Introduction

In our pervious part of the series, we have looked into Sabbath from the Old Testament. Our topic is about Sabbath as described in the Mosaic Law. We understand that there are sabbaths from Festivals, sabbath year where planting is not allowed and the year of Jubilee that happen every 50 years (7 sabbatical cycle). These sabbaths are different from the Sabbath of the ten commandment

The Sabbath of the ten commandment is referring to the 7th day of the week. This is an institution that preceded the Mosaic Covenant and is given by God to his creation.

We went into the Torah and examine every verse about the Sabbath as mention in the Torah. The following is summary of what we learn

1. No work to be done on Sabbath (Men, animals, foreigner)
           a. But Priest must bake showbread, light the Lampstand in temple
           b. Soldiers can do their duty
           c. No burden is to be carried (most people carry burden to work)
2. Hold a holy convocation (gathering)
3. Do not light a fire
4. Offer an additional 2 lambs on top of the daily sacrifice
5. Remember that once you used to be slaves in Egypt and God saved you
6. Keep it Holy
          a. Refrain from doing your pleasure 
          b. Treat it as a delight and not a burden 
          c. Keep it out of reverence for God

Brief Lesson From History

But we know that Israel failed to keep it. As the result, the Kingdom of Israel and Judah were destroyed. Babylonian captivity came for 70 years.   When Israel return to rebuild Jerusalem, leaders like Nehemiah took active steps to set up rules to prevent Israel from breaking the Sabbath.

But by the time of Christ, the rules are piled up by generations and generations of Jews.  These rules started to be more and more ridiculous and impossible to follow. Here are some examples as listed in the gospel.
  
1. you can help a animal in the ditch but not save a human being (Matt 12:11)
2. You are not allowed to carry your bed  (Jn 5:10)
3. Not allowed to pluck head of grain to eat (Matt 12:1)
4. Not allowed to heal (Luke 14:3)
5. Not allowed to handle dead body (Lk 23:54-56)
6. Not allowed to walk a certain distance (Acts 1:12)

All these traditions are part of an Oral traditions kept by the Jews. These oral traditions are claimed to have descended from Moses. But yet these information are only known by the Pharisees. Strangely their Talmud get thicker and thicker over the years and today they even covered light blubs in fridges. Something that I am pretty sure Moses had no idea about.

The fact is, the Talmud is created by the Pharisees, the Pharisees was a group of Community Leaders that rose up during the Persian and Greek period after the Jews had return from Babylonian captivity.

They started as a innocent group of Jews who wanted to prevent themselves from breaking God commandments. But over time, their good intention lead them to create more and more rules and in each iteration, it got more and more ridiculous. These traditions are recorded and eventually codified into the Mishnah (1st and 2nd century CE) which evolves to the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud.

The Babylonian Talmud is often singled out by by anti Rabbanic Judaism practitioners for condemnation in all their studies. 

The Problem Of Traditions

Perhaps by now you may ask. “So what’s so wrong about taking precautions not to break the Law of God? Is it not my personal freedom to enact my personal rule to prevent myself from sinning? If my traditions manage to keep me close to God, what’s your problem with it?”

To be honest, I have no problems with your personal traditions and if it brings you closer to God. You are free to do whatever you want, whatever you like. .But to those who are very passionate about enacting your own traditions.  Allow me to bring you one caution from Moses, the angel (Messenger)  who brought your beloved Torah to you.

“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and
  the judgments which I teach you to observe,
  that you may live, and go in and possess the
  land which the Lord God of your fathers is
  giving you. 
   You shall not add to the word which I command
  you, nor take from it, that you may keep the
  commandments of the Lord your God which
  I command you” – Moses (Deut 4:1-2)

While today many people are careful not to subtract from the Mosaic Law. But many of those who desperately wanted to keep the Mosaic Law, keep it on their own term. But doing so they are guilty of adding their own tradition on top of the Law of God. Just like the Pharisees who created their tradition.

While it is bad to subtract from the Law of God, it is equally bad to add traditions on top of the words of Moses. To create Oral traditions and claiming that they came together with the Law o God spoken to Moses is in fact going against the law of God.

We need to remember that the traditions we create are only useful at one particular point in history. The time will come where the tradition will outlive its usefulness and lose its relevance. Then it will turn into a burden that future generation will have to bear without gaining its benefits.

A Tradition that had outlived its usefulness at best would become an inconvenience that serve no benefits. But in its worst form a tradition that is held on too tightly can supersede the actual commandment of God.

Let us study an example in the bible. 

An Example To Share

Mark 7 contains an example of  a tradition that clashes with the commandments of God. Let us examine this dispute. 

“For the Pharisees and all the Jews
  do not eat unless they wash their
  hands in a special way, holding the
  tradition of the elders.
  When they come from the marketplace,
  they do not eat unless they wash.
  And there are many other things
  which they have received and hold,
  like the washing of cups, pitchers,
  copper vessels, and couches.” – Mark (Mk 7:3-4)

So the Pharisees and scribes confronted Jesus asking.

“Why do Your disciples not walk according to
  the tradition of the elders, but eat bread
  with unwashed hands?”- Pharisees and Scribes (Mk 7:5)

Jesus replied quoting from the book of Isaiah

“‘This people honors Me with their lips,
   But their heart is far from Me.
   And in vain they worship Me,
  Teaching as doctrines the commandments
  of men”” – Jesus (Mk 7:6-7)

He went on to quote another example. Within the ten commandments God said, 

“‘Honor your father and your mother’;
 
and, ‘He who curses father or mother,
  let him be put to death.”

But yet these people enacted a tradition saying
“If a man says to his father or mother,
  “Whatever profit you might have
  received from me is Corban”—’
  (that is, a gift to God),”

And now the man who said this had no longer the need to to take care of his parents.

Jesus concluded saying

“making the word of God of no effect
  through your tradition which you
  have handed down. And many such
  things you do.” – Jesus (Mk 7:13)

The traditions we create today may have the risk of going against the commandments of God. Perhaps in the very beginning it was not enacted against Gods commandments. But what will happen after many generations of implementation? What if our future generation took these tradition to the extreme and went against the word of God? 

Instead of forming traditions and correcting them later. Why not do away with them and choose to follow the Words of God directly?

Jesus The Lord Of The Sabbath

Today there are many within Christendom that advocate that Sabbath is invention of the Mosaic Covenant. Those who advocate it say that Jesus had nailed the Sabbath to the cross and do away with it.  If this is so then do Christians had to keep the Sabbath?

Was the Sabbath indeed nailed on the cross?

Jesus once declared

“The Sabbath was made for man,
  and not man for the Sabbath.
  Therefore the Son of Man is also
  Lord of the Sabbath.” – Jesus (Mk 2:7)

If Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, how can the Sabbath be abolished?

The sacrifice of the Lord takes away the curse of the Law. Jesus had nailed the punishments for sin in the Mosaic Covenant to the cross. He had fulfilled the requirements of all feast and sacrifices.

Keeping The Spirit Of The Mosaic Covenant. 

When he died, he became the Passover lamb that was killed. His body was sinless. That is why he is the bread of life to Christians. That is why we as Christians need to keep the institutions that he had commanded us. For our Covenant is with Christ and that Covenant is not the same as the Covenant of Moses.

At baptism we received the blood of Christ, that is when sins are forgiven. That is why we keep the institution of Christ, instituted on that Last Passover in the world. We take the Holy Communion , eating the unleavened bread which is his body, and drinking the grape juice that is his blood. That is why we wash our feet after baptism to have a part with Christ. 

For Christ was the the first fruits of those who resurrect. When he died, the veil in the temple was torn to two. Under the Mosaic Covenant, the glory of God is separated and hidden away from man behind the veil. Men were not to pass the veil except on the day of atonement.

But now with the sacrifice of Christ the veil was torn into two ,for man can now come to God directly to ask for forgiveness instead of using the blood of animals to atone for their sin.

At the same time, those who are faithful to him under the Mosaic covenant were resurrected at the death of Christ. (Matt 27:51-53). It is these Old testament believers who are the Omers that ought to be counted. For they are redeemed by Christ. all the sacrifices they made in the feast, all the sins that are atone by the blood of animals are fulfilled by Christ.

Under the mosaic covenant, God could only dwell with Israel through the taberacle confined in the Holies of Holies which is cleanse yearly though the blood of animals. God had wanted to dwell with man but because of sin, man cannot draw near to God. That is why they could only appear before the Lord in 3 pilgrim festival. (AKA Feast of the Lord).

But now under the covenant of Christ, sins are forgiven and man are justified. As the result the Spirit of God can now dwell in the hearts of man, helping man to remember the words and commandments of God. Giving them comfort and strength to keep his commandments. That is why the spirit of God came to the people on Pentecost when the counting of Omer is completed and those who are part of the first harvest are complete.

The remaining work in a Christian perspective are all found in the fall feast. We no longer blow the trumpet to signal the start of the day of atonement. For the sacrifice of Christ is once and for all, Christ had entered into the Holies of Holies with his blood.   From then on, the presence of God is no longer confined in the Holies of Holies, he is dwelling the in hearts of every believer who are washed by the blood of Christ,  Jews and gentiles alike, they are all to be saved by the covenant of Jesus.

Today, as Christians, we ought to live a life of a sojourner dwelling in booths. This is no longer a 7 day affair, but a lifetime affair. For we are called out from the world just like how God called Israel out of Egypt. We are to dwell in tents, reminding ourselves that our final destination is the Kingdom of God.

Conclusion

Signing that Covenant with Christ  does not change the fact that God blessed the seventh day and hallowed the Sabbath. It does not change the fact that God had established the Sabbath at creation.

Christ had fulfilled the requirement of the Law of Moses, he had saved us from the curse of the Law nailing the writing that was against us to the cross. That is why  Christians are not stoned to death of failing to keep the Sabbath. Why we are no longer judged for lighting a fire. There is no longer the requirement to burn additional animal as offering on the Sabbath.

However as Christians we must keep the Spirit Of The Law as well as the ten commandments. We have need to observe the Sabbath. But our keeping of the Sabbath differs from the Jews in many ways.

Today Christian who keep the Sabbath in the following way.

1. No work to be done on Sabbath 
2. Hold a holy convocation (gathering for worship) 
3. Remember that there is an eternal rest for us in the Kingdom of Heaven  
4. Keep it Holy
          a. Refrain from doing your pleasure 
          b. Treat it as a delight and not a burden 
          c. To keep it out of a love for God

Besides that we are to observe  what Jesus taught us about keeping the Sabbath. What are they? We will read them together in the last blog entry of this series.