I've heard it said that the law of God has been abolished at the cross and is now obsolete. Is this true?
No it isn't. The Savior did not come to abolish his Father's law, but to fulfil it. (Matt 5:17-20) The word 'fulfil' means to 'carry out,' to 'do,' to 'perform' and 'obey'. Had the Messiah (Jesus) abolished the law, he would have contradicted his own words when he said that the 'law would outlast the universe;' and it is evident that the heavens and the earth are still here, so the law must still exist. The Bible classifies all men as sinners. 'All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.' (Romans 3:23). This means that God's law must still exist, for to be a 'sinner' one must have transgressed an existing law. We could hardly be called 'sinners' if there were no law to transgress; for "sin" by the Bible definition is "the transgression of the law:" (1 John 3:4) and as the Apostle Paul so clearly put it "where there is no law there is no transgression." (Romans 4:15) In short, the presence of sin and sinners in the world is proof positive that the Almighty's law still exists.
The Bible tells us that at the end of this present age and in the ages to come, true believers will be keeping the commandments of God. How could this be possible if the commandments were abolished at Calvary?
|Rev.12:17||"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."|
|Rev.22:13||"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14: Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15: For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
Incidentally, laws are not abolished by obedience or disobedience. Consult any lawyer or judge if you have any doubts about this legal fundamental. Christians who speak and write against the law of the Most High are unwittingly furthering the cause of Satan the Lawless One. They are adding to the enormous catalogue of sin of which the world and the church is already guilty: for when they teach that God's law is done away with, they encourage the spiritually blind to persist in their sins.
Where does faith and grace come into this matter of keeping the Feast Days? Surely everyone must know that Christians are under grace and not under law!
To begin with, let us make it perfectly clear that we know that every sinner who accepts salvation is saved by the Grace of the Almighty; and that salvation is a FREE GIFT made available to us by God through His only begotten Son (Jesus) the Messiah. We also know that the main reason for our salvation is not merely that we live forever, but:
|Ephesians 2:7||"That in the ages to come He (the Almighty) will shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Jesus Christ."|
Furthermore we know that Christ's grace towards mankind was evident in past
|Genesis 6:8||"Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."|
|Exodus 33:13-16||"Moses found grace in the LORD's sight."|
|Jeremiah 31:2||"Israel found grace in the wilderness."|
Indeed "He giveth grace unto the lowly" no matter what age they may happen to live in. (Prov 3:34) The Almighty's grace, we conclude, is not just a new covenant feature, but the age-old outcome of a personal trait of the Most High which immediately manifested itself when man sinned and salvation became necessary. Did you know that the word grace appears 39 times in the Old Testament alone! God's grace, in other words, has been extended to all His followers since Adam sinned in the garden of Eden. Indeed, every time an Old Testament believer offered an animal sacrifice for sin, he was pardoned by the grace of God.
What, then, is the relationship between grace and law? And what does it mean to be under grace? Briefly here are the facts concerning this misunderstood matter.
|Romans 6:15||What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?
Paul's answer is:
|Romans 6:16||God forbid! Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?|
|Romans 6:16||"His servants ye are whom ye obey."|
If Christians are required to keep the Sabbath days mentioned in Leviticus 23, then what do texts like Romans 14:5-6, Colossians 2:16-17, Galatians 4:9-10 and Ephesians 2:15-16 mean?
These four passages, sad to say, are amongst the most misunderstood in all of Scripture. And because they are critical, which means that any misinterpretation of them will result in many believers sinning, it is vital that they are understood. To aid understanding we will quote each text in turn and them briefly explain its meaning.
|Romans 14:5-6||"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike.
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it
unto the Lord: and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth no regard it ...
|verse 10||"... for we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ."|
In this passage Paul is not saying that the Sabbath commandment is done away with. Nor for that matter is he saying that Sunday is the Sabbath; or even that Saturday is the Sabbath. The identity of the Sabbath day is not being established in this text.
The points being made in this passage are:
In other words, believers ought to investigate and examine this vital issue of which - if any - is the Sabbath day and decided the matter for themselves, and not judge others. Why is self-determination so important here? The answer is because "we shall all stand before the Judgement seat of Christ" and give our own reasons for our actions. Pleading ignorance or blaming someone else for your own actions will not help you on the Day of Judgement. You must decide these matters for yourself and be fully persuaded in your own mind as to what is right and what is wrong. That is what Paul is saying.
|Colossians 2:16||"Let no man therefore judge you in meat and drink, or in respect of a holy
day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days;
17:which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
The message of these verses is similar to that in Romans 14:5-6. In Romans 14 Paul admonishes believers not to judge one another, but let each decide for themselves. In this passage, he is telling us not to allow ourselves to be judged.
And why does Paul mention meat, drink, Sabbath days and new moons in the same verse? The answer is, because "meat, drink, new moons, and Sabbath days" are "shadows"," tokens" or" emblem types" of great spiritual realities still to come. And though they are extremely beneficial when properly understood and applied, they are of little practical value to the Christian who spends his energies and time criticizing others.
Having said this, however, it would be very unwise for a believer to conclude that since these things are "shadows" or "spiritual tokens" they are, therefore, of little account and that Paul is here giving all Christians a free pass to ignore God's Sabbath law.
That is most certainly not what Paul is saying. Indeed when we examine the Apostle's other writings - and take a close look at his own actions - we notice that he went to great lengths to honor the Almighty's Sabbaths and to prove to the brethren in Jerusalem that the reports about him teaching believers to forsake the law and old customs were simply not true, because the fact was that he (Paul) walked in an "orderly way and kept the law." (Acts 21:20-24, Acts 20:16)
What, then, does this passage mean? It means exactly what it is saying. Just like that passage in Romans it concerns a believer's mental attitude towards himself and others. In Romans 14 Paul says "do not judge others, but allow them to make up their own minds as regards to their diet and the days they honor." In Colossians 2 he says "Do not allow others to judge you". In neither passage is the identity of the true Sabbath day discussed.
|Galatians 4:9||But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye
again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10:Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
The key words in this passage are "how turn ye again." They mean: how can you want to turn back to your former practices. Bear in mind that Paul was writing - not to Jews - but to the Galatian believers - to converted pagans! (Actually Christians)
What were they wanting to turn back to?
The answer is they were wanting to "turn back" to the weak and beggarly elements, of the days, months, and times and years which they had kept before they became followers of Jesus Christ. In other words, they wanted to turn back to the pagan festivals they had previously observed; festivals which centered on the beggarly elements of sun, moon, wind, river and fire worship. These are the beggarly elements which the converted Galatians used to worship. And this fact, understandably amazed Paul.
Had he been writing to converted Jews, who had kept the Almighty's Feasts since childhood, then we could allow that the "days, months, seasons and years" of verse 10 may well have meant Jehovah's Feasts and that these pagan converts were wanting to go back to celebrating them. But Paul is not here writing to Jewish believers, he is writing to converts from Paganism; and the only celebrations to which they could possibly go back, were the heathen festivals they had previously known; festivals which were directly linked to the beggarly elements mentioned above.
Also bear in mind that Paul honored God's Feasts (Acts 18:21, Acts
20:16, 1 Cor. 16:8). It is therefore unthinkable that he would refer to the Almighty's
Feasts as "weak and beggarly elements" in one instance and then strive
desperately to keep them in the next. Paul' s verdict in Romans 7:12 concerning the
commandments of God was:
Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.There is nothing "beggarly" about the worship of the Almighty God of Abraham and our Savior Jesus Christ. That much is certain.
|Ephesians 2:15||"Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments
contained in ordinances for to make himself of twain one new man, so making peace.
16: And that he may reconcile both unto God in the one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereof."
There lies hidden within the human heart a deadly element known as sin. At the epicentre of sin - which is disobedience to Yahweh's law - is a spiritual ingredient called enmity. Enmity is hostility. In every carnal mind this sinful element called enmity or hostility towards the Almighty exits, and it find expression in acts of disobedience (sin). Elsewhere Paul says:
|Romans 8:7||"The carnal (non-spiritual) mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."|
If you read Ephesians 2:15-16 again, you will see that it was this inherent enmity in the carnal mind that the Savior came to abolish. He didn't come to abolish His Father's law (Matt. 5:17-18) but man's enmity against God which immediately manifests itself when the Almighty's law is presented. The law, incidentally, is incapable of subduing the sinful nature of man. The law can only point the way to righteousness. It can only tell us what is right and what is wrong. Perfect and eternal though it is, the law is unable to subdue the hostility the carnal mind has for the LORD God.
|Romans 8:3||"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God
sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the
4: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. "
Did you get that? God, being fully aware that His law was totally incapable of overcoming man's sinful nature, sent His Son to subdue, overcome and deprive sin of its power over the human mind. In other words the Almighty sent His Son to slay the root cause of sin - which is enmity towards God and towards each other. This enmity goes beyond man's hatred for God and His law. It expresses it in hatred between Jew and Gentile, black and white, rich and poor, educated and ignorant, the haves and the have-nots in nation after nation. The Savior alone has the power to overcome this enmity between the races and to make of different nations one people - one man.
And why did the Savior come to slay our inherent enmity against God and
our fellow men?
The answer is:
"That the righteousness of God's Law might be fulfilled in us,
who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:4)
If the reader is an honest seeker after the truth, he/she will immediately recognize that the Apostle Paul is not introducing strange and contradictory teachings in these passages; but is in complete harmony with all other inspired writers from Genesis to Revelation. What he is doing in these passages is highlighting some extremely important but little understood truths:
That is what these texts are telling us.
All right, I can see that the Sabbath according to the Scriptures is the seventh day of the week, but how can the modern believer be sure that Saturday is the seventh day?
To prove that the day called Saturday is the seventh day of the week we will consider the history of mankind in three parts:
We will suppose for the moment that the Sabbath was "lost" between the creation and the exodus. It may not have been of course, for God's laws were known and kept by faithful believers long before they were given to Israel at Mount Sinai (see Genesis 26:5) and the sacred calendar and weekly cycle was followed as far back as the days of Noah (Genesis 7:11, 8:9-14) but even supposing that the Sabbath had been lost we can be certain that it was identified and established again by the Almighty in the days of Moses.
Here is how we know this fact. In Exodus 16:14-30 we read of how the Almighty fed Israel with manna. By the following three miracles - performed every week - God made known His Sabbath day to the whole nation.
By these three distinct miracles which occurred every week for 40 years God identified the seventh day as His Sabbath.
Was the identity of the seventh day "lost" between the exodus and the time of Christ? The answer is, No it wasn't. But again, for the sake of this investigation, we'll assume that it was.
We can be certain that it was again identified when the Christ observed it, for just prior to his death on the Cross the Savior categorically stated that he had kept his father's commandments. (John 15:10) He could hardly have said this if the day that he had been keeping for some thirty three years was the wrong one. Besides, if he had kept the wrong day he would have been a sinner and that would have disqualified him from being our Savior.
We are, therefore, certain that the Savior kept the correct seventh day Sabbath.
Has the identity of the seventh day of the week been "lost" over the past 1900 years? We can assure the reader that it hasn't been. Here is the proof.
Soon after the capture of Jerusalem in AD70 the Diaspora took place. The Diaspora is the scattering of the body of Jews to lands other than their own. Initially the exiles had fled to the surrounding countries of Egypt, Syria and Phoenicia, but in the course of time, as persecution mounted, the Jews went further and further afield and today you will find Jewish communities in every country on the face of the earth.
With them the Jews took the Holy Scriptures and their knowledge of the true Sabbath day. Every seventh day since then orthodox Jews all over the world have remembered the seventh day.
And what do we find in this 20th century? We find the Jews still keeping the original seventh day Sabbath, the same day they knew at the time of the Diaspora, which was the same day Jesus kept.
There is absolutely no disagreement or dispute amongst the Jews - scattered as they still are - as to which day is the seventh day of the week. Every synagogue in every country is in perfect agreement that Saturday is the seventh day.
Had there been any change of the day, any loss or gain of time, any deliberate or accidental slip or alteration in the weekly cycle - which would have resulted in the Jews in one country observing a different weekly Sabbath from Jewish believers in the next - then we would readily agree that the identity of the seventh day of the week was in doubt. But we do not find that situation anywhere on earth. Instead we have in total agreement amongst all the Jews of all nations that the day known throughout the world as Saturday is the seventh day of the week. (They preserved the oracles)
Some point out that the civil calendar was changed in the sixteenth century and the weekly cycle itself was altered - all over the world - so no one can be certain that Saturday is the true seventh day of the week.
Those who use this argument are misinformed. Here are the facts of history: In the year 1582 the Julian calendar (named after the Emperor Julius Caesar) was found to be 10 days late when compared with the position of the sun. That is, the vernal equinox was not occurring on or about March 20/21 - as it should do in a correct solar calendar - but was gradually receding towards the beginning of March. The reason for this error was that the Julian calendar worked on the basis that a year was 365¼ days in length, whereas in truth it is about 11 minutes more than that. Over the centuries this 11 minute discrepancy accumulated causing the Julian calendar to steadily recede, till by the sixteenth century it had lost 10 days and the equinox was occurring on March 11th.
To correct this discrepancy Pope Gregory XIII ordered that 10
days be added to the Julian calendar dates to bring them into line with the sun. The month
of October was chosen for the amendment and in the calendar of 1582 that month
appeared as follows:
You will notice from the above that the weekly cycle, the order of the days of the week, remained unchanged even though the Gregorian calendar dates had increased by ten between the Thursday and the Friday. In other words in both calendars the day after Thursday 4th was still a Friday.
This amendment understandably, was not very popular in some countries
mainly because it had been organized by a Roman Catholic Pope. Several Protestant
countries refused to acknowledge it and continued to use the Julian calendar; but one by
one they came into line. Here is a short list of when they did:
|Germany (Catholic States)||1583|
|Germany (Protestant States)||1700|
|Rumania, Turkey and Russia||1919|
All those years between 1582 and 1919 while both calendars were in use, the sequence of the days in the weekly cycle was the same in every country. In other words Sunday in Rome in 1900 was also Sunday in Russia in that year even though both countries were using a different calendar. And as each nation adopted the Georgian calendar it simply added 10 days to its Georgian Calendar date. There was no need to change the order of the days of the week, because they already agreed.
These facts prove that Saturday is the seventh day of the week.
How does one keep the Sabbaths of the Almighty?
The commandment at its basic level is "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." The second part about "resting from ones labor" is added in order that the first part "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." can be met. The original Hebrew word translated "holy" in our English Bibles is qadosh or qodesh. Besides meaning "sacred" this word means to "separate" to "set apart."
The Sabbath day in other words is a day that God set apart for sacred use. He wants us to remember that fact and to keep the day holy - set apart - for sacred use. How is it done? What is involved? What does one do or not do on the Sabbath?
Without attempting to pontificate on so deep a matter, and certainly with no intention of judging another believer's performance, we offer these brief guidelines about Sabbath observance with a prayer to the Almighty that He will use them to fulfil in every reader the spiritual potential latent in him or her.
All these activities are permissible on the Sabbath day. Indeed these are the very
things the Savior did when He walked on this earth.
Sad to say the Pharisees did not agree with the Savior on some of these points. They incorrectly supposed that he was breaking the Sabbath when he healed people. They misunderstood the fact that the Sabbath - God's qodesh day - had been set apart for that very purpose, for doing good, for doing the Almighty's work. The Savior, however, knew what he was doing. Had he not as the Creator made the Sabbath in the first place? He was not only aware of which day was the Sabbath, but he also knew how to keep it. The reader will not go astray if he/she endeavors to do likewise.
(See Nehemiah 10:31 and 13:13-21, Isaiah chapter 56, also chapter 58; but especially verses 13-14)
If you remember the Sabbath is God's holy day (the portion of time that He set apart for His work) and if you rest from your own labours and interests and devote yourself to His service, then you will be on the glorious path of Sabbath observance. And what's more, you will be blessed in this world and the next in direct fulfillment of this amazing promise:
Isaiah 58:13 "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
Without allowing a Feast to deteriorate into a show of gluttony, try to ensure that an extra special meal is served on the Feast day. In this way you will declare your faith in God's breathtaking Programme of Salvation which He has made possible through His Son, and prove your desire to partake of the real spiritual banquets that He has prepared for those who serve Him.
God has made many promises to the believer who is willing to observe His Feasts.
Ezekiel 36:33 "Thus satin the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from ALL your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builder. 34: And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
35: And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the Garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. 36: Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it. 37: Thus satin the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.
38: As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD."