Why is the Fourth Commandment Left Out of the Covenant?

1. Neither God nor Jesus commanded it to be a part of the covenant, for the all sufficient reason that They did not want it as a part of that covenant. If They had wanted it to be a part of the new covenant it was in Their power to command that it be so, as it was in the old covenant. But since They did not require the fourth commandment to be a part of it and since the new covenant teaches that men are to be persuaded in their own minds as to what day they want to observe, it is the height of folly to follow a practice in any Christian organization that God did not see fit to make a part of the new covenant (Rom.14:1-11; Gal. 4:9-11;Col. 2:14-17). Of all the words of Jesus on Earth there are only four references to the sabbath:

(1)  “The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day” (Matt. 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:1-9). If He is Lord of it and did not see fit to make it a part of the new covenant, then it certainly is presumptuous of man to make it a part of that covenant.

(2)  “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Therefore, to be bound so strictly by a day as were the Jews, would bring the bondage of the old covenant into the new one. (See the Jewish Talmud for the insensible slavery to a certain day).

(3)  “It is lawful to do well on the sabbath days” (Matt. 12:1-12; Mark 2:23-28; 3:2-4; Luke 6:1-9; 13:10-16; 14:1-5; John 5:9-18;7:22, 23; 9:14-16).

(4)  “Pray that your flight be not in winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20). This refers to the last days when Jews will have to flee Judea from the Anti-Christ. Orthodox Jews will not travel more than a mile on the sabbath (Acts 1:12), so Jesus warns them to pray they will not have to flee on this day in order that they might escape quickly.

Not one of these references commands Christians to keep the old law sabbath, so since it is done away along with the old law, as we have seen in Point I above, why neither God nor Jesus made the fourth commandment a part of the new covenant can be seen from the points below.

2. The old Jewish sabbath was a particular “sign” and “token” of the old covenant between God and Israel: “The Lord God make a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers (not with Adam, Noah, Abraham, or any other man in the past, as some teach He did), but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day… Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; but with him (of the Gentiles) that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him (coming generations) that is not here this day” (Deut. 5:2, 3; 29:13-15; 1 Chron. 16:17; 2 Chron. 5:10). “My sabbaths shall ye (Israel, and the Gentiles in the nation of Israel) keep: for it is a sign between me and you…. ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you (set you apart from all people to God)….It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever” (Ex. 31:13-18). “I gave them my sabbaths to be a sign between me and them…. They shall be a sign between me and you” (Ezek. 20:12-20). “Remember (not the seventh day of recreation when God rested, but) that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought thee out thence through a mighty hand….Therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). “Remember” (Ex. 20:8) refers to the sabbath of Ex. 16:23, which was given before the ten commandments, and not the sabbath of  Gen. 2:3, which they could not possibly remember because of not having been there.

These numerous passages show the exact purpose of keeping the sabbath between God and Israel. It was to commemorate their deliverance from slavery in Egypt when they had no rest. Only such Gentiles as came out of Egypt with the Israelites and were part of the nation of Israel were commanded to keep this sabbath and the old law (Ex. 12:49; Num. 15:15, 16).

The old covenant then was one between God and the nation of Israel and it never was between God and the Gentiles who were not part of Israel. Moses recognized this when he bragged to Israel that they were the only nation on Earth that had the old covenant laws (Deut. 4:7-10). David recognized that Israel alone had such laws and to God they were a special people (2 Sam. 7:23; 1 Chron. 17:21). Paul taught that the Jews had an advantage over the Gentiles because of having the law (Rom.2:17-29;3:1, 2, 9-20; 7:1; 9:4, 5; 11:11). Jesus also recognized this when He said He was sent only to the Jews (Matt. 10:5, 6; 15:24;21:33-46). It is through the fall of the Jews that salvation is come unto the Gentiles (Rom.11:11). Paul definitely said “the Gentiles, WHICH HAVE NOT THE LAW” and thus the Gentiles were made guilty before God by other means than breaking the law (Rom.1:21-32; 2: 12-16; 1 Cor. 9:20, 21). Gentiles were not of the circumcision because they were not under the law (Ex. 12:48; Judges 14:3; 15:18; Jer. 9:26; Rom.2:26; 3:30; 4:9; 1 Cor. 7:18; Eph. 2:11; Gal. 2:7-14). Thus the Gentiles were not under either the Abrahamic or Mosaic covenants, which had circumcision.

It was necessary for the new covenant to be made, so that God could save all men alike. All men had been proved guilty of sin, in Adam and by different means since, so now provision had to be made for those outside the Jewish covenant as well as for the Jews. The new covenant and the gospel make such provision and now all men can be saved apart from any special covenant between God and Israel (Rom.3:21-31; 4:13-25; Gal. 2:16-21; 3:1-24). Abraham’s promised blessing can benefit all men alike, apart from circumcision which sealed the covenant with Abraham and Moses. Abraham received his blessing before he was circumcised (Rom.4:9-12). Gentiles and Jews can be blessed through Christ, apart from law keeping (Gal. 3:13-14, 19-29; 5:1-26).

This promise was given to Abraham 430 years before the law (Gal. 3:17-25), and a number of years before he was circumcised (Gen. 17:9-27). This promise was one of “faith” and the law is not of faith (Rom.4; Gal. 3:6-12). If one keeps these things in mind he can understand some statements of Paul, James, and others to Jews concerning the law that never would have been written to Gentile Christians (Rom.2:17-29; 3:1, 2; 9:1-11:29; James 1:1; 2:10,11; etc.).

The old covenant was made between God and Israel, and keeping the sabbath was a particular sign or token between God and Israel to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt. There would be no object in making this sabbath a part of the new covenant, which concerns all nations who never were delivered from Egypt. Thus the sabbath would not have the same meaning to other nations as it would to Israel, hence it was left out of the new covenant entirely. If all men were to have a sabbath in the new covenant, it would have to be another day and for a purpose different from the old Jewish sabbath of the old covenant. This is why Christians keep Sunday – to commemorate the resurrection, the beginning of the new creation in Christ. From the standpoint of resting every seventh day and having a day of worship to God, Sunday meets all the requirements of both man and God, and is in keeping with the new covenant and the early Christian practices as we shall see in Point VI below.

3. The fourth commandment is the only one of the ten that was a ceremonial law. Its sole purpose was to commemorate the deliverance from Egypt (Deut. 5:15) and be a type or shadow of the rest in Christ and in eternity (Heb. 4:1-11; 10:1; Col. 2:14-17). Since it is the only commandment that had a typical meaning it is only natural that it cease to be a part of the new covenant, which brings the reality of what it typified (Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 4:1-11). The physical and spiritual benefits of a rest day can be realized on Sunday as well as on a Saturday.

The ceremonial and memorial nature of the fourth commandment is further proved by the fact that it was for a particular people in a certain land, and because it is the only law of the ten that has been broken and can be broken without violating some moral law which affects both God and man. It is impossible to keep the fourth commandment in all lands, as proved in Point IX below.

4. The sabbath commandment was the only one of the ten that could degenerate into a mere form without affecting the morals of human beings. All others concern moral obligations of man to God. It was the only one that could be dispensed with without affecting the highest good of all. No other one of the ten but the fourth commandment could be done away with and still leave a moral law that covered every need of man in his relation to both God and other men.

In Rom.13:7-10 Paul sums up the new covenant commandments. After listing a few he adds, “If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended (summed up) in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” He did not list the fourth commandment here or elsewhere as being necessary in the new covenant. If it was half as important as some teach that it is, it certainly would have been listed with other commandments at least one time in the new covenant. It was of no moral value, and since its religious and physical benefits could be enjoyed as well on any other day, it is no longer necessary in the new covenant as it was in the old.

5. It was foretold that the sabbath would be abolished because it had become something to be abhored by God. The reason God hated it was because of the sins and hypocrisy of Israel in keeping the sabbath which was a “sign” between Him and Israel. “I will cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts” (Hosea 2:11). “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them” (Isa.1:10-15).

6. The prophets not only predicted that God would do away with the old sabbaths of the old covenant, but that He would make a new covenant with Israel when their Messiah would come to Earth to set up His kingdom (Isa.42:6; 49:8; 59:21; Jer. 31:31-40;32:37-44; Ezek. 36:24-38). The new covenant was made at the first advent of Christ, but was not accepted by Israel and will not be until the second advent as is explained in these passages, and in Rom.11:25-29; Heb. 8:8-12; 10:16-18; Matt. 23:37-39.

In Psalms 78:1, 2 it was predicted that the Messiah would open His mouth and utter a “Law” and speak things kept secret from the foundation of the world. This was fulfilled in Matt. 13:35; John 1:17; 12:49, 50; 14:15, 21-24; Acts 1:2. Therefore, the old theory that the new covenant was made known to Adam, Abraham and all other men, and that it is the same as the old covenant, is unscriptural.

Disciples of Moses argue that the new covenant is the same as the old one, the great difference being that in the old covenant the laws were written on stones, whereas in the new covenant the same laws are written on the heart. It is utterly foolish to argue that the place where a contract is written makes a difference in the contract. Because it was predicted that the new covenant was to be written on the heart does not make it the same as the old covenant. Even the old covenant was to be written on the heart (Deut. 4:9; 6:5, 6; 30:6-20; Prov. 3:1-3; 7:3; Ps. 37:31; 50:16; 119:11; Ex. 13:9; Isa.51:7; Jer. 20:9; Ezek. 3:10). The old covenant was to be written on two mountains (Deut. 27); in books for the priests, kings and people (Deut. 17:18, 19; 31:9-11); and on the gates, door posts, hands, and other places (Deut. 6:6-9); but every time it was written on a new place, that did not make it a new covenant. As seen in Point III, the new covenant was entirely a new contract that took the place of the old covenant, so the old Jewish sabbath of the old covenant naturally was done away with, for its purpose could not be the same to Christians as it was to Jews.

7. The sabbath of the old covenant was not a memorial of the old creation. If it was a memorial of the old creation which was cursed by sin, it is only proper that it be done away with and a new sabbath be instituted as a memorial of the new creation in Christ. It is better to commemorate the present new creation than the old creation that was cursed. The Bible, however, teaches that the Jews were to keep the sabbath as a memorial of the day they were delivered from Egypt (Deut. 5:15), so their sabbath could not possibly be the proper day for all nations to keep because they had no such deliverance. This is why it is not a day to be kept in the new covenant. Not one Scripture says the old sabbath was a memorial of the old creation.

Because keeping the sabbath was a memorial day of the deliverance from Egypt and a typical practice of the rest in Christ to come, it could be broken and has been broken many times without the committing of moral sin. The day that Israel left Egypt was established as their sabbath (Num. 33:3; Lev. 23:5-11). Israel marched around Jericho (Josh. 6), set up the tabernacle (Ex. 40:1, 17 with Lev. 23:5-11), searched out Canaan (Num. 13:25), made war (1 Kings 20:29; 2 Kings 3:9; Josh. 6), circumcised (John 7:22-23), and did other things on the sabbath and were guiltless. David and priests of old broke it and were guiltless (Matt. 12:2-5). If any other of the ten commandments had been broken no man would have been morally guiltless, thus the fourth commandment, being of a memorial and of a typical nature, has no place in the new covenant where we have the rest of which it was a type and where we could never observe it as the day of deliverance from Egypt.