Thursday, February 27, 2003
Insights to Lesson 9: "The Covenant Sign," February 22-28, 2003
The seventh-day Sabbath is in crisis according to ex-Adventist minister Dale Ratzlaff. He argues that since Christians are new covenant believers, they have nothing to do with such legalism as Sabbath-keepers practice. After all, Jesus did away with the old covenant Sabbath when He died on the cross.
But if the Sabbath is in crisis, then so is God in crisis, for the Scriptures teach that "God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made" (Gen. 3:3). God put the blessing of Himself into the seventh day of the week before there ever was such as thing as the old covenant. The blessing of God is His life, righteousness and love.
There is no legalism in the Sabbath. The Sabbath is all about God's rest. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:28, 29). Jesus invites the believer to rest his sin-burden upon Himself. Sins are forgiven. The sinner is declared righteous in Christ, thus sanctifying him apart from the world.
The Sabbath is the seal of God's sanctification. "Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them" (Ezek. 20:12). The seventh-day Sabbath rest is the sign of righteousness by faith in Christ.
In fact the seventh day Sabbath is part of that law of God which is sealed upon every believing heart through God's new covenant promise. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people" (Heb. 8:10).
It is a misunderstanding of God's everlasting covenant to speculate that the old covenant embodied the Sabbath before the cross did away with it, and the new covenant saves people after Calvary.
God's covenant is His plan to bring sinners back into harmony with His law through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The old covenant is man's promises to keep God's law (Ex. 19:8), which were doomed to failure on arrival. The law was the basis of both covenants. Which method to achieve obedience to God's law would you choose for salvation?
The new covenant is superior to the old in that it is based on the better promises of God in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20) and the better ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. The old covenant was based on man's promises to obey and had an earthly priesthood which could never bring perfection of conscience.
The two covenants are not bound by time before and after the cross-the new covenant succeeding the old in sequence. The two covenants are two different dispensations of the heart-condition with respect to God's promise and oath. The old which is passing away is trust in self and God. The new involves death to self and absolute confidence in Christ.
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