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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Sabbath part III


In the continuing series regarding the Sabbath, I have been examining issues relating to the observance of the Sabbath by some groups today. Last time, I spoke of matters regarding why the Sabbath observance of the seventh day of the week is no longer viable or valid. Although the Sabbath has not been eliminated, it is now the Lord's Day or the first day of the week. Its observance, however, is not of the same kind as it was for the Jews. The first and most glaring difference, is that we are no longer to execute anyone who does not refrain from work during that day. I also introduced Covenant Theology and what it means for the Sabbath and its observance.

This time I would like to continue to look at Covenant Theology. As I mentioned the last time, God's dealing with His people throughout history has been in the form of covenants. There are seven discernible covenants in the Bible. Last time I mentioned the covenant of works established with Adam. There are also the covenants established with Abraham, Noah, Moses, Aaron, David, and of course the covenant of grace between the Father and the Son. Each of these covenants has a sign affixed to it. Abraham's was circumcision. Noah the rainbow. Moses the Sabbath. Aaron the priesthood. David the throne. And finally, Christ's is baptism. 

 Each of these signs, as with the Tree of Life in the garden, stood as witness between man and God concerning what each party committed himself to doing. Take circumcision as one example. The mark of each male's flesh was a reminder of the covenant that God made with Abraham that his posterity was to inherit a land (it is interesting to note, that God did not destroy Israel in the desert because of the promise He had made to Abraham). There was also an unconditional promise God made to Abraham that in Him all the nations of the earth would be blessed: this blessing was to eventually come in the form of the Messiah. 

 For our purposes, however, the main issue is the Sabbath and how it stood as the sign of the Mosaic covenant. The Mosaic covenant was a conditional covenant of the kind "if you, then I." In other words, if Israel obeyed the Lord, then the Lord would bless Israel in every way. "You will be the head and not the tail" (Deuteronomy 28:13). In the book of Deuteronomy, a catalogue of blessings and curses are detailed based on whether Israel was obedient or not. The important factor for us today, though, is that the Mosaic covenant is no longer active. With the coming of Christ, that covenant was "nailed to the cross" (Colossians 2) and is no longer valid. For anyone to seek to observe the seventh day today is to go back to the "rudimentary matters of the world" (Colossians 2:8). The Mosaic covenant was made with a specific people, at a specific time, for a specific purpose. That purpose has been fulfilled. 

 This has been, admittedly, a very short treatment of a very important aspect of our faith. For those of you who are interested in further study on Covenant Theology, I recommend Introducing Covenant Theology by Michael Horton (written from the Presbyterian perspective) and The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology by Pascal Denault (written from, obviously, the Baptist perspective). Next time, in our last installment, I will provide a number of quotes from illustrious men of the faith that demonstrate that the Jewish Sabbath is not for the Christian today.

 

 



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