Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Sabbath and Shadows of Things to Come

“Commemorative” means: in honor of something—in remembrance, a memorial, observing.


Those are the kinds of words that we see associated with the Sabbath in the God’s Word: “Remember” it. “Honor” it. It's a “memorial” of creation. We are to “observe” it.

In fact the Sabbath is entirely commemorative.

Genesis 2:2-3 "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

Why was the Sabbath given? Because God had finished His work of creation. It was like His signature on a painting honoring what had been done.

Exodus 20:8, 11: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." Why? "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."

Why was the Sabbath given? To commemorate God's work of creation. Nothing in the 4th commandment mentions redemption, salvation, the coming Messiah, or anything "to come". It is entirely commemorative.

Exodus 31:13, 16-17 "Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you." "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed."

Why was the Sabbath to be kept—because of the work God was going to do at some far off future date? No. It was to commemorate the work He had done—both in creation and in their lives.

Deuteronomy 5:12, 15 "Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee." "And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day."

Every time the Sabbath is commanded—it is to commemorate what God has done. Keep the Sabbath because I created you. Keep the Sabbath because I delivered you. Keep the Sabbath because I sanctified you.

And it can be no other way because the Sabbath was given before the fall—before sin—before salvation even existed. There was nothing for it to point forward to! It could not have been a shadow of Salvation—when it had not been promised, and it certainly was not needed.

Shadowy Sabbaths

Then let's look at:

Colossians 2:16-17 "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: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."

This verse is talking about things which are shadows of things to come. Now when you eat a pear, is that somehow a shadowy symbol of things to come? (Obviously not). How about drinks—when you drink a glass of orange juice is that symbolic of something to come in the future? (No.) But this verse plainly states that it is talking only about things "which are a shadow of things to come." It is not talking about eating pears and drinking orange juice, rather it's talking about the food and drink that is "a shadow of things to come"—things like the meat offerings and the drink offerings which pointed forward to Christ.

Since the Sabbath of the 10 Commandments was entirely commemorative, then which "sabbaths" is this verse talking about? Were there any sabbaths in the Bible that were shadows of things to come?

Leviticus 23:27-32 "On the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. . . . It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath."

Here we have a different sabbath. This one does not fall on any particular day of the week (the 10th day of the 7th month falls on different weekdays every year). This is not the Sabbath of the 4th commandment, but it is The day of Atonement: A day full of symbols—certainly this sabbath was a shadow of something to come!

Leviticus 23:39 speaks of a sabbath on the 15th day of the 7th month, and Leviticus 23:24 speaks of a sabbath falling on the 1st day of the 7th month. Leviticus 25 and 26 speak of a sabbath lasting an entire year—every seven years.

Colossians 2:16-17 says it's speaking only of things "which are a shadow of things to come", and so this verse can only be speaking of these types of sabbaths.

Application vs. Interpretation

We can take a verse that is talking about one thing and make an application to something else—use that verse as an object lesson or allegory to help us understand a truth that was not particularly in the mind of the author when it was written. Ministers do this. Teachers do this. Bible writers even do this. And it is not a bad thing.

But it is not interpretation. Interpretation takes a verse and seeks to understand what the author meant by what the author said.

Paul makes a lot of applications. Genesis 16 and 21 speak about Hagar, Ishmael, Sarah, and Isaac. But Paul says,

Galatians 4:22-24 "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. . . . These are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar."

Certainly this story is not speaking about the Old and New Covenants—the Old Covenant had not even been invented yet! It would be wrong to say that the interpretation of Genesis 16 and 21 is the Old and New Covenants. But it is a beautiful application and gives us a better understanding—not of Hagar and Sarah, but of the Covenants.

In the same way, Paul speaks of the Sabbath in Hebrews 3 and 4, and makes an application of the Sabbath to the rest we will experience in the new earth. This beautiful application gives us a better understanding—not of the Sabbath—but of salvation.

Christ's Call

Hebrews 3:8-11 "Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)"

Hebrews 3:12 "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."

Jesus says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. He promised to show "mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:6.

Over and over Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." John 14:21. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." John 15:10.

Hebrews 4:7, 11 "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." "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief [disobedience]."

Finally the apostle John gently reminds us: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3.

Will you enter into that rest?


Anika said...

Thanks I am appreciating your little studies Tony

Post a Comment