Observing The Sabbath

“Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.” 
(Deuteronomy 5:12)

There are many professing Christians who claim that the observance of the Sabbath (the day of rest) is still a duty and requirement today because it is part of the Ten Commandments. Some believe this claim either for Saturday (the original Hebrew observance) or Sunday for their day of Sabbath. However, a larger question than the day that needs answering is whether the keeping of the Sabbath still applies.

The Bible teaches in Exodus 31:17 that the Sabbath was strictly a sign for the Jews, not for everyone. Although the command to observe the Sabbath is part of the Ten Commandments, it is the only part of the Ten Commandments that is ceremonial. All the ceremonial laws and types were fulfilled by the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament says that all the various Sabbath observances have been done away with and that every day of the week may be treated as the same (Colossians 2:16-18; Romans 14: 5-6). Hebrews 4:1-11 teaches that the Sabbath Day was a figure of Spiritual rest in Christ.

But doesn’t Scripture teach that the Sabbath is to be observed ‘forever’? (Exodus 31:17) Since there was an end of the Law when Christ fulfilled it, then the only way that the Sabbath could continue to be observed ‘forever,’ is in the LORD Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the Sabbath and in Him, His people under the New Covenant observe the Sabbath continually by coming to Him and finding rest in Him (Matthew 11:28). The Sabbath as the day of rest in the Old Testament had an overall Spiritual meaning more than simply to provide God’s people a rest from a week of work and toil or to commemorate the fact that God ceased (rested) from His work of creation on the seventh day. It pointed to the LORD Jesus as the rest of God’s elect.

How then does the Sabbath Spiritually symbolize an even greater meaning? It is in the greatest work of God, His work of salvation that has been once and for all completed through the life, death and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ. The apostle in the book of Hebrews says speaks of another Sabbath Rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9-11). Believers continue to enjoy and experience the full effects of that everlasting rest Christ won for them at Calvary. On the cross, Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of His covenant people through His suffering and death. His was a sinless life on earth and His meritorious work of keeping the law faultlessly and perfectly on behalf of His people was accepted by God the Father. He faithfully took the punishment from God the Father that His people deserved. All that matters now is Christ. We dare not bind a commandment and observance on others that the New Testament teaches was fulfilled and done away through the cross of Christ.

K. Wimer

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