NOTE: This is the second part in a two-part series dealing with the subject of Old Testament law and the Sabbath. If you have yet to read or hear part one, click on to "The Law and Sabbath—Part One" before continuing.
In brief review, Old Testament law was a foreshadowing of the ministry of the Messiah, which was to come. It was a schoolmaster bringing us unto Christ, who came to fulfill the law and not destroy it. All of Old Testament law was either carried over into the New Testament in its literal form (such as "thou shalt not kill"), or carried over unto Christ and fulfilled in Him. For example, we reviewed the fulfillment of the Passover, blood sacrifice, circumcision, and dietary laws. Jesus Christ fulfills the law.
Amalgamating Old Testament law with the New Testament Christ was, and still is, a very hard thing for many Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles to do. This issue is addressed in Galatians 2:11-21:
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
This matter concerning the law and Christ was addressed in Acts 15:5-29:
5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
The Sabbath day, of course, is part of the law, and this commandment, like Passover, is to be observed forever. Like the Passover, it is fulfilled—not destroyed, but fulfilled—in Christ. But I must note, however, that the observance of the Sabbath, like many of God’s Old Testament commandments, has very real benefits. Man should set aside one day per week, not necessarily as a matter of law, but as a matter of wisdom, to rest and seek the face of God. Remember, this is not done as binding law, but for its beautiful biological and spiritual benefits. Click onto "The Revelation of Seven" for more amazing truth.
Most are unaware of the nature and requirements of the observance of the Sabbath day. The Sabbath begins Friday at sundown and ends Saturday at sundown. Observance of the Sabbath requires very strict adherence. All food must be prepared in advance. No food can be prepared on the Sabbath since no manner of work is permitted. An observer is not permitted to travel more than a Sabbath day’s journey, which is less than a mile. The Sabbath day is a day set aside for the reading of the law and seeking God’s face. The Sabbath not only requires the abstinence of labor by the observer, but he must not cause others to labor either. That would mean no reading of the daily newspaper, watching television, listening to the radio, or use of any product requiring electricity, and so on. In other words, the list includes anything that others are laboring to produce on the Sabbath. If a New Testament believer decides erroneously to keep the Sabbath of the Old Testament, he must be aware that the Biblical strictures must be obliged. James 2:10:
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Just how is the Sabbath day fulfilled in Christ? The Sabbath day is a day dedicated to rest and meditation on the things of God. It is a day when man rests of all his labors. Hebrews declares the fulfillment of this essential Old Testament law. Hebrews 3:17-19 and 4:1-11:
3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
The Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ just like the Passover, blood sacrifice, circumcision, and meats discussed in Part One. We enter into God’s rest through faith in Christ Jesus, and by ceasing from our own carnal deeds. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 11:28-30:
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The Sabbath is fulfilled as we rest from the labors of sin.
The Word of God deals with the issue of the law and the Sabbath in Colossians 2:8-17:
8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14 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;
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Galatians 4:4-11 reads:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Finally, the King of Glory speaks in Mark 2:24-28:
24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the showbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
The Sabbath was made for man, and science is beginning to understand. The following paragraphs are from "The Revelation of Seven" on this website.
There is a scientific discipline known as Chronobiology, which is the research into how living things handle time. It has discovered, amongst a plethora of other things, that countless hormones crucial to human life processes are directed by an unseen conductor’s hand in predictable biological rhythms. Although secretions happen within ultradian and circadian time frames, they appear to occur in seven-day cycles. Perry and Dawson, authors of the book The Secrets Our Body Clocks Reveal, reported:
Weekly rhythms known in chronobiology as "circaseptan rhythms" are among the most puzzling and fascinating findings of chronobiology. At first glance, it might seem that weekly rhythms developed in response to the seven-day week imposed by human culture thousands of years ago. However, this theory doesn’t hold once you realize that plants, insects, and animals other than humans also have weekly cycles. Biology therefore, not culture, is probably at the source of our seven-day week.
Jeremy Campbell, chronobiologist, refers to the father of chronobiology, Franz Halberg:
Franz Halberg proposes that body rhythms of about seven days, far from being passively driven by the social cycle of the calendar week, are innate, autonomous, and perhaps the reason why the calendar week arose in the first place.
The following excerpt is from The Seven Day Circle by Eviatar Zerubavel:
Many physicians believe that transplant patients tend to have more rejection episodes seven, fourteen, and twenty-one days after surgery. In western civilizations and urbanized cultures, heart attacks are most frequent on Monday mornings, possibly associated with the shift from leisure to work.
All of creation including a whole society of approximately six billion people march to the beat of a seven-day rhythm. This biological clock is the handiwork of God.
Life begins at seven. Why seven? Why seven in "primitive" one-celled organisms? Why seven in bacteria? Why seven in all forms of life? The answer is God’s common design.
From the book Inner Time comes the following:
The best-investigated circaseptan rhythms concern our immunities. The common cold, for example, will last a week no matter how much we spend at the drug store. Patients with pneumonia or malaria face the greatest danger around the seventh day of their illnesses, and the symptoms of chicken pox usually appear around two weeks after exposure. The immune cells vital for our resistance to infections and cancer—T-cells and B-cells—fluctuate in number on a seven-day schedule.
This immune cycle can make a difference if we undergo surgery. After surgery, for example, the amount of swelling that patients experience varies on a seven-day cycle, worsening on the seventh, fourteenth and twenty-first days. Doctors who perform kidney transplants know that the risk of rejection is highest one week after the procedure, and for a while danger zones continue to occur every seven days. Studies of animals have found similarly timed risks for heart and pancreas transplants. [End of quote]
Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, and we’re beginning to understand this principle by the design of God. All of creation revolves around seven, and note that seven is Christ. The strict Old Testament commandment of resting and studying the laws of God on the Sabbath has been fulfilled in Christ. But, a wise man will set aside one day each week to rest and meditate on God’s goodness, not as a matter of binding law, but simply because of the perfect wisdom of God’s science.