The Mystery of the Sabbath
by Wole Oladapo
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The Sabbath, the seventh day of the creation of God in the Hebrew calendar was sanctified, hallowed and blessed by God above all other days (Gen. 2:2-3). When the law entered, observance of the Sabbath occupied such a very significant place in it that failure to observe it the way it was commanded by God attracted the gravest penalty; death sentence without any option whatsoever (Exodus 31:14). It has ever been controversial right from the time of the early Christians and still remain unresolved in the mind of many people whether or not the Sabbath should be observed in this dispensation of grace.
It is worthy to note here that contrary to what many Bible scholars teach, there is no single verse of the New Testament Scriptures that says anything against the observance of the Sabbath or nullifies it. A critical survey of the scriptures will reveal this truth. Not even at the Jerusalem council where the controversial issues of the law were resolved, presided over by the Chief Apostles of Christ and St. Paul being there with them, was anything said against the observance of the Sabbath. But today, there are many people who are teaching that when the law died fulfilled in Christ Jesus on the cross two thousand years ago, the Sabbath also died with it. Is this a biblical truth? I am going to let the Bible speak for itself on this vital issue.
The Sabbath was chosen by God unto Himself at the completion of the creation when all things were still perfect, before sin came in and consequently, the law. When the law entered, Father God engraved the Sabbath on the tablets of stone on two different occasions with His own finger. Thus, the Sabbath passed from the era of perfection on to the era of imperfection, the law era. I am strongly of the opinion that God included the Sabbath in the law for two main reasons; to serve to man as both a memorial to man’s perfection from where man has fallen and an assurance of entering a better perfection. With these obvious reasons for God’s inclusion of the Sabbath in the law, can we summarily dismiss it as that of the law era and gone with the law? A critical examination of the Old Testament scriptures will make it evident that the only biblical answer to this vital question is a capital No.
Jesus Christ, after He had resurrected appeared to some of His disciples and showed them those things that represent and point to Him as the Messiah who is to come in every Book of the Old Testament. ‘And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself’ (Luke 24:27). The message of Jesus to them was that those types and shadows of things to come have given way to Him, the very image, whom they witnessed. For example, the one sacrifice of our Lord on the cross for all replaced the yearly sacrifice of the Passover lamb. The real Lamb of God has come and (He) has taken away the sin of the whole world. This is the point where so many people have erred, not rightly dividing the word of truth as we are admonished to. They adamantly continue to advocate the continual observance of the rituals and ceremonies attached to the Sabbath in the law, in total disregard to the biblical truth that the Sabbath has been ordained by God before the law came.
The law died with all its rituals and ceremonies in Christ Jesus whom it witnessed. In the words of our Lord, “ For all the Prophets and the law prophesied until John” ( Matthew 11:13). Jesus makes it clear here that the law is a ‘Prophet’ of what is to come. It is evident that while all appendages attached to the Sabbath in the law died with the law, the Sabbath passed on as a perpetual covenant between God and God’s people as perfect as it was when chosen by God. Does the spirit die and the body remains alive? Never, of course, but the soul is eternal. All the appendages attached to the Sabbath to give it physical expression in the law are akin to the body and the law to spirit (both of which are mortal) and the Sabbath itself is akin to the soul. When the law (the spirit) died, all the appendages attached to it under the law (the body) died with it. Only the Sabbath ( the soul) alone which is eternal continues to exist.
At this point, it is important to emphasize the fact that there is neither time nor day outside the creation. That is in the spirit realm where God is. When God said in the law “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy ……… it is the Sabbath of the Lord your God”, He was not really talking about a literal day, although, the literal day typified the real image in the mind of God, to be revealed in God’s own predetermined time and pointed to it. Only if we blindly too tightly cling to the types, which are shadows of things to come, we will not be able to acknowledge the truths they foreshadowed in time of their revelation. This was the fact that eluded the ancient Jews of the time of Jesus, who were blinded by the letters of the law and were unable to discern when the spirit of the law was revealed. We all know the consequence of this. They are there up till today, ritualistically and ceremonially awaiting the coming of the Messiah two thousand years after He had come and ascended into His place, awaiting their repentance.
Let us now examine the qualities imputed to the Sabbath by Father God; blessing, sanctification, rest, and hallow. Without controversy, all of these are perfect attributes of God alone. God alone is the blessed forever (Matthew 23:39); He is our sanctification ( I cor. 1:30); In Him alone is rest ( Jer. 6:16) and His name alone is hallowed (Matthew 6:9).
After God had created the first man, Adam, the comment of God on the created man and the entire creation is that “it was very good”. Here God confirmed the perfection of man at creation; human perfection at its best. But God imputed His own attributes to the Sabbath as we have noted above. The summation of God’s attribute is perfection. This is what He imputed to the Sabbath; His perfection. This establishes the existence of two perfections in the creation; man’s perfection and God’s own perfection in the Sabbath.
In the law, God imputed another of His attributes to the Sabbath, holiness. The Sabbath under law is to be observed from evening to evening in total separation to the Lord; in communion with Him. It is a day in which man partakes of God’s holiness in communion with Him. To this and very end was the Sabbath chosen by God; for man to partake of His holiness: His perfection.
What does it all mean? The Sabbath was given by God as a shadow of a better thing to come. What is the Word saying, when He says “We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). God in His eternal foreknowledge ordained and gave the Sabbath to man as a witness for His purpose in creating man in His own image and likeness; to partake of His holiness and perfection in fellowship and communion with Him, not leaving man to his own perfection he had at creation.
If you will take time to study the feasts of the Lord, you will have a clearer understanding of what God calls the Sabbath. God gave seven feasts to be observed by the Children of Israel. These seven feasts are all symbolic of Jesus Christ’s ministry from the cross to the final emptying of this age into eternity. If you will examine the relationship of these feasts with the Sabbath, you will find out that all but some of them end on the Sabbath day. But it is amazing that even those which do not end on a literal Sabbath day are declared to be Sabbath by God. God commanded that all should be a holy convocation in which whoever works is cut off from among his people. Some New Age Bible translations attempt to murder this vital truth, but it is out of their grasp because Father God watches over and preserves His Word. Every feast ends a Sabbath of rest unto the Lord. All the rituals and ceremonies associated with the feasts died on the day Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross, which is the consummation of the revelation of the true meaning of the feasts in the plan of God.
We read of Jesus in the Book of Hebrews when He came saying “ sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for Me”. The Rhema behind this statement is that the Sabbath is a type and representation of the body prepared for Christ. We read in Ephesians” that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in Him” (Eph. 1:10). All things in heaven and on earth are gathered in the body prepared fo r Christ. Human and divine are brought together in His body as represented in the Sabbath’s communion with God. The Sabbath is the church concealed in the Old Testament and the church is the Sabbath revealed in the New Testament.. The church therefore, “is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all” (Eph. 1:3).
When the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of defiling the Sabbath, Jesus’ reply to them is that ‘the son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8). Jesus made His Lordship over the Sabbath known to them. We read in Ephesians that “ There is one body” and “one Lord” (Eph. 4:4, 5). The church is the body and Jesus Christ is the Lord over the body, the church. It is clear in Jesus’ statement that He did not declare or consecrate the Sabbath a special day for his worship. Rather, He revealed the mystery of the Sabbath (the church), which has been hidden in Him before the foundation of the world. For that purpose He was manifested, to make known to the world what the riches of His glory in His body, the church is (col. 1:26,27).
The mystery is what Jesus said to us it is given to know, hidden in the letters of the law and the Prophets All things in heaven and on earth are gathered together in Christ in the church. We are made to sit with Him in heavenly places, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6; 1:3). We are not created with divine nature and that which we lose at the fall was human, but we are made partakers of the divine nature in the church, the nature that was imputed to the Sabbath for us and now revealed in Christ’s body the church.
Let us go back to the beginning of all things and examine the truth hidden in the account of the creation as given by God the Creator Himself. After God had formed the first man Adam, “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden ; and there He put the man whom He had formed “(Gen. 2:8)” Earlier, ‘God blessed them and God said unto them ; ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over every living things that moves upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28). God crowned man king over the works of His hand. But the man is in a garden in eastern Eden. How big can the garden be comparable to the whole earth? A drop of water in the sea! Was the man commanded to fill the whole garden planted in eastern Eden? No! But the whole surface of the earth. It was not the Intention of God who made man king over the whole earth and all that is in it to limit man to the garden home alone. May I tell you that as good as the garden was that there is no word suitable ot describe its grandeur in the creation, God has much more better a plan than Eden garden home for man. God has a reason for planting the garden and it is no overstatement that the garden was a better place comparable to the face of the earth at large. But for the blessings spoken by God to man to come into fulfilment, God knows what to do with the rest of the surface of the earth to make it a far better place than the garden for man to inhabit, fill and subdue.
This better plan God has in His mind for man is what man missed at the fall. The cool evening fellowship with God lose then is restored with eternal fellowship with God in Christ Jesus. This is where God created man for, and leading man to precept upon precept, since God does not His things haphazardly. If man did not fall because of wrong use of volition, God already has a planned route for man to get there. The fall came in not to terminate the plan of God for man, but only to turn the whole journey to the wilderness journey; forty days turned forty years.
God’s plan for man is not a twenty-four hour per week relationship from the beginning. It is an eternal relationship, which is the meaning of the church; Being where He is forever. The Sabbath is a witness to this perfect plan of God for man; a plan, which extends beyond all times and ages.
It is written in Hebrews that “ there remains therefore a rest for the people of God” That rest God has placed in the Sabbath from the time of creation. Jesus declared without mincing words that the rest is in Him alone. He called us into the rest when He said, “come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest…. You shall find rest for your souls”. (Matthew11:28, 29). In Christ alone is the rest and Christ is in the church, His body. The rest being talked about here means salvation (entering the Kingdom). The truth of the Bible concerning salvation is that it is no more in heaven, neither is it on earth. Salvation is in the Church alone. God will once more shake the heaven and the earth. All things, which will not be shaken both in heaven and on earth, have been gathered together in the church. All other things in heaven and on earth are doomed to eternal damnation because they will be shaken and removed. (Heb. 12:25-28)
“ It remains that some must enter it” (the rest) since “ those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of unbelief. Those who will enter the rest must meet the only criterion given: ‘believe’. That is the gospel of Jesus, “ believe and be saved”. To enter the rest (salvation) placed in the Sabbath (the Church) by God, you must first believe. That is how we are borne by faith into the church through blood (the blood sacrifice of Christ) and water (of the word), exactly how Adam was directly begotten of God, a mystery we will not fully understand until we get there, if at all we will.
The promise of entering His rest in the church, the kingdom of heaven expressed bodily on earth made by Christ to those who believe on Him in Matthew 16:28 was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when He came and laid the foundation of the church. The church is the kingdom of heaven. It is a heavenly truth expressed bodily upon the earth. Many people have misinterpreted the message of the Bible about the church. The Word says “Giving thanks to the Father, ….. who has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear son” (Col. 1:12,13). We are already in the kingdom of God. The writer of Hebrews made this very clear when he said “you have come to mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the first born who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel”. (Hebrew 12: 22-24). Apostle John wrote that we already have eternal life, not that we are awaiting it in any future time. When we vacate this world to be with the lord, it will only be the continuation of the eternal life, which we already have in Him. All that are in the Church have entered His rest already. ‘Peace I leave with you’.
When God commanded that no work should be done on the Sabbath day, not even one’s own personal burden should be borne, He was pointing to How the kingdom is granted; by grace. “ For by grace are you saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works (either good or bad), lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9) (Parenthesis mine). When Christ invited us into His kingdom, the church, He asked us to take His yoke and burden upon us, to which He testified ‘is light’. But He later said through the mouth of Peter to us’ cast all your burden upon Him: for He cares for you’. He bore the burden of our sins on the cross. We have no burden to bear. He bears it all. The Sabbath was chosen by God not because it possesses any supernatural characteristic, which is not found in other days. It was chosen just because it was chosen. That’s grace. That is how we are made pleasing to God in Christ, just as filthy as we are and surely will ever be as long as we remain in this body of flesh and blood. The road to the kingdom is a cul-de-sac; grace alone. Any other way such as works and performance leads to nowhere. Attempting to earn the salvation of God through works which was forbidden in the Sabbath is an act of disobedience which brings death to the life of the Spirit which makes us part of His body, the Church; severance from Him as an individual or a group. It is like attempting to return into the garden through the east, which is the only way to the tree of life. The cherubim placed there with flaming sword in his hand bears not the sword in vain. He is ready to punish every disobedience. This is the place we are going to pass with our life, fully hidden in Christ, to the tree of life on the day of the redemption of the purchased possession (Rev. 2:7).
This is the mystery of the Sabbath; our election in Christ before the world began, our redemption in Him when the earth will be no more; taking us from glory to glory and from eternity to eternity in His body, the Church forever. God has prepared the Church before creation, told us this in the Sabbath and revealed it in Christ. This is what God has prepared for those who love Him, revealed by Spirit that searches all things.
The Holy Spirit thrugh Paul said 'Let no man judge you of the sabbaths,which are shadows of things to come' What is God saying here? You are your own judge! Judge yourself whether you are in the church, the one body of Christ or something else.What man calls church today is nothing but a perfect mimicry of the church of Christ.Nevertheless, the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal"THE LORD KNOWS THEM THAT ARE HIS".
Having this better promise of a glory which was not known in the ages past which even the angels desire to look into, let us do away with all false Sabbaths, such as observing days, rituals which are dead in themselves and gatherings where He is not present with them. Let us approach Him in an intimate and ever deepening relationship, knowing from whom we receive the doctrines we endure. He calls us to learn from Him and walk according to how He teaches us. We can see that what man is doing has already failed, but the church which Christ is building is ever perfect, having the grace of His presence within it. Salvation is in the church alone. The church is in Christ alone, and Christ is in the church alone, the one body of Christ Jesus. “The Spirit and the bride say “come!”, “He who has an ear; let him hear”. “Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph. 3:21)
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This is quite thought provoking! I love the way you tied all scriptures together, showing a beautiful picture of God's mandates and pointed out his perfect plan for us... Thank you for sharing your heart!