This weeks book comes from the late Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, a man I’m beginning to respect and admire greatly for his astounding works and intensive learning. The PhD’s and ThD’s and other degrees can fill this entire blogpost! His book is entitled “The Covenantal Sabbath” and can be bought on amazon, but has been out of print since 1969.
What he establishes to do is maintain a unity of the Sabbath law from covenant to covenant. It is covenant theology applied to the question of the Sabbath.
He begins with the Adamic covenantal Sabbath and establishes its antiquity there. His arguments are long and very deep. Many times very prolix. The amount of subjects he knows is jaw-dropping as he covers numerology, music, astronomy, ornithology, genetics, entomology, biology, medicine, etc. The catch is that all of these have some relation to the Sabbath! Very interesting I assure you.
He continues with the significance and commemoration of the sabbath by Adam before the Fall, dealing with the time, the mode, etc.
He writes, “The punishment for disobedience to the covenant was (restless) death, but the reward for obedience was eternal life [death: Gen 2:17, life, Gen 2:9], i.e., eternal rest.” -pg. 28
Some object and say that Adam didn’t even have the law so how could God demand Sabbath observance from him? Lee answers, “Because “sin is not counted where there is no law”, as Paul writes in Rom. 5:12-14 precisely in connection with “the transgression of Adam”, and because “sin is the transgression of the law”, as John writes in I John 3:4, it necessarily follows that Adam transgressed God’s law to man, which fact is the whole substance of Paul’s argument in Romans 2 to 5”. pg. 30
So thus we see that Adam in eating of the tree broke the entire Decalogue. Lee writes, “Hence the prohibition of Gen. 2:17 was promulgated by the only Lord God (cf. 1st Commandment); it was communicated directly (cf. 2nd Commandment); its breach embodied a solemn penalty for Adam and his descendants (cf. 3rd); its penalty of death implied its positive reward of eternal life, i.e., eternal rest with God (cf. 4th); its Author’s authority was to be respected (5th); it threatened death (6th); its breach was marked by disunity between man and wife and shame in their nakedness (7th); it warned against the theft involved in its transgression (8th); its breach was occasioned by accepting the false witness about it from the serpent (9th); and its breach was immediately caused by desire of that which was forbidden and the tragic consequences of that covetousness (10th Commandment)” pg. 31
Further Lee argues that Adam didn’t have the negative side of the Ten Commandments such as “do not commit adultery”, “do not covet” because he wasn’t sinful and didn’t nay couldn’t know about that. Also committing adultery is meaningless when there are only two people, theft is pointless when there is no one to steal from, etc. That does not mean, however, they didn’t have the positive inscription of the law on their hearts, that’s a non sequitur.
Furthermore he elaborates on the sabbath from Abel to Noah, specifically centering on Noah, continues to Abraham, Moses, David, and the New Testament.
In all this he is arguing for the retainment of the sabbath in its totality as far as it is moral. He has numerous quotes from Calvin, Puritans, Kuyper, Bavinck, etc. that agree with him.
He ends with the New Testament observance of the Sabbath and accounts for the change in the day as well.
Enjoy this read, I gave it a 4/5.