The Sabbath was established during the creation week in Genesis 2:2 and it a symbolic because God rested from all His work on the seventh day, blessing it and declaring it holy. The establishing of a specific day of rest was codified as one of the 613 commandments in the Mosaic Covenant, Exodus 20:8. Like all of God’s instructions, observing the Sabbath has both physical and spiritual implications.
The Jewish people have always considered Saturday the Sabbath and they count their 24 hour period from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. The rabbis have long debated exactly what can and cannot be done on the Sabbath. The trap that many Bible believers fall into is to focus on the letter of the Law and miss the more important point of the Spirit of the Law. Nowhere is this more powerfully addressed than in the Sermon on the Mount where the Messiah reproved the self-righteous religious leaders of His day by repeatedly pointing out this error, Matt. 5:12-7:1.
When Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning, the early church began to celebrate Lord’s Day on Sunday. Because they were all Jewish believers back then, they also observed the Sabbath and all of the Jewish customs and traditions as well. This came naturally to them because they had done it all their lives. The Jewish people that believed Jesus was the promised Messiah were able to see Him as the true fulfillment of all of their religious activities, e.g. the Feast of the Dedication a.k.a. Hanukkah in John 10:22 was now understood with regard to Jesus Christ being the Light of the World. The sacrifice of the Passover memorializing the blood of the Passover lamb that exempted the children of Israel from God’s judgment, e.g. the death of the firstborn males and the Lord’s deliverance of the children of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, Ex. 12, was understood as being fulfilled by Christ, I Cor. 5:7. Christ Himself told His contemporaries “think not I have come to destroy the Law…” Matt. 5:17.
One of the major problems that born again people have when studying the Law of Moses, is to forget that they, and all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, are participating in the New Covenant, Jer. 31:31-37 by virtue of their special relationship with the Testator of the New Covenant, Jesus of Nazareth. All who trust in Him benefit from being placed into Christ, bonded together with Him for all eternity. These truths are outlined for us by the Lord Himself in the real Lord’s Prayer recorded in John chapter 17. It is the prayer Jesus prayed for all who would place their faith in Him. That gives us the insight into our special relationship with God and the foundation of all His promises to His children. It is different from the traditional Lord’s Prayer which is really an outline of what to pray rather than something to be repeated again and again like a religious mantra.
Do not mix the Covenants. If you are born again you are a partaker of the New Covenant, a Covenant that tells us that we will know God and He will forgive all of our sins. Review the promises of the New Covenant in Jer. 31;31-37 and then the warning Jesus gave about trying to mix the Old and New Covenants together, Matt. 9:16-17.
The Messiah promised His children that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to an entire body of believers in Galatia because they were getting very confused about their own relationship to the Lord with regard to the Law of Moses. Jewish believers (some sincere and some clearly false brethren) would follow the Apostle Paul around from place to place. They would go to these newly established groups of believers and tell them something like this, “You know that Paul is a great teacher and man of God, but we follow Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus observed all the traditions of the fathers. He observed all the Holy Festival days outlined in the Law of Moses. Now, if you really want to be good disciples, then you should do what Jesus did and follow in His footsteps.”
The logic of their argument is powerful, especially because they were talking to Gentiles who had no education in the Law of Moses. The problem was not whether or not they should learn about the Law of Moses; the problem was mixing the Covenants and forcing people who had no background whatsoever in the Jewish lifestyle, traditions, customs, etc. to convert to the religion of Judaism when the message of the gospel is about God’s unconditional love and acceptance in Christ. It is never about what we do, it is always about what God has done and what He promises to do in, and through, the new people He makes us to be in Christ. The just shall (continue) to live by faith.
We should remember that God has given His children, the righteousness of Christ, II Cor. 5:17-21. We have been set free and can now worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Because of what He did for us, we now have a clean conscience and a pure heart every day. When our behavior is not reflecting our true nature, e.g. deeds of the flesh, we can come to Him and by His grace confess that our behavior is not reflecting our true nature as holy ones and saints. We can ask Him for more grace to change our thinking, e.g. repent, and see His power manifested in changes in our behavior(s).
The New Covenant is a superior covenant (contract) of God’s unconditional love and acceptance found only in His Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Focus on Christ, His love and acceptance in the New Covenant and prayerfully read Romans chapter 14 for insights about holy days, the Sabbath, food choices, etc.
Remember this too, the Messiah tells us that the Sabbath was made for man, and not the other way around, Mark 2:27. The writer of Hebrews tells us a wonderful truth, e.g. that those who have trusted Christ for their salvation have entered into His Sabbath rest. We cease from trying to be acceptable to God via our own efforts and we rest in Him and His finished work on our behalf, Heb. 4:1-10. That is the foundation of the New Covenant. Everything Messiah did was inspired by a motive of agape love and all that is done in God’s love fulfills the Law, Rom. 13:10.
Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D. (c)
Chief Technical Advisor
Creation Studies Institute