6).
The deception lies in choosing to bind ourselves to an unnecessary yoke in rigid observance of an Old Covenant law that only ever foreshadowed the One who has fulfilled it.
Constructive discussion is always welcome.