About Jesus Steve Sweetman
How New Testament
Christians are to relate to the Old Testament Law of Moses is often
this issue is too big of a task for one article.
I'll just briefly point out a few New Testament passages
explaining how Christians should relate to the Sabbath. I
know this won't satisfy those who differ with me, and, I'm certain it
will raise more questions for those who haven't thought this issue
It's a mistake to
separate the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses into two distinct
documents as we often do. The
Ten Commandments are found in the body of the Law of Moses.
They're part of the Law. So,
in order to understand the command to keep the Sabbath day holy (Exodus
20:10 – 11) we must search the Law's 613 regulations to see how to
keep it holy. Since we
seldom do that, we misunderstand the Sabbath, as I believe my parents'
generation did. Their idea
of keeping the Sabbath holy was to attend two church meetings, eat, and
sleep, and that on Sunday, not Saturday as the Law commanded.
Sabbath goes back to
Genesis 2:2 where God "rested" from His work on the seventh
day. The English word
"rested" is translated from the Hebrew word
and thus "Sabbath", means "to sit still and ponder".
Was God so wiped out that He had to take a day off and just sit
around doing nothing? No;
His work was effortless. He
just spoke things into existence. That's
The last thing God spoke
into existence was man. This
placed man's first full day of existence on God's day of rest.
I conclude that we were created to live in a continuous state of
blissful rest as God would have understood it.
Adam blew that to shreds when he chose to know more than what was
good for him to know. This
resulted in "painful toil" replacing rest as the NIV puts it
in Genesis 3:17.
By the time Jesus arrived
on the scene a ritualized tradition of rabbinical laws ruled the day.
According to the religious establishment Jesus didn't keep the
Sabbath day holy. Healing a
crippled man was unlawful on the Sabbath; but what was Jesus to do?
Was He to ignore the poor guy, hoping to catch him on another
day? Jesus responded to such
silliness in Matthew 12:8 by saying that the Sabbath wasn't his lord.
He was Lord over the Sabbath.
As a matter of fact, Jesus is Lord over all of the Law of Moses
because He was the one who spoke it into existence.
Jesus addressed the issue
of the Law of Moses in Matthew 5:17 when He said that He didn't come to
destroy the Law but to fulfill it. The
word "fulfill" tells me that the Law of Moses was one huge
prophecy that only the life of Jesus could fulfill, and once fulfilled,
served its purpose. That's
why the Apostle Paul said things like, "Christ is the end of the
Law" in Romans 10:4, and, "Now that faith has come we are no
longer under the supervision of the Law" in Galatians 3:25.
Jesus spoke to the issue
of the Ten Commandments in Matthew 5:21 - 30.
He pointed out that the Law commanded us not to commit adultery
and not to kill. He got to
the heart of the matter by saying that if one lusts in his heart he has
committed adultery in his heart. If
one gets angry without cause, in his heart he has killed.
Jesus put a New Testament spin to these Old Testament laws,
knowing that only the Holy Spirit could change the heart of man,
something the Law was unable to do.
Like adultery and murder,
the Sabbath has been further clarified in the New Testament.
Hebrews 3:18 to 4:14 states the prophetic fulfillment of the
Sabbath laws when it states that Israelis didn't enter God's rest
because of their lack of faith. It
then says that "since the promise of entering into rest still
stands ... let us be careful … not to fall short of it … we who have
believed enter that rest … there remains a Sabbath rest for the people
of God: for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work
Hebrews 4 states that
there is definitely a New Testament Sabbath rest for Christians.
As God rested from His work, so we are to rest from our work.
In Biblical terms, it's the work involved in our feeble attempts
to find our right standing before God by obedience to laws that we are
to rest from. Jesus
confirmed this when He defined New Testament work to be simply trusting
Him for our right standing before God. (John 6:29)
In short, we are to celebrate the Sabbath rest by trusting Jesus
for our salvation instead of trusting our frustrating attempts to obey
laws that could never save us, and weren't meant to save us.
Paul clarified this a bit
more in Romans 14:5. He
pointed out that some people consider certain days to be sacred while
others consider all days to be sacred.
The context shows that Paul considered himself to be one who
considered all days to be sacred. For
him, every day was a Sabbath rest unto the Lord as He trusted His life
If you feel compelled to
observe the Sabbath because it was mandated by the Law of Moses, I point
out the following. You must
observe the Sabbath on Saturday, not Sunday. (Exodus 20:10 - 11)
You can't cook a meal or have someone cook it for you on the
Sabbath. (Exodus 3:16) You
muss reframe from planting your garden every seven years. (Leviticus
25:4) You must not work on
the Sabbath or else you'll be put to death. (Exodus 31:15)
You must find a priest to perform a wave offering on the Sabbath.
(Leviticus 23:11) You must
keep an additional Sabbath on the first day of the seventh month.
(Leviticus 23:24) You must
keep two additional Sabbaths on the fifteenth day and the twenty third
day of the seventh month. (Leviticus 23:39)
You must kill two young lambs to be offered to the Lord on the
Sabbath. (Numbers 28:9) You
must make sure your kids or farm animals don't work on the Sabbath.
(Deuteronomy 5:14) The tough
part of this is that the Law of Moses doesn't permit you to pick and
choose which laws to accept and which to reject, as Evangelicals have
done for years. It's all or
nothing, and in New Testament terms it's nothing.
I suggest you follow the
Apostle Paul's example. Celebrate
each day of your life as a holy Sabbath unto the Lord.
Thank Jesus for rescuing you from the curse of the Law that
should be your final fate. Rest
in the fact that God considers you to be just as righteous and holy as
He Himself is, despite the fact that you aren't.
The first prophecy found
in the Bible is portrayed when God rested on the seventh day.
This seventh day rest will find its ultimate fulfillment in the
blissful rest of eternity.