Responses to previous post: “Is the forth commandment still binding on believers today?”

Respondent from Sabbath debate: (Refer to previous post for earlier comments)

The arguments that you make from silence (ie that the Sabbath command
was not explicitly stated to Abraham etc) only proves silence, which
ultimately proves nothing.  Would you not acknowledge that the Sabbath is
a creation ordinance as God hallowed the seventh day?  If that is the
case then there is no need for God to repeat the obligation to keep one
day holy.  Moreover, the fact that something is not explicitly stated
as a command in an earlier portion of Scripture does not mean that it
was not a moral duty.
 

Friend,

I appreciate your response but it seems as though you have not addressed (or possibly even read) any of my reasons for the conclusions that I have reached regarding the Sabbath. Nonetheless, I will respond to what you have written:

There is no command in Scripture before Exodus chapter 20 to keep the Sabbath, it’s simply not there. Please show it to me if I’ve missed it. Genesis 2:1-3 does say “that after the Lord had ended all His work He rested on the seventh day and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it”, but there is not a word about the Sabbath being given to Adam and Eve as a commandment. Your assumption of an
Eden weekly Sabbath can neither be implied nor assumed.

Believe it or not, I do in fact acknowledge that the seventh day was created holy. But I also believe that the seventh “day” that the Lord is referring to here is the same “day” mentioned in Hebrews 3:7 – 4:13 where the writer treats at length the concept of rest from the Hebrew Scriptures in a typological way to emphasize present salvation rest and future heavenly rest: For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said, As I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he hath said somewhere of the seventh day on this wise, And God rested on the seventh day from all his works;

The point the writer makes is that salvation “rest” has it’s origins in the Hebrew Scriptures. The specific reference is to the seventh day of creation of Genesis 2:2-3. God’s creation rest is interpreted typologically as referring to the present salvation rest. Be advised that if one is to interpret the six days of creation in Genesis as literal 24 hour periods then one must also interpret an omnipotent God as One who requires “rest” from His creative work. Further, the Lord holds every molecule in the universe together with His Word. If He were to rest, then that universe would cease to exist. It’s also important to note that God did not begin creating again the following Sunday after His “day of rest”, therefore it would be correct to assume that His rest was and is permanent. I, as a believer in Christ, have also permanently entered into His “Sabbath” rest while also resting from my own “works”.

The closing statement of the Genesis account uses the same word “day” it had been using to describe each day to now describe the entire week. Genesis 2:4 says: These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven. Clearly, the word “day” means one and more than one days in this context. While anything is possible with God, embracing a literal six 24 hour days of creation presents a host of logical and physical impossibilities for Adam and Eve especially. Furthermore, Adam and Eve did not literally die as God said they would when they ate the forbidden fruit. This is evidence that the Genesis account presents a combination of metaphor and fact, albeit significantly more fact than metaphor. This is why any passage of Scripture must be clarified with all other available inspired Scripture (i.e. the Bible) before any dogmatic conclusions can begin to be drawn.

You also suggest that you believe that the Sabbath is a moral law. But if this is so then how could Jesus break it without sinning? (John 5:18) Didn’t He fail to uphold this “moral duty”? If you still insist that the Sabbath law is a moral commandment, then those who do not keep the Sabbath must be declared as being immoral, right? Are you then willing to apply this term to most of the church fathers as well as many contemporary leaders such as Martin Luther or Billy Graham? Certainly God would not bless a ministry that actively promoted (or ignored) immoral conduct………yet history reveals that He did bless these men and their ministry despite their exercised day of worship! 

Finally, the Sabbath cannot be eternal for at least two reasons: One, if Isa. 86:23 means the Sabbath will be binding in the new heaven and the new earth, then the text says that the feast of the “new moon” will be binding also. We know that this will not be the case because Scripture ultimately cannot successfully be broken (i.e. taken out of context to suit a doctrine). Two, classical Hebrew had no word that actually meant “eternal.” The Hebrew term for “forever” (olam) means “long duration,” “antiquity,” or “futurity.” The Greek New Testaments discussion of “forever” concerning Christ’s eternal glory and His new everlasting covenant resolves this linguistic restraint however.

God bless,

Jim Richardson

P.S.: Please take a stab at a few of the following questions which also indirectly respond to your email:

  1. How could Adam, Noah and Abraham keep the Sabbath, when Deuteronomy 5:2-4 says that the 10 commandment covenant (see was “not made with any of the fathers of
    Israel who lived before Moses.”
  2. If the first/old covenant was abolished according to Heb 8:13 and the Ten commandment law was that first covenant (Ex 34:27-28; 1 Kings 8:9,21; Heb 9:1-4), then why do Sabbatarians want to keep the first/old covenant?
  3. Why has no Sabbatarian every produced even one historical quote (75-500AD) that says Christians kept the Sabbath?
  4. If the Sabbath is not a ceremonial law, then why is it lumped into the same identical class of “holy convocations” as the rest of the Jewish feast days? Lev 23:2; Ex 20:9; 31:17
  5. If there is a distinction between the moral and ceremonial laws, why in a single chapter of Nehemiah 8are the following phrases all used interchangeably: “book of the law of Moses” v1, “the law” v2, “book of the law” v3, “the law of god” v8, “book of the law of god” v18?
  6. Why are the two most important commandments contained within the “ceremonial law of Moses that was Sabbatarians say was nailed to the cross? (Matthew 22:36-40)
  7. If the Sabbath cannot change, because God cannot change (Mal 3:6) then what about all the other feast days and laws that changed? Heb 7:12. And why did Jesus give a “a new commandment” in John 13:34?
  8. If the ten commandments are going to be in heaven, what is the use of “thou shalt not commit adultery”, if there is no marriage in heaven? Lk 20:34-35
  9. If the Sabbath was given to all men, why were Gentiles called “strangers”. Why were Gentiles outside the gates not required to keep the Sabbath? Ex 20:10.
  10. If the term “commandments” always means the 10 commandments, then why are the laws that are not part of the ten commandments but called commandments in Mt 19:16-19 not also included?
  11. If the term “keep my commandments” always means the 10 commandments, then why is this a new commandment? Jn 15:10-12 + Jn 13:34.
  12. When Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” why did Jesus NOT QUOTE from the 10 commandments, but from the abolished ceremonial law of Moses? Matthew 22:36-40
  13. If the Sabbath is a moral law, why did Jesus say that David, the priests, a man with his donkey could all break the Sabbath without sin? Mt 12:1-14; Mk 2:23f, Lk 13:10-17; 14:1-6 Jn 5:8-18; 7:19-24; 9:14-16.
  14. If the Sabbath is a moral law, how could Jesus break it without sinning? Jn 5:18
  15. When you ask me, “if the 10 commandments are abolished, does that mean we can steal”, can I ask you, “when you travel from Canada to the
    USA, does that mean you can steal? Is it possible that two completely different “codes of law” (law of Moses vs. law of Christ) have the same laws just like Canada and the
    USA?
  16. If the Jewish law against eating pork was abolished by Christ, why do Sabbatarians continue to enforce what they call, “the ceremonial law of Moses”: Mk 7:18-19; 1 Tim 4:1-4; Rom 14:2; Acts 10:9-16
  17. Why do you refuse to accept that Col 2:16 contains the Old Testament pattern of referring to the Jewish holy says in a yearly, monthly, weekly sequence as in 1 Chronicles 23:31, 2 Chronicles 31:3, 2 Chronicles 8:13, 2 Chronicles 2:4, Nehemiah 10:33, Ezekiel 45:17, Hosea 2:11, Galatians 4:10?
  18. If the plural “sabbaton” in Col 2:16 cannot refer to weekly Sabbath day, then why does plural “sabbaton” refer to the weekly Sabbath day in Matthew 28:1, Luke 4:16, Acts 16:13, Exodus 20:8 (in Septuagint) Leviticus 23:37-38 (in Septuagint)?
  19. If Isa 66:23 proves the Sabbath will be in heaven, will the new moon festival also be there? “from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath”.
  20. If Hebrews 4 teaches we are to keep the weekly Sabbath, then why does the text say we are to enter a rest that none of the Jews at the time of Joshua in the promised land ever experienced in v 8?
  21. If the Sabbath will endure forever because it is called “eternal” then won’t all the Jewish feasts and circumcision also endure because it is also called eternal in Gen 17:10-14 (same Hebrew word used)
  22. If the Sabbath will endure forever because it is called “holy” then won’t all the Jewish feasts also endure forever because they are also called holy?
  23. If the Sabbath will endure forever because God hallowed it, then won’t Solomon’s temple Ps 65:4; 1 Ki 9:3 and the vessels in the tabernacle Ex 40:9; Num 31:6; 1 Ki 8:4 also endure forever because God hallowed them too?
  24. If the Sabbath will endure forever because it was an eternal sign between God and his people, then shouldn’t we also still practice circumcision Gen 17:11 and Passover Ex 12:13 because it too is called an eternal sign between God and his people?
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5 Responses

  1. I’ll answer these at some stage brother; give us a few days please.

  2. Oh, I should add that I believe the Sabbath commandment has been modified so that we are to keep it on the first day of the week as the Lord’s day.

  3. Well said , exposited and queried, Jim.

    God bless!

  4. From: http://reformedcovenanter.wordpress.com/2007/05/07/the-perpetual-obligation-of-the-sabbath-a-response-to-jim-richardson/
    The Perpetual Obligation of the Sabbath: A Response to Jim Richardson (Part 1)
    Recently, I left a comment on the Thy Word is Truth weblog questioning the views of its author (Mr. Jim Richardson) with regards to his view that the fourth commandment is no longer binding upon believers today. Mr. Richardson very kindly responded to my enquiry and gave me a number of additional questions to consider. So, out of courtesy and in the interests of fair-minded Christian discussion, I will seek to respond to our brother in a number of posts over the coming weeks (D.V.).
    Preliminary Qualifications
    In order to avoid any confusion, I feel that it is necessary to make a number of qualifications that will clarify my own position at the outset. Firstly, I do not believe that we are to celebrate the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week as the fourth commandment has been modified by later revelation so that we are, since the resurrection of Christ, to keep the first day of the week (Sunday) as the Lord’s Day Sabbath. However, we shall return to this at a later stage.
    Secondly, I am not suggesting for one moment that everyone who does not hold the Scottish Presbyterian/Puritan view of the Sabbath is not a Christian. Doubtless many of the Lord’s people in that past have differed on this issue, and while those who deny the abiding validity of the Sabbath may be mistaken, I still believe that they are true believers. Examples of modern day Calvinists who reject my view of the Sabbath include men as godly and learned as John Piper, D.A. Carson (who is probably my favourite preacher), John MacArthur and even the Theonomist Gary North. Having said that, truth cannot be determined by a headcount, and therefore we must turn to the Scriptures to determine which view is right.
    Arguments From Silence
    The first main objection I have to Mr. Richardson’s methodology is his use of “argument from silence”. He writes: “There is no command in Scripture before Exodus chapter 20 to keep the Sabbath, its simply not there…there is not a word about the Sabbath being given to Adam and Eve as a commandment. Your assumption of an Eden weekly Sabbath can neither be implied or assumed.” Mr. Richardson therefore contends that when “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work” (Gen. 2:3) He was not laying down a pattern of moral behaviour which we were meant to imitate. Why is this? Because the Sabbath was not explicitly “given to Adam and Eve as a commandment.” Before I go on to examine his rejection of a literal 24 hour six day creation, and how this relates to the Sabbath, I must raise some objections to his hermeneutic at this point.
    Firstly, is Mr. Richardson seriously suggesting that while God set the Sabbath apart as holy, and rested on that day, that Adam and Eve, who were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) did not do likewise? Considering that we are to “be imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1), then I think it is fair to deduce that we are to follow the divine pattern of six days labour and one day of rest established at creation. Even before the giving of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, it is clear that the pattern of a weekly Sabbath was an established practice as the Israelites in the wilderness were commanded to gather a double portion of bread on the Friday because “Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD…For six days shall you gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none” (Ex. 17:23-26).
    Moreover, in the Decalogue itself, the Sabbath is not presented as something new, the rationale behind the command is the example which God gave to us at creation “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:11). So, the obligation to keep one day a week as a day of sacred rest must have been a moral duty before the giving of the Law at Sinai, since the commandment is based upon the divinely established pattern at creation: namely, six days of work, one day of rest every week.

    My response:
    Daniel, if I understand you correctly you believe that the Sabbath day has been changed to Sunday. I respectfully submit to you that Scripture says otherwise.

    They shall not enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he hath said somewhere of the seventh day on this wise, And God rested on the seventh day from all his works; and in this place again, They shall not enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some should enter thereinto, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached failed to enter in because of disobedience, he again defineth a certain day, Today, saying in David so long a time afterward (even as hath been said before), Today if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience. Hebrews 4: 4-11

    Paul clearly delineates the seventh day of creation in a typological way to emphasize present salvation rest and future heavenly rest of believers. Did you note that even though they were given the Sabbath command prior to Joshua and complied with it, they were still not entering God’s rest? That’s because the “rest” of God is not a specific day. It’s an eternal “rest” for your soul, according to this passage Daniel. Those who accept Christ as their Savior rest from their “works” and enter into God’s permanent rest. That ends the weekly Sabbath (but not day of worship) which was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made. . . (Galatians 3:19)

    Irenaeus is one among many early Christian writers who confirms Galations 3:19:

    ….But the Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service. “For we have been counted,” says the Apostle Paul, “all the day long as sheep for the slaughter;” that is, consecrated [to God], and ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth. Moreover, the Sabbath of God (requietio Dei), that is, the kingdom, was, as it were, indicated by created things; in which [kingdom], the man who shall have persevered in serving God (Deo assistere) shall, in a state of rest, partake of God’s table. And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows, — that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, “believed God, and it
    was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.”…. IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES BOOK 1 CHAPTER 16

    Exodus 16:25-26 does not necessarily confirm that the pattern of a weekly Sabbath was an established practice as the Israelites in the wilderness. One reason is Nehemiah 9:13-14 which states: “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them your holy sabbath (when you came down on Mount Sinai) and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.” (NIV). The text states that Moses made known to them the covenantal Sabbath at that time.

    Another reason is that Exodus 16:23 is a command not a reminder: And he said unto them, This is that which Jehovah hath spoken, Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy sabbath unto Jehovah: bake that which ye will bake, and boil that which ye will boil; and all that remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. Notice also that this Sabbath “SIGN” (Exodus 31:13) is between God and “the sons of Israel” (Exodus 12:15,17) and not for all of mankind.

    Finally, you said:“I think it is fair to deduce that we are to follow the divine pattern of six days labour and one day of rest established at creation” I agree, which is why Christians now meet together to break bread and worship God on the first day of the week in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ. But be careful in your exegesis Daniel, for if you argue for a Sabbath day of rest based on Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11 then that Sabbath day is a Saturday, not a Sunday. He blessed and hallowed the seventh day, not the first. You can’t have the chicken without the wings!

    Blessings and I look forward to further discussions,

    Jim Richardson

  5. Jim

    Having read your comments I think you are jumping the gun a bit, as I have not got to explaining WHY I believe the Sabbath has been changed.

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