The Eighth Day
The Bible frequently uses some person, thing or activity to illustrate certain aspects of our relationship with God in Christ. For instance, the Passover lamb foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus on behalf of his people. As the apostle Paul says, for indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7b). Another example is David who was a "type" of Christ. Clearly, David did not reflect Jesus Christ in his fullness but certain aspects of his life and character inform us about the person and work of Jesus the Christ. Moreover, as the "seed of David" (Romans 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:8), Jesus ultimately fulfilled the covenant promises given to King David concerning one of his offspring ruling forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13 etc.).
One thing often overlooked in any catalog of typology, symbolism or illustration is the significance of the "eighth day" in the Bible. I was thinking about this after I read pastor Dan's excellent article in last week's newspaper. As you recall, he wrote about the reasons Christians worship on Sunday, the first day of the week. In addition to what was written in last week's article, it is interesting to note the Christian day of worship is on the "eighth day" of the week. In other words, seven days have transpired and then - there is the eighth.
The significance of the "eighth day" is illustrated in many old covenant practices. For instance, circumcision on the eighth day was required for a male child of the covenant community. Circumcision was a visible representation of the cutting away of the sin nature. It was a sort of "blood sacrifice" that looked forward to the renewal of God's people by the blood sacrifice of Jesus the Christ. Another symbolic aspect is the new creation signified in the act of circumcision. The apostle Paul says that If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation or a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). This echoes an old covenant principle concerning a resident foreigner in Israel who desired to participate in the Passover celebration. If he wished to do so, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may approach and observe it, and he will be like one who is born in the land (Exodus 12:48b). So, a non-Israelite could be - shall we say - ritually born again through circumcision and thereby allowed to participate in the old covenant ceremonies of salvation. His foreign birth would not be counted; his "new birth" in Israel would take precedent. In short, circumcision on the eighth day signified a brand-new beginning.
Thw eighth day principle is echoed in the purification ritual prescribed for a person suffering from a skin disease. After the appropriate sacrifice, cleansing with water and hyssop the one being declared clean was required to wash himself and his clothing, shave off all his hair and "so be clean." However he was not allowed to reenter his tent for seven days. It was on the eighth day that the one declared clean would make blood sacrifices and grain offerings with oil. After the priest completed the ceremonies of sacrifice on the eighth day of the ritual, the person was declared clean. In other words, it was on the eighth day they "came back to life" and were allowed to participate in corporate religious and social activity once again.
The eighth day is important in other old covenant ceremony as well. In each case it points to a new beginning. Indeed, in the old covenant, the eighth day generally signifies new life or a new reality.
Thus, it is significant that Jesus Christ rose on the "eighth day," for his resurrection proclaimed new life and a new reality. Recall, Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill. What greater fulfillment could there be than the realization of that new life and new reality that had been foreshadowed for centuries in the old covenant law and ritual? Hence, it is foolishness to suggest Christians should continue to live in the old life and old reality. The apostle Paul said the letter kills but the Spirit gives life and it is only in this resurrection reality of Jesus Christ that we find life. Therefore, it is abundantly clear our "eighth day," Sunday celebration of worship is entirely biblically and appropriate.
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