In this lesson, we will continue to consider some common arguments for observing the Sabbath.
16. He added No More. After The Ten Commandments were set forth (Deuteronomy 5:1-21), we are told that, “He added no more” (Deuteronomy 5:22). This, again, is thought to set The Ten Commandments apart as special.
First, what is meant? Roy Hearn has written, “This does not mean that God did not give other laws, but He added no more in an audible voice to the assembly” (Editor Curtis Cates, The Book of Exodus, p. 125, MSOP Lectureship). This is correct (Exodus 20:18-21; 21:1; 25:9, 40; Deuteronomy 5:22-27; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5, etc.).
Second, this argument is weak. It in no way implies that The Ten Commandments are still binding.
17. Moses and Rest. In order to try to prove that the Sabbath was being kept before the Exodus, some have appealed to Exodus 5:1-5. Pharaoh said, “Why do you take the people from their work… You make them rest from their labor!”
First, should the Sabbath-day be understood every time the word “rest” is used? Surely not.
Second, the “rest,” in context, seems to refer to the three-day leave requested (Exodus 5:3). There is not reason to infer the Sabbath is meant. Third, how would this prove the Sabbath is binding on all of mankind, and binding even today? Animal sacrifices were offered under Patriarchal times and under Mosaic times. However, Sabbatarians do not believe that such should be offered today. A similar point could be made about circumcision.
18. No Respect of Persons (Partiality). It is reasoned that since God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; 1 Peter 1:17), then the Sabbath had to be given to all of humanity.
I believe that this is a great misuse of the word. God shows no partiality in judgment and salvation. However, it is an overreach to say that God always give the same things to everyone. Consider: (1) Circumcision (Genesis 17:12-14); (2) Law of Moses (Romans 3:1-2); (3) Miraculous gifts (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).
19. James. This argument comes from James 2:10-11. In illustrating that one is not to pick and choose which commandments to follow, James quotes from The Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:14 (Deuteronomy 5:18); Exodus 20:13 (Deuteronomy 5:17)]. Some have inferred from this that The Ten Commandments are still in force.
First, it should be pointed out that James 2:8 quotes from Leviticus 19:18. This is from outside The Ten Commandments. W. Curtis Porter remarked, “If mentioning two of the ten binds all ten on us, then mentioning one of the commandments of Moses would bind all of the Law of Moses on us. There is no way to escape this conclusion (A.N. Dugger – W. Curtis Porter Debate, p. 40).
Second, each passage quoted reflects teachings which are clearly taught in the New Testament. This is admitted by all. However, this is not the case with the Sabbath day.
20. What God Does Lasts. Various passages are used to support this position (e.g., Ecclesiastes 3:14; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, the sabbath must last.
Sabbatarians do not consistently believe in this argument. They believe that Ceremonial Law has been removed (Colossians 2:16-17).
21. Ceremonial Law/Moral Law (again). Sabbatarians insist that a distinction should be made between Ceremonial Law and Moral Law. (1) Some try to distinguish between Moses’ Law and God’s Law. (2) Some try to distinguish between covenants given under Moses.
First, the distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of God, or the Law of the LORD is lacking. (1) The Law of Moses and the Law of God/LORD are sometimes used interchangeably (e.g. Nehemiah 8:1/8:8; Luke 2:22/2:23-24). (2) God gave the Law of Moses (Ezra 7:6). Moses gave the Law of God (Nehemiah 10:29). (3) God gave the Book of the Law of Moses (Nehemiah 8:8). Moses gave the Book of the Law of the LORD (2 Chronicles 34:14). (4) Some things Sabbatarians consider Ceremonial Law is called “the Law of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 31:3), and The Ten Commandments are introduced as “For Moses said…” (Mark 7:10). Second, the Bible speaks of only one covenant being made at Horeb, or Sinai (Deuteronomy 29:1; 1 Kings 8:9; Hebrews 9:1-4). God made one Covenant with Israel at Horeb, which was repeated and renewed at Moab (Deuteronomy 29:1). This covenant included the two tables of stone (1 Kings 8:9) and ordinances of divine service (Hebrews 9:1-4). Kevin L. Cunningham comments of Hebrews 9:1-4, “This covenant contained the tables of the covenant, The Ten Commandments, and the ordinance. No distinction is made between the covenant that had ordinances and another covenant that contained the ark of the covenant and the tables of the covenant” (Kevin L. Cunningham, The Sabbath, The Law, and The New Covenant, p. 20).
22. Jesus Said. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18).
First, it says that Jesus did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them. The word “destroy” (kataluo) can mean “to overthrow i.e., render vain, deprive of success, bring to naught” (Thayer). The first word “fulfill” (pleroo) means “to make full…to complete” (Thayer). The second word “fulfilled” (ginomai) can mean “bring to be” (Thayer). Jesus did not come to deprive the Law and the Prophets of success. Instead, He came to “fulfill” them and He did (Luke 24:25-27; 24:44-47; Acts 3:18; 8:30, 35; 17:11; 18:28; 26:22-23; 28:23).
Second, it says that not the smallest detail will pass away until all be fulfilled. The reference is to the things concerning the Christ (cf. Luke 24:25-27; 24:44-47; John 19:28; Acts 3:18, etc.). The word “till” tells us what will happen up to that point in time, not what happens afterwards. Things may change afterwards (e.g. Matthew 1:25; Luke 15:4, 8; 16:16; Acts 23:12, 21); or, things may not change (e.g. Genesis 46:34; 2 Samuel 6:23; Matthew 28:15; Acts 23:1).
Third, it says till heaven and earth pass not one jot or one tittle would pass from the law till all be fulfilled. The reference to “heaven and earth” is an idiom of certainty. Luke 16:17 reads, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” Wayne Jackson comments, “Until the time of its final goal arrived… it would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the Mosaic law to be abrogated” (Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary, p. 9).
Fourth, notice that it not only mentions the Law, but also the Prophets. [The Hebrew Bible was sometimes divided into two major parts: the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17; 7;12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16; 16:29; 24:27; John 1:45; Acts 13:15; 24:14; 28:23; Romans 3:21). It was sometimes divided into three major parts: the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms or Writings (Luke 24:44; Josephus Against Apion 1:38-40). Jews today commonly call their Bible the Tanakh (T=Torah, Law; N=Nevi’im, Prophets; K=Ketuvim, Writings)]. If this passage teaches that the Law and the Prophets continue, then more is in view than The Ten Commandments.