Question: You claim that Gentiles should not keep Jewish religious feasts because they have no meaning for anyone but Jews. Doesn’t God call the festivals His festivals in Leviticus 23? The first feast of the Lord described in Leviticus 23 is the weekly Sabbath day. This is not listed as a Jewish custom, but one given by God to Israel and in turn to any Gentile who wanted to join himself to the Lord God of Israel....Should we not be keeping it today? After all, He gave nine other commands in the same breath and we all agree (except for Catholics [who ignore the prohibition against making images]) that they are binding upon us....Is it not inconsistent to teach that the Sabbath is Jewish, yet the other nine commandments are not...that the Sabbath command is altered, but the other nine are not...? Why is it that the church in nearly all its major denominations follows the Church of Rome in this custom of renouncing Sabbath worship and replacing it with Sunday observance?
Response: We have dealt with this before, but it keeps coming up. That God’s covenant was with Israel and not with Gentiles is declared repeatedly: “He [God] sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any [other] nation...” (Ps:147:19-20); “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law...” (Rom:2:14); “...my kinsmen according to the flesh:...Israelites; to whom pertaineth the...covenants, and the giving of the law” (Rom:9:3-4); “...ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh...aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise...” (Eph:2:11-12), etc., etc.
Yes, Gentiles have “the law written in their hearts” (Rom:2:15). That this is only what God had written in every conscience since the beginning, and not the covenants given to Israel at Mt. Sinai, is proved by the fact that human conscience is limited to the moral laws. No one has it written in his conscience to keep the sabbath, much less the numerous other ceremonial instructions of God’s covenant with Israel. Their absence from the conscience of mankind is further evidence that the covenants for Israel, including the sabbath, were not given to Gentiles.
Yes, in Old Testament times Gentiles could join Israel by acknowledging the Lord God of Israel and coming under the old covenant He had made with her, which included the obligation to keep the Law. But neither Israel nor anyone else could keep the Law. That is why God promised to make a new covenant (or testament) with Israel (Jer:31:31), bringing salvation to all mankind (Is 52:10), a covenant written “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor:3:3).
Christ is the “mediator of the new testament [covenant]” (Heb:9:15), which is made possible through His death in payment of sin. Under the old covenant, animal sacrifices were offered “which can never take away sins” (Heb:10:11). They were symbolic of Christ, the Lamb of God, whose sacrifice on the cross would put an end to sin and the Old Testament sacrifices: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;...For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified...there is no more offering for sin” (Heb:10:12-18). If you are going to keep the sabbath, then you must offer the prescribed animal sacrifices as well. In fact, those have been done away in Christ, who was the fulfillment of it all.
Under the new covenant, Gentiles do not join the nation of Israel, but both Jews and Gentiles become new creations in Christ and are joined into a new entity, the church. Before the Cross, one was either a Jew or a Gentile. Now there are three classes: Jews, Gentiles and the church (1 Cor:10:32). Paul reminds the Ephesians, “For he [Christ] is our peace, who hath made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us...even the law of commandments...for to make in himself of twain [Jew and Gentile] one new man [a Christian]...” (Eph:2:14-15).
We have not “renounc[ed] sabbath worship and replac[ed] it with Sunday observance.” Saturday is still the sabbath, but it pertains to the old covenant and the old creation. That was the day God rested from His work of creating the universe. That old universe connected with the old covenant (testament) is doomed to be destroyed because of sin: “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise...all these things shall be dissolved...[but] we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pt 3:10- 13).
The new universe will be inhabited only by those who have been made new creations in Christ (2 Cor:5:17). There will be no more sabbath because there will be “no night there” (Rv 21:25) and thus neither passing of time nor counting of days as in the old creation. The lost, however, who are still under the curse of the law, having rejected Christ’s payment for their sins, shall be “tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rv 20:10).
Sunday is the day Jesus Christ rose from the grave, “the firstborn from the dead” (Col:1:18). Those who have been born again and are thus new creatures in Christ meet on that day in His name. We are no longer under the old law “of ordinances that was against us,...[which Christ] took out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col:2:14); “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made [us] free from the law of sin and death” (Rom:8:2). Christians are held to a much higher standard than Israel had under the old covenant. The law of commandments required human effort and could never be kept; our new standard is the very life of Christ himself. And the only way that can be achieved is not through any human effort but in the power of the Holy Spirit and the risen Lord living His life in us.