Image from A Little Perspective
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)
Interesting how in my NKJV, starting at verse 11, this section is labeled “Not Legalism but Christ.” Considering there were no subject headings in the original Greek, we created them for what we call ‘better flow.’ Not always true.
Since beginning this ‘new path,’ I have come across MANY testimonals and blogs that I enjoy reading. Many that I do not. Many people, including Evangelical Pastors, use these verses to tell us that these things, including Sabbath, are done away with. Hmm. With much prayer for wisdom and guidance, late late nights of studying with Strong’s and Thayer’s Greek New Testament Lexicon, and a hungry spirit, I hope you will allow me to share what I have found.
Starting off, the first thing I did was look in Strong’s and write down EVERY reference to the Sabbath in the Bible. I found 93 Scriptures in the Old Testament, but even more surprising is that I found 55 in the New Testament. Obviously this ‘day’ was a big deal.
Strong’s G4521- “day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself). The root means “to cease, desist”; the doubled b has an intensive force, implying a complete cessation or a making to cease.” Interesting enough, if you read all the way through to #11, you will find this note: For the first three centuries of the Christian era the first day of the week was never confounded with the “sabbath”; the confusion of the Jewish and Christian institutions was due to declension (a falling off or away; deterioration) from apostolic teaching. WHOA! That is in Strong’s!! Not a Jewish book, not a Messianic book, not a Hebrew Roots book…Strong’s. The same book many Christians, Pastors, seminaries, and Speakers use for language studies!
How many times have you heard us say, “we want to be a New Testament church!” or an ‘Acts’ church…..post coming on that later……….
Being one who loves the word and loves languages, I can’t just let a word go without seeking out it’s ORIGINAL meaning. We often take words for granted. Yes, we have an English Bible, but it was written by Hebrew men, into the Greek language, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Phew…does that rattle your brain?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch……as I said before, these verses are often used as ‘proof’ that Sabbath, and the “Jewish” festivals/feasts are done away with. Um…read Leviticus 23…right out of the gate we are in big trouble. Who does God say Sabbath and the Feasts belong to? ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’ That is just in verse 1!!! They are HIS feasts!
Now, back to Colossians. Verse 17 has the evidence in question. These things are a shadow. Here is what Vine’s says about the word shadow in this verse: “of “the image” or “outline” cast by an object,” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says: an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object. So, they are a ‘shadow’ but the ‘body’ is of Christ (v 17).
Just because it is a ‘shadow’ doesn’t mean that it has disappeared. When we think of Sabbath, we think of the ‘rest’ Jesus gives (come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest), and we think of the Great Sabbath Rest spoken of in the NT, which is yet to come. You see, a shadow serves a purpose, even when the body is already come. On a sunny day, you cast a shadow, yet you haven’t disappeared. The shadow looks like you, but it may be distorted–shorter, taller, etc. So it was with the Sabbath, or any of the Feasts of the Lord.
To *really* get to the heart of what I am talking about, and the Pharisees Jesus was opposing/the Judaizers Paul was battling, you need to learn more about THEM. How? Read the Talmud-a collection of ‘Oral Laws’ (online free here). They created 23 laws just for Sabbath making sure they did it just right! They ADDED TO God’s Word! Jesus said Sabbath was created for US. It’s a gift. It’s a good thing. They were using it to trap people, as well as to show how ‘holy’ and ‘righteous’ they were…on the OUTSIDE…remember Jesus’ talk with them?!?
To put it into perspective, with some humor attached, read this article on the Oral Law by Nehemia Gordon.
So where am I in all of this now? Learning day by day. I now see Sabbath, which is Saturday (7th day according to God), as a ‘date’ with the Lord. A day HE appointed and set apart. A day HE blessed. A day HE chose. A day ‘set apart’ unto Him. What does that look like? Whatever He calls me to. Be it rest, be it study, be it fellowship, or be it ‘serving’ in His kingdom…whatever HE chooses for me.
Be a Berean! Pray much for wisdom and discernment! Buy a good Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Get Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. Or, go to Blue Letter Bible and use all of these neat tools for free. Don’t just take everything that everyone says to you and make it your doctrine. Make the LIVING WORD OF GOD your doctrine. Finish what the Reformers started–they put the Bible into the hands of the common man–now we have the Holy Spirit and tools to understand the Bible for ourselves and not be ‘swayed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.’