When a few of my Christian friends first learned that I believed in keeping the Torah, one of their concerns was that I was too focused on things like the Sabbath and feast days and thus not emphasizing the value of Yeshua (Jesus) and the Gospel. I firmly stand with my Christian friends in our mutual commitment to the Messiah as the foundation of our faith. Indeed, any denomination or movement that deviates from that foundation is set up to fail (Matthew 7:24-27). So I can understand the danger in getting distracted from Yeshua. But that doesn’t have to be the case with the Torah. A correct approach to the Torah actually highlights the Gospel message.
All throughout the Torah, there are prophetic hints that point to the Messiah. In John 5:46, Yeshua said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” Yeshua’s life and mission are outlined in the very writings of Moses. This is obvious with things like the sacrificial system, but it can also be seen in commandments like the Sabbath day. For instance, in Deuteronomy chapter five, Moses repeats the Ten Commandments that were originally given in Exodus chapter twenty. But you might notice a difference when he repeats the Sabbath commandment.
In the Exodus version of the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath points to creation:
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11)
The Sabbath highlights the fact that God is the Creator. This magnificent universe didn’t just pop into existence via random chance. No, there is an intelligent designer behind all of it. We affirm this truth every time we rest on the seventh day.
In the Deuteronomy version of the Ten Commandments, there is another important truth to which the Sabbath points—that is, God is our deliverer:
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15)
So in Deuteronomy, we see that the commandment to rest on the seventh day includes remembering that God rescued us from slavery in Egypt. Since Egypt is often used to refer to sin throughout the New Testament, we can see how this aspect of the Sabbath is a prophetic picture of our salvation in the Messiah. In addition to resting, a correct approach to the Sabbath according to Scripture would include reflecting on the Gospel. We are to remember that we were once enslaved to our sins, but now we are free because of Yeshua.
Isn’t it amazing how the Gospel message is clearly foreshadowed in this story of deliverance that we’re told to remember every seventh day? Yeshua is the foundation of everything we believe, and ultimately keeping the Sabbath brings us right back to Him. Hallelujah!