The Fourth Commandment
May 20, 2010
The Fourth Commandment says in Exodus 20:8, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."
Sabbath means "rest; cessation." Holy means "set apart for divine service."
Each commandment should be considered the heading of an Article of Law for a Christian Constitution. It is not the complete law in itself, but is the summary of an entire set of statutes and judgments that fall under that category, each having its own Paragraph.
The Fourth Commandment brings up the subject of holidays ("Holy Days"), including feast days and other times of "cessation" from the normal routine of work. Man needs periodic rest in order to function in a healthy way. So the first-level rest is on the seventh day from whenever the work began.
Secondly, there is a land-rest every seven years (Lev. 25:2-7). No one was to sow crops in that year, and whatever grew of itself was freely available to whoever wanted to gather it. Verses 6-7 read,
(6) And all of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. (7) Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.
In other words, since God owns all the land (Lev. 25:23), He requires that all natural production in the seventh year belongs to Him, and He gives it to all creatures on earth for the mere cost of their labor in gathering it.
Like all other laws, this reveals His sovereignty over all that He has created. Secondly, it reveals His love and concern for all that He has created, both man and beast, bond or free, Israelite and alien.
Also, debts were released every seven years (Deut. 31:10). Anyone who was making yearly payments on debt would not be required to make such payments in the seventh year. This is because their main source of income was farming in those days, and in a land-rest year, they would have no income with which to make the payment.
However, in the eighth year, their payments resumed until the debt was paid, or until the year of Jubilee. All debts were permanently released in the year of Jubilee.
After seven land-rests, a Jubilee was to be declared. Verses 8-10,
(8) You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. (9) You shall then sound a ram's horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. (10) You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through all the land to all its inhabitants.
Israel's calendar was based upon sevens. There was the seventh day rest, a seventh-year land rest, and a Jubilee after seven land rest years. When the 49th year ended, they were to blow the trumpet for the Jubilee ten days into the 50th year, consecrating the entire 50th year as a year of release.
Every 50th year the Reset button was pushed. All remaining debt was cancelled, and everyone returned to his land inheritance, if he had lost it through debt (Lev. 25:10).
Of course, this law is tied to the Inheritance laws of the Bible. In the Kingdom of God, every family has its land inheritance. The land cannot be taxed, because it is not owned by government but by God. And if people are forced to sell their land and work for someone else as an employee, they are always given the right of redemption if they are able to raise the money to buy it back (Lev. 25:24).
The amount of redemption decreases each year, of course, because the value of the land itself depends upon its estimated yearly production, rather than a speculative value. So if he sold the land in the 30th year of a Jubilee cycle, he would be paid according to the number of years to the year of Jubilee, excluding the Sabbath years when the land has no commercial value.
In the Jubilee year, the land then reverts back to its original inheritor and the Reset button is pushed (i.e., the Trumpet of the Jubilee).
From a long-term (prophetic) perspective, there are also cycles of 10 Jubilees (490 years), as well as 40 Jubilees (1960 years), as well as 100 Jubilees (4900 years), and also the great Creation Jubilee cycle of 49,000 years to the Restoration of All Things.
From this we see that in the Kingdom of God, time is measured in sevens. After seven days comes an eighth day, which is also the first day of the week. After seven years comes the eighth year, which is also the first year of the next sabbath cycle. After seven sevens (49) comes the Year of Jubilee. It is the 50th year, but it is also the first year of the next Jubilee cycle.
Thus, in counting Jubilee years, one cannot count by 50's, but by cycles of 49 years. Hence, ten Jubilees is not 500 years, but only 490 years. That is why Daniel's 70 weeks speaks of "weeks" of sabbath land-rest years, and it is 10 Jubilees, or 490 years long.
Time is measured in sevens. Judicial matters are measured in tens (Exodus 18:19-22). Governmental (political) matters are measured in twelves, such as the division of the land into twelve states (tribes).
The Sabbath law, therefore, divides time by sevens. Any study of prophecy must take this into account, because these "sevens" apply not only in short-term prophecy (a cycle of 49 years), but also in long-term cycles that go beyond this. Often they are in multiples of 49.
The feast days are also holidays and fall under the Fourth Article of a Christian Constitution. These are special days in which we are to study and learn the spiritual and prophetic significance of these days. There is a revelation attached to every feast day, illustrated by past history where God has performed special acts and revealed certain truths that are timeless.
The manner in which one keeps a "feast" differs today from the observance under the Old Covenant. Yet this difference is due to the new set of divine events that occurred on those days in the time of Christ, which added a whole new level of meaning to them. Necessarily, some alterations were made at that time to accommodate the progression of truth in the Kingdom. No longer do we need to sacrifice an animal (lamb) on Passover, but in order to be justified by faith, we need the Lamb of God that has been slain for the sin of the world.
The feasts, then, did not pass away, but the forms changed as Truth clarified. We are coming up on Pentecost this Sunday, seven weeks after the wave-sheaf offering on April 4. We no longer need to offer God two loaves of bread baked with leaven (yeast). We ourselves are the bread, being the body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:17), and along with Christ the Head, we are the New Covenant offering.
As we offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), we fulfill the feasts and the offerings as the body of Christ. We no longer need to function as types and shadows in this regard, but as the antitypes of that which was prophesied by Moses.
In the Upper Room (Acts 2), God accepted the true sacrifice of the 120 disciples. The sacrifice was accepted by fire. The Pentecostal offering of the temple was NOT accepted, because the time of change was at hand. The priests did not understand this, of course, and tried to continue with their previous practice. Yet what was acceptable the previous years was no longer acceptable after Jesus was raised from the dead.
This is why we must know the times and seasons, and we must understand the changes that have been made under the New Covenant.
Dr. Stephen Jones