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Changes in the Sabbath Law--Part 3

May 26, 2010

It took seven days of preparation and cleansing (Lev. 8:35) before the priests were consecrated on the eighth day (Lev. 9:1). It took seven days of cleansing after lepers were healed (Lev. 14:8) before he was able to join the congregation on the eighth day (Lev. 14:10).

When someone touched a dead body, it took seven days of separation (Num. 19:11) with cleansing ceremonies on the third day and the seventh day before he was "clean" in the evening--that is, after the full seven days had passed. (Num. 19:14). He was then clean on the eighth day.

The first-born of either man or beast had to remain with its mother for a full seven days and be presented to God on the eighth day (Ex. 22:29, 30). Circumcision also occurred on the eighth day at the time the son was presented to God.

Insofar as Timing is concerned, the wave-sheaf offering had to occur on the day after the Sabbath, in order to follow the laws of Sonship. The seven weeks of "counting the omer" ended with Pentecost, which was the 50th day. This same pattern is seen in the Year of Jubilee, which is the 50th year after seven Sabbath land rest cycles were complete (Lev. 25:10).

These are some of the laws of the eighth day that show the connection between the seven days of preparation-cleansing and the eighth day event.

Those who do not know the laws of the eighth day are not likely to have a good understanding of Sonship.

All of the feast days were Sabbaths, though everyone knows that they were not necessarily tied to the weekly Sabbath. This shows that the term can be (and is) applied in the law to any day that God chooses. Sometimes the application is made side by side, such as in Lev. 23:15, where God uses the term in the context of the seven weeks between the wave-sheaf offering and Pentecost.

"You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering, there shall be seven complete Sabbaths."

In other words, the sheaf of barley was waved on Sunday, the day after the weekly Sabbath. That was the first day of a seven-Sabbath count from Sunday to Sunday. These Sabbaths were given a new reference point, that is, a new starting point. The starting point was "the day after the (normal weekly) Sabbath."

In essence, the law was establishing a Sabbath from Barley Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. It was based on the resurrection and presentation of the Son, as we learn from the New Testament after the day was fulfilled. The disciples came to understand this, perhaps during the 40 days after the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to them each eighth day to fellowship and commune with them. He was establishing a pattern, jump-starting a new Sabbath day based upon the principle of Life and Sonship.

Hence, Jesus appeared to them on the same day as His resurrection. John 20:19 says,

"When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, Peace be with you."

There were two evenings, noon and sundown because Ex. 12:6 says they were kill the Passover lambs "between the two evenings," i.e., in the afternoon. Likewise, on this first day of the week, the "evening" was probably about the same time of day that Jesus had been crucified--the middle of the afternoon.

His second appearance to them is recorded in verse 26,

"And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, Peace be with you."

In other words, Jesus met with the disciples a week later on Sunday. The rest of Christ's appearances are left undated except for His ascension on the 40th day (Acts 1:3). Since John was the one who specifically dated His eighth-day appearances, it suggests that He is the one who first saw that Jesus was establishing the pattern of meeting with the believers for communion on the eighth-day Sabbath.

Whereas the previous Sabbath system was tied to His death through the feast of Passover, the new Sabbath was tied to His resurrection and to Sonship through the wave-sheaf and Pentecost.

If you go back, then, to the first time "Sabbath" is mentioned in Scripture, you will see that it is associated with the Manna cycle in Exodus 16. The people ran out of food and complained to Moses. God then told Moses to tell the people to begin gathering manna for six days and then there would be none on the seventh day (Ex. 16:4, 5).

The people would always know when Friday was, because there would be twice as much manna to carry them through the Sabbath, when there was no manna at all. In other words, the timing of the Sabbath was established by the manna itself. The start of this manna cycle is dated in verse 1 as being "the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt."

This is the day which God had in mind to become the Second Passover (Num. 9). Recall that if a person could not keep the regular Passover, due to being on a long journey or being unclean from touching a dead body, then he was to keep it a month later.

And so the manna cycle coincided with the Second Passover and is thus tied to this feast insofar as commemoration is concerned.

Likewise, we can see this from another perspective. God gave the law twice under Moses. The first law was Exodus; the second was Deuteronomy. The Exodus law was given at Sinai just two months after Israel left Egypt. The Deuteronomy law was given in the plains of Moab just before Moses died forty years later.

In the Exodus law, the Sabbath was to be kept holy, "for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day" (Ex. 20:11).

In the Deuteronomy law (5:15), the commemoration was different:

"And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore [for this reason] the Lord your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."

The difference is due to the fact that the people believed the evil report of the ten spies in Numbers 13 and 14. Something changed after the Exodus law was given to them. The people were scheduled to enter God's Rest on the 50th Jubilee from Adam. Caleb and Joshua urged them to have faith, but they refused. Heb. 3:19 says, "And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief."

Again, in Heb. 4:3 we read,

"For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said: 'As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter MY REST'."

The Exodus law speaks of God's Rest, which was the origin of the Creation Jubilee calendar. If they had entered the Promised Land on the 50th Jubilee, they would have entered God's Rest. Their Sabbath land-rests would have begun on a Jubilee, they would have entered the land on the Feast of Tabernacles, and their calendar would have aligned with the Creation Rest of God.

However, they lacked faith, and so they entered the land 38 years later (Deut. 2:14). Neither were they allowed to enter at Tabernacles, but reverted back to the Passover, since this was their level of faith. (They all had faith to leave Egypt at Passover.) Hence, their Sabbaths commemorated Passover, as Deut. 5:15 indicates.

This is the third part of a series titled "Changes in the Sabbath Law." To view all parts, click the link below.

Changes in the Sabbath Law

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Category: God's Law
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones