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The Seventh Day Sabbath and the Annual Sabbaths
Two Basic Kinds of Sabbaths
There is a great controversy and much confusion over the Sabbath issue; that is, whether or not Christians are bound to keep the Seventh Day Sabbath. Opponents of keeping the Seventh Day Sabbath hold the view that it is given by God only for the Jews and not for others. Christians who are Seventh Day Sabbath observers hold the view that the Sabbath was established by God during the Creation, and it is one of the Ten Commandments, therefore they are bound to observe it.
Much of the confusion would clear up if we can see the truth that there are two basic kinds of Sabbaths. The first kind is the Seventh Day Sabbath that is observed once a week. As the Lord Jesus Christ said “the Sabbath was made for man” it is to be kept by everyone, including the Christians (Mk 2:27). The second kind is the Annual Sabbaths that are not in the Ten Commandments, but they are in the statutes and judgments that are ordinances. It should be noted that the seven annual Feasts such as Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacle were mainly given to Israel and not to others (Lev. 23:4-44). Some Gentile Christians hold the view that since they are grafted in to the "natural olive tree" (Israel) they should also observe the Annual Feasts (Rom. 11:13-24).
Misinterpretation of Colossians 2:16-17
Most Sunday-keeping Churches teach the Seventh Day Sabbath Law had been nailed to the Cross therefore Christians are not bound to observe it. They quote Colossians 2:16-17: “So 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.” Why did the apostle Paul write to not let anyone judge them in those things? The answer can be found in the verses that precede these two verses. It is because the Lord Jesus Christ had already wiped out those things which are 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.” (Col. 2:14). The “handwriting of requirements” refers to “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” that were abolished when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross (Eph. 2:15).
The Seventh Day Sabbath Commandment
The Lord Jesus Christ did not abolish the Fourth Commandment that states, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work; . . . For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Ex. 20:8-11; Gen. 2:1-3).
The Seventh Day Sabbath Commandment is not the “handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us”, and also, it is not an ordinance. How can having a day of rest after working for six days be “against us” and “contrary to us?” In fact, after working for six days any normal person would want to rest on the Sabbath day. The Lord Jesus Christ said; “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk. 2:27). In other words,God established the Seventh Day Sabbath for the benefit of man.
The Bible states, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 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. 2:1-3)
God rested on the seventh day. Was God tired? Absolutely Not! “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” (Isa. 40:28) The reason why God rested on the Seventh Day Sabbath is to set a pattern for mankind to follow Him. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Heb. 4:9-10)
Now why did God bless the Seventh day Sabbath? Again, it is because the Lord Jesus Christ said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk. 2:27). God blessed the Seventh Day Sabbath so that those who remember and keep it holy will receive blessings (Isa. 56:2-7; 58:13-14).
The Seventh Day Sabbath is the Holy Day for Worship
There are three important activities of God on the Seventh day Sabbath. First, He rested. Second, He blessed the day. And third, He sanctified it. In Genesis 2:3 the Hebrew word “sanctified” קדש qadash (Strong's H6942) means “to consecrate, sanctify, to set apart, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate”. God had sanctified the Seventh Day Sabbath to be dedicated only for His purpose, and that is for mankind to worship Him on that day. This is the reason why the Fourth Commandment states: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8) God had established the Seventh Day Sabbath to be a holy day for His people to worship Him.
God did not abolish the Seventh Day Sabbath when the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. Only 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.” (Col. 2:14)
Fleshly Ordinances of the Annual Sabbaths were Abolished
Why did the apostle Paul write, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink,” Under the Old Testament ordinances and “handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us”, the children of Israel had to make food and drink offerings during the Annual Feasts. Here is what they do on Passover and the Days of the Unleavened Bread. “In this manner you shall offer the food of the offering made by fire daily for seven days, as a sweet aroma to the Lord; it shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. And on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work.” (Num. 28:24-25) These Old Testament ordinances concerning food and drinks are called “fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformaton.” (Heb. 9:10) They have been nailed to the Cross. The Colossian Christians do not have to observe them at all. Therefore the apostle Paul wrote: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink,”
The Annual Sabbaths have Ordinances that destroy Christians
A lot of Christians do not know there are annual sabbaths that are described in Leviticus. The Seventh Day Sabbath is the Fourth Commandment that does not prescribe punishment or penalties for not keeping it (Ex. 20:8-11). Now let us read about the annual sabbaths like the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement that have strict rules and punishment for violating the sabbath (Lev.23:23-32).
23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the firstday of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.
25 You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.' "
26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.
28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.
29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.
30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.
31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."
Any person who works on the annual sabbath day such as the Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement will be “cut off from his people” (v.29), and destroyed “from among his people” (v. 30). These are the “handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having it nailed it to the cross.”(Col. 2:14)
The LORD God says in Isaiah 1:12-14
12 "When you come to appear before Me,Who has required this from your hand,To trample My courts?
13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me.The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies--I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me,I am weary of bearing them.”
What the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians is not to let others judge them for not keeping the judgments and ordinances of those annual sabbaths that have already been nailed to the cross by the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Annual sabbaths are the shadows of things to come
The Feast of Trumpets - Rosh Hashanah (Lev. 23:23-25) foreshadows its future fulfillment and looks forward to the Day when the last trumpet blast will gather together the Body of Christ from the ends of the earth at the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thes. 4: 16-17).
The Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur (Lev. 23:26-32) foreshadows its future fulfillment and looks forward to the Day when the Lord Jesus Christ our High Priest will bring us into the very presence of God Himself (Hebrews 9).
The apostle Paul was not writing to the Colossians about not keeping the Seventh Day Sabbath which he himself had kept regularly (Acts 17:2). If he was referring to the weekly Sabbath then he would be slapping his own face which he would not do.
The death of the Lord Jesus has given us freedom from those oppressive laws in the judgments and ordinances of the annual sabbaths. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. . .” (Gal. 3:13).“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”(Jn. 8:32). Praise and thank God we are now free through the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why Christians should keep the Seventh Day Sabbath holy
The Seventh Day Sabbath was established by the One True God at the time of Creation (Gen. 2:1-3). God rested, blessed the Seventh Day and sanctified it. The Lord Jesus Christ declared: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk. 2:27) The word “man” is all inclusive, and Christians are included. God rested so that Christians can have rest after working for six days. God blessed the Seventh Day so that Christians can receive blessings when they keep the Sabbath Day holy. God sanctified the Seventh Day so that Christians can have a consecrated time to worship Him on the Sabbath Day. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Heb. 4:9-10) There are two truths that we can learn from these verses. First, “people of God” refers to Christians. The Greek word for “rest” in this text is σαββατισμός sabbatismos which is the Sabbath rest.
The Seventh Day Sabbath is one of the Foundation Truths of Creation, just like God's creation of man and woman in His image, and the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. Although God did not give a commandment that marriage must be between a man and a woman at the time of Creation, yet it was already established as a moral law. This is the reason why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. In the same way, although God did not command man to keep the Sabbath at the time of Creation, it has been God's intention to make it one the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:8-11). “Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, "My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,' “ (Isa. 46:9-10)
There is a false teaching and it is definitely the devil's deception that Christians only have to keep nine commandments, and they do not have to keep the Seventh Day Sabbath commandment. The New Testament teaching is that “For whoever shall keep the whole law and stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (Jas. 2:10)
There is also another false teaching and very definitely Satan's lie that Christians do not have to keep the Ten Commandments because the Lord Jesus Christ had fulfilled them at the Cross. They also teach that keeping the Ten Commandments cannot save a person because no one can be justified by the works of the law. First of all our Lord Jesus Christ said: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:17-19) “Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." (Mt. 19:16-17).
Only those Christians that "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" will have rest in heaven (Rev. 14:12-13). “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14)
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