Are We Keeping the Sabbath?

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…

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…Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 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.

-Exod 20:8-11

What about the Sabbath day? Is this something that Christians should keep?

It’s important to note that though Paul (and presumably many other Jews who became Christians) seems to have maintained purity laws and attended synagogue services, he tells us that he did this not out of any obligation but purely for evangelistic reasons (cf. 1Cor 9:19-23). When Paul visited James in Jerusalem, there was a rumor that Paul was teaching Jews that they should no longer follow Jewish purity laws. James knew that this was not true, so he encouraged Paul to finance the vow (possibly a Nazarite Vow) of four young men, and Paul actually joins them (cf. Acts 21:17-26).

So did Paul have a problem with following purity laws? Certainly not, but don’t miss the rumor. Paul could not have been teaching that Gentiles should also keep Jewish purity laws, neither was he teaching that Jews should continue to keep them out of obligation. There is no way that rumor would be circulating if Paul, in fact, had been teaching that people needed to keep the law, that just makes no sense at all.

No, Paul taught that though Jews were totally free to continue to keep Jewish law if they desired, should those Jews impose that Old Covenant law on Gentiles, or even on fellow Jews who chose not to follow them, they are actually only seeking to be wise in their own eyes and are being overly judgmental (cf. Col 2:16-23; Rom 14). Paul calls those who abstain from certain foods “weak” in their faith and places no inherent value in honoring any days higher or more holy than the rest.

In fact, there is no biblical data to suggest that Christians as a whole kept the Sabbath after Jesus’ resurrection, but we know that they did meet on Sunday (the “first day of the week”) from passages like Acts 20:7.

Even while Jesus was on the earth the inspired Gospel writer John tells us that Jesus did, in fact, claim to be “working” on the Sabbath and that he was “breaking the Sabbath.” It does not say the Pharisees thought this, it says he was doing this.

[on the Sabbath] Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

-John 5:17-18

Every one of the Ten Commandments are affirmed in the New Testament at least twice, except “sabbath keeping” (the fourth commandment) is never affirmed, not one time!:

1st. – No Other Gods (Eph. 4:6; 1 John 5:21; Matt. 4:10)
2nd. – No Idols (1 Cor. 10:14; Rom. 1:25)
3rd. – Don’t Take the Lord’s Name in Vain (James 5:12; Matt. 5:34,35)
4th. – Remember the Sabbath Day (none)
5th. – Honor Your Parents (Eph. 6:1,2; Col. 3:20)
6th. – No Murder (1 John 3:15; Matt. 5:21)
7th. – No Adultery (Heb. 13:4; Matt. 5:27,28)
8th. – No Stealing (Rom. 2:21; Eph. 4:28)
9th. – No Lying (Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25; 2 Tim. 3:3)
10th. – No Coveting (Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5)

“The Lord’s Day” is a term first used in the New Testament (Rev 1:10), though it is not defined which day it was. However, the term is used universally in the Christian Church right after the NT was finished to refer to Sunday (the “first day of the week”).  Justin Martyr (AD100-165) in his “First Apology (Ch. 67) confirms the universal practice of Sunday worship, not Saturday Sabbath keeping. Now, either the entire church, thousands of authors, all spontaneously changed the meaning of the word without even the hint of indication, or when John wrote about “The Lord’s Day” the practice of Sunday worship was already established (as is also seen in Paul’s ministry in Acts 20).

Now I have also heard some people say that Sunday is now the “Sabbath.” This is absolutely incorrect. As we’ve already seen from Paul, we need no longer honor any days above the rest. The Sabbath is no longer a day, our Sabbath is a person, Jesus Christ. He brought a new (Heb 9:15) and better (Heb 7:22) covenant for those who would believe in him. As Paul told us above, these things are the “shadow” but Christ is the “substance.” Jesus is here, he came, he did his work, “it is finished.” If you are in Christ, your Sabbath is in him, not a day. It’s not wrong to honor a specific day, but it doesn’t make you more holy.

Some people appeal to God’s Law (specifically his “written Law” that was given to Moses at Sinai) as being “eternal,” therefore because Sabbath keeping is a part of the Law of Moses, it too is “eternal.” However, this is easily demonstrated to be false. There is no mention of the Sabbath in Genesis, or in Exodus, during all the thousands of years from Adam and Eve until the Israelites were liberated from Egypt. Not one verse of Scripture shows Adam, Enoch, Methuselah, or Noah keeping the Sabbath or passing it down to others. We never read that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or any of the patriarchs ever kept the Sabbath, not even one time.

And on the issue of the Mosaic Law being “eternal” it simply isn’t. God commands Adam and Eve as well as Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”(Gen 1:28; 9:1). Yet, the Mosaic Law would forbid this in Lev 20:17 as they were all relatives. Either God commanded something against his “Eternal Law” or the Mosaic Law was an expression of God’s character to a specific people at a specific time.

In fact, this is what Jesus said when he said he did not come to overturn the Law of Moses, but to bring it to its intended completion. The word Paul uses to describe the relationship between the Mosaic Law and Jesus’ death on the cross is the same used to describe a woman’s relationship to the covenant of marriage once her husband dies… it was not annulled or overturned, it simply came to its intended end “until death do us part” (Eph 2:15) and is now obsolete (Heb 8:13). See my video on this specific verse (Matthew 5:17).

The only reference to the Sabbath in the New Testament after Acts is Col 2:16, where Paul told believers they are not under bondage to Jewish dietary restrictions or the Sabbath.

In AD50 some Pharisees argued that “it is necessary to circumcise them [Gentiles], and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). The decision of the council, however, was that the law of Moses was not binding on Gentile believers. Peter even declared, “We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we [Jews] shall be saved in the same manner as they [Gentiles]” (Acts 15:11).

After Jesus’ death on the cross, there is no more need for circumcision, no more need for dietary restrictions, no more clean and unclean animals (see Lev. 11).

Paul warned against those who were “commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Tim. 4:4) he tells us that they are of demonic influence!

Paul taught, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (v. 5). Paul also exhorted the Galatians to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1). His appeal focused primarily on whether circumcision was a necessity for new believers, but the issue was much larger: if one adopts the practice of Jewish circumcision, he becomes “a debtor to keep the whole law” (Gal. 5:3).

There was a group, usually known as the “Judaizers,” who added law keeping to the Gospel. Paul countered by arguing that the Mosaic law was like a tutor, a schoolmaster “to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Gal. 3:24–25). As the Galatians started to believe in Jesus for salvation, but also add the law in order to follow him, Paul tells them “But now after you have known God…how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?” (Gal. 4:9). What was the evidence of their turning back? Paul accused them, “You observe days and months and seasons and years” (Gal. 4:10).

After the cross, Jewish dietary regulations were made obsolete. This is clearly taught in Peter’s vision (Acts 10:9–16, 28; 11:5–10) and in Paul’s epistles (Rom. 14:2–3; Col. 2:16; 1 Tim. 4:3–5). In a similar manner, the Sabbath is no longer binding on Christians (Col. 2:16). Christ has freed us from the Mosaic Law. Christ released us from the Sabbath. His finished work on the cross abolished the entire Mosaic law of ordinances, which includes the Sabbath commandment.

Basically, those who attempt to keep the Sabbath do so with a belief that law can be divided into moral and ceremonial aspects, it cannot, the law is the law and you cannot “pick and choose.” Jesus fulfilled it all! Yet, there is no Tabernacle or Temple. When Moses was given the Law, he had to build a place to sacrifice. You cannot keep the OT law without a place of sacrifice. Both Paul (Gal. 3:10; cf. 5:3) and James (James 2:10) illustrate the folly of trying to keep the law, to fail in one point makes one guilty of all. The NT makes no moral/ceremonial distinction in the Mosaic law, and simply speaks of the entire law (e.g., Gal 3:23–24; 4:4–5).

Jesus fulfills the law and the prophets. He is the substance of the shadow, not just for the Sabbath, but for the whole ball of wax. You can’t just pick the laws you think people must follow, and then say Jesus covers the rest. Jesus died for them all, and he completely fulfills them all, leaving none to be accomplished by any of us – including observing the Sabbath day.

About John Harris

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
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  • Excellent! Thank you.

  • You are most welcome. It’s harder and harder these days to find the time to post here, but I think more and more people are getting a benefit from it, so I’ll keep going 🙂

  • Stacey Palmer

    🙂 as long as you have the time, please do! There are so many questions out there and false arguments that it is so helpful to have this information. It seems as if Jesus’ sacrifice is no longer ‘sufficient’ enough for some, and this breaks my heart.

  • RaceFalcon

    Wow, Catholicism at it’s best!

  • I don’t really see what’s uniquely “Catholic” about the NT teaching on sabbath, but blessings to you none-the-less.

  • Gabe

    Why does Isaiah 56 tell of a future period when the Father will bless those who refrain from ‘desecrating’ his Sabbath (Is 56:1-9)? Additionally, how can we relax a commandment such as the Sabbath when Jesus, in Matt 5:19, says we are not to do such a thing until both Heaven and Earth pass away. I’m confused. Would Jesus be considered a sinner for ‘changing’ or ‘abolishing’ this section of the law when there is a direct commandment in Deut 4:2 to never ‘add or subtract from the law’? If he sinned by breaking this command, can he still be our Messiah? Thanks for the post and the reply.

  • Thanks so much for the question, and for honestly asking to seek the truth, this will pay dividends in your quest for the truth.

    Just as much of Isaiah’s prophecies do (cf. Isa 53) this is a picture of Jesus. As described above, Jesus is our sabbath rest. If you are in Christ, He is our sabbath. The OT Law system is but a shadow foretelling of the one who is the substance, namely, Jesus.

    I can understand how you might be confused. Many times, people have sat under teachers, whether in good Bible believing churches, or under what most describe as “Hebrew Roots,” who seek to divide (or sub-divide) God’s law, this is a mistake.

    There is no biblical warrant for dividing God’s laws. Many church people erroneously claim a difference between “ceremonial” and “civil” laws, but the Bible just doesn’t do that. HRM folks tend to divide God’s laws into those that we can keep today, and those we are prohibited from keeping. But again, be it through captivity, or wandering, or whatever else, God never says (in effect) oh well, you can’t keep my law so I give you a pass. Nope, if you don’t keep the smallest of the laws (whatever category you put it in) you break the law (cf. James 2:10).

    Here’s an example. There is no temple in Jerusalem, so is that why we can’t keep the sacrificial laws now? No. Moses and the people of Israel were not in Jerusalem when the law was given. Moses built a tent and they sacrificed in the wilderness. Location and lack of building is not an excuse.

    Additionally, some say “well, we don’t have the proper levitical priesthood.” Oh really, are you suggesting that the Maccabean revolt in the inter-testamental period placed the proper levitical priests in charge? Those who became corrupt and even denied the resurrection in Jesus’ day? Yet, did Jesus not still go to the temple? Yes, he did. Location, lack of buildings, and lack of proper priesthood is not an excuse.

    Anyone who claims that they keep the laws and does not sacrifice is a hypocrite.

    Or, perhaps they claim that Jesus died for the sacrificial and temple system?

    I heartily agree, that he did!

    But then again, I don’t divide the law. In the same way that Jesus died for the Temple cultic laws, he died for all the laws.

    Jesus did not in any way shape or form “abolish” (annul or overturn) the law, far from it, he “fulfilled” (brought it to it’s predestined end). Paul tells us that our relationship to the law now is not that of a legal overturn, but like the covenant of marriage when one spouse dies. All the obligations are fulfilled, so it is through Jesus’ death ALL (not just the temple) of God’s law is fulfilled.

    I would encourage you to see my video covering Matthew 5:17 as a key verse to Jesus’ relationship to the OT Law: http://johnmarkharris.net/abolish-fulfill

    But what about the following verses whereby Matthew quotes Jesus saying that until heaven and earth pass away none of the laws will pass away. That “until” is key. He says that all of God’s law is binding on people “until” all is accomplished.

    Jesus said this about 3 years before his death on the cross. He certainly wanted his followers to do what the Pharisees taught (though not what they did) until he accomplished what he came to accomplish, and so they did.

    When Jesus died on the cross he died for ALL the people for ALL time to free us from ALL the law. Not to abolish, but to fulfill. See, there is no law of Moses to fulfill, it is fulfilled in Jesus.

    I don’t think we can divide the law into things that we no longer do because we are prohibited (as if that’s an acceptable excuse), or simply that only part of the law is covered by Jesus’ death, but Jesus death accomplished ALL when he said “it is accomplished” on the cross.

    The Mosaic covenant certainly was God’s expression to his people in the time before Messiah accomplished all and completed the Mosaic covenant as it was intended, but just as it wasn’t binding before God revealed it to Moses (see God’s command to Adam and Noah to be fruitful and multiply compared to God’s prohibition of marrying close relatives in Lev 18), it is only binding on us now in that Jesus is our propitiation who satisfies the obligations of the law.

    The law, and it’s consequences which cannot be separated, are fulfilled in Christ.

    I sure hope that helps… BLESSINGS!

  • Gabe

    Wow! Thanks for your quick and thorough reply. I apologize for steering this topic from the Sabbath onto the entirety of the law. I guess they are so interconnected it is almost inevitable. I appreciate the time you’ve invested thus far.

    So I thought sacrifices cannot be made anywhere at any place because of the prohibition not to. I guess we see places prior to the Sinai experience where significant figures like Abraham, Noah and Issac built alters and made sacrifices essentially where they chose (though some seemed to be chosen by God). I found in Deut however where that seems to change.

    Deut 12:4-6 reads, “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way. But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock.” (ESV)

    Additionally, we see in Deut 12:8-11 more specification as to where sacrifices should be limited to: “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you. But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, then to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the Lord.” (ESV)

    Thirdly, Deut 12:13 & 14 reads: “Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, but at the place that the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.” (ESV)

    So I guess in defense of those who, as you said, are hypocrites for not offering sacrifices where or how THEY see fit, they are in a sense rightly abiding by such a command not to. I think we can rightly throw that charge out.

    We could even keep going with and find more Biblical for why sacrifices should be limited to the Temple mount.

    1. In 1 Kings 8:46-49 we see King Solomon praying that those Israelites captured in the future would pray towards the holy city and Temple as opposed to offering sacrifices in exile. This makes it clear that those in exile were aware of and presumably abided by the prohibition to make animal sacrifices anywhere but the Temple. In Judaism, prayer and good deeds (mostly charity) are thought to be an acceptable replacement for animal sacrifices until a Temple is rebuilt.

    2. Here we see more evidence for this prohibition: Psalm 51:18-19 reads, “Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; THEN will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” (ESV)

    3. Malachi 3:3-4 “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.”(ESV)

    This verse is important b/c it not only shows the present importance of keeping sacrifices centered around the Temple but also shows the future re-establishment of this system (unless of course we’re supposed to interpret it figuratively). Ezekiel chapters 40-48 have to be reconciled if figurative is the approach we are to take.

    So with regards to the requirement of having a Levitical system to make offerings, I’m not as well-versed on this topic so I can’t speak for certainty. I again agree with the ‘hebrew roots’ people and believe that a proper Levitical priesthood must be in order to make sacrifices. I certainly agree that Caiaphus was not the deserving High Priest. Without going into to too much detail, I actually believe John the Baptist was and the majority of Judeans recognized this. That being said, Caiaphus is one man in what would have been thousands of Levitical priests serving during Jesus’ lifetime. Does an illegitimate High Priest make the entire ‘system’ illegitimate? I don’t know the answer to that but Jesus’ participation in the Temple system was certainly an endorsement of the Temple staff that cannot go ignored. With the exception of the Yom Kippur service, all Temple services were run largely by the priests while the High Priest supervised.

    Lastly, with regards to your comments on Matthew 5:17, I have some follow up questions. (Sorry!).

    1. Are we to only apply that which Jesus taught after his death? Following your logic on Matthew 5:17, that is the only assumption I can come to. That is a small window of teaching we have to glean from in the Gospels.

    2. Did his death bring about a new heavens and new earth? According to the following verses, those are pre-requisites for the nullification (meaning no longer pursuing) elements of the law.

    3. I know you’re the ‘Greek man’ here so please correct me if I’m wrong but the other usages of the Greek ‘pleroo’ (interpreted in this passage as ‘fulfill’)point to the idea of exemplification, wholeness or fully preaching. (See John 15:11, 16:24, 1 John 1:4, and 2 John 1:12)<—all these point to a 'perfect' or 'to bring to a state of wholeness'.
    In Romans 15:19 for example, this Greek 'pleroo' is interpreted as 'fully preach' 'proclaim' or 'replenish'… "by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have FULLY PROCLAIMED the gospel of Christ."

    Pleroo, in the context of Matthew 5 cannot be a synonym for abolish, cease or nullify. In fact, it can mean the opposite and can be read/interpreted as Jesus coming rather to 'fully preach'/'exemplify' the law.

    Again, I appreciate your time and I did watch your video. I too am a fan of the ESV! Blessings John.

  • Sorry if I wasn’t clear, I wasn’t suggesting that the sacrifices can be made anywhere they see fit, simply that there doesn’t seem to be a “Jerusalem only” mandate by Moses, but simply in a place that the Lord directs, namely in the tabernacle. At least, I take Deut. to be (authentically) the teaching of Moses, who never entered the land, so no Deut. text can be referring to “Jerusalem only,” and the tabernacle moved from place to place. Unless, you take Deut. to be a developed piece of national rhetoric that was pieced together (which I don’t). God decreed to be worshiped in the tabernacle, wherever it may be.

    What I try to acknowledge is that there was a monumental shift that took place when Jesus died. ALL was accomplished.

    Just as Moses invokes “heaven” (Deut 32:1) and “earth” (v22) as going to be destroyed as having to do with Judgment, so too Matthew is describing Jesus’ death on the cross as such a monumental event it’s effect is much like that of Moses’ words.

    Matthew does this in ch.25 when he uses OT imagery of stars falling from the sky, and a bunch of stuff happening in sun moon and stars. It’s not what it sounds like to us as though it was written today, but must be interpreted in light of the OT usage of the idiom, i.e. Judgment, not metaphorical of meteorites or something like that.

    I take the work of Jesus to have been completed, he has sat down, he has brought the New Covenant. et. al. “IT IS ACCOMPLISHED” was Jesus’ cry, and thus I believe it was.

    It’s not that we only listen to Jesus’ teaching after his death, but that we understand that the New Covenant was in himself and his death on the cross brought it to come about.

    So, yes, I believe people who lived before Jesus’ death related to God and his law differently than those after his death. That’s kina the point of Jesus’ death 😉

    Many HRM folks seem to mostly interpret the OT Law just as the Jews (who missed Jesus as Messiah) interpreted the OT Law before he came.

    My whole point in my video about “abolish” and “fulfill” is that they do NOT mean the same thing. They are NOT synonyms.

    Yes, in the Johannine writings he uses πληπόω to speak of “completed” “full” etc. I mentioned this usage in my video. “completely full”

    Matthew is using the word with reference to the prophetic nature of Jesus’ coming and how the Law points to him.

    πληπόω is used 84 times (I think) in the NT and is usually (I think always in the synoptics) related to prophecy. That’s also Paul’s point in Romans, it was not simply that he was fully preaching, but his preaching fulfilled the prophetic word about the gospel, i.e. that God ordained that it would go through all that area through Paul, and so it did.

    in the legal/prophetic usage, it would be to bring it to its intended goal. Jesus is what the OT law was pointing to. That would be the reading, even without Paul’s writings showing us the Law was a tutor etc.

    To translate it into a modern phrase “the whole world was turned upside down” when Jesus died on the cross.

    Otherwise, There is more for Jesus to fulfill and I don’t believe that is true. His work is done, his victory is won. He reigns over the earth!!! Hallelujah!

  • Gabe

    Thanks for the reply. I need to run home but I will consider your reply and let you know my thoughts tomorrow. Thanks and Blessings.

  • Gabe

    Good Morning John. Again, I appreciate the time you’ve taken to respond to my questions. I wanted to further examine your response. I must say I respectfully and humbly disagree with your general premise with regards to the law and Sabbath.

    “…there doesn’t seem to be a “Jerusalem only” mandate by Moses, but simply in a place that the Lord directs, namely in the tabernacle.”

    There is a ‘Jerusalem only mandate’ and Hebrew
    Roots people are correct in their cessation of animal sacrifices until a Temple is (re)built in Jerusalem; they are not hypocrites for doing so. I find this statement and your general premise to be in error for the following reasons:

    Jerusalem, or to be more specific, the Temple Mount has always been and will continue to be the center of worship.

    In Gen 14, Abram brought gifts and offerings (a tenth) to a King/Priest by the name of Melchizedek (Hebrew: King of Righteousness) who reigned in a city called ‘Salem’. He was a
    priest of ‘the Most High God’. Most commentators agree that Salem is the present day ‘Jerusalem’.

    The binding of Isaac on Mt. Moriah (see Gen 22) is believed to have been on the Temple Mount itself. The expression ‘mount of the Lord’ in conjunction with ‘Mt. Moriah’ are used in 2 Chronicles 3:1, Psalms 24:3, Is 2:3, 30:29, and Zech 8:3. It is not only evident that ‘mount of the Lord’ and ‘Mt Moriah’ are synonymous to one another
    but also that Abraham offered his son, and later a ram, on this very (Temple) Mount. This took place roughly 4,000 years ago and shows the importance God placed on this particular spot He chose. This would later be the spot where both David and his son Solomon would enact plans to build a Temple.

    Deut 12:13 & 14 clearly reads: “Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, but at the place that the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.” (ESV)

    The whole congregation of Israel assembled…and set up the tabernacle of the congregation in Shiloh…” Joshua 18:1

    “Just as much of Isaiah’s prophecies do (cf. Isa 53) this is a picture of Jesus. As described above, Jesus is our sabbath rest. If you are in Christ, He is our sabbath. The OT Law system is but a shadow foretelling of the one who is the substance, namely, Jesus.”

    To equate the three injunctions to honor the Sabbath day in Isaiah 56 alone as all allegorical references to Jesus is in violation of the Third Rule of Interpretation: Seek the figurative meaning only when the facts demand such an interpretation. Secondly, your interpretation of Is 56 being a cryptic reference to Jesus violates 2 Peter 1:20-21 which reads “…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Meaning, there are no prophecies in the Old Testament that where meant to be cryptic or secretive and later interpreted by a theological elite. There are many prophecies which state they are so and then appear to be allegorical, but the literal interpretation of this chapter in Isaiah renders a plain, easily understandable truth pertaining the keeping of the Sabbath.

    Lastly, your interpretation of Isaiah 56 being an allegorical reference to Jesus as opposed to a literal injunction to ‘honor
    the Sabbath’ is in error as Isaiah 58 goes on to clarify the future importance of honoring the Sabbath.

    Isaiah 58:13-14: “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing our pleasure on my holy DAY, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy DAY of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father…”(ESV).

    This is clearly a reference to a span of time-a day, not an allegorical reference or prophecy regarding Jesus. The following chapters of Isaiah speak of a time of harsh judgment for those who ‘desecrate
    the Sabbath’ AND ‘fill their bowls with the meat of swine’ (which has several more implications!). The final chapter of Isaiah tells of a time when a new heavens and new earth will be established (and no this didn’t happen at the death/resurrection of Jesus).

    Isaiah 66:22-23 reads: “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and
    from SABBATH to SABBATH, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord. And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me (by desecrating the Sabbath and ‘filling their bowls with pigs’ meat’). For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (ESV)

    Lastly, and this is my final point in my response which is much longer than I originally intended, you stated that there was a metaphorical new heavens and new earth at the death, burial and
    resurrection and this then satisfies the injunction in Matthew 5 to observe the law until the heavens and earth both pass away. You cite Matthew 25 as proof of this “shift that took place when Jesus died”. Yes there was a shift that took place…a HUGE shift, but did the new heavens and new earth really get ushered in?

    There are no falling stars scenes in Matthew 25 so I’ll assume you meant Matthew 24. If that is the case, you cited the Olivet Discourse or Olivet Prophecy as proof the new heavens and earth have
    been set up and the law is now ‘fulfilled’. Interestingly enough, Matthew 24 is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. The disciples in verse 3 of chapter 24 ask Jesus, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Then Jesus describes the coming events which have not happened yet. Not all has been fulfilled according to prophecy.

    So in conclusion, I hold the belief that the keeping of the Sabbath (specifically a 7th day Sabbath) is still in effect and a delight for God’s people. I believe the Sabbath to be a place-holder of physical and spiritual freedom, rejuvenation and re-dedication. The very idea God gave such a command (to rest) to a nation fresh out of slavery tells me that he saw his people as being always subject to losing their rest and freedom. Why would we want to take such a blessing and delight away? Are we more evolved and less susceptible to the evils of this world? I would think the opposite. I would suggest we need a weekly Sabbath more now than ever! According to Isaiah, it will be a measuring rod by which God decides who faces judgment and who is called righteous. I also believe that the law is in effect and a delight for those who keep it. This is your blog however and I respect any decision to keep my comments from appearing on it.

    Blessings.

  • I don’t take the prophecy of the sabbath fulfilled in Christ as allegorical. It is the statement of Hebrews.
    As to the place or timing of sacrifices we can both agree that is fulfilled in Jesus, correct?
    Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus too.
    I think you’ll find the OT statements about sacrifice just as concrete as the statements about sabbath, yet the sacrifices are fulfilled in Jesus.
    Yes, I did intend to site Matt 24 (Mark 13, Luke 18/21). And they were fulfilled in AD70. We’ll agree to disagree on that. I know that’s the popular Dispensational teaching, but it definitely was predicted and fulfilled just as Jesus said.
    I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
    Blessings.

  • Gabe

    Ah see we disagree on the issue of sacrifices being ‘fulfilled’ so your logic is faulty. There is no prophetic language whatsoever that points towards the abolishing, or as you would say, ‘fulfillment’ of the sacrifices. It’s quite the contrary. Ezekiel chapters 40-48 are 8 chapters dedicated to the describing of a future and literal sacrificial system. Malachi does the same. There are many others that I’d be happy to provide. They all point the resumption of a sacrificial system during a ‘new era’ or in Hebrew: Olam Ha-Ba… unless of course you sprinkle some ‘allegory dust’ on them 😉
    I do believe he is our new and current High Priest and we do not need to offer sacrifices as atonement for our sins. But sacrifices will resume. Why I’m not sure.

    Secondly, whether or not the Olivet Discourse has been fulfilled is irrelevant (I believe it hasn’t) because the Disciples, aware there would be a second coming and ‘end of the age’ (Olam Ha-Ba) asked what those signs would be. They did not ask ‘what will happen upon your resurrection’. They were looking to his return and the ushering in of His eternal Kingdom on Earth. Also, if Jesus meant this to be a description of the new heavens and new earth, he did a very poor job of it and his timing was 70 years off for some odd reason. So was the law in effect until 70AD then?

    I know you would never come out and admit to being wrong on the topic but I would love for you to at least challenge the dispensationalist constructs you’ve been handed. Clean out the old leaven. Thanks again for the stimulating conversation and the time you’ve spent putting up with my questions 🙂

  • I believe Hebrews clearly teaches Jesus fulfills the sacrificial system.
    It’s also funny you call me Dispensationalist. You clearly don’t know the tenants of Dispensationalism. It is the Dispensational view that delays Jesus’ prophecies and sees a simple wooden interpretation of the OT that then interprets a future literal temple etc. I am fully unconvinced of Dispensationalism, full-futurism, simple-millennialism etc.

    At this point we’re quite off topic. Blessings.

  • Stephanie

    I was raised by an itinerant Southern Baptist pastor and was taught to believe the same things that you are teaching here as the gospel truth. It was not until late into my adulthood and that I started reading the Bible for myself and discovered to my horror that much of what I knew as truth completely contradicted the Scriptures. I then began a quest to find out what happened and the Spirit took me further and further back into history until I wound up in the book of Genesis. It was here that the Holy Spirit told me to begin, but I first had to remove all the preconceived notions that had crept into my thinking -everyting that was previously taught by the traditions and doctrines of man. I began studying His Word through the context of the Hebrew mindset as the Hebrew people were given to us as examples. (read 1 Corinthians 10) The Holy Spirit showed me many things, but the Sabbath issue was one that really caught my attention. Why, I questioned, would the gospel writers continually point out the fact that Jesus went to the synagogue on the seventh day, the Sabbath, to teach, but NEVER ONCE stated that this commandment regarding the Sabbath day was now no longer to be remembered nor kept holy. Nor did He teach that it would no longer be holy after he died and rose again. In fact, in Acts 15:21, during the great debate during the Jerusalem counsel on the issue of circumcision as a means of salvation, James was quick to point out that the Gentiles who were joining themselves to Israel (Ephesians 2:11-12, 19 and Romans 11) would learn God’s instructions, the Torah (Moses’ law which is God’s instructions to His people) in the synagogue every Sabbath. This verse alone set my heart ablaze and I devoured the Scriptures to learn more. I not only looked into the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets for the answers, but I looked at history itself to find out how “the church” could have gotten it so wrong. Are we not to walk as Jesus walked? (John 13:15, John 15:10, and esp. 1 John 2:6) My challenge to you, John Mark Harris, would be to do your own due diligence and seek these things out for yourself, for the wise man will hear and increase his learning (Proverbs 1:5). Will our Messiah return to judge the nations? Yes! And by what standard will He judge? By His Father’s instructions, the Torah. (Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 2:4, John 12:49) Is your elohim (authority) evolving or schizophrenic? I say that the Elohim (authority) of the the Tanach is one in the same as the Father that our Messiah referred to and He most certainly does not change (Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Daniel 6:26, Psalm 102:27, and James 1:17). Are there two standards? No. There is only one law-one set of instructions-for everyone regarding how to live righteously before Him. (Exodus 12:49, Numbers 15:16, 29.) Under Christ we are all evaluated by this same standard for there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Romans 10:12 and Galatians 3:28) for He is no respector of persons. (Deut 10:17, Acts 10:34 and Romans 2:11) We are all Israel and one new man through Him (Ezekiel 37, Eph 2:15, 4:24, and Col 3:10) by trusting in the sacrifice of the Messiah and obeying God’s commandments. (Rev 12:17, and Rev 15:3) These instructions, that we love to follow, are not burdensome (Deut 30:11, 1 John 5:3, Matthew 11:30) and if we love Him we will obey them (John 14:15,23-24,John 15:10) Obedience to the commandments is the fruit of our salvation and is the evidence that the Messiah is actually living in us. These are the only works that were preordained for us to walk in. (Eph 2:10) The Torah teaches us clearly how to love God (our Elohim) and how to love our neighbor, it points us to the Messiah who took our death penalty for us, and through understanding His moedim, (appointed times) we have a future hope that we will not be caught unaware when He returns. It is then that His people will live again in His kingdom under His dominion-for out of Zion will go forth the Torah. Selah

  • Dear friend, I pray you will find the truth. I too came to my beliefs through the Spirit’s guidance and by reading my Bible for myself. I had people tell me my whole life that Sunday was the sabbath, but I read my Bible for myself. Jesus is our sabbath rest!

    Are you aware of any command, either Old or New Testament, to attend a worship service on Saturday? I missed that one.

    With respect, most of those verses do not say what you say that they say.
    For anyone else reading this, please read the verses for yourself in your Bible and decide if the Apostles felt compelled to lay any law burden on the Gentiles in Acts 15.

    Did you have a comment to respond to something in this actual post?

    Blessings.

  • Stephanie

    Also, I note that you identify yourself as a Great Commission Baptist. Do you not realize that the Great Commission was given to Israel in the Torah-all the way back at Mt.Sinai? (Exodus 19:5-6) It was confirmed through the prophet Isaiah 42:6 and given by Christ to his disciples (Acts 1:8). The disciples are His taught ones. So how are we to be a light to the nations? It tells us right there in His Torah. We are to follow His instructions and “obey His voice and keep His covenant.” When He establishes justice on the earth, in the end of days, and His people become a light to the nations, it says in Isaiah 42:4 that the coastlands (distant lands) will wait expectantly for his Torah. His people will know His instructions. They will have prepared themselves to become kings and priests to carry out His instructions and judge the nations. (1 Cor 6:2) It was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-33 that the new covenant, will be made with all Israel, both the house of Israel, the northern kingdom and the house of Judah, the southern kingdom, in one unified kingdom, and not with the Gentiles as is erroneously taught in the church today. (Remember, those who are far off-the Gentiles-become part of Israel, not the reverse.) At that time His Torah (translated “law” in verse 33) will be written on our hearts. The Torah is the heart of our Elohim. (First letter of the Torah in Genesis in Hebrew is Beit and the last letter of the Torah is Lamed. Together it spells heart. (no coincidence) His heart is placed in our heart (Deut 6:6, Psalm 37:30-31, Psalm 40:8/Hebrew 10:9, Psalm 119:11, Isaiah 51:7) Talk about a heart transplant! So trust in the Messiah, learn and obey His Instructions, and then go and teach the kingdom of heaven to others. This is the Great Commission. Selah.

  • Stephanie

    You asked whether I was aware of any command, either Old or New Testament, to attend a worship service on Saturday?

    Well, I’ll try to reconstruct it for you:

    The Sabbath was established at creation:

    And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and
    He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
    Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He
    rested from all His work which God had created and made.
    Genesis 2:2-3

    Following the Exodus, God introduced it to Israel with respect to the manna. (Read entire chapter 16 of Exodus)
    So the people rested on the seventh day. Exodus 16:30

    In the Ten Commandments it refers us back to its establishment at creation: (Exodus 20:8-11):
    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8′

    It was to be a perpetual covenant:and under the civil requirements of the Mosaic law it resulted in the death penalty if you did not keep it. (Exodus 31:14-16)
    Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the
    Sabbath throughout their generations [as] a perpetual covenant.
    Exodus 31:16

    “Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy
    day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work
    on it shall be put to death. Exodus 35:2

    Under the administration of grace, those who are covered by the blood of Messiah will not be condemned to death if they break it, unless, of course it is done in rebellion. This does not nullify the law, however. (Remember we must bear fruit.)

    It is to be a holy convocation:

    ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day [is] a Sabbath of
    solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work [on it]; it [is] the
    Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. Leviticus 23:3

    It was reconfirmed in Moses’ final address to the second generation of Israel following their 40 year sojourn in the wilderness just prior to their crossing the Jordan: (Deut 5:12-15)

    “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.:Deut 5:12

    Nehemia speaks frequently against profaning the Sabbath.

    Isaiah prophesies about it:

    Blessed [is] the man [who] does this, And the son of man [who] lays
    hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand
    from doing any evil.” Isaiah 56:2″

    Speaking of the Kingdom to come, those who honor it will enter into it:

    Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to
    serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants–
    Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My
    covenant–Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them
    joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    [Will be] accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of
    prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:6-7

    And it will be honored in the Kingdom:
    And it shall come to pass [That] from one New Moon to another, And
    from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before
    Me,” says the LORD. Isaiah 66:23

    Jeremiah prophesies about it: (Jeremiah 17:21-26)

    ‘Thus says the LORD: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden
    on the Sabbath day, nor bring [it] in by the gates of Jerusalem;
    Jeremiah 17:21

    Ezekiel 46:1-12 Amos 8:5 also testify to this commandment.

    The gospels testify that Christ was our example for keeping the Sabbath. He went to the synagogue or temple and taught. By the way, the issue the Pharisees had about Jesus and His disciples crushing and eating the grain on the Sabbath is not in the Torah, but in the Talmud, the oral law which Jesus condemned. These were the man made traditions and doctrines, the heavy yokes or burdens that were added to the law by the ruling Jews of the day. Remember that God said not to add or take away anything that was written in the Torah and they unfortunately did just that. (see Deut 12:32)

    In Mark 2:27-28 we learn that the Sabbath was made for all men. Not just the Jews and our Messiah is the LORD of this day and no other.
    And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. “Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

    In Exodus 31:17 God tells us it is the sign that identifies his people:
    ‘It [is] a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for [in] six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ”

    In Acts chapters 1, 13,15,16 and 18 we see the apostles teaching and reasoning with Jew and Gentile alike on the Sabbath.

    The word synagogue is used frequently in what is called the New Testament. It is an assembly which traditionally met on the Sabbath day, but other days as well. (There is nothing in the Word of God that states you cannot meet another day in the week also.) In James 2:2 the word “assembly” is actually synagogue rather than “church” which is a word that does not exist anywhere in the original languages.

    Traditionally the services would be held late in the day on Shabbat often in people’s homes. After the service they would break bread together and more than likely discuss the teaching of the day and this would extend the gathering into Sunday the first day-as days, by God’s reckoning, go from sundown to sundown as established at creation. (Genesis chapter 1-” there was evening and there was morning the first day”) The overwhelming evidence of the 7th day of worship far exceeds anything that I have found in the bible suggesting a command to change the holy convocation to Sunday.
    Hope this helps.

    Shalom, brother.

  • So, the traditions of men… got it. Thanks.

  • Stephanie

    You state that Jesus is our Sabbath rest.

    Jesus WILL BE our Sabbath Rest in the seventh day-The Millennial Kingdom- when our Messiah will reign from Mt. Zion and teach the Torah. It is what we hope for, but has not happened yet. As it says in the book of Hebrews 4:9: “There remains therfore a rest for the people of God. ”

    As far as I can tell, we are all still working, even Jesus and His Father are still working( John 5:17) The harvest is yet to come. (Matt 9:37-38, Matt 13:30,39, Luke 10:2) For now we are still to trust in the sacrifice of Messiah, learn his Way and fulfill the Great Commission until He comes.

    I have noted that you identify yourself as a Great Commission Baptist. Do you not realize that the Great Commission was given to Israel in the Torah-all the way back at Mt.Sinai? (Exodus 19:5-6) It was confirmed through the prophet Isaiah 42:6 and given by Christ to his disciples (Acts 1:8). The disciples are His taught ones. So how are we to be a light to the nations? It tells us right there in His Torah. We are to follow His instructions and “obey His voice and keep His covenant.” When He establishes justice on the earth, in the end of days, and His people become a light to the nations, it says in Isaiah 42:4 that the coastlands (distant lands) will wait expectantly for His Torah. His people will know His instructions. They will have prepared themselves to become kings and priests to carry out His instructions and judge the nations. (1 Cor 6:2)

    Please note that it was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-33 that the new covenant, will be made with both the house of Israel, the northern kingdom and the house of Judah, the southern kingdom, in one unified kingdom of Israel (all Israel will be saved), and not with the Gentiles as is erroneously taught in the church today. (The Scripture tells us that those who are far off-the Gentiles-become part of Israel, not the reverse.) At that time His Torah (translated “law” in verse 33) will be written on our hearts. The Torah is the heart of our Elohim. (First letter of the Torah in Genesis in Hebrew is Beit and the last letter of the Torah is Lamed. Together it spells leb or lev which means heart in Hebrew. (no coincidence) God’s heart, the Torah, is placed in our heart (Deut 6:6, Psalm 37:30-31, Psalm 40:8/Hebrew 10:9, Psalm 119:11, Isaiah 51:7) Talk about a heart transplant!

    So trust in the Messiah, learn and obey His Instructions, and then go and teach the Kingdom of Heaven to others. This is the Great Commission. And let us therefore persevere and be diligent (strive, labour, or work) to enter His rest. (Hebrews 9:11) Remember that faith without works is dead according to James 2:18 Selah.

    PS: Sin is lawlessness-a transgression of the Torah. Without instructions there is anarchy, everyone doing what seems right in their own eyes. God wrote down His instructions to keep this from happening. But “the church” decided to preach against this law. That is why we have over 41, 000 different Christian denominations today. Should the body of Christ be divided? No! We are we to be of one mind under Christ, but we have forsaken God’s law and everyone is doing what seems right in their own eyes, using God’s grace as a license to sin against Him. We should all be trembling in fear at the coming judgement.

  • Hebrews 4:3 “for we who HAVE BELIEVED (aorist) ENTER (present tense) that rest.”
    The rest that remains is for those who do not yet believe.

    Hebrews 4:6 “it remains for SOME to enter it”

    If SOME have not entered the Lord’s sabbath, then at least SOME have. Luke (I believe) is telling fellow Jews (the “people of God”) they still need to seek that rest.

    And indeed those who are in Christ, who have believed, enter (NOW) that rest.
    This is simply reading God’s word. Not something someone else taught me. I encourage everyone to read Hebrews and see that the law was only a shadow of who was to come, Jesus. He fulfills (completely) the law (Heb 10) and the OT law is now “obsolete” (Heb 8).

    I covered this in http://johnmarkharris.net/abolish-fulfill

    Blessings

  • Stephanie

    The plan of salvation has been in place since the creation of the world. Adam and Eve knew that there was a redeemer to come (Gen 3:15). In fact they hoped for Him to come in their lifetime. Job knew there would be a redeemer (Job 19:25) Able, Moses, Abraham, according to the author of Hebrews, knew there would be a redeemer to come. Hebrews chapter 11 is affectionately called
    the Hall of Faith because it speaks of those who were waiting for a
    better promise. It had not come in their life time. (Hebrews 11:39)
    Hebrews 11:40 tells us that they had not reached perfection, because God planned it so we would all reach our perfect redemption together, at a future date.

    The Torah testifies to Christ. On the road to Emmaus He explained to the two men all the Scriptures in the law and prophets that pointed to himself. (Luke 24:27) Romans 10:4 tells us that the “telos” or goal of the law is Christ. He is the living Torah. (John 1:1,14) The Torah has always been referred to as the way, the truth, and the life. (Way: Exodus 18:20, Proverbs 6:23; Truth: Psalm 119:142; Life: Deut 32:47) In fact, the early followers
    were identified as the sect of the Way. (Acts 9:2) So when Jesus
    identified himself as the way, the truth, and the life, (John 14:6),
    the ruling religious leaders of the day were incensed. They were so
    wrapped up in their position, their control over the people and their
    man made laws that they completely missed the sign of the times.
    (Matthew 16:3 and Luke 12:56)

    Romans tells us that God allowed their blindness in order to fulfill the plan of salvation that was foreordained from creation. (Romans 11:25) Israel, at the time of the letter to the Romans, consisted primarily of Judah, Benjamin and a few of the remaining 10 tribes who had joined themselves to the Jews and, of course, the Levites. So in that time period they were all that was left of Israel. The rest were and still are in exile, in the Diaspora, and assimilated into all the nations of the world. For all intents and purposes they have become Gentiles and have lost their identity. But praise God, Paul confirms for us that all twelve tribes of Israel will be saved, (Romans 11:26) and this includes all those who join themselves to Israel. (Ephesians 2:11-12, 19, Romans 11:17,19,23*) This is a spiritual nation comprised of those who both obey the Word of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. This cannot be any clearer in Rev 12:17 where John speaks specifically of those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.
    *Jeremiah 11:16 prophesies of the olive tree where branches were broken off.

    Since you are quoting from the book of Hebrew to support your position, let me take a moment to point out a few of my observations regarding the book itself. Paul is a likely author of Hebrews, but we don’t really know for certain. I have not heard of Luke being a likely sources before. It was most likely written before 70 A.D. when the Second Temple was destroyed. The purpose of the letter suggests to me a great need for the author to clarify the issue regarding the sacrificial system which I believe is the portion of the old covenant that is passing away, for Christ has become both our sacrifice, the propitiation of our sins (Rom 3:25, 1 John 2:2, and 1 John 4:10), and our High Priest. (Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 2:17).

    Before Christ’s atoning sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice, the human High Priest performed a ritual to atone for both his sins, the sins of his household, and the sins of all the people in Israel. In the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the ancient tabernacle and the First Temple, the mercy seat covered the Ark of the Covenant. Once a year on the Day of Atonement the High Priest was allowed to cross the veil that separated the most sacred area of the ancient temple from the Holy Place to sprinkle the blood of the animal sacrifice on the mercy seat for atonement. This consisted of a bull for the High Priest and his household and one of two goats for the people of Israel. The goats were identical. One goat was chosen by lots and killed and the other goat, the Azazel, was set free. (Lev 16:5).

    This is where is gets interesting. During the Second Temple period, the Ark of the Covenant, was no longer there. However, the atonement ritual was still performed in the place where the Ark of the Covenant would have been. Ancient Rabbinic writings give us a glimpse into a miraculous event that occurred in the 40 year period following the death of the Messiah and the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. Apparently, a scarlet thread was used to demonstrate whether Israel’s sin-offering was accepted and their sins forgiven (Isaiah 1:18). The thread was tied to to the door of the Temple where all could see it. Historical documents tell us that until approximately 30 AD that thread consistently turned white on the Day of Atonement. When the people saw this they rejoiced, for atonement was made, and all their sins were forgiven. However, after Christ’s sacrifice, the scarlet thread never turned white again, suggesting that the sacrifice was no longer acceptable by God. Why? Because Jesus had become our scapegoat and our sacrifice and atoned for the sins of Israel. Hallelu YAH! Who likes blood sacrifices anyway?

    This is just my thought regarding the book of Hebrews. Could the people this letter was written to be questioning why this miraculous event of the scarlet thread turning white stopped? Could they have been wondering what was wrong with the sacrificial system? And the author eloquently explains it all. The sacrificial system of the covenant was becoming old and obsolete. That portion of the law was fulfilled or had “come to pass” through Christ. (Gr: ginomai). (Matthew 5:18)

    However, the portions of the law that instruct us on how to love God and love our neighbor as our selves have not become obsolete through Christ. (Deut 6:5, Leviticus 19:18-19, and Luke 10:27) There are also other portions of the law and the prophets that have not been fulfilled. The portion of the law regarding the Day of Judgement has not come to pass. And the day that the Messiah rules from Jerusalem in the Kingdom has not come to pass. Until we enter that rest, we press on, teaching others about what it means to know the Lord, enduring trials, growing in grace and persevering as in a race.

    According to Titus 2:11-15, the grace of our Lord teaches us how we can avoid transgressing the law, which is ungodliness. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), but faith (or emunah in Hebrew) is not a philosophical Greek concept. In the Hebrew mindset, faith, as demonstrated in all Scripture, implies action. We obey. When the covenant was originally made with Israel at Mt. Sinai, they all said in one accord. “We will obey.” (Exodus 24:3) There was a need of a better covenant, but the problem was not with God’s instructions. God forbid. The problem was with the people. (“finding fault with them” it says in Hebrews 8:8) The New Covenant was not given because everything in the old covenant was not good. No! For the law is good. (1 Tim 1:8)

    The New Covenant just has a new and improved administrator. No longer is the death penalty required by this new administrator-not for humans or animals. No more blood bath for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    Maranatha!