We believe that God, through Moses, gave the people of Israel various statutes concerning the sacrificial system and ceremonies of the temple service. They illustrated the redemptive work of Christ and were a shadow and symbol of things to come. The validity of the ceremonial law ceased when on the cross Jesus cried, “It is finished.”
Hebrews 10:1 – For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Colossians 2:17 – Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
“As Jesus died on Calvary, He cried, ‘It is finished,’ and the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom.
“The rending of the veil of the temple showed that the Jewish sacrifices and ordinances would no longer be received. The great Sacrifice had been offered and had been accepted,.” – Early Writings, pp. 253, 259, 260.
The Ceremonial or Shadow Sabbaths
We believe that the ceremonial sabbaths, of which Paul wrote in Colossians 2:16, 17 and Galatians 4:10, were only a shadow of the sacrifice of Christ and redemption. Thus, they must not be confused with the weekly Sabbath, which was given to mankind as a rest day. It is the Lord’s day, which was instituted at creation.
Genesis 2:1-3 – Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
Exodus 20:8-11 – Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Leviticus 23:3 – Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
Isaiah 58:13 – If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.
Mark 2:27, 28 – And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
The ceremonial law included the following shadow sabbaths: Feast of Unleavened Bread: The passover preceded the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The fifteenth and twenty-first days of the first month of the Jewish year were celebrated as sabbaths with all servile work set aside.
Leviticus 23:5-8 – In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
Pentecost or Feast of Weeks: The fiftieth day, counted from the sixteenth day of the first month, was celebrated as a sabbath.
Leviticus 23:15, 16, 21 – And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD…And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
Exodus 34:22 – And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
Feast of Trumpets: The first day of the seventh month, the day of the blowing of trumpets, was held in preparation for the Day of Atonement.
Leviticus 23:24, 25 – Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Day of Atonement: The tenth day of the seventh month, known as the Day of Atonement, was designated as a most sacred sabbath. It was the climax in the series of ceremonial sabbaths.
Leviticus 23:27, 28, 31, 32 – Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God… Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
Feast of Tabernacles: The fifteenth and twenty-second days of the seventh month were joyfully celebrated as sabbaths of the feast of tabernacles.
Leviticus 23:34-36, 39, 40 – Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein… Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
If Jesus had abolished the weekly Sabbath and instituted Sunday by His death, then a specific command to that effect would have to be found in the Bible. Neither Jesus nor the apostles reported such a change. Just the opposite is proven by the following texts:
Matthew 5:17, 18 – Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Matthew 24:20 – But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.
Acts 13:13, 14 – Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
Acts 13:42-44 – And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
Acts 16:13 – And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
Acts 17:2 – And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.
Acts 18:2-4, 11 – And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks… And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.