WHY IT IS ESSENTIAL TO STUDY THE
HEBRAIC ROOTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
REDISCOVERING THE HEBRAIC ROOTS OF THE EARLY
CHRISTIAN CHURCH, CIRCA A.D. 60
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
I "You shall have no other gods before Me.
II "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
III "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
IV "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
V "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
VI "You shall not murder.
VII "You shall not commit adultery.
VIII "You shall not steal.
IX "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
X "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."
THE SABBATH QUESTION
A challenge for believers today
This commentary is respectfully presented for open consideration by all of God's people today who seek His Word of truth, His inspired instruction and the appropriate application for today regarding this important precept of our Lord. Our sole authority in this commentary is drawn entirely from the eternal Scriptures of God and will help to restore us to the Hebraic perspective of this ancient precept.
The Bible itself does clearly establish God's emphasis about the Sabbath.... mentioning it over 137 times. In contrast, "the first day of the week” (Sunday) is mentioned only six times.
The Sabbath Reveals God’s Authority
There are two major Biblical precepts given by God to establish His pre-eminence as sovereign Lord over all creation; but these have been "cut away" from us today through historical fiat.
A) The first is the importance of God's Lunar calendar .... the means determined by God to be a sign of His absolute authority over the timetable of mankind's affairs on the earth. The lunar calendar was ordained by God in what is called "Moses"....or the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Here, God numbered the months for His purposes and established His Festival days around the yearly lunar cycle.
In Leviticus 23, God designates eight specific Festival days of worship that describe a prophetic blue-print of God’s redemption. They define God’s redemptive program for the earth and the full ministry of Messiah in two advents. The first of these Festival days is the Sabbath and the one God mentions the most. For more information on the remaining seven Festival Days please refer to our publications or to our website in this respect.
God’s Festival Days were based upon the lunar cycle wherein He identified the months by numbering them. After living for some time among the Canaanite, however, the people of Israel began to adopt the local pagan calendar. In this calendar, each month was named after a Canaanite god.
Later the pagan Roman Empire replaced this "Jewish" calendar with the solar calendar we are all familiar with today. The Roman solar calendar names the days and the months after Roman pagan deities: all lesser gods of the sun-god of Baal worship that was prevalent in Rome at the time of Christ. By Roman decree, the designated day all over the Empire for worshiping the sun-god deity was "Sun-day".
God's plan of restoration is still at work upon the earth and as it continues to unfold today, He marks major events of salvation through His lunar calendar by way of the yearly Festival cycles. Two examples are Passover and Pentecost. He ordained the Lunar calendar as a prime statement of His pre-eminence over all creation and over the affairs of mankind. For this reason, He will restore the lunar calendar and the sanctity of the Sabbath day in the new Millennium Kingdom Age to come:
"And I will set a sign [Jesus] among them, and I will send those of them that escape [the faithful remnant of Israel] unto the nations that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory, and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles and they shall bring all nations to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, and it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me saith the Lord." Isa 66:19-23
B) The second important precept of God is also referred to in this same scripture........God's Sabbath day. Through the eternal nature of the sanctity of the Sabbath, God once again establishes His divine Lordship over all creation.
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God......for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them and rested the seventh day, Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8
In all God’s commandments, He reminds us of His pre-eminence:
“Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My Covenant,
then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people, FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE.” Exodus 19:11
Today, true biblical Sabbath worship is a matter of theological contention and we are going to address this further on; but as we saw in Isaiah 66, God states that the Sabbath will be an essential part of worship in the Messianic Kingdom Age to come. If God will restore the biblical Sabbath when the Kingdom Age ushers in, should the true biblical Sabbath that God has ordained not be an essential part of worship today?
In his book, "It Is Often Said", Tim Hegg states it this way:
“....on what basis would someone argue that the Sabbath has been changed to Sunday? Usually the answer to this question is that by the death and resurrection of Jesus the Sabbath has been done away with. But if the eternal sacrifice of Jesus is the instrument by which the Sabbath is abolished, how is it that in the Millennium it is reinstated?”
The Sabbath Celebrates God as Sovereign Creator
In a world that generally denies the revelation of God as Creator, we can see God’s wisdom is reminding us of this eternal truth through His continuous cycle of Sabbath worship.
The book of Genesis reveals God as sovereign Creator of the Universe:
"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
God again restates this in Exodus 20:10-11:
"but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, thy God...... for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day wherefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed IT.”
Clearly, the Sabbath is not simply a "Jewish" tradition but is an important ordinance of the Lord: and the sanctity of the Sabbath day is the means by which God establishes His authority over all!
All of God’s ordinances, including the Ten Commandments given at Mt. Sinai, are the eternal moral laws of God for His Covenant people: wherein the Fourth Commandment reminds us again of God's authority over all: "REMEMBER the Sabbath day and keep it holy."
Today, there is utter confusion regarding the eternal nature of God’s laws due to man-made doctrines developed almost a hundred years AFTER the Apostolic era. The important point is that these ideas were developed long AFTER the Apostles were gone as the true spiritual shepherds of the early Church.
Many of these were authored around 130 A.D. by a gentile church leader named Marcion. He was the first to allegorize much of the Hebrew Scriptures where allegory was unbiblical and inappropriate. The result was that his theology departed far from the foundational Hebraic intention in Scripture. He formulated the idea that God’s laws were imperfect and temporary. In our age, he contended that they are actually “done away with” as obsolete.
For insight into his reasoning, we have to look at the companion to this doctrine: his teaching that the God of the Old Testament is a “lesser God” than the “God of the New Testament”. In determining that the “God of the Old Testament” was inferior, he utterly rejected God’s stated authority and revelation as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures. In this way, he saw the sacred Scriptures as flawed.
In his book, Paul the Jewish Theologian, Brad Young writes, “on the one hand, early church leaders condemned Marcion as a heretic (144 A.D.). But on the other, they were influenced by his theological reflection. Even today Marcion-like ideas continue to circulate, exerting influence in Christian teachings.” (pp.33-34)
Historian E.C. Blackman has noted how Marcion changed the meaning of Matthew 5:17 by “inverting the order of the clauses so as to give exactly an opposite sense. According to Marcion’s interpretation, Jesus said, “Think not that I have come to fulfill the Law, I have not come to fulfill but to abolish it”. (Please refer to page 33 and 34 of this publication for the correct rendering of this key scripture)
Although the early Church identified Marcion as a heretic, today many theologians have blindly accepted his views as sound doctrine.
As just noted, one of Marcion’s doctrines is that God’s commandments have been utterly rejected and no longer in force for believers today. However, what is revealed in Scripture is just the opposite.
God’s design is that His Law has an eternal relevance. There is nothing in scripture that even suggests or would support a temporary reality to God’s commandments. Think of the words God chooses to describe His ordinances: perpetual, everlasting, forever! We can see the eternal nature of God’s laws in the following scripture:
"for this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days [the end of the age] says the Lord, I will put My laws in their MINDS and write them on their HEARTS; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.... I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and you WILL keep My commandments and DO THEM.” Heb 8:10 Jer 31:31 Eze 36:22-27
There is, in fact, nowhere in Scripture any statement from God that even suggests that His commandments are anything but eternal.
The commandments of God did begin as external requirements, but, ultimately, it was God's purpose through Messiah’s work of salvation that they would become internalized and spiritually written upon the minds and hearts of the redeemed.
Why would something so important to His people be abolished? God’s ultimate purpose in His commandments after salvation is to provide guidelines for a righteous life that would protect and bless the lives of His people and lead to a holy and pure lifestyle devoted to God.
In developing his doctrine, Marcion completely ignored the ancient Hebraic concept of God’s commandments. This ancient concept came from their long, intimate relationship as God’s people. They knew that God saves His people through His grace and His merciful provision of atonement, but PERFECTS the lives of His people through His Law (the Torah).
Through the revelation of prophecy, they also knew that God’s plan for the future salvation of His people is that their hearts were going to change: but His commandments were never going to change!
The ancient Hebraic understanding that God’s Law is eternal is confirmed in prophecy regarding the future Kingdom Age when Christ establishes His throne in Jerusalem:
“For from Zion will go forth the Law [the Torah]....even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Micah 4:2
The Sabbath Predated the Ten Commandments
In Genesis 2:2-3, we saw that the origin and the sanctity of the Sabbath day was well established BEFORE the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. In fact, while in the wilderness prior to reaching Mt. Sinai, God reminded Moses about this and strongly chastised him:
"..eat the manna today: for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord ........ six days you shall gather manna, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And the Lord said unto Moses, "how long will you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See, for the Lord has given you the Sabbath ........so the people rested on the seventh day." Exodus 16:14-30
We can see that the Sabbath is an established ordinance in Genesis and then is reaffirmed to Moses in Exodus. This ordination acknowledges a moral duty of mankind to worship his Creator in the acceptable, SANCTIFIED manner prescribed by God.
As the manna would come to symbolize the Messiah, the true Bread of Life sent from Heaven: so all subsequent Sabbath days were intended to symbolize the forthcoming Messianic Kingdom Age, the Seventh Day of God's creation and the future Day of God’s rest. That is why the Millenial Kingdom is also called the Great Sabbath.
God intended His people to see every "Sabbath" as a reminder of His promises regarding the coming Kingdom Age: the “Seventh Day of God’s Creation”. At that time, His Messiah will take back dominion of the earth for God and restore both mankind and the earth forever. Paul spoke of this "restoration of all things" in Acts 3:18-21. The "Seventh Day" of the Millennium Kingdom WILL be a day of rest for all God's creation and "His rest will be glorious".
Through the eternal precept of the Sabbath day, God exercises His Lordship over ALL mankind and over all the creation itself. The Sabbath day is inextricably bound to the revelation of God as the Creator and glorifies Him as such: and through the Sabbath we are bound to Him as His people. That is why it is His will and purpose for us “to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”
The Sign of Our Sanctification
The Sabbath day was also meant to be a remembrance of another important matter to God:
"Speak you unto the children of Israel saying, "Verily My Sabbaths you shall keep! for it Is a sign between Me and you, throughout your generations that you may know that I AM THE LORD THAT DOES SANCTIFY YOU." You shall keep the Sabbath therefore, FOR IT IS HOLY TO THE LORD ..... wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath and observe the Sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant ......it is a sign between Me and you FOREVER. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed" Exodus 32:12-17
Notice that God cast the Sabbath as a perpetual covenant to be a sign forever.
As this scripture is addressed to the “children of Israel” we might ask how it applies to us today. The answer is given by Paul in Romans 9, 10 and 11. He tells us that we, the Gentiles, are “the wild olive branches” and as such, we have been grafted into the root: but the root is Israel. Paul explains the order that God has ordained for salvation. Through Yeshua/Jesus, we are adopted into Israel’s future heritage and in this way we will participate in the future Kingdom Age of Israel’s Messiah. Paul is very clear in this matter: we become the children of God by becoming the “children of Israel” through adoption.
There is nothing in Scripture or in Paul’s teaching in Romans that supports the third century doctrine of “Replacement Theology.” This theology is that the Gentile Church has completely replaced Israel: therefore Israel is forsaken by God and deemed to be irrelevant today.
This doctrine was developed in the third century by Roman church leaders who were virulently anti-Semitic and deemed the antiquated Hebrew Scriptures as inferior for progressive Greeks. It is unfortunate that this doctrine is still a central part of a great part of traditional Christian theology today.
The Roman theologians built this doctrine upon the theology of Marcion: that the eternal Law of God was imperfect and necessarily “temporary”. Despite the fact that Marcion’s doctrines had been rejected as heresy in 144 A.D., for them it was a perfect fit for rejecting Israel and the Torah. The biblical Sabbath is the sign of God’s Everlasting Covenant with Israel, so it was one of the first of the Hebraic precepts to be abolished by Rome. In their mind, abolishing the biblical Sabbath became the “Christian” sign of God’s rejection of Israel.
Paul’s words cannot be skewed to have any other meaning but that which is sound scriptural truth. Gentiles are grafted into the root, and the root is Israel. We participate in Israel’s inheritance through God’s generous provision of adoption: and NOT by replacement.
The Sabbath Promises a Blessing
Mankind's ambivalence toward the Sabbath is not new. The rebellious nature of natural man does not accept the sovereignty and authority of God easily.
Over time, as Israel’s corrupted priesthood continued to fall ever deeper into sin, God judged their rebellion harshly:
"Hear this, you that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor in the land fail, saying, "when will the new moon be GONE, that we may sell corn and the Sabbath be GONE, that we may sell wheat.....shall not the land tremble for this and everyone mourn that dwells therein?" Amos 8:7-8
God defines true worship in Scripture. When we enter a personal Covenant with Him, He becomes the supreme Lord of our life. As our Supreme Lord, God also requires absolute fidelity to His eternal ordinances. God has a purpose in this and it is meant to be for our blessing! In particular, He speaks of the great blessings that derive from remembering His precept of the Sabbath
"If you turn away your foot [your ways] from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath....a delight.....the holy of the Lord....honorable: and shall so HONOUR HIM and not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your precepts:
Then shall you delight yourself in the Lord: and I will cause you TO RIDE UPON
THE HIGH PLACES OF THE EARTH ... and feed you with the heritage of Jacob, your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it." Isaiah 58:13-14
God attaches specific blessings to several of His Commandments. We have seen this concept regarding the Sabbath and we can also see it in the Fifth Commandment:
“Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
We should ask ourselves why in this age would God abolish something He has established for the protection and blessing of His people; only to re-instate His laws once more in the Messianic Kingdom Age for the same purpose.
Despite Marcion’s doctrine to the contrary, the eternal precept of blessings from righteous living would not be discarded in the "New Covenant". God’s commandments were never going to change but His people were! In effect, the Everlasting Covenant would be “refreshed” or made “new“ in Messiah. In the “New Covenant” His eternal precepts would move from tablets of stone and papyrus scrolls to become written upon fleshly hearts through salvation in Messiah.
Through Yeshua/Jesus, God’s laws become written upon the circumcised hearts of the redeemed, and they become the guiding motivation of a God-conscious existence. The prophetic revelation supports the Lord's purpose in salvation: that these precepts are eternal and will continue to guide His people in the future Messianic Kingdom Age.
“And many nations will come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths." For from Zion will go forth the Law, even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Micah 4:2
We can again ask the question: why would God abolish His laws in this age, only to reinstate them once more in the future Kingdom Age of His Son?
We Must Let the Sacred Text Speak for Itself
We have seen how the gentile concept evolved; that the Law of God (the Torah) was imperfect and began to emerge as new theology well AFTER the Apostolic era. These new ideas in gentile Christianity, of opposing God’s Law as temporary, sprang up from the mid second century through the seventh century wherein Roman theologians developed doctrine upon doctrine in opposition to authentic scriptural teaching.
Without the counterbalance of the Hebraic roots, this swerve from the true intent of Scripture resulted in theology that would have deeply grieved the hearts of the Apostles. Certainly God was not being glorified in any manner in this development.
“Because of the many battles between [biblical] Judaism and Christianity during the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for congregations to be unaware that the two great faiths emerged from ancient Judaism as fraternal twins born of the same womb. It was common to see Ecclesia and Synagoga, the pair of contrasting statues, decorating the facade of churches like the 13th century cathedral of Strasbourg in France: Ecclesia depicting the Church triumphant, crowned and holding a cross in one hand and a chalice in the other; Synagoga representing the Jews as a blind-folded wanton, carrying a broken staff and crushed tablets of the Law.”
Yeshua, A guide to the Real Jesus and the
Original Church/ Dr. Ron Moseley
The idea that the tablets of the Law were crushed by the “Church triumphant” is a deeply disturbing image.
An essential point that was ignored completely in formulating the doctrine that God’s Law was flawed and needed to be replaced is the fact that it is an impossible concept from the Hebraic viewpoint.
Problems arise when modern believers fail to realize that the Law was not given as a means to salvation but to expose and remove sin from the life of believers.
The Jews see God’s commandments as the means God uses to convict His people of their sin.
“Everyone who sins transgresses the Law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4
Being convicted of our sinfulness ultimately leads to redemption and then becomes the means by which God purifies and guides His people into a form of righteous living that leads to spiritual blessing.
James reflected this truly Hebraic view of the Law of God:
“Whosoever looks into the PERFECT Law of liberty and continues therein, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the Word [Law] shall be blessed by his deeds”. James 1:25
Unlike Marcion, Tertullian and the like who saw God’s Law as imperfect, James described God’s Law as perfect and “the Law of liberty.” He saw it this way because walking in God’s ways keeps us free from sin and error.
“The problem with Law is not that it is not good or spiritual, or holy. The problem is that WE have problems keeping it. The Law is not weak; the Law is not imperfect. We are weak. We are imperfect. ...the idea of Law in Hebrew is not something that, if transgressed, is going to get you zapped. Torah is instruction that, if followed, will enrich ones’ life: if ignored, will diminish it.”
“Yeshua, a Guide to the Real Jesus And
The Original Church”/ Dr. Ron Mazel
David said it eloquently in Psalm 19:7, “the Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.”
Far from describing the Law of God as imperfect and obsolete, Paul insists that the Law is “holy, just, good and spiritual” (Romans 5:14)
He also declared that the Law of God is the will of God and that if we believe it, God will write it on our hearts, and it will be manifested in our lives (Romans 2:17-18 and 20-29).
The Law provided a way by which God could lead His people into a brand new way of life upon salvation: one that is sanctified and devoted to God. That is why Paul refers to the Law as a “tutor”. It teaches us about Messiah and His nature and shows us how to walk with God in purity and in abundant fruitfulness.
Living out God’s Torah does not gain us merit or salvation with God.
Rather, it allows God’s nature and character to be revealed through us as His Covenant people. Just as Christ is the Light of the World, we in turn become His light through His work in us.
The work of Messiah in us is demonstrated in a promise that God made to Israel. Here He clearly promised Israel that in the latter days He would provide a means to overcome their natural rebelliousness. What is important about this promise is that God’s intent was to abolish their sinful natures and not to abolish His Law, by any means.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘thus says the Lord God: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you: I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will keep My commandments AND DO THEM." Ezekiel 36:22-27
From these words spoken by the Lord Himself, it is apparent that His Commandments would not change, but that He was going to change the hearts and minds of His people. As He states Himself, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My commandments AND DO THEM.”
Israel also looked forward to another great promise from God that revealed their future restoration at the end of the age:
“Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord that I will make a new Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah....when I will put My laws in their MINDS and WRITE them on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people." Jer 31:31-33 Heb 8:7-10
Upon the appearing of Israel’s Messiah, God’s Commandments and the Everlasting Covenant itself would not change or “be done away with” because of some perceived “imperfection”. To the contrary, they would move from an external reality to an internal reality in the heart of every believer. Part of becoming adopted into Israel is to enter into the same Covenant that Israel shares with God.
Please note also that the “New Covenant” was promised to the House of Israel and the House of Judah: in other words to the entire nation of Israel. The “New Covenant” was not promised exclusively to Gentiles despite traditional Christian theology that teaches this today. This was a specific promise made to the nation of Israel and would ultimately expand to include Gentiles being grafted into Israel through Messiah.
Jesus connected Himself to this same prophetic promise when speaking of the “New Covenant in His blood” during the final Passover meal He shared with His disciples. He had come to fulfill God’s ancient promise to His people, and He would be the means by which they would overcome their sinful natures.
The Everlasting Covenant with Israel requires the blood of the Tabernacle sacrifice as the sole means for forgiveness of sin and redemption. The sacrifice must be unblemished and perfect because it would die as a substitute in the place of the sinner. The “New” Covenant also requires the blood of the substitutional sacrifice as the sole means for forgiveness of sin and redemption; but now this blood requirement is PERFECTED in Yeshua/Jesus. The two Covenants are really the same agreement, but now the “New” Covenant is perfected in Messiah once and for all.
Furthermore, through the perfection of the blood sacrifice in Christ, salvation is now extended to Gentiles as well as Jews. These are the ways the Everlasting Covenant was refreshed and made “new” in Messiah.
God’s Special Treasure
It is revealed throughout the Bible that God always preserved a faithful remnant all through mankind's history. These are the ones that walk with God in faith and trust. Throughout Israel’s turbulent history with God they did not abandon His precepts to seek the approval of men through compromise. The faithful remnant brings special joy to the Lord.
"Therefore, if you will obey My voice indeed and keep My Covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine!" Exodus 19:5
God’s faithful remnant is His peculiar treasure above all people and is the same "treasure in the field" that Jesus was seeking to find in Matthew 13.
Despite yet another third century doctrinal tradition that the Jews rejected their Messiah: not ALL of the Jews rejected Jesus. Most of the corrupted religious leadership of Israel rejected Jesus: but the Jewish multitudes, consisting of the common people of the land, did NOT reject Jesus as their Messiah. They represented the faithful remnant of Israel. From this remnant came the Apostles.
In turn the Apostles then became the seeds planted into the field (the world) to birth the Lord’s spiritual outreach to the nations or the gentiles. The Apostles were all Jewish. The earliest Christian Church of 60 A.D. was mostly Jewish. Christ came to find "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" and when He did find them, THEY did not reject Him.
God has always defined His ”special treasure” as the ones who obey His voice, walk in His ways and keep His Covenant. Jesus repeated this in John 14:15. Today this "treasure" is both Jew AND Gentile: the growing wheat-harvest of Matthew l3. Some of the most important prophecies spoken by Jesus regarding this subject and revealing the apostate spiritual condition of the end of the Age can be found in the parables of Matthew 13.
For many today, the first day of the week is now widely observed as the "Christian" Sabbath: the first day replacing the biblical seventh day. However, as we saw in Genesis 2:3-2, God ordained the seventh day specifically as the Sabbath: “He blessed the seventh day and sanctified IT.”
The important question for us is specifically where in Scripture has God either explicitly or implicitly authorized this change?
A careful search of the Gospels and an unbiased, but very frank and honest, review of Christian history will provide us with essential clarity in this important consideration.
The "Sunday Worship Laws" of the Roman Empire
Historically, one man is credited with single-handedly saving a crumbling Roman Empire in early 300 A.D.
This man was the Roman Emperor, Constantine, who restored purpose and unity to a fragmenting and corrupted Empire. He accomplished this by marrying together all religious practice, economics and politics into one heady cocktail of paganism, conquest and compromise. History unmasks the form of "Christianity" that gave Constantine his unprecedented political power: the power that became his tool to enforce his dictatorship and authority over the Empire.
After over three hundred years of bloody Roman persecution, Constantine formally ended all persecution of Christians, enacting the "Edict of Milan, 315 A.D.” Up until this time, Christians had suffered unspeakable martyrdom for refusing to worship the sun-god deity.
Under Constantine’s edict of toleration, all Christians and Roman pagans were now forced by Roman law to peacefully co-exist together in his strange stew of paganism and Christianity. The deception of the new-found toleration was very subtle. If Christians were now tolerated and accepted under Roman law, the Christians in turn were required to accept and tolerate pagan practices.
Despite the olive branch of religious toleration that Constantine extended to Christians, he was as virulently anti-Semitic as all prior Roman Emperors. He blamed the Jews for causing grave division to the political unity of Rome, and he believed they posed a potential threat to the future of the Empire. These edicts of religious "toleration" did not apply to the Jews.
At first, the imposed religious harmony seemed to strengthen the Empire but, as time passed, a thorny political problem began to emerge. Constantine was becoming increasingly disapproving of the Christian congregations. They were still worshiping God on the biblical Sabbath day, choosing to ignore “Sun-day” worship as the pagan ritual of Roman sun-worship.
Sun-day was, in fact, an essential part of the Roman culture of the sun-god.
For Constantine this was politically troublesome and a far too obvious connection that still remained between the Christian congregations and their Hebraic Jewish roots. To counter this, Constantine passed the "Sunday Worship Law" making it a CRIME FOR ALL CHRISTIANS TO WORSHIP GOD ON THE SABBATH. The "Sunday Worship Law" would ensure that all religious worship occurred on the same day throughout the Roman Empire.
Richard M. Rives states it this way in his book, Too Long in the Sun:
“Constantine, who claimed to be a Christian, became Roman Emperor. While still directing regular consultation with the sooth-sayers of pagan sun-worship, he commanded in his edict of 32l A.D. that the Mithraic sacred day, (Sunday) be observed. He proclaimed it to be a ‘Christian’ observance.
Sunday observance was proclaimed as the day of the sun (Dies Solis) in honor of the unconquered sun (sol invictus), the title given to Mithra, the sun-god.”
If this were not historically accurate, Constantine would not have found it necessary to pass this particular law forcing all religious worship in the Roman Empire to be practiced on Sunday. All the religious Edicts of the Empire automatically excluded the Jews, so this law was not targeted to Jews in general but to the recently absorbed Christian congregations in particular.
Christian tradition claims that the early Church voluntarily changed the Sabbath worship day to Sunday. However, actual history does not support this claim and reveals that the early congregations did NOT abandon Sabbath worship, preferring Sundays. Until the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the congregations had attended the Sabbath services at the Temple or the synagogues. It would be natural then that "fellowship meetings" were held on "the first day of the week" precisely because they reserved the Sabbath day for personal worship, as God required. The two days of worship do not HAVE to be mutually exclusive.
During the time of Constantine, however, the stated intent in law was to abolish all biblical Sabbath worship altogether
Over time, the Roman edict of mandatory Sunday worship was progressively restated in ever more virulent terms. It is interesting that the true Sabbath is acknowledged but rejected in the following quotations:
"Christians shall not be idle on Saturday, the Sabbath, but shall work on that day: but the Lord's Day [the Roman name for Sunday worship] they shall honor: and being Christians shall, if possible, do no work on the day. However, if they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ." Canon 29, Council of Laodicea, 364 C.E.
"All things whatsoever it was the duty to do on the Sabbath these WE HAVE TRANSFERRED to the Lord's Day (Sunday).....because it is more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath." Eusebius of Caesarea, 4th Century
An Act of Man and Not an Act of God
In 326 A.D. the Council of Nicea was assembled by Constantine. The Council was comprised of over 300 Roman Bishops who had until this time served as Bishops of the Pagan Church of Rome. The sole purpose of the meeting was to formally define the new Roman form of Christianity. These hand-selected Bishops loyally joined Constantine in the first order of business, the abolition of biblical Sabbath worship.
They also followed Constantine’s lead by ratifying the Sunday Worship Law which enforced Sunday worship throughout the Empire as official "holy church" doctrine. These early efforts to “Christianize” the formerly pagan Empire completely ignored God’s authority in Scripture regarding the Sabbath. Part of the problem may have been that at the very same time, the “holy church” was granted “authority over all Scripture” as well.
This was an act of man and not an act of God.
But the Council had just begun. Laws were passed forbidding the Christian congregations from continuing to celebrate the other seven Festival days. The congregations had celebrated them in the newly recognized fullness of Messiah and included these Festival Days as a regular part of their services.
The Sabbath is the first of the designated Festival days of the Lord. Up until this edict, all of the Festival Days were an essential part of early Apostolic teaching for new disciples. They fully define the mission of Yeshua/Jesus and reveal the fullness of His ministry as Messiah to the world in two distinct advents. However, the Council in it’s wisdom deemed the Festival Days as the "evil" practices of the Jews, while the Bible specifically reveals them as "The Festival Days of the Lord."
"Although, according to Christian teaching, the events regarding the crucifixion of Jesus were said to have occurred at the time of Passover, the Church nonetheless wished to avoid any coincidence with the Jewish festival and therefore established rules where this would not occur. Furthermore, Easter was celebrated at the time of the feast of Ashtoreth (Ishtar, pronounced Easter: see 1Ki 11:5; 2 I Ki 23:13) the Queen of Heaven whose symbols of fecundity and sexuality included rabbits, eggs and the lily.
At the Council of Nicea the anti-Semitic Constantine outlawed circumcision, and replaced Passover with Easter and the Sabbath day with Sunday. The early [Gentile] Church also ‘Christianized’ the pagan Festival of Saturnalia by establishing it as Christmas." Tabernacles - Succot/ Zaide Reuven
As part of Roman sun-worship of the sun-god and his consort, Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven was venerated on the Vernal Equinox which always occurs early in the month of April. Passover was commanded by God to begin on the l0th day of Aviv (April). Often, these two dates would coincide. At Nicea, a law was passed that the Passover season could not be celebrated in the same week as the newly founded "Christian" Easter.
About this, Constantine made this declaration:
"it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this our holiest festival [Easter] we should follow the customs of the Jews: henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people........our worship follows a more convenient course....we desire to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews.” Constantine, Council of Nicea
“Consequently, Passover could not be celebrated during the same week as the Christian Easter. Jews were prohibited from even appearing in public during the Easter season.” Canon XXX
The Torah reveals that the Passover is not a “Jewish” Festival but is one of the designated Festivals of the Lord. The nation of Israel was God’s chosen vehicle to deliver His knowledge and salvation to the world. Through them He would work out His purposes of redemption to the nations.
Their culture reflected His unique ways of divine revelation to the nations. It is important to recognize that the Festival days, which included the Sabbath, were not the invention of the Jews, but is the expression of God through them as His witnesses. Speaking to Israel, He says:
“...you are My witnesses, says the Lord, “that I AM GOD...
....I work and who can reverse it?” Isaiah 43:12-13
Ultimately God’s will for the earth will be fulfilled and His integrity to His Covenants and to His purposes in salvation will be known in all His creation.
At Nicea, the Hebraic roots of true Christianity were even more severely chopped away when the Council divided the Bible into two distinct divisions. These divisions are still in existence today. Because of Constantine's anti-Semitic hatred, the Hebrew Scriptures were now designated as the "Old Testament”: thus implying abolition, irrelevance and spiritual insignificance.
A "new" Canon of Scripture was adopted at Nicea as the "New" Testament thereby implying replacement and superiority. This "new" Canon of Scripture was deemed to be superior to the “Old” and was meant exclusively for Gentiles and not for Jews. This idea was considered “inerrant” even though the Gospel authors were Jewish Apostles writing about Jewish events and subjects.
With the removal of all Jewish influence in understanding and interpreting Scripture, the dominating Greek influence of pagan thought would seriously sever foundational biblical precepts from their Hebraic origins: and this included the Sabbath day.
Biblical Prophecy Is Not of Private Interpretation
In biblically sound interpretation of Scripture, it is important to realize that a "Greek" view of Scripture and a "Hebraic" view of Scripture are diametrically opposed. The Greek view is rooted and established in pagan and mystical roots. Therefore, the Greek view always tends towards mystery and allegory. Conversely, the Hebraic view is established in a literal view that is supported by God-inspired revelation that is rooted in a biblically consistent program of God that leads to the complete restoration of all His creation.
All of fulfilled Hebrew prophecy to the present time has been accomplished in a very literal way with no scripturally appropriate place for inserting pagan "mystery" or for tolerating any mystical allegorical interpretation. God warns us against altering His precepts in any way:
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it”. Deut 12:32
Peter warned that the Hebrew Scriptures were not open for “private interpretation”:
“knowing this first, that no prophecy of [Hebrew] Scripture is of any private interpretation: For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
We know that Peter was referring to the Hebrew Scriptures (called the Old Testament today) because there was no other Scripture available in his day.
Peter further states the doctrinal dangers of private interpretation that is not rooted in the Hebraic context of the Hebrew Scriptures:
“.....some things are hard to understand, which the untaught [in Scripture] and unstable TWIST to their own destruction, as they do also to the rest of the [Hebrew] Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:16
Origen was one of the most influential of the Romish Church fathers to begin to replace the ancient established Hebraic view of the Hebrew Scriptures with his preferred “superior” Greek view. He was the first to apply the pagan Greek allegorical methodology to Hebraic biblical studies. In doing so he rejected the Apostolic Church's literal interpretation of Scripture: especially with regard to the Pre-Millennial view....because he considered it "too Jewish".
However, if this is so, why believe the New Testament at all? All of the authors were Jewish and they relied totally upon Jewish "Scripture" (Old Testament) as their sole biblical authority throughout the New Testament. All reference to “Scripture” in the Gospels was to the Hebrew Scriptures because there would be no “New Testament” as such for over three hundred years.
The contention that the New Testament is a strictly “gentile” document is neither historically nor scripturally supportable. Virtually all of the authors are Jews writing about their Jewish culture and themes. Indeed, the early Apostolic Church itself was considered a new sect within Judaism. The book of Acts makes a reference to the early followers of the Messiah as "the sect of the Nazarenes” in Acts 24:5.
When the literal view of the Hebrew Scriptures was rejected by third century Roman theologians. the only possible way to make completely Hebraic precepts fit into many traditional doctrines today was to apply the allegorical view. This is where replace-
ment theology was fully developed. As a result, in our day over 80% of Christendom believes that God's eternal promises that were made to a literal nation of Israel have been taken away from Israel and now apply to "spiritual Israel", or the Gentile Church today.
Augustine (354 - 430 A.D.) followed after Origen and embraced both his allegorical view and his doctrine of the complete rejection of Israel. Like Origen and Marcion he also rejected the literal aspects of Hebraic Scripture as "too Jewish" for a superior and more progressive Greek world.
Augustine became a priest very late in life but he never abandoned his life-long belief in the meta-physical sciences and, especially, secular humanism. He continued to embrace these Greek ideals as models of “higher thought” even though they came from secular philosophers such as Aristotle, Socrates and Plato (who were, after all, pagans!). He remained devoted to Greek philosophy and mythology for his entire life and considered the teachings of these pagan men as having higher authority than God’s sacred texts. Conversely, he did not believe that the Hebrew Scriptures were divine revelation.
Because the Hebrew Scriptures were steeped in antiquity, he deemed them irrelevant to the burgeoning “gentile” church. His preference for Greek mythology and religious mysticism also caused him to completely reject the literal view of Scripture which was the Apostolic view. Instead, he promoted the Greek allegorical interpretation as superior over the Jewish literal view of prophecy.
This influence has had a disastrous effect on scripturally consistent Bible interpretation ever since and is the principle source of the confusion and bitter contention that marks Christian doctrine today. Without this allegorical view, doctrines such as Church replacement of Israel cannot possibly stand. Nevertheless, many today consider his teachings to be “inerrant” revelations.
Augustine’s influence in establishing traditional Christian theology is thought by many in Christendom to be second only to that of Paul. However, his book "Confessions" is considered a classic example of unbiblical Christian mysticism and utterly rejects the literal Hebraic view of all Scripture. For centuries to come those who opposed this spiritualized view of the Hebrew Scriptures were pronounced heretics and were violently persecuted.
When the Reformation swept the Church in 1,500 A.D., it is unfortunate that most of the Reformers maintained their devotion to Augustine. His allegorical view of the Hebrew Scriptures remained the official doctrine. Even though the objective of the Reformers was to return to the Apostles' doctrine and move away from the traditions developed by the Roman Church, they failed to reject completely the Greek, allegorical interpretation of sacred Scripture that had departed so far from the foundational Hebraic roots.
Regretfully, to this day, this remains the source of all the bitter controversy and doctrinal confusion over biblical interpretation and eschatology.
Nor did they renounce the deeply entrenched Church-sanctioned anti-Semitism: a legacy that, in most cases, automatically rejects the Jews and the Hebraic roots as inferior and irrelevant today.
In 326 A.D., when Roman Imperial edict stripped God's ordained Festival days from the Christian congregations, the following words of God in Leviticus 23 were ignored:
"speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them concerning the feasts of THE LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even THESE ARE MY FEASTS:.. these are the Feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations which you shall proclaim in their seasons."
Five times in these instructions from God, HE claims authorship of these appointed days and expresses His divine authority in this Commandment. His people are to declare the Festivals throughout their generations because they reveal His unfolding plan of salvation for mankind through Messiah and express His ultimate will for the earth. One of the Festival days is the Sabbath. These Festivals are not "Jewish" exclusively, but belong to the Lord and are in themselves a rich prophetic resource that teaches about the coming of Messiah in two appearances upon the earth.
The ultimate consequence of almost two millennia of Church-sanctioned Semitic exclusion is that the foundational Hebraic roots of our faith have been removed entirely from most Bible discourse today. The result is painfully apparent in the doctrinal chaos and the bitter contention over Scripture that is a stain on true Christianity.
The contention is so deep that often any reasonable dialogue that is based solely on Scripture alone is impossible, due to the emotional element of traditional theology today.
This is the consequence of the third-century rejection of the pre-eminence of Hebrew Scriptures for doctrinal clarity that was unilaterally emphasized by Jesus in every example. His SOLE reference for doctrinal authority was to "Moses" or the "Law of Moses" (the Torah) and the Scriptures (Prophets and the Psalms).
“Then He said to them, ‘these are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses [the Torah], and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning ME.’
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning HIMSELF.” Luke 24: 44/ 24:27
Here, our Lord is directing us to the source of God’s revelation that reveals the fullness of the true Messiah: Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. In Jewish thought this phrase specifically represents the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures, or what is unfortunately called the Old Testament today. Far from being irrelevant or obsolete, Jesus emphatically names this source as His scriptural authority.
Paul followed this same teaching example established by Christ wherein the Hebrew Scriptures are cited as his authority:
“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the Kingdom of God persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses [the Torah] and the Prophets from morning till evening.” Acts 28:23
The record of history shows us how all the Festival Days of the Lord, the Hebrew Scriptures and God's Covenant people were summarily excluded from the form of Gentile "Christianity" that would rule pre-eminently as the sole "Christian authority” for over fifteen hundred years. Through the influence of a powerful Roman Empire, this organized form of religion came to dominate as a sweeping world power of religious tyranny. Our history books correctly identify this period as the Dark Ages.
Historically, Sunday worship replacement of the biblical Sabbath day of the Lord was obviously more a matter of political expediency and Roman anti-Semitism rather than spiritual revelation.
What Did the Apostles Do About the Sabbath
After the Resurrection of Christ?
The Apostles did not change the biblical Sabbath day to Sunday after the resurrection of Christ. There is nothing in the New Testament to support a "Christian" Sabbath. They continued in their usual routine as observant Jewish men and continued to observe the Festival cycle by being present in Jerusalem on specific Festival days whenever possible. Pentecost, as cited in Acts 1 and 2, is the prime example of this. The Gospel record reveals that they worshiped the Sabbath on the same day as all Jews in the region.
The Gospels and the book of Acts makes it very clear that Jesus, Paul and the Apostles continued to observe the Sabbath day, and whenever possible attended Sabbath worship services either in the Temple or in the synagogues wherever they traveled. Like all Jewish believers in Messiah, the biblical Sabbath remained their day for worshiping God.
"But when Paul and Barnabas departed from Perca, they came to Antioch and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down."
Paul preached and, "the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the NEXT Sabbath....and the NEXT Sabbath.....the whole city came to hear the word of God." Acts 13:14-42
Paul did not say here, "we have our own ‘Sabbath’ day now: so let us meet tomorrow morning." Rather, "as his custom was", he came to meet them again on the "next" biblical Sabbath to preach to them.
".....they came to Thessalonica where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his CUSTOM was, went in unto them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures [the Old Testament] ... preaching unto them, Jesus." Acts 17:1-4
"and Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks [Gentiles] ......that Jesus was the Christ......" [the Sabbath is mentioned 60 times in the Gospel record] Acts 18:4-5
Likewise: Jesus is recorded in the Gospels as having the same "custom" of Sabbath worship:
"Jesus, as His CUSTOM was, went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day"
The first day of the week is mentioned in a much different context::
"and we sailed away from Philippi after the "days of Unleavened Bread" [The Passover season] and came unto Troas where we abode seven days ....."
"And upon the first day of the week [after Sabbath worship as was Paul's practice] the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them ... " Acts 20:6-7
Again, I would make my personal observation that the very reason the early Apostolic Church had their meetings for fellowship and teaching on the first day of the week is precisely because the Sabbath was set apart and dedicated to the personal worship of God in the manner that He required. As I have said before, the two days do not have to be mutually exclusive.
The following excellent comment in made by Tim Hegg in his book, It Is Often Said:
“Jesus never broke the Sabbath, though He was accused of doing so. However, Jesus did take exception with the many man-made laws that had caused the Sabbath to be a burden, even in His time. Jesus wanted to restore the true Torah teaching about the Sabbath: that it was a day of joy and blessing, not one that only multiplied the expanding list of what one could NOT do.
So, Jesus’ custom was to be in the synagogue on Sabbath (Luke 4:16). It is common in our modern times to hear the question, “what would Jesus do”?. Here, then, is an obvious answer. If it were the custom of Jesus....would it not make perfect sense to do what He did?
Moreover on what basis would someone argue that the Sabbath has been changed to Sunday? Usually the answer to this question is that by the death and resurrection of Jesus the Sabbath has been done away with. But if the eternal sacrifice of Jesus is the instrument by which the Sabbath is abolished, how is it that in the Millennium it is reinstated?
In Isaiah 56:3 and 58:13, both of which are surely millennial passages, the Sabbath is clearly in force, not only for Israel, but for all the foreigners who attach themselves to Israel. How could Jesus abolish the Sabbath with His eternal sacrifice, yet have it reinstated in His millennial reign? If He abolished it, there must have been something wrong with it. Why then would it be reinstated in the Millennium? Reason this way: if it was clearly in place in the time of Jesus, and it will clearly be in place in the Millennium, on what basis has it been suspended in the interim? Why would God want to abolish something that He gave to His children for joy and gladness?”
Paul Knew the Sabbath is Revealed by the Holy Spirit
Keeping the Sabbath is certainly not the means of salvation, but God declares that it honors and glorifies Him. Because it is the sign of the Covenant that we have entered into with God, He specifically reminds us in the Fourth Commandment to remember this day and keep it holy.
About this issue, Paul rightly insisted that the personal decision about Sabbath worship today must be a decision made in spirit and not a choice based upon legalism. God's ultimate spiritual goal was that His laws would move from an external reality to a spiritual reality within a “circumcised heart”. Any form of legalism in this regard would miss the very spirit of God's purpose.
"For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God and they will be My people." Jer 31:31-33 Heb 8:10
Ultimately, this has been a very hotly debated issue for centuries due to doctrines introduced by the Gentile church well after the Apostolic era. Because of so much doctrinal confusion today, any personal conviction regarding God's Commandments in our lives must be a personal spiritual revelation that is lead by the Holy Spirit. It should never be a matter of legalism required by the legislation of religious organizations or promoted by the established traditions of men. That is why Paul refused to apply any legalism in this regard but insisted that the decision must be a spiritual one.
"therefore, let no man judge you [as errant] in meat, or in drink, or regarding a Festival, or a new moon, or Sabbaths which are a shadow of things to come....but the substance is of Christ." Col 2:16-17
"Therefore let us keep the Feast [Passover].....not with old leaven...........but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." I Cor 5:7-8
"Therefore, I judge that we should not trouble [with legalism] those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God......for "Moses" [the Torah] has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. Acts 15:19-21
The latter scripture reflects the custom of the Apostles to take their disciples with them to Sabbath services at the Temple or the synagogues as they traveled. Paul was confident that the Gentiles would come to the appropriate spiritual decision themselves because in all the cities and in every synagogue "Moses" [the Torah] was being taught on every Sabbath.
He knew that the new disciples would come to their own personal convictions in this regard because the revelation of God's truth was available to them everywhere the Apostles took them: that "Moses" [the Torah] was being taught at every place they would go.
Paul could not have known how drastically this teaching environment for new disciples would change as the rise of Anti-Semitism within the congregations themselves would eventually end this practice. Paul’s assumption was that the growing body of believers would continue to attend the synagogues, “preaching Jesus every Sabbath”. The early Church never entered a massive building program of separate meeting places or grandiose Church Cathedrals. This was the religious program of Rome: to conquer the world by building ornate Churches.
Paul and the Apostles believed in God’s ultimate purpose and vision and that was that Messianic Jews and Gentiles would come together as "one" and not continue to be divided. That is why they remained a sect within Judaism for many years. They considered themselves true Jews who had received their Messiah. Therefore the Temple and the synagogues were not inappropriate or threatening places for them to go. This would be natural and appropriate for Paul because He knew that, ultimately, it was God's purpose that in Messiah, the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile was going to come down. We are beginning to see this happening in our time with the rise of Messianic Judaism.
Paul referred to the "Law" or "Moses" (the Torah) as a tutor, established by God to teach His people about His ways and to reveal His Messiah. We do not go to synagogues today and we certainly do not promote that in our time. But the Torah or "Moses" remains the root of Hebraic study that becomes essential spiritual instruction for us today.
This scripture also reveals that Paul never anticipated that "Moses" (the Torah) would come to be disdainfully rejected by some Christians as "too Jewish", imperfect or even worse "irrelevant". Rather, he was pointing out that as long as "Moses" WAS being taught to the new disciples, they would be grounded in God's essential truths that lead to true salvation and spiritual maturity.
“Paul’s practice was to observe the Sabbath [seventh day of the week] as a day set apart to God, not the first day of the week. (Acts 17:2; 2l:24). In light of his admonition to “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Messiah” (1 Corinthians 11:1) how should we consider his observance of the Sabbath as a model for us?” It Is often Said/ Tim Hegg
Jesus expressed His own prime emphasis on "Moses" (the Torah) in John 5:45-47:
"Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father, there is one who accuses you - "Moses" [the Torah] in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me: for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings....HOW will you believe My words? [on what basis?]
What Christ is stating in this scripture is very important for establishing sound doctrine regarding the Messiah today. The source and basis for believing in Messiah is rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures. If we don’t know the fullness of God’s revelation of Messiah, HOW can we believe in Him. On what BASIS do we believe in Him? The Torah reveals the truth about Messiah: and He in turn reveals the truth of the Torah.
The Biblical Sabbath Survives the Church Age
The sanctity of the Sabbath is of prime significance in all the Hebrew Scriptures. Prophecy also reveals that the biblical Sabbath day apparently survives the Church period, being restored by God as an essential part of worship in the Millennium Kingdom Age to come:
"And I will set a sign [Jesus] among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory, and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles and they shall bring all nations to My holy mountain, Jerusalem, said the Lord. And it will come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship Me, saith the Lord." Isaiah 66:19-23
The very definition of the Sabbath is that it is the seventh day. God Himself established this definition:
"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
There is NOTHING in Scripture that indicates that the biblical Sabbath day was changed by God in it's positional place as the seventh day of the week. Indeed, God used the Sabbath day prophetically as a shadow-picture of the Seventh Day of God's rest: the Millennium Kingdom Age.
Every Sabbath day is meant to be a reminder and a taste of the Kingdom Age to come. On this day we can immerse ourselves in His restful peace and we can rejoice in expectation of the coming joy we will share with Messiah in His Kingdom.
As Jesus will fulfill all of the precepts of God, He will also fulfill the Sabbath which symbolizes the Seventh Day of God's rest and the glorious Messianic Kingdom Age. He will reign in great glory at that time and for this reason it was also anciently called “the Great Sabbath”. It is in this context that He said, "The Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath." Luke 6:5
I Did Not Come to Abolish the Law
But To Fulfill it (Establish It)
After the Reformation of l,500 A.D., we have seen how the legacy of Semitic exclusion can still be found in the doctrine that both the Sabbath and “the Law” are imperfect and thereby obsolete today.
In one sense, the scriptural liberty taken to develop this theology is quite breathtaking in it’s scope.
It is unfortunate that the Greek word "law" in translation incorrectly impugns the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) as sheer legalism. The true definition of "Moses" and the Hebrew Scriptures should be translated as the "instruction of God ...the revelation of His principles of truth to guide and bless His people". These are eternal and will never become obsolete. Jesus made the most essential statement of all in this regard.
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law [Torah] or the Prophets...I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till ALL be fulfilled. [all will not fulfilled until the conclusion of the Millennium Kingdom Age.]
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven,
But whoever DOES and TEACHES THEM, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven." Mt 5: 17-19
Jesus is emphatic in His statement; the Law will not pass away until heaven and earth pass away!
In translation, the Greek word used for “fulfill” as Jesus uses it above actually means “to confirm or establish”. Another example of this same word “fulfill” in the same context can be found in Matthew 3:15:
“And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now; for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.”
(To end all righteousness?)
It is obvious that Jesus did not intend us to understand “fulfill” in these contexts as “abolishing” or “putting an end to” but as confirming and establishing His laws and precepts. This is supported in Mark 12:29-30 when Jesus is asked to state what is the first Commandment of all. The word “first” in Greek also means “foremost, before, chief (of all)”.
“Jesus answered him, "The first of all the Commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
"And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other Commandment greater than these."
Here we see Jesus emphasizing the CONTINUITY of God’s revelation in His answer because He was directly quoting from the Torah: specifically Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In this scripture, we see Him confirming or establishing the eternal nature of God’s laws. Far from abolishing the laws of God, Jesus establishes them as STILL the eternal, unchanging instruction of God.
He was also establishing another important fact regarding the “New” Covenant. He is showing us that the New Covenant is inextricably connected to the Torah. Far from being the “Old Covenant”, the Torah is the same agreement as the “New Covenant”, but it has been brought to it’s perfection in Christ. Jesus is bringing confirmation that the first of all the Commandments revealed by God in the Torah STILL remains the first of all the Commandments for God’s people today because the Law of God is eternal.
Paul and all the Apostles urgently warned of the ever-increasing error and false doctrines that were already beginning to overwhelm the early Church. It was such an urgent theme, that virtually all of the New Testament Epistles refer to the ever threatening influence of apostate teachers and errant unbiblical doctrines flooding into the congregations.
As early as 65-80 A.D., Jude passionately condemned the growing threat of heretical teachers who were dominating the congregations and corrupting believers with unsupportable false doctrines. In the face of this escalating wave of apostasy, Jude’s readers are strongly admonished as follows:
".....contend you earnestly for the faith which was ONCE delivered to the saints.” Jude 3 [KJV]
Jude was referring to the pure, unchangeable precepts that are found in the Hebrew Scriptures and established in their firm Hebraic roots. This is the truth that was taught by Jesus and His faithful disciples, the apostles. This is the true faith which was ONCE delivered to the saints by them.
When we seek God’s truth today, we must let God speak to us through His sacred texts and through the revelation of His Son without the intervention of men’s traditions and theologies.
If we determine that the sanctity of the Sabbath is important to God, both in the past and in the future Messianic Age, we must ultimately decide what the Sabbath means for each one of us today.
None of this is meant to imply that Sunday Church services should be abandoned by God’s people today. But it is also very scripturally divisive and misleading to say that the biblical Sabbath has been replaced or done away with in our time.
We can celebrate them both!
God’s Commandments are eternal and He has promised that we will derive a wonderful blessing of divine fellowship and revelation by walking with Him fully and confidently in the manner that He has designed for His people.
Ultimately, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must come to our own conclusion in this regard.
If the conviction of your heart is saying “Yes” to this, then permit yourself to walk in His ways with confidence and joy.
Ref: Constantine's Sword/ James Carroll
Our Father Abraham/ Wilson
Tabernacles - Succot/ Zaide Reuven
It Is Often Said, Volume 1/ Tim Hegg
Paul the Jewish Theologian/ Brad Young
Too Long in the Sun/ Richard M. Rives
Yeshua, a Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church/ Dr. Ron
The Holy Bible
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