"SABBATH" AND LAW v "CIRCUMCISION" AND GRACE
1. "Sabbath" signifies "rest". God's spirit, through the angels, established
the present habitable during six literal days. Genesis 1, Psalm 33v6; 103
v20-22. God, in the angels, "rested..on the seventh day"- Genesis 2v1,2.
2. Under the law of Moses, the nation of Israel was forbidden to do any
work on the seventh or sabbath day. Instead, it was to be a day which
was consecrated to the Lord, Numbers 15v32-36, Deuteronomy 5v12-15.
3. In the Bible, TWO COVENANTS are revealed. The FIRST, or Mosaic
covenant, was made with a nation, Israel. The SECOND, or Abraha-
mic covenant, was made with a man, Abraham, and subsequently
"confirmed" (established, made sure) by Jesus Christ- Galatians 3v8,
16,17, Romans 15v8. Because THIS covenant, founded upon the prom-
ises of God, SUPERSEDED the Mosaic, it was called the "new" coven-
ant", which has replaced the "old", being a "better covenant, which
was established upon better promises", Hebrews 8v6-13.
The Mosaic covenant was "ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator"
and "it was added because of transgressions" to convict Israelites of sin -
see Galatians 3v19 and page 1. It was ratified at Sinai by "the blood of
the covenant", which blood was from animal sacrifices - Exodus 24v1-8.
Note "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take
away sins" - Hebrews 10v4 - and the continual offerings proved it - v1-3.
However, the Abrahamic covenant relied not upon a mediator, but upon
God Himself. This is clear from Galatians 3v20, which reads, omitting
the words in italics (not in the original text) - "Now a mediator is not of
one, but God is one" - i.e. the source of oneness in Christ, which is the
very foundation of the new covenant - see here. The new covenant was
ratified, not with the blood of animals, "but with the precious blood of
Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" - 1st Peter 1v19.
"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified"
- Heb.10v14 - Jesus said "For this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for many for the remission of sins" - Matthew 26v28.
And whereas under the law of Moses "they truly were many priests,
because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death", Jesus
Christ "is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,
seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them...made an high priest
for ever after the order of Melchisedec" - Hebrews 7v23,25; 6v20.
4. Any attempt to dissociate the ten commandments from the Mosaic or
"old" covenant is firmly rebutted by the Bible. The ten commandments
are termed "the tables of the covenant", Hebrews 9v4. See also Exodus
34v28, Deuteronomy 4v13;5v1-21. The "ministration of death, written
and engraven in stones..was..done away"- 2nd Corinthians 3v7.
5. The contention that only the "ceremonial" parts of the Mosaic law were
done away with is thus denied by the Bible. The terms "law of Moses"
and "law of the Lord", sometimes claimed to refer to the "ceremonial"
and "moral" aspects respectively, are used INTERCHANGEABLY,
and carry the same meaning- 2nd Chronicles 31v3, Numbers 31v21,
Joshua 23v6-8, Luke 2v22-24,Malachi 4v4,etc. The ONE law of Moses,
& all its parts, has been removed, and is not binding on believers today.
6. When did the sabbath law begin? Some propound the theory that a law
was given shortly after Creation, in Eden. However, we search in vain
for such a law. It is true that the seventh day was "sanctified", Genesis
2v3, and this was recorded in connection with rest from the work of
Creation, v2. This idea is taken up later at the giving of the sabbath
law to Israel, Exodus 20v8-11, and related to the rest from bondage
provided by God for His people. Deuteronomy 5v12-15- "And remem-
ber that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD
thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and a stretch-
ed out arm: THEREFORE the LORD thy God commanded thee to
keep the sabbath day". It is evident that here was a NEW COMM-
ANDMENT, instituted to memorialize God's redemptive power.
Through lack of faith, the nation did not attain to that ultimate "rest"
which God had in view, Hebrews 4v1-11, but believers today look for-
ward to that "rest", v9. The fact that Israel had no knowledge of any
sabbath law prior to its enactment by Moses is endorsed by Nehemiah
9v13,14- "Thou.. MADEST KNOWN unto them thy holy sabbath..BY
THE HAND OF MOSES THY SERVANT". Indeed, Moses and the
people needed instruction as to how the sabbath should be kept, Exod-
us 16v22-31, Numbers 15v32-36. The sabbath became "a sign between
me (God) and the children of Israel", Exodus 31v17.
7. Some were EXEMPT from the sabbath law. These were the priests,
who, according to Jesus "profane(d) the sabbath" and were "blame-
less", Matthew 12v5. Their work was doubled on that day, Numbers 28
v1-10. The whole life of the priesthood was a continuous dedication to
the service of God, and therefore no ceremonial rest on one day in sev-
en was appropriate. The spirit of Isaiah 58v13 was to be theirs EVERY
DAY, Psalm 1v1,2. Believers are called to be "a royal priesthood", 1st
Peter 2v9. For believers to keep a literal one-day-in-seven observance
would be ineffectual and not according to the function of priests. Sa-
bbath-keeping for justification is prohibited for believers- see item 11.
8. Jesus testified that when "circumcision",which was "of the fathers",
clashed on a child's eighth day with the seventh day sabbath, circum-
cision TOOK THE PRECEDENCE, "that the law of Moses should
not be broken", John 7v22,23. Therefore, if the sabbath is still bind-
ing today, so too should be circumcision! But this is not contended for
by sabbatarians.The inescapable fact is that the law itself BORE WIT-
NESS TO A SUPERIOR COVENANT-see item 3, i.e. that made with
Abraham. Circumcision had been instituted as "a token (sign) of the
covenant", Genesis 17v11, which God made with him and all believers.
9. Circumcision, being the "token" (sign) of a "better covenant", also
pointed forward to A MORE PERFECT TIME TO COME. Peter
tells us that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years", 2nd Pet-
er 3v8. Based upon this principle, the seventh day sabbath pointed
forward to the 7th period of 1000 years from the Creation, when the
faithful & the earth will find rest- Rev. 20v4-6, Heb. 4v11, Zech. 1v11.
This period of time, though blessed, is transitional. Sin is restrained
during the righteous rule of Christ and His saints. But then, after
this time is expired, sinful flesh will be permitted one last attempt to
oppose the Divine rule. This is totally crushed, and then there is a
resurrection to judge those who have lived during the Kingdom Age.
When this is done, "death and hell (i.e. the grave)" are finally eradi-
cated from the earth- Revelation 20. All "enemies" of Christ, includ-
ing "death", will have been "destroyed", 1st Corinthians 15v24-26.
Circumcision on the 8th day signified
(1) the cutting off of the flesh & (2) faith in God
See Colossians 2v11-13, where Paul draws the analogy with baptism
-link to 'baptism' or go via 'Index' for more on that vitally important
subject). And so at the time when sinful flesh will be no more, "there
shall be no more curse"- Revelation 22v3.."and there shall be no more
death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more
pain: for the former things have passed away"- Revelation 21v4. This
is perfection, to which the eighth day pointed, when Paul writes that
"God (shall be) all in all"- 1st Corinthians 15v28. We summarise that
the seventh day points to completion, the eighth day to perfection-
link to 'signs' - the 7th & 8th.
10.It is often overlooked that the seventh day was not the only day upon
which a "sabbath" was observed. Sometimes, especially in connection
with the important feasts, an EIGHTH DAY "sabbath" was also
commanded. The feast of tabernacles, which pointed to the great
harvest of ingathering of redeemed ones to be revealed at the beginn-
ing of the eighth period (see item 9), provided specifically for "a
sabbath..ON THE FIRST DAY..AND ON THE EIGHTH DAY"- Le-
viticus 23v33-39. It is therefore highly significant that the nations of
the earth will be commanded "to keep the feast of tabernacles" - Zech-
ariah 14v16. Because the harvests of the earth will be at different
times of the year, it is evident that the feast will be a continuous one.
Jesus chose "the last day, that great day of the feast" - i.e."the feast of
tabernacles" John 7v37,2 - to deliver His prophecy re the future giving
of the spirit, v37-39 - link to 'spirit' - page 1 for more on this subject.
And so the "sabbath" on the "first" and the "eighth" days will also be
continuous. Reference therefore to sabbath observance during the
Kingdom Age as in Isaiah 66v23 is not to the seventh day, but to the
eighth day. This is put beyond dispute in Ezekiel 43v18-27, concerning
"the ordinances of the altar". Note verse 27-"And when these days are
expired, it shall be, that UPON THE EIGHTH DAY, AND SO FOR-
WARD, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and
your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD". If
there is any doubt that this refers to the future age, it is dispelled by
considering verses 1-12. The nations (including Israel) and all peoples
of the earth, will thus be taught to look to the time BEYOND THE
KINGDOM AGE (the seventh period) to THE EIGHTH PERIOD,
for their redemption. The 8th day sabbath will then be fulfilled.
11.The Mosaic seventh day sabbath, like other parts of the law of Moses,
has a spiritual counterpart today. It involves a "rest" EVERY DAY of
the week "from (our) own works" - this becomes an earnest of the fu-
ture "rest" which "remaineth..to the people of God", Hebrews 4v8-11.
1stPeter4v1,2-"he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin".
Jesus Christ offers us this "rest" when we "take (His) yoke upon us,
Matthew 11v28-30. This is through belief and baptism upon the basis,
NOT OF THE MOSAIC, BUT OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT,
Galatians 3v8,16,26-29. In this blessed position, believers should not
again be brought under "the weak and beggarly elements" of the law-
Galatians 4v9-11. "Christ is the END OF THE LAW FOR RIGHT-
EOUSNESS TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH"- Romans 10v4 cp
Acts 15v1-35.Colossians 2v16,17 specifically FORBIDS the observance
of the Mosaic seventh day sabbath as a means of religious justification.
The Revised version renders "an holyday" as "a feast day", and this
refers to the sabbaths etc. which were associated with the various ann-
ual feasts. On the other hand, the term "the sabbath days" refers to
the weekly seventh day sabbaths.This is evident by reference to the Old
Testament, where the same distinction is made. See 1st Chronicles 23v
31, 2nd Chronicles 2v4; 8v13; 31v3, Nehemiah 10v33, Hosea 2v11.
12.What day then should believers meet to keep the memorial feast as
commanded by Jesus Christ? See Matthew 26v26-29, Mark 14v22-
25, Luke 22v19,20. Cp also the Apostle Paul's endorsement in 1st
Corinthians 11v1,2,23-32. There is no commandment as such as to
the actual day, however it is noteworthy that the early disciples met
together "on the first day of the week", 1st Corinthians 16v2; 11v20,
Acts 20v7, Hebrews 10v25. We should be "followers" of this exam-
ple, and we should "keep the ordinances" as "delivered"-1st Corinth-
ians 11v1,2,23. The first day of the week was the day on which Jesus
rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples-
Matthew 28, Mark16, Luke 24, John 20.
This is equivalent to the eighth day of circumcision, the "token"
of the Abrahamic covenant. See items 3 and 8 for this connection.
It is interesting to note that on the seventh day sabbath the disciples
preached the risen Christ to the Jews. Cp Acts 13v14-47 etc. It was not
used to remember Christ, which was done on the first day of the week.
Should it be impossible to meet on the first day of the week, it is app-
ropriate that "as often as (believers) eat this bread, and drink this
cup, (they) do shew the Lord's death till he come", 1st Corinth.11v26.
It is appropriate also to have extra meetings at any suitable time and
day with sick members or members in isolation etc.
IN SUMMARY- Jesus Christ, having observed the law perfectly (in-
cluding the seventh day sabbath), "hath redeemed us from the curse
of the law, being made a curse for us"- Galatians 3v13. This curse
which came upon an innocent man because "cursed is every one that
hangeth on a tree", Galatians 3v13, was no doubt included in the law
as a means of its own removal when a righteous man was affected by
it. This is similar to the witness of the law to "a better covenant" by
the precedence of circumcision over the sabbath- see item 8. Besides
freeing those who were "in bondage" to the law, Galatians 4v3, 9; 5v1-
the Lord has also made the way open for believers to "be delivered
from the bondage of corruption", Romans 8v21 cp Hebrews 2v15.
This He has done by His sacrifice for sin. Link to 'promises', 'sacrifice'.