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Christ and the Sabbath (part 1) June 1, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Christ and Sabbath, Thoughts and Theology.
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Christ and the Sabbath by Ken Puls
from the Founders Journal – Spring 2007

Leviticus is a book of law. Almost the entire book is made up of regulations dictated by God to Moses. It begins with the words, “Now the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying…” And then it moves directly to regulations concerning the sacrifices. Chapter by chapter this book reveals to us the pervasiveness of the law in all its detail and precision and rigor. It was committed to the tribe of Levi, who had the responsibility in the Old Testament for caring for the Temple, leading in worship and teaching the people of God the law of God. Leviticus is a manual written down for Israel to teach them how to live and serve and obey a holy God.

Leviticus is a book of law, but it is also a book rich with the gospel. Leviticus speaks of Christ. Christ is proclaimed all through the Old Testament. In Luke 24:44 Jesus told His disciples, “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 and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”

In Leviticus 23 God gave Moses an outline of the feasts and festivals that were to shape the yearly calendar of the nation of Israel. The festivals are part of the ceremonial law in the Old Testament that includes the temple and sacrifices—that part of the law that applies the first four of the Ten Commandments to Israel’s worship of God. Through the feasts and festivals God reminded Israel of the great works He had done for them as their Provider and Creator, and He pointed them to the greater work He would accomplish in sending Christ as Messiah and Redeemer.

God instructs Moses in the first two verses of Leviticus 23 to speak to the children of Israel and proclaim to them, “The feasts of the LORD.” But before Moses introduces the list of feasts beginning in verse 4, he inserts a declaration of the 4th commandment in verse 3:

Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings (Leviticus 23:3).

As we focus this verse in the context of this passage, we need to ask five questions:

1) What does this verse teach us about the 4th Commandment?

2) Why is the Sabbath Commandment here in this passage?

3) How has Christ fulfilled the Sabbath?

4) In light of Christ’s fulfillment of the Sabbath and the presence of the 4th Commandment here in this passage, is the Sabbath part of the Old Covenant that has “grown old and vanished away” (Hebrews 8:13)?

5) In light of Christ’s fulfillment of the Sabbath, do we have an obligation to the Sabbath Commandment as believers in Christ?

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