The Shadowy Sabbaths of Collosians 2:16-17

by Robert Sterbenc

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There is great controversy over the following verse in Colossians 2:16-17 where the King James renders the following:

"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."

Before jumping to conclusions as to what this verse might say, as many Protestant churches have done, we are bound to follow the rules that God gives to His people when studying the Scriptures:

Isaiah 28:9-13

"Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

Verses such as the one we are studying, if the above rule is not followed, will become stumbling blocks. God said that he would put stumbling blocks before his people if they did not obey the biblical injunction mentioned above:

Jeremiah 6:21

"Therefore I will lay stumbling blocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friends shall perish."


The Scriptures go into further detail regarding the shadowy Sabbaths of Col 2:16-17:

Study Leviticus 23 in the following verses:

V 7-8: In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

V 24-25 In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

V 32: [Day of Atonement in context]: "It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.

V 37-39 These are the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: Beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye five unto the Lord.

Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast into the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath.

There were some who advocated keeping the more shadowy Sabbaths mentioned above in Paul's day, but Paul said that these Sabbaths were shadows of things to come. Once Christ came these Sabbaths were done away on the cross as part of the handwriting of ordinances that were blotted out.

Regarding the true Sabbath, The Scriptures clearly mention that the fourth commandment was given by God Himself. The New Testament agrees with the Old:

Hebrews 4:4-10

"For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter there in, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day? There therefore remaineth a rest (Greek Sabbath rest) to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his"


Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said the following to the religious leaders of his day, who were substituting the commandments of men for the commandments of God. The same applies today, where the popular religious leaders of Christendom are substituting the spurious sabbath, Sunday, for the seventh-day Sabbath:

Matthew 15:9

"But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men"


Many miracles will be wrought in the name of Jesus while the work is that of another spirit. This other spirit (Satan) is the one behind all falsehood and deception. Jesus recognized this in the following passage:

Matthew 7:21-23

"Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity"

God's wrath is upon all religious leaders and all laymen who preach that the Sabbath is done away. The prophecies here by Ezekiel is END TIME in context:

Ezekiel 22:26-28

"Her priests have violated my law, and have profane mine holy things: they have

put no difference between the holy and the profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.

"Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.

"And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord, when the Lord hath not spoken.

Combine the line of thought of the above with Ezekiel 13: 9-13:

"And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they inter into the land of Israel, and ye shall know that I am the Lord God.

"Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar:

"Say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower, and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.

"Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?

"Therefore thus saith the Lord God; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.

(Seven Last Plagues in context this is end-time - these events have not happened in the past!)

In contrast to the breach made in the wall, made by popular religious leaders of the day, the following applies to those who by the grace of God desire to restore the original Sabbath day to the world:

Isaiah 58:12-14

"And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.

"If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."

Isaiah 56:2, 6-7

"Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keeping his hand from doing any evil...

Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and take hold of my covenant: Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people"

All forms of secular work are forbidden by the fourth commandment. God even made a prohibition against buying and selling on the Sabbath:

Nehemiah 13:15-18

In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.

There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day?

Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? Yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.

Jesus calls Himself the Lord of the Sabbath in the following:

Mark 2:27

"The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the sabbath."

Thus those who claim that the Lord's day is Sunday in the book of Revelation have no basis for such a claim.

In the new earth, the Sabbath will be kept on a weekly basis, even as God declared it should from the beginning

Isaiah 66: 22,23

"For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship me, saith the Lord."