Is Paul Referring to the Seventh Day Sabbath in Galatians 4?
In Galatians 4:9-11, Paul was referring to the yearly feasts of the Mosaic Law not to the seventh day Sabbath of God’s Moral Law (Exodus 20:8-11). Paul wrote, “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11).
The Old Testament speaks of the yearly sabbaths and the new moons of the ceremonial system (Leviticus 23; Numbers 10:10; 28:11–15). There were seven yearly holy days, or holidays, in ancient Israel which were also called sabbaths. These were in addition to, or “beside the Sabbaths of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:38), or seventh-day Sabbath.
These laws were part of the Mosaic law which was the temporary law of the Old Testament. It regulated the priesthood, sacrifices, feasts, rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which foreshadowed and ended at the cross. This law was added “till the seed should come,” and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16, 19). It pointed forward to Christ’s sacrifice so, when He died, it came to an end (1 Kings 2:3, Acts 13:39).
God’s Moral Law Still Binding
There is no basis in the Bible for assuming that the “days” of which Paul here spoke refer to the seventh day Sabbath. Nowhere in the Bible is the seventh day referred to in the language here used. The seventh day Sabbath was instituted at creation (Genesis 2:1–3) before the entrance of sin. Also, it was instituted some 2,500 years before the inauguration of the ceremonial system at Mt. Sinai.
If observance of the seventh day Sabbath subjects a man to bondage as some wrongly assume, it must be that the Creator Himself entered into bondage when He observed the world’s first Sabbath! That conclusion is unthinkable, as God said all that He created was very good and then blessed the seventh day (Genesis 2:2,3).
Paul makes it clear that God’s Moral Law is still binding. He wrote, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7). And he added, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). Further, he emphasized that the Circumcision of the Mosaic law is canceled at the Cross but the keeping God’s commandments remains for ever binding. “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19).
Moses’ Law Abolished – God’s Law Stands Forever
Jesus declared that He is Lord of the weekly Sabbath (Matthew 12:8) and that His Moral Law can’t change (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; James 1:17). He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).
The Lord invited us to keep His law: “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The commandments of Jesus were also the commandments of the Father, for Jesus spake not of Himself (John 12:49; 14:10). He upheld the moral commands given to Israel and magnified them (Isaiah 42:21). The apostle John affirmed this truth, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3, 4).
In His service,