Israel's Holiness and the Ceremonial Commands in the Law

Israel’s Holiness and the Ceremonial Commands in the Law

One of the more common questions I receive relates to the ceremonial commands in the Mosaic Law. People will ask, “Why did Israel have all those weird rules in the Old Testament?”

The simple answer is so Israel could be a holy people. Now the longer answer…

The Mosaic Law contains 613 commands divided into two categories:

  1. The moral – or “common sense” – commands. You shall not murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie. These commands are based on God’s holy nature. God doesn’t change, so these commands are unchanging as well and carried into the New Testament. They are part of the Law of Christ and are still binding for Christians today.
  2. The ceremonial commands are not obvious or common sense:
    • Killing a perfectly good animal for a sacrifice. All the sacrifices and offerings are ceremonial commands.
    • The feasts and festivals.
    • Abstaining from certain foods, such as pork and rabbit.
    • Farming a certain way.
    • Wearing – or not wearing –clothes a certain way, including not mixing certain fabrics together.

The purpose of the ceremonial commands causes the most confusion. Nobody wonders why God told Israel not to murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie. But people wonder why Israel wasn’t supposed to eat certain foods or combine certain fabrics.

The ceremonial commands deal with holiness, not morality.

We tend to think holy means good, but that’s what righteous means. Holy means set apart. This is the only way it makes sense seeing inanimate or lifeless objects identified as holy. Here are two examples:

  1. In Exodus 3:5 God told Moses he was, “standing on holy ground.” Was that ground good or moral, and the rest of the ground was immoral or evil? No, but that ground was occupied – or set apart for God’s use – making it holy, while the rest of the ground was not.
  2. If there were two identical vessels, but one was used in the temple and one was not, the one in the temple would be holy because it was set apart for God’s use. The other vessel wasn’t sinful, immoral, or evil, but it was ordinary or common.

The purpose of the ceremonial commands makes sense considering God’s desire for Israel to be a holy nation (Exo 19:6; Deut 7:6). The moral commands were not enough to set Israel apart or distinguish them from other nations, because even pagans recognize people shouldn’t murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie. 

Enter the ceremonial commands, which didn’t address morality, but they allowed Israel to look and act differently than the nations around them.

The ceremonial commands made Israel holy in the Old Testament…

For from the top of the rocks I see [Israel],
And from the hills I behold [Israel];
There! A people dwelling alone,
Not reckoning itself among the nations (Num 23:9).

When Balaam spoke this oracle, he noticed the separateness of the nation.

Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws.” (Est 3:8).

The Mosaic Law allowed Israel to look and act differently than those following the Persians’ laws.

This is evident in the New Testament…

They arrested Paul and Silas and brought them to the magistrates, and said, ‘These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe’” (Acts 16:20-21).

The customs refers to ceremonial commands in the Law. Paul and Silas weren’t teaching these portions of the Law themselves, but because they were Jews it was easy to bring this accusation against them. The Jews followed customs that were different than Rome’s.

The Jews were supposed to be holy, and the ceremonial commands in the Law were wonderful in terms of accomplishing that holiness.

Do you have any questions about the Law, specifically the ceremonial portions? Can you see why the moral commands were important, and the ceremonial commands? Share any thoughts or questions below!

28 Responses

  1. Hi Scott,

    I just reread this post. I think the first time I was distracted by other comments and did not finishing reading the entire post. I also know that we pretty much disagree about almost everything when it comes to scripture and that is ok. We are both on our own walk. However after re-reading this post, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind reading someone else’s post with a similar title. I am not really familiar with this guy, but he does a pretty good job of expressing my views on this subject. Here is the link:

    1. Hi Jeff,
      I didn’t know we “pretty much disagree about almost everything.” I suspect there are actually a number of things we completely agree on.

      Regarding reading that post, I’m pretty much so far behind on things people want me to read, listen to, watch, etc that I don’t think I’ll get around to that post. Plus, the ceremonial portion of the Mosaic Law is a pretty settled issue for me. I believe Christians are under the Law of Christ, as I wrote about in this post.

      I asked you some questions in a previous comment, which you still haven’t answered. That’s okay – honestly – but it makes conversation difficult, because it feels like moving from one unresolved topic to the next.

      With that said, I appreciate the corresponding/supporting Old Testament verses you put on other posts. Thank you!

      Hope you’re doing well.

      1. No problem. However here is the answer your question.

        Question #1 Why is there no command to keep the Sabbath in any of the epistles (the letters of instruction for NT living)?

        Christianity condemns homosexuality. That sin is not mentioned in the 10 Commandments, but elsewhere in “the Law.” Perhaps then, homosexuality is still wrong because the New Testament “verifies” it?
        If specific “New Testament citation” is the criteria to determine what parts of the Law we follow, can you marry your sister? Christianity says that would be sin. Is that mentioned in the New Testament? No. Can you call it sin without saying, “because it’s in the Torah?” No. This would apply to other sins not “specifically” mentioned in the “New Testament” as well as any other perfect and good commands or instructions that the Almighty gave to us. Scripture show that they bless us, keep us safe, and transform us from what we are into what He is.

        As to the corresponding verses, they were to show that Yeshua never taught anything that wasn’t already in the Torah. In fact all He taught was Torah!

        1. Hi Jeff,
          Yes, the morality of the Mosaic Law is confirmed for us in the New Testament. You mentioned homosexuality and it’s clearly confirmed in Romans 1 and 1 Cor 6. Incest is condemned in 1 Cor 5.

          With the Sabbath, we actually have permission from the Lord to violate it (Matt 12), showing it’s ceremonial (as opposed to moral) nature.

          I don’t see how your response answers the question: why is there no command to keep the Sabbath in any of the epistles? The answer is: believers are not commanded to keep the Sabbath in the New Testament.

        2. Just because the text of 1 Cor 5 speaks of lying with your fathers wife, you cannot assume the marrying your sister part. We must first agree on what the text actually states. That text says nothing about marrying your sister.

          What you should understand is that some of the Pharisees when they came to Yeshua, were ALWAYS trying to trip Him up, to catch Him breaking Torah. In all the text as in Matt 12, it is no different. Yeshua’s reply to them is perfect in that He cut between Torah and all the added on rules and regulations the religious leaders had added to it.

          Yeshua knows the Torah. After all it originated with Him. (and the Word became flesh…)

          You keep mentioning ceremonial but I don’t see the word ceremonial anywhere in the New Testament text.

          I’m not so sure the New Testament does not have the command to observe the Sabbath. It definitely does by example. And Yeshua never taught against the Father. The Torah over and over again states that the Sabbath is Eternal just as it does so many other commandments the Christianity disregards. This is called Lawlessness.

          There is no Law of Christ apart from the Father. There is not the Father’s Law and The Law of Christ. They are one and the same. He only taught Torah. He added nothing to it and He took nothing away from it. To say otherwise is to make Him a sinner and a rebellious one at that.

        3. Hi Jeff,
          1 Cor 5 condemns incest. No it doesn’t mention every single relationship, but that’s not necessary to make the point.

          If I’m understanding you correctly, you don’t think 1 Cor 5 condemns incest clearly enough, but you think the New Testament – without any mention of obeying the Sabbath – commands obeying the Sabbath? You said, “We must first agree on what the text actually states. That text says nothing about marrying your sister.” I completely agree with that, but unfortunately you won’t apply that to Sabbath observance. If you want to take your own counsel, please show me a verse commanding obeying the Sabbath. Otherwise, “the text says nothing about keeping the Sabbath.”

          You said, “I’m not so sure the New Testament does not have the command to observe the Sabbath.” Then be sure. Search for yourself and if you find a command, share it with me, and if you don’t, stop believing something that isn’t in Scripture. If “it definitely does by example” show me the example. The example we see is the church meeting on the first day of the week. There is no example of the church meeting on the seventh day of the week. If there is, show me.

        4. You are not playing fare. If you can assume that marring your sister is to be brought forward from the Torah, then I can assume that so does the Torah regarding the Sabbath.

          Here is the bottom line with me.
          Your Jesus Christ is NOT my Yeshua haMashiach.
          Your Jesus Christ teaches against the Father, My Yeshua haMashiach does not.

          Deuteronomy 13:1 – 13:5

          1 “When there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he shall give you a sign or a wonder,
          2 and the sign or the wonder shall come true, of which he has spoken to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other mighty ones – which you have not known – and serve them,’
          3 do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for יהוה your Elohim is trying you to know whether you love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being.
          4 “Walk after יהוה your Elohim and fear Him, and guard His commands and obey His voice, and serve Him and cling to Him.
          5 “And that prophet or that dreamer of dreams is put to death, because he has spoken apostasy against יהוה your Elohim – who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim and redeemed you from the house of bondage – to make you stray from the way in which יהוה your Elohim commanded you to walk. Thus you shall purge the evil from your midst.

  2. Hi,

    1st off, in the creation account in Genesis we see that the 7th day carries a blessing by our creator. Actually the word there in Hebrew I believe is Kadosh (Set-Apart, Holy).

    Gen 2:3 And Elohim blessed the seventh day and set it apart, because on it He rested from all His work which Elohim in creating had made.

    In Exodus 20, we read again that our creator reminds us to remember and to set-apart the Sabbath day because He both blessed (Barak) it and set it apart (Kadosh) from creation.

    Ex 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to set it apart.
    Ex 20:11 “For in six days יהוה made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore יהוה blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart.

    In Exodus 31, we read that our creator not only reminds us to perform the Sabbaths but also to GUARD them by all means and that it is a FOREVER commandment.

    Ex 31:13 “And you, speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, saying, ‘My Sabbaths you are to guard, by all means, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, to know that I, יהוה, am setting you apart.

    Ex 31:14 ‘And you shall guard the Sabbath, for it is set-apart to you.

    Ex 31:16 ‘And the children of Yisra’ĕl shall guard the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant.

    In Isaiah 58, we are given a little more insight as to what it looks like to guard, keep and do the Sabbaths.

    Isa 58:13-14 “If you do turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My set-apart day, and shall call the Sabbath ‘a delight,’ the set-apart day of יהוה ‘esteemed,’ and shall esteem it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in יהוה. And I shall cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Ya‛aqoḇ your father. For the mouth of יהוה has spoken!”

    Over and over and over and over again, we can see how our creator was not pleased with the children of Israel for not guarding and keeping His set-apart days, Sabbaths. In fact one of the main reasons the northern kingdom was sent into exile was for this very reason. There are too many books, verses to mention that speak of this.

    If I fast forward to the 1st coming of our Messiah, we can see that He also guarded and kept the Sabbath as well as taught about it bringing correction to those who added additional instruction regarding the Sabbath.

    Are we commanded to walk as He walked?
    Scott, regarding the Sabbath, you said “I would say it’s kept in the true and greater way through Christ.”

    I have been walking in Torah to the best of my ability now for about a year. I have been keeping the Sabbath every week since then. It was not easy at first but became easier and easier till now when I actually look forward to the Sabbath every week.

    I might also inject here that it is not about keeping it perfectly. Our creator is fully aware that we cannot keep it perfectly but what He is looking for; is it in our heart to guard His commands.

    Deut 8:2 “And you shall remember that יהוה your Elohim led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, prove you, to know what is in your heart, whether you guard His commands or not.

    My wife and I begin the Sabbath every Friday evening with the sounding of the Shofar, and to the sitting down around the kitchen table to a special meal where we celebrate the bringing in of the Sabbath day. We dress up as if we were going out on a special date. We read scriptures regarding the Sabbath, Psalms and whatever other scriptures we might enjoy. We pray for and speak blessings over each other. On the following morning we spend the rest of the Sabbath in prayer, reading and studying the scriptures, watching the live stream service and teaching put on by our congregation, and then more prayer, reading and fellowshipping around scriptures with the only other congregation members we have that live close by.

    I had been walking in Christianity for over thirty years and what I know is that at best it was nothing more than what seemed to be shifting sand. I struggled in those years with all the different opinions on doctrine, with walking in the fruits of the spirit. Since coming to Torah, I have finally found the solid rock, unmovable. Though some would think that my focus is on the outward, in reality it has caused me to focus on the inward man. Things that seemed impossible for me to overcome when I walked in Christianity, now are coming into the light (baptism of fire) where they are being dealt with by my Father in changing me from what I was into what He wants me to be.

    Lastly I would like to say that the only way we can know if we are following the True Messiah or an Anti-Messiah is by studying the old testament scriptures for they speak about both.

    Scripture states that if it were possible that even the very elect would be deceived. No Islam Mahdi is going to deceive if it were possible the very elect. But a someone that teaches against Torah well that’s another story.

    1. Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for your comment.

      Since you mentioned the Sabbath – that seemed to be the greater emphasis of your comment – here’s a post on the topic that elaborates more than the post you read. I hope you’ll check it out: The true and better Sabbath in Christ.

      Two questions: if we’re supposed to keep the Sabbath:
      1. Why did the early church start meeting on Sunday?
      2. Why is there no command to keep the Sabbath in any of the epistles (the letters of instruction for NT living)? Similarly, why did Paul even downplay elevating a certain day (Rom 14, Col 2)?

      1. Hi Scott,

        Thank you for the reply.
        I have read your post “The True and Better Sabbath in Christ”.
        I respect your comments in that post and maybe if I have time respond to it there.
        As to your questions above, I will respond.

        1. Why did the early church start meeting on Sunday?

        It is true that we can find a few versus that indicate that the early congregation met from time to time on Sunday, this is in no way negates that there are considerably many more verses indicating that they met on and kept the Sabbath as they always had. Just as Christians meet not only on Sunday but on other days as well.

        2a. Why is there no command to keep the Sabbath in any of the epistles (the letters of instruction for NT living)?

        I will answer this question the way a Jew would answer and that is with another question or two.

        Why did Yeshua command everyone to guard and to do everything that the scribes and Pharisees were speaking when they spoke from the Torah? This would imply that all the Torah continues…

        Mt 23:1-3 Then יהושע spoke to the crowds and to His taught ones, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the seat of Mosheh. Therefore, whatever they say to you to guard, guard and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do.

        Why did John tell us that we should walk as He (Yeshua) walked? It is a fact that Yeshua kept ALL of the Torah perfectly, including keeping and guarding the Sabbath.

        1 Jn 2:6 The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.

        2b. Similarly, why did Paul even downplay elevating a certain day (Rom 14, Col 2)?

        When referring to Paul, we always need to remember to heed Peter’s warning.

        2 Pet 3:15-16 and reckon the patience of our Master as deliverance, as also our beloved brother Sha’ul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him, as also in all his letters, speaking in them concerning these matters, in which some are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the other Scriptures.

        This is very simple. I believe you are assuming something that is not in the text here.
        As is in Colossians the same can be said about the reference in the book of Romans.

        Col 2:16-17 Let no one therefore judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths – which are a shadow of what is to come – but the Body of the Messiah.

        I really like this verse. I do not believe you can find any reference here in the text that Paul is talking about pagan holidays. I have chosen to follow Torah just as my Messiah has commanded me. Yet there are many Christians who would sit in judgment against me because I choose to keep the dietary commandments (Koshrut), what I eat and drink, or because I keep our creators festivals (Feast Days, Mo’edim, Appointed Times), this would include the observing of the “New Moon”(Rosh Kodesh) and all of His Sabbaths. And what else does he say here… They are a shadow of things to come….

        1. Hi Jeff,
          Yes, that would be great if you responded on that post itself. Thanks! Then others can benefit from your thoughts and the discussion. I actually wish this conversation was taking place there, since this clearly relates more to the Sabbath than anything else.
          With that said, here’s what I see as the main problem with your argument: you’re speaking from silence.
          You said, “It is true that we can find a few versus that indicate that the early congregation met from time to time on Sunday…”

          Yes, there are verses supporting what I’m saying. Thank you for acknowledging that. I appreciate you NOT doing what I’ve found others to do: wild gymnastics with the text to deny the clear teaching.

          Acts says the early church met on the first day of the week. It doesn’t say the early church met on the seventh day of the week. But you did try to change what Scripture says by adding, “from time to time.” There’s no verse indicating “from time-to-time.” It simply says they met on the first day of the week. You can say, “Well, there’s nothing that says they did that all the time.” That’s basically what you’re saying, and that’s speaking into silence.

          You also said, “this is in no way negates that there are considerably many more verses indicating that they met on and kept the Sabbath as they always had.” Please show me these verses, as I can’t think of any.

          I asked why is there no command to keep the Sabbath in any of the epistles (the letters of instruction for NT living)? And you said, “I will answer this question the way a Jew would answer and that is with another question or two.”

          I’d really like it if you answered the question, not try to avoid it. The questions you listed and verses you mentioned didn’t provide anything close to an answer to my question.

          You also didn’t respond to my question about Col 2:16-17. You discussed a few things unrelated to my question, but I’d ask again: if we’re supposed to keep the Sabbath, why would Paul downplay keeping the Sabbath in Col 2 (and downplay observing any day in Rom 14)?

  3. Scott, do you agree with this? Are We Under The Ten Commandments?

    Does the fact that God’s revealed will by way of commandment, God’s law, mean that believers in the New Testament are under the Ten Commandments? NO. The Ten Commandments as they were given at Mount Sinai to Israel is not the New Testament believer’s rule of conduct and obedience. The Ten Commandments was part of the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Economy. The whole Mosaic Economy has been abolished by way of fulfillment by Christ. The Old Covenant was instituted by God for the nation Israel and for a limited period of time. It served its purpose, and then God removed it. To understand its purpose it must be viewed as a whole unit. Different aspects of the Old Covenant can be distinguished (moral, ceremonial, civil) for the purposes of studying its particulars. But these cannot be separated from that covenant. We cannot say that one part is abolished while another part remains.

    The Bible tells us plainly that believers under the New Covenant are not come to Mount Sinai. Read Hebrews 12:18-24. We are come to Mount Zion. This is symbolic language that explains how we are not under any part of the Old Covenant as a rule of conduct and obedience. We are guided by the precepts of the Gospel Economy. The Ten Commandments as they were given at Mount Sinai to the people of the nation of Israel have been abolished along with the whole Old Covenant.

    The Old Covenant (Mosaic Economy) and the New Covenant (Gospel Economy) are two separate and distinct covenants. Each distinct covenant has its own mediator, temple, priesthood, altar, sacrifice, ordinances and laws. The Old Covenant was ratified by the blood of animals. The New Covenant was ratified by the precious blood of Christ. The Old Covenant, including the Ten Commandments, has been abolished by the establishment of the New Covenant, including the precepts of the Gospel (Heb. 7:12, 14; 8:3-4; 9:22) (Heb. 7:18; 8:13; 9:10; 10:9; Cor. 3:7, 11).

    The Ten Commandments, which included strict sabbath keeping, was a vital part of the Old Covenant as was the ceremonial law. The whole economy was instituted by God to regulate the worship and obedience of the nation Israel in the land of promise. It was to be in effect until the coming of Christ. The main purpose of the Old Covenant was to be a “schoolmaster” to lead those who were under it to Christ for salvation. The Ten Commandments and all its particulars were given to expose their guilt and defilement and discourage them from any notion of eternal salvation based on their obedience. It was to show them the impossibility of salvation or any part of it conditioned on the sinner. It proved that God could not be just and justify any sinner based on that sinner’s character and conduct. The ceremonial law and all its particulars typified and foreshadowed Christ and what was to be accomplished in eternal salvation by Him alone. All of its elements taught the Gospel principles of SUBSTITUTION, SATISFACTION, and IMPUTATION, so that sinners would see and believe that all of salvation must be conditioned on Christ by whose righteousness alone God could be just to justify the ungodly.

    The persons unto whom the Ten Commandments were given were the natural descendants of Abraham as a nation. It began and ended with Israel in the land given them by promise. It was God’s appointed system of religion and government designed for that nation for a limited period of time to keep them separate from other nations and to point them to Christ for eternal salvation. The establishment of the Gospel Economy by Christ meant the abolishment of the Mosaic Economy (Heb. 8:13). This meant a change in the whole law.

    “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a [change] also of the law.” (Heb. 7:12)

    The life of the Old Covenant was in the priesthood. The priesthood typified Christ and His eternal priesthood. When He came and fulfilled the duties of His priestly office, the Old Covenant priesthood was abolished along with the whole Mosaic Economy. When the priesthood changed, this meant a change in the whole law. Christ has made all things new. A new order, an entirely new system of ordinances and worship, is revealed and declared in the Gospel Economy, the New Covenant. All things for which believers under the New Covenant are responsible are revealed and declared in the New Testament. Laws and ordinances for which believers under the Old Covenant were responsible are not our rule of practice and conduct today.

    For example, the nation Israel (including true believers) under the Old Covenant was responsible to laws of circumcision, diet, tithing, strict sabbath keeping, along with laws of sacrifice and other ceremonies prescribed by God for them. In order to remain in that nation temporally each individual, even true believers, had to comply with these rules. These laws and ordinances were their rule of conduct and obedience as long as that covenant was in force. This included the penalties also. For example, the commandment to remember the sabbath and the one for children to honor their parents both carried with them the penalty of death for offenders. Believers today are not bound by these laws as such, nor are we subject to the death penalty assigned to these laws.

    All this proves that the Old Covenant has been abolished and replaced with a New Covenant. Every mention in the Old Testament of Christ’s coming in time and the calling of the Gentiles was a reminder of the abolishment of the Old Covenant. Christ was not the surety, the temple, the priest, altar, or sacrifice of the Old Covenant. These were all types and pictures, but not the substance. Consider also that everyone who has ever been lost in any generation is lost based on the covenant of works God made with Adam. Everyone who has ever been saved in any generation is saved based on the covenant of grace made with Christ. No one was ever eternally lost or saved based on the Old Covenant.

    1. Hello Ricardo,
      Yes, I agree with those sentiments, and I think my articles demonstrate that.

      We’re under the Law of Christ, not the Mosaic Law.

      If you want to keep some of the Mosaic Law, you have to keep all of the Mosaic Law: Gal 5:3 and Jam 2:10-12.

    1. Hi Brian,
      “Israel” can mean different things, so I’m going to assume you mean Orthodox Jews today. If you mean something else please let me know.

      There are definitely practices or behaviors Jews engage in today that set them apart. They still look different from the peoples around them.

      The question though is how many of these “holy” acts were commanded by God and still expected by God? I don’t think very many.

      The more important issue though is with the exception of Christian or Messianic Jews, Jews today have largely rejected Christ. They have no sacrifice for their sins. Whatever godly actions they engage in are meaningless, because they’re cut off from the Lord.

  4. Hi Scott, I have a question … Why don’t we keep the seventh day Sabbath? It bothers me that that God uses the word “remember” on the 4th commandment and not on the others, as if he knew we would forget! I feel like we’ve changed that one and don’t keep it as serious as the others! What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Sonja,
      Great question!

      The short answer is the Sabbath looked forward to Jesus like the Passover, circumcision, the sacrifices, the priesthood, etc looked forward to Jesus. He is our true and greater Sabbath. He provides a rest that’s superior to the rest found under the Law.

      About two years ago I wrote a post answering the question you asked, and I just updated it. That’s why it took me some time to respond. I hope you’ll check it out:

      As far as why God used the word “remember” I think it relates to the principle behind the command. If you look at the comments between Kim and I, we touched on this. I think there’s wisdom in the OT commands. The same is true with the Sabbath. It’s unhealthy to work day-after-day without resting. We need to “remember” to rest.”

      Hope you and your family are doing well. Let me know if you have any other thoughts or questions!

      1. If God did not care which day we rested why did He specify the seventh day and not just one day in 7? I read your post on the Sabbath and yes it is very important to rest and set aside a day in which to turn from the thoughts of working, chores, etc. I do not understand why so many believe absolutely in the 10 commandments but can dismiss this one? God did not say take a rest once a week He specifically set a day aside for doing that. Not any day, but a specific day. Do you believe that Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath law as He did say that of sacrificing of animals making it no longer applicable?

        I’m not trying to be difficult but to understand. I have so many friends that go to church on Sunday because it is tradition and have never even thought to look into this subject. I always scratch my head that they go to church and then go spend the rest of the day as if it was every other day. God has made the Sabbath such a special day to commune with Him I don’t understand why we treat it so lightly.

        Blessing….and really not trying to start an argument! Kim

        1. Hi Kim,
          First, I don’t think you’re trying to start an argument, and I don’t think you’re trying to be difficult. I appreciate your questions and dialogue. I believe you’re genuine.

          I just spent time updating a post I wrote some time ago (which is why it took me time to respond) about the transition from the seventh day of the week to the first. I hope you’ll read it: Should we gather on Saturday or Sunday?

          Since it’s important to take a day to rest – like you said – most Christians choose Sunday. I say most, because for my family it’s Monday, but that’s because of my position.

          Again, I wouldn’t say the commandment regarding the Sabbath is dismissed. I would say it’s kept in the true and greater way through Christ. The same is true with Passover and circumcision. The truth and greater circumcision is not physical but spiritual. Not physical flesh, but spiritual flesh.

          I was hesitant to share this with you, because I didn’t want it to sound antagonistic, but it keeps coming up so I’ll mention it now. You frequently say “laws.” There’s only one Law containing 613 commands. This is important to understand for two reasons:
          1. Saying “laws” misrepresents God and His dealing with Israel. He didn’t give them “laws.” He gave them the Law. Look throughout Scripture and you’ll also see the Law spoken of singularly.
          2. Saying “laws” permits a “picking-and-choosing” view of the Law, when in fact it’s meant to be taken as a unit. People have to keep all of it, not just the parts they believe apply – or should apply – to today. See James 2:10-12. I suspect you do this, because while you keep some portions of the Law, I doubt you wear tassels on your clothes. If you think you need to keep the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week, then you’re also bound to keep the other 612 commands. See Gal 5:3.

          Instead of seeing Christians under the Mosaic Law, we should see ourselves under the Law of Christ (Gal 6:2), which contains the morality of the Mosaic Law. I also have a post on this if you’re interested: The Law Christians ARE under

  5. Because you said “The ceremonial commands are not obvious or common sense:” and then went on to include pork and rabbit, I just wanted to point out that eating healthy is common sense. They made enough sense to God to include the dietary restrictions and the mentioning of clean and unclean more than just in the ceremonial laws. I guess the bottom line is I didn’t agree with that particular law being strictly ‘ceremonial’. I agree with all the rest of your well thought out article. Kim

    1. I understand, thanks Kim, that makes sense. I hadn’t thought of it that way!

      I definitely didn’t mean to imply by the use of the words “common sense” that the dietary restrictions (or any of the commands for that matter) are foolish. I simply meant not obvious why God could include them in a Law we expect to deal with morality exclusivity.

      I take it you observe the dietary restrictions. Do you keep other ceremonial commands in the Law if you don’t mind me asking?

      1. I do not ‘unclean’ meat. Well actually I’m a vegetarian, not for animal rights reasons as many but strictly for health reasons. I truly believe that we cannot fulfill all that God had for each of us if we are not in the best physical health as possible.

        If we are tired, bloated, rundown, or even sick it is harder to get out there and spread the gospel. Yes those with incredible illnesses can and do make great witness for God through the illnesses…but that is not what God had in mind for us (I’m a cancer survivor so I know what a tole being ill takes on us) We all know that our diets make a huge impact on our physical health, which in turn effects many other aspects of our lives.

        I do keep the Biblical Sabbath,although not considered a ceremonial law as its in the 10 commandments. I have in many, many years of trying to find justification for the Sunday Sabbath I have never found it in the Bible. If you look into the history of the Sabbath you will find that man changed that not God. But as it is smack dab in the middle of the 10 commandments with the word ‘remember’ the Sabbath (no other commandment starts with that and no other commandment has been ‘forgotten’ except that one) I am convicted that the sundown Friday to sundown Saturday is the original Sabbath. But this is a whole different discussion, unless you think the Sabbath is ceremonial and then we could discuss it.

        I am very familiar with your church, admire your stance on so very many moral and ethical issues…modesty, family, and of course Jesus being the only way to be saved! I’m glad we have a forum to respectfully look at our few differences! Kim

        1. Kim,
          I believe I responded to much of this in other comments, but I will say you mentioned the date/time of the original Sabbath and I agree with you. The Sabbath has always been the seventh day of the week, and never the first. People aren’t keeping the original Sabbath on Sunday.

          I think the Sabbath is ceremonial, because Jesus said the priests could “profane” it and be “blameless” (Matt 12:5). This wouldn’t be the case with any moral commands. The other reason I think it’s ceremonial relates to the post I wrote: it’s not commanded/emphasized in the NT, unlike other moral commands (lying, stealing, murder, etc).

  6. I appreciate your view on these laws that can be very confusing. About the certain types of meat that can be consumed. When the ark was loaded there were clean and unclean animals that entered, this makes the reference very early in the Bible, long before the ceremonial laws of the Israelites.

    I believe that God gave us some hints on which meats would be better for our health than others. The Bible states that a father would not give a hungry child a rock instead of bread. I believe that God gave us that list to save us from the unhealthy effects of these foods.

    Take the pig for example. A pig’s digestive system is very fast compared to a cows. In the cow the long digestion gives it time to remove toxins…not the pig. Pigs also don’t sweat, which also removes toxins. Pigs also eat anything including flesh from dead animals, they are the clean up crew of the farm. Then there is the famous trichinosis that is hard to kill even with cooking.

    If you look at the list of unclean meats, they are mostly the scavengers or carnivores of the animal world. Maybe God was just looking out for our good health…after all remember what He said about our bodies being His temple!

    Now do I believe that these are salvation issues…of course not. But God put that in the Bible for a reason and for us just to dismiss it because it was in the old testament does not seem wise.

    1. Hi Kim,
      Thanks for your comment.

      I wrote this post to discuss the main purpose of the ceremonial commands in the Law, not to discuss the benefit of keeping the dietary restrictions for today. That would be an entirely different topic.

      What you said regarding OT food commands is true: God was trying to preserve His people, and that meant avoiding certain animals. I completely agree with you and I don’t think you’re going to find anyone who will argue that eating bacon is healthy. But again, that goes outside the scope I wanted for this post. My desire was simply to explain the purpose of the ceremonial commands; all of them, and not simply the dietary restrictions.

      You said, “for us [to] just to dismiss it because it was in the old testament does not seem wise.” Again, I agree with you, and that’s why my post doesn’t make that recommendation.

      Thanks again!

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