August 10, 2010
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Commentary — From the Margins
Keeping the Sabbath
I spend a considerable amount of time answering queries: I recently received one that requires a book-length answer, but my initial return message couldn’t be book-length so I abbreviated what I wanted to write and said only:
Dear Doctor —,
introduction to the Sabbath was when trying to prove my stepfather, a Seventh
Day Adventist, wrong about the Sabbath in October/November 1959, when I was
still a twelve-year-old high school Freshman. I found that when the
commandments move from written words on two tablets of stone to being written
on hearts and placed in minds, with anger being equivalent to murder and with
lust being equivalent to adultery, the Sabbath didn’t move to the eighth
day, but moved inside the person to regulate the thoughts of the mind and the
desires of the heart on the seventh day. But you should know my history if you
have read A
Your concerns about keeping the Holy Days can be addressed from a physical perspective, what you will find expressed by most Messianic Christians, or from a more typological perspective. But before beginning, an understanding of what Paul writes about the law in Romans 2:13 and Romans 3:20 (also Gal 2:15–21) needs to exist. If “it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Rom 2:13), but if “by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his [God’s] sight” (Rom 3:20), then it isn’t what the hands do that justifies a person but the thoughts of the minds, with faith in Christ being belief of God. For when a person believes God, the person will desire to keep the commandments as the reasonable expectation of the household of God—and it is this desire to keep the commandments that causes a person to be a doer of the law who will be justified. So when you write, “I cannot see how anyone could possibly keep all of the ancient Jewish rules, ceremonies, feasts,” you somewhat miss the point about why these ancient rules were given.
A hasty overview of Israel’s history here seems reasonable:
even though David asks not to have the spirit taken from him (Ps 51:11), and
Luke records that John the Baptist’s father Zechariah was filled with the
spirit (Luke 1:67), no one was born of spirit prior to Christ Jesus receiving
the spirit [pneuma–breath] of
the Father when emerging from baptism (Matt 3:16). Jesus would not be the last
Adam if anyone had been born of spirit prior to when He received the spirit of
God [pneuma Theon]; i.e., a second breath of life.
The Passover now represents the liberation of
If the Lord hadn’t forcibly evicted
Again, it isn’t what the hands do that justifies a Christian, but what the mind believes—and when the mind believes God the mind will cause the hands and body to keep the commandments. So it isn’t keeping the commandments that justifies, but believing the writings of Moses so that the person can hear the words of Jesus (John 5:46–47) and believe the one who sent Jesus (v. 24). This person, the one who believes God, will pass from death [the status of every inner self prior to receipt of a second breath of life] to life without coming under judgment.
Thus, the Sabbath is the first of the appointed feasts of the Lord (Lev chap 23); for the Sabbath represents liberation from sin, from disobedience, from being the slave of the Adversary through receipt of a second breath of life. The inner self that was humanly born dead is made spiritually alive through receipt of the breath of the Father. But the Sabbath is not alone in this representation of liberation from sin—keeping the Sabbath only begins the journey from sin to entering into God’s presence, a journey that took forty years for the children of Israel and a journey that will take seven years for the liberated Christian Church following the Second Passover, but a journey that individually takes until the Christian keeps the holy days for the Christian is the temple of God, with the inner new self represented typologically by the Levitical priesthood serving in the earthly temple, and with this spiritual temple located in heavenly Jerusalem, where every Israelite is to appear three seasons [times] a year.
It will be argued that Christians daily enter into the presence of God, that they are always in the presence of God, but this is also the argument made for not keeping the Sabbath: if every day is a spiritual Sabbath day, when does the work occur that is needed for the mundane maintenance of the flesh? And those who make this argument will ignore the Sabbath so that work can occur seven days a week, for the flesh needs maintained every day. The argument at its core is bogus.
On the first unleavened (from Matt 26:17 —), Jesus ate the Passover before He was taken. This is the night when Israel in Egypt ate the Passover (remember, Moses commanded Israel not to leave their houses until morning — Ex 12:22 — so Israel didn’t begin to gather their flocks to leave Egypt until the daylight portion of the 14th and didn’t leave Egypt until the beginning of the 15th, the High Sabbath). … Rabbinical Judaism follows the practices of the Pharisees and keeps the first of its two Seder services [one on the 15th, the other on the 16th of Abib] on the night that Sabbatarian Christians have traditionally called the Night to Be Much Observed. Hence, secular calendars identify the 15th of Abib [Nissan] as the Passover, but according to the example that Jesus left with His disciples, the sacraments of bread and wine are to be taken on the dark portion of the 14th, after the example of Israel in Egypt; for it is this first covenant—this Passover covenant made “on the day when [the Lord] took [the fathers of Israel] by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt” (Heb 8:9)—that will be replaced by the New Covenant that has the Torah written on hearts so that all Know the Lord.
This first covenant that was growing old and becoming obsolete and
was about ready to vanish away a quarter century after Calvary remains in
effect, but without the daily sacrifice of bleating lambs for Christ Jesus is
the reality of “the daily” — by faith, disciples daily put on
the garment of Christ’s righteousness through prayer, with the garment of
Christ’s righteousness being the reality of grace — and with the
inner new selves of Christians serving in the temple as Levites served in the
earthly temple. Therefore, Christians are as obligated to keep the Passover as
Israel in Egypt was obligated to keep the Passover; for according to Matthew,
“Now as they were eating, Jesus
took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and
said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And He took a cup, and when He
had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you,
for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the
forgiveness of sins’” (26:26–28). … The disciple who
doesn’t drink from the cup—with the mouth of the disciple
represented metaphorically by the two doorposts and lintel, the doorway, of the
Israelite’s house in Egypt—does not have his or her sins forgiven,
but will be as an Israelite in Egypt would have been who hadn’t
sacrificed a Passover lamb and put some of the blood on the doorway. The
firstborn within the house of the Israelite in
to the second Passover liberation of
The Passover that liberated Israel from bondage to Pharaoh and its resulting Exodus will no longer be remembered when Israel, now the nation circumcised of heart, is liberated from bondage to indwelling sin and death at the Second Passover (see Jer 16:14–15; 23:7–8). But this Second Passover liberation of Israel will see all uncovered [by the blood of Christ] firstborn sons of God, angelic and human, plus all uncovered firstborns of Christians and of other human beings suddenly slain when humankind can get no farther from the Light that is God than it is. This means, simply, that the firstborns of Seventh Day Adventists—because they refused to keep the Passover after the example Jesus left with His disciples—will die suddenly and unexpectedly on a second Passover day near in time … there is no love in not trying to get Christians to take the Passover sacraments on the dark portion of the 14th of Abib; for the matter isn’t one of interpretation of Scripture but of belief.
Adventists have been humanly born into their faith—you are an
exception—thus in continuing in the teachings of the
message has become way long and I haven’t begun to touch the reasons for
keeping the holy days. I would ask that you read at least the first four
chapters of APA 2010; for that will give
you enough background that I can address specifically the teachings of Ellen G.
White concerning the holy days as well as the reasons for keeping them. But
before I quit this message, let me say that when moving from physical to spiritual,
most of the statutes given to ancient
Keeping the Passover on the dark portion of the 14th of Abib, with the month of Abib beginning after with the first sighted new moon crescent following the spring equinox, is not a matter open to dispute, but a matter of whether the Christian believes God … unbelievers do not keep the Passover; believers do. And in a complicated world filled with gray areas, keeping the Passover is neither complicated nor in a gray realm: either a Christian will or won’t.
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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."