Few Christians there are who know why the Sabbath was given, when it was given, to whom it was given, and what the Christian's Sabbath is now in the Church age. This article is for the purpose of showing scripturally God's great plan and purpose of the seventh day Sabbath and what it foreshadowed.
The Sabbath was not given to Adam, neither to Abraham, Isaac nor Jacob. It was later given to the children of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai. "Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai, ...and madest known unto them the holy sabbath ...by the hand of Moses." Neh. 9:13, 14. “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:”
The Sabbath was a day of absolute and complete rest and cessation from all labor. Not even a fire could be kindled on the Sabbath day, "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth ANY WORK in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death." Exodus 31:15.
The seventh day sabbath was given to no other people but the children of 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 CHILDREN OF ISRAEL forever...." Exodus 31:16, 17.
The Sabbath day had a very definite two-fold purpose. First, it was a sign and continual reminder to Israel that like as God had set one day apart from all others to be a holy day, so he had set Israel apart from other nations to be a holy, separate people. "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." Ezek. 20:12.
As well as it being a sign to Israel of their separation from other nations, the seventh day sabbath was also a marvelous shadow of a then future rest in Christ. "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a SHADOW of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Col. 2:16, 17. “There remaineth therefore a rest (sabbath) 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." Heb. 4:9, 10.
Since Christ has come we no longer struggle under the galling bondage of the works of the law which is our own righteousness but we cease from our own works and enter into the rest (sabbath) of Christ. Sabbath means rest. The seventh day sabbath was physical rest to the body. The Christian's Sabbath is spiritual rest to the soul, of which the seventh day sabbath was a shadow. Since the true rest in Christ has come there is no longer need of the shadow. In fact to attempt to keep the seventh day now would mean to ignore the new Sabbath-rest in Christ, just as much as offering a sacrifice of the blood of animals would ignore the blood of Christ, which the blood of animals typified. There is only one way to keep the Sabbath now and that is to enter into the rest of Christ.
Those who keep the seventh day sabbath have only a shadow, and not even a shadow since the body (Christ) has come. And the manner in which the seventh day sabbath is kept now is only a mere pretense of the way it was commanded to be kept and unless it is kept as it was commanded to be kept, it is not kept at all. One man was stoned to death for breaking the Sabbath and all he did was to pick up a few sticks to kindle a fire.
It was very dangerous to break the seventh day sabbath. The penalty was physical death. It is likewise dangerous to fail to enter the rest of Christ which is the Christian's Sabbath. Spiritual death will be the result. Jesus calls to a sinful and weary world: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28) But of unbelieving Israel he said: "So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest." Heb. 3:11. (Heb 3:9-11 “When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.”) Israel already had the seventh day of physical rest but because of unbelief they failed to enter into God's spiritual rest.
But what about Sunday, somebody asks, was not the Sabbath changed from Saturday to Sunday? No, neither Sunday nor any other day is the Christian’s Sabbath. The Christian's Sabbath is rest in Christ of which the seventh day sabbath was a shadow. Paul said of the Galatians who were having a hard time to break away from the bondage of the law: "Ye observe DAYS, and months and times and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” Gal 4: 11 (Gal 4:9-11 “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”)
Sunday is not and never was the Sabbath. It is a day of worship and greatly to be respected as such but it is not the Sabbath, although unscriptural tradition has caused it to be regarded as such, but there is no hint in the scriptures of Sunday ever being called the Sabbath. Sunday is called the Lord's day and should be reserved by the Christian for worship and not spent idly in fleshy gratification. But the Christian's Sabbath is not physical rest; it is spiritual rest.
The meat question must be considered along with the Sabbath question.
The Sabbath had a two-fold purpose, but clean and unclean meats had only one purpose, namely: God set certain creatures, which he called "clean" apart from other creatures, which he called "unclean" for the definite purpose of being a sign to Israel that God had set them apart from other nations to be a holy people unto him. "I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people. Ye shall THEREFORE put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean; and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine." Lev. 20:24-26.
The clean beasts represented Israel and the unclean beasts represented the Gentiles. But when the time came that the Gentiles were to be admitted into the new and living way (the Church) God gave Peter a vision of all manner of beasts and creeping things descending before him in a sheet and the voice of the Lord said "slay and eat." But Peter remonstrated when he saw all those unclean creatures and said he had never eaten anything common or unclean. Acts 10: 9-34. Acts 10:14. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common…..28. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean….34. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35.But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him…. 44. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Then God made him to know that the separation between Jew and Gentile had come to an end, hence the sign of meats clean and unclean was finished and fulfilled. Now both Jew and Gentile alike may enter through the one door into the church, and to refrain from eating certain meats is a meaningless and empty ritual.
"Let no man therefore judge you in MEAT, or in drink, or in respect of an HOLY DAY, or of the new moon, or of the SABBATH DAYS: Which are a shadow of things to come."
"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, (the Christian's Sabbath) any of you should seem to come short of it.” Heb 4:1.
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