Are We Under The Sabbath?

I sometimes hear folks say that all they need is the Ten Commandments to govern their life and God will be pleased. But the New Testament makes it clear in several passages that the Law of Moses, including the Ten Commandments, was never intended by God to be permanent, but that it has been replaced by the law of Christ. That does not mean the law of Moses or the Ten Commandments are no less the word of God, they have merely served their purpose and are no longer in force. As Jesus made clear, Think not that I came to destroy the law are the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17).

But the fact is, every one of the Ten Commandments is a part of the law of Christ except the fourth commandment, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8). The word sabbath comes from a root word meaning to cease, desist. The idea is not that of relaxation or refreshment, but of cessation from activity. It was a word used in regard to the observation of the seventh day of the week (our Saturday) which God enjoined upon Israel. It was based upon the fact that after the sixth day of creation, God rested on the seventh (Ex. 31:16,17). This day of rest had special significance to the Hebrews since for over four hundred years they had been in Egyptian bondage, during which time they never had a day of rest.

But the significance of the Sabbath was not limited to a day of rest. This day was a special day of remembrance for the Hebrews whom God delivered from Egyptian bondage. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah they God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day (Deut. 5:15). To the Christian, however, the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, has no such significance.

The Law of Moses is no longer in force. As Paul put it, the Lord has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to His cross (Col. 2:13,14). He continues saying, Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Col. 2:16,17). These Christians were being criticized for not keeping the Law of Moses, especially with respect to remembering the Sabbath. In this passage Paul refers to keeping the Sabbath as a shadow of things to come, a phrase used by the Hebrew writer in reference to making animal sacrifices (Heb. 10:1-4). Just as the shadow of animal sacrifice was replaced by the substance of Christ’s sacrificial death, so is the shadow of remembering the Sabbath replaced by the substance of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. There is just as much authority in the New Testament for remembering the Sabbath as there is for animal sacrifices none!

The day of remembrance for the Christian is the first day of the week., not the Sabbath or seventh day of the week. It is upon this day, the first day of the week, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead (John 20:1). It was upon this day that first century Christians remembered the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord by partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7). Just as the Sabbath was a day of remembrance for the Hebrew relative to his deliverance from Egyptian bondage, so is the first day of the week a day set aside for the Christian to remember his deliverance from the bondage of sin through Christ’s sacrificial death.