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April 6, 2022 12:01 am
Is the Sabbath binding on Christians, or was it a holy day only for Israelites under the old covenant? Today, W. Robert Godfrey shows that the timing of the Sabbath's origin presents the key to answering this question.
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Most cultures around the world agree on what day a month and year are those things are all established in nature. We don't need special revelation to know that. But a week is not established in nature. A seven day week is established by revelation. We are called to have a seven day week by God because of the imprint of his creative work on our lives. We are told to rest on the seventh day of the week day the Lord established as the Sabbath, where we find the origin of this day that the Lord made holy. At the time God gave the commitments to Israel or does it go back further, let's join Dr. Robert Godfrey as he continues his series.
The Lord's day Sabbath worship and rest. Last time I talked about three basic questions that we have to answer as we think about the biblical material and in a sense I think. Although we think that the New Testament is the most important on this. I really think this first question is foundational and crucial in the reading I've done on this whole question of Lord's day and Sabbath.
I think I conclude that almost always how you answer the question of the origin of the Sabbath in the old testament determines how you see the relationship of Lord's day and Sabbath in the New Testament. So this is a really foundational question really crucial question where is the Sabbath in the Old Testament come from now you know that there are two versions of the 10 Commandments recorded for us in the Old Testament. There's a version in Exodus 20 that I read in the last study but there's also the version in Deuteronomy chapter 5 and let me read that statement of the fourth commandment to Deuteronomy 5 we read observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy as the Lord your God commanded you six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God wanted you shall not do any work you or your son or your daughter or your male servant, or your female servant, or your ox and your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates that your male servant, and your female servant may rest as well as you so far. The commandment is is quite similar to what we find in Exodus chapter 20, but now the commandment comes to the reason for keeping the Sabbath day holy and got in Deuteronomy 5 in verse 15 we read, you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that your that the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day here in Deuteronomy 5 Moses is stressing the connection between Sabbath and remembering the Lord's deliverance of Israel from the house of bondage. And if this was the only version of the 10 Commandments that we had, we might well be tempted to think that the Sabbath begins with Moses at Sinai, because the whole purpose of the Sabbath would be to remember that God delivered us from Egypt. It would be very much grounded in that historical moment of Moses leading Israel out of Egypt, but that's not the only statement of the Sabbath that we have and that's important to see, to be sure one of the four functions of the Sabbath is to have time to think about the saving work of God, but Exodus 20 reminds us that the Sabbath is also to remind us about the creative work of God about God, the creator and so we read in Exodus chapter 20 verse 11 for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.
Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. And that's really a quotation is from Genesis chapter 2. It's a quotation from the creation story recorded by Moses at the beginning of the.
The book of Genesis and Genesis chapter 2 verse one of following reread. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them and on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done so. The Lord blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it. God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
There is Genesis 2 verse three and God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
Now those who want to defend the proposition that the Sabbath really only comes with Moses said yes it's recorded that God blessed the Sabbath day and made holy. A creation but there's no commandment there. There's no commandment to keep the day holy. There it simply a declaration that God made it holy. But you know that's a pretty weak argument that's really a pretty weak argument certainly is a weak argument when you see in the fourth commandment in Exodus 20 that it's given as a reason for the Sabbath. What you could still say, well, Moses is giving a new reason to Sabbath it really wasn't there from creation, but I don't think that works when God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for whom did he do that. Did he do it for himself. Will God doesn't really live in day study. God doesn't really live in time God lives in eternity and all of God's existence is blessed and holy right.
He doesn't have sometimes more blessed than other Sunday is more holy than others. God exists always in holiness and blessedness in eternity. So, for whom did God bless the Sabbath day and make it holy. For man.
I've argued that really all of the creation story is structured so that will know who we are and how were to live it's it's a pattern for us and in living and were to work six days and rest one that's the pattern God established force in creation and and then when we look more carefully at the Old Testament before Moses released before Sinai. We discovered that the Sabbath seems to be present. It's interesting that in the book of Genesis at several points we can see that God's people are following a seven day week and you say well how important is that while it is important because the way we human beings measure time in most instances is established by nature so what's a day while 24 hours of night and day of day of darkness and light.
You don't have to have the Bible to know what a day is we have months as human beings that's related to the moon and lunar orbit so that cultures all around the world know what a month is this on say that every calendars exactly the same, but there's a substantial agreement about what a day is a one a month is about what year is because a year to is determined by nature by the whatever is the orbit of the earth around the sun.
Those things are all established in nature. We don't need special revelation to know that. But a week is not established in nature.
A seven day week is established by revelation, a we are called to have a seven day week by God because of the imprint of his creative work on our lives. At the time of the French Revolution, one of the things the revolutionaries tried to do was get rid of the seven-day week. They wanted to put the world on the metric system. Even back then, so they wanted a 10 day week three ten-day weeks kind of work they weren't able to succeed at that because seven days was too well implanted in practice, but it's really by revelation that we have a seven-day week and that's testified to in the book of Genesis at several points that they were living according to a seven-day week. We also read in Exodus chapter 16 that Israel in the wilderness was forbidden to gather manna on the Sabbath.
Now, you pay a lot of money learn this, but Exodus 16 comes before Exodus 20 and so Israel was keeping Sabbath before they got to Sinai. It appears, and all of this is to say that Sabbath while being influenced by redemption and by God's saving work, bringing them out of the house of bondage.
The root of the Sabbath is in creation and our reform fathers barn Lord said that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance that there are certain things established in creation that stay with mankind. All fruits experience in life and the family is one of those creation ordinances and that's why the attack on the family is so serious in our contemporary world, but the Sabbath also is a creation ordinance from creation and not from the full, not from redemption, but from creation itself. We are called to set aside time for serving God and worshiping him in the world that he created.
Even if we hadn't fallen in this world we would be called to keep the Sabbath day holy and their variety of reasons, or we can offer for that.
A lot of our reform fathers talked about how the Sabbath plants in our very creation. The notion that we're not done. We haven't reached the final point, even apart from sin. There was something to look forward to. We worked and then we rested implying that someday, even if there never been any sin there would be a greater perfection of rest, then we have experienced just from the initial creation itself. They call that a sort of eschatological expectation there's going to be further development to the point of final rest. So I think the argument that the Sabbath is established in creation not in Moses is I think pretty irrefutable. I don't think the people who try to make the Sabbath simply mosaic succeed at all. I think that's really pretty clear. I got a question about clarity is the Bible clear on this. I think the Bible is clear on that. Genesis 2 says it Exodus 20 repeats it. The Sabbath is grounded in God's creative work that God blessed it and made it holy. From creation then means of course that it's not just for the Jews there something universal about the Sabbath for all mankind, and it is interesting that Jesus said that they that he was Lord of the Sabbath and the Godhead made the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath since they did say God made the Sabbath for Israel. He talks about all mankind. There God made the Sabbath for man that's a declaration of the Savior. I think I think all these pieces are really quite clear that the Sabbath is grounded in creation, not in the unique experience of Israel at Sinai. Now that's up to say that took the Sinai experience didn't have an impact on the understanding of the Sabbath or the particulars of the Sabbath or maybe even the strictness of the Sabbath, but the institution itself rests in creation and that's crucial because it means it's a little harder to dismiss it all. We know the New Testament tells us that there are many mosaic institutions that are fulfilled and no longer imposed on Christians, but this is not simply mosaic institution and that's why we have to look much more carefully at the New Testament on material to see that now there a lot more things that we could say about the Sabbath in the Old Testament, but this isn't really a study of Sabbath in the Old Testament and in fullness, but one thing we ought to see is that the Sabbath in the Old Testament is not governed by a huge number of really specific rules. I think we sometimes get the impression that somehow the Sabbath in the Old Testament is governed by rule after rule after rule. Some of them very very picky on that's really not true of the Sabbath segments in the Old Testament are pretty broad stop working but you know there's not a lot of specificity beyond that stopped working and worship God and I've known people who say will is no commander worship in the Old Testament on the Sabbath.
That's not true. There clear commands to worship on the Sabbath in the Old Testament, but when it comes to specific commands.
It's interesting that the most specific command.
I think in the Old Testament about the Sabbath is in Exodus 35 verse three you shall kindle know fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day. That's about as picky as it gets. Now that's that impacts life significantly.
If you're not allowed to light a fire on the Sabbath.
There are a lot of drumsticks on the Sabbath is true for the fire but there not a lot of rules like that, you know, I think sometimes we take all those pharisaical rules we read about in the New Testament and assume there was a lot of stuff like that in the Old Testament is really not true.
Now I'm not saying that Sabbath observance was a light thing or had no consequences. The Old Testament, not all, but the basic is your to just stop your ordinary work for women the ordinary work for most women in the Old Testament would've been very much about the life of the house and cooking and the clearly this is meant to relieve them of some of the and men had all sorts of labor and they are to stop that stop thinking about that stop focusing on that in turn their minds have time to turn their minds to the Lord. So in terms of our our first big question, what does the Old Testament say about the origin of the Sabbath. I think it's really quite clear that it says the words of the Sabbath is creation and therefore notions of setting it aside in the new covenant cannot be convincingly argued simply from verses that say were not bound by Moses because the Sabbath is not an institution of Moses. It's an institution, the Moses had things to say about but it existed well before Moses. Okay so that's preparatory to our turning now to those versus those key verses that are claimed to show that we are not bound by any day in the new covenant, but rather, all days are alike in the front.
There are actually only three verses are for versus three places where that argument is supposedly made in the New Testament someone look at all three of those places carefully with you in the first one is Romans 14 verses five and six. Romans 14 verses five and six and this is say particularly significant one and one that we want to look at with the sump care only read that passage to you. Romans 14 verses five and six one person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind, the one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord, the one who eats Dietz in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and give thanks to the Lord.
Well, there it is right. This is Paul's discussion of weaker and stronger brother and the basic argument Paul makes is that weaker and stronger brother should love each other and tolerate each other get along with each other. So the the broad context here is that we should love one another. We can all be great about that right. We can we go forward together on that point we should all love one another, and he makes the point that some of the brethren have stronger theological arguments and convictions than others who are weaker and in the context it's really quite clear that Paul is saying those who feel free to eat and drink in moderation whatever they want to eat and drink are stronger and those who feel called upon to not eat or drink certain things are weaker and similarly those who regard all days alike are stronger and those who regard special days are weaker.
Okay, let's stipulate as lawyers would say let's stipulate that that's what Paul is saying. I think that's true. So does that answer your question, no, because we have to ask the context in which Paul is discussing this and it is really quite interesting to to look at this context and I think very often even really quite good commentators I haven't looked at the context very carefully and I hate to be critical and I certainly hate to suggest that I'm better than other people, but on this. I just don't think they look very carefully you know, one of the problems with commentators you have to watch them on this is that they often get so dug in narrowly to the verse right in front of them that they don't spend enough time stepping back and looking more broadly at the verses all around them and what we discover is that this somewhat narrow discussion of the weaker and stronger brethren versus vis-à-vis food and days is in a broader context for Paul is talking about time and moderation and in this section of the Romans 13 and 14 and even on into 15.
The big concern the, the major concern is about food and drink days coming almost incidentally, the only right here were looking at it. The big concern is is food and drink and when we read it carefully. What we see is that Paul is warning that we have to be careful because at verse 12 of chapter 13 the night is far gone. The day is at hand. So let us cast-off works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly in the day time, not in orgies and drunkenness.
Now that translation orgies is not bad but I think orgies connotes something different than what Paul had in mind he's talking about excessive feasting, so this word is I think orgies sounds may be more focused on sex. Maybe that's just my misspent youth, but he's not focusing on sex, primarily here is talking about feasting about gluttony about parties that have too much food and everybody's going to access now you see he's introducing here a discussion of time. The night is far spent the day is at hand.
That is the day of the Lord, like the coming of the Savior, and he's talking about food. Those are the broad issues that he's discussing here and I think this is very important to what he's discussing because at the end of 13 he says, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Here's the great conclusion you're not to indulge yourself you're not to be given to accessing any way eating or drinking or sexuality don't gratify those desires keep them under control.
Nothing controversial there right now. What he goes on there to discuss his how do we ensure that we don't gratify those desires. Well, Paul says there weaker and stronger brother trying to figure out how to do that the weaker brother and decide not to gratify their desires by not drinking wine at all, and not eating me little David staying altogether whereas the stronger brethren realize that you could drink wine and eat meat in moderation.
That's fairly obvious what is talking about here.
He's also saying that in this battle against fleshly desires. The weaker brother and have established days of practice to help them. Maybe it's not very specific, but maybe days of fasting, maybe days of prayer, maybe days of special fasting and Paul says if that helps the weaker brother. That's fine, but the stronger brother don't need those special days to see to say that what Paul is doing here is in any way talking about the Sabbath. I think this is the point of the text misses the flow of thought.
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