Rest for Human Restlessness:
A Theological Study of the Good News of the Sabbath for Today
The desire to belong to someone is a fundamental human urge. In my native country until recently, children born out of wedlock were often deprived of a paternity. On their birth certificate, as well as in their identification documents, in place of the fatherís name (surname) there would be the two letters "N.N.," which stands for nescio nomen that is, "name unknown." Frequently newspapers reported the touching story of such an anonymousónameless" personís success in finding his or her natural father, after years of tireless and often expensive search. The fact that people will spend much time and money to trace their ancestry illustrates how deep-rooted is the need to know to whom one belongs.
Experience teaches that a person who does not belong to anyone or anything is in most cases unmotivated, rebellious, alienated and bitter toward all and everything. On the other hand, it is in a relationship of mutual belonging that a person experiences love, identity and security, which are essential ingredients for healthy growth and adequate motivation. How do people express mutual belonging? Basically, through words, attitudes and actions. Sometimes gifts are given or exchanged as a token-symbol of mutual devotion and belonging. A young lady remarked to a friend, "What a gorgeous engagement watch your fiancée has given you!" Obviously, that watch served not only to tell the time of day, but also to remind the young lady that she belonged to someone who loved her.
The need to express mutual belonging exists both at the human and at the divine-human level. God, in fact, has revealed Himself not as an abstract entity or ideal, but as a personal Being, vitally interested in the well-being and commitment of His creatures.
1. Biblical Models
Various human models have been used during the history of salvation to help human beings conceptualize and experience a meaningful relationship with the invisible God. Some of the significant human models found in the NT are: "forgiveness" which derives from the cancellation of debts; "reconciliation" and "adoption" which are drawn from personal and familial relationship; "redemption" which derives from the emancipation (manumission) of slaves; "justification" which is based on the declaration of guiltlessness by a law court; "sanctification" which derives especially from the sanctuary model, the symbol of Godís sanctifying presence.
A prominent human analogy used in the OT, and to a lesser extent in the NT, is the concept of the covenant, a means widely used in the ancient world to regulate social and political relationships beyond natural blood kinship. Basically the covenant was a treaty or a contract between two parties who freely and willingly bound themselves to accept certain mutual obligations.1
2. The Covenant Model
The covenant concept was adopted with radical modifications to express the mutual belonging relationship existing between God and His people. One striking characteristic of the Biblical covenant, not found in the ancient political covenants, is Godís emotional appeal to His people. The Lord says, for example: "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians; and how I bore you on eaglesí wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples" (Ex. 19:4-5).
Though the covenant was based on Godís revealed commandments which the people were expected to observe (Ex. 24:7; Deut. 27 :1), its ultimate function was to reveal Godís saving grace in and through His people: "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. 19:6; cf. Deut. 14:1-2; 26:19).
Law and grace in the covenant. The dichotomy often made between law and grace is not present in the OT covenant. Recent studies have shown that "it is with the demands of the commandments that Godís grace becomes known. That is, it is not possible to equate the covenant with grace and then the commandments with law. The discrepancy between covenant and commandments [i.e., grace and law] in the way in which it has been understood in Protestantism does not exist in the Old Testament."2 This will soon become clearer when considering the role of the Sabbath in the covenant relationship. For the present it is sufficient to note that the covenant analogy is used effectively in the Scriptures to aid in conceptualizing and experiencing a mutual belonging relationship between God and His people ("You shall be my own possession among all peoples" Ex. 19:5).
Covenant signs and symbols. In the Bible several covenant signs or symbols are given to remind human beings of Godís concern for them and of their commitment to God. The rainbow is given to Noah as a covenant sign (Gen. 9:8-17). Circumcision is offered as a covenant sign to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17:1-4). Bread and wine are chosen by Christ as the emblems "of the covenant" ratified through His blood (Mark 16:24; Matt. 26:28). These and similar signs 3 have been given during the history of salvation to reassure human beings of Godís concern to save them and to restore them to fellowship with Him.
One might say that the covenant concept, which is introduced in the OT and renewed and ratified by Christ in the NT, represents Godís everlasting promise and plan to save a people who in turn will extend salvation to others. This concept is expressed incisively by Peter when he writes, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Godís own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9; cf. Deut. 20:10; Gen. 12:2-3).
3. The Sabbath as Symbol of Belonging
Unique symbol. It is noteworthy that among the various God-given convenant signs or symbols, the Sabbath occupies a unique place. It is unique because it is not an object or a place accessible only to a few, but a day (time) available to all. It is unique also because it has functioned as the symbol par excellence of the divine election and mission of Godís people. Five times in the Scripture the Sabbath is designated as a perpetual covenant" or as a "sign" between Yahweh and His people (Ex. 31:13, 16, 17; Ezek. 20:12, 20).4
De Quervain brings out lucidly this role of the Sabbath when he writes: "It is the observance of this commandment that decides in the old covenant whether Israel fears and loves God and knows that it is the people of God. For this day is the sign of the covenant set up in Israel. He who does not join in the rejoicing, who does not rest from his work in this joy, despises Godís goodness and faithfulness and puts his hope, not in Godís election, but in his own work. Hence the Sabbath is in a special way the sign of good tidings in the Old Testament."5
Unique origin. The Sabbath is a unique covenant sign, first of all because it is the first sign given by God to reveal His desire to fellowship with His creatures. The day tells us that God created human beings to live not in mystical solitude but in the joy of His fellowship. As explained in Hebrews, "God rested on the seventh day" that He might invite His people "to enter it [Godís rest]" (Heb. 4 :4-6).
Karl Barth rightly calls Godís rest at the conclusion of creation "the covenant of the grace of God," because it invites "man to rest with Him . . . to participate in Godís rest." 6 By resting, Barth explains, God "seriously accepted the world and man when He had created them, associating Himself with them in the fullest sense. Hence the history of the covenant was really established in the event of the seventh day." 7
The covenant is Godís "yes" to His creatures and the Sabbath is the time to listen again to this yes. As the symbol of Godís initial invitation to mankind to fellowship with Him, the Sabbath provides the starting point and the basis for all subsequent manifestations of divine grace. When the harmonious fellowship was interrupted by human disobedience, the immediate result was loneliness and separation from God. "The Lord God sent him forth from the garden" (Gen. 3 :23), and Adam and Eve found themselves exiled from the direct fellowship with God. When Eden was lost, the Sabbath remained as the weekly reminder and the symbol of Godís desire and plan to restore the broken relationship of fellowship and mutual belonging with His fallen creatures.
Unique survival. The Sabbath is unique also because it has survived not only the Fall, but also the Flood, the Egyptian slavery, the Babylonian exile, the Roman anti-Sabbath legislation,8 the French and Russian temporary introduction of the tenĖday week,9 blankóday calendar proposals (interrupting the weekly-cycle), antinomianism, and modern secularism. The day still stands for Godís people as the symbol of Godís gracious provision of salvation and belonging to God.
The ancient prophets recognized the value of Sabbathkeeping in maintaining allegiance to God. Ezekiel, for example, when he saw the d.anger of the total extinction of Godís people as a result of the exile, appealed to them to remember their divine election by means of the distinguishing function of the Sabbath (Ezek. 20:12-21). Similarly Isaiah presents the Sabbath as the symbol of belonging to the covenant not only for the Jews (Is. 58:13-14), but also for "the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord" (Is. 56 :6, 7, 2, 4).
Unique function. The Sabbath is, furthermore, a unique covenant symbol because it has helped believers throughout the ages to maintain their faithótheir belonging relationship with God. The regular observance of the Sabbath, as noted by Dennis J. McCarthy, "was a medium which handed on knowledge of the covenant as a relationship and a doctrine."10
Achad Haam underlines this vital function of the Sabbath in the history of Judaism, stating: "We can affirm without any exaggeration that the Sabbath has preserved the Jews more than the Jews have preserved the Sabbath. If the Sabbath had not restored to them the soul, renewing every week their spiritual life, they would have become so degraded by the depressing experiences of the work-days, that they would have descended to the last step of materialism and of moral and intellectual decadence."11
Sabbathkeeping has contributed to the survival not only of Judaism but of Christianity as well. The essence of a Christian life is a relationship with God. Such a relationship grows and becomes more meaningful, especially through the time and opportunities for worship, service, meditation, and fellowship provided by the Sabbath day. Consequently a proper observance of Godís holy day reflects a healthy relationship with God, while disregard for it bespeaks spiritual decline. This was true in ancient Israel; it is also true in modern Christianity.
In most Western European countries attendance to Sunday services isless than 10% of the Christian population attend church services, secularism, atheism, anticlericalism, immorality, and religious skepticism are rampant. Social analysts speak of Europe as living in the post-Christian era. It would be naive to attribute all the social and religious evils to the prevailing disregard for Godís holy day, but by the same token it would be blindness to fail to see the tragic consequences resulting from the profanation of the Sabbath in society.
In a speech delivered on November 13, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln emphasized this vital function of the Sabbath, saying: "As we keep or break the Sabbath day, we nobly save or meanly lose the last and best hope by which man arises."12 Obviously for Abraham Lincoln the Sabbath day meant Sunday. Puritans applied the name and the precept of the Sabbath to Sunday. This does not detract from the fact that one of Americaís outstanding presidents recognized in the Sabbath precept the last best hope that can renew and elevate human beings.
If this were true in Lincolnís day, is it not truer in our time, when so many "isms" (materialism, secularism, hedonism, atheism, capitalism, communism, evolutionism, liberalism) are competing for human allegiance? When the tyranny of things enslaves many lives? Today therefore more than ever before, the Sabbath is needed to liberate human beings from the bondage to the many isms, and to enable them to rediscover the peace of fellowship and belonging to God for which they were created.
The preceding considerations suggest three basic reasons why the Sabbath is a unique symbol of human-divine belonging, namely, because of its origin, its survival, and its function. To comprehend more fully its uniqueness, it may help at this point to inquire why God has chosen the Sabbath (a day rather than an object) to aid human beings to experience and express a belonging relationship with Him. What characteristics does the seventh day possess that enable it to function as a meaningful symbol of a covenant relationship? The Scripture suggests at least seven reasons.
A first reason for the divine choice of the Sabbath to symbolize a mutual belonging relationship is suggested by the fact that the day is, to use M. G. Klineís words, the Creatorís "seal of ownership and authority."13 As a seal of divine ownership, the Sabbath provides the legitimate basis for a covenant relationship. This meaning of ownership is explicitly expressed both in the Fourth Commandment and in its sister institutions, the sabbatical and the jubilee years.
In the Commandment the believer is invited to "remember" on the Sabbath that "in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them (Ex. 20:11; 31:17). As Creator, God is the only legitimate Owner of this world. In the sabbatical and jubilee years the Israelites were enjoined to relinquish the use of the land and to liberate their fellow beings from poverty and bondage (Lev. 25; Deut. 15 :1-18), in order to acknowledge that Yahweh is the only rightful owner of the land ("The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants"óLev. 25 :23óNIV).
As the symbol of divine ownership, the Sabbath enables the believer to realize constantly and effectively that this world and his very life belong to God. This recognition of Godís ownership of oneís life is indispensable for a total commitment and belonging to God. Is this not true also at the human level? Can husband and wife truly say they belong to each other, unless they are willing to say to each other, "I am yours and you are mine"?
One of the pitfalls of a lifestyle characterized by husbands, wives and children working to earn separate incomes (often irrespective of need) is the false sense of independence and separate ownership it fosters. It often leads a member of the family to say: "This is my money, or my car or my house. I have worked for it, so I am free to do with it whatever I wish."
This deceptive sense of ownership, which sometimes strains or even destroys human relationships, can weaken also the very connection between a person and his God. The wealth and abundance of goods which a person may acquire as a result of diligent work can easily induce a false sense of autonomy and independence from God.
Are not autonomy and independenceóliving oneís own life without any regard to Godóthe essence of a sinful life? The Sabbath, symbol of divine creatorship and ownership, is designed to aid the believer to overcome any incipient feeling of self-sufficiency. As the first couple observed their Sabbath on their first full day of life, standing before their Creator empty-handed, acknowledging their indebtedness for all, so the believer who on the Sabbath ceases from his own work, acknowledges his indebtedness and dependency upon the working of God.
To observe the Sabbath means to confess God as Creator and Owner of all life and wealth. It means to recognize that Godís total claim over oneís life is expressed by consecrating the Sabbath time to God. Ownership implies boundaries; there is to be no transpassing. God has chosen to set in time the boundaries of His dominion. The believer who accepts Godís claim over the last day of the weekóthe Sabbathóaccepts Godís claim over his whole life and world. 14 The believer who accepts this particular sign of Godís ownership, stopping his work on the Sabbath in order to allow God to work in him 15 demonstrates and experiences a total belonging to God.
A second reason for the divine choice of the Sabbath to express a covenant relationship is suggested by the holiness of the Sabbath. As a holy day, the Sabbath effectively exemplifies not only the divine choice of time but of people as well. The holiness of the Sabbath is frequently affirmed in the Scripture.God Himself "made it holy" (Gen. 2 :3; Ex. 20 :11) and repeatedly calls it "holy" (Ex. 16:22; 31:14; Is. 58:13).
The fundamental meaning of the word "holy" appears to be "separation, setting apart" for divine manifestation.16 When applied to the Sabbath, it expresses, as we have seen, the distinctiveness of the day resulting from the special manifestation of Godís presence in the life of His people. Isaiah, for example, pictures God as refusing to be present at the Sabbath assembly of His people, because of their "iniquity" (Is. 1:13-14). Godís absence makes their worship experience not holy but rather an "abomination" or a "trampling of my courts" (vs. 12-13).
As the symbol of Godís free choice of His special time to manifest His presence, the Sabbath can constantly and effectively remind the believer who keeps it of his special divine election and mission in this world. In other words, as the Sabbath stands as the "Holy Day" among the weekly days, so the believer who keeps it is constantly invited to stand as Godís chosen "Holy person" among a perverse generation. Holiness in time points to holiness of being.
The link between the holiness of Godís people and that of the Sabbath can be seen in the divine choice of both.17 As God chose the seventh day to enter with His presence into the experience of His people, so He chose a people to bring His holiness to the world. "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Godís own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Pet. 2:9; cf. Deut. 7:6). As Godís holiness in time, the Sabbath fittingly expresses Godís plan for a holy people. In other words, Sabbathkeeping serves constantly to remind Godís people "that I the Lord, sanctify you" (Ex. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12).
As a reminder of Godís "sanctification-election" of a people, the Sabbath signifies mission rather than merit. It means to fulfil the mission entrusted by God, namely, to "declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Pet. 2 :9). In an attempt to convert the world, Christians often adapt themselves to its standard and become part of it. This trend, as A. Martin points out, "results more and more in the dissolution of the Church."18
The Sabbath challenges the believer to resist this pressure of conformism. It reminds him to be in the world without becoming a part of it. Being Godís chosen day from among the weekdays, the Sabbath can forcefully remind the believer who keeps it to be Godís chosen messenger to his secularly minded fellow beings.
It is noteworthy that the expression "to sanctify" or "to keep holy" translates the Hebrew word le-kadesh, a term which is commonly used in the Talmud to describe the engagement of a woman to a man.19 As a woman who declared her belonging to a man was "sanctified, made holy," so a person who consecrates his or her life to the Lord is "holy," belonging exclusively to God.
The Sabbath was chosen by God as the emblem of this mutual belonging relationship, because it expresses both divine initiative and human response. On the one hand it signifies that God has chosen to sanctify His people and, on the other hand, that the latter accepts Godís partnershipóHis sanctifying presence. Such an acceptance is expressed in a practical way, namely, by making oneself totally available to God on the Sabbath.
The Lord does not force His presence upon anyone, but stands at the heartís door and knocks (Rev. 3:20). The Sabbath provides the opportunity to open one s door in order to welcome the Savior as the guest of honor. The person who makes himself available on the Sabbath for Christ, allowing Him to work within his life, is made differentóhe is sanctified.20
Human nature generally is not inclined to desist from work at regular intervals. One prefers to choose oneís own time for resting according to oneís work program, humor or social exigencies. The Sabbath, however, is Godís chosen time that recurs with clock-like regularity, without being conditioned by human likes or dislikes. A person can either accept or reject its obligations. The believer who accepts them, taking leave for 24 hours from his daily work and worries in order to enter into the presence and peace of God, reconfirms his covenant with God. "Such a man," writes M. L. Andreasen, "has used the Sabbath for its intended purpose; it has accomplished for him what God had in mind; it has become the sign and seal of sanctification, and God owns him as His."21
3. Incorruptible and Universal
Incorruptible. A third reason for Godís choice of the Sabbath to signify mutual commitment is found in the incorruptible and universal nature of time. Being time, the Sabbath is a symbol which is always fresh in meaning, and readily accessible to every human being. The Sabbath is incorruptible because it is not a material sign like the Tabernacle, or the Temple; it is immaterial since it is time rather than space or matter. The ideas which are attached to material objects in the course of time tend to deteriorate and disintegrate like the objects themselves.
My native city of Rome is filled with glorious monuments of antiquity. Most Romans view them with a sense of pride, as symbols of past greatness. Yet if one were to ask one hundred Romans who built the Colosseum (the very symbol of the eternity of Rome) and when, chances are ninety per cent would reply, "Donít ask me! I havenít a clue."
Monuments are regarded with devotion but are gradually deprived of meaning and life. The Sabbath, however, is not a relic of antiquity which has lost its meaning, since being time and not matter it is beyond human ability to manipulate and destroy. The Sabbath of Adam, that of Jesus, as well as yours and mine, is still the same 24-hour day. Its meaning is always fresh and relevant. In fact, it is more relevant today than when it was originally given, because its meaning and function have grown in the unfolding history of salvation.
In Eden, where in a sense every day was a Sabbath (that is to say, a paradise in the presence of God), the Sabbath served to heighten the consciousness and the experience of Godís presence. But today, when the week-days are spent in a difficult and hectic world, the Sabbath can be truly an island of tranquility, where one can safely harbor to regain the peace of Godís presence.
Universal. Being time, the Sabbath is not only incorruptible but also universal, that is, accessible to all. Since time can be shared, God through the Sabbath can reach every human being without crowding out anyone. Thus there is no need to make a pilgrimage to Rome or to Jerusalem or to Salt Lake City, to observe the Sabbath, because the day reaches every human being weekly, whether one lives in a splendid palace or in a squalid prison.
No special objects are needed to celebrate the Sabbath. To celebrate the Passover, for example, lambs, unleavened bread Ďand bitter herbs were needed. Similarly, to celebrate the Lordís Supper, bread and wine (as well as basins and water for Christians who practice footwashing) are required. These elements are not readily available to all in every circumstance. With the Sabbath celebration, such a problem does not exist, because the only thing really needed for its celebration is a heart that loves the Lord.
In the offering of money there is no equality. A wealthy person is able to give a larger offering than someone who is poor. It is not so with the offering of time, because every person has an equal measure of it. This means that through the Sabbath God gives an equal opportunity to all to express belonging to Him. One may have less money to offer God than others, but not less time since each person has an equal measure of it. Human life is a measure of time. What a person does with it is indicative of his system of values and priorities.
There is no time for those toward whom one feels indifferent, but one makes~time for those whom one loves. To be able on the seventh day to withdraw from the world of things to meet the invisible God in the quiet of oneís soul means to love God totally; it means to express inwardly and outwardly oneís total love and belonging to God.
4. Renewal of Baptismal Covenant
A fourth reason for Godís choice of the Sabbath as a sign of a mutual belonging relationship is suggested by the fact that the day provides a weekly renewal of the baptismal covenant (vow). In the NT baptism is not described in covenantal language, though it fulfils the very function of marking the entrance of the believer into the church, the new-covenant community, which is the body of Christ ("we were all baptized into one body"ó1 Cor. 12:13). A reason for the limited use of the OT covenant model in the NT to describe the relation of the early Christians to one another and to Christ is suggested by the Roman prohibition of secret societies.22 For the Romans a covenant meant an illegal society. Christians, for reasons of prudence, may have avoided a terminology that raised suspicion of political treason.23
Though the distinctive OT covenant terminology is absent in the NT description of baptism, its basic concept is present. This is indicated by the association of baptism with the Exodus event (I Cor. 10 :1-2) and with circumcision (Col. 2 :11-13), both of which are clear covenant experiences. In fact, as well stated by Louis Tamminga, much of "Bible history is covenant history. The fundamentalist-evangelical world has, by and large, failed to grasp the fact that it is the covenantal relationship between God and His people that binds the Scriptures together." 24
How is the Sabbath related to the covenant experience of baptism? Basically in its meaning and function. Baptism is a symbolic reenactment of Christís death, burial, and resurrection in the life of the believer who enters into covenant with Christ by dying to sin and rising into a new moral life (Rom. 6:3-4). Does the Sabbath share this baptismal meaning and experience of death and resurrection? Is the Sabbath, like baptism, a form of renouncement and renewal?
Philip Melanchthon (1496-1560) acknowledges these two meanings of the Sabbath in his Loci Communes (1555), saying: "After the Fall the Sabbath was re-established when the gracious promise was given that there would be a second peace with God, that the Son of God would die and would rest in death until the Resurrection. So now in us our Sabbath should be such a dying and resurrection with the Son of God, so that God may again have his place of habitation, peace and joy in us, so that he may impart to us his wisdom, righteousness, and joy, so that through us God may again be praised eternally. Let this meaning of the Sabbath be further pondered by God-fearing men." 25 In compliance with Melanchthonís exhortation, let us ponder this meaning of the Sabbath.
Renouncement. Like baptism, the Sabbath does signify renouncement. No two persons can become one, without renouncing certain rights in order to gain greater privileges. Through the Sabbath God invites human beings to renounce several things in order for them to receive His greater gifts. In the first place they are to renounce the security of the weekly work (Ex. 20:10), even when circumstances seem unfavorable: "in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest" (Ex. 34:21).
A. Martin rightly notes that in the context of Jewish life, the interruption of work especially at plowing and harvest time, was a genuine form of renouncement which could easily result "in less food available."26 Even tod.ay, however, Sabbathkeeping for some persons entails real sacrifice and renouncement. This is particularly true in countries where the right to be free from work in order to observe the seventh-day as Godís holy day does not exist. Many books of Acts could be written to recount the heroic witness of past and present believers who have chosen and do choose to renounce better jobs, promotion or pay (sometimes even their very livelihood and freedom), rather than to disown their commitment to God.
Like baptism, the Sabbath also means renouncement of that greediness and selfishness which, though symbolically buried under the baptismal waters, continually tends to reappear and thus needs to be overcome. Some persons have been made slaves but many more have chosen to become slaves of their grasping greediness. The latter work and would wish others to work for them all seven days out of seven, in order to gain more and more and be satisfied with less and less.
The Sabbath is designed to cure such insatiable greediness by enjoining to rest, that is, to stop being greedy and start being grateful. It commands to take time not to seek more material goods but to gratefully acknowledge the bounties received. A grateful heart is indispensable for maintaining a meaningful, mutual, belonging relationship, and for experiencing inner rest and peace. Like baptism, the Sabbath means also renouncement of selfsufficiency. Through the Sabbath, the confession of surrender to Christ, which the believer makes at baptism, is renewed every week.
The success a Christian achieves in his work may make him feel secure and self-sufficient, thus forgetful of his dependency upon God: "lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Ďwho is the Lord?í" (Prov. 30:9). The Sabbath, by enjoining cessation from work, invites the believer to glance away from his own achievements and to look instead to Godís work and working in him.
During the week a Christian may feel worthy of salvation because of all that he does. But on the Sabbath as he ceases from his works, he becomes conscious of his human dependency upon God, recognizing that it is not his doing but Godís doing that saves. The Sabbath forbids a Christian, as forcefully stated by Karl Barth, to have "faith in his own plans and wishes, in a justification and deliverance which he can make for himself, in his own ability and achievement. What it really forbids him is not work, but trust in his work."27
The Sabbath, then, provides a weekly opportunity to renew the baptismal confession of self-renouncement, in order to "allow the omnipotent grace of God to have the first and the last word at every point."28 In two senses Sabbathkeeping may be a more significant confession of commitment than circumcision was in the OT or than baptism is in the Christian dispensation. First, because circumcision and baptism are covenant signs received generally at a tender age, when infants or teenagers do not fully understand their implications. Second, because both of them are a one-time commitment rite. On the contrary, Sabbathkeeping represents not a one-time but aweekly life-time renewal of the commitment made to God in oneís youth.29
What this means then is that the person who habitually disregards the Sabbath, choosing rather to do his own "pleasure" (Is. 58:13), reveals not a sudden or a momentary weakness, but rather a deep-rooted and wilful rejection of his baptismal commitment to God. This is why the prophets equate Sabbath-breaking with "apostasy" or "rebellion" (Ezek. 20:13, 21; Neh. 13 :18; Jer. 17:23), because it is not a passing inordinate desire, but a permanent attitude of disobedience. The Christian life could be described as a "love affair" with the Lord which is sealed through baptism and cultivated through the Sabbath. Or one might say that the Sabbath strengthens the sacred vow of faithfulness made to God at baptism.
Renewal. Even as the water in baptism has the dual meaning of death and a new life, so the rest of the Sabbath signifies both renouncement and renewal. If baptism be regarded as the point of entrance into the new Christian life, the Sabbath is the weekly renewal of that initial commitment. This weekly renewal is made possible through the time the Sabbath affords to take stock and ascertain where one stands. The opportunity the Sabbath provides to have a special rendezvous with oneself, with others, and with God, results in physical, social and spiritual renewal.
The physical renewal (recreation) the Sabbath rest provides differs from the rest experience of the week-days. During the week one can at best rest from work but not from the thought of it. The business man goes home with his work in his briefcase or in his mind; the student must prepare for the next dayís assignments or tests; the housekeeper must plan for tomorrowís meals and cleaning. The anxiety over tasks that remain to be done occupies the mind even while the body rests. As a result, a person sometimes feels more tired in the morning than before he went to bed.
On the Sabbath, however, a Christian should and can rest not only from work, but also from the thought of it, knowing that on that day he need not worry about time-clocks, deadlines, tests, production or competition. On the Sabbath the body can rest because the mind is at rest, and the mind is at rest because it rests in God.
The Sabbath contributes also to social renewal, by strengthening those relationships established through baptism. The daily work scatters the immediate family members as well as the church members in different directions, leaving little time to cultivate marital, parental and fraternal relationships. During a busy working week, it is easy to forget the needs of the members of the body of Christ into whom "we were all baptized" (I Cor. 12:13).
Sometimes even the members of oneís own family are neglected. On the Sabbath, as the believer experiences afresh the assurance of Godís presence and love, he is motivated and challenged to strengthen neglected relationships; to alleviate the suffering of others; to share with all, friends and foes, his friendship, fellowship and concern. This service which is rendered on and through the Sabbath renews and strengthens that covenant relationship with God and His people established at baptism.
Most important of Ďall, the Sabbath is a time of spiritual renewal. It is a time when the believer renews his baptismal commitment by taking time to remember and appreciate Godís saving activities. In a sense, the believer on each Sabbath is baptized anew into Christís death through the renouncement experience described earlier, and into Christís resurrection through the spiritual renewal the day provides30 The latter takes place on the Sabbath especially through the private and communal worship experience, which differs substantially from that of the week-days.
Sabbath worship is not a moment of meditation squeezed into a busy work-day program, but rather it is a whole day when earthly concerns are laid aside, when the many distracting voices are silenced, in order to acknowledge Godís "worth-ship," to experience His presence and to hear more distinctly His voice. Through this special encounter with God, the believer receives fresh forgiveness; he brings order into his fragmented daily life; he reestablishes his moral consciousness; he gains a new set of divine goals for his life; he receives fresh inspiration and grace to do the will of God. This spiritual renewal that the Sabbath provides to the new life begun at baptism serves to strengthen and enrich the covenant relationship between God and the believer.
A fifth reason for Godís choice of the Sabbath to symbolize His covenant relationship with His people is suggested by the fact that the seventh day provides a fitting reminder of the spiritual nature of this relationship. Perhaps Jesus came closest to defining Godís nature when He told the Samaritan woman, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
The context suggests that Christ described God as "Spirit" to counteract the misconception that God is to be worshiped in a special holy place. For the Samaritan woman the right place was fundamental to worship: "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship" (John 4:20). Jesus responded by offering a most profound insight into the nature of true worship. He explained that human beings communicate with God not through holy places, objects, or things, but "in spirit and truth," that is, in a spiritual and truthful way. Genuine worship is offered to God not by going to special shrines or by performing elaborate rituals, as such, but by speaking and listening to God with heart, soul and mind (Mark 12:30).
The Sabbath and Godís nature. Can the Sabbath contribute to preventing the deadening objectification of God and thus aid in maintaining a living relationship between God and His people? A look into the nature of the Sabbath suggests several reasons for a positive answer. In the first place the Sabbath as a temporal symbol aptly characterizes Godís nature, since the latter is as mysterious as the nature of time. Like God, time cannot be defined or controlled. As a person can relate to time but cannot control it, so he can relate to God but cannot control Him. In other words, both God and time transcend human outreach. They cannot be manipulated and changed into something else.
Abraham Joshua Heschel characterizes time as "otherness," a mystery transcending human experience, and "togetherness," an occasion to experience fellowship.31 Are not otherness and togetherness basic characteristics of Godís nature? Being a measure of time and not an object, the Sabbath can effectively remind the believer that he belongs to the God who cannot be objectified, circumscribed or incapsulated, to the God who is "beyond," "wholly other," transcending human analogies ("To whom then will you liken God?"óIs. 40:18) and controls. At the same time, as a moment of togetherness, the Sabbath ieminds the believer that his God is not only "beyond" but also very "close," so close that he can rest in Him (Heb. 4:10).
An antidote against idolatry. The Sabbath helps maintain a spiritual relationship with God not only, as just seen, by reminding the believer of Godís nature, but also by protecting him from idolatry. Fritz Guy aptly states that "worship by means of a holy day is removed as far as possible from idolatry. It is quite impossible to cut, carve or construct the image of a day."32 Some might challenge this statement by pointing to the Hebrews, who apparently succeeded, especially in the days of Jesus, in objectifying the Sabbath by tying its observance to minute regulations.
The reduction of the Sabbath from an occasion to meet with God, to a "thing" to be kept with utmost precision, can turn the day from a means of worship into an object of worship.33 This adulteration of the Sabbath does not detract, however, from its unique quality, but only serves to show that even the most "fireproof" God-given symbol can be prostituted into an object of legalistic and even idolatrous worship.
Of all symbols, the Sabbath as time still remains the one that best resists objectification. It provides the surest protection from worshiping rather than worshiping "Him." It is noteworthy that both at creation and in the Ten Commandments, mankind is given not a "holy object" but a "holy day" in which to experience the holiness of God. The first Four Commandments spell out the three "doníts" and the one "do" that should regulate the relationship between God and His people.
First, donít give to God a divided loyalty by worshiping Him as One among many gods. Second, donít worship God by means of material representations. Third, donít use thoughtlessly the name of God. Then comes the Fourth Commandment which is a "do" rather than a "donít." It invites mankind to "remember" God not through a holy object but through a holy day.
The first three commandments seem designed to remove the obstacles to a true spiritual relationship with God, namely, the worship of false gods or of their images and disrespect for the true God. With the way to Godís presence cleared, the Fourth Commandment invites the believer to experience divine fellowship, not through the recitation of magic charms, but in time shared together. Obviously God sees time as a most fitting symbol of the spiritual relationship that should exist between Himself and His people.
The importance of this divine choice is underscored by the repeated attempts human beings have made to reduce a living and spiritual relationship with God to the veneration of dead objects: shrines, icons, tombs, creeds, and relics (such as the bones of saints, pieces of wood from a cross, or pieces of garments). The small chapel of St. Laurence in Rome is called Sancta Sanctorumó"The Most Holy." Above its altar, a Latin inscription reads: Non est in toto sanctior orbe locus, which means, "there is no holier place in the world." On what ground is such an astonishing claim made? Primarily on the basis of the great number of relicsódead objectsóthe chapel contains. The most venerated object is an image of the Redeemer claimed to have been produced by a divine agency.
Can God be blamed for these human attempts to seek "holiness" through things rather than through an I-Thou spiritual relationship? Certainly not, for God took utmost precaution to prevent human beings from materializing and objectifying His spiritual nature. This is evidenced, for example, by the fact that when the second Person of the Godhead became a Human Being for about thirty-three years, He refrained from leaving a single material mark that can be authenticated as His own.
Christ did not build or own a house; He did not write books or own a library; He did not leave the exact date of His birth or of His death; He did not leave descendants. He left an empty tomb, but even this place is still disputed. He left no "thing" of Himself, but only the assurance of His spiritual presence: "Lo, I am with you Ďalways, to the close of the age" (Matt. 28 :20).
Why did Christ pass through this world in this mysterious fashion, leaving no physical footprints or material traces of Himself? Why did the Godhead miss the golden opportunity provided by the incarnation to leave a permanent material evidence and reminder of the Saviorís stay on this planet? Is this not clear evidence of Godís concern to protect mankind from the constant temptation of reducing a spiritual relationship into a "thing-worship"?
It was because of this same concern that God chose the Sabbathóa day rather than an objectó as the symbol of a divine-human belonging relationship. Being time, a mystery that defies human attempts to define it, the Sabbath provides a constant protection against the worship of objects and a fitting reminder of the spiritual nature of the covenant relationship between God and His people.
A sixth reason for Godís choice of the Sabbath as a covenant symbol is that this day expresses effectively the mutual commitment that binds God and His people. A mutual belonging relationship can endure only if both parties remember and honor their respective obligations. How does the Sabbath express divine and human commitment?
Divine commitment. The Sabbath stands first of all for divine commitment. Godís last creative act was not the fashioning of Adam and Eve, but the creation of His rest for mankind (Gen. 2:2-3). Such a divine rest has a message for the creation as a whole as well as for humanity in particular. With regard to creation, as noted in chapter two, Godís rest signifies His satisfaction over the completion and perfection of His creation.
With regard to humanity, Godís rest symbolizes His availability to His creatures. By taking "time out" on the first Sabbath to bless the first couple with His holy presence, God through this day provides a constant reassurance to His creatures of His availability and concern. As eloquently expressed by A. Martin, "The promise to which God commits Himself through the Sabbath is to have time for mankind. God is not an idea but a Person who assures all creation of His presence. The Sabbath is the sign of this promise. However, this is not limited solely to the Sabbath time. In the same way as Christís presence is not limited to the space occupied by the bread, so the Sabbath reminds mankind of the permanence of Godís [presence]."34
This divine commitment becomes explicit in the covenant relationship, where the Sabbath is presented as Godís assurance of His sanctifying presence among His people (Ex. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12). Human disobedience did not alter Godís original commitment. On the contrary, when the estrangement caused by sin occurred, God through the Sabbath guaranteed His total commitment to restore the broken covenant relationship.
This commitment led God to give "his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The Sabbath, as Karl Barth correctly explains, "reminds man of Godís plan for him, of the fact that He has already carried it out, and that in His revelation He will execute both His will with him and His work for and toward him. It points him to the Yes which the Creator has spoken to him, His creature, and which He has made true and proved true once and for all in Jesus Christ."35
The availability of God which the Sabbath guarantees makes prayer possible. How distressing to be unable to talk to an important person because he is booked up and unavailable perhaps for a month or more! The Sabbath is Godís assurance of His constant availability. It tells us that God is listening and responding, that He wants to dialogue and fellowship with His creatures. It tells us that God is available and thus can be approached in prayer not only on the Sabbath but every day.
As the father who, by making himself especially available for his family on the Sabbath, reveals not a weekly but rather a permanent devotion to his family, so God, by pledging to be especially close to His creatures on the Sabbath, reassures them of His constant interest and availability. The weekly regularity of the Sabbath serves as a continual reminder that God "is mindful of his covenant for ever" (Ps. 105 :8).
Human commitment. The Sabbath stands not only for divine but also for human commitment. It signifies not only "that I, the Lord, sanctify you" but also that "you shall keep my sabbaths" (Ex. 31:13). By reassuring human beings that God is available and "working until now" (John 5 :17) to accomplish the ultimate restoration of this world to His eternal fellowship, the Sabbath invites the believer to assume his responsibility, by making himself available for God.
By accepting Godís invitation to keep the Sabbath with Him, the believer enters into a special relationship with God. This relationship is not, as Karl Barth points out, "an indirect but a direct connection, not only a relationship but genuine intercourse."36 It is by assuming this obligation that a person becomes free: free for God, for self, for the immediate family and for others.
The free offering of time to God is a supreme act of worship, because it means acknowledging God with the very essence of human life: time. Life is time. When "time is up" life ceases to be. The offering of the Sabbath time to God enables the believer to acknowledge that his whole life, not just one seventh, belongs to God. It represents the Christianís response to Godís claim on his life. By bringing all routine work to a halt for one day, he acts out his commitment to the Lord of his life.37 A similar objective is accomplished through the return of the tithe to God, as a recognition of His ultimate ownership.
What is involved in the offering of the Sabbath time to God will be considered in chapter six. Our immediate concern has been to understand how the Sabbath meaningfully expresses both divine and human commitment. We have found that the Sabbath, on the one hand, symbolizes Godís commitment to be available for and to save humanity. On the other hand, Sabbath keeping expresses the believerís acceptance of the Creator and Redeemerís claim upon his life.
A seventh reason for Godís choice of the Sabbath to symbolize His covenantal relationship with His people is its redemptive function. As a symbol of Godís saving activities, the Sabbath provides the basis for experiencing meaningful belonging. The degree of oneís commitment to a person is related to what such a person has done to deserve loyalty and devotion. A mother who gives up her son for adoption soon after his birth in order to be free to pursue her professional career can hardly expect that the boy later in life will feel filial attachment to her.
The Sabbath reassures the believer that God never gives him up but has given His very life in order to restore to him life and divine fellowship. This redemptive function of the Sabbath will be examined in the following chapter, which is devoted specifically to The Sabbath: Good News of Redemption. The study will show how both in the OT and NT the physical Sabbath rest points to the greater spiritual rest of salvation to be found in Christ. The believer who on the Sabbath stops his doing to experience his being saved by divine grace renounces human efforts to work out his own salvation and acknowledges his belonging to God, the author and finisher of his salvation.
We asked at the outset, What intrinsic characteristics does the Sabbath possess to enable it to function as a meaningful symbol of a divine-human covenant relationship?
Seven significant aspects have been considered in this chapter. First, as the sign of divine ownership, the Sabbath constantly reminds the believer of his belonging to God. Second, as Godís holiness in time, the Sabbath reassures the believer who keeps it of his divine election and mission in this world. Third, as an incorruptible and universal symbol, the Sabbath is always fresh in its meaning and enables every human being to express commitment to God. Fourth, as a type of baptism, the Sabbath provides a weekly opportunity to renew the baptismal covenant, by experiencing anew self-renouncement as well as physical, social and spiritual renewal.
Fifth, as a temporal symbol, the Sabbath protects the believer from idolatry, reminding him of the spiritual nature of his covenant relationship with God. Sixth, as a fitting symbol of mutual commitment, the Sabbath reassures humanity of Godís availability and invites the believer to express his belonging to God by offering Him a specific measure of timeóthe seventh dayóas a token expression of his total life. Lastly, as a reminder of Godís saving activities, the Sabbath enables the believer to experience and celebrate the assurance of Godís love and the Good News of Belonging to God and His people.
NOTES TO THE CHAPTER 4
1. A major study of the OT covenant has been done by D. J. McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant, Analecta Biblica, 1963, 2nd edition 1972. See also his survey, Old Testament Covenant: A Survey of Current Opinions, Oxford, 1972. Cf. G. E. Mendenhall, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East, 1955. Also his article in The Interpreterís Dictionary of the Bible, 1962, s.v. "Covenant"; K. Baltzer, The Covenant Formulary in Old Testament, Jewish, and Early Christian Writings, trans. by D. E. Green. Oxford, 1971.
2. J. J. Stamm and M. E. Andrew, The Ten Commandments in Recent Research, 1967, p. 70. A little further the two authors remark, "Neither grace nor the demand made on us can be regarded as more important or more primary than the other. In fact, this very statement is misleading in as far as it gives the impression that they are necessarily two different things. They always belong together. Godís grace can only be given to us in the demand made upon us, and in receiving the gift, we are freed from the slavery of that performance in our own strength which can only lead to proud and self-satisfied legalism" (p. 72).
3. For example, the sacrifice of divided animals (Gen. 15:7-16); the passover lamb and blood (Ex. 12:12-14); the tabernacle (Ex. 25:8).
4. The language in these references is clearly that of the covenant. Note, for example, the expression "between me and you" (Ex. 31:13, 16; Ezek. 20:12, 20). Ernst Jenni explains that the Sabbath is wholly a covenant institution (Die theologische Begründung des Sabbatgebotes in Alten Testament, 1956, pp. 13-15).
5. Quoted in Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, ET, 1956, III, part 2, p. 51, emphasis supplied.
6. Ibid., III, part 1, p. 98. Karl Barth emphasizes that "It is the covenant of the grace of God which in this event, at the supreme and final point of the first creation story, is revealed as the starting-point for all that follows. Everything that precedes is the road to this supreme point" (p. 98).
7. Ibid., III, part 1, pp. 216, 217.
8. Emperor Hadrianís prohibition of Sabbathkeeping is discussed in Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday, 1977, pp. 159-161.
9. W. E. H. Lecky notes that "of all the failures of the French Revolution, none was more complete than the substitution of a tenth for a seventh day of rest, which they established and tried to enforce by law. The innovation passed away without protest or regret" (Democracy and Liberty, 1930, II, p. 109). Cf. Charles Huestis, Sunday in the Making, 1929, p. 134.
10. Dennis J. McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant, 1972, p. 88.
11. Quoted by Augusto Segre, in "Il Sabato nella storia Ebraica," in the symposium Líuomo nella Bibbia e nelle culture ad essa contemporanee, 1975, p. 116. Herbert W. Richardson expresses a similar view, saying: "I believe that the power of Judaism to survive in the face of constant enmity and disadvantage arises from its firm sense of being a Ďholy people,í i.e., from its recurring celebration of the Sabbath sacrament" (Toward an American Theology, 1967, p. 132).
12. Quoted by R. H. Martin, The Day: A Manual on the Christian Sabbath, 1933, p. 184. Cf. Sunday 65 (1978): 22.
13. M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King. The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy, 1963, p. 18. Gerhard von Rad recognizes the "right of ownership" expressed by the Sabbath and says, "it is the day which really belongs to God and sets a standard undefiled by any kind of human businessó the celebration of the sabbath, at least in Israelís earlier period, was discharged by abstaining demonstratively from productive labour, and symbolically handing the day back to God" (Deuteronomy. A Commentary, 1966, p. 58).
14. A. T. Lincoln brings out this function of the Sabbath, saying, "By bringing all routine work to a halt for twenty-four hours the people were acting out their allegiance and confessing that the covenant Lord was specifically Lord of their time. This is why the Sabbath could serve as a sign of the whole covenant relationship. By demonstrably laying down her work and allowing the seventh day to, as it were, Ďlie fallow,í Israel was acknowledging her complete dependence on her Suzerain" ("From the Sabbath to the Lordís Day: A Biblical and Theological Perspective," in From Sabbath to the Lordís Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation, D. A. Carson, ed., 1982, p. 354).
15. John Calvin acknowledges this function of the Sabbath, writing, "under the rest of the seventh day, the divine Lawgiver meant to furnish the people of Israel with a type of the spiritual rest by which believers were to cease from their works, and allow God to work in them" (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1972, I, p. 339).
16. See The Interpreterís Dictionary of the Bible, 1962, s.v. "Holiness." Johannes Pedersen explains that holiness as the experience of divine power through places or times functions as a regulating principle of the whole life (Israel: Its Life and Culture 1940, III-IV, p. 287).
17. A. Martin points out that the divine choice of the Sabbath fulfills a double function. "In the first place it is a time which man, object of divine election, sets apart for the service of God. Secondly, the exercise of setting aside time reminds the Christian that he himself has been set apart" ("Notes sur le Sabbat," Foi et Vie 5 : 18).
18. Ibid., p. 17.
19. Abraham Joshua Heschel writes: "The Hebrew word le-kadesh, to sanctify, means, in the language of the Talmud, to consecrate a woman, to betroth. Thus the meaning of that word on Sinai was to impress upon Israel the fact that their destiny is to be the groom of the sacred day" (The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man, 1951, pp. 51-52).
20. Nathan A. Barack remarks that the celebration of the Sabbath "from sundown to sundown enables the observer to welcome it, and usher it out, by means of appropriate rituals. The day is complete and distinctive. The religious experience of welcoming, and taking leave from, the holy day makes the life of the observer also distinctive" (A History of the Sabbath. 1965, p. 32).
21. M. L. Andreasen, The Sabbath: Which Day and Why?, 1942, p. 243.
22. The influence of the Roman legislation against secret societies and gatherings (hetaeriae) on Christianís worship habits, is discussed in From Sabbath to Sunday (n. 8), pp. 95-99.
23. This view is expressed by G. E. Mendenhall. He writes: "The surprising infrequency of references to covenant in the NT raises great difficulties, even though it is understandable. The covenant for Judaism meant the Mosaic law and for the Roman Empire a covenant meant an illegal secret society. This two-sided conflict made it nearly impossible for early Christianity to use the term meaningfully" (The Interpreterís Dictionary of the Bible, 1962, s.v. "Covenant," p. 722). Note that even the covenant meaning of the Lordís Supper ("new covenant in my blood"ó I Cor. 11:25) is not found in the post-NT literature (such as Didache, 9, 10, 14), presumably because of the same Roman hetaeriae (n. 22) legislation.
24. Louis Tamminga, "Review of Promise and Deliverance by S. G. De Graaf," Baptist Reformation Review 3 (1979): 31.
25. Philip Melanchthon, On Christian Doctrine. Loci Communes 1555, trans. by Clyde L. Manschreck, 1965, p. 98. Emphasis supplied.
26. A. Martin (n. 17), p. 20.
27. Karl Barth (n. 5), p. 54.
29. George Foot Moore correctly points out that Sabbathkeeping was "even more significant than circumcision. The latter sign of the covenant was imposed on an infant by his parents without his understanding or will, solely by virtue of his descent; whereas the keeping of the sabbath in the face of wordly interest was a standing evidence of th~ intelligent and self-determined fidelity of the man to the religion in which he was brought up from a child" (Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era, 1927, p. 24).
30. Sakae Kubo comments that the Sabbath "recalls to his [Christian] mind the time when his re-creation took place, his baptism which memorializes the once-and-for-all event. The Sabbath weekly reminds us of the once-and-for-all completed Creation event, our redemption by Christ, and our new creation" (God Meets Man, 1978, p. 49).
31. Abraham Joshua Heschel (n. 19), p. 99.
32 Fritz Guy, "Holiness in Time: A Preliminary Study of the Sabbath as Spiritual Experience," a paper presented at Andrews University, 1961, p. 5.
33. For example, Hiley H. Ward writes: "The day [Sabbath] is intangible, not something made with hands, according to Jewish rabbis. But is it really intangible? When it is defined, with regulations attached to keeping the day, a way of life imposed, it becomes as tangible as a millstone upon the neck of a person" (Space-Age Sunday, 1960, p. 146).
34. A. Martin (n. 17), pp. 24-25.
35. Karl Barth (n. 5), p. 54. Cf. idem, III, part 1, p. 226.
36. Ibid., p. 227.
37. Karl Barth expresses eloquently this function of the Sabbath, saying: "The aim of the Sabbath commandment is that man shall give and allow the omnipotent grace of God to have the first and last word at every point; . . . that he shall place himself, with his knowing, willing and doing, unconditionally at its disposal" (n. 5, p. 54).
9 W. E. H. Lecky notes that "of all the failures of the French Revolution, none was more complete than the substitution of a tenth for a seventh day of rest, which they established and tried to enforce by law. The innovation passed away without protest or regret" (Democracy and Liberty, 1930, II, p. 109). Cf. Charles Huestis, Sunday in the Making, 1929, p. 134.
10 Dennis J. McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant, 1972, p. 88.
11 Quoted by Augusto Segre, in "Ii Sabato nella storia Ebraica," in the symposium Líuomo nella Bibbia e nelle culture ad essa contemporanee, 1975, p. 116. Herbert W. Richardson expresses a similar view, saying:
"I believe that the power of Judaism to survive in the face of constant enmity and disadvantage arises from its firm sense of being a Ďholy people,í i.e., from its recurring celebration of the Sabbath sacrament" (Toward an American Theology, 1967, p. 132).
12 Quoted by R. H. Martin, The Day: A Manual on the Christian Sabbath, 1933, p. 184. Cf. Sunday 65 (1978): 22.
13 M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King. The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy, 1963, p. 18. Gerhard von Rad recognizes the "right of ownership" expressed by the Sabbath and says, "it is the day which really belongs to God and sets a standard undefiled by any kind of human business.. - - the celebration of the sabbath, at least in Israelís earlier period, was discharged by abstaining demonstratively from productive labour, and symbolically handing the day back to God" (Deuteronomy. A Commentary, 1966, p. 58).
14 A. T. Lincoln brings out this function of the Sabbath, saying, "By bringing all routine work to a halt for twenty-four hours the people were acting out their allegiance and confessing that the covenant Lord was specifically Lord of their time. This is why the Sabbath could serve as a sign of the whole covenant relationship. By demonstrably laying down her work and allowing the seventh day to, as it were, Ďlie fallow,í Israel was acknowledging her complete dependence on her Suzerain~~ ("From the Sabbath to the Lordís Day: A Biblical and Theological Perspective," in From Sabbath to the Lordís Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation, D. A. Carson, ed. [to be published in 1980], p. 563 manuscript).
15 John Calvin acknowledges this function of the Sabbath, writing, "under the rest of the seventh day, the divine Lawgiver meant to furnish the people of Israel with a type of the spiritual rest by which believers were to cease from their works, and allow God to work in them" (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1972, I, p. 339).
16 See The Interpreterís Dictionary of the Bible, 1962, s.v. "Holiness." Johannes Pedersen explains that holiness as the experience of divine power through places or times functions as a regulating principle of the whole life (Israel: Its Life and Culture 1940, III-IV, p. 287).
17 A. Martin points out that the divine choice of the Sabbath fulfills a double function. "In the first place it is a time which man, object of divine election, sets apart for the service of God. Secondly, the exercise of setting aside time reminds the Christian that he himself has been set apart" ("Notes sur le Sabbat," Foi et Vie 5 : 18).
18 Ibid., p. 17.
19 Abraham Joshua Heschel writes: "The Hebrew word le-kadesh, to sanctify, means, in the language of the Talmud, to consecrate a woman, to betroth. Thus the meaning of that word on Sinai was to impress upon Israel the fact that their destiny is to be the groom of the sacred day" (The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man, 1951, pp. 51-52).
20 Nathan A. Barack remarks that the celebration of the Sabbath "from sundown to sundown enables the observer to welcome it, and usher it out, by means of appropriate rituals. The day is complete and distinctive. The religious experience of welcoming, and taking leave from, the holy day makes the life of the observer also distinctive" (A History of the Sabbath. 1965, p. 32).
21 M. L. Andreasen, The Sabbath: Which Day and Why?, 1942, p. 243.
22 The influence of the Roman legislation against secret societies and gatherings (hetaeriae) on Christianís worship habits, is discussed in From Sabbath to Sunday (n. 8), pp. 95-99.
23 This view is expressed by G. E. Mendenhall. He writes: "The surprising infrequency of references to covenant in the NT raises great difficulties, even though it is understandable. The covenant for Judaism meant the Mosaic law and for the Roman Empire a covenant meant an illegal secret society. This two-sided conflict made it nearly impossible for early Christianity to use the term meaningfully" (The Interpreterís Dictionary of the Bible, 1962, s.v. "Covenant," p. 722). Note that even the covenant meaning of the Lordís Supper ("new covenant in my blood"ó I Cor. 11:25) is not found in the post-NT literature (such as Thdache, 9, 10, 14), presumably because of the same Roman hetaeriae (n. 22) legislation.
24 Louis Tamminga, "Review of Promise and Deliverance by S. G. De Graaf," Baptist Reformation Review 3 (1979): 31.
25 Philip Melanchthon, On Christian Doctrine. Loci Communes 1555, trans. by Clyde L. Manschreck, 1965, p. 98. Emphasis supplied.
26 A. Martin (n. 17), p. 20.
27 Karl Barth (n. 5), p. 54.
29 George Foot Moore correctly points out that Sabbathkeeping was "even more significant than circumcision. The latter sign of the covenant was imposed on an infant by his parents without his understanding or will, solely by virtue of his descent; whereas the keeping of the sabbath in the face of wordly interest was a standing evidence of th~ intelligent and self-determined fidelity of the man to the religion in which he was brought up from a child" (Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era, 1927, p. 24).
30 Sakae Kubo comments that the Sabbath "recalls to his [Christian] mind the time when his re-creation took place, his baptism which memorializes the once-and-for-all event. The Sabbath weekly reminds us of the once-and-for-all completed Creation event, our redemption by Christ, and our new creation" (God Meets Man, 1978, p. 49).
31 Abraham Joshua Heschel (n. 19), p. 99.
32 Fritz Guy, "Holiness in Time: A Preliminary Study of the Sabbath as Spiritual Experience," a paper presented at Andrews University, 1961, p. 5.
33 For example, Hiley H. Ward writes: "The day [Sabbath] is intangible, not something made with hands, according to Jewish rabbis. But is it really intangible? When it is defined, with regulations attached to keeping the day, a way of life imposed, it becomes as tangible as a millstone upon the neck of a person" (Space-Age Sunday, 1960, p. 146).
34 A. Martin (n. 17), pp. 24-25.
35 Karl Barth (n. 5), p. 54. Cf. idem, III, part 1, p. 226.
36 Ibid., p. 227.
37 Karl Barth expresses eloquently this function of the Sabbath, saying: "The aim of the Sabbath commandment is that man shall give and allow the omnipotent grace of God to have the first and last word at every point; . . . that he shall place himself, with his knowing, willing and doing, unconditionally at its disposal" (n. 5, p. 54).