You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.
The Sadducees to whom Jesus said these words accepted only the five Books of Moses as Scripture and they knew that part very well. And yet Jesus said that they didn’t know the Scriptures nor the power of God, because it is not enough to know the letter of the Law, but man should have the real spiritual meaning of the Law written on his heart. In the same way, there were Judaizers in the days of the Apostles, and there are other Judaizers today “having a form of piety but denying the power of it” (2 Timothy 3:5) These are false teachers coming in the cloths of sheep, “desiring to be law-teachers, not understanding either what they say or concerning what they so strenuously affirm.” (1 Timothy 1:7)
Groups of those false teachers today are “false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.” (Galatians 2:4) We have a freedom or a liberty in Christ that these false teachers do not understand and do not have, so they claim to be real Christians and they attack this liberty in Christ, not knowing that in this way they are teaching the Law instead of preaching the Good News of Salvation and living the truth of the Law by the Spirit. Just as the devil tempted Jesus by saying “it is written…” (Matthew 4:6) and quoted a passage from the Bible to apply it against the Bible, in the same way those false teachers say “it is written…”, and they quote the following concerning the Sabbath to apply it against the Bible and the New Covenant:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
These people have clearly changed and misunderstood the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and thus they are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. So we answer them just as our Lord answered the devil: “It is again written…” (Matthew 4:7) We tell them to let the Bible explain itself instead of giving us their human interpretations. And thus we destroy their legalistic speculations (see 2 Corinthians 10:5).
Look in which treacherous way they quote Exodus 20:8-11 to bring us back to the yoke of the slavery of the Commandment of the Sabbath (see Galatians 5:1) which is a shadow of the substance that belongs to Christ (see Colossians 2:17).
WHAT DOES EXODUS 20:8-11 REALLY SAY? AND WHAT DOES THE COMMANDMENT OF THE SABBATH REALLY MEAN? This is what we will study from the Word of God in the following lines.
The Old Covenant: The Covenant of the Sabbath and of circumcision.
When Jesus said “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) He was saying something really deep about the meaning of the Sabbath. As you can see in the passage quoted above from Exodus 20, the Sabbath is a day of rest after a long week of work which is a picture of the work of God in creating. This shows that the Law is not about some commandments that the Lord God gives us to test us or to just make a show, but it is about the Nature of God as the Holy Creator. He didn’t create as a slave; He created as the Sovereign Creator and finished His creative work on the sixth day and He rested from that work on the seventh day. In the same way, His people are the liberated or redeemed people of God. They should show that freedom by resting after a long week of work, and thus the Sabbath was made for man to give him physical rest, and not the man for the Sabbath. This deep meaning is further clear when we don’t stop at one passage like the false teachers do, and we quote Moses explaining this Commandment of the Sabbath:
‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.
‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.
‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.
In this passage, do you read anything about the creative work of God?? Nothing. And yet, that work is present in the redemption of Israel from the slavery in Egypt, as I explained above. The Lord wants Israel to have rest, because He redeemed them from the slavery in Egypt. He wants them to serve Him as free men, and not as slaves:
Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.”
But Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the LORD our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us?
“We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He commands us.”
The Redeemer Nature of God is not another Nature of God besides His creative Nature. It’s the same Nature, the same God. But you see how the rest of the Jew is just a picture of the first creation and of his redemption from the physical slavery.The Covenant of God with Israel was not the New Covenant through Jesus Christ in whom we have the new creation and the true Redemption from sin, as we will see later. The Jew rests after a week of work as a picture of God’s first creation that was corrupted by sin (see Romans 8:19-22) and as a picture of his rest from the slavery in Egypt. God takes care of the servants and even of the animals to make a rest available for them after a week of work. But, as a Christian, do you remember the last time you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and how the Lord brought you out of there with a powerful redeeming work, as the passage of Deuteronomy says?? I am sure you don’t remember any such thing. If you are born of God, you remember that you were redeemed from the slavery of sin, and that the Lord brought you out of that slavery with the power of the cross, the power that was revealed to us in His Resurrection. We will see this in more details later. But in the context of this passage, you see that the Sabbath Commandment as stated in the two passages of Exodus and Deuteronomy is not addressed to the Christian, but to Israel whom God redeemed from the slavery of Egypt. Indeed, if you begin to read the Ten Commandments from the beginning, you will see this clearly:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
This is how the Ten Commandments of the Old Covenant begin. To whom is this addressed? Whom did God bring out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery? Is it not Israel? Again, read the first Commandment that is with a promise:
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
Again, which land is this? Is it not the promised land where Israel was going? Of course, it is. In its limited meaning, it is not fully the land or the earth about which Jesus said: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) and about which the Apostle said: “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” (Ephesians 6:2-3) Jesus and the Apostle Paul were not talking about the land of Canaan where the children of Israel were going when they received the Ten Commandments.
What is the simple conclusion here? It is that the Ten Commandments, in their physical and simple meaning, are given to Israel as the Old Covenant, and not to Christians who are under the New Covenant. In fact, these Ten Commandments are called the words of the Covenant (i.e. the Old Covenant). We see this in several passages very clearly:
* “And he was there with Jehovah forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” (Exodus 34:28)
* “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 for ever: for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, and 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 Jehovah that sanctifieth them.” (Ezekiel 20:12)
The Sabbath is a sign of the Old Covenant between God and the children of Israel, similar to the sign of circumcision. Just as circumcision of flesh has the spiritual meaning of the circumcision of the heart, in the same way the Sabbath has the spiritual meaning of the rest from the slavery to sin, and therefore it is among the Ten Commandments.
So, in brief, the Ten Commandments are the Old Covenant made with Israel, and the Sabbath is a representation of the first creation that was corrupted by sin and the physical redemption of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. And all this is a shadow of the new creation in Jesus Christ and the Redemption from the slavery of sin.
The Law cannot save you from the slavery to sin. It can only show you your sinfulness with a physical picture as in the case of the Sabbath. Although all the deep meanings of each Commandment are there in the Law and only the light of the Gospel can find them, and yet the Law itself cannot make you a child of Light. It shows you your sinfulness so that you may come to Christ and receive His Grace. That’s why there was a need for a New Covenant.
The New Covenant: The Covenant of the cross and the risen Christ, by the Spirit of life.
The Law is not able to make you a new person by commanding you to be a good person. Therefore the Old Covenant was not able to cleanse us from our sins with the many animal sacrifices that it had and that were only a shadow of the real Sacrifice, Jesus Christ:
“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Hebrews 10:1)
And thus the promise for a New Covenant was made to the children of Israel. Let us concentrate on this promise and understand each truth in it very well, because the teachings of the false teachers are based on misunderstandings of this New Covenant. Let’s read together the promise:
Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.
Notice the important characteristics of the New Covenant:
– It was a future promise for the children of Israel who were living under the Old Covenant.
– It will not put the children of Israel outside, but it will change the rules of relationship.
– It is not according to the Old Covenant. It is not the Covenant of the Sabbath and of circumcision of the flesh. It has another way of work. It doesn’t make the children of Israel remember their redemption from the land of Egypt, this redemption which is related to the Old Covenant that they broke.
– It is not a Covenant of physical signs and of shadows of the real substance. In it, the Law does not just command physically from the outside, but it is put in the heart of those who are really under that New Covenant, so they will not need to read letters before they know the Nature of God, but they will be “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in that world by lust.” (2 Peter 1:4) This means that they will not be reading the Ten Commandments and remembering how they physically came out from the slavery of Egypt, but they will remember how they were saved from the slavery of sin. So the Commandments will be applied in the light of the cross and the Resurrection, and not in remembrance of the redemption from the slavery of Egypt.
We all know that the Lord Jesus came, and the New Covenant was established. Let’s see step by step the implications of this fact:
The Old Covenant is abolished
The Bible is very clear concerning the fact that we are no longer under the Old Covenant and that all the ordinances that make the Old Covenant are abolished as such. If that was not so, the New Covenant would not be established, and the wall that separated the nations from Israel would not be broken down:
When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace
So “the Law of commandments contained in ordinances” (i.e. all what characterizes the Old Covenant) was abolished. And as the Sabbath is one of the essential characteristics of that Old Covenant, then it is abolished, too. Of course, the New Testament clearly mentions the Sabbath also as being one of those Old Covenant characteristics that were abolished, and we will see this after some lines.
Here, I want to make a very important note. Many people have a problem understanding the difference between the Law of God and the Old Covenant, as they both are related very closely. As the Bible says that the Old Covenant is abolished, so they misunderstand that the Law is abolished. But this is very wrong. The Law, just as the Gospel, is the Word of God, and the Word of God will never be abolished. When God established His New Covenant, He didn’t change or lower His moral standard. He is the Same, and His Word does not change.In fact, the problem was not with the Law.
So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
So the problem is with the flesh, with us humans, and not with the holy Law of God. The Old Covenant gave the flesh the opportunity to prove whether it can keep the Law. Man proved to be the enemy of God and of His Law, and therefore Israel broke the Covenant of God, as we have seen above.
The flesh is this sinful nature of man. It is the “I”, the self. Since the Fall, we have this rebellious self in us. The Law cannot change this sinful nature, but it does not lower its demands of holiness. Thus the Law shows us our sinfulness, leading us to accept the Gospel that alone is the power of God for Salvation.
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”
When I came to Christ by faith and received His Grace, it is not the Law that was dead, but I was dead to the Law, i.e. the self was crucified with Christ and the new self in Christ was born (see Galatians 2:20, 5:24 and similar passages). The Law, by showing us the sinfulness of this old self, leads us to this Grace of Christ.
The Gospel is the Grace of God that gives us a new nature, “the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:24) This Grace of God is not another Law added to the Law of Moses, but it is its substance. This Grace saves us and heals us after the Law has showed to us our sinfulness and spiritual sickness. And to sanctify us, the Grace of God does not use the ways of the Law, although it keeps the same high level of the Law’s standard and even gives us a true idea about the height of that level. For instance, a person under the Old Covenant would see in the Commandment against murder just the physical side. Grace comes and teaches us that this Commandment also means not to get angry against my brother. So the Grace of God teaches us “that, having denied impiety and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and justly, and piously in the present course of things” (Titus 2:12) A man who is under Grace does not feel obliged by the Law (like a slave) to do good works, but he is zealous for good works (see Titus 2:14) because he is created for those good works that God has prepared (see Ephesians 2:10). It is this Grace that gives a true righteousness that surpasses the hypocrite righteousness of the Pharisees and thus truly applies the truth of the Law. And this is what Jesus said in the following passage:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
So the Law is not abolished by faith, but it is truly fulfilled, as Grace gives us the new nature that walks according to the Will of God:
Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.
In brief, with the New Covenant, the full substance or spiritual meaning came, and we finished from the external physical shadow. For example, if we would continue to stop at the remembrance of the redemption from Egypt, the redemption of the nations would not be possible, as the wall that separated the Jews from the nations would stay. But as the full substance came, we had the Redemption from sin, the spiritual real meaning of the redemption from the slavery of Egypt, and thus there was no more need for the symbol or the shadow. There is no more need for the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is abolished
The following passage clearly says that the Sabbath is abolished:
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—
things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
As we have seen above, the Old Covenant was abolished. Here in these verses we see how all the characteristics of that Old Covenant, and especially the Sabbath, were abolished. We see that the Sabbath is a mere shadow of the substance that belongs to Christ and that we have today under the New Covenant.
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that the Christian should not consider a particular day legalistically, as if it would be a sin against the Law if it was not kept. In the Epistle to the Galatians, the Apostle blames some Galatians for being deceived by the Judaizers who told them to keep the Law in order to be saved; they were trying to do that by keeping days and months and seasons and years according to the Law of Moses (see Galatians 4:10). The Apostle explains to them in the whole Epistle what it means to be under the Law (see for example Galatians 4:21 where begins the passage in which the Apostle tells them that being under Law means being the children of the slave). And in Galatians 5:4 the Apostle says that those who still seek to be justified by keeping the Law are severed from Christ and are fallen from Grace. That’s really dangerous! Some of the Galatians would finally prove that they didn’t really believe in Christ with a saving faith, as they were trying to be sanctified and be perfected by keeping the Law (see Galatians 3:3). That’s what today’s Judaizers do.
We read in Romans 14:5-23 that we should not make of legal days a case of dispute as the false teachers do today; we should encourage each other to have a spiritual view of everything, according to faith built on the Word of God and not on the principles of the Old Covenant. In this passage of Romans 14:5-23, we have Christians from both Jewish and pagan backgrounds. The Jews were habituated to keep the Sabbath, and their conscience would be affected if they didn’t continue to keep it. The essential for the Apostle was that they don’t keep it legalistically, but only by faith: “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord“ (Romans 14:6). So it was very essential for him that the Christians who are from a Jewish background do not continue to keep the Sabbath legalistically, as we have seen in Colossians 2:16-17, but that they may continue to observe it only by faith FOR THE LORD. This means that they will not oblige the rest of the Church to follow their weak conscience, and that this observance of the Sabbath will be something between them and the Lord, and they will keep learning the truths that we are seeing in this article and thus become mature in faith and get rid of the characteristics of the children in faith. As for the Christians who were from a pagan background, their conscience felt bad if they had to keep a particular Sabbath, because they previously had special days of festivities in their pagan background that they wanted to leave now and they wanted to see all days as being alike. God doesn’t want His Church to fall in any of these two extremes, but at the same time He wants us to accept these brethren with their weaknesses.
We are not under Law, but under Grace
After what we have seen above, we must also clarify something very essential concerning the keeping of the Law. Should a Christian keep the Law or not? We will study this very briefly, as it is a long topic that can be the topic of another detailed article. But it is very important to say a word about it, because the basic misunderstandings about the Sabbath are built around a misunderstanding of the Old and New Covenants, as I said above. The basic errors are made concerning the way in which the Law is established by faith, as we have seen in Romans 3:31. The false teachers ask “how can the Law be established by faith?” and they don’t know the true answer as they don’t know the Scriptures nor the power of God, and thus they fall in legalism and they begin to keep the Sabbath as a Law, and they do not establish it by faith, by the Spirit. Thus, after supposedly having begun by the Spirit, they think now that they will be perfected by the flesh (see Galatians 3:3).
The basic truths of the New Covenant that are in relation with this matter are:
1. We are dead to the Law: “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” (Romans 7:4)
2. We are not under Law, but under Grace: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)
Let’s explain these two basic truths in brief.
1. We are dead to the Law.
As it was impossible for the Law to save us, being weak through the flesh and not in itself (see Romans 8:3), so it was essential that the flesh dies (i.e. the old “I”, the sinful self). That’s what happened on the cross. Everyone who put his trust on Christ is crucified with Him to sin, i.e. his old self is dead. Thus the Law that kept us bound to the flesh does not apply on us anymore, as the self is dead, just as the law of a husband in marriage does not apply on a woman whose husband is dead. This woman is now free to marry another husband. And that’s what happened to us who believed in Christ and are dead to the Law that bound us to the flesh. Now, we can belong to another husband who is Christ, and thus we are not under Law anymore (see Romans 7). Does this mean that the Law is dead? Not at all! This means that I don’t need the Law to be my teacher anymore, because I have the fulfillment of the Law in Christ. When I read the Law, I see Christ in it not just as a shadow, as the Jew used to do under the Old Covenant, but as the risen Lord who is in me and I in Him. Thus I have the Law written on my heart, and I really establish the truth of the Law by faith in Christ, while it was impossible for me to establish it when I was in the flesh (see Romans 8:5-14).
2. We are not under Law, but under Grace
As I am dead to the Law, so I am not under Law anymore. I belong to another husband who is Jesus Christ, i.e. I am under Grace. And this is exactly how I establish the Law by faith, while the legalistic person keeps transgressing the Law each day as he doesn’t really keep the whole Law 100% and always. For example, you can’t just say that you will keep the Sabbath or the circumcision, while you don’t keep the whole Law perfectly. Look what the Apostle says: “And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.” (Galatians 5:3) You can’t pick and choose what you want to keep from the Law! You can’t say I only choose the circumcision, and the rest is abolished, or the Ten Commandments, or the Sabbath, or any part of the Law. The WHOLE Law must be established, and we have seen that this is impossible to do by the flesh. So we had to crucify the flesh and thus belong to Christ. So we are no longer under Law, but under Grace. We do the Will of God by love, by the Spirit, and not as slaves who are obliged to keep some laws. And this is what the Apostle says:
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
And after describing the fruit of the Spirit, the Apostle adds: “against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:23-24)
So I am dead to the Law, the whole Law. It is wrong to say, as some say, that we are only dead to the ceremonial Commandments of the Old Testament. We have studied the subject of our death to the Law in Romans 7, and in that chapter the Commandment that is mentioned concerning the Law is a deeply moral Law: “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” (Romans 7:7) And Romans 7 says that we are dead to the Law. And it is BECAUSE we are dead to the whole Law that we establish the whole Law. We establish the WHOLE Law, and not only the so-called moral Commandments. The whole Law is spiritual (see Romans 7:14). So Grace can find with its light all the spiritual meanings in all the Commandments of the Law, and thus Grace teaches us “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12).
Thus there is no need for the Law as teacher for those who are dead to the Law and thus sin is not master over them (see Romans 6:14). The one who is born of God cannot sin (see 1 John 3:9), i.e. he cannot leave true faith and fall from Grace, so there is no need for the Law to teach him not to sin:
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
(1 Timothy 1:8-11)
The new creation
So the Sabbath day has no relation with my new nature as a child of God under Grace. As I am not under the Old Covenant, so I have nothing to do with Israel who by the Sabbath remembered the redemption from Egypt. I am redeemed from sin by being under Grace and not under Law. Besides this, I have nothing to do with the first creation that was corrupted by sin, as we have seen. I am a part of the new creation in Christ by His Resurrection:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT TELL US TO KEEP THE SABBATH?
We have seen that the New Testament clearly tells us that the Old Covenant and the Sabbath were abolished with the coming of the New Covenant. Furthermore, and as we are not under Law but under Grace, and as we do not belong to the first Adam and the first creation that was corrupted by sin, so we do not find any instruction in the New Testament concerning the keeping of the Sabbath.
When Judaizers came down from Judea and wanted to deceive the Christians by teaching them that they should put themselves under the Law and that they should observe the whole Law (see Acts 15:1,5), “The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.” (Acts 15:6) And during that council, they talked about the abolishing of the Old Covenant as it appeared in the breaking down of the wall that separated the Gentiles from the Jews, and finally decided to write a letter to all the Christians telling them not to put themselves under bondage again by trying to keep the Law for Salvation, but to keep an important moral standard so that they may be showing the characteristics of their new nature and so that they may not be a stumbling block for others (see Acts 15:20): to abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood (all of these are related to the pure new nature of Grace). Note with me that they didn’t mention anything about the Sabbath! They didn’t tell the disciples to make sure to keep the holy Sabbath. Why? Because the Old Covenant was abolished, and the Sabbath has nothing to do with their new nature. If the Sabbath were so essential even for the New Covenant believers, they would say at least a brief word about it.
It is to be noted also that the Judaizer false teachers today tell us that the whole Law is abolished but the Ten Commandments are still to be kept just as they were kept under the Old Covenant. As we have seen, the Ten Commandments are the words of the Old Covenant, and the Old Covenant is abolished; so we are not under that Covenant to keep the Ten Commandments as a Law. Besides, we have seen that we are dead to the Law, so we are not under Law; and yet, the Law is not dead and it is holy and good. So I don’t try to keep the Ten Commandments as if I were still under the Law; I do better than that: I walk by the Spirit, and thus I establish the Law by faith (as we have seen above). We have already seen how Jesus told us that if our righteousness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So we teach the Commandments of the Law, ALL the Commandments, not as Law-teachers but as Grace-teachers. So the New Testament does not teach such a strange idea as the one that says that out of all the Law of Moses only the Ten Commandments should be kept. Nothing of this is said in the New Testament. You read it nowhere in the New Testament. On the contrary, the Apostles taught us that we establish the WHOLE Law by faith, and Jesus said that we should not annul even one of the least of all the Commandments of the whole Law:
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
We should be Grace-teachers of the WHOLE Law, as I explained above.
So there is nothing in the New Testament about the Law being abolished and about only the Ten Commandments remaining as binding on the Christian. The whole Word of God is binding on us by the Spirit as free men who behold the Glory of the Lord with unveiled face, and we are not under the Law (read 2 Corinthians 3:3-18).
And we also see how much inaccurate it is to say that all but the Ten Commandments is abolished when we read about the question that was addressed to our Lord concerning the greatest Commandment. He didn’t mention the Ten Commandments as an answer, but instead of that He quoted the Commandments about love for God and love for our neighbor (see Mark 12:28-31). In fact, love is the heart and the spiritual meaning of the whole Law and of all what the prophets said: “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40) “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)
And love to God is the heart of what the Old Covenant commandment of the Sabbath means. So this leads us to say a brief word about the Lord’s Day.
THE LORD’S DAY
A whole article can be dedicated to the subject of the Lord’s Day. It is indeed a matter of the highest importance in our Christian walk. And yet, in the limit of this article, we will see a short explanation about it, as this article is mainly about the Old Covenant Sabbath and all the rest is explained in relation to that and as a clarification to the meaning of the Sabbath.
All what was said about the Sabbath as a legalistic and ceremonial day has nothing to do with the Lord’s Day. It is a totally wrong idea that the Lord’s Day replaces the Old Covenant Sabbath. As we saw above, the Gospel is NOT another Law like that of Moses; the Gospel is the Grace of God. And the Grace of God is before the Law, and the whole Law has the Grace of God as its real and deep substance. And we have seen that LOVE is the Grace-substance on which hang all the Law and the Prophets. And this substance to which the Sabbath was but a shadow is found in the LORD’S DAY that every Christian loves and respects as a day of rest and worship, a day to come to the Lord’s Table.
Since the first Sunday when the Lord was risen, the morning of the Resurrection, the first day of the week has become for the Christians the day when they remember with a joyful heart their Passover Jesus Christ, their Redemption from the slavery to sin (and not from the slavery in Egypt), and the new creation in Christ. In brief, we say that we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord on this day. On this day, the weeks and the Sabbaths of the old creation finished for us, and a new Day began, the Day of Grace, the Day of Salvation that the Lord has made (see Psalm 118:24). And the whole old creation is now waiting for that day when it will be able to join the children of God in this new creation (see Romans 8:19-22). The Lord’s Day is the eighth day after the last seventh day of the old creation before the Resurrection, the eighth day in which every newborn male in Israel had to be circumcised as a sign of this new creation in Christ.
In fact, this eighth day has always been the day of the Son, the day of Resurrection, the Lord’s Day as the Apostle John calls it in Revelation 1:10. A person who has no real idea about all what we explained above will not understand how the Resurrection day can be called the Lord’s Day; he will not understand why the Lord chose to rise from the dead on a Sunday and not on a Sabbath!! As I said above, we already have a shadow of the Lord’s Day in the circumcision of the newborn males in Israel: they all had to be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth. And you know that the whole Old Testament with all its symbols or shadow pictures testifies about the Son (see John 5:39). And we will see how in the subject of the Lord’s Day this testimony of the Old Testament is so powerful.
The Gospel is about the Resurrection of the Lord. The Gospel does not stop where Jesus is dead and His body is still in the tomb. On that last Sabbath before the day of Resurrection, the Lord’s body was still in the tomb. We, Christians, are not the people of death and of slavery. We are the people of the Resurrection, of the new creation. We don’t have anything to do with the Sabbath of death. And it is very important to remember that Jesus Himself is the Gospel; He is the Resurrection. He said: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) And the Resurrection day is the Lord’s Day. It is also the same day that the Lord chose to baptize His Church with the Holy Spirit.
Let’s see how in the Old Covenant God always told us that the eighth day is the Son’s day:
The Feast of Harvest: “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. ‘He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.” (Leviticus 23:10-11)
The Resurrection of the Lord on the day after the Sabbath, i.e. the eighth day, the Lord’s Day: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) So the eighth day is the day of the Son.
The Feast of Pentecost: “You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:15-16)
The Lord baptized His Church with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the day after the seventh Sabbath, i.e. the eighth day, the Lord’s Day: “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” (Acts 2:1) In John 16:14, the Lord said that the Holy Spirit will glorify Him, for He will take of His and will disclose it to us. And the Holy Spirit did that on the eighth day, the Son’s Day, the Lord’s Day.
“On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12:3) “On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind. ‘For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work.” (Leviticus 23:35-36)
The eighth day,
And since that first Lord’s Day, the Church always gathered together on that day around the Lord’s Table:
And the first day of the week, we being assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed to them, about to depart on the morrow. And he prolonged the discourse till midnight.
So the Lord’s Day is very important in our Christian walk, as it is directly related to the Lord’s Table. It is a constant reminder for the Christian about the Redemption of the Lord and about the new creation in Christ, as it assembles us around the bread and the cup, and it calls us to examine ourselves before we approach, and it keeps reminding us of the second coming of the Lord which is a very very important encouragement to holiness of life:
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:26)
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
(1 John 3:3)
And the assembling together on this Resurrection day is the main one, the one in which the worship assembling happens around the Table of the Lord. So the whole local church is present on this day in principle, and it is a day of rest, therefore all the plans that need such a day of rest are placed on this day. For example, when a collection of help would be done for the brethren in another local church, the Apostle Paul tells the church in Corinth:
On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.
(1 Corinthians 16:2)
It is clear, then, that the Lord’s Day is the Son’s day, the day of His Resurrection that marks our true Redemption from sin and the new creation. The first creation was corrupted by the sin of Adam, and now we do not belong to that corruption; we are born of God, everyone of us who is in Christ by living faith. We have in this Resurrection the rest that the Lord promised to give to all those who come to Him:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Actually, it is very important to understand this rest in order to understand the place of the Lord’s Table and of the Lord’s Day in this rest. This rest that Jesus gives is already ours, but also it is not yet… This is in fact in the nature of our Salvation. So let’s see how this rest is already ours, but it is not yet. We study this truth in the following passage:
For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“ So I swore in My wrath,
‘ They shall not enter My rest,’”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“ Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 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.
– This rest is already ours through the Resurrection of the Lord:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.
I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
How beautiful is the Word of God! “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103) You see in these verses how the rest of the Lord is already ours in Justification, in this peace that we already have with God having been justified by faith. This Justification is related to the Resurrection of the Lord, as He paid the debt of our sins, He crucified the flesh, and rose again from death making us alive. As He lives, we also live! (See John 14:19) And thus we already stand in this Grace and we rejoice in the SURE hope of the Glory of God. We already have rest in Christ. And we proclaim this as Church each Lord’s Day around the Lord’s Table.
– This rest is yet to come, when we have the adoption, the redemption of our body:
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
The Resurrection of Christ is the first fruits of our resurrection, as we have seen, and His glorified risen body is the first fruits of our changed or risen bodies. We have this coming rest with a sure hope, but we are still waiting for that sure hope to come. As we are sure of it, as we already have the first fruits of the Spirit, as we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise for that day of redemption (read Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30) so we wait for it eagerly, always being ready to the coming of the Lord, so that when He comes He finds us prepared. Now, sin has no debt or authority or power on us, although it is still present. It is not master over us, as we are not under Law but under Grace. On that day, sin will cease to be present.
This leads us to say a brief word about the difference between the expressions “Lord’s Day” and “Day of the Lord”. We have seen what the Lord’s Day is. As for the Day of the Lord, it is the Day when the Lord will come (see 1 Corinthians 1:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and all the related Old Testament passages about the Day of the Lord). That day will come just like a thief in the night, so let’s be prepared, and let’s have our lamps ready.
So it is by love that we keep the Lord’s Day sanctified for the Lord’s Table. We don’t need to have a Law over our heads in order to respect and to love the Lord’s Table and the Church of Christ. We do the right things in love, because He loved us first. Do we need to be obliged to do good so that we do good?? Are we still slaves to sin? Are we still of the world? Does our Father do good because He needs to be saved?? God forbid! We have this new nature and we are partakers of the divine nature, so we do good in Christ, as we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, and we love and respect the Lord’s Day. It is the legalist who responds to licentiousness and immorality with a call to go back to Salvation by the Law. But with Jude (see Jude 4), we know that turning the Grace of God into licentiousness is a sin against the free Grace of God, so we preach the truth, and everything hidden in darkness is exposed by the light of the truth.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ