4. Making Something Holy, the Ark of the Covenant, and Sabbath

Some Sabbatarian Christians claim that since God made the Sabbath holy it is incumbent upon all Christians to observe this day and keep it holy. But in regards to making something holy, God blessed and made holy many things. Some examples include the altar (Exodus 29:37), the sin offerings the Israelites made (Exodus 30:10), and the priestly garments of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 39:41). Should it then be said that since these were declared holy by God they should have some special place in our worship of God today? The fact that God made something holy does not necessarily mean that it is holy for all time.

Some also say that since Scripture presents the seventh day as "a sabbath of the Lord" (Exodus 20:8) that all Christians are obligated to observe this day. This is based on two assumptions. First, the Sabbath belongs to God; and second, if something belongs to God then it becomes mandatory. But if this is true, what of all the other "LORD's appointed times" of the Old Covenant? A reading of Leviticus reveals that in addition to the weekly Sabbath (23:3), there are seven annual sabbaths (23:5, 23:6-8, 23:10-14, 23:15-21, 23:23-25, 23:27-32, 23:33-44), grain offerings (10:12), burnt offerings (5:11-12), tabernacle services (17:3-4), peace offerings (19:5-8), the offering of firstborn animals (27:26), Sabbatical years (25:1-7), and Jubilee years (25:8-12, 20-21). All these "sabbaths," "appointed times", and "offerings" were called "holy" and said to be "to the LORD" or "of the LORD." If one were to argue that the seventh-day Sabbath is binding because it belongs to God, it is "of the LORD" or "to the Lord", then to be consistent that person would have to argue also for the binding nature of all the other Old Covenant "sabbaths", "appointed times", and "offerings" that are also "of the LORD" or "to the LORD." So this particular argument does not provide evidence for obligatory weekly Sabbath observance.

Some go on further to say that since the Ten Commandments were placed in the Ark of the Covenant while the other larger body of so-called ceremonial laws were not indicate that they have a greater significance and therefore must be kept or observed. But there were other items placed within the Ark as well. It also contained a golden jar of manna and Aaron's staff that had blossomed (Hebrews 9:3-4). Since these items were in the Ark along with the two tablets of stone, on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments, should they hold some kind of special significance or observance for us today? Should these items have some special place in our worship of God today? Another question to ask is this: Where is the Ark now? Some Biblical scholars speculate where it might be hidden, but the fact is it is not among us today. And it seems fitting that it has disappeared, since this whole covenant has faded away. Christians live under a new covenant brought about by the work of Christ on our behalf. So this argument in favor of required Sabbath observance does not seem to be a very good one since, as shown earlier, it was the sign of the Old Covenant.

Another argument for mandatory Sabbath observance involves the fact that since Jesus performed miracles and other good works on the Sabbath, He did this in reformation of the day from the burdensome Sabbath regulations laid down by the Jewish religious leaders of the day. The argument continues that He would not have reformed something that was about to pass away. But during His ministry, Jesus reformed other aspects of the Old Covenant which were destined to pass away. During the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, He sought to bring reform regarding the way people were offering sacrifices in connection with interpersonal relationships (Matthew 5:23-24). Jesus sought to bring reform to the services performed in the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:12-14; John 2:13-17). Yet at His death on the cross, the "veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (Matthew 27:51), indicating that the offering of sacrifices and other temple services had already served their purpose and were finished. It seems that though Christ did bring reform to the Sabbath, His primary purpose in doing so was to fulfill it by providing a clear picture of the true rest in Him, of which the Sabbath typified.

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