A longtime reader queries, referring to a subpoint from my last post on “Inconsistencies,”
So this post isn’t about “Sabbath,” and yet the statement is still there. I see your reasoning in not calling it “Sabbath,” but I’ve been pretty convicted about the whole rest/setting apart thing in the past few years. I don’t have a great list of reasons to support it right now, but how can you justify that being the *only* one of the 10 commandments we’re not expected to follow?
What a devoted question — one I’m not qualified to answer — but one I think deserves more consideration, so here are some thoughts.
Hundreds of books, if not thousands, have been written on one or more of the “10 Commandments.” I would bet, moreover, that hundreds of books have been written that focus on the fulfillment of the Commandments in the New Covenant.
I’m no expert in this area, but I’ve been conditioned to see spiritually-new-covenant applications of physical Old Testament realities. Through the years, I’ve grown more convinced that this is generally the right track to be on with respect to the relationship of the “Old” and the “New.” Take, for example, ancient wars involving the Hebrews. Regardless of views on geopolitics, governments, and the use of military force, no sane Christian would take the accounts of Hebrews bludgeoning Canaanites and Amorites as justification for ganging up & killing opposing ethno-religious or political factions today. The “takeaway’ here is that some things in the OC times aren’t applicable under the NC. But what do we do with this?
In this case, some of the apocalyptic language of Revelation (and maybe Ezekiel and Daniel) illuminates the scenario, at least for me: the language of obliterative war authorized by God under Joshua, the judges, the kings, etc., finds its fulfillment in the ultimate victory of God over the spiritually opposing powers. See Rev. 15, 16, and especially 12:7ff.
There are scores of Hebrews mini-laws that no one thinks twice about. If we are subject to the 10 Commandments per se, why wouldn’t we be subject to prohibitions around yeast and pork and hyssop and beards? Isn’t it either the whole law or none of it?
Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets, according to the evangelist. Although it’s “proof-texty” of me to pull out Matt. 22:40 and Matt. 5:17 to prove a point, I think fulfillment of Jewish types is close enough to the heart of this particular gospel that it’s not out of line to highlight the ideas of His having fulfilled. subsumed, and summarized the “Old.”
So, Sabbath as a law to be enjoined on Christians? I think not, as such, but the larger question about the “Ten Commandments” must be answered to the satisfaction of each believer. Could it be that none of the Commandments, in themselves, are pertinent anymore? And, more important, could it be that exemplary principles of Jesus such as loving neighbors and “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” and treating others as we want to be treated gloriously, effectively trump Old-Law rules such as not killing and not committing adultery and not coveting?
I don’t know that it would be possible to articulate fully a NC fulfillment of each OC commandment. That exercise, though, might be less than necessary, in full view of the over-arching principles of Jesus — principles that cover all of living without need for appealing to a Jewish commandment.
In the case of the old Sabbath law — and I do agree that it’s important to rest — one thing that comes to mind is the notion of doing everything for God’s glorification. Our human need for rest and recuperation would seem to relate to better potential in glorifying Him. In addition, there is that all-surpassing thought of being created in God’s image, and after all, He is said to have “rested.” I certainly don’t think it’s a bad idea to rest, or even to have regular patterns of rest, but to suggest that Sabbath, as such, was transferred a) to the New Covenant and b) to Sunday is simply inaccurate.
Your phrasing “setting apart” piques my deeper thinking more than the rest aspect. I know I could do better with dedicating times, including times of private and public worship.
P.S. This whole topical area appears to constitute a four-lane intersection with the text of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, I think.