The Sabbath Rest Shadow or Reality?

The following is a discussion with an ex-Adventist writer who no longer believes the Seventh-day Sabbath is part of the Christian's life. His emphases is to call the Seventh-day Sabbath a shadow which has been fulfilled in Christ and since we rest everyday with Christ we no longer need a weekly Sabbath.
It is amazing how so many attack the physical oasis of God's Holy Day of rest and commitment to Him. While we are to walk and talk and abide with Christ all week long, this in no means does away with the Seventh-day Sabbath.
It seems all avenues to the Sabbath DAY are being blocked by the enemy who will seek to draw all worship to himself. But before Sunday can be exalted, the work of breaking down the esteem for the day God has blessed, sanctified and told us to remember, must be accomplished. This is a work we see being done by many people in our present age.

In Genesis is the Sabbath a Day or a Continual Time Period?
Was the Sabbath only a Sign of Israel's Deliverance From Egypt?
Is the Person Who Keeps the Seventh-DAY Sabbath Laboring Under a Curse?"

Following we will look at the reasoning of Jack Gent, an ex-Adventist and compare it to our understanding. The original is in black. My comments are in blue.

The Sabbath Rest

He asks: "Have you ever wondered how the Sabbath was a shadow of the reality that was to replace it, and that reality was Christ? Scripture is so clear on this point.
Col. 2:16 -- Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things which were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."

Already we see a biased translation--
A translation closer to the Greek would read: "Let not anyone judge you in eating and in drinking or in respect of a feast or of a new moon or of sabbaths, which things is (are) a shadow of things coming (future), but the body is Christ's."

1. Notice first of all that Paul does not say that God wants people to stop observing the sabbath day... no, he says let no one JUDGE YOU IN HOW you eat and drink and in respect of the sabbaths.
2. The body, (the church) is Christ's, that is, it belongs to Him, and in other passages like Romans 14, which also deals with "men judging" it makes it clear that man is not the judge of Christ's people, all will appear before Christ's judgment seat and give an account of themselves to HIM!
3. The above text is set in the context of "manmade" commandments and obligations. We must despise the rags of philosophy, traditions of men, elements of the world as not being in accord with Christ. (v. 8) Yet the challenger seeks to use these verses to abolish one of God's ten commandments.
4. Interestingly Paul refers to the shadow as foreshadowing something in the future "tense", not in the past tense as some translations render it.

The challenger finds this verse conclusive: "Words could not be stated any clearer, but let us see if Scripture shows us how this is so."

In a previous web page at Issues in Colossians Two I have shown that Colossians DOES NOT abolish the 7th day Sabbath at all. This text is set between two other texts which make it plain Paul is speaking of "traditions of men, according to the elements of this world and not according to Christ." He warns against submitting to the injunctions and teachings of men.
Yes it is very plain that we are not to let any MAN judge us according to A MAN MADE SABBATH !!!! Far from abolishing the 7th Day Sabbath, this is a warning that the world will seek to judge us by a man made Sabbath.

Do not let man impose a false Sabbath on you and rob you of your inheritance. No where does it say God will not judge us -- indeed we must all appear before the judgement throne of Christ!


The challenger takes us back to creation and attempts to get rid of the Sabbath DAY. "Gen. 2:2, 3 -- By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Do you see the difference in the account of the seventh day as compared to the previous six? After each of the six days of creation there is always this statement to bring each day to an end -- And there was evening and there was morning -- the fourth day, etc. This statement was omitted following the description of the seventh day."

Genesis gives us the creation, not only of the world, but of time. The very first day, God made TIME, dividing light from darkness, making day and night and called it the FIRST DAY. Upon this basis God then gives each succeeding DAY a number name -- first day, second day, etc. until He has created all seven days of the week. The week rests on no natural rotations of celestial bodies, it rests solely upon creation week, when God created the seven DAY week, and set aside the seventh day for holy purposes.

When we come to the seventh day, it clearly says "DAY", three times in the Genesis account. The word "Day" in the original carries the meaning of evening and morning. Also in the Exodus 20:10-11 passage, we read, "The seventh DAY is the Sabbath of the Lord your God....for in six DAYS God created,...and rested the seventh DAY wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath DAY and hallowed it." The word DAY jumps out all through these two passages, and one cannot separate the meaning of the 24 hour "day" as clearly given in the context of the whole passage, and give it a different meaning in one case, yet our challenger says:

The seventh day was given no end point. On this seventh day, following the six days of a completed creation, God rested.

It is pure assumption that the final day in the newly created week, is not a day at all, but continues. If this were true, then the week was immediately abolished right there in the garden of Eden, yet the week itself, stands as a memorial of God's creation of seven specific days. The word "DAY" in just these two passages of Genesis 2 and Exodus 20 occurs seven times. These two passages are linked together in an inseperatable fashion. Yet in both passages it reads that God rested and blessed, and sanctified the seventh DAY. If it were really true that the seventh "day" of Genesis had no end point, it would not have carried the word "DAY", which translates as evenings and mornings, at all. It would simply have read "And on the seventh, God rested."

Adam and Eve entered into God's rest where they were to enjoy a never-ending personal relationship with their Creator. Supreme love of their Creator and love for one another was their greatest delight.

There are nice thoughts expressed here, except they hide a falsehood-- yes, they were to have open communion with God, and this open relationship was meant to be never-ending, uninterrupted by sin, yes, love for God and one another was to be their delight, but this does not abolish the day of rest and special communion after six working days. Adam and Eve were given WORK to do in the garden.
In Gen. 2:15 they were told to dress and keep the garden. They had to name and take care of the animals, in other words they were placed as the caretakers of this world. They had dominion over the whole earth. They had work to do!

They were given one commandment -- not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The penalty of breaking this commandment was death. If they would honor this command, this resting in God's presence would continue for eternity.
Then sin came in by their eating of the forbidden fruit in violation of this direct command of God. This brought separation from God, as sin always does. God's rest for them came to an end and they were driven from the garden.

They were driven from the garden because sin brings separation-- no longer could they walk and talk FACE TO FACE WITH CHRIST-- SIN SEPARATES. That is correct. They violated a direct command of God....Yet it is strange that this whole article by Jack was written for the express purpose of allowing people to break a direct commandment of God. "Remember the Sabbath DAY, to keep it Holy" (the seventh DAY). A command spoken by the voice of God, written by the finger of God, placed in the heart of the commandments of God.

Sin still separates! How many have walked face to face with Christ lately, completely free from sin? We still "see though a glass, darkly" and are still waiting for the time we can see Him "face to face". (1 Cor. 13:12) Eden was not restored at the time of the cross. Only it's final restoration was assured. And don't tell me people before Christ could not communicate with God in the same way we can today. We would be hard pressed to find another Enoch or Abraham or Daniel upon earth right now. How can modern people be so arrogant to say they are now restored to pre-sin conditions?

Our challenger continues: "God has only one way of bringing man back to God's rest and that way is through Christ. If the Sabbath were a shadow of God's rest in Christ, man could not possibly be brought into this rest without the shedding of the blood of the paschal lamb which pointed to the great sacrificial Lamb of God. Accordingly: the lamb was slain --"

Very correct-- we cannot be restored to Edenic conditions without Christ. Nor can we keep any DAY HOLY without Christ. But what does that have to do with demolishing the Sabbath.-- nothing!

If , as the writer claims, it is a Shadow of Edenic conditions, it is still a shadow. For we have not yet reached those conditions. However, Isaiah 66:23 tells us, even in the earth made new we will gather together from one Sabbath to the next to worship God upon the Sabbath.

Was the Sabbath Only a Sign of Israel's Deliverance From Egypt?

The challenger now takes us to the deliverance of Israel from Egypt saying: "The lamb was slain--the Passover blood is sprinkled --The Lord brings out His redeemed people --(set apart and separated from the Egyptians among whom they lived) the song of redemption was sung (Ex. 15:1-18) --the manna from heaven is given --(representing Christ)

Yes, God freed His people from Egyptian bondage. God did restore the Sabbath, which was largely lost sight of during the long years of slavery. He restored to them the Sabbath to call His people away from their worldly cares, and to remind them of His wonderful work of deliverance, creation and sanctification.

The deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage symbolizes God's deliverance of His people from the bondage of sin. God is in the business of delivering people from SIN so they can SERVE AND WORSHIP HIM. In this He desired them to see a promise of deliverance from sin. As the blood of the slain lamb sheltered the homes of Israel, so the blood of Christ is to save their souls; but they could be saved through Christ only as by faith they should make His life their own. It was not enough that the paschal lamb be slain; its blood must be sprinkled upon the doorposts; so the merits of Christ's blood must be applied to each individual life.--

See John 6:58 -- "This [Himself] is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." When the manna was given, then, and not till then, is the Sabbath expressly instituted.--

So why we might ask -- after the blood was shed and the manna given, did Israel not enter into a continual Sabbath rest? Why would God give them just one day in the week to rest after having redeemed them? The "sabbath is gone" theology tries to tell us the two concepts are incompatible to each other, that somehow, setting apart the 7th day, which God sanctified, conflicts with a persons call to abide in Christ every day. In reality these two concepts are totally dependant upon each.

1) The deliverance from Egypt by God's mighty hand should have given Israel the continual rest. Everyday they were to depend upon and serve their God through faith. The power of God which was manifested in a remarkable manner in their deliverance from Egypt, and seen from time to time all through their journeyings, should have inspired them with faith and gratitude to walk with HIM continually, to believe He is the God Who saves. They were offered the continual rest AND...

2) They were given the 7th day Sabbath rest. It is only as a person walks continually with the Lord, that keeping the 7th day Holy even becomes a possibility. It was because they did not enter the continual dependance upon God, that they also could not keep holy the 7th day Sabbath rest for we are told in Ezekiel that even there in the wilderness they polluted greatly God's Sabbath.
"But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments.. and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: ..for their heart went after their idols." (Ez. 20:13,16)

It is when a person refuses to walk with Christ all week that they end up polluting the Sabbath, even if they may be resting from actual physical work. And when a person refuses the spiritual oasis of "coming apart" to rest on God's special day each week, they drift away from Christ during the rest of the week as well.

An interesting side note on the gathering of the manna. This very analogy shows that during the week we must make conscious effort to "abide in Christ", to gather the manner, then on the Sabbath we rest and enjoy His presence in fullness!.

The Sabbath then and now is the special day when we set aside our labour (the gathering of manna) and all other distracting duties of life, and spend quality time with the Lord. This is HIS WILL FOR US. This will shield us from having our minds being overcome with the cares and distractions of this life, which can pull us away from the connection with Christ.

Our challenger quotes: "This is that which the Lord hath said, 'Tomorrow is the rest of the Holy Sabbath unto the Lord.' " (See Ex. 16:22-30)
As a shadow of rest in Christ, two things are absolutely essential:
(1) That it be given consequent on redemption and for that very reason.(2) That it should be given only to those thus redeemed, as a mark or sign of their redemption. Ex. 19:4 -- You yourselves [Israelites] have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself.
This is speaking of their being redeemed from a life as slaves in Egypt, into being a special nation to God above all nations. It was to this redeemed people, and to them only, that the command was given, "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."

Deut. 5:15 -- Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore [for this reason] the Lord has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Could language be any clearer than this? That blood shed by the paschal lamb had separated them from bondage in Egypt and brought them by type to God. This was the basis of that statement by God --"Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."

Here we see very selective reasoning and choosing of scripture as to what constitutes the bases for the Sabbath. The deliverance from Egyptian bondage (symbolizing deliverance from the bondage of sin) is just one reason for rejoicing in the Lord on His Sabbath Day.
Why do they not quote the scriptures that say,

"Remember the seventh-day to keep it holy [FOR THIS REASON] for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is and rested the seventh-day." Ex. 20:10

Why do they miss Jesus words that say, "The Sabbath was CREATED for mankind, [not only for the Jews]
Why do they not quote the texts that say: "I gave them my Sabbaths [FOR THIS REASON} to be a sign between them and Me, that they may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them."

It is interesting as well, when we back up a little in the history of Israel, to a time before they arrived at Sinai, a time before God revealed to them the commandments from the mountain top, before He made the covenant with them. Yes, it is interesting that God would say to them before He spoke to them the commandments:
Exodus 16.23-30
This is that which the LORD said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and cook that you will cook today; and that which is left over store for yourselves to be kept until the morning. ..
And [the next day] Moses said, Eat that today; for today is the Sabbath unto the LORD: today you shall not find it in the field.
Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.
And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.

You mean they had commandments and laws before Sinai? Of course, we know the Israelites were freed from Egyptian bondage so they could serve the Lord. But apparently the commandments and laws, as well as the Sabbath were already known before Sinai. Abraham, we are told, "obeyed God's voice, kept God's charge, commandments, statutes and laws.. (Gen. 26:5)

In succeeding ages this law was lost sight of. While the Israelites were in Egypt, they suffered grievous oppression at the hands of the Egyptians. After they had been in slavery for nearly four hundred years, God delivered them by a wonderful manifestation of His power. He revealed Himself to the Egyptians as the Ruler of the universe, One greater than all heathen deities. Israel was now free to serve God! At Sinai God reveals His will to them, as well as the gospel through the sanctuary.

We too can be freed from the bondage of sin by Christ. For what are we freed? (so we can serve ourselves and do as we think best) NO ! So we can serve the Lord, and keep His day Holy for it is the Lord that makes us holy (sanctifies us). And only holy people in the Lord, can keep God's holy day holy.

But now the challenger makes a strong, but unsubstantial statement: "Of course we have absolute proof that this command [to observe the Sabbath day] is given only to the Israelites at the time of their sojourn at Sinai, from this text: Deut. 5:2-3 -- The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb [Sinai]. It was not with our fathers that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today."

So God making a personal covenant is absolute proof that God never made the same personal covenant with others before?

We have already seen that Israel was asked to remember the Sabbath even before Sinai. We've noticed Abraham kept God's laws, commandments and statues.
When Moses told the people that God had made this covenant with them personally, it was his assurance to Israel that God was personally interested in them, that He had made the covenant with them personally. They were to take it personal! It's like God making a covenant with Jacob, Jacob already knew the covenant had been made to Abraham, but when God made it personally with Jacob, it meant much more to him. It became more personal.

God also wants to make a covenant with each one of us personally, who are alive TODAY.

Then from verses 6-21 Moses reads to them the ten commandments. This, again is so clear that anyone disputing this must of necessity continue their dispute with the Lord. If God had made known His Sabbath to all men, and given it to them, this wondrous connection with a completed redemption would have had no meaning.

Does he mean also that the command not to kill, or steal, or commit adultery was made known only to Israel and not to all men?

Does he mean that God did not offer redemption to Adam, and Seth, and Enoch, and Abraham and Jacob? --

They too had to offer the lamb of burnt offerings. They too had to separate themselves from the evil crowds. They too looked forward to Christ the Messiah.
Indeed, in Genesis 26:5 we are told by God that Abraham obeyed God's voice, and kept God's charge, God's commandments, statutes and laws.

How is it that people try to tell me God had no commandments, statutes and laws before Sinai? Sometimes we hear that God's telling Abraham to leave Ur are his "commandments, statutes and laws". No, his obedience to the call would be categorized as "obeyed God's voice". But Abraham is said to have kept God's commandments, statutes and laws-- this means much more then simply answering the call to leave Ur.
The combination of these same terms, "commandments, statutes and laws" are found in the charge given to Israel, "to hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul." (Duet. 30:10)

Neh. 9:9-14 -- You saw the suffering of our forefathers in Egypt. You heard their cry at the Red Sea. You sent miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of the land ...By day you led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take. [He is redeeming them from their bondage in Egypt.]

You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses. How striking is this type! The real "Rest of God" can only be known by those who have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins. The Sabbath was most strictly a sign between God and His redeemed Children of Israel.

I'll agree that the real rest of the Sabbath can be enjoyed only by those who know Christ -- who know God. But this doesn't in any way do away with the Sabbath day rest. In fact it makes it all the more meaningful. Why would anyone want to do away with the Sabbath day? What is written above only makes the Sabbath DAY more important.

. For he who thinks he keeps all days really doesn't keep any day holy. All days are then suited for his own pursuits, business and secular goals.

But now we see a little twist in our challengers next comment: "Eze. 20:12 KJV -- Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. It is fundamental to see that they were not required to keep the Sabbath in order to be sanctified. It was a sign that He had, by the death of the lamb, sanctified, or separated them from the Egyptians to Himself; and they were to keep it as a sign that they were separated to God. Is it not impossible to say this Sabbath rest was given to all the world, and then state here, as in many places, that it was a sign that they were sanctified from the world to God? This would produce contradicting statements.

We realize it is not the Sabbath that sanctifies us. God sanctified the Sabbath the Bible tells us, and God sanctifies us. But sanctified people will desire to do the will of God and keep holy, the day He has sanctified. They will take their feet off the Sabbath and stop doing their own pleasure upon His Holy Day and call the Sabbath a delight, honourable to the Lord. Is. 58

Besides sanctification isn't a one time thing, it is a growing experience in the Lord. The Lord that sanctifies us. The text doesn't say they WERE sanctified, but that it is the Lord that sanctifies them. Sanctification isn't an outward thing, done in remoteness to the inner conditions of the heart. Sanctification is inner renewal through the grace of God.

The text does not say, as the author tries to interpret, that they WERE sanctified and so God gave them the Sabbath. It says the Sabbath is a sign that it is God who sanctifies! The Sabbath which was given to the world as the sign of God as the Creator is here also the sign of God as the Sanctifier or Re-creator. The power that created all things is the power that re-creates the soul in His own likeness. To those who keep holy the Sabbath day [really regard it as holy, not just enforced resting] it is the sign of sanctification. True sanctification is a heart in harmony with God, abiding in Christ.

The argument that the Sabbath was not given to world because not all the world is saved, makes as much sense as saying Christ did not come to die for the whole world because the whole world will not be saved.

The Sabbath was given to the human race! But most of the human race reject it. It is true, only those who are in Christ can really keep it. Even the mere outward resting doesn't keep anything holy. We must keep the day in Christ--keep it in the spirit, not the letter. But indeed the redeemed will keep it! For it is a sign that God has redeemed and sanctified.

Is the Person Who Keeps the Seventh-DAY Sabbath Laboring Under a Curse?"

The challenger states: "Obedience was not commanded that they might be redeemed, but because they were redeemed."

True-- Thus the redeemed will keep the Sabbath DAY.

Notice how true the shadow is to the reality; the type to the antitype. In the antitype, none have this sign upon them; peace with God. None enter into His rest but those who believe; only those who are brought to God through the redemption that is in Christ. Anyone who in obedience to the law, keeping the Sabbath, perfecting their character or any other worthy project to enhance their chance of obtaining salvation are laboring under God's curse.

The mix between truth and error here, becomes very deceiving. He brings in the truth that only in Christ can anyone truly keep the Sabbath. It must be kept from the heart of the redeemed person. But then somehow -- I really don't understand how he can do this with any clear conscience, but somehow he turns Sabbath observance from a beautiful thing a redeemed person in Christ enjoys, into a curse!

Gal. 3:10 NEB -- Those who rely on obedience to the law are under a curse.
Gal. 5:4 NEB -- When you seek to be justified by way of law, your relation with Christ is completely severed.

Now what is Galatians is saying,
Gal. 3:10 "They which be of faith are blessed...but as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse for it is written, cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are in the law to do them."

What is the curse? Before we can understand any of this we must be clear on what the curse is! The curse rests upon those who SIN! If anyone thinks that by his own good works he can remove that curse is under the curse still. Only Christ can remove that curse.
If a person thinks that by stopping work at sunset, biting the lips all day Sabbath because they can't do their own thing, and then, the second the sun goes down, they go tearing out on the town -- while they have all day given not a thought to their dependance upon God and relationship with Him, nor spent the time with Him, if they think this type of "keeping" the sabbath will in anyway justify themselves before God -- they are sadly mistaken!
We can't justify ourselves by the law. That's what Paul is saying. The law can't justify, only Christ can justify. But that doesn't mean we now break God's ten commandment law. Do they think they can justify themselves by breaking the law?
For we are all the more under a curse if we deliberately go and sin -- Sin is defined by the transgression of the law. This concept that obedience to God's law brings us under a curse is the devil's BIGGEST LIE! This lie will cost many a precious soul eternal life!

These people do not hesitate to speak evil of the law, and even make those who do not study the Bible for themselves, believe that the curse of God is upon them if they keep it. All we have to do, say they, is to believe in Christ,--come to Christ. The most fatal delusion of the Christian world in this generation is, that in pouring contempt on the law of God they think they are exalting Christ. What a position! In so doing, they array Christ against Christ. It was Christ who spoke the law from Sinai. It was Christ who gave the law to Moses, engraven on tables of stone. It was his Father's law; and Christ says, "I and my Father are one." The Pharisees held the reverse of the modern-position, but were in just as great an error. They rejected Christ, but exalted the law. And it makes little difference which position we take, so long as we ignore the true one,--that faith in Christ must be accompanied by obedience to the law of God.

We can have the satisfaction and assurance of knowing, that while they curse us, Jesus has pronounced a blessing. Says the true Witness, the only Begotten of the Father, "Blessed are they that do his [the Father's] commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the City." Rev. 22: 14.

For Jesus said, "In vain they worship me, when they set aside the commandments of God, to follow their own traditions. (Matt. 15:3,6,9)

Eph. 2.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good WORKS, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Continue reading "Are they who keep the Sabbath Laboring under a Curse?"

Part Two: Colossians 2, Romans 14, Hebrews 3 and 4

Sabbath and the Judgment