This is the 2nd post in a series, for the previous post please click HERE
“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Col 2:16-17 ESV
I was taught as SDA that the above verse was not speaking about the weekly Sabbath at all but only the “Ceremonial Sabbaths” such as the Passover. I accepted this as a child, however these days I have a hard time believing that 1st century Christians reading this passage for the first time could have arrived at such a notion naturally. Just think about it for a second, does it seem logical at all that the first time this was read aloud there would have been Christians nudging each other to say “Psssst…. Paul is really only speaking about the non-weekly Sabbaths he just forgot to put it that way…”.
That is my take on it now, however by rightly dividing the word of God we can discern whether or not Paul includes the weekly Sabbath in the above verse.
However, since I am only an “Armchair Theologian” I am going to quote an expert. Pastor Greg Taylor puts it like this in his book “Discovering the New Covenant” on Page 68 and 69:
“It is crystal clear in these verses that Paul is specifically addressing the New Covenant interpretation of the Old Covenant Jewish Laws. No other religion emphasized circumcision, food laws, and Sabbaths. There can be no confusion as to what Paul is addressing here. Paul is telling the Colossians not to let these people, who were trying to push their Jewish religious views and customs on the Gentile believers, lay a guilt trip on them about the food laws, the festivals new moons, or the Sabbaths. Because these were a part of the system that prefigured, or pointed to Christ. “They were a shadow of things to come”…..
“Throughout the Old Testament this same Construction is used [‘festival or a new moon or a Sabbath’] . Paul was simply reiterating a formula that was used repeatedly to refer to the entire old system, including the seventh-day Sabbath. This same construction is found in ascending or descending order repeatedly throughout the Old Testament. There can be no mistake what he meant. The “Sabbaths” in this common Old Testament construction always refer to the weekly Sabbath. To try to make this Colossians passages refer to the ceremonial festival Sabbaths ignores this construction.”
“Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the regular arrangement of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the Lord our God, as ordained forever for Israel.” 2 Ch 2:4 ESV
“And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening, and whenever burnt offerings were offered to the Lord on Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, according to the number required of them, regularly before the Lord.” 1 Ch 23:30-31 ESV
“We also take on ourselves the obligation to give yearly a third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, the regular grain offering, the regular burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed feasts, the holy things, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God” Neh 10:32-33 ESV
“And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them.” Hos 2:11-12 ESV
Above you can see that scripture has interpreted scripture. Col 2:16-17 must certainly include the weekly Sabbath. To infer otherwise is eisegesis (reading into the text one’s pre-conceived notions).
So how are these Sabbaths, New moons, and Appointed feasts a “shadow of things to come”? Understanding that the Sabbath was a shadow and now “obsolete” may be theologically correct but it isn’t enough to stop there. Instead, we should find out what was meant by that shadow and let the Bible come alive. I cannot explain this better than Dale Ratzlaff does in his Book Sabbath in Christ Page 72:
“Each of the Sabbaths pointed them forward with hope to the next sabbatical event. The seventh-day Sabbath was a weekly reminder of the coming seasonal Sabbaths. The seasonal Sabbaths were a reminder of the coming sabbatical year. The sabbatical year was a reminder of the coming Jubilee. This kept of alive.”
To me this understanding shows how the whole Sabbath system pointed to Jesus Christ, who is our Sabbath rest now. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was for me to rely on Christ alone for my salvation. Keeping the Sabbath was always my “get of the end times alive” insurance card. I saw myself as extra saved, although I would have never worded it that way.
Could I be wrong about how Adventists view the Sabbath? Do they really teach that we must keep the Sabbath to be saved? I’ll let you make that call yourself after you read a quote from the “Clear Word for Kids Translation” put out by the SDA Church.
Col. 2:16-17, Easy English and Clear Word for Kids: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to go through certain rituals, eat certain foods, keep certain feasts, or observe extra Sabbaths to be saved…..”
Forgive me but this clearly seems to be implying that one must keep the old covenant Saturday Sabbath to be saved, and is directed squarely at the children. I actually had a clear word when I was growing up. If you want to learn more about the Clear Word please click HERE.