Let’s look at Exodus 31:12-17 first: “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak also to THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, saying: Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is HOLY TO YOU. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death: for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SHALL KEEP THE SABBATH, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL forever” (NKJV).

Whenever we read Scripture, it is vital that we know WHO God is speaking to. This passage starts out saying, “the Lord spoke to Moses,” and then the Lord tells Moses, “Speak also to the children of Israel.” The words “children of Israel” are mentioned a few times because they, and they alone, were given the commandment to “Keep the Sabbath.” It states twice that the Sabbath was “a sign between the LORD and the children of Israel, for they alone were in a special covenant relationship with the Lord. If anyone failed to keep the Sabbath, there were to be put to death. That’s how serious this commandment was to the children of Israel who were UNDER THE LAW!

Now let’s read Colossians 2:16-17: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or SABBATHS, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Who is God speaking to in this passage? The answer is found in Colossians 1:2, “To the saints and faithful BRETHREN IN CHRIST who are in Colosse.” God is NOT addressing the “children of Israel” in this epistle, but those who had put their faith in Christ crucified and risen. The nation of Israel had actually rejected Christ when He came and presented Himself to them as their Messiah, as we see in John 1:11, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” Because of their rejection of Him the gospel went out to the Gentile nations and many believed on Christ and became part of THE CHURCH OF GOD, a heavenly company with heavenly blessings and a heavenly destiny.

After the Apostle Paul left Colosse there were false teachers who told the believers in Colosse that they must keep the Law of Moses, which included “keeping the Sabbath,” to be saved. Paul knew that these legalistic teachers were judging (condemning) the believers there for not adhering to the Jewish diet and not keeping the various festivals and Sabbaths that were prescribed under the Law. So, he writes to tell them, “Let no one judge you” in regard to these things. In essence he is saying, “Unlike the children of Israel, you are not under the Law of Moses so these things have nothing to do with you.”

Many today are under the same false teaching regarding “keeping the Sabbath.” But we must remember that Christ came to offer men salvation and to put them UNDER GRACE instead of UNDER LAW. John 1:16-17 bears witness to this: “And of His fullness we have all received, and GRACE FOR GRACE. For the law was given through Moses, but GRACE and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Dear fellow-believer, if someone is trying to persuade you to keep the Law of Moses, with its legal diet and religious calendar of festivals and holy days, may you heed the Apostle’s word: “Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths.” I would also add Paul’s word in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (the “yoke of bondage” refers to the Law of Moses—see Acts 15:1-11, especially verse 10). (261.5) (DO)