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Thread: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

  1. #1

    What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    I feel that God's real purpose for the Sabbath law was to get His followers to lay down for one day a week all of their flawed works. It was a statement by God that all human works are flawed, including the works of His followers. So all works had to be laid down for that one day per week, even if the works were good works. It was a statement that the flaws in even good works had to be laid down that day of the week, to show that God despises all sin, including sin embedded in good human works.

    And what is the lesson in this? It is that under the New Covenant we cannot continue under Sabbath law because Israel could never completely lay down their sin-infected works. Not only did Israel, in her history, fail to completely observe the Sabbath, but they also, during the Sabbath did evil works. In other words, the Sabbath law itself served to show that men could not be completely liberated of their sins.

    Though it was known that men could not be completely liberated from their sins, the Law was thought to be God's remedy for this. And it was for a time. However, God wanted Israel to be delivered from the guilt of failing under the Law so that they would not be barred from eternal life. The Law showed their incapacity to obtain eternal life. But Christ came to provide a redemption that eternally forgave Israel their sin, thus winning for them eternal life.

    If we go back to observing Sabbath law all we will do is show our ineptitude--our incapacity to rid ourselves from sin--not just one day a week, but all days of the week. If we want to find consolation that we have eternal life we must get it from Christ, who had no sin. We are under a new covenant following Christ, and not under a covenant that reminds us of our ineptitude.

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    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Randy, I have an opinion! lol

    All of the appointed times had/have a future significance in Christ. The most obvious ones like Passover and Jesus crucifixion, you know. The Sabbath is simply another appointed time. Its future significance is called the seven-fold doctrine of creation. That is, 6000 years from creation until Christ's kingdom. Then 1000 years of His reign to end the 7000 year age. "A day is 1000 years in the testimony of the heavens." So essentially, the Sabbath day of rest is a foreshadow of the 1000 rest in Christ.

    Likewise, the church meets on Sunday to foreshadow the 8th day. The NHNE.

  3. #3

    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony P View Post
    Randy, I have an opinion! lol

    All of the appointed times had/have a future significance in Christ. The most obvious ones like Passover and Jesus crucifixion, you know. The Sabbath is simply another appointed time. Its future significance is called the seven-fold doctrine of creation. That is, 6000 years from creation until Christ's kingdom. Then 1000 years of His reign to end the 7000 year age. "A day is 1000 years in the testimony of the heavens." So essentially, the Sabbath day of rest is a foreshadow of the 1000 rest in Christ.

    Likewise, the church meets on Sunday to foreshadow the 8th day. The NHNE.
    I'm a septa-millennialist! Great!

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    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    The text gives a perfectly good reason, why look for any others?

    "Between Me and the children of Israel it is an eternal sign, for in six days the Lord created the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh He rested..."

    It's to commemorate God's creation of the universe.
    "For a small moment have I forsaken you, and with great mercy will I gather you.With a little wrath did I hide My countenance for a moment from you, and with everlasting kindness will I have compassion on you," said your Redeemer, the Lord."..."For the mountains shall depart and the hills totter, but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace totter," says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.

    Isaiah 54

  5. #5

    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    The text gives a perfectly good reason, why look for any others?

    "Between Me and the children of Israel it is an eternal sign, for in six days the Lord created the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh He rested..."

    It's to commemorate God's creation of the universe.
    Certainly true. I think we can look behind the explicit purpose to find other reasons God gave this Law. I'm not, of course, talking about taking liberties with God's word. I'm just talking about analyzing and figuring out what the effects of this word was on the lives of God's People.

    I'm not sure what the Jewish concern is about the "evil inclination," but we Christians have a similar concept in our doctrine of the "sin nature." We incline towards evil. We have to sort of "shut it down" when it raises its ugly head. We lust for things, we covet things, we're jealous that we don't have things. We want to be great. But to be godly we have to sort of lay it all down, and focus on what God Himself wants us to do, to not focus on being great or on having too many things.

    I do see Sabbath Law as being a way that God got Israel to analyze this sort of thing one day a week. They could not work and aspire to being great or to have things for a period of time. It made them see that their inclination towards the evil had to be laid down to be truly religious before God. Do you think that's too much of a stretch?

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    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    I do see Sabbath Law as being a way that God got Israel to analyze this sort of thing one day a week. They could not work and aspire to being great or to have things for a period of time. It made them see that their inclination towards the evil had to be laid down to be truly religious before God. Do you think that's too much of a stretch?
    We just don't have the same preoccupation about evil that Christians do. Look at the positive: The Sabbath is a great opportunity to build a relationship with God and with family and community. Or another: One's whole entire life isn't about work. 1/7 of the time, you get to take a break. Or slavery: Even one's slaves could not work on the Sabbath; so this had the effect of humanizing them. They're also people, with thoughts and feelings, not a piece of property.

    In America, in the 19th century, coal miners worked 12 hours a day, 363 days a year. They were off on Christmas and July 4. That's it. Seen in that context, that one day off a week isn't theoretical, about evil or whatnot. It's about having a little time to be one's self.
    "For a small moment have I forsaken you, and with great mercy will I gather you.With a little wrath did I hide My countenance for a moment from you, and with everlasting kindness will I have compassion on you," said your Redeemer, the Lord."..."For the mountains shall depart and the hills totter, but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace totter," says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.

    Isaiah 54

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    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    We just don't have the same preoccupation about evil that Christians do. Look at the positive: The Sabbath is a great opportunity to build a relationship with God and with family and community. Or another: One's whole entire life isn't about work. 1/7 of the time, you get to take a break. Or slavery: Even one's slaves could not work on the Sabbath; so this had the effect of humanizing them. They're also people, with thoughts and feelings, not a piece of property.

    In America, in the 19th century, coal miners worked 12 hours a day, 363 days a year. They were off on Christmas and July 4. That's it. Seen in that context, that one day off a week isn't theoretical, about evil or whatnot. It's about having a little time to be one's self.
    HI Fenris....just a question I was wondering about. Genesis says that after creation God rested. What did God do the following day....and the following week, etc.? The Bible doesn't say of course, so it would need to be an extra-Biblical opinion.

    Also, what exactly is "work?"

    And I am asking that because women seem to be left out of it depending on what we consider "work."

    1. A woman has to do double duty before Sabbath for preparation and double duty after Sabbath for cleanup
    - while the men sit around and talk about the Bible.
    2. A woman can't stop caring for the children, changing diapers, etc. etc.
    - while the men sit around and talk about the Bible.
    3. A single mom abandoned by her cheating husband has to work to provide for her family...or starve
    - while the men sit around and talk about the Bible after chasing teenage girls all week (ok, some men....)

    And then there are priests, whom Jesus said profane the Sabbath because of their duties to God.

    So, what exactly is "work" in these contexts?
    Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

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    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by keck553 View Post
    HI Fenris....just a question I was wondering about. Genesis says that after creation God rested. What did God do the following day....and the following week, etc.? The Bible doesn't say of course, so it would need to be an extra-Biblical opinion.
    So, good question. We'll come back to that.

    Also, what exactly is "work?"
    The bible explicitly states what some forms of work are (Jeremiah mentions bringing loads out of one's house, Ezra/Nehemiah mentions performing business transactions, etc) but in Judaism there are 39 separate "creative acts" that are considered "work" under this definition.

    And I am asking that because women seem to be left out of it depending on what we consider "work."
    Well, the sabbath is no excuse to be a jerk

    My wife cooks, I set the table, and serve and put the food away. Or if she's busy I also cook. Or if I'm busy she does extra. Teamwork!
    "For a small moment have I forsaken you, and with great mercy will I gather you.With a little wrath did I hide My countenance for a moment from you, and with everlasting kindness will I have compassion on you," said your Redeemer, the Lord."..."For the mountains shall depart and the hills totter, but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace totter," says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.

    Isaiah 54

  9. #9

    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    We just don't have the same preoccupation about evil that Christians do. Look at the positive: The Sabbath is a great opportunity to build a relationship with God and with family and community. Or another: One's whole entire life isn't about work. 1/7 of the time, you get to take a break. Or slavery: Even one's slaves could not work on the Sabbath; so this had the effect of humanizing them. They're also people, with thoughts and feelings, not a piece of property.

    In America, in the 19th century, coal miners worked 12 hours a day, 363 days a year. They were off on Christmas and July 4. That's it. Seen in that context, that one day off a week isn't theoretical, about evil or whatnot. It's about having a little time to be one's self.
    I couldn't agree more, except I don't think *all* Christians are preoccupied with evil to the extent they ignore the positives of God's word. I don't at all believe God's word is all about what we *can't do!* In fact Josh McDowell, a Christian apologist and speaker on university campuses, began to push for sex abstinence not as a deprival of pleasure, but rather, as a protection for marriage. God's word is not about deprival of good, but about something good, a positive--deprival of evil.

    So this is not just an emphasis on evil, but rather, an emphasis on the alternative, on the good things we can do and experience. Christians are *not* all about evil, although it appears that's been your experience. Sorry about that!

    Anyway, I completely agree and admire the focus you have on what a Day of Rest did for slaves and abused workers, and on how it kept families together, instead of split apart in separate jobs. I find that a blackout or two, during a power outage, has that advantage for me and my wife. We spend a lot more time enjoying fellowship with each other when it's night time, winter cold, and no power--no light--just her and me. It's good for the soul!

    But neither will I justify for Christians a law or tradition that applies to more orthodox Jews. The law certainly came from God--on that we can both agree. We can argue whether it is still applicable to the Jews--but that's not my purpose here. I'm just suggesting that for Christians who try to sneak back under the Jewish Covenant that is not permissable--no matter how beneficial it was and is.

    So the Sabbath Law was indeed a recognition that the work of creation had to come to an end, and to end with the pleasure of rest. It was a suggestion that it is the same for mankind, that our work must have a goal, be completed, and bring about the pleasure of rest. As a Christian brother here suggested, for us Christians it also has a prophetic perspective--we are to look forward to an eschatological rest, when all sin is gone, and only pleasure remains. Work may remain, but it will not be burdensome, as it is today. Thanks for the conversation, Fenris!

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    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    Anyway, I completely agree and admire the focus you have on what a Day of Rest did for slaves and abused workers, and on how it kept families together, instead of split apart in separate jobs. I find that a blackout or two, during a power outage, has that advantage for me and my wife. We spend a lot more time enjoying fellowship with each other when it's night time, winter cold, and no power--no light--just her and me. It's good for the soul!
    Isn't it, though? Once a week it's great for family relationships.

    But neither will I justify for Christians a law or tradition that applies to more orthodox Jews. The law certainly came from God--on that we can both agree. We can argue whether it is still applicable to the Jews--but that's not my purpose here. I'm just suggesting that for Christians who try to sneak back under the Jewish Covenant that is not permissable--no matter how beneficial it was and is.
    No argument.

    Thanks for the conversation, Fenris!
    The pleasure was mine! Wish I could send more reps
    "For a small moment have I forsaken you, and with great mercy will I gather you.With a little wrath did I hide My countenance for a moment from you, and with everlasting kindness will I have compassion on you," said your Redeemer, the Lord."..."For the mountains shall depart and the hills totter, but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace totter," says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.

    Isaiah 54

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    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    So, good question. We'll come back to that.
    Does it relate to Psalm 95 in any way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    The bible explicitly states what some forms of work are (Jeremiah mentions bringing loads out of one's house, Ezra/Nehemiah mentions performing business transactions, etc) but in Judaism there are 39 separate "creative acts" that are considered "work" under this definition.
    Then I can look them up. That's what I was asking for.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    Well, the sabbath is no excuse to be a jerk
    Amen. And I didn't want to implicate Judaism - you probably do it right, the gentile wanna be Hebrew Roots folks...well that's all I observed; men doing nothing and women doing all the work.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    My wife cooks, I set the table, and serve and put the food away. Or if she's busy I also cook. Or if I'm busy she does extra. Teamwork!
    Happy wife, happy life
    Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

  12. #12

    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony P View Post
    Randy, I have an opinion! lol

    All of the appointed times had/have a future significance in Christ. The most obvious ones like Passover and Jesus crucifixion, you know. The Sabbath is simply another appointed time. Its future significance is called the seven-fold doctrine of creation. That is, 6000 years from creation until Christ's kingdom. Then 1000 years of His reign to end the 7000 year age. "A day is 1000 years in the testimony of the heavens." So essentially, the Sabbath day of rest is a foreshadow of the 1000 rest in Christ.

    Likewise, the church meets on Sunday to foreshadow the 8th day. The NHNE.
    this cannot be true for one basic reason. No one knows the hour or the day of his return. If we know that mankind has exactly 6,000 years we not only know the day but we know the hour. I suppose some may say well we do not know the exact year the earth was created, but I don't think Christ's return can be calculated or figured out, until it is nearly upon us.

    Besides, I have never seen a biblical chronology that makes a creation year that is not more than 6,000 years ago anyway.

  13. #13

    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. Gen 2:2,3

    As Fenris said it establishes God as the Creator. Now read Romans 1:18 to the end of the chapter.

    In there you will find this verse, Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. V 25

    Did they not know who the creator was because they did not honor the day sanctified?

    Before the law was given, God re-established the Sabbath in the gathering of the manna. Remember the Sabbath day. It had been sanctified at Creation.

    Would there be a belief of evolution if man, not just Israel, had been keeping the Sabbath from Creation?

    Read Ex 31:13-17

    God called Israel for a purpose just as he is calling out his church for a purpose.

    IMHO

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    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    The text gives a perfectly good reason, why look for any others?

    "Between Me and the children of Israel it is an eternal sign, for in six days the Lord created the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh He rested..."

    It's to commemorate God's creation of the universe.
    Not only that, but it also defines God's holy people.

  15. #15

    Re: What was the real purpose of the Sabbath law?

    Quote Originally Posted by CadyandZoe View Post
    Not only that, but it also defines God's holy people.
    We have just entered into a study in our church bible study group on the subject of the feasts. The leader informed us that the Sabbath Day is every bit as much a "feast" as the other three major feasts of the year. Upon investigation one will notice that it is a time not just for family gathering, but more, for "assembly" with others. This would suggest "feasting."

    So Sabbath does define God's Holy People under the Old Covenant of Law but it also provides them with rest, companionship, and recognition of God's compassion. And it is a feast--an enjoyable replacement for the otherwise drudgery of work.

    We know that Sabbath is associated with the "7th day." If I'm not mistaken 7 indicates the fulfillment of a goal, as well as an oath. God swears, or "sevens," the completion of His plans in creation. So, when men in the past observed the Sabbath, they were showing recognition that there is an end to all of the drudgery of life and creation. Things will get better.

    Beyond this I would add that Jesus said he was "Lord of the Sabbath." In this he was proclaiming both his deity and his right to interpret the Sabbath properly. It was not a legal fixture in all cases, but something to be applied flexibly by God Himself. Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the other way around. If so, then when the Sabbath does not suit man he may not observe it.

    David was likewise a future "lord" of the Kingdom of Israel, and determined to eat what otherwise might have been forbidden food from the temple. He consulted the priests, who had authority to interpret proper use of God's holy food. And the determination was made that holy things are to be viewed sometimes as a rule and at other times on a case by case basis, depending on the need. If man needs to "break the rules" for survival then he may do so, since the rules were intended to aid in his survival!

    Thus it is that in the NT Covenant Jesus as "Lord of the Sabbath" has determined that we need not observe the Sabbath any longer. He has decided that our "survival" is no longer dependent upon our keeping the Law. Today, we can follow his laws, and not the laws of Moses. That is all we need to live before God today.

    It's sad but a consensus of those in my Bible Study tend to want to continue to "observe the Sabbath." I have pointed out to them Col 2.16, and the fact the Sabbath was a *Jewish law.* But there is a persistant desire to preserve the Sabbath as a Sunday Worship--whatever that means?

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