Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Further on the subject of the Jewish Sabbath and Holy Feasts...

by Diane M. Hoffmann
Further to previous posts on the subject of the Jewish Sabbath and Holy Feasts that some believe should be kept by Christians, I pick up from the last post on this issue to do with chapter 21 of the "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today", and expand on it some more.  Within this is covered also the issue of who are the Jews/Israelites.

Although the average readers of the book "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today" are not so much interested in this topic, I am diverging a bit in responding to this reader because of the seriousness of the issue. The subject is a complex one, thus my response in sequential posts, as I spend the time to cover further the layers and sub-issues of the beliefs of this movement which is taking astray so many Christians and non-Christans.

Following is the email comments from the reader in black and my response in green which I pick up from an earlier post:

“I was quite enjoying your book until I came to the chapter 21 on Jewish Feasts and Saturday Sabbath and frankly I was shocked at how badly you have treated this or these topics in comparison to how well you had treated most others.”

Firstly I have to make it clear that my treatise in the book is dealing only with the practical side of some of the errors of the teaching on Christians having to keep the Sabbath on Friday/Saturday as opposed to Sunday.
“This is not my ‘opinion’ below but it is what The Holy Bible clearly and repeatedly states…” (the reader quotes several scriptures which I refer to below in part and will continue in a next post.)
Then the reader continues: "Yes it is good to at least keep A Sabbath, especially after Jesus liberalized such things, but Scripture clearly instructs us to "remember THE Sabbath to keep IT Holy" and what Jesus did was not to change the Sabbath (which He kept religiously) but to remove the death penalty for failing to do so until there is a repentance."
Jesus kept the Sabbath, yes, and other Holy Days as well.  He was a Jew, living among the Jews, but His atoning death had not yet been consummated. Remember on the cross He cried out “It is finished”. That’s when His ultimate sacrifice became in effect. 
During His ministry, he was constantly attacked on the issue of the Sabbath where He responded that He was even the Lord of the Sabbath (chapter 12 verse 8). But they didn’t understand this yet, for He was going to give His life for that “fulfilment” of the shadows of things to come. Jesus not only “liberalized” but He actually fulfilled all the demands of the law in His death and Resurrection.
By the way, to the scriptures the reader quoted, one of them speaking of  "a sign for ever" or a "perpetual covenant" as being the interpretation for believers today to still have to keep the law,  a search of the word “perpetual” and "forever" shows that the Hebrew word used is ‘olam’ which means a thing concealed, a vanishing point, always as in continually, lasting, long time, etc.  It does not always refer to forever in the sense of never ever ending throughout eternity.

However in some scriptures, the same words, perpetual and forever, are from another Hebrew word. Based on the context of the scripture we can tell what the sense of it is. For example when a scripture refers to God's eternal glory as in Psalm 104:5, the same word is used and we know that it means eternal. However, even this is not always the case as we can see from Isaiah 57:15 where it speaks of God as the "lofty one that inhabits eternity"; here, the word in Hebrew for eternity is 'ad' which means a duration, everlasting, perpetuity. And in another scripture, Isaiah 60:15, speaking of Zion, the Hebrew word for 'eternal' is 'olam'.

In the Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, there is a whole page-and-a-half spent to explaining the varieties of meanings for this one word 'olam'.  One portion of it I quote: "(2) It more often refers to future time, in such a manner, that what is called the terminus ad quem (the goal, the object) is always defined from the nature of the thing itself. When it is applied to human affairs, and specially - (a) to individual men, it commonly signifies all the days of life, as a perpetual slave (not to be discharged as long as he lives)... poetically used as a beast, Job 40:28..." etc. The Lexicon goes on to show a multitude of examples to this effect.
So, the scriptures the reader refers to in the book of Exodus, in context, is actually saying: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual (olam) covenant.” (For a time concealed, till a vanishing point, always as in continually every day for a long time, etc. during their life time). 

How do we know this? Because that time came to an end in the New Covenant when God, through the death of Jesus Christ His Son (God in the flesh) gave His life on the cross, as the ultimate sacrifice that the previous ordinances could not permanently cover. This had been promised for over four thousand years, through the prophets and the shadows of the Feasts and Sabbaths of things to come… to the people living at that time, that four thousands years was an eternity!.  The explanation of all of this is given in the many books of the New Testament, especially Romans, Hebrews and others that specifically refer to the books of the Law in the Old Testament. (More on that in future posts).

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1-3).

But, we have to remember though, that the Jews/Israelites who are not born-again, who have not yet received the work of Jesus Christ on the cross in the New Covenant, are still continuing to keep the Sabbaths and Feasts... however these are not necessary for Salvation, because Salvation is by grace alone once repentance has taken place in the heart of the unsaved. 
 "Note that the Apostles continued "keeping" the original Sabbath and original Holy Days long after Jesus had departed so they certainly were not done away and they were only changed centuries later by a corrupted church for political reasons."
These issues are dealt with specifically in the book of Acts and Romans which were written just a few years after Christ’s death and resurrection. The apostles did go into synagogues, where there were gathered Jews, to teach them the good news of Jesus Christ and contend for the faith. The Christians began to worsip on Sunday – Resurrection day – immediately.

As for the Jewish Feasts, the reader commented:
"They are not "Jewish Feasts" - that's only a misnomer that became used when only the Jews were around to keep them, but originally they were given to ALL Israelites during Exodus before the nation of Israel was re-formed and before it broke apart."
This comment refers to those people today who believe in the “ten lost tribes of Israel”, making a distinction between Jews and Israelites. I deal with that in my next post in detail, as to who are the Israelites and the Jews. /dmh
Diane M. Hoffmann, B.Th., M.Th., Ph.D./Th.
Author of "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today"
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