Covenant Sign

The Sabbath is a “sign” between God and man (cf. Ezek. 20:12, 20). A sign cannot be abolished, so it lasts forever. Take, for instance, the rainbow. It is a sign between God and man that He will not destroy the earth again with water. The rainbow in heaven tells of the “covenant of peace.” The rainbow is a sign produced by the operation of natural laws following the changes in precipitation organized by God. It becomes a fitting symbol of a “covenant between God and man relative to a great natural convulsion.”[1] How much more is the Sabbath a sign! It is a sign between God and His people (cf. Exod. 31:13, 17). Today, the Sabbath represents the existence of a particular relationship between God and His end-time people.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11257
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Under the new covenant of grace, the reality is that I have Jesus Christ living in my born again heart 24/7. My moment by moment rest is in the finished work of Christ on the cross and his resurrection, sealed for eternity by the Spirit of life whose promise is that He will never leave me. By grace and grace alone I have entered God’s rest through Christ crucified and risen.

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Youssry, thank you for this essay, nicely done - Ultimately, for those of us who may still be living when the beast enforces his own mark in open challenge to God’s authority, it will be a test of faith and allegiance. Do we Love God and want to serve Him?, or do we believe the beast and his cunning lies as to why we don’t need to do that anymore, as @ray seems to have fallen for.

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There’s a commandment that Christ received from His Father in John 10:17 and following.

John 10:17 "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it back. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it back. This commandment I received from My Father.”

In this light, Matthew 9:6 was written so we can know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.

In John 2:18 the Jews asked Jesus point blank for the sign of His authority. The answer is crystal clear. The sign of Christ’s authority is his death and resurrection. The disciples finally got it after the resurrection actually happened. And with this message they turned the world up-side-down.

Nothing challenges, no, infuriates, Satan and the powers of evil more than Christ’s authority to forgive sins and the authority that His death and resurrection affords Him.

The cross and the empty tomb are the only sign we need. No, Christ’s death and resurrection are more than a sign. They are the divine reality of the new creation in the gospel. They are the guarantee of God’s covenant of grace offered to the whole human race. Christ’s authority is the new covenant in His own precious blood.

As important as the original creation was, as sinners, our only hope is the new creation in Christ’s death and resurrection. Perhaps to get our priorities right, we need to take a long hard look at the first commandment before we look at the fourth.

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The sabbath? Are you dismissing passages like Lev 23?

i don’t think it’s the article “the” that is always associated with the 7th day sabbath…you may be thinking of the possessive pronoun “my”, which generally is associated with the 7th day sabbath…

I’m trying to come to terms with the opening sentence in this article, especially as it relates to Ezekiel 20:12, 20… “The Sabbath is a “sign” between God and man.” Does “man” in this quotation mean the whole of mankind through all human time or does it mean the childen of Israel at a stated period of their history? I think my problem is that I’m reading the whole chapter of Ezekiel 20. I should add that the article is a well presented summary of what I was taught in the Seventh-day Adventist church from my youth up.

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Brother Ray, you are mixing things up a bit, Christ’s authority (including that to forgive sins) has never been in question, nor has ever changed. The verses you are referring to in John 2 speak about temple merchants who were attempting to replace Christ’s authority to forgive sins through offering cheap salvation in exchange for money (not unlike what the Catholic Church has done and continues to do today).
In addition, the Covenant of Grace has always been the same since the foundation of the world. Jesus told at least two people: “your sins are forgiven” before He died on the cross, and of course millions upon millions before His earthly ministry were forgiven looking forward in faith to the promise of His sacrifice. Since the cross, people are forgiven through their faith looking back to the cross. The Gospel preached by Paul (Acts 13:38) is not different that the promise made to Adam and Eve. The covenant has NOT ever changed.

God’s authority begins with His creative power (God created the world in six days and called the 7th holy), including the power to give life, and it is inextricably linked to the Plan of Salvation through His death. The Sabbath is the sign of the perpetual covenant He made with man at creation and then confirmed it with a promise of redemption after we failed, which He then followed it through all the way to the cross.
It is easy for us to say we accept His covenant in faith, but then, should we not feel at least constrained by this infinite love to live out this covenant in faith by remembering it (Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy) in deed?.
Thanks for reading

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Unless you can show me from Scripture, this statement is one of a number of assumptions made in support of the church’s teaching on the Sabbath doctrine.

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The Sabbath is the sign of the Mosaic Covenant God made with Israel.

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Agreed. Only I can’t come to terms with the whole article. It’s so off base regarding the Sabbath, who it was given to, and exactly what covenant it was a sign of.

This doesn’t happen in the SDA Church. The Sabbath was full of stress and busyness.

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This article starts off with a resounding thud. It claims from the prophet’s message addressed specifically to Israel that the sabbath is a covenant sign given to all mankind. Talk about a total disregarding of immediate context, in order to pound ones theological hobby horse.

Ezekiel 20:12, 20 are addressed specifically to Israel. Not to anyone else. Not to the Gentile world of its day, or of anytime. It pointed to sabbath observance as the visible sign of the Mosaic covenant under which the Israelites were to live and be identified as the people of God. It was established at Sinai. It is the very covenant that Paul says later in Galatians that Gentile believers in Jesus are not to be brought under. It was the covenant that he said gave birth to slavery, and whose time was over.

Additionally, seventh day sabbath is referred to in the commandments as a sabbath, not the sabbath. The Hebrew article is indefinite. This lends to the idea that the weekly observance was seen as part of a wider complex of sabbatical ordinances in the Torah, including seventh year and jubilee observances. They were all designed to foster justice, restoration, and equality within Israelite society. Within the combined scope of all of them, workers and even animals were to be treated humanely, slaves to be released, and land to be restored to the dispossessed.

The entire complex pointed beyond itself to new creation, the time of the messianic age to come. This was seen by rabbis, and reached its fulfillment in Jesus the messiah. He brought the year of jubilee, the dawn of the true sabbath rest of God through his work of healing, freedom, and restoration, the fulfillment of the sabbatical shadows. It is why Colossians included the seventh day in the shadows pointing to the reality… the crucified and risen Christ.

The denomination keeps emphasizing the shadows, when the transformative and liberating reality of the risen messiah has come, and is here through his spirit. He will consummate what he has already launched… the new creation of God.

Thanks…

Frank

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Following on from your comments which are important and relevant, in my experience SDA theology has always had problems with the covenants. This statement from Lesson 10 Sunday says a lot.

" It is clear: The new covenant is not something much different from the old covenant made with Israel on Mount Sinai."

I simply cannot accept this statement, and I find the explanations that follow confusing and a little contradictory. In so much that is written in Adventism these days about the Sabbath, I see too many verses taken out of context. There are attempts to read into verses what is already believed rather than letting the passages speak for themselves. To claim that the new covenant is a renewal of the old covenant from Sinai is human speculation as I understand it.

In their attempts to redefine the meaning of the Sabbath in salvation terms, church theologians are detracting from a clear understanding of the new covenant, the centrality of the cross and the meaning of Christ’s finished work in his death and resurrection. The new covenant is the reality under which we as Christians live. Everything the old covenant pointed forward to has been fulfilled in Christ so why live in the shadows of an obsolete covenant?

In effect, some are putting the Sabbath on a level with Christ. Colossians 2:16,17 come to mind. The reality is that the Seventh-day Adventist church is defined by the Sabbath. It’s very roots are in present truth being the Sabbath and the shut door. The church in subtle ways is still trying to shut the door on Christians who worship on Sunday and not Saturday. This to me doesn’t sit well in light of the first commandment of the decalogue.

It was God who rested from his work of creation on the seventh day and it’s Christ crucified and risen that gives us entry into God’s rest through the gospel as we read in Hebrews 4. This is our divine rest every moment of every day. This to me is true rest of heart and soul that rest from work one day in seven can never give.

Everything in the old covenant, in the law of Moses, in the commandments, in the ceremonies has its fulfilment in Christ crucified and risen and living in our hearts. Peace and rest and salvation are ours in Christ and Christ alone, not in a law, or in a covenant that the children of Israel found impossible to keep, a covenant that was meant to point them forward to the Messiah as their saviour.

I’ve said enough to condemn myself in the eyes of many Seventh-day Adventists. But when I see the new covenant of grace through Christ’s shed blood and his resurrection being overshadowed by teachings about the old covenant and the Sabbath I find it difficult to remain silent. I have no issue with Sabbath as a corporate day of worship. It’s what SDA docrine has done to the Sabbath at the expense of the centrality of the cross that I take issue with.

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I hear you Ray… Adventism makes a mess of the historical covenants because of its emphasis on sabbath observance. Continuity between the covenants is the whole picture. Their discontinuity is virtually ignored. Thus, letters like Galatians and Romans, and what they are saying about the covenants, are rendered nearly nonsensical in the sabbath school quarterlies, or even in an article such as this.

Also, the idea of the sabbath as a continual sign and end time seal for followers of Jesus simply ignores clear statements in Paul’s letters, that identify the Spirit as the seal, and that its presence and transforming power visibly indicate that believers in Christ belong to God, Jew or Gentile.

Frank

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this is inaccurate…the hebrew article for sabbath and seventh day in both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 is the definite article “the”, as illustrated in common interlinear bibles…

interestingly the KJV and the 1978 NIV maintain a uniform use of the definite article “the” for sabbath and seventh day in these passages…

even more interestingly, the catholic bible substitutes the definite article “the” with the indefinite article “a” in Exodus 20:10, although it preserves the definite article “the” in Exodus 20:8 and 12…It substitutes the definite article “the” with the indefinite article “a” in Deuteronomy 5:14, although it preserves the definite article “the” in Deuteronomy 5:12 and 15…clearly, the jesuits know how to confuse things just enough, while covering their tracks…

the 2011 NIV(UK) follows the catholic bible’s lead, which isn’t too surprising…there’s been a lot of ecumenism developing with evangelicals, who likely saw a political need to alter the original NIV in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 (as they have other biblical texts that don’t agree with their predetermined mantras)…

the bottom line is that this issue is not what you’re claiming…the preponderance of evidence, even in the catholic bible, favours the definite article “the” for seventh day and sabbath in both biblical versions of the Ten Commandments, and not the indefinite article “a”…

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Glad to see you are commenting again! :blush:

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You guys (Jeremy, Frank) made me interested and I looked this up in the Hebrew Bible. I see many definite articles, e.g. in Exodus 20:8, Exodus 20:11, Deut 5:12, Deut 5:15.

Maybe @frank_merendino meant Exodus 20:10 and Deut 5:14:

But the seventh day is Shabbat of YHWH, your God…

There are textual variants, like:

But on the seventh day is Shabbat of YHWH, your God…

Yes, “Shabbat” does not have a definite article here. Do you mean these sentences, Frank? @frank_merendino

Oh please, Jeremy. I thought we have moved on already.

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We may be keeping the Sabbath because of a reason that is never mentioned in Adventist circles, but somehow is so obvious, so near to our eyes, that we can‘t see it: Jesus was dead on a Sabbath. That‘s the most unthinkable event ever. For eternity. That makes it worth to remember! This death in time is the ultimate expression of who God really is. That justifies it to be at the center of the law. That explains why the argument for its keeping changes from Exodus 20 to Deuteronomy 5: arguments that are exchangeable are not final reasons. Every child knows that when mama says something else than papa, there must be a hidden reason that is yet to be discovered. The death of Christ is a historical fact, that‘s why the abstraction of celebrating it on friday or sunday fails to do it justice. Birthdays have to be celebrated on the right day, otherwise the forgetting starts. Wiping out the Sabbath is the way to make Golgotha go forgotten and to finally get rid of God. (Could that be the demonic motive behind the attempt to extinguish the Jews in the holocaust?) God may always have known that his ultimate revelation would once happen on a Sabbath. And it was caused by - evil! God uses the accident of darkest nothing for the exposure of his truest self. The Sabbath is the core of the law because it expresses the core of God‘s loving and sacrificial character as nothing else.

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Pat, sorry to say that I don’t follow your logic.

According to this logic, the most unthinkable day should be remembered. Well what about Friday, the day of the cross, or resurrection day (Sunday)? Both days that you pretty fast wipe away. The day, when Jesus finished redemption on the cross or the day when he rose from death and was victorious over the power of death? I am not saying we have to keep these days, just following your logic.

But the birthday of the new creation was Sunday. The birthday of the church was Pentecost Sunday. What kind of birthday was on Sabbath? No birthday at all. I am not dismissing what Jesus did for us on this day, though.

This would mean all Christians forgot Golgatha and got rid of God except SDAs and other sabbatarians. We have a sign that points us to Golgatha over and over again: the Lord’s Supper/Communion. “Do this in remembrance of me…” “This [note: not the Sabbath] is the new covenant in my blood”

If Christ’s sacrifice or His resurrection would have happened on a Sabbath, I would agree with this sentence. But it didn’t. “It is finished” was on a Friday. “He is risen” was on a Sunday.

You do not need to make the Sabbath mysteriously woven into the redemption plan to make it a blessed tool for you or our faith community. It is a blessed tool, part of a certain spirituality, and not part of the salvation process.

I do not understand. Have I misunderstood you? Please clarify.

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Hmm, Kate, my view is a speculation! Take it with a curious heart. But yes, what you comment are also misunderstandings. I put a lot in a very condensed way in my short comment.

  1. Yes, friday is memorable for the cross, sunday for the resurrection. But, again in a very condensed way, they are not outstanding. Why not? To get killed by a mob has happened to others. And for a Sinless resurrection is to be expected. But what was going on during that Sabbath at Golgotha that nobody talks about? There is the truly insane part happening! If God had healed many times on a Sabbath, how on earth could Jesus remain dead a full day?!

  2. Mentioning a birthday happens here as an abstraction. I‘m not talking about Jesus‘ birthday. I‘m talking about a special event to remember and take birthdays as an example, that everybody can relate to personally. Like your own birthday. I also could have mentioned a wedding day. Everybody knows the feeling when someone important in their life misses the right date for the memory.

  3. I stay with my view: forgetting the Sabbath is the first small step of forgetting God as he revealed himself. The communion that you mention as memory sign is about exactly this: the death of Christ. It doesn‘t disturb the picture. It‘s striking to me how the two big world religions try to shift the attention to either friday or sunday. Why not the Sabbath?

  4. The „it is finished“ marked the beginning, the resurrection marked the end of the Sabbath. (Okay, that‘s another speculation. We actually don‘t know when he resurrected. We only know when it was discovered. Christians who claim this to be the reason for sunday observance stand actually on a very shaky ground.)

  5. I‘m not needing to weave the Sabbath „mysteriously“ in the redemption plan. Yes. But there are mysteries that such a speculation could explain like no other answer I have ever heard. The major one of them is: Why the heck is the Sabbath law included in the ten commandments? And why is it even at the center of the law? That‘s the position that in Hebrew texts was given to the most important message. Why did the reason for the keeping of the Sabbath change from Ex 20 to Deut 5? Wasn’t it a holiest text, written by God himself? And why should it be such a problem to shift the keeping of a weekly day of rest to, let‘s say, wednesday, if everybody agreed? Why should God be against it, if we reached worldwide unity by such a move? Do you have a better answer to all these questions? Mine would solve them all in an instant.

The salvation process is about what happens between you and God. Nothing else. You don‘t need to keep any day nor any other law for that. But if you wish to additionally be blessed through God‘s holy window in time, there is no escape and you may find out if you try. It‘s the same with all the laws.

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