A BETTER SEVENTH DAY PREFIGURED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) was celebrated to commemorate God leading the Jews through their journeying in the desert and eventually into the promised land where they found rest and were blessed with bountiful harvests. Leviticus 23: 34, 42-43 "Say to the people of Israel, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the feast of booths to the Lord… 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all that are native in Israel shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." RSV
This feast is also mentioned in Deuteronomy 26: 1-11 " (8) ... and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror, with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey." RSV
For the Feast of Booths the Jews had a solemn rest (a Sabbath) on
the first and eighth day on which they held a sacred assembly to worship
We see a close connection between the first and eight day. The Jews held a solemn (Sabbath) rest and worshipped God on the first and the eighth day to celebrate His leading them into the promised land. God had blessed them with the rest from their wondering in the desert by giving them the promised land. Saint Paul alludes to this journey through the desert in 2 Corinthians 5 when he speaks of our present journey in this life and he refers to our bodies as "tents" or "tabernacles." With the coming of the New Covenant Jesus reveals a better rest, the chance to be united with God in Heaven. And He offers not just physical food, but spiritual food. Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
This Feast of Booths prefigures our new day of rest in the New Covenant as we journey toward that ultimate rest that we will have in our Heavenly home with God. Moses led the Jews out of the bondage of slavery to the Egyptians, and through the desert to find rest in the promised land. Similarly, Jesus leads us out of the bondage of slavery to sin, and through the deserts of this life- the dying to ourselves (Luke 9:23f) - to that promised land in the Heavenly Jerusalem where we find our ultimate rest in God. As will be shown later, we are a new creation in Christ and so we have a new and better seventh day, which is the first day or the eight day of the week.
This new day of rest prefigures that ultimate rest that we will only
find with God in heaven. "…you (God) have made us for
yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." St. Augustine,
Confessions 1, 1, 1. Since Jesus is the only way to heaven,
the day that He especially hallowed, that is set part, with His miracles
has become our new seventh day. "In Christ's Passover, Sunday surpasses
the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announces man's eternal rest
in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ,
and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ,"
Another foreshadowing is when God gave the requirements for Passover in Exodus 12. Exodus 12:1-8 "…. they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household… Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening. Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts … They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it." Interestingly, God began these instructions with the announcement of a new way of measuring time. Exodus 12:1 "The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you…’ "
Israel’s new year had been Yom Kippur in the autumn, but Passover
is in the Spring. There was a natural calendar, which began with
Yom Kippur. It coincided with the harvesting of the crops.
But, now God establishes a second calendar, or a sacred calendar.
The early Fathers of the Church saw in these events a foreshadowing or
a type of what would take place in the New Testament Passover. When
Christ up came out of the tomb, up out of Egypt in a sense, He inaugurated
a new measurement of time and of days. Whereas, the natural calendar
centered on the harvesting of crops, the fruits of the natural creation,
the new sacred calendar centered on the spiritual benefits of the new creation
- Redemption. Mankind’s focus is now centered on the greater work
and gifts of God- our Salvation. As children of God
under the New Covenant we live not for the naturally created goods, worldly
things, but instead for the supernatural gifts and promises of Jesus Christ
and our heavenly home.
TYPES AND SHADOWS POINTING AHEAD AND REVEALING GOD'S GLORY
The Holy Bible has both human authors and a Divine Author.
Scripture scholar Scott Hahn, Ph.D.,
We are told in the New Testament that the Sabbath was just a shadow, or type, of a greater reality revealed in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17 "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." The Sabbath was not permanent. It prefigured a more glorious rest that we can find in Christ and with Him in Heaven. Because of sin we cannot be reconciled with God and get to Heaven unless we are Redeemed, and Justified before God. Christ was "raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25) on the first day of the week. The glory of the Sabbath prefigured the greater glory of this new day, on which, we were enabled to enter that perfect rest in Christ.So when we read the Bible, we need to read it on two levels at once. We read the Bible in a literal sense .. .. . But we read it also in a spiritual sense, searching out what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us through the words (see Catechism, nos. 115 -19).
The Sabbath had two aspects, one ritual and one spiritual. The ritual aspect of not working on the seventh day signified a deeper spiritual aspect. It signified the consecration of the Jews to God and all that He had revealed and their acceptance and their living out of that Covenant that he had established with them. Cf. Exod. 31: 13. The Pharisees criticized Jesus because they got so caught up with the ritual aspect that they missed the more important spiritual one.
In the New Covenant the ritual aspect has been changed from the seventh
day of the week to the first day, and every seven days after that.
This change in the ritual signifies an even deeper change in the spiritual
aspect. Greater spiritual benefits are available to those who live
under the New Covenant. With the coming of Christ and all that He
has accomplished we now have a new and better Covenant.
The book of Exodus tells us that the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant that God had made with the people of Israel. Exodus 31:13 "Say to the people of Israel, ‘You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.’ " RSV Circumcision was also a sign of the Old Covenant because it was the way to enter into it. Genesis 17:11 "You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you." RSV
The Sabbath was the sign of the Old Covenant, but the Old Testament prophets foretold a New Covenant. The Old Covenant would cease to be, and it would be replaced by a New and more perfect Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-32 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers…" Jesus established the New Covenant during the Last Supper.
Matthew 26:26-28 "…Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup… ‘…for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.’ " NAB The Seventh Day was a sign of the Covenant that the Jews had when God had written in stone with His own finger. However, we now have a New Covenant, not written with a finger, but with Christ’s own Blood on the cross. He gave His Apostles the chalice to drink and declared in Luke 22:20 "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." RSV
In Hebrews we read; Hebrews 8:6-7, 13