CORRESPONDENCE:- THE SABBATH LAW
I am a Christadelphian from Australia and I have a few friends who are 7th Day Adventists.
They have a firm belief that the Seventh day must be kept Holy as a special day to God, and is binding on believers today. I was wondering if you (or the website) had any information that could help me on this one, especially in proving that the Law is one thing, rather than made up of two separate parts (they split it into Moral law – the 10 commandments – and ceremonial law – the rest of the law), they base this on the fact that the 10 commandments written on stone were placed inside the ark, while the rest of the law was placed in the side of the ark in the Most Holy place.
If you could help me in any way it would be greatly appreciated,
In our Hope,
Dear Sis J,
Loving Greetings in the pursuit of Truth,
There are two parts to your question: 1. must believers keep the Sabbath today, and 2. is there a distinction in Scripture between a “Moral Law” and a “Ceremonial Law”
- Must believers keep the Sabbath today?
Colossians 2:14-17 would indicate not:
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross … Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ”
Here is the specific command not to judge one another concerning the observance of the Sabbath, or other Holy Days.Also, it is here stated that the Sabbath days were part of “a shadow of things to come” – but how can this be if the Sabbath law is an eternal one, as SDA’s contend? What is the shadow of? The Scriptural answer is that it foreshadowed a seventh Millennial “day” of rest which the righteous shall enter into when their Redeemer comes (see Hebrews chapter 4).
Interestingly, 2 Corinthians chapter 3 explicitly refers to the 10 commandments written in stone, describing them as “the ministration of death”:
“if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones was glorious … how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be more glorious” (2 Cor. 3:7-8).
The question arises: if the Sabbath Law is part of the “ministration of death”, how can it be regarded as an “eternal” principle, rather than passing away with the rest of the Mosaic Law?
An additional consideration is that the Sabbath – as with the other laws – was specifically enjoined upon the nation of Israel: Moses’ Law was binding specifically upon the Jews, and not the gentile nations around them.The question then arises:- when did the Sabbath become necessary for Gentiles to keep – and which passage of Scripture teaches this?If anything, by “taking it out of the way”, according to Scripture, this clause of the Law – with all the others – are not applicable for either Jew or Gentile to keep, unless they are expressly reaffirmed in the New Testament as being observances applicable to those in the New Covenant. (interestingly the Master affirmed and upheld all of the other 9 clauses, but not the Sabbath law, in his teaching)
- A “Moral” and a “Ceremonial Law”
There is no specific mention in Scripture of a “moral” and “ceremonial” Law, let alone a distinction between the two. In Colossians 2:14-19 cited above, the ordinance concerning the Sabbath Law is plainly linked with the food laws, as part of one legal constitution.Whilst it may be true that “the 10 commandments written on stone were placed inside the ark, while the rest of the law was placed in the side of the ark in the Most Holy place”, the conclusion drawn from this that there is therefore a “moral” and a “ceremonial” law is an assumption. i.e. it is assumed that this is the reason for such a thing, when Scripture itself does not give that reason.Moreover, if the intent of the Spirit is to teach that there are these two, separate components to the Law, this assertion does not address the significance of why one was place in the ark, and the other outside by its side – what this specific form of treatment signifies.
Brother Ron Abel provides some particularly relevant points in his book: “Wrested Scriptures”:
- a) Hezekiah appointed “the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings … for the sabbaths, and for the New Moons, and for the set feasts as it is written in the law of the Lord”. This passage indicates that “the law of the Lord” includes ceremonial aspects (i.e. feasts, burnt offerings) as well as “moral law”.
- b) In Numbers 31:21, the ordinance of “the Law which the Lord commanded Moses” is stated concerning the men who had returned from battle with the spoils of war.“The Law which the Lord commanded Moses” is not, therefore, an expression exclusively used for the Decalogue.The passage also indicates that “The Law” cannot be divided between “ceremonial” and “moral” aspects, since the above instructions regarding war had a moral intent.
- c) God’s decree forbidding marriage with the alien is not specifically indicated in the Decalogue but is written in “the book of the law of Moses” (Josh. 23:6,12) and likewise contains a moral content”
Bro Abel further speaks of the observance or otherwise of the Sabbath Law, on pages 40-41 of Wrested Scriptures,which may be helpful to you.What follows is an extract from Elpis Israel by Bro John Thomas which is also highly pertinent to the matter at hand.
The Sabbath Law:
“The law of Moses was delivered to the Israelites and not to the
Gentiles, who were therefore “without the law.” “What things soever the law saith, it says to them who are under the law;” consequently the nations were not amenable to it and though they obtained not the blessings of Mount Gerizim (unless they became faithful Jews by adoption), neither were they obnoxious to the curses of Mount Ebal (Deu. 27:9-26). The faithless Jews and Gentiles are equally aliens from the precepts of Christ and his apostles. What these prescribe is enjoined upon the disciples of Jesus. They only are “under law to Christ.” “What have I,” says Paul, “to do to judge them that are without? God judgeth them” (ICor. 5:12-13). He has caused the gospel of the kingdom to be preached to sinners “for the obedience of faith.” When they are judged, it will be for “not obeying the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thes. 1:7-10), and not because they do not “go to church,” or do not keep a Sabbath instituted by a semi-pagan emperor of the fourth century.
The Sabbath God requires sinful men to observe is to cease from the works of the flesh, as completely as He rested from the work of creation on the seventh day, that they may enter into the millennial rest that remaineth for the people of God (Heb. 4:9-11).
Men frequently err in their speculations from inattention to the marked distinction which subsists in the scriptures between those classes of mankind termed “saints” and “sinners.” They confound what is said to, or concerning, the one, with what is said in relation to the other. Relatively to the institutions of God they are as near or afar off as are “citizens” and “foreigners” to the laws and constitution of the United States. “What the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.” This is a principle laid down by Paul concerning the law of Moses, which is equally true of the codes of all nations. ” Citizens” are the saints, or separated ones, of the particular code by which they are insulated from all other people; while “foreigners” or “aliens” from their commonwealth are sinners in relation to it; for they live in other countries in total disregard of its institutions,
and doing contrary to its laws, and yet are blameless: so that if they were to visit the country of that commonwealth, they would not be punished for their former course, because they were not under law to it.
Let them, however, while sojourning there continue their native customs, and they would become guilty and worthy of the punishment made and provided for such offenders. It is a fact, that “God blessed and sanctified,” or set apart, “the seventh day;” and doubtless, Adam and his wife rested, or intermitted, their horticultural tendance upon that day. Yea, we may go further and say, that it is extremely probable that “the sons of God” before the flood, worshipped God according to “His way” upon that day; but in all the history of that long period, which intervened from the sanctification of the seventh day to the raining down bread from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness (Exo. 16), there is not the least hint of any punishment for breaking the sabbath day. Guiltiness before God cannot therefore be argued against the Gentiles so as to entitle them to death or reprobation, predicated on the threatenings of the patriarchal code. Whatever the appointment might be, it was no doubt significative of the blessings to be obtained through observing it; not alone, but in connection with the other matters which made up “the way of God.”
As I have shown, the observance of the seventh day was obligatory only upon the Israelites so long as the Mosaic code was in force, being “a sign” between God and them. The sabbaths belong to the land and people of Israel, and can be only kept according to the law while they reside in the country. This will appear from the fact that the law requires that “two lambs of the first year without spot” should be offered with other things “as the burnt-offering of every sabbath;” an offering which, like all the offerings, &c, must be offered in a temple in Jerusalem where the Lord has placed His name, and not in the dwelling places of Jacob. Israel must therefore be restored to their own country before even they can keep the Sabbath.
Then, when “the throne is established in mercy; and he (the Lord Jesus) shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness” (Isa. 16:5), then, I say, “shall the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, come near to Me to minister unto Me, and they shall stand before Me to offer unto
Me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God: and they shall hallow My sabbaths” (Eze. 44:15, 24).”
Elpis Israel – Bro John Thomas