Please help me understand one very important question: Is it mandatory for us Christians to strive to fulfill all the commandments of God given in the Old Testament? Must we observe Saturday as a day of rest and not do any work that day? Thanks for the reply.
A shadow of what is to come
Many of the laws given by God in the Old Testament were given specifically to the people of Israel and they were symbols pointing to Christ. Therefore, when he wrote to the Christians in the city of Collosae, Paul said:
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day– things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)(NASB)
Thus, laws on food, drinks, holidays and the Sabbath was a shadow of what was to come, because they all pointed to what was to be fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Here’s an example …
Example of clean and unclean animals
In the Old Testament God gave the law under which the animals were divided into clean and unclean and Jews were forbidden to eat unclean meat of animals. In the book of Acts we are told that when the Apostle Peter (a Jew from birth) was in the city Iope he had a vision that a table cloth with all sorts of dishes made of unclean animals came down from heaven and he was asked by God to eat. Immediately after this vision, some men sent by the centurion Cornelius, who was a Roman (not a Jew), came to his gate and they asked Peter to preach the gospel. When he came to Jerusalem, the apostle Peter explained the other apostles that by this vision God showed him not to appoint anyone unclean, because Gentiles were part of salvation and the Holy Spirit came upon them in the same way as on Jews. Thus, only in the Book of Acts we see what laws with clean and unclean animals have shadowed and we also see that these laws no longer make sense now.
Apostolic Council Resolution
When the early Christians asked what Old Testament laws should be respected and what not, the apostles convened a council in Jerusalem and they sent the churches a report in which they announced about the decision taken by the them through the Spirit:
And they sent this letter by them, “The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:23-29)(NASB)
About the Sabbath
As for the rest on the Sabbath day, it was a shadow of the true rest that every Christian receives when wholeheartedly believes in Lord Jesus and enters the New Covenant with Him. Every Sunday Christians celebrate the Resurrection of the Savior.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru