Showing posts from 2009

The Fourth Commandment

Sabbath Study, Part 10 After escaping the Egyptians at the Red Sea, the Israelites are led through the desert until they reach Mount Sinai. Moses climbs the mountain to meet with God and receives the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment, as spoken by the very mouth of God, states the following: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11) Remember. As we have seen, the Sabbath was already known to the Israelites before the giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 16:23-30). Here, God makes an explicit connection between

Rest in the Wilderness

Sabbath Study, Part 9 In Exodus 16, the Israelites (having just witnessed the destruction of Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea) are introduced to manna, the food God sovereignly and miraculously provides for them in the wilderness. Each morning, manna covers the ground, and the Israelites are to collect only enough for that day. Then, on the sixth day of the week, a further command is given: [Moses] said to them, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’” So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none.” Now it happened that some of the people went out o

The Genesis of the Sabbath

Sabbath Study, Part 8 Now we will begin our trek through Scripture, starting at Genesis and ending at Revelation. Our first Sabbath-related passage is found in Genesis chapter 2, which, as we will see, is referenced in the Ten Commandments. So, let’s just start at the very beginning—a very good place to start. Here we see how the pattern for man’s workweek was set at the very beginning of history. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3) On the sevent h day. The concept of the week itself is unique. All other measurements of time (days, months, years) are based on the trajectory and rotation of the stars and planets, but there is no celestial basis for the week. The reason man lives in

The Sabbath: Permanent or Temporary?

Sabbath Study, Part 7 When we get to the actual Ten Commandments (in Exodus 20), we will see that God quotes directly from Genesis 2 to provide the basis for the Sabbath rest. Beginning with the next post, we will start to work our way through Scripture from the beginning, focusing first on Genesis 2 and what it means. In the meantime, I want us to examine the nature of all of God’s creation-week ordinances. As far as I can tell, there are three: 1. A RESPONSIBILITY: work (or labor). 2. A RELATIONSHIP: marriage. 3. A RITUAL: weekly rest. Before sin ever entered the picture, there existed these three divinely ordained aspects of man’s existence. Each gives us a greater understanding of the reason for which man was made. Let’s briefly examine each one and see what we notice about the perpetuity (or brevity) of each. Work First, the responsibility. When God placed Adam in the garden, He did so with a specific purpose. “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to te

The Sabbath: Objection #3

Sabbath Study, Part 6 Colossians 2:16-17 is the last of the three major New Testament passages used to argue against the continuance of the Sabbath rest. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (Colossians 2:16, 17) Let no one judge you. “The apostle speaks here in reference to some particulars of the hand-writing of ordinances , which had been taken away , viz., the distinction of meats and drinks , what was clean and what unclean , according to the law; and the necessity of observing certain holydays or festivals , such as the new moons and particular sabbaths , or those which should be observed with more than ordinary solemnity; all these had been taken out of the way and nailed to the cross, and were no longer of moral obligation. There is no intimation here that the Sabbath was done away, or that its moral use was superseded, by the

The Sabbath: Objection #2

Sabbath Study, Part 5 The second major New Testament passage used to dispute the continuance of the Sabbath is found in the book of Galatians. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. (Galatians 4:9-11) You observe days...and years. There seem to be two possible interpretations of this passage. The first is that the observance of special holidays is outdated and unnecessary. If that is Paul’s meaning here, let us examine why the weekly Sabbath is not included. “The days here referred to [in Gal. 4:10] are doubtless the days of the Jewish festivals. They had numerous days of such observances; and in addition to those specified in the Old Testament, the Jews had added many others, as days commemorative of the destruction and rebuilding

The Sabbath: Objection #1

Sabbath Study, Part 4 The first of the three most popular Scriptural passages used to support the idea that the fourth commandment has ceased is found in Romans 14. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:5) This passage deals with a common problem in New Testament times. As Gentile Christians joined the church, disputes arose as to the necessity—or lack thereof—of observing longstanding Jewish customs (festival days, dietary regulations, circumcision, etc.) What we find out from Paul (and other Scriptural passages) is that ceremonial Jewish laws do not apply to Christians—Jewish or Gentile. We are free from those requirements. However, our freedom in Christ also allows us to adhere to them (or some of them), should we so choose. Our conscience is to be our guide in such cases. A person convicted of, say, eating pork can very well abstain from eating pork. That being said, it should be

Some Qualifying Statements

Sabbath Study, Part 3 There is a lot to be said about the Sabbath, but before we go any further I want to make clear a few things I will NOT say in this blog series. First, I am NOT going to say that the true Sabbath is on Saturday. Later on in the study (when we get to the end of the gospels), we’ll look more in-depth at the “Saturday vs. Sunday” debate. Until then, I’ll just say that I think the Saturday Sabbath as the Jews knew it has ceased and that the Christian Sabbath rests (no pun intended) on Sunday. Second, I am NOT going to say that God’s acceptance of us is influenced by how we observe (or neglect) the Sabbath. God accepts us solely because of Christ (Eph. 1:6), whose imputed righteousness is the only basis on which we have a right standing with God (Phil. 3:9). We can obtain God’s acceptance through observing the Sabbath no better than we can obtain God’s acceptance by obeying any of the other commandments in Scripture. Finally, I am NOT going to say that we need to add an

Dead Men Tell Great Truths

Sabbath Study, Part 2 While studying the topic of the Sabbath, I found that I was not the only fish in this particular ocean. Indeed, a lot of great men from the past—dead fish, if you will—swam this current before me. Their insight and wisdom spurred me on. Below are just a few examples. Jonathan Edwards believes it is the will of God that Christians set aside the Sabbath for the purpose of religious exercises and duties: If the Christian Sabbath be of divine institution, it is doubtless of great importance to religion that it be well kept, and therefore, that every Christian be well acquainted with the institution. A.W. Pink makes a pointed case for Sabbath observance: It should thus be quite evident that this law for the regulation of man’s time was not a temporary one, designed for any particular dispensation, but is continuous and perpetual in the purpose of God. . . . The more faithfully we keep this Commandment, the better prepared shall we be to obey the other nine. My favor

The Sabbath: An Introduction

Sabbath Study, Part 1 Several months ago I began a study of the Ten Commandments with the idea that I would grow in my understanding of both God’s holiness and my sinfulness, thus bringing about a deeper appreciation for the gospel. It wasn’t long, however, before my study was hijacked. I arrived at the fourth commandment and quickly realized that I didn’t know what to do with it: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. How exactly had I violated the Sabbath? Was this commandment even active, or had it passed away? After all, the Western Christianity I’d grown up in seemed not to take much notice of the fourth commandment. Sure, church was always on Sunday, but that seemed to be about it. Was there more to a Sabbath rest? What did this commandment have to say to me today? In an effort to find Biblical answers to my questions, I started researching online to see what other Christians—past and present—have said about the Sabbath rest. During my search, I came across an onlin