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by Dr. John Thomas
This was defined by the law.
The priests profaned the sabbath by hard work in slaying and burning the seventh day sacrifices on the altar, yet they were blameless; because this was a good work which the Lord of the sabbath commanded them to do.
Having finished the work the Father had given him to do, on the sixth day of the week, Jesus, while suspended on the accursed tree, cried with a loud voice, "It is finished!
" "All things were now accomplished," so that the Mosaic handwriting was blotted out, being nailed with him to the cross, and taken out of the way as a rule of life.
The Lord Jesus, "rested from his labours" on the seventh day in the silent tomb, and "his disciples rested according to the commandment".
(Luk 23:56) He abode in his place.
and did not go out of it until the sabbath was at an end.
(Mar 16:1) But on the eighth day, styled also the first day, God gave him liberty, (Mat 28:2) he left the tomb, and "was refreshed".
Having "spoiled the principalities and the powers" constituted by the handwriting, he made the spoliation manifest, "triumphing over in himself" ( en autwi ), that is, in his resurrection; thus, for ever delivering men from the bondage of the law, which, Peter says, "was a yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear".
With the abolition of the Mosaic handwriting the obligation to keep the seventh day as a rule of spiritual life was cancelled as a matter of course.
The apostles and Christians of the Hebrew nation in Palestine continued a ceremonial observance of the Mosaic festivals (the annual atonement for sin excepted) and of the seventh day, until the destruction of the commonwealth by the Romans, on the same principle that New Testament Christians among the nations now observe Sunday and the laws; not as a means of justification before God, but as mere national customs for the regulation of society.
Hebrew Christians who proposed to blend the law of Moses with that of Jesus as a spiritual rule, or means of justification, and consequently to keep holy the seventh day, were severely reproved by the apostles, who stigmatised it as "Judaizing" ( ioudaizein The Judaizing Christians endeavoured to impose the observance of the law upon the Gentile converts, which would have compelled them to keep holy the seventh day.
But the apostles and elders of the Christian community at Jerusalem positively forbade it, and wrote to them, saying, "We have heard that certain who went out from us have troubled you with words subverting your souls, saying, Be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment".
On the contrary, "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well".
Upon the first day of the week (or day after the seventh, and therefore sometimes styled the eighth day), the disciples of Christ assembled to show forth his death, and to celebrate his resurrection; which, with an enduring rest from the works of "sinful flesh," was all the sabbatizing they practised.
There is no law in the scriptures requiring the nations to keep this day in any manner whatever during his absence at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens.
So long as they continue faithless and disobedient to the gospel of the kingdom, neither nations nor individuals can present an acceptable observance of the day before the Lord; on the principle that "Jehovah is far from the wicked, whose way and sacrifice are an abomination to the Lord": -- and, The "first day" was Judaized by Constantine, the manchild of sin, and his clergy.
His present representative is the Italian high priest of Papal Christendom.
When his power, and that of his kings, is finally destroyed in "the burning flame"; when Israel is engrafted into their own olive again, and the nations are subdued to the glorious sceptre of the king of saints -- then will this day become the holy sabbath, "blessed and sanctified" of God instead of the shadowy seventh day, which was merely "a sign" of the things which will then have come to pass.
THE FORMATION OF MAN.
"Out of the ground wast thou taken; for dust thou art.
That "the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath," is a truth of general application to all the institutions of God.
Upon this principle, man was not made for religion, but religion was made for him.