Notes on Observing the Sabbaths of God
Spiritual Israelites are those individuals who have been grafted onto the true vine that is Christ through the circumcision of hearts and minds, which is a euphemistic expression for receiving the Holy Spirit. Therefore, spiritual Israelites have the laws of God written on their hearts and minds; they know God; and they have had their sins forgiven. They should not live like either physical or spiritual Gentiles. Thus, they will, because they do so by faith, observe the sabbaths of God, including the weekly Sabbath, the annual high days, and the new moons.
To help newly drawn disciples observe the sabbaths of their Creator, short articles discussing the sabbath days have been collected on this page. Eventually, each holy convocation and festival will be discussed, beginning with the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Spiritual Israelites are spiritual Judeans, in that they live like Judeans. They do not live like Gentiles, nor do they live like physical Jews, whose focus isn't Christ but the covenant by which they were made a holy nation (Exod 19:5-6). That covenant has been abolished (Eph 2:15), so that one new humanity could be constructed from those who were physically circumcised and those who were not. This one new humanity is a new creation that by faith believes God unto obedience by observing what has been written in the Book of Deuteronomy. The Apostle Paul identifies the righteousness that comes from faith (Rom 10:6-8) as the second covenant mediated by Moses (Deu chptrs 29-31), made in Moab, with physically uncircumcised Israelites (Josh 5:4-5) just before they entered the promised land, analogous of life in Christ. These Israelites crossed the Jordan dryshod as their ancestors had crossed the Red Sea dryshod. Paul writes that crossing the Red Sea was a type of baptism (1 Corth 10:1-2). So too is crossing the Jordan. The difference is that the second covenant is made with Israelites prior to when they are circumcised--when they yet appear like physical Gentiles--who are then baptized, then physically circumcised prior to taking the Passover. In the spiritual analogy, disciples are drawn from the world (John 6:44, 65) and are made parties to the new covenant, which is the second covenant with better promises and a better mediator (i.e., the glorified Christ Jesus). They are, through being drawn, spiritual Israelites, even if they do not immediately recognize themselves as Israelites. They have their hearts and their minds circumcised through the writing of the laws of God on them. They are then baptized into the Body of Christ, and they are expected to begin living like Judeans prior to when they take the new testament Passover. They are not expected to continue living like Gentiles. In fact, if they take the Passover as Gentiles, they take it unworthily, and they take damnation unto themselves.
Life in Christ differs from life in either Egypt or in the wilderness: in Moab, Moses told the uncircumcised Israelites who were about to enter the promised land that,
"Keep, then, this entire commandment that I am commanding you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and occupy the land that you are crossing over to occupy, and so that you may live long in the land that [YHWH] swore to your ancestors to give them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. For the land that you are about to enter to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sow your seed and irrigate by foot like a vegetable garden. But the land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys, watered by rain from the sky, a land that [YHWH] your [Elohim] looks after. The eyes of [YHWH] your [Elohim] are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year" (Deu 11:8-12).
What Moses said pertains today to spiritual Israelites. Life in Christ is living daily by faith, by trusting God to provide milk and honey, the earlier and the latter rains. It isn't by sowing seed as in a vegetable garden. Life in Christ has about it an unfenced vastness, the grandeur of hill country. And that life begins with becoming a spiritual Judean and taking the Passover.
The circumcision faction with whom the Apostle Paul battled apparently coupled the example of the uncircumcised Israelites who crossed the Jordan becoming circumcised with physical circumcision being the ratifying sign by which Abraham received the promised of Isaac's birth and eventually of Christ's birth to conclude that spiritual Israelites needed to have their foreskins clipped. The gospel Paul says is accursed is the mixing of what is physical with what is the spiritual. When a disciple is drawn from the world by God the Father, the person is spiritually circumcised through having the laws of God written on hearts and minds. The person wasn't supernaturally drawn to become a physical Israelite, with the law of God bound tightly in a tiny scroll attached to the person's forehead; the person was made a spiritual Israelite, who is no longer under the law but has internalized the laws of God. The person has been made into a spiritual ark of the covenant, with the two tablets of stone having been made flesh. As such, the sabbaths of God are to be kept at a spiritual level, which has the same relationship to what is physical as flesh has to stone, as the Breath of God has to a flint knife.
A person cannot observe the Days of Unleavened Bread and eat yeast products on either a physical or a spiritual level. However, if the disciple's focus prior to and during Unleavened Bread is spotlessly cleaning the person's home so that not one crumb of a leavened bread product remains in the home, the disciple errs spiritually. Yeast represents sin for the week of Unleavened Bread. The uncircumcised Israelites in the Wilderness (prior to crossing the Jordan) did nothing but march around a mountain, not realizing that neither their sandals nor their clothes were wearing out. They were oblivious to what God was doing in their lives. Likewise, disciples (i.e., spiritual Israelites) were unaware of what God was doing prior to being drawn. They lived as bondservants to sin, not realizing that they were truly Israelites. Therefore, when they are liberated from slavery and permitted to leave the spiritual Wilderness, they should focus on expunging sin from their lives through drawing ever closer to Christ, who bears those sins. They will not eat yeast breads because they want to observe the festival. They will remove yeast products from their homes for the same reason. But their focus must be on Christ, not on cracker crumbs.
If cleaning one's home causes a person to lose focus on Christ; if it becomes more important to remove every single particle of leavened bread from carpets than to examine oneself, then the person has made an idol of the person's righteousness.
Balance must be maintained during Unleavened Bread between abstaining from eating yeast breads and Pharisaical carpet cleaning. No sin is imputed to a disciple in covenant with God the Father, for any sin would separate the disciple from the Father. Therefore, the disciple's focus must remain on the Father and on Christ, the mediator of the covenant, and on obedience to Christ. Abstaining from eating yeast breads is just what the disciple does during the festival. To make more of it than that is to elevate what is physical at the expense of what is spiritual.
This same admonition pertains to the Feast of Tabernacles, which isn't a vacation at a luxury resort, but a week long opportunity to learn to fear God. A person will leave his or her home to dwell in a temporary booth in the backyard, or in a local campground, or formerly, on the rooftop. If the person's focus is dining out, or Disney World, or sightseeing, or shopping, the person doesn't understand what Christ's Millennium reign represents. The previously cited passage from Deuteronomy describes life in the Millennium. Milk and honey come from having faith that God will provide the early and the late rains. They don't come from the person digging irrigation ditches. They come by believing that God will provide the person's needs. Therefore, living in booths of tree boughs for seven days symbolizes that complete faith needed to believe God unto obedience by observing all of His commandments and decrees.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."