The Mosaic Law, Sabbath – Brit-Hadashah Ministries

January 8, 2007

The Mosaic Law, Sabbath

Teacher:
Passage: Galatians 2:16; 3:10-14
Service Type:

Concerning the Sabbath, God gave the Sabbath to Israel alone as a sign and seal of the

Old Covenant (see Ezekiel 20:20). The Sabbath was part of the Mosaic Law and has been

fulfilled and done away in Christ (Romans 6:14). Since Jesus fulfilled the type and

shadow of the Sabbath true rest for the believer under the New Covenant is found in Him

alone, not on the seventh day of the week (see Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4; Colossians

2:16). Worship for the Christian can be on any day of the week (see Romans 14:5-6).

Being a Christian does not consist in going to church or trying to keep the Mosaic Law

(that is churchianity and legalism, not bible Christianity) but is having a personal

relationship with the living Lord of the universe through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans

10:9-10). This entails experiencing spiritual rebirth as Jesus said was necessary in John

3:1-7. In this Gospel age of Grace one is saved, justified, sanctified, and ultimately

gloried by faith in Jesus alone, not by trying to the Law which no man can keep since it is

perfect and man is sinful and imperfect!

The key to understanding this issue is knowing that the Old Testament law was given

to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites

how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws

were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system).

Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the

food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on us today. When

Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians

3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15).

In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which

is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your

mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two

commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the

Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). Now, this does not mean

the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament

law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old

Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what

goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law

applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit (James 2:10).

Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. If Christ fulfilled some of it, such as the

sacrificial system, He fulfilled all of it.

“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1

John 5:3). The Ten Commandments were essentially a summary of the entire Old

Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments are clearly repeated in the New

Testament (all except the command to observe the Sabbath day). Obviously, if we are

loving God, we will not be worshipping false gods or bowing down before idols. If we

are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering them, lying to them, committing

adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them. The purpose of the Old

Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our

need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-9; Galatians 3:24). The Old Testament law

was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to

love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be

upholding all that God

We have been redeemed from the curse of the Law, including trying to keep the Ten

Commandments and the entire 613 commandments of the Law as a means of earning

salvation or God’s favor. We also have been delivered from its binding force since Christ

did for us what we could not or ever do by our attempts to obey the Law. Man cannot

achieve righteousness, holiness, and redemption by his attempt top obey the Law of

Moses simply because he is imperfect and the Law is perfect. The Person and work of the

Messiah make us righteous, holy, and redeemed, not the works of the law whether it is

tithing or circumcision. This is the whole premise of Paul’s teaching in the Epistle to the

Galatians. If then the Law has been done away in Christ are free to be lawless. God

forbid, for how shall who have died to sin live any longer in it since we have died and

been raised with Christ (see Romans 6:1-7). We are under the higher law of Christ—the

law of love that has already fulfilled the Law of Moses (Romans 13:8-10). You can keep

the feasts and worship on the Sabbath so long as you remember that believers in the

Messiah under the New Covenant are not required to keep these since Christ fulfilled

them (see Romans 6:14; Romans 10:4; Colossians 2:14-16). But we observe them to

show how they point to and prefigure the Person and work of the Messiah. Gentile

believers have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel and are partners with them

in the covenants and calling of God (see Romans 11; Ephesians 2:11-13). Under the New

Covenant one is free to worship any day of the week (see Romans 14:5-6). The early

Christian worshipped both on the Sabbath and on Sunday—the day Jesus rose on (Acts

13:15; 20:7).

The key to understanding this issue is knowing that the Old Testament law was given

to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites

how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws

were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system).

Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the

food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on us today. When

Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians

3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15).

In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2),

which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with

all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey

those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and

the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). Now, this does not

mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old

Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The

Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing

what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law

applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit (James 2:10).

Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. If Christ fulfilled some of it, such as the

sacrificial system, He fulfilled all of it. “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And

his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The Ten Commandments were

essentially a summary of the entire Old Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments

are clearly repeated in the New Testament (all except the command to observe the

Sabbath day). Obviously, if we are loving God, we will not be worshipping false gods or

bowing down before idols. If we are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering

them, lying to them, committing adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them.

The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the

law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-9; Galatians 3:24).

The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people

for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two

commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires.

All the commandments of God are summed up in the two greatest commandments:

Love the Lord with your whole being and love you neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14).

There is nothing wrong with being a Messianic Jew. Being a Messianic Jew is what the

early church was entirely before salvation was extended to the Gentiles (Acts 10).It is

often claimed that “God instituted the Sabbath in Eden” because of the connection

between the Sabbath and creation in Exodus 20:11. Although God's rest on the seventh

day (Genesis 2:3) did foreshadow a future Sabbath law, there is no biblical record of the

Sabbath before the children of Israel left the land of Egypt. Nowhere in Scripture is there

any hint that Sabbath-keeping was practiced from Adam to Moses.

The Word of God makes it quite clear that Sabbath observance was a special sign

between God and Israel (Ezekiel 20:20): “The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath,

celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between

me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and

on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested” (Exodus 31:16–17).

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses restates the Ten Commandments to the next generation of

Israelites. Here, after commanding Sabbath observance in verses 12–14, Moses gives the

reason the Sabbath was given to the nation Israel: “Remember that you were slaves in

Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an

outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the

Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15).

God's intent for giving the Sabbath to Israel was not that they would remember

creation, but that they would remember their Egyptian slavery and the Lord's deliverance.

Note the requirements for Sabbath-keeping: A person placed under that Sabbath law

could not leave his home on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29), he could not build a fire

(Exodus 35:3), and he could not cause anyone else to work (Deuteronomy 5:14). A

person breaking the Sabbath law was to be put to death (Exodus 31:15; Numbers

15:32–35).

An examination of New Testament passages shows us four important points: 1)

Whenever Christ appears in His resurrected form and the day is mentioned, it is always

the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1, 9, 10; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1, 13, 15; John 20:19,

26). 2) The only time the Sabbath is mentioned from Acts through Revelation it is for

evangelistic purposes to the Jews and the setting is usually in a synagogue (Acts chapters

13–18). Paul wrote, “to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews” (1

Corinthians 9:20). Paul did not go to the synagogue to fellowship with and edify the

saints, but to convict and save the lost. 3) Once Paul states, “from now on I will go to the

Gentiles” (Acts 18:6), the Sabbath is never again mentioned. And 4) instead of

suggesting adherence to the Sabbath day, the remainder of the New Testament implies

the opposite (including the one exception to point 3 above, found in Colossians 2:16).

Looking more closely at point 4 above will reveal that there is no obligation for the New

Testament believer to keep the Sabbath, and will also show that the idea of a Sunday

“Christian Sabbath” is also unscriptural. As discussed above, there is one time the

Sabbath is mentioned after Paul began to focus on the Gentiles, “Therefore do not let

anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New

Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come;

the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:16–17). The Jewish Sabbath was

abolished at the cross where Christ “canceled the written code, with its regulations”

(Colossians 2:14).

This idea is repeated more than once in the New Testament: “One man considers one

day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be

fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord”

(Romans 14:5–6a). “But now that you know God — or rather are known by God — how

is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be

enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons

and years” (Galatians 4:9–10).

But some claim that a mandate by Constantine in A.D. 321 “changed” the Sabbath

from Saturday to Sunday. On what day did the early church meet for worship? Scripture

never mentions any Sabbath (Saturday) gatherings by believers for fellowship or worship.

However, there are clear passages that mention the first day of the week. For instance,

Acts 20:7 states that “on the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” In 1

Corinthians 16:2 Paul urges the Corinthian believers “on the first day of every week, each

one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.” Since Paul

designates this offering as “service” in 2 Corinthians 9:12, this collection must have been

linked with the Sunday worship service of the Christian assembly. Historically Sunday,

not Saturday was the normal meeting day for Christians in the church, and its practice

dates back to the first century.

The Sabbath was given to Israel, not the church. The Sabbath is still Saturday, not

Sunday, and has never been changed. But the Sabbath is part of the Old Testament Law,

and Christians are free from the bondage of the Law (Galatians 4:1-26; Romans 6:14).

Sabbath keeping is not required of the Christian—be it Saturday or Sunday. The first day

of the week, Sunday, the Lord's Day (Revelation 1:10) celebrates the New Creation, with

Christ as our resurrected Head. We are not obligated to follow the Mosaic

Sabbath—resting, but are now free to follow the risen Christ—serving. The Apostle Paul

said that each individual Christian should decide whether to observe a Sabbath rest, “One

man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike.

Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). We are to worship

God every day, not just on Saturday or Sunday.

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