Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Already-Not-Yet Nature of the Sabbath

It's been awhile since we've had any discussion of the continuing nature of the Sabbath. In Greg Beale's fantastic book, A New Testament Biblical Theology, he discusses the eschatological implications of the Sabbath. He argues that the Sabbath as instituted at creation still persists, although the specifics of the Sabbath as mandated by Yahweh and practiced by Israel has been typologically fulfilled in Christ, which echos Calvin on the subject.  Beale then nicely summarizes:
The continuation of a weekly day of rest not only commemorates this past rest but also points forward to Christ's final coming, when believers themselves will be resurrected bodily and completely enter the same rest that Christ has already fully entered. Sabbatarians, however, continue to label this commemorative day to be the "Sabbath," since the sign to which the weekly Sabbath points has not yet been finally and completely fulfilled. This is not a simple carry-over of Israel's Sabbath ordinance; it is a continuation of the expression of the creation ordinance...which mandated that humanity rest on the seventh day (p. 800).
And so, those who complain that Christians don't really celebrate the Sabbath, because they should still be observing it on Saturdays, not Sundays, fail to appreciate the eschatological already-not-yet significance of Christ's coming. The Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ, but not all aspects of the Sabbath will have been fulfilled until the final consummation at Christ's second coming.

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