Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. ( Collossians 2:16-17)
I told you last time, I would explain why I believe the command to observe the Sabbath, is the only one of the Ten Commandments not re-iterated in the New Testament. I do believe that the principle of the Commandment still stands; that we are to enter into the Rest of God, and to cease from our own labors, and even to take one day out of seven to cease from our labors and to worship God.
The difference is that according to Paul, in his letter to the Gentile believers in Collosse, the Sabbath observance is a shadow, but the fulness of Sabbath is found in Christ himself.
“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden…I will give you rest…you will find rest for your souls…” (Matthew 11:27-28)
Our Sabbath is a person, the LORD Jesus Christ. He is the rest that remains un-entered into by the most of Israel, in spite of their Sabbath Keeping.
Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. ( Hebrews 4:1-11)
The Point of this discussion is Rest. The Work of Creation was done by the time God created man. He began at rest. But now that rest has eluded us for the most part.
God promised Israel that they could enter into the rest, but Israel has not for the most part attained the rest. What has kept them from it? The sin of unbelief. In spite of scrupulous Sabbath keeping, and even being brought into the Land God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they never really attained Rest.
There remains yet a rest for the people of God. Whatever the Sabbath was, it pointed to something even more ultimate than itself, it pointed to Christ, who completed the work of salvation, and “Sat down” at the right hand of God.
Thus Christ is my Sabbath. He did it all for us, and there is nothing we can do to add to what He did, “By himself He purged our sins, and sat down at the right hand of the majesty on High”. ( Hebrews 1:3)
I do believe that it is perfectly legitimate to observe the seventh day, or the First day, to put aside labor and commerce and just rest, and worship. Those who do not do this are impoverishing themslves and their families. But it is impossible to ever really enter into the rest God has for ourselves, other than through faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior, Redeemer and great High Priest.
It is illegitimate, as Colossians teaches, to put anyone in bondage over the observance of Holidays, Sabbaths or other ordinanes of Old Testament law. There is no doubt that the Sabbath Law is a special covenant between God and Israel;
“Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the Israelites forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” . ( Exodus 31:16-17)
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. ( Ezekiel 20:12)
But I am a Gentile believer. I may choose to keep the seventh day, or perhaps another day, and I am not to allow anyone to judge me on that basis. The principle of Sabbath is what I am to Keep, Resting in the finished Work of Christ by faith. The Substance of Sabbath is Christ himself.
It is true that Jesus told us that, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath”, and that word “man” is “anthropos” meaning all men. What was Jesus telling the Scribes and Pharisees by saying this? He was talking to his fellow Jews. In the New Testament, we never see him or any of the Apostles call upon Gentiles to observe the seventh day.
In what sense was Jesus telling them that the Sabbath was made for man? He was saying that the blessing of Sabbath ought to bless all men. God has a rest for all men to come into. The witness of Israel’s Sabbath points to a universal Sabbath for the entire world. Indeed the Rest, purchased at the cross of Jesus, is for all, Gentile and Jew.
However, the First day of he week featured prominently in the New Testament, as a day of meeting, worship, fellowship and communion. Jesus was raised from the dead on the first Day of the week, the Apostles and church met together on Pentecost, (the first day of the week). Jesus appeared to the disciples and showed them his hands on the first day of the week, and so forth.
“Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight”. (Acts 20:7)
“On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper that there be no collections when I come”. (I Corinthians 16:2)
Here is a list from CARM discussing the significance of the first day of the week in the New Testament;
- Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week – (Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
- Jesus appeared to the disciples on the first day of the week – (John 20:19).
- Jesus appeared inside the room to the eleven disciples eight days after the first day of the week. The Jewish way of measuring days meant that it was again Sunday
- The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, the first day of the week – (Lev. 23:16; Acts 2:1).
- The first sermon was preached by Peter on the first day of the week – (Acts 2:14).
- Three thousand converts joined the church on the first day of the week – (Acts 2:41).
- The three thousand were baptized on the first day of the week – (Acts 2:41).
- The Christians assembled broke bread on the first day of the week.
- The Christians also heard a message from Paul on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Note: the reference is until midnight which is not the Jewish method of measuring days, but the Roman system.
- Paul instructed the churches to put aside contributions on the first day of the week
(1 Cor. 16:2).
- Jesus gave the apostle John the vision of Revelation on the first day of the week
The Sabbath Law is still in force, only now, entry into the Sabbath centers on a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Him do enter into their rest, and for those who do not believe on Him, there will be nor rest.