Monday, February 16, 2009

Discussing Sabbath Observance


Col2v8 said...

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-19 NASB

Pastor Jim said...

Hi Col2v8,

I dropped by your blog and I see that you are defending Sabbath-keeping. It's no surprise, then, that you would plant your flag in Matthew 5:17-19. But, that's not all that the Bible says on the subject. For instance --

"One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And He said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:35-40 NASB)

"Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,' and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)

"Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day--
things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Col. 2:16-17)

That last passage comes on the heels of the verse from which you derive your nickname.

Granted, each of these passages needs to be examined and understood in light of their individual contexts and the overarching theology of the New Covenant -- but they cannot be excluded from the conversation, either. Our understanding of Matthew 5:17-19 needs to be informed by its context (to whom was Jesus speaking and under what covenant?) as well as by the other passages that address the subject.

Grace and peace,

Jim Mc.

Col2v8 said...

Jim, thankyou for taking the time to respond. I'd also like to take the opportunity to thankyou for your excellent sermon regarding Christmas, on this topic we certainly agree fully :)
As for Colossians 2:16-17 it would seem we disagree. I have a post containing my views specifically if it is of interest:

Thanks again, God bless,

Jonathan Vandor

Daniel said...

Pastor Jim,

I noticed that you stated that Sabbath keeping was a token of the Mosaic covenant. I was wondering about this in light of Genesis 2 and God's setting aside of the seventh day there--prior to the Mosaic covenant.

Thanks in advance for any comments as I am quite uncertain in this whole debate. However, I do not believe that Sunday (the Lord's Day) is the New Covenant equivalent of the seventh day Sabbath as understood by many of our Reformed Presbyterian brothers.

Pastor Jim said...

Hi Daniel,

I apologize for the delay in responding. I just noticed that you had posted a note here.

What's clear is that the only places in Scripture where the Sabbath is commanded, it is imposed on Israel exclusively. For instance --

'So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.' (Exod. 31:16)

"Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the LORD continually; it is an everlasting covenant for the sons of Israel." (Lev. 24:8)

We do not find any commensurate command given to any other people group, nor is there a Sabbath command given to Gentiles under the New Covenant.

It is common for folk to read that God rested on the seventh day and insist that that fact makes the Sabbath observance a "creation ordinance" which must be observed by all people. But, we read nothing of people recognizing or observing the seventh day from Adam to Moses.

So, the lack of Scriptural support for universal Sabbath observance and the utter lack of Sabbath teaching in the Pauline epistles to the Gentiles leads me to conclude that God simply did not intend that all people, in all times, under all covenants would hold the Sabbath as sacred and its observance as mandatory.

And I agree with you that Sunday is not the "new" or Christian Sabbath. That's actually a bit of an oxymoron, considering that the root word for "Sabbath" means "seven." How you can argue that the first day of the week is now the Christian seventh day I simply do not know. :-)

Thanks for writing. There are a couple of Q&A articles on our website that may help you work your way through this subject. And, the previous poster, Col2v8, offers interesting information from the other side of the debate.

Grace and peace,

Jim Mc.