Sabbath Observance

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Joshua, Jan 1, 2006.

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  1. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    In reply to Joseph:

    Thank you for responding to many of my Sabbath questions on another thread.

    I did not want to post again on that thread for fear that Trevor might have me gored by a pet goat, or chihuahua, something. ( I have already messed up 3 times. )

    It is very refreshing to see that you are consistent and do not watch NFL football players violating the Sabbath.

    But there is still one issue:

    Exodus 35:
    "For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death."

    I know you honour the first part of this passage and do not work on the "seventh day."

    Surely, however you would not want the second part honoured in which anyone who violates the Sabbath "must be put to death."

    It is issues like this that become a real stumbling block for unbelievers.
    They see Christians advocating one part of a Bible passage, and then turn around and say the second part no longer applies.

    Example:
    - we do not work on the Sabbath because the OT specifically outlaws Sabbath work
    - we do not kill Sabbath workers because we are free of OT laws
     
  2. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Joseph said:
    "So, regardless of where we draw the line, we both agree that a line must be drawn. Some Scriptural commands are eternal and moral, while others are just temporary ceremonial laws."

    Oh boy. This opens a huge can of worms. Everyone THINKS he knows were to draw the line.

    Maybe we can draw the line here:
    The two big laws are love God and love your neighbour. Any OT law that is consistent with these two laws is still valid.

    Example:
    If the Sabbath allows you to read the Bible, love your family, etc., go for it.
    If working on the Sabbath- and taking Wednesday off to read the Bible, etc. - allows you to earn a living for your family, go for it.

    Am I about to be burned as a heretic? This smacks of situational ethics.
     
  3. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you.

    That is a tough one. Good question.

    I think part of the misunderstanding comes from a failure to distinguish what God commands to the *nation* of Israel (jurisprudence), versus what God commands to *individual* Israelites (personal morality).

    A case in point is the Lex Tallionis: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth"

    A lot of people think that Jesus repealed this OT law. But He did not. To the contrary, Christ's "turn the other cheek" law was in the OT as well (cf. Lamentations 3:30). You see, the one law was for the theocratic government of Israel, while the other law was for the individual Israelite. A lone Jew was not suppose to exact retributive justice to an evildoer, but the *state* was. The distinction is important. Likewise, in the New Testament, Christ's "turn the other cheek" law was for the individual, even though the death penalty was still left in force as far as governments were concerned (cf. Romans 13:4). --- (For more detailed discussion along these lines, please see this article I wrote.)

    Now, should modern day sabbath breakers be killed? I don't think so. But that is not because I want to trash an OT law. Rather, I think the reason has to do with the difference between our government and the government of Israel. The USA is NOT a theocracy like Israel was. And the law to kill sabbath breakers does not apply to individual people like you and me, any more than it applied to individual Israelites. It was a jurisprudence law meant to be carried out by the authority of the theocratic Israeli government.

    At least, that is my opinion at this time.



    Please consider reading this book about the Sabbath:


    [​IMG]


    I also highly recommend this lecture series on the Lord's Day by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Joseph
     
  4. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    Henry, there are two ways to interpret the death sentence in the Law of Moses. One, it every case where prescribed for a moral law it carries over to the NT. Two, the death sentence was ceremonial. It was a symbol of excommunication. The commonwealth of Israel and the church of Israel being the same, to be cut off from the church meant death.
     
  5. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    In reply to Joseph et al.

    I think it is wise to acknowledge two things:

    1) We all love certain OT laws
    2) We ALL struggle deeply with certain OT laws.

    If we worked in the same company, we would probably get along quite well - and we would have fascinating discussions.

    I have a visitor every Monday night. We disagree a lot. He is Pentecostal, a Toronto Maple Leaf fan, and has all sort of other crazy ideas. But we still share many values.
     
  6. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Peter said:
    "there are two ways to interpret the death sentence in the Law of Moses. One, it every case where prescribed for a moral law it carries over to the NT. Two, the death sentence was ceremonial. It was a symbol of excommunication. The commonwealth of Israel and the church of Israel being the same, to be cut off from the church meant death. "

    Peter, this response smacks of human intelligience.

    This "moral law" vs. "ceremonial law" thing is troublesome to me. It seems to be based on human "logic." Where did Jesus or Paul or anyone define these terms?

    On this board, I get nervous when I see poster after poster using the WCF or Calvinist writers for proof texts. I also get nervous when I see posts without Bible backups. (Oh, yes, I realize that the word "trinity" is not in the Bible but I can find many referenences to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    Do you see my concern, Peter?
     
  7. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Oh, and For Your Information:

    I have struggled with this issue since 1992 when I started attending the Toronto Airport Vineyard.

    I see different Christians applying and not applying different parts of the Bible.

    I suspect many people on this board have asked many of these same "legal" questions.
     
  8. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    Moral law, ceremonial law, and judicial law is how theologians divide the law of Moses.

    Moral law was what God gave Adam as the requirement of life. It is a reflection of God's holy character and the standard of ethics. All men have some apprehension of it. Ro 2 see Ex 20. The summary of the ml is to love God with all heart, soul, mind and your neighbor as yourself as Moses and Jesus said.

    The ceremonial law is the part of the Law of Moses that points to Christ as the way of salvation or anything peculiar to the church as a child under age. See Heb 10 and Hebrews throughout.

    I understand your concern about scripture references. But please, if this brief explanation is insufficient for you, understand I'm not a theologian or minister and I dont have the time to research, expound and prove these basic, long established theological constructs. See any of the great reformed confessions on the topic, particularly WCF 19 (http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/), and examine the proofs
     
  9. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    :up: :amen:
     
  10. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    In reply to Peter, Joseph et al

    Thanks for your responses.

    I am somewhat flustered by this debate. I am torn by competing themes.

    1) I do not like arguing against the Sabbath because as with many of God's laws, they are designed to benefit us. And in many many cases they do benefit us.

    2) At the same time, I dislike the mandatory aspect of Sabbath rules because there are numerous circumstances in which it may be beneficial not to rest on the Sabbath.

    For example, if dairy farmers do not milk the cows on the Sabbath, the cows can have real health problems and discomfort.

    3) What profoundly disturbs me about this debate is the OT law that says Sabbath breakers must be killed.

    If the U.S. ever became a totally Christian nation, I seriously doubt you would want to enforce this OT law.

    4) What also has me perturbed is that Sabbath laws may conflict with other laws.

    For example, I try to exercise every day in order to help my disability. If I have to take a day off, I really really try hard to get back into the routine the next day. I try to be a good steward of my body. Are you saying to me it is wrong to work at exercise on the Sabbath?

    5) My greatest issue, however, is more global. Everywhere I go I see professing Christians seeming to pick and choose which laws they will follow. And they usually say they are evangelical. (This is very blunt, I know, I know.)

    No one on this board would kill a Sabbath breaker like the Jews used to. This is good.

    What is not good is trying to explain to a new Christian how and why we downplay certain laws.
     
  11. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    Ah, the trap! You want me to define "work" so you can score a point! :bigsmile:

    On the one hand, I will agree with you that Jesus upheld the 4th Commandment, giving exception for works of piety, mercy, and necessity. On the other, I would respond that Jesus was speaking in an Old Covenant context regarding Talmudic interpretations of the 4th Commandment. It was the post-exhilic Jews' earnest desire to keep the Commandment that gave rise to the legitimate question of, "What is work?" Where they lost it, however, was in their answer to the question and subsequent applications, something Jesus was highly critical of.

    Therein is my wariness of legalism. Perhaps I continue to suffer from PDS (Post-Dispensationalism Syndrome), a symptom of which is a latent antinomianism. I have to think about that.

    Nevertheless, I keep thining about the promise of the New Covenant in Jer. 31:33-34 which strongly suggests that while the Moral Law is still in force under the New Covenant, the living of it is a little subjective. What I mean is, I think the notion of Christian liberty is hinted at there and explained more fully by Paul. I realise the Confessions limit liberty (ironic, isn't it?) to the idea of liberty to serve Christ, but, frankly I think they got it wrong (I know that sounds like blasphemy to some) and narrowed it too far. In his discussions on liberty, especially in 1 Corinthians 7-10, Paul was aware that the idea of liberty could be seen as antinomian on one hand and lead to license on the other. Bot are, obviously errors, but the very discussion strongly suggests that the Divines' definition of Christian liberty was too narrow.

    We both agree on the 4th Commandment but not on the application of it. I can take a nap to a football game on Sunday afternoon with a clear conscience; you cannot. Both Jeremiah and Paul would suggest we are both right.

    [Edited on 1-5-2006 by kevin.carroll]
     
  12. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Kevin,
    Are the football players sinning by working? They have 6 other days to play their games on.......They worship money, not God!
     
  13. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Henry,

    A good question to ask yourself is (and for that matter for all of us to ask), "Was God just in prescribing the death penalty for Sabbath breakers in the OT". Not arguing for the continuation thereof. It is questions like this that will search our hearts to determine that when we revolt against the thought of such a thing - why are we doing it? Are we more gracious or just than God? Of course there are both continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New and everyone is discussing what those are but during the Old , all was well.

    Hebrews 2 (ESV)
    1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

    NIV
    2For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment,

    Again, not arguing for the continuation of it but a sober reflection that it deserved it at least back then.

    [Edited on 1-5-2006 by crhoades]
     
  14. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    :amen: :up:

    Excellent comment, Scott!!
     
  15. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Chris say:
    "Again, not arguing for the continuation of it but a sober reflection that it deserved it at least back then."

    I interpret this to mean that by "not arguing for the continuation" of the death penalty for Sabbath breakers, you may want to discontinue - or stop obeying - this law.

    In one sense, this makes me feel good because it means I can continue to exercise on the Sabbath without fear of punishment.

    On the other hand, my big issue continues. Why do we insist that one part of Ex. 35 is still binding, yet the part immediately afterwards should no longer be applied?

    It is sort of funny in a way. This is like a Christianity 101 type question.
    A five year old would say that killing a Sabbath breaker is crazy.

    Yet this moral vs ceremonial thing just does not wash for me, as of yet.

    When I was healthier, I visited a lot of churches. Each said it knows how to "rightly discern" the Bible.

    I think the Reformed churches come closest, yet here we are.

    Exodus 35:
    "For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord (we obey). Whoever does any work on it must be put to death (we do not obey)."
     
  16. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Henry,
    I believe it has been said previously that the ceremonial aspects to the law have been abrogated, hence, the portion of scripture commanding the death sentence is moot.

    Have you endeavored reading the material I linked you to?
     
  17. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    In reply to Scott:

    I read some of the material, but not all yet.

    My understanding is that both parts of Ex. 35 would be moral law.
     
  18. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    To clarify the above post

    1) I define moral law as timeless - applying all the time.
    Example: it is never right to murder - not during Cain's time, nor Moses' time, nor Paul's time

    2) I define ceremonial law as specific to a limited time
    Example: ceremonial laws for the Jews until Jesus

    I have never seen a definitive Bible definition of this terms.

    So my problem becomes: how can one part of Ex. 35 be moral,and the second part thereafter be ceremonial?

    The links Scott and Peter provided did not answer that question, however I did not have the energy to go everything as of yet.

    I not focused on the Sabbath issue. I no longer work on Sunday anyway - except for exercise.

    My bigger issue is Bible interpretation. This was a huge problem for me when I attended the Vineyard church. It all started when they told me that they follow the Bible 100%, and I noticed they had divorced pastors, female pastors, male leaders with long hair, female leaders with short hair.....
     
  19. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Obviously, historically, your understanding of the moral law is wrong as we do not put to death anyone any longer for breaking the Sabbath. No one in church history believes this.

    As I have said, it is part of the ceremonial aspect and has been done away with.
     
  20. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Another concern:

    I realize there is ample evidence in the OT for the Sabbath rules.

    However, in the NT there are a number of clear exceptions noted:

    - Jesus did not reprimand his disciples for picking barley on the Sabbath (an interesting analogy because manna appears to be similar to barley)
    - Jesus implied that it was OK to pull your donkey out of a well on the Sabbath
    - when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, he said it was OK to do good on the Sabbath
    - to my knowledge, Jesus never reprimmanded anyone for breaking the Sabbath

    But I do not want to debate the Sabbath per se. My larger issue is how do we "rightly discern" the numerous Bible commandments?

    This moral vs ceremonial thing is hard to apply consistently in Ex. 35.

    Do you see my dilemma?
     
  21. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Samuel Rutherford, Divine Right of Church Government, (1646), pages 493-494:

     
  22. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Your dilemma is clearly solved by the historical church's consistancy in defining what has been abrogated, what was ceremonial and what is to be considered moral.

    Acts of mercy, i.e. care of the sick, Oxen or car in a ditch, going to the store for emergent medical supplies/food are within the law.

    As far as Jesus reprimanding anyone, surely you believe he kept the law perfectly, this to include the sabbath. he Himself said that not one jot or tittle would pass away from the law till all be fulfilled.
     
  23. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Scott said:

    "Obviously, historically, your understanding of the moral law is wrong as we do not put to death anyone any longer for breaking the Sabbath. No one in church history believes this.

    As I have said, it is part of the ceremonial aspect and has been done away with."



    I guess my definition of moral law and ceremonial law is wrong.

    The part of Ex. 35 that says thou shall not work on the Sabbath is moral and still binding, yet the part immediately thereafter is no longer binding because...........it is ceremonial.......it is ceremonial because...........because what?.........why is one part moral, and the other not?



    I think a better answer would be this:
    We no longer kill Sabbath breakers because it would violate one of God's two GREATEST commandments. That is, love your neighbour.

    The first part of Ex. 35 USUALLY complies to the "love your neighbour" commandment because it provides rest.

    If your neighbour is starving, the first part may not apply because a little work may provide him with food - which is "loving your neighbour." This is good.

    Jesus said it was OK to do good on the Sabbath. It was OK to heal people, to "yank" your donkey out of a well, etc.

    The second part of this passage is not loving under almost all circumstances.
    Killing people is ALMOST never good (except in self-defense, etc.).

    I do not think the moral vs ceremonial thing answers the apparent contridiction in Ex. 35. I think Jesus' two greatest commandments apply.

    Am I about to be burned as a heretic?

    Applying Jesus' two greatest commandments smacks of situational ethics.

    Anyway..me bad?
     
  24. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Scott said:
    "As far as Jesus reprimanding anyone, surely you believe he kept the law perfectly, this to include the sabbath."



    Surely, I do believe Jesus kept the law.

    However, I believe when he healed the sick man, he was upholding a law superior to the Sabbath law. That is, the law of "loving your neighbour."

    Yanking a donkey out of a well would appear to violate the OT Sabbath law because to my knowledge there are no exceptions allowed in the OT Sabbath laws.

    There are exceptions allowed in the WCF - but the WCF is not canon.

    When you make exceptions to the Sabbath laws for doctors, dairy farmers, etc., which OT passages do you use?

    If you rely on Jesus' two greatest commandments, you open a really big can of worms. This can of worms is called situational ethics.



    Lord, please forgive me where I am wrong with this. I am no Bible expert.
     
  25. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    The best thing to do at this point Henry would be to stop typing and read the stuff I sent you. Seriously; It has nothing to do with the great commandment or situational ethics....but what do I know?
     
  26. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    I shall continue reading the information, Scott.

    Just one final question.

    Why do we accept one part of Ex. 35 in which thou shall not work on the Sabbath, yet not comply with the other part in which we are to kill Sabbath breakers?

    Why do you people refer to the WCF for exceptions to the Sabbath rule, and not to the Old Testament?

    On this note, I believe it is best for me to depart this thread.

    I fear we are going around in circles.

    The best guideline to the exceptions question appears to be Jesus' statement that it is permissable to do good on the Sabbath. But this would allow Christians to do all kinds of good works - like physical exercise.

    But, I shall depart this thread. I have an extreme minority view.

    I thought I was a Calvinist because I agree with his interpretation to Romans 9. But now I see I have to review my Calvinist leanings.
    Have a great day. Goodbye.
     
  27. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Henry,

    Exodus 35 is not where the Sabbath command was introduced. It was introduced in Genesis 2:3, with no death penalty explicitly threatened at that point.

    In fact, the death penalty wasn't even instituted for murder until the days of Noah, in Genesis 9.

    But years later, the death penalty was instituted for Sabbath breaking.

    So, you see, when Exodus 35 was written, it was combining the eternal command with a temporary judicial consequence. The command has been around since the very beginning, because it is a moral law, and the command remains in effect today. But the specific judicial consequence was *not* in effect from the beginning. It was added later, and we have good reason to believe that it was repealed thereafter. But in any case, we know that it wasn't included from the beginning.

    I think you need to start with Genesis 2:3, not with Exodus 35.
     
  28. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    :ditto: to Joseph's suggestion.

    Because it is the ceremonial aspect of the command and as I have said, which I'm sure you'd agree with if you'd really think this through, i.e. the Jew had limitations on what he ate in the OT under the same ceremonial law, yet in the NT God has abrogated that portion as it was ceremonial.

    [Edited on 1-5-2006 by Scott Bushey]
     
  29. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Scott ? ? ?


    That is crazy. There is no point in dividing any of the ten commandments into moral and ceremonial aspect. When did Christ or the Apostles do that ?

    And where is any ceremonial law said to be abrogated ? I thought they were fulfilled, once and for all by Christ. The reason we are not put to death for breaking the sabbath is because the purpose of Israel being a nation set apart for the special revelation of God throughout history and the chosen lineage for the messiah has been accomplished. The weight of the commandments to show us the seriousness of sin remains. All sin bears a death penalty if you really think about it. But the civil purpose of Israel being set apart as a nation is completed.
     
  30. Mr Peabody

    Mr Peabody Inactive User

    I am a fireman, and find it easy to trade days to get Sunday off. Most find it a slow day, and there's always a football game on.

    Someone once called it the "cream of time" and someone else called it "the market day of the soul." I love it. The Sabbath is for man. Best day of the week.
     
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