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The Cross And The Sabbath

 By Gene Frost

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       “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. Therefore 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 2:13-17, NKJV)
       Paul clearly is making a contrast between the written document which preceded the coming of the Messiah, a law with requirements which in some ways dimly outlined or suggested what was to be a reality in Him. In His death on the cross, the role of this law was completed and so it was removed, no longer valid, being superseded by the reality realized in Jesus Christ. This is descriptive of the Old Testament, the law of Moses. The law was a tutor, given to Israel, to bring them to Christ and the justification He gives to those who believe in Him. Now that the reality, the system of faith, is come, no one remains under the tutor, the law. (Gal. 3:17-25)1 God has made this first covenant, with its ordinances of divine service, obsolete. (Heb. 8:6-9:1)2
Exegesis
       The handwriting (cheirographon) was a written document. (Cf. Ex. 24:3-4.) It was a document of requirements (the KJV uses the word “ordinances”), or decrees; i.e. it was a document containing or consisting of decrees. (Cf. Neh. 9:13.) This old law is described as being “against us, contrary to us” (kath ... hupenantios) in that it could only bring guilt and condemnation. (Rom. 4:15, James 2:10) Unlike the ministration of grace, wherein Christ provides forgiveness and liberty, the old law was a “ministration of death.” (2 Cor. 3:9)
       Jesus took the law out of the way (airo) by blotting it out (exaleipho). To blot out is to wipe out or cancel. The word is used of removing writing from a papyrus document by either washing off the old ink or scraping it away. In effect, Christ erased the old law as far as its authority is concerned. (Matt. 28:18) He took it away, the word airo being in the perfect tense to indicate a present state of freedom (from the law) resulting from the action of nailing it to the cross. Nailing (proselosas) is a modal participle, describing the manner in which Christ removed the “handwriting of requirements”: He nailed the law, with all of its decrees, to His cross and they died with Him. Cross, by metonymy, signifies what was accomplished on or by reason of Jesus’ death upon the cross.
       In what to His enemies appeared to be His defeat (Isa. 28:14-18), the cross was the means of victory. He overcame the power of darkness (cf. Luke 22:53), defeated the devil (Heb. 2:14), and brought salvation and hope to lost mankind. (Col. 1:19-20, 2:19-20, Heb. 2:9-10)
       In view of the fact that the old law has been removed, along with all of its ordinances of divine service, Paul is able to tell the Colossian saints that there is no guilt in failing to observe Jewish religious customs. Law-keepers had made their way into the fellowship of Christians, and were perverting the gospel by joining the old with the new. They went so far as to say that if a Gentile wanted to obey Christ, he first had to be circumcised. They demanded that everyone, Jew and Gentile, had to keep the law. (Acts 15:1, 24; Gal. 2:3-5;1:6-7; 5:1-4) Some have suggested that Gnostics (cf. Col. 2:8) also had incorporated the Jewish ordinances into their system of works and were insisting that Christians observe them. Even so, from whatever the source, the Colossian saints were not to be intimidated. “Therefore,” in view of the fact that the law and its provisions have been made obsolete, let no one “judge” (krino), or take you to task, in regard to the Jewish observances.
       “Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths...” The daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly observances are herein contemplated. In Numbers, chapters 28 and 29, we have listed the offerings decreed by the Lord:

       DAILY OFFERINGS (Num. 28:18): “day by day,” meal and-drink offerings.
       SABBATH OFFERINGS (Num. 28:9-10).
       MONTHLY OFFERINGS (Num. 28:11-15).
       ANNUAL OFFERINGS: Passover (Num. 28:16-25); Feast of Weeks (Num. 28:26-31); Feast of Trumpets (Num. 29:1-6); Atonement (Num. 29:711); Feast of Tabernacles (Num. 29:12-40).

       This order–daily, weekly (sabbaths), monthly, yearly, in the language of Col. 2:17, is repeated over and again in the Old Testament:
       1 Chron. 23:30-31?the priests were “to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening [daily]; and at every presentation of a burnt offering to the Lord on the Sabbaths [weekly] and on the New Moons [monthly] and on the set feasts [yearly], by number according to the ordinance governing them, regularly before the Lord” (brackets and words within, added for emphasis).
       2 Chron. 2:4?Solomon said, “Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual showbread, for the burnt offerings morning and evening [daily], on the Sabbaths [weekly], on the New Moons [monthly], and on the set feasts [yearly] of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel.” (Emphasis added)
       2 Chron. 8:13?“Then Solomon offered burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of the Lord which he had built before the vestibule, according to the daily rate, offering according to the commandment of Moses, for the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the three appointed yearly feasts?the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles.” (See also 2 Chron. 31:3 and Neh. 10:33)
       When Paul uses the same terminology, can there be any doubt that he is showing that all these?the daily offering (meal and drink), the weekly sabbath, the new moon, and the annual holy day?are removed, nailed to the cross? Let no one judge you, or take you to task, because you do not observe these Jewish observances! We have accepted Christ, the fullness of blessings, and must not turn back to the shadow, which only suggested the reality to come.
Sabbath-Keeping Today
       Modern-day “Sabbath keepers”3 readily acknowledge that upon reading Colossians 2:13-17 one will conclude that the ten commandments, along with the sabbath, were blotted out when Christ died on the cross. However, they contend that, nevertheless, even in the face of the obvious, neither the ten commandments, nor the sabbath, were under consideration when Paul wrote. Rather, they assume and argue that the document to which Paul referred was what they term a “ceremonial law” and that the sabbaths were not the weekly sabbath, but what they term “ceremonial Sabbaths.” In fact, their argumentation is based principally upon assumptions.

       1. They assume that the ten commandments predate the law given at Sinai; in fact, that they were in heaven before creation and constitute the foundation of God’s government.
       2. They assume that in the Old Testament there are two laws: one they designate the “law of God” (or moral law) and the other the “law of Moses” (or ceremonial law).
       3. They assume that “covenant” does not refer to law, but only to “agreement” concerning law.
       4. They assume that the sabbath (of the moral law) is universal, that all men are to observe it.
       5. They assume that when the Bible speaks of “sabbaths,” sometimes it means the weekly sabbath of the decalogue and sometimes it means (but does not say) ceremonial Sabbaths?a distinction without a distinction, except in the mind of the sabbatarian, which he must make in order for the text to harmonize with his position. The position is the father of the exegesis, rather than the exegesis dictating the position. And for the same reason, much has to be assumed in order to reach the conclusion that the sabbatarian desires. We will examine these assumptions in order.

The Ten Commandments: From Sinai Or From Eternity?
       To set forth accurately the contention that is made, we quote from authoritative works of principal advocates of sabbatarianism. Modern-day Sabbath-keepers contend:
       “The law of God in the sanctuary in heaven is the great original, of which the precepts inscribed upon the tables of stone and recorded by Moses in the Penteteuch were an unerring transcript.”4
       “That Lucifer and his angels sinned gives evidence of the presence of the law even before Creation (2 Peter 2:4).”5
       “In like manner He had established His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and upon earth.”6
       The law here referred to is the law of ten commandments. It constitutes the foundation of the government of heaven, we are told. When Moses, on Mt. Sinai, was given the ten commandments, he received a perfect transcript of the original, which God had already formulated, even before He created the world, to regulate the heavenly realm. It was this law?one or more of the ten commandments?that Lucifer and his followers supposedly broke. In fact, we are told that all sin relates to a violation of the ten commandments, either directly or indirectly. Let us examine the claim.
Ten Commandments In Heaven Before Creation?
       The ten commandments are stated in Exodus 20:2-17 and repeated in Deut. 5:6-21. What God said He wrote on two tablets of stone. Moses later reminded the people, “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.” (Deut. 5:22; emphasis added) Now read what He said and wrote. As you do so, remember that these words are an “unerring transcript” of the “great original” in heaven. These words were God’s law in heaven, the very “foundation of His government in heaven.” They were written before God even created the world and the universe, before all creation. Now imagine God teaching “the law” to the angels, to Lucifer and his angels before they violated them and sinned. What sense do they make in this context?
       God says to the angels (teaching His eternal law): “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
       The angels respond, “God, what’s land? What’s Egypt? And, Lord, what’s bondage?”
       God continues: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
       The angels respond, “God, what are other gods?”
       God continues: “‘You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth...”
       The angels respond: “God, what is a carved image ? What is a heaven above ? What’s an earth ? What is water under the earth?
       Remember, all of this was already written in heaven before there was an earth or an heaven, and it constituted heaven’s law.
       God proceeds to instruct the angels concerning iniquity, of fathers and children and generations, and of mercy and hate. Read on through the text of the ten commandments. He tells them of His law for them, that they are to do no work on the seventh day, neither “you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.”
       Can’t you just imagine the angels, desirous of obeying God’s law, yet in confusion and asking, “God, what is a son, a daughter, a manservant, a maidservant? What is an ox, a donkey, or cattle?”
       Of what sense would references be to father and mother? How could angels understand terms like kill (murder), adultery, stealing, false witness, or coveting, and of what significance would they be to an angel in heaven?
       Can we seriously believe that God gave the ten commandments in heaven? The very language is related to this earth, and our conduct upon it. One would think that man was made for the sabbath; that the sabbath existed before he was brought into being. But this cannot be. (Mark 2:27)
The Truth Is: No Ten Commandments Before Sinai
       The first mention of a sabbath is Moses’ reference to the Lord’s ceasing His work of creation on the seventh day of creation.
       “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.” (Gen. 2:2-3)
       Because God had rested on the seventh day, it was this day He sanctified. Observe that the setting apart of the seventh day as a sabbath was some time following the day that God rested. In the English, the tense (“had rested”) is past perfect and refers to an action already completed in the past. (The Greek of the LXX expresses the same idea: it is first aorist indicative which expresses the simple occurrence of an action in past time) Moses, writing some 2500 years after the fact, in relating the cessation of God’s labor in the creation, mentions that God, in setting aside a sabbath, selected the seventh day because that is the day He had rested.7 God rested; later He sanctified the day of the week He rested as a sabbath. How much later, we find in Exodus 16 and Neh. 9:14.
       The first observance of a sabbath is found in Exodus 16:23-26. The people had to be instructed; still they were not sure, and had to be instructed again. (vs. 27-30) This introduction of a day of rest was preparatory to the institution of the sabbath at Sinai.8
       At Mount Sinai (or Horeb), the ten commandments (including the sabbath decree) were codified and given to Israel. Two clear, definitive passages establish this fact without question.
       “You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant.” (Nehemiah 9:13-14)
       “Made known” (yada) is to “cause to know,” “to cause someone to know something” (John Parkhurst, A Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 273; William Gesenius, Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 335). The Hiphil stem of yada indicates active cause. God caused Israel to know the sabbath at Mt. Sinai. It was not made known before!
       The commandments God made known in His covenant at Sinai included the ten commandments, including the sabbath.
       “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.” (Deut. 4:13)
       As noted, this covenant was not made known before, but was made known to Israel. Of this fact Moses plainly reminded Israel:
       “And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: ‘Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.” (Deut. 5:13)
       Clearly, God did not make this covenant before Sinai, but He made it with Israel then, with the people who were then in the presence of Moses–“us,those who are here today, all of us who are alive”!
To be perfectly clear that this Sinaitic covenant included the ten commandments, as he stated in Deut. 4:13, Moses then enumerates them.
       “The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain. He said: ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth...”’–and he continues to state the ten commandments (in verse 12, the sabbath) –“These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.” (Deut. 5:4-8, 22)
       There is no doubt that the ten commandments were made known at Sinai and not before. It was a covenant with Israel. The sabbath of the fourth commandment also is statedly given to Israel.
       “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. ... Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”’ (Ex. 31:13-14, 16-17, emphasis added)
       God gave the sabbath to Israel for a sign, to continually remind them that God had selected them for His people, and in doing so had brought them from slavery in Egypt.
       “And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deut. 5:15)
       The ten commandments, and the sabbath, were not made with another people than Israel. He did not deliver Gentiles from Egypt, and so the sign of the sabbath had no significance to them.
Did God Give Israel Two Laws?
       Sabbatarians realize that if Jesus nailed the law to His cross, there would be no authority today to observe the sabbath ... unless God gave two laws, and the law nailed to the cross did not contain the sabbath! In a desperate effort to save their practice, this is precisely the argument they make, even though the Bible nowhere mentions two laws given at Sinai. They reason:
       “There are set forth in the Bible two very distinct and separate codes of laws. One of these was given by God directly to His people as He spoke it from Sinai and as He wrote it upon tables of stone with His own finger. The other was given through Moses. The first constituted the standard of morals, while the second dealt primarily with ceremonies connected with the service to God.”9
       These two laws are supposedly the “law of God,” or the moral law, and the “law of Moses,” a ceremonial law. But the Bible makes no such distinction: it is a distinction without a distinction! All of the titles, used in the Scriptures, refer to one and the same law. It is referred to as: “the law” (John 1:17); “the law of the Lord” (Luke 2:24), “the law of God” (Neh. 10:29), “the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5), “the law of the Lord of heaven” (Ezra 7:6), “the law of thy God” (Ezra 7:14), “the book of the law” (Neh. 8:3), “the book of Moses” (Neh.13:1), “the book of the covenant” (2 Kings 23:2), “the book of the law of God” (Neh. 8:8), “ the book of the law of the Lord” (Neh. 9:13), And “the book of the law of Moses” (Neh. 8:1).
       The law can be referred to as of God and as of Moses because what God gave Moses gave, and what Moses gave God gave.
       God gave?
       l. The book of the law of Moses: “they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel.” (Neh. 8:1)
       2. Moses’ law: “this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given.” (Ezra 7:6)
       Moses gave?
       1. The law: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
       2. The law of the Lord: “Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses.” (2 Chron. 34:14)
       3. God’s law: “they joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes” (Neh. 10:29).
       You see, there is no distinction: God’s law was given by Moses; the law of Moses was given by God.
       In making a false distinction, sabbatarians contend that only the “law of Moses” ended:
       “The transgression of the moral law, or Ten Commandments, was sin. The second law, dealing with ceremonies, was given only because of the transgression of the first. The first was eternal, while the second was temporary in its application, extending only to the cross.”10
       Even so, the Bible teaches that it was the law, containing the ten commandments, that was done away.
       In 2 Cor. 3:5-11, Paul makes specific reference to the ten commandments, referring to them as “the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones.” With it he contrasts the “ministry of the Spirit,” which he preached. Both were glorious, but “the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.” The less glorious was passing away?the King James version says, “is done away”?and “what remains is much more glorious.” Paul here affirms that the ten commandment covenant, written on tables of stone, is done away. However, much of Israel had rejected the testament of Christ and failed to see the end of the old testament, that the law as a tutor had brought us to the Christ. As Moses was veiled, so the people had a veil on their heart in reading the old testament. “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” Yes, when one turns to Christ, he will realize the purpose of the old testament, that old ministry of death, that it was designed to bring us to the Christ, and having served its purpose is nailed to His cross. (2 Cor. 3:12-17)
       In Romans 7:1-7, Paul shows how those under the law could, in a figure, be married to Christ without committing spiritual adultery. One could not be “married” to both the law and to Christ at the same time. However, death of the former would release him. And this is the case of those under the law who come to Christ: “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” (verse 4) Now, the question is, of what “law” is Paul speaking? He identifies it as the law containing the ten commandments: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ’You shall not covet.”’ He cites the tenth commandment of the decalogue!
       It was “the law” that Jesus took to the cross with Him, with all of the “just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments.” (Neh. 9:13) Therefore, let no one take you to task for not worshipping and serving God according to the law. We are not under its authority, but are under the authority of Christ. (Matt. 28:18, Col. 3:17)
Other Sabbatarian Assumptions
       Modem-day “sabbath-keepers” endeavor to justify their embrace of the sabbath-day of the decalogue, in spite of Paul’s clear statement that Christ has wiped out the document of requirements, nailing it to His cross. (Col. 2:13-17) In defense of their faith and practice, they make a number of assumptions vital to their position. When these assumptions are exposed as being invalid, the whole body of argumentation crumbles. We have examined the assumption that the ten commandments predate the law given at Mt. Sinai, the contention being that they were in heaven before the creation and constituted the foundation of the heavenly government, and have found the assumption totally false. Sabbatarians also assume, as we have noted, that at Mt. Sinai two laws were given: the one they designate the “law of God,” or moral law, and the other, the “law of Moses,” a ceremonial law. This assumption also is without substance. They make distinctions within God’s commandments where God does not, and draw conclusions without warrant.
Is “Covenant” Just Agreement, And Not Text?
       As we examine their argumentation further, we note that it is assumed that when the Bible uses the word “covenant,” it is just referring to an agreement between God and the people, and not to the law itself. Thus, the old covenant was the old agreement concerning the keeping of the law, and the new covenant is just a new agreement concerning the keeping of the same law. Same law, just two agreements. In their own words:
       “The old covenant was an agreement between God and the people of Israel concerning the keeping of His law. It did not consist of the law, but it had to do with the law, and so, for that matter, does the new covenant.”11
       In examining the argument, we need first to look at the word covenant. “Covenant” (Heb. brith) defined may refer to a mutual undertaking of obligations, or it may refer to an obligation undertaken by a single person, as a promise, or a will, with or without penalties attached for failure to obey it. “In rendering the OT term brith, the Septuagint translators employed diatheke, literally ‘a final will or testament; in place of suntheke ‘contract; agreement; since they evidently wished’ to emphasize the fact that the initiative for such a covenantal relationship existed with one person rather than being the result of negotiation andcompromise.”12 The word diatheke, in translating brith, “loses the sense of ‘will, testament’ insofar as a d. decreed by God cannot require the death of the testator to make it operative. Nevertheless, another essential characteristic of a testament is retained, namely that it is the declaration of one persons will, not the result of an agreement betw. two parties, like a compact or contract . ... In the ‘covenants’ of God, it was God alone who set the conditions; hence covenant ... can be used to transl. d. only when this is kept in mind. So d. acquires a mng. in LXX which cannot be paralleled w. certainty in extra-Biblical sources, namely ‘decree’, ‘declaration of purpose’, ‘set of regulations’, etc.”13
       For example, God made a promise following the flood that He would not again destroy the earth with water: “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Gen. 9:11) This promise did not involve an agreement. It was a decree or promise of God that would be fulfilled, whether any man agreed with it or not. Again, when Jesus died, He left His covenant as a will. It was not an agreement; nor were the terms of His will binding only upon those who agreed to honor it. It is a declaration of His will. Those who honor it and obey Him will be blessed, but whoever rejects His will will face the same word in judgment. (John 12:48, 2 Cor. 5:10)
       Was the first covenant just an agreement or was it a document of decrees? When God promised a “new” covenant (Jer. 31:31-33), was He saying that He would just make a new agreement with the same old stipulations or decrees, or did He promise the declaration of a new will, with new provisions, new promises, a better hope?
       Moses declared, “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.” (Deut. 4:13) The covenant was the declaration of God’s will, not the people’s agreement. The covenant was written on tables of stone and consisted of ten commandments. Later, in rehearsing what God had done, he said, “When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord made with you ... the Lord delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.” (Deut. 9:9-10) Note that on the tablets of the covenant were the words which God had spoken, not an agreement with Israel concerning the law.
       When God made the new covenant, He plainly stated that it would “not (be) according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt” (Heb. 8:9). Paul, in quoting Jer. 31:31-33, contrasts the provisions and promises of the two. It was not a matter of disannulling one agreement to make another agreement with the same provisions. However, if covenant just means agreement, there would be no difference, as admitted:
       “Observe that the new covenant is made concerning the law of God. In this particular it is no different from the old.”14
       However, there was a difference, and the Hebrew writer, in Heb. 8:8-12, shows a contrast between the first covenant, given at Sinai, and the second covenant, of Christ. Under the first, one was born an Israelite and had to be taught; now, under the second, one is first taught before becoming a child of God. Under the first, sins were remembered year by year (cf. Heb. 10:3); now, under the second, when one becomes a child of God his sins are remembered no more. When God gave the new covenant, He thereby made the first old. The first didn’t become “older,” with reference to time or age, nor the second “newer.” Rather, God made the first old; He did something to it; namely, in saying “‘a new covenant; He has made the first obsolete.” (Heb. 8:13, NKJ) “Old” is the translation of the Greek word palaioo, which means “to cause to become old and obsolete, and hence no longer valid – ‘to make old, to make out of date.’”15
       God’s new covenant is not a national law, as the law was for the people of Israel, but is universal. Physical Israel as a special covenant people are no longer, so that now there is not the religious distinction of Jew and Gentile. (Gal. 3:28-29, Rom. 2:28-29, 9:24-26) All, who before were Jews and Gentiles, are reconciled in one body. (Eph. 2:16-18) The first covenant has been abrogated; we now have a new covenant, a better covenant with better promises.
       We today, as the people of God, do not go to the law of ten commandments, represented by Sinai, but we are come to Jesus and the new covenant. (Heb. 12:18-26)
Was The Sabbath Universal?
       Sabbatarians assume that the sabbath was not only eternal, but was of universal application. However, the old covenant plainly declares that the sabbath, as the law, was given to the people of Israel.
       God told Moses: “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.’“ (Ex. 31:13)
       The sabbath was a sign between God and the children of Israel. It signified that they were set apart as the people of God. When they observed the sabbath they were told to “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”(Deut.5:15) The sabbath was never given to the Gentiles; the sabbath had no significance to them. The seventh day was selected as the day they should rest because that is the day that God rested16 from His creation. (Ex. 31:17) The significance of the sabbath was not to remember that God ceased His work of creation; rather, that God delivered Israel from their bondage and established them as His holy nation. Since the sabbath was to remind Israel of their deliverance, there was no sabbath observance before that time. To the people whom God brought out of Egypt, Moses declared: “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.” (Deut. 5:3)
       The sabbath was to be observed by Israel throughout their generations, i.e. as long as they continued as the covenant people of God. This shows the limited duration of the law. As long as they were set apart as God’s people, they were to observe the sabbath without interruption, or “forever.”17 Thus, the sabbath had its beginning in Israel and continued throughout their generations until Israel ceased being the special people of God. Then Jesus nailed the law to His cross. The law has been made old, i.e. invalid or obsolete, including the sabbath of the fourth commandment.
Was The Weekly Sabbath A Shadow?
       It is argued by sabbatarians that the sabbath of the decalogue was a memorial and not a shadow. Further, it is assumed that memorials were not nailed to the cross, and therefore the weekly sabbath was not included in Col. 2:16. Here again, a distinction is made where there is no distinction.
       A “memorial” (zikkarron) “is an object or act which brings something else to mind or which represents something else.”18 The “idea is that memory is linked to personal identification with God’s historic acts or words (‘a reminder’ or a ‘remembrance’).”19 For example, the stones by the Jordan river were a memorial to the crossing of Israel into the promised land. (Joshua 4:7)
       Observe that the passover was a memorial: “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep its feast by an everlasting ordinance.” (Ex. 12:14) Though a memorial, it foreshadowed Christ: “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” (1 Cor. 5:7)
       Likewise, the feast of unleavened bread was a memorial. (Ex. 13:9) The meal offering was a memorial. (Lev. 2:9,16) The sin offering was a memorial. (Lev. 5:12) The blowing of trumpets was a memorial. (Lev. 23:24) Israel was to blow trumpets over burnt offerings and peace offerings; “they shall be a memorial for you before your God” (Num. 10:10).
       All these special days, though memorials, ceased at the cross. It is not so that memorials are distinguished from shadows, that only shadows ceased with the coming of Christ while memorials are included in the new covenant. If memorials continue, then the passover, the feast of unleavened bread, sin offerings, the blowing of trumpets, burnt offerings and peace offerings all are a part of the new covenant and are included in New Testament worship. This cannot be.
Conclusion

       Colossians 2:13-17 describes the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, His fulfilling of the old covenant and removal of it. In doing so, there is no basis of censure for those who would condemn us for not observing the ordinances contained in it. “Therefore 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.”

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1. The law was given on Mt. Sinai 430 years after the promise had been made to Abraham (Ex. 12:40, 19:1) and was ordained by angels (Acts 7:53, Heb. 2:2).
2. God made old the first: (palaioo) “to declare or treat as old or absolute.” ( Fritz Rienecker and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek N.T., p. 692); “to cause to become old and obsolete, and hence no longer valid – to make old, to make out of date.”’ (Johannes Louw and Eugene Nida, Greek English Lexicon of the N. T., p. 643) .
3. Moderns are called “sabbath-keepers” by way of accommodation. Actually the sabbath is not generally observed as God gave it to be observed. Under the law of the sabbath, (1) there could be no fires built (Ex. 35:3); (2) no sticks picked up (Num. 15:32-36); (3) two lambs were to be offered (Num. 28:9-11; and (4) violators (any one who did any work) were put to death (Ex. 31:14). (5) Travel was limited (Acts 1:12): according to the Mishnah, the limit was two thousand cubits (Sotah 5:3).
4. Ellen G. White, The Triumph of God’s Love (formerly entitled The Great Controversy), page 256.
5. Seventh-day Adventists Believe...” (General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists), page 239.
6. Ellen G. White, op. cit., page 44.
7. The “treating of a future event as if it had already happened” is called a prolepsis (from pro, before, and lambanien, to take = an anticipating)?New World Dictionary, page 1136. There are a number of instances of the use of the prolepsis in the Bible, as in Matt. 10:4, where Matthew lists the twelve apostles, the last of whom is Judas: “Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.” At the time the apostles were named, Judas had not betrayed Jesus, yet, because it was well known at the time of his writing, Matthew makes the reference to further identify this “Judas.”
A prolepsis is used in commenting on Mary: “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.” (John 10:1-2) “This anointing did not occur yet for about three months, but John speaks of it as having already taken place, because when he wrote the account it was generally known that she did this (John xii.5).”?D.R. Dungan, Hermeneutics, page 331; for other examples, see his section on prolepsis, pages 329-332.
8. Unlike the sabbath decree in the law at Sinai, Moses in ordering a sabbath in Exodus 16 (1) gave no instructions more than the gathering of manna; (2) stated no punishment for violation; (3) and when the instructions were violated as some went out to gather, there was no punishment, vss. 20, 27. See footnote 3.
9. W.H. Branson, In Defense of The Faith, page 69.
10. Branson, Ibid.
11. W. H. Branson, In Defense of The Faith, page 229.
12. Johannes Louw and Eugene Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T, vol. I, page 452.
13. William Arndt and Wilbur Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T,page 182.
14. Branson, op. cit., page 234.
15. Louw and Nida, op. cit., vol. I, page 643.
16.  “Rested” (Heb., shebet) means “to put an end to, to cause to cease” (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the O.T, vol. II, page 902). On the seventh day of creation, God ceased from His work of creation.
17.  “Forever” (Heb., olam or oulom) means a “duration of time that is concealed or hidden” (William Wilson, Old Testament Word Studies, page 149) or a “very long, indefinite duration to come” (Benjamin Davis, Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, page CDI). Where the duration is limited, though the limitation is indefinite, the word signifies an “age.” In Ex. 31:17, the indefinite age was the Jewish age, limited to the generations of Israel.
18. Harris, Archer, Waltke, op. cit., page 242.
19. Lawrence Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, page 520.

 

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