ALL SABBATHS DAYS/YEARS WERE SHADOWS
Seventh-day Adventists teach that God has two different kinds of Sabbaths. The most important one (they teach) is the weekly seventh-day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments which is eternal, moral and an essential part of God’s character. This weekly seventh-day Sabbath is for all nations and all races for all eternity. It is, and always has been, more important than any of the other Sabbaths in the Bible. Now discarded, the other, less important Sabbath days and years, were the monthly new moon Sabbath days, the seasonal Sabbath days, every seventh Sabbath-year, and the 50th year Jubilee Sabbath.
The texts in this chapter are used by non-Sabbatarians to demonstrate that the seventh-day Sabbath is not binding on Christians. However, Seventh-day Adventists deny that these texts include the seventh-day Sabbath. They claim that all of the “days,” “ordinances,” and “shadows” of the Old Covenant which were abolished when Christ died were only “ceremonial,” or “ritual” days.
While excluding the seventh-day Sabbath, SDAs at the least correctly teach that all of the other Sabbaths were purely ceremonial statutes, or ordinances, which were only for national Israel. They were temporary “shadows” of Christ and the gospel, and, as such, are no longer valid. Therefore, when they read the texts, they interpret them as only references to the “ceremonial sabbaths.”
However, non-Sabbatarians teach that the other Sabbaths were just as important (if not more so) than the seventh-day Sabbath.
Isa. 1:13‑14 “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable
New Moons [monthly], Sabbaths [weekly] and convocations [seasonal]‑‑I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.” NIV
Lev. 23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
Lev. 23:3 (the weekly Sabbath convocation is first on the list)
Lev. 23:4-44 (seasonal Sabbaths and convocations)
After Israel and Judah had for centuries failed to obey their Old Covenant requirements, God declared that He was “weary” of all of their “convocations” B including the weekly Sabbaths (Isa. 1:13-14). This strong rebuke would hardly be appropriate if the weekly Sabbath were “moral” and if the other monthly, seasonal and yearly Sabbaths were merely ritual.
1 Chron.23:31 “…in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts…”
2 Chron.2:4 “…on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts”
2 Chron.8:13 … on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts…
2 Chron. 31:3 …for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts
Neh. 10:33 … of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts…
Ezek. 5:17 …in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths…
Hos. 2:11 … her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts…
Monthly new moons
Seasonal: set feasts, solemn feasts, convocatiohs
These texts from Leviticus, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Hosea and Chronicles clearly place all sabbaths (at the least) on the same level of importance. All of the Sabbaths were the focus of Israel=s worship week, month, season and yearly cycles. It is impossible to sever the linkage (as SDAs do) between the weekly sabbaths and its companion non-weekly sabbaths. Transgressing any Sabbath was a sin! All Sabbaths were important and equally condemned when Israel sinned.
God commanded Israel to stop bringing vain offerings during all three kinds of Sabbaths (weekly, monthly and seasonal). “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons [monthly] and sabbaths [weekly], the calling of assemblies [seasonal], I cannot endure it; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting” (Isa. 1:13). As punishment for her sin, Israel’ss joy was to cease, even on the seventh-day Sabbath. “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts” (Hos. 2:11). This must include the weekly Sabbath day.
Col. 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances [Greek: dogma] that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way — nailing it to his cross;
Col. 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Col. 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in food, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday [seasonal], or of the new moon [monthly], or of the sabbath days [weekly]:
Col. 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Heb. 10:1 “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”
Gal. 4:9 “But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage?
Gal. 4:10 You observe days [weekly], and months [monthly], and times [seasonal], and years [yearly].
Gal. 4:11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.”
Weekly: days; sabbath days
Monthly: months; new moons
Seasonal: times; holyday
Col. 2:16 sabbath days; new moons; holy dayk
Gal. 4:9-10 days; months; times; years
Lev. 23, 25 23:1-2; 23:1, 4-44; 25:2-7, 8-17
When Colossians 2:16 and Galatians 4:9-10 are compared with the nine sets of Old Covenant texts previously discussed, it is clear that (1) Paul was referring to the unity of those texts and (2) that the seventh-day Sabbath was included among those holy days which had been discarded along with all of the other holy days of the Mosaic Law.
Heb 4:3 “For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: ‘So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Heb 4:4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’;
Heb 4:5 and again in this place: ‘They shall not enter My rest.’
Heb 4:6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience.”
Heb 4:11 “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” NKJV
Before he transgressed Adam enjoyed sinless rest twenty-four hours a day every day. In Christ all believers also have sinless rest twenty-four hours a day every day. Hebrews, chapters 3 and 4 leave no doubt that the creation sabbath rest also was a shadow of the future every-day rest to be found in the gospel. “Rest” occurs eleven times in Hebrews 3:11, 18; 4:1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11. The seventh-day Sabbath “rest” was not the ultimate rest God wanted for his people. After listing failed efforts of Israel to enter into God=s true rest, they never achieved it. Now, the new covenant shouts, “we who have believed do enter into rest” — signifying that God’s true rest is achieved by faith in Jesus Christ. All believers, both Jew and Gentile, presently rest in Christ twenty-four hours a day seven days a week!
There is actually a subtle downgrading of the seventh-day Sabbath in Hebrews, chapter four. The two phrases, “the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (4:3) and “God rested on the seventh day from all His works,” (4:4) clearly refer to the creation Sabbath. Yet the creation Sabbath is de-emphasized by “for He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day.” How? It seems discourteous to speak of the Sabbath by saying “in a certain place,” “somewhere” (NAS, RSV, NIV) when every Jew knew exactly where these statements were found in God’s Word.
Although Israel had been observing the Sabbath day for almost forty years in the wilderness, God made it clear that Sabbath day rest was inferior to every day Canaan rest. “For you are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God will give you” (Deut 12:9). The writer of Hebrews went even farther in pointing out that Canaan rest was still not the final rest God desired for His people. Compare Deuteronomy 24:19 and Joshua 21:44; 22:4. The phrase “They shall not enter My rest” probably refers to texts like Deuteronomy 28:65 located in the curses of disobedient Israel. God’s true rest was not to be found under the terms of the Mosaic Covenant.
The phrases “it remains that some must enter it” and “let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest” give one more reminder that God’s true rest comes, not to the Old Covenant Israelite Sabbath-keeper, but to every New Covenant believer B “For we who have believed do enter that rest” B restored to Adam’s pre-sin every day rest!
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Luke 4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Luke 4:20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
Luke 4:21 And he began to say to them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Jesus introduced Himself in Nazareth by comparing His ministry, not to the weekly “rest” of the seventh-day Sabbath, but to the every-day “rest” of the 50th Jubilee year. The Sabbath cycle of weekly, monthly, seasonal and yearly rests culminated in the grandest Sabbath rest of all B the 50th year Jubilee Sabbath. Leviticus 25:8-17 describes the Jubilee Sabbath year in terms that more than combine all of the other Sabbaths together! The land, the Israelites, their servants, and even strangers in Israel were all to rest. Those who had sold themselves into slavery were to be restored. Lost land was to be restored. Broken family ties were to be mended. All debts were to be forgiven. Forfeited possessions were to be returned. And all oppression was to end. Isaiah used the imagery of the Jubilee Sabbath year to describe the every-day Messianic blessedness which would fall on national Israel when the Holy Spirit came via the Messiah (Isa. 61:1-2).
Significantly, it is this every-day Sabbath rest, the rest of the Jubilee Sabbath year, not the seventh-day Sabbath that Jesus announced was fulfilled when He began His ministry in Luke 4:16-18!!! In fact, the “Christ event,” His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension “fulfilled” the “rest” of the weekly Sabbath day, the “rests” of the seasonal Sabbath days, the “rests” of the seventh year Sabbaths of the land and especially “fulfilled” the 50th year Sabbath rest for the land and for the poor. The poor, the slaves, and those burdened by debt especially looked forward, not to the weekly, monthly, and yearly Sabbaths, but to the Jubilee 50th year Sabbath for their new start in life. The Jubilee Year was “the acceptable YEAR of the Lord.” In Christ all sin debt is forgiven and the believer rests in a new creation every day.
In fact, the Jubilee sabbath was the pinnacle of all sabbaths, with the weekly sabbath at the very bottom of this crescendo of Sabbaths. It is no wonder that the very first words spoken by Jesus to describe His ministry in Luke 4:16-21 compare it to the greatest of all Sabbaths — the Jubilee Sabbath Year! Again, it is evident that each Sabbath was arranged in an ascending order, building upon the previous Sabbath in revealing God’s truth to Israel.
Weekly, Seasonal and Yearly Sabbaths
Pre-Sin Rest every day until Adam sinned
Post-Sin Rest no mention until Exodus 16
Weekly: Ex. 20 one day a week to remind of lost creation rest
Deu. 5 one day a week to remind of every day rest from slavery
Passover every day rest of justification
Pentecost every day rest of sanctification; receipt of the Law and harvest
Day of Atonement every day rest of Canaan rest; return to pre- sin Eden
Seventh-year every day rest of farms for one year
Jubilee Year every day rest, forgiveness and restoration; return to pre-sin Eden
ONE: As discussed in a previous chapter, the creation Sabbath day was a memorial, NOT of creation, but of the every day sinless “rest” of creation until sin entered! Therefore, as a memorial of the “rest” of creation when sinless Adam walked every day in perfect harmony with God, it is also a “shadow” of the every day “rest” of the re-creation of the new birth when believers walk in harmony through the blood of Jesus Christ. Just as Adam lived every day sinlessly at rest with God before he sinned, even so believers now live every day in the sinless righteousness of Christ and in his fulfilled Sabbath rest (Heb. 4:1-9; 2 Cor. 5:17).
The SDA objection that the seventh-day Sabbath was primarily a memorial of the seventh creation day is in error and ignores the more important wording of the Ten Commandments found in Deuteronomy. While the exact wording of the seventh-day Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11 points backward to the “rest” of creation in Genesis 2:3, the final wording of the seventh-day Sabbath in Deuteronomy 5:14-15 only points backward to the every day “rest” from Egyptian bondage and slavery. The Sabbaths of the festival seasons, seventh-year and Jubilee year point both backward to every day “rest” from Egyptian bondage and also forward to the Messianic age. This is especially seen in the Feast of Tabernacles which points both backward to Egyptian slavery and forward to the Messianic age (Lev. 23:39-43).
TWO: There is no biblical indication that a seventh-day Sabbath was ever observed from Genesis 4 until Exodus 16 (at least 2500 years). When the Sabbath was specially revealed by God in Exodus 16:23, it was only given to national Israel as a sign of the old covenant between Himself and them (Ex. 31:13-17; 20:2; Deut. 5:6). The SDA argument that God intended for all mankind to observe the Sabbath is illogical because God did not give the Sabbath to anybody else; neither did He command Israel to give it to anybody else. In fact, Israel was commanded NOT to share any of its covenant (including the Sabbath) with other nations. Exodus 23:32 “Make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.” See also Exodus 34:12, 15; Deut. 7:2.
THREE: The seventh-day Sabbath was not more important than the other Sabbaths. In fact, the first Sabbath days given to Israel were NOT the seventh-day weekly Sabbath days. Instead, they were the first and seventh days of the first month set apart for the Passover. “And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, except that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you” (Ex. 12:16; also Lev. 23:7-8). Since violation of the Passover Sabbath days also caused one to be “cut off” from Israel, it is evident that those Sabbath days were at least as important as the seventh-day Sabbath (see Numb. 9:13).
FOUR: SDAs are wrong to define the Ten Commandments as entirely “moral law” and to proceed as if transgression of everything else in the law (except food restrictions) were non-moral. Not only is the eternal “moral law” woven throughout the Ten Commandments, but it is also woven throughout the statutes, judgments and prophets. Transgression of any of the law was sin! For example, when Jesus was asked “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mt. 22:36), He quoted Deuteronomy 10:12 (or 30:6) and Leviticus 19:18 instead of the Ten Commandments. Thus Jesus did not limit sin to transgression of the Ten Commandments.
FIVE: Even the Ten Commandments are not completely “moral” because they also contain specific elements meant only for national Israel. The Sabbath day is the most obvious of these limited cultic elements. For example, Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:14 mention “the land” (Hebrew: >eretz) of Israel and Exodus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 5:14 imply slave ownership when describing how the Sabbath should be observed. It is inconceivable to think that an eternal moral transcript of God’s character pre-existing the creation of man and the entrance of sin would read as do the Ten Commandments. Not even Seventh-day Adventists would dare teach the “slave” portion of the Sabbath commandment as evidence that is it “moral” to own slaves today. Yet SDAs do have mostly segregated black churches and black colleges! Lastly, the best description of the character, or “glory,” of God is found, not in the Ten Commandments, but in Exodus 34:6-7!
SIX: The only early Christians who interpreted the Sabbath as binding did so because they also interpreted ALL of the Mosaic Law as binding. We see this in the book of Acts among the Jewish Christians and their “God-fearing” Gentile co-worshipers. When the Pharisaic Christians in Jerusalem tried to impose their morality on Gentile Christians (including circumcision and Sabbath-keeping), after hearing Paul and Peter=s testimony, James declared, “Therefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” (Acts 15:19-20).
Yet, if the Sabbath had been a moral imperative, it would have certainly been included in Paul’s and James=s instructions to Gentile believers. However, after Paul left in Acts 15, it is clear from Acts 21 and Hebrews that the Jerusalem church eventually yielded to the legalizing influence of its Pharisaic Christians. They also continued to worship at the Jerusalem Temple on the Sabbaths with their tithes and offerings.
On the other hand, the book of Acts shows that Paul worshiped “daily” after being kicked out of the synagogues. Paul’s statement in First Corinthians 9:19-22 shows his pattern of setting aside Jewish peculiarities while witnessing solely to Gentiles. If the Sabbath had been an eternal moral issue, then history would have shown consistent Sabbath-keeping by Gentile Christians throughout the Roman Empire.
SEVEN: Paul included the seventh-day sabbath in his list of things which were abolished as “shadows of things to come.” In Colossians 2:16 he wrote “Let no man therefore judge you in” and clearly progressed from (seasonal sabbath) “holydays” to (monthly sabbath) “new moons” to (weekly seventh-day) “sabbath days.” In Galatians 4:9-10 he reversed the order of “the weak and beggarly elements”: (weekly seventh-day sabbath) “days”, “monthly” (Sabbath days), (seasonal sabbath) “times,” and (sabbath) “years.” This four-step sequence of “weekly,” “monthly,” “seasonal” and “yearly” clearly includes the weekly. The seventh-day Sabbath is given no preference, or exclusion, among holy days which are no longer observed.
EIGHT: Leviticus 23 and 25 reveals all of the Sabbaths together for comparison. They were ALL equally commanded (required) rest days, festivals, and assemblies essential for the national identity of Israel. They all required rest and holiness.
In fact, when comparing the required sacrifices of the various Sabbath days, the weekly seventh-day Sabbath required the LEAST. Each successive seasonal and yearly Sabbath also built upon the meaning of the preceding one until a crescendo was reached by the 50th year Jubilee Sabbath year. Therefore, it is difficult to understand why God would abolish the more important Sabbaths and retain (according to SDAs) the one which required the least effort to observe.
Rom. 1:19‑20 “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
Rom. 2:14‑15 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”
NINE: Those who have never heard the gospel nevertheless die because they are separated from God and commit sins. Yet, while even the most remote tribes on earth have moral codes forbidding most of the Ten Commandments (at least among their peers), they have no inner knowledge of which day of the week to set aside for worship.
Since there is not a specific day of the week written inside man, then the seventh-day Sabbath cannot be an eternal “moral” obligation or expectation from God (see Romans 1:20 and 2:14-15 above). The seventh-day Sabbath was given only through direct revelation of God and was only given to one nation under the treaty stipulations of the Old Covenant. Ancient cultures in Sumeria, Babylon, Egypt and Greece were more likely to identify a new moon or full moon holy day.
TEN: The Sabbath forbad Israelites from performing any work or even causing anybody else to perform any work. Unless one lives in total seclusion in a temperate climate, does not require protection, does not travel and does not use utilities, this is literally impossible even in today’s modern culture.
ELEVEN: The Sabbath cannot be observed on a round Earth. The long days and nights at the north and south poles make this impossible without sunrise and sunset. No fires could be kindled on the Sabbath at the poles. Also, the International Date Line and time zones are inventions of man for man’s convenience. God did not leave instructions for Sabbath observance when crossing them. Astronauts could travel at the same speed as the rotation of the earth and never experience a sunset or sunrise to change days.