DOES THE LAW OF MOSES APPLY TO CHRISTIANS?
IS SATURDAY THE CHRISTIANS’ SABBATH?
By Dr. Henderson Ward.
(This article follows on from Part 1 posted 3 Jan 2011)
WHAT WERE THE LAWS IN EXISTENCE BEFORE GOD GAVE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?
As I have shown earlier if there were no moral laws in existence prior to the Ten Commandments then people who lived before that time could not have committed sin. To sin is to break God’s law and we have documentary evidence, as shown above, that people were sinning on a grand scale before Moses was born. The important question here now is what law(s) was in place from Adam to Moses and is that law applicable to us now? For an answer we need to look at the moral character of humans.
First let us look at a verse of scripture in the New Testament where Paul is writing to the Romans and in Chapter 2 he is reprimanding those who are unfairly and harshly judging one another and from verse 12 he touches on the subject of sin and the law. Here is the pertinent verse. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law (Romans Chapter 2 v 14) –New International Version. This verse of scripture tells us two important things:
1. It tells us that Gentiles (anyone not a Jew) were not given and do not have the Law of Moses or the Old Testament Law.
2. It also tells us that Gentiles, without reference to the Law of Moses, are capable of and do practice the requirements of law as prescribed by the Law of Moses.
When looked at in concordance with a lot of other scriptures (e.g. Galatians Chapter 3 v 13, Hebrews Chapter 7 v 12, Romans Chapter 2 v 12, and Romans Chapter 6 v 14) it becomes clear that Gentiles are held accountable to standards comparable to the Laws of Moses even though that particular Code of Law called the Law of Moses was not prescribed for them. Since humanity branched off into many ethnic strains since creation and since the Bible teaches that all humanity (Gentiles) are capable of and on occasions do practice the requirements of law as prescribed by the Law of Moses then the answer must be found in Adam.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (Genesis Chapter 1 v 26a). So God created man in his own image... (Genesis Chapter 1 v 27a). Since God is spirit (God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth, John Chapter 4 v 24) it stands to reason that creating man in his own image was not referring to man’s physical stature but his spiritual and moral constitution.
When God created man it was necessary for man to have a moral compass to enable him to fully actualize and give practical expression to his gift of freedom of choice or freewill. Without this moral compass man could wreck havoc on creation not knowing the magnitude of his misdeeds nor caring for their lamentable consequences and be held completely unaccountable. Therefore God in order to avoid this untenable situation imprinted on Adam’s heart his Divine Laws and concomitantly a living conscience which were to characterize from henceforth all humanity. Many scriptures attest to this:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them”. (Romans Chapter 1 v 19)
“Indeed, when Gentiles who do not have the law do by nature things required by the law they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them”.(Romans Chapter 2 v 14 & 15)
“If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a law-breaker”.(Romans Chapter 2 v 26 & 27)
We can safely conclude then that in the beginning God inscribed in man’s heart immutable principles of righteousness, justice and compassion reflecting and attesting to God’s own character thereby equipping man forever to deal with all contingencies of life. That mankind suppressed and strayed from this amorphous Divine Law is not evidence of its non-existence but rather testimony to man’s rebellious Adamic nature.
Today that Divine Law is still etched in our hearts but is codified in two laws as stated by Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew Chapter 22 v 37 -39). These two laws, encapsulating all the Divine Principles of God however codified are safeguarded and attended to by the Holy Spirit prompting and urging through the conscience believers compliance with the will of Almighty God. It is with great joy and profound confidence that all of us who worship God in spirit and in truth, who are born again of water and the spirit, who have committed our lives fully to God, yes all of us do know that we are God’s children and can quote for affirmation the words of Paul “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans Chapter 8 v 16).
ON WHICH DAY SHOULD CHRISTIANS WORSHIP
The first day of the week is the day the Apostles and the early church chose to meet on and it is the day that Christ rose from the dead and so worshipping on the first day each week is an everlasting memorial of the resurrection. As Paul said “one man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special does so to the Lord” (Romans Chapter 14 v 5-6).
Saturday worshippers are quick to point out that man (the Pope) changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday and is not Sunday named after a false god. This argument is meant to derogate the first day of the week but it signally fails to do so.
All protestants regard the Pope, and by extension the Roman Catholic Church, to have strayed from sound biblical doctrines over many centuries. This theological malaise in fact gave rise to the Reformation and the creation of the Protestant Movement and church fragmentation. However it must be understood that when the church was one Jesus gave its leader Peter and hence the early church some awesome powers among them the power to make sweeping and profound changes on earth. Jesus replied, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew Chapter 16 v 17 - 19). It can be argued, and I do so argue, that The Church (as individual Christians or as a body) and its duly appointed leaders acting under authority of this scripture and the dictates of The Holy Spirit can so decide which day Christians regard as their Sabbath. Since no Sabbath was prescribed for Christians then The Church has every right, acting under Divine mandate to make such a prescription for its members. Under the New Covenant freedom to choose the day you worship is enshrined and no one has the authority to mandate you to do otherwise.
The Church has used these powers time and again and the Bible has so recorded, for example:
1. Peter pronounced instant death on Sapphira and God immediately carried out the sentence “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes” she said, “that is the price”. Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died…” (Acts Chapter 5 v 8 – 10a).
2. Peter brought Dorcas back to life after she had died a natural death. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning towards the dead woman, he said “Tabitha get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. (Acts Chapter 9 v 40 – 41).
3. Paul brought Eutychus back to life after he had fallen and died. Seated in the window was a young man named Eutychus who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third storey and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said, “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts Chapter 20 v 9 – 12).
4. Paul loosed the disciplined man from Corinth from the consequences of his sin because the man had shown genuine contrition and publicly repented. “The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him…if you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us…” (2 Corinthians Chapter 2 v 6, 10 – 11a).
I am not asserting that The Church can forgive people’s sin, only God can do that. The Church can declare sins forgiven following a person’s confession and repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ by faith because this is God’s will. The declaration is by The Church following the forgiveness by Almighty God and heaven ratifies the declaration.
God would not have given The Church such sweeping powers as to bind things on earth and have them ratified in heaven if He did not intend them to be used to progress his work on earth. At the close of the New Testament, The Church still has important work to do and as mankind seeks out inventive ways of defying God and perverting the cause of justice, peace and brotherhood, it still needs to speak with divine authority on earth to warn, guide and direct humanity on matters pertaining to God. The Church as mandated by God is pronouncing judgment, ratified in heaven, on a raft of current issues such as:
• Homosexual priests (sic) are unconverted sinners who have no place in the pulpit but need to be saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ
• Abortion of human offspring is sin and perpetrators are under God’s judgment until saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ
• Pornography is not only regrettable but corrupting and evil and has no place in the lives of the blood-washed Christian
IS SUNDAY NAMED AFTER A FALSE GOD?
The only remaining question that still needs to be addressed is Sunday being named after a false god. This is usually thrown in the face of Sunday worshippers as if to say “are you serious? Are you going to abandon a day that God gave to worship on in preference for a day that is dedicated to a false god?” In reality this is a self-defeating argument for as we shall see all the days of the week were named after false gods. Saturday is named after the ancient Roman god of agriculture, Saturn, but that does not disqualify it or lessen its importance as the 7th day of the week and the Jewish Sabbath.
When God created the world He did not give names to the days, He gave each day a number. The world was created in 6 days and God rested on the 7th day (Genesis Chapter 1 v 31 – 2 v 2). This seven-day period is called a week which means simply a space of seven days. No one has ever been able to establish if what we call the first day is actually what God called the first day. There is probably a big difference between what is accepted and what is real for a number of reasons:
• No one has been able to trace the days back to the beginning of creation
• During the dispensations of innocence and human government Sabbaths were not observed and no documentary evidence exist that they were even known.
• Some old civilizations worked to an 8-day week
• There have been numerous changes in the week cycles and days have been added and subtracted to calendars over time
• Many countries in the world accept Monday as the 1st day of the week and reflect that on their calendars whilst others accept Sunday.
However you look at it you cannot know with certainty that the day on which you worship, whatever you choose to call it, corresponds to the day you think it is as originally numbered by God. That is why Paul left us in no doubt where Christians should stand on the issue, “one man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special does so to the Lord”. (Romans Chapter 14 v 5-6).
All Christians accept that God created the world in 6 days although some believe that the days were not literal 24-hour days but merely represented periods of unspecified time. I accept that people of goodwill can differ on this point but consistent hermeneutics will indicate that when the Bible says that the evening and the morning was a day then it was so even as it is to this very day.
The heathen, the pagan, the unenlightened, the uncivilized, call them what you may did not take their queue from God but rather from their own understanding based on observations and interpretations of astronomy. The ancient Greeks, Sumerians, Chinese, Egyptians and Babylonians (it is still debatable who was first) came up with a system of naming days based on the 7 heavenly bodies which could be observed from earth moving around relative to the fixed stars. They claimed that each heavenly body dominated one hour of the day and each heavenly body had a god that ruled over it. They called the heavenly body by the god that ruled over it and in chronological order beginning with the most distant heavenly body they named them as follows according to the Ptolemaic system: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury and Moon.
They claimed that the day had 24 hours starting in the evening at 6pm and lasting until the following evening until 6pm (this agrees with the Genesis account – Genesis Chapter 1 v 5) and whichever heavenly body / god ruled on the first hour of each day dominated the day and so the day was named after that god. If you care to do a chart you will see that if you start with Saturn ruling the first hour on day one (and you go repeatedly through the sequence Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury and Moon) then the first hour of day 2 will be ruled by the Sun, the first hour of day 3 will be ruled by the Moon, the first hour of day 4 will be ruled by the Mars the first hour of day 5 will be ruled by Mercury the first hour of day 6 will be ruled by Jupiter the first hour of day 7 will be ruled by Venus.
Accordingly the sequence of days, as per this system, is the day of Saturn, the day of the Sun, the day of the Moon, the day of Mars, the day of Mercury, the day of Jupiter and the day of Venus. As mentioned before each of these heavenly bodies, which we now call planets, was supposed to be governed by a god and the days were named after the god as follows (using the English names for these gods): Sunday (Old English2 – sunnandæg
Sunne's day), Monday (Old English – mōnandæg), Tuesday (Old English – tiwesdæg Tiw's day), Wednesday (Old English – wodnesdæg Woden's day), Thursday (Old English – þunresdæg Thunor's day), Friday (Old English – frigesdæg Frige's day), Saturday (Old English – sæternesdæg).
The bottom line to this is that yes Sunday was named after a false god but so too were all the other days as well, including Saturday, and it makes absolutely no difference the name you append to the day. Jesus Christ, as only He can, have a way of beautifying and transforming pagan and derogatory symbols until the world have forgotten the old associations. The Cross, Holy Communion, Christmas, Baptism to name a few all has pagan and/or derogatory associations but when touched or commissioned by the Master takes on new and exalted significance.
Let us now conclude the whole matter and let what we have so far learned by careful examination of the scriptures and apostolic tradition lead us to make some firm statements regarding this situation.
1. Israel, the people loved and called by God to give us salvation through Jesus Christ is not The Church. There are many parallels between Israel and The Church and in hermeneutics, symbols of one can at times be referring to the other but the two are distinct and separate.
2. An examination of the Mosaic Law shows that this law was given to Israel only and is in no way applicable to Christians. Christians do not come under this law and is not bound by any of its strictures.
3. In this year of our Lord 2007 we are no longer under the dispensation of Law but under the dispensation of Grace and The Church. The Law of Moses or the Old Testament Law is in no way applicable to Christians and is fulfilled and subsumed in Jesus Christ who gave two new laws for the Church Age, namely “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew Chapter 22 v 37 -40).”
4. Saturday to some may be a blessed and hallowed day but it is clear as can be that no matter how you look at it the Jewish Sabbath Saturday is not prescribed for Christians.
5. God inscribed in man’s heart Divine Law - immutable principles of righteousness, justice and compassion - reflecting and attesting to God’s own character thereby equipping man forever to deal with all contingencies of life.
The Church and its duly appointed leaders acting under authority of scripture and the dictates of The Holy Spirit can so decide which day their members assemble on and regard as their Sabbath. Since no day for Sabbath was prescribed for Christians then individual denominations or an independent assembly have every right, acting under divine guidance to make such a prescription. The first day of the week is the day the Apostles and the early church chose to meet on and it is the day that Christ rose from the dead and so worshipping on the first day each week is an everlasting memorial of the resurrection. Believers are free to worship on any day of their choice and whichever day one worships on it wise to remember what Paul said…“one man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special does so to the Lord” (Romans Chapter 14 v 5-6).
SOME OTHER IMPORTANT SCRIPTURES:
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6
For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. I Corinthians 9:19-21
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: Romans 8:1-3
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galations 3:10-13
According to Judaism, the 613 mitzvot or "commandments" given in the written Torah, as well as their reasonings in the oral Torah, were only issued to the Jews and are therefore binding only upon them, having inherited the obligation from their ancestors. At the same time, at Mount Sinai, the Children of Israel (i.e. the Children of Jacob, i.e. the Israelites) were given the obligation to teach other nations the embedded Noahide Laws. However, it is actually forbidden by the Talmud for non-Jews (on whom the Noahide Laws are still binding) to elevate their observance to the Torah's mitzvot as the Jews do.
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