We have seen how important the Sabbath day is in the foundation of Adventist theology. Should Christians be keeping the seventh day Sabbath? Adventists obviously feel very strongly on this point and believe that they have been called by God to give this message to the world in preparing people for the second coming of our Lord. If Adventists are so serious about this particular doctrine, I feel it is only fair that other Christians consider the question.
Adventists no longer place full page advertisements in the newspaper indicating that those who do not keep the seventh day Sabbath have the mark of the beast. This is a tactic they used many years ago; but apparently they found it was not very successful in drawing people into their church and therefore it was abandoned. For persons who have never before heard the Sabbath argument, it is quite an impressive Bible study; most Adventists can do a pretty professional job with this subject. They give you the feeling that this 'truth' has been kept from you all your life and you may go away with the feeling that your church, and maybe even your family, have been lying to you about the important Sabbath day and wondering why they have never told you about it. This subject becomes very emotional and Adventists certainly know how to use emotional appeal in getting their message across.
In this book I have not used many of the standard arguments of other critics against the Sabbath day. Some of these are really not very impressive and Adventists can very easily nullify them. In the hope of retaining some credibility with honest Adventists I have left them out, even though they would make sense to non-Adventists.
Having shown so forcefully that Ellen White is a false prophet, in itself is a strong argument against the Sabbath day. Ellen White of course was one of the main figures in the establishing sabbatarianism in the Adventist Church. We have already seen that we cannot trust what Ellen White stands for. Any doctrine which is not consistent with the mainstream of the Christian theology should be regarded with great suspicion. Needless to say we must be even more careful when it is supported by Ellen White.
First I would like to explode a few of the ancillary arguments used by Adventists to support the Seventh Day Sabbath doctrine. I have heard some of these arguments so many times I have come to realize they are just cliches. It is very easy to get caught on any, or all of them unless the principle is thought through carefully and prayerfully.
One of the most impressive arguments for me was the fact that Jesus said, "Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath". (Mt. 24:21) This quotation is taken from the middle of the 'Second Coming Chapter'. Prophecies found in this chapter seem to apply to the destruction of Jerusalem which was to occur in 70 AD. They also apply to the second advent of Christ.
Adventists will indicate to you that people here are keeping the sabbath day 35 to 40 years after the death of Jesus Christ. They reason that no one should be keeping Sunday at that time if Jesus indicates that they would be in trouble if they had to flee the city of Jerusalem on the sabbath day. Gates to the city of course were closed on the sabbath day, making it difficult for people to escape the city. However I think we all must understand that Jesus knew what would happen in the future. He knew that all Jews would not be converted to Christianity; that a large number would continue with their long standing beliefs and would not recognize Him as the Messiah even after His crucifixion. So they would obviously continue to keep the sabbath day; the rules about closing the gate would still be in effect, and Jesus was simply warning that it would be difficult to escape the city with closed gates on a sabbath day. There certainly is no command here to keep the seventh day sabbath. I think this Adventist argument really doesn't carry much weight in the light of this explanation.
Another point which Adventists work to death to support the seventh day sabbath is the idea that God never changes. They say that His laws never change, and that it is unthinkable that God should be inconsistent as we understand it. The Bible texts they use for this idea are rather interesting. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day and forever". (Heb. 13:8) I certainly have no argument with this passage from the Bible but there is no indication here that God is limited by what we think He should or should not do. There is no indication here that God cannot do any specific thing such as change the law or a requirement. This verse is just a reassurance to us that Jesus Christ remains constant. It should instill security in His followers since He is 'the Rock'. It is important to note that this reassuring statement about Jesus Christ is followed by a warning not to follow those who teach that items of the diet have something to do with our salvation. We have already studied this passage in detail previously.
God reassures the Psalmist David with the following words; "I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips." (Ps. 89:34) This is another statement used to support the belief that God does not change any of His laws. In studying this passage in context we find that God has made a specific promise to David whom He has anointed King. God reassures David that He will not go back on any promises He made to him or his subjects, the Israelites. We will soon see that God does in fact change from one covenant to another, and that He even changes rules within a specific covenant.
Another passage used out of context by Adventists is: "Behold, I received a command to bless: He has blessed, and I cannot revoke it" (Num. 23:20) Here we find Balaam indicating to Balak, King of Moab, that he cannot follow his wish to curse the Israelites who have camped in the land of Moab. Balaam is simply reminding him that God has commanded him to bless and not curse the Israelites. Balaam cannot reverse this commandment. Adventists take too much license in using this passage out of context as if God had spoken these words to indicate that He could never change anything - they apply it to the sabbath.
David also says of God: "The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy, they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprighteousness." (Psalms 111:7,8) The old King James version seems even stronger in saying "All His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever". We find in the next verse an even more forceful phrase; "He hath commanded His covenant forever." These quotations seem fairly impressive in insisting that God's commandments or covenant will never change. This passage must have some other specific meaning in the context given as we know that God does change commandments and He does change covenants. This appears to be a contradiction in the Bible. I would rather consider it something that I just can't quite understand at this point. I am realistic enough to be aware that God is not going to allow me to understand everything. I will just have to ask Him for the faith to carry on despite these seemingly obvious contradictions.
First let us look at covenants. God made a specific Covenant with the Jewish people which consisted of a set of laws and rules which were to be kept in the spirit of pointing ahead to the coming of a Saviour. I think we can all agree that with the first advent, a New Covenant was established and if some of the rules were not changed, there was really no point in making a New Covenant. This New Covenant is spoken of often in the New Testament, the following is an example. "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (1 Cor. 11:25) The New Covenant is the spilling of Christ's blood to cover our sins so we need not suffer the judgment of eternal damnation. This in fact is the basic message of the gospel. The Old Covenant had consisted of following rules and rituals, sacrificing animals whose blood was to remind people of the Saviour to come who would pay the price for their sins. It is a basic element in God's plan that one covenant be changed for another. God did change His covenant!
Does God change commandments? I intend to point out only a few of the commandments which have been changed in the Bible. In the first book of the Bible we find God making a covenant with Abraham. Notice that God had not made this arrangement with previous people; neither Adam, Enoch, nor Noah. Also notice that there is no indication of a command to keep a seventh day sabbath to any of these including Abraham. "When Abraham was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abraham and said to him. 'I am God Almighty, walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.' Then Abraham fell on his face; and God said to him, 'Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of multitude of nations ... and I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you ... this is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you; every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He that is eight days old among you shall be circumcised; every male throughout your generations ... so shall My covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant?" (Gen. 17:1-14) We see from this passage that Abraham and his descendants were to be circumcised. God called this 'an everlasting covenant'.
The word everlasting here, must not have the connotation we usually apply. It does not mean forever and ever or without end. The study of the meaning of this word in itself is a very complex study. Suffice it to say that the ritual of circumcision was ended by God's authority with the New Covenant.
The controversy about circumcision is discussed in Acts 15. 'Here we see a council of the apostles considering this question and giving this advice; "Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood." (Acts 15:19,20) This pronouncement was made under the influence of the Holy Spirit to a charge made by some of the Jewish Christians that Gentiles being converted to Christianity should follow the laws set down by Moses. "But some believers who belong to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, 'it is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses'." We see here that Gentiles do not have to follow the practice of circumcision when becoming Christian. We should also notice carefully the words of the Pharisees who insisted that they keep the law of Moses. From the answer of the council as spoken by James, it is very obvious that Gentile Christians did not have to follow the law of Moses. Let us be aware here also that the seventh day sabbath is part of the law of Moses.
In the previous example we have seen how rules changed from one covenant to another. Next we will see how God in fact changed rules while under the same covenant. We are all quite aware that Jews at the time of Moses were allowed to divorce their wives for almost any reason. When Jesus spoke about marriage He indicated that divorce could not occur for any reason except adultery. This was somewhat of a change in the rules and Jesus indicated the reason for that. He pointed out that divorce had been allowed previously and told them the reason for that. "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you; whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery." (Mt. 19:8-9) The Israelites were God's chosen people, they were corrupted by their many years of slavery in Egypt. God realized that they would not tolerate His original plan concerning marriage and softened His rules for a time to adjust for this. Later He raised the standards back to where they had been in the beginning.
Another interesting example of God changing rules within the framework of the same covenant concerns revenge. At the time of Moses one was to exact an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth but Jesus changed this to the dismay of the legalists of His day. "You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Mt. 5: 38,39) As slaves in Egypt I suspect the Jews would pay back an injury by killing the offender. As a step towards reform at the time of Moses, God insisted on an eye for an eye but not a life for an eye. At the time of Jesus the Israelites were expected to have progressed even further to the point where they would accept injury and forgive rather than demanding revenge. Here we see God changing His rules as circumstances allow and actually insisting on improvement, of interpersonal relationships from one generation to another.
Adventists also like the passage, "Forever, oh Lord, Thy word is firmly fixed in the heavens." (Ps. 119:89) Adventists like to equate the term 'word' with 'commandment'. We have already seen that God does change commandments depending on circumstances. We have also seen that the word forever is not used by God in the sense that we understand that word. If someone were to give you his word, you would take this to mean that this person had made a promise to you. It certainly could not be construed to mean that person would never change any of his rules or ways of doing things. They are completely different concepts. As we have already seen God does change His commandments. We cannot go along with the interpretation the Adventists would like us to have from this verse.
An interesting promise that God did give to man which he will keep is found in the story of Noah following the flood. "I establish my covenant with you that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth ... I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring my clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh." (Gen. 9:11, 13-15) This is an example of God giving His 'word' as a promise we can count on forever. God makes many promises by His word in the Bible and this is the source of great support for all of us during gloomy times of trouble.
There are many other examples where God changes rules, laws and rituals. We have seen that He even changes covenants. He expects certain things from a Jew that He doesn't expect from a Gentile. We will study this point in more detail but the message I want to leave at this point is that God does change laws. The Adventist argument to the contrary is just not true. The old cliche that God never changes cannot be employed to insist that everybody, everywhere, at all times, should be keeping the seventh day sabbath.
The sabbath doctrine as espoused by Adventists depends on considerable repetition of the word 'remember'. This word is used with great effect to arouse emotions concerning the sabbath day. Adventists will ask you how you can forget when God has asked you to remember the sabbath day. They quote the fourth commandment as often as possible; "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work; but the seventh day is the sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it". I must admit to you that I was very impressed by this argument and it was quite forceful in convincing me to try to keep the seventh day sabbath.
But I would like to use this argument on Seventh Day Adventists. You people who stress the word 'remember', please consider God's institution of the Passover. "The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening. Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it ... It is the Lord's Passover ... You shall observer this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons forever. (Ex. 12:6,7,8,11,24), 'Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, (Ex. 13:3)
I now put the question to you Adventists. Do you people keep the Passover? God has asked you to remember it forever and ever. Do you not agree that the Passover ordinance was ended with the death of Christ? Why should you feel the word remember has a different meaning when applied to the seventh day sabbath than when it is applied to the Passover? Surely you must see that your argument involving the word remember cannot carry any authority. As Adventists, you are very careful about the meaning of words like forever and everlasting. I feel you must add the word remember to that same list.
Another passage used by Adventists with great effect to bolster the seventh day sabbath is; "Thy name, oh Lord, endureth forever; and Thy memorial, oh Lord, throughout all generations." (Ps. 135:13 KJV) Somehow they pervert this verse, particularly the word memorial, and insist that it refers to the seventh day sabbath. Looking at this verse in the Bible there are a few words in italics which were not present in the original manuscript but have been added to make smooth reading in English. If these italicized words are removed, we read this passage as; "Thy name, oh Lord, forever; Thy memorial, oh Lord, throughout all generations." With this rendition of the verse there is no doubt that God is saying that His name is the memorial.
As further proof that Adventists have perverted this verse for their own end let us consider God's name. When Moses was commissioned by God to confront Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go, Moses was afraid no one would believe him. He wanted to know what to tell Pharaoh and the people of Israel when they asked who had sent him. Some or the conversation is as follows. "And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am; and He said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am has sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, hath sent me unto you; this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." (Ex. 3:14,15 KJV) God's memorial then is His name, not the seventh' day sabbath.
As a bit of diversion here it is interesting to note that Jehovah's Witnesses stress God's name and this is one of the most obvious peculiarities of that cult. They feel it is all-important to publicize the name of God as Jehovah. There is considerable evidence to suggest that His name is, in fact pronounced, Yahweh. The Adventist cult on the other hand, feel that the all-important feature is to publicize the seventh day sabbath. For one group, the name of God becomes their idol; for the other group the seventh day sabbath becomes the idol.
Adventists also use the following passage with considerable effect. "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." (Mt. 15:8,9) They like to extend this passage to try to cover the sabbath day. They would like everyone to believe that they are worshipping on Sunday due to a commandment from the pope. They attempt to get at Protestants this way, trying to arouse guilt feelings about not keeping God's commandments but following the dictum of the pope.
When Jesus spoke these words there is no doubt the sabbath day was still in effect. These words were directed at the Pharisees who were trying to pervert God's law concerning the commandment "Honor your father and your mother". These people were using the excuse that they had given so much of their money to God that they no longer had to carry the responsibility of looking after their parents. Jesus pointed out that they were warping God's laws and indicated that Isaiah had prophesied this would happen. This passage has absolutely nothing to do with the Sabbath day. Protestants do not follow the commandments of the pope in worshipping on Sunday.
Another little untruth Adventists would like us to believe is that God gave all His commandments in the garden of Eden, including the sabbath day, and that everybody from that time has been expected to follow these commandments. They make the assumption that everybody followed the sabbath from creation when they quote this Bible passage. "And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it because on it God rested from all His work which He had done in creation." (Gen. 2:2,3) The word sabbath is not used here and nowhere is the commandment found to keep the sabbath until the Israelites are in the desert on the way to the promised land.
We read the stories of many just men up to the time of Abraham who did not keep the sabbath. From Abraham came the Jewish race and we read the stories of many famous Jews including Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and there is no indication that any of these Jews kept the sabbath day.
In the book of Nehemiah we see God being praised for the things He has done for the Jewish people. "Thou didst come down upon Mount Sinai, and speak with them from heaven and give them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and Thou didst make known to them Thy holy sabbath and command them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses thy servant". (Neh. 3:13,14) Here it is indicated that God made known to the Jews the idea of the seventh day sabbath. This presupposes the fact that the Jews did not know about this before. It is true that they were given an example of the sabbath day shortly before that in the story of manna from heaven which did not fall on the sabbath day. But it seems that the Hebrews did not know about this sabbath day when they were slaves in Egypt.
Adventists would have us believe that people like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc. knew about and kept the seventh day sabbath. Over the period of 400 years of slavery in Egypt would the Hebrews really forget about or lose the tradition of the sabbath day? They would no more forget the sabbath than the Jews over the last couple of centuries during their terrible persecutions. It is quite obvious from this passage that even Jews did not keep the sabbath day until they were freed from Egypt.
Another passage which supports this notion is the sabbath day commandment as it appeared in a repeat list of the ten commandments in Deuteronomy. "You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day." (Deut. 5:15) Here God tells the Jews they are to keep the sabbath day to remember His freeing them from bondage in Egypt. Again it appears from this passage that the Jews knew nothing about the sabbath day prior to their exodus from Egypt.
Adventists however will argue that God gave another reason for keeping the sabbath day when he gave the sabbath commandment in Exodus. Here it seems the Jews were to keep the sabbath day to remember that God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. But you Adventists must also accept the other reason, to commemorate the release from slavery in Egypt. The commandment in Exodus in no way indicates that the sabbath day commandment had been given previously and the commandment in Deuteronomy does indicate when and why the sabbath day commandment was given.
Shortly after the sabbath commandment was given we find God being very angry that His sabbath day had not been kept. Consider the following passage describing how God dealt with those Jews who would not keep His sabbath day commandment. "Moreover I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them through the countries, because they had not executed My ordinances, but had rejected My statutes and profaned My sabbath, and their eyes were, set on their fathers' idols. Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life; and I defiled them through their very gift in making them offer by fire all their firstborn, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know that I am the Lord." (Ezekiel 20:23-26)
Even from the beginning when God gave the sabbath day commandment He had terrible difficulties with the Jews not keeping it. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament we see God bringing this to their attention that they had not been keeping His sabbath. In this particular instance God even indicates that He gave them some laws that were not good and some ordinances by which they could not have life. This seems to be pretty stem judgment on the Jews for not keeping the sabbath day. God was obviously very serious about this item.
Isn't it rather strange that we see no pronouncements against anybody for not keeping the sabbath day prior to the book of Exodus? If the sabbath day was a requirement previously, why did God not mention it in His judgment against the people just before the flood? He mentioned all kinds of sins at the time of Noah and certainly He would have included the profaned sabbath days if they did exist at that time. This is a forceful argument that the requirement to keep the seventh day sabbath did not exist prior to the Jews delivery from Egypt.
One whole book of the Bible is devoted to a very righteous man of ancient times. The book of Job is a very encouraging story of a good man who kept all of God's commandments. Throughout the book Job insists on his innocence. I do not mean to imply that Job never sinned, but he obtained salvation somehow through faith. I just want to point out here that there is no indication that Job kept the sabbath day. Isn't it rather strange that none of the important Bible characters prior to Moses, righteous men used by God as examples for us, do not give us an example of keeping the sabbath day?
If Adventists do claim that the sabbath was binding on all of God's servants after the time of the Jews let us consider another specific character. Whenever we hear the name of King Nebuchadnezzar we may picture him as a heathen ogre. He certainly did a lot of rotten things to the Israelites after he had conquered them and dragged them off to Babylon. But consider God's feelings towards this heathen king who would enslave the Jews. "I will send for all the tribes of the north, says the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant." (Jer. 25:9) God calls him 'My servant'. If we look up other people who have been given this title by God we find included in company Abraham, Moses, Job, Jacob and others.
Nebuchadnezzar is grouped with some pretty impressive servants of God. This king of course was quite close to Daniel and the other Hebrew princes. He certainly was aware of Jewish law and the commandment to keep the sabbath day. There is no evidence that Nebuchadnezzar kept any of the Jewish laws or rules and in particular no evidence that he kept the sabbath day. God however referred to him as His servant. It seems that Gentiles, even during the period of the Old Testament Covenant were not obliged to keep Jewish law to be saved. This to me is a very strong indication that you and I do not have to keep the seventh day sabbath.
There is an example of one that we should follow. Jesus is the example and Adventists like to extend that principle to the sabbath day also. They point out that Jesus kept the sabbath day and claimed that He was Lord of the sabbath. This is all very true but Jesus was a Jew, and as such, He was required to keep all of the law of Moses. This included the sabbath day, the passover, circumcision, annual sacrifices, and all the other rituals of the law. It was His duty to do this, fulfill the law and remain sinless so that the sacrifice of one who was innocent would be acceptable to pay the penalty for all of us who are guilty. Of course Jesus kept the sabbath, the Old Covenant was in force during His lifetime and His death ushered in the New Covenant.
We do have another indication in the Bible that the sabbath day law in fact did not exist from the time of Adam. In chapter 3 of Galatians we find Paul discussing the fact that salvation is obtained by faith and not by works of the law. This of course is the principle rediscovered by Martin Luther which ignited the Protestant reformation. Luther, a Catholic priest, could no longer go along with the Catholic requirements that he had to work off his sins by continual prayers and fasting in the form of penance. A feeling of overwhelming futility overcame him when he realized that no amount of his penance could pay off his many horrible sins. His peace with God came when he was allowed to recognize the truth of the gospel. Salvation is a free gift from God. Jesus Christ has already paid the penalty for our sins, and we cannot work our way into heaven by doing good deeds, penance, and fasting. Good works of course must flow from our love for God and our neighbor; after we realize that God Himself has paid the penalty and given us eternal life. Good works flow from a thankful heart, they do not bribe God to let us into heaven.
This seems like a natural place to point out the difference between basic Catholic and Protestant theologies but that is really not the point I want to make here. In the middle of the chapter we find Paul specifically talking about Abraham and he says "The law, which came 430 years afterwards does not annul the covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void." It is not really important for our purposes as to what point Paul was making here. But it is important that he indicated the time in history when the law was given. He points out that it was 430 years after Abraham and that coincides with the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. This certainly demolishes the Adventist belief that the sabbath day commandment was given in the Garden of Eden.
There is the mistaken idea that one must keep the sabbath day holy. Not only have Catholics and Protestants traditionally worshipped on Sunday rather than Saturday but there is no attempt whatever to keep Sunday 'holy'. Not only has the institution of the seventh day sabbath disappeared but also the requirement that you keep one special day holy. It must be realized that anyone is quite free to worship on any day he chooses. In no way is he under any obligation to follow all the Old Testament rules such as sabbath keeping as was required of the Jews. We will have more to say about this subject a little later.
Not only do Adventists use the argument that Jesus kept the sabbath but they insist that the apostles following Jesus resurrection kept the sabbath day. Of all the places the commandments are listed in the New Testament, not once is it indicated that the seventh day sabbath must be kept. We can find all of the other commandments in different places and in fact, some new commandments which Jesus gave, but never is there a command that one must legally keep the sabbath day.
Another Bible passage getting a lot of overwork from Adventists in supporting their seventh day sabbath theory certainly is taken out of context. "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me says the Lord; so shall your descendants and your name remain. From new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me says the Lord." (Isa. 66:22-23) Adventists will tell you that these verses give evidence that the sabbath day will be kept when God has created new heavens and a new earth.
Just by reading this Bible passage it is evident that God does not mean what Adventists say He means. God is simply stressing the fact that the Jewish race shall never become extinct. The people of Israel will survive just as surely as it is a fact that God will make new heavens and a new earth. The last part of the quotation concerning "From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath" can in no way be taken to mean that a sabbath day will be in effect in the new earth. If Adventists insist on this interpretation they will have to agree that new moons will be celebrated in the new earth also. I am sure they are quite willing to admit that celebration of new moons ended at the cross. Why must they insist that the sabbath day was not ended at the cross? Why can't they show some consistency?
There is another Bible passage which gives a completely contradictory idea as to what Adventists would have us believe from the above quotation. Needless to say I have not heard any Adventists going around quoting this piece from the Bible. "And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts." (Hos. 2:11) I suspect Adventists would try to get out of this one by saying that here God has used the word sabbaths, the plural form, and that it couldn't possibly mean the sabbath day. I must say that I could not buy that argument.
Throughout the time of the Old Covenant, God had to remind His people again and again that they must keep the sabbath holy. I don't think any other commandment is repeated so often in the Old Testament, but it is never mentioned in the New Testament. Let's just consider a few passages indicating how God felt about Jews keeping His sabbath day. "Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they have become a burden to Me, I am weary of bearing them." (Isa. 1:13,14) "But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes but rejected My ordinances, by whose observance man shall live; and My sabbaths they greatly profaned." (Eze. 20:13) "What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the sabbath day? Did not your fathers ask in this way, and did not our God bring all this evil on us and on this city? Yet you bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath." (Neh. 13:17,18) It seems God was very distressed at how His chosen people the Israelites were polluting His sabbath day.
At the time of Jesus, there were so many legalities to be kept in relation to the sabbath day that people were unable to bear them. If we may think of God in such terms, I feel that He was considerably relieved when the institution of the sabbath day was ended so that it could no longer be profaned. Of course that is a major point of doctrine of standard Christian denominations: the fact that the sabbath ended with Jesus' death on the cross.
Adventists would like us to believe that the sabbath day was so taken for granted during the time of the New Testament that the commandment to keep it did not have to be repeated there. In the Old Testament God has indicated His disfavor at His people's not keeping the seventh day sabbath. The commandment is given over and over, time and again for emphasis. Surely the people after the New Testament were no more Godly than the Jews prior to the New Testament time. If they couldn't keep the sabbath day before, they certainly were not going to miraculously keep it now. It seems logical that God would have to upbraid them continually and remind them repeatedly, even in the New Testament, if He intended that the seventh day sabbath be kept. But, I repeat, the commandment to keep the sabbath day holy is not given in the New Testament despite the other moral commandments being listed many times.
Adventists really do make a big deal of the idea that the sabbath commandment is part of the moral law as compared to the ceremonial law. It is quite true that the Sabbath commandment is found with the other nine commandments. However, on a study of Numbers 28 and 29, a lot of ceremonial law is given and considerable emphasis is given to the sabbath day there. None of the moral law is listed in these requirements so why should we expect the seventh day sabbath to be pushed there if it is truly just part of the moral law. The sabbath here is depicted as being part of the ritual and ceremony.
Not only was the principle of loving your neighbor rather foreign to the Jewish people, but can you imagine the dismay of the Jews when Jesus commanded that they should also love their enemies. "But I say to you that hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." (Lk. 6:27,28) These principles were completely opposite to what the Jews had been told in Old Testament times.
They were not to associate at all with people of other races and we see God rebuking Jews time after time for not following His advice. Of course outsiders were allowed to be taken into the system of Judaism, but in no way were Jews to compromise and drift toward customs of other races. This in fact was King Solomon's great sin. He married women not belonging to the Jewish race. Time after time it was outsiders who polluted the Jewish system and got the Jews into great difficulties with their God. But at the time of Jesus we see this principle is no longer in effect. Jesus offers salvation to all, including Gentiles, and Paul the greatest evangelist of all times was specifically commissioned to take the message to the Gentiles. Yes God made a lot of changes with the New Covenant and nowhere do we see any emphasis put on the seventh day sabbath.
Whenever we do see Jesus concerned with the sabbath day in the stories of the gospels, it is almost always under the same circumstance. The Scribes and Pharisees and other enemies were always trying to catch Jesus breaking the law of the sabbath day. They became very angry when Jesus cured a man with a withered hand on the sabbath day. His enemies were extremely critical when the disciples, walking through the wheat fields, reaped some grain and ate it.
Jesus made a big point in indicating to them that the sabbath day had been so perverted, that the Jews were being required to serve the sabbath day rather than the sabbath day being a blessing or service to the people. Jesus did considerable name-calling and particularly indicated that these people were hypocrites. "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for 18 years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? (Lk. 13:15,16)
Let's look at a few more passages concerning love. "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Gal. 5:14) "Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments you shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and any other commandment are summed up in this sentence, 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Rom. 13:8-10) The message is very clear from these verses. Under the new covenant we fulfill all of the moral law by loving our neighbor. There is no indication here that we must keep the seventh day sabbath. Keeping a day has nothing to do with loving your neighbor.
Some might say that these Bible passages do not sum up the whole law. They might say it leaves out the part about loving God. This is because those people do not understand the Bible principle. It is a basic prerequisite that one love God before he can love his neighbor. God gives the gift of love to us and it is very obvious that the two objects of love, God and neighbor, are inseparable. It would be superfluous really to add that you must love God. Of course these two great commandments are given elsewhere in the Bible.
To you Adventists I would question your love for your neighbor. Despite admonitions by Paul not to judge someone else concerning items of diet, or days of worship, you must admit that this is the main thrust of all you do in your church related activities. You claim to be keeping the law of God by observing the seventh day sabbath. What happened to the real requirement of God's law about loving your neighbor? It seems you do not have your priorities straight.
Be assured that God does know what He is doing. God does recognize that there will always be people around like the Seventh Day Adventist cult insisting that we keep Jewish laws, including the seventh day sabbath. This concern was so great to God that He immediately raised up a special man to take care of the problems soon after Jesus established the New Covenant. God knew that He would have to fight fire with fire. He picked Saul of Tarsus who of course is better known as Saint Paul.
This man had been raised in the Jewish schools, he was well acquainted with the law of Moses and the scriptures available to him at that time. Most likely he himself was a Pharisee and he had a fairly high position in the established Jewish church of that day. He was a self admitted hater of Christians and had a burning desire to capture and kill as many Christians as possible.
Paul was present with the crowd of Jews who stoned Stephen. He was the main figure in the murder of Stephen and it is important to realize that Paul is recorded in the Bible as being guilty of the blood of this first Christian martyr. "They cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, Lord do not hold this sin against them. And when he had said this he fell asleep. And Saul was consenting to his death." (Acts 7:58-60)
We know and are thankful that Stephen's courageous prayer was heard and answered by God. "Lord do not hold this sin against them." This terrible sin of Paul's was to be reconciled by the blood of Christ, as my sins and yours can be. God had very important plans for Paul despite the fact that he was a vile and vicious sinner. Knowing what each of us knows about ourselves, doesn't that offer tremendous hope?
Paul again had murder in his heart on the road to Damascus but God was to change all that. Jesus appeared as a bright light which blinded Paul. We all know the story of Paul's conversion and how he was conscripted into God's service. Paul was to do all of God's bidding despite knowing His terrible earthly fate. "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:15-16)
So God chose Paul, a Jew, a learned expert on the law of Moses; and Jewish traditions. He was to use Paul particularly to protect Gentiles from ardent Jews whom He knew would certainly add heavy Jewish burdens to the new Christians. He used a Jew to fight against Jews; He used one well versed in the law to protect against the law.
Paul did not have an easy time of it either. His writings attest to this fact. Witness some of the things Paul suffered and notice how much came directly from his own people, the Jews. Here Paul is actually comparing himself to false apostles who claim to be speaking for Jesus Christ and apparently were Jews. These false apostles were boasting to impress people so Paul insisted that he do a bit of boasting too. "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one --- I am talking like a madman --- with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." (2 Cor. 11:22-27) These troubles listed by Paul tend to make ours seem very small indeed. A lot of his misery came from his own people, the Jews. They were obviously trying to pervert Christian teaching with the laws of Judaism and Paul was always on the alert for this problem.
Consider some other Bible passages showing how the Jews persecuted Paul. Also keep in mind that this is exactly the way Paul had been treating Christians previously. "And when the meeting at the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts of Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitude, they were filled with jealousy and contradicted what was spoken by Paul, and reviled him. And Paul and Bamabas spoke out boldly, saying, it was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you, since you thrust it from you, . . . we turn to the Gentiles ... and when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of God . . . But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and went to Iconium ... Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue, and so spoke that a great company believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. But the people of the city were divided, some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to molest them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra ... But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium; and having persuaded the people, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead." (Acts 13:42-51 and Acts 14:1-6,19)
The Jews were actually jealous that Paul was preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. They also contradicted what he said and it doesn't take much imagination to realize which doctrines were causing divisions. The Jews were most certainly pushing their laws on the Gentiles and were angry at Paul for protecting the Gentiles against their demands. It is notable here that they were meeting on the sabbath but it must be realized that they were meeting in a synagogue and many Jews had not yet given up the sabbath day. They were not yet Christians. This passage does not support the sabbath day as Adventists would like us to believe.
Now let us consider some of Paul's specific exhortations protecting Gentiles, "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? . . . One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it in honour of the Lord." (Rom. 14:4-6) It seemed there was some dispute here as to whether some people should be observing special days; almost certainly a question involving the sabbath.
Paul makes it quite clear that one man may prefer a special day; others may have no special day. If there was a clear commandment to keep the seventh day sabbath Paul certainly would have stated it right here. He could not be so negligent as to forget an admonition to keep the sabbath if that is what God really intended. Ellen White and followers would have us believe that if we do not keep the seventh day sabbath we receive the mark of the beast. Are they aware of the words of Paul "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?" Their judgments don't appear to be very Biblical.
In the same vein consider this passage. "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath." (Col. 2:16) It is very plain from this scripture that Paul is specifically addressing the question of Jewish laws. Included here is the sabbath day and he insists that judgment cannot be passed on someone because of the sabbath. In studying a little further in this passage it becomes obvious that Paul is pointing out all these things were nailed to the cross at the time of Jesus' death when the Old Covenant came to an end.
Concerning this particular passage, Adventists try to draw a distinction between moral law, which is forever binding, and ceremonial law, which included the Jewish rituals. They point out that only the rituals were nailed to the cross. They insist that the sabbath day was not included in the ceremonial rituals but in the moral law. I don't think anyone can really buy that argument.
Another criticism Adventists have about this passage arises, from a mistranslation. In the last quotation the term 'a sabbath' is used indicating a singular form. This translation is taken from the Revised Standard Version. It differs from the King James Version which is preferred by Adventists because its mistranslation suits their purpose nicely. "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of sabbath days." If one looks at this verse in the King James Version it is noted that the word 'days' is in italics. That indicates this word has been added by the translators and was not there in the original text. If that word 'days' is stroked out the meaning of this passage. becomes very clear. Paul is indicating that the sabbath has been nailed to the cross.
It is interesting to note here just one more of the many inconsistencies of Adventists. The sabbath is spoken of in 60 places in the New Testament. In all other 59 places Adventists will admit that this means the seventh day sabbath. But in this sixtieth instance they insist that it refers to the plural form of sabbath days. I must remind you that this is very characteristic of Adventist people and their doctrines. Adventists like the translation 'sabbath days' as they will insist that the other sabbath days were nailed to the cross, but not the seventh day sabbath. This of course is nonsense and a prime example of how a false doctrine is perpetuated by a misinterpreted Bible passage. Any honest Adventist will have to concede that this point is no longer valid for them.
What do you suppose Paul might say to Adventists and others who insist on observance of a seventh day sabbath and other legalism. If he were here today I suspect he would give the same exclamation that he gave to the Galatians. "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to being that by nature are no gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I have laboured over you in vain". (Gal. 4:8-11) Paul would tell Seventh Day Adventists that he has been wasting his time preaching to them. He is pointing out in this passage that the observance of days is not required in order to serve God. If the seventh day sabbath were still in effect it would have been his solemn duty to make a pronouncement right there saying "Thou shalt still observe the seventh day sabbath". It is unthinkable that Paul would leave something of such importance hanging.
Adventists may say there is no statement in the Bible such as "You don't have to keep the sabbath day holy". However if you go over these three passages just quoted you will notice that this is exactly what Paul has said in different and more forceful words. I do agree that it would have saved everybody a lot of trouble had he stated the sentence in this simple manner. We do know that God works in strange ways. He certainly does leave it open that people can hang onto their delusions if they really want to.
One high ranking Adventist official tried to convince me that I didn't have to believe Ellen White was a true prophet to remain in the Adventist Church. Of course that is nonsense; how can one remain in a church totally dominated by the rules of someone he cannot trust? To make his point he indicated there was another high ranking official who did not believe that Paul was inspired and considered him to be a false prophet. I suspect this poor man was having difficulty with the passages we have just discussed concerning the sabbath day. He preferred to accept Ellen White as a prophet and condemned Paul as a false prophet because his statements contradict those of Ellen White. That poor fellow is to be pitied; he is really holding onto his delusions.
The pressure on Gentile Christians by Jewish Christians was tremendous. They really insisted that the rituals of Judaism be continued. Paul had the following to say about this predicament. "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the race of Christ and turning to a different gospel - not that there is another gospel but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preach to you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:6-8) He then tells of his conversion and how he had been a zealous Pharisee who persecuted Christians.
Fourteen years later he recounts how he went back to Jerusalem and in secret told the church leaders how he was preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He indicates that he had to do this secretly because of the presence of 'false brethren'. He then describes a confrontation with Peter, and remember this is at least 20 years after our Lord's death. Peter's actions were still being severely dictated by the Jewish gospel perverters. "But when Peter came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely . . . but when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, 'if you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews'?" Peter was still being influenced by the Old Covenant rule forbidding Jews to associate with Gentiles. He was quite comfortable eating with Gentiles until he was discovered by some fanatic Jews and this caused him to back off. This gave the impression that he was supporting these persistent Jewish beliefs and was in contradiction to the message of the gospel. Paul was so incensed with Peter's behavior that he told him off publicly.
Christians would do well to heed Paul's very serious warning. "For there are many insubordinate men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially the circumcision party; they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for base, gain what they have no right to teach ... therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth." (Tit. 1:11-14) We are to be very careful of these deceivers and notably those of the circumcision party. I would have to include Adventists in that group as they insist on Christians following the Jewish seventh day sabbath. I hope my writings are successful in following Paul's commandment, 'therefore rebuke them sharply'.
From what we have studied so far it is almost redundant to consider further Adventist arguments used to promote the seventh day sabbath. However I feel we must continue as some of these arguments are very persuasive especially to young Catholics who are somewhat dissatisfied with what they have been taught. Some of these arguments may also intimidate some Protestants by inducing in them guilt feelings about following the pope.
True to Adventist form, they would like you to believe that worshipping on Sunday is a form of false worship and that it will not be accepted by God. If you don't know any of the other facts this accusation can be very upsetting indeed. It has already been made quite clear that we need not keep any day holy, let alone the seventh day. That in itself takes all the power out of the Adventist theory that the pope changed the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday. However for the above reasons we will persist and dispose of these Adventist claims.
Adventists delight in insisting that the pope changed the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There are several things wrong with this message they are trying to give you. For one thing, the Christians who worship on Sunday do not consider it to be the sabbath as we have already seen. No attempt is made to keep it holy. The requirements to keep a day holy ended at the cross. No one really tries to keep that part of the Jewish law even if it is perverted from the seventh day to the first day. This notion however may be fairly prevalent, as the Catholic Church insists that its members attend mass each Sunday under penalty of mortal sin. However this really can't be construed as keeping that day holy.
Also Sunday observance was in effect long before the first pope. We will list some statements concerning this shortly. Most Protestants and even Adventists agree that the office of the papacy did not exist until the installation of Gregory the Great in 590. Only Catholics believe that Peter was the first pope and that notion is easily refuted by the Bible.
Ellen White said, "the first public measure enforcing Sunday observance was the law enacted by Constantine in 321 AD." (Great Controversy p. 502) Adventists must admit that this is quite some time before the first pope. The common cliché Adventists will use is that Constantine made a compromise. Heathens would give up their sun god if Christians would switch their holy day from Saturday to Sunday. This I must tell you is nonsense but has great persuasive power over any Catholic who really does not know the history of the sabbath and the Lord's day.
Most Catholics have been told that Christians keep Sunday so they can be distinguished from Jews. This may in part be true, but appears to be somewhat of a lie when confronted with Adventist doctrine concerning the subject. The dissatisfied Catholic then is in deep trouble and ready to swallow the bait. After all, I should know; I did just that!
Let's look at what Ellen White says about the pope changing the sabbath day. "I saw that God had not changed the sabbath for He never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week for he was to change times and laws". (Early Writings p. 33) Here Ellen White states that God never changes and we have discussed before how that really is not true. It also indicates that the pope changed the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. This is somewhat of a contradiction in that we have seen where, Ellen White says that the Emperor Constantine was the one responsible for the change.
Now keeping in mind the time sequence of Constantine's Sunday law of 321, and the appearance of the first pope in 590, let us consider the following statements indicating the existence of Sunday observance long before either of these two events.
It is obvious from the historical statements that Sunday observance occurred long before Constantine or the first pope.
Adventists really like to throw this one at Catholics. If you study with them you will be bored to death with this quote from the Coverts Catechism of Catholics Doctrine, 1957 edition, p. 50.
Question: Which is the sabbath day'?
Answer: Saturday is the sabbath day.
Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the (Roman) Catholic
Church transferred this solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.
Here Adventists indicate that Catholics admit to changing the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday.
You can't imagine how many times I have heard this little song and dance during my brainwashing. It certainly served its purpose in convincing me to keep the seventh day sabbath. At this point I can't consider it anymore than meaningless propaganda used by Adventists. It really doesn't make any difference to me what the Catholic Church has claimed in the past. Adventists of course consider the change from Saturday to Sunday as the mark of apostasy.
The apostle John said: I was in the spirit on the Lord's day". (Rev. 1:10) Adventists insist that he meant Saturday and not Sunday. There is really no good proof to decide which day he was talking about. However if John was keeping the seventh day sabbath all those years why didn't he just refer to it as the sabbath day, as it had always been called previously in the Bible, rather than using a new term the Lord's day.
Adventists insist that Paul and the other apostles kept the seventh day. Other Christians will insist they kept the first day. There are good partial arguments for each side and I personally feel that this specific question cannot be settled with one hundred percent certainty. Suffice it to say that there is no evidence that they kept either day holy.
For Adventists who do keep the seventh day sabbath there are some secondary gains which I should mention. It is a good day to catch up on your sleep and once slept out you can put in the rest of the day with gossip. In fact many Adventists go to church for the sole purpose of gossiping and socializing. Others go to perform in front of the congregation as it gives them a sense of power and makes them feel very important. Others attend to point out all the good things they have done for God in the past week; rarely mentioning what God has done for them. To be fair though, many Adventists do go to church to fellowship with God.
By keeping the seventh day sabbath an Adventist can almost totally withdraw from the responsibilities of 'the world'. With the excuse of keeping the sabbath it is possible to get out of almost any chore which might turn up on Saturday. Certainly no work can be done to help a neighbor. Non Adventist members of the family will just have to respect your sabbath day. I certainly got out of a lot of work which I should have done to help my parents and others on Saturday by using this excuse. After all, how dare they ask me to work on my sabbath day? One can even get out of attending Saturday weddings.
Adventists can also find employment where they might have to work on Saturday. If they want to, they can justify working on Saturday, as almost any job can be looked on as a necessary function which must be carried on despite it being the sabbath day. On the other hand if one does not want to work on Saturday, a confrontation can be set up with the hopes of being fired. Then the poor victim can scream persecution and look like a martyr. This reinforces the belief that Adventists will be forced by the rest of us to work on Saturday at sometime in the future and observe Sunday as their day of rest. This shows how the delusions become self perpetuating.
Rules concerning sabbath observance were really quite strict. Cooking was not allowed on the sabbath day. "On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread (manna), ... and Moses said to them, this is what the Lord has commanded; tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay by, be kept till morning." (Ex. 16:22,23) The consequences of breaking the sabbath were plain. "While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses ... and the Lord said to Moses, the man shall be put to death, all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp. And all the congregation brought him outside the camp, and stoned him to death with stones as the Lord commanded Moses." (Num. 15:32-36) "'Thus saith the Lord; take, heed for the sake of your lives, and do not bear burden on the sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the sabbath or do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy." (Jer. 17:21,22)
There is also the idea of how far one may travel on the sabbath day. "Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olive, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away." (Acts 1:12) Looking at a map of Jerusalem, Mount Olive is very close indeed.
Do you know any Adventists who keep the seventh day sabbath? Do they actually keep it holy? Do they follow any of the rules set down in the Old Testament as to how one should keep the sabbath holy? The answer to all these questions is a resounding no! Consider this rule, "Six days shall work be done, on the seventh day you shall have a holy sabbath of solemn rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death; you shall kindle no fire in all your habitations on the sabbath day." I don't know of any Adventist who follows this simple rule of kindling no fire in his house on the sabbath day. Many that I know actually start a fire in their fireplace on the sabbath day. Others certainly cook on the sabbath day although they try to keep that down to a minimum, as if minimum is what is required in following the law. I don't think any of them shut off the main switch of their furnace so it cannot go on and off automatically over the sabbath day. They are all guilty of not following this simple requirement. How do you think they do following all the other requirements?
Nor have I heard of any Adventist being put to death for not following the rules of the sabbath day. If they insist on keeping the sabbath day and following its rules, why don't they do so as prescribed in the Bible? I tried to keep the sabbath for quite sometime; I actually felt I was doing a reasonable job. It became rather painfully obvious to me that Adventists, including myself at that time, were spending most of the sabbath hours either sleeping, catching up from a tiring week, or visiting around the countryside gossiping.
Surely God does not respect Adventists for keeping His sabbath in this way. It seems a farce and outright mockery of God. Is there any Adventist out there today who feels he is doing any better job than the Jews who were so often severely chided by God for not keeping His sabbath day as He had prescribed? This is something very serious to think about.
I am quite certain that any Adventist will be able to justify his actions concerning the sabbath day and may even be able to soothe his own conscience. Jesus is well aware that all of us are quite adept at justifying what we do. "But wisdom is justified of her children." (Mt. 11:19 K.J.V.) It took me a long time to understand the meaning of these words and they certainly apply well to the above situation.
Considering all these rules to be kept strictly in observance of a sabbath day, I really can't think of any Adventist who should still be alive. They have all broken these rules of the sabbath, including myself when I was trying to 'keep the sabbath'. If we are really to fulfill that law, all Adventists would have been put to death by this time and their church would certainly be extinct. I must say that during three years at the Adventist Church, not once did I witness a stoning because someone failed to keep the sabbath day holy.
Adventists certainly are not the only people who observe the seventh day sabbath. Seventh Day Baptists have been following that law for many years before Adventists. Why didn't they just join the Seventh Day Baptists? I guess the answer is rather self-evident, Adventists couldn't pawn off their false prophet on these people. The World Church of God also keeps the seventh day sabbath. Their hero of course is Herbert W. Armstrong and this cult wields considerable power and prestige. I wonder who might take over after Armstrong dies? I doubt his followers could be absorbed into the Adventist Church.
Throughout the history of the Adventist Church there has been considerable antagonism caused by the public judgments pronounced by Adventists against other Christian denominations. This has served to drive a wedge between Adventists and other Christians. Adventists like us to believe that they are being persecuted by these other groups. I would suggest to them that they have sown the seeds for this and they are now reaping the fruit. Rather than persecution, I would suggest it is a feeling of revulsion on the part of others resulting from past accusations and antagonisms by Adventists. To set a position as being incredible, fanatic, and idiotic, and then have others ignore you really cannot be classified as persecution.
It seems that I have always been impressed by Billy Graham's preaching. During the time period that I was an Adventist I was still able to watch his TV evangelistic meetings. As I was 'keeping' the seventh day sabbath I always seemed to be a little irritated at his regular closing line. He always signed off with "And be sure to go to church next Sunday". I couldn't understand how an intelligent man like Billy Graham had not been able to see 'the truth' about the seventh day sabbath. I had been informed by church members that top officials had in the past discussed this subject with Billy Graham; and he really didn't seem to be either for or against it.
Since I was a Billy Graham supporter I felt that perhaps a little note included with my donation might get some action. In fact I was naive enough to ask him to sign off with something like, "And be sure to go to church this weekend or on Saturday or Sunday". I must say that I was more than a little disappointed that he or one of his colleagues did not write back and try to defend their position. It seemed all I got was thank yous for my continued support.
On looking back on it now I am very happy that things happened that way. It is just another example of God answering prayers in ways that we do not want at the time and don't expect. Had Billy Graham or his associates started a dialogue to try and convince me of the error of the Seventh Day sabbath, I know that I would have reacted defensively and gotten in even deeper. This would have biased me further and may have postponed or prevented my being freed. There was no way Billy Graham could produce all the evidence all together such as I am doing here. Any partial argument he may have provided would have backfired. So Billy Graham, whether it was an oversight or a deliberate policy not to answer to this subject, I thank you.
I realize that Seventh Day Adventists have no faith in the words of a former Adventist like myself. They would be no more persuaded by me than they were by another hated Adventist who 'apostatized'. D. M. Canright was a contemporary of Ellen White. He held high positions in the Adventist Church. Adventists insist that when he left the church he died a lonely, lost old man. They have actually judged him and passed his sentence.
I suppose their burning hatred arises from the fact that he wrote a 418 page book (Seventh-day Adventism RENOUNCED) exposing the unscriptural positions held by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He had to get out of the Adventist Church and he also felt that he should warn others. I have purposely not read his work as I did not want to bias my own book. The following passage is gleaned from another critic and I include it here as it says a lot and is self explanatory. On reading this passage I could really see myself but on a much smaller scale. I can really empathize with this courageous man.
"After keeping the Seventh Day for twenty-eight years; after having persuaded more than a thousand others to keep it; after having read my Bible through, verse by verse, more than twenty times; after having scrutinized to the best of my ability every text, line and word in the whole Bible having the remotest bearing upon the Sabbath question; after having looked up all these, both in the original and in many translations; after having searched in lexicons, concordances, commentaries and dictionaries; after having read armfuls of books on both sides of the question; after having read every line in all the early church fathers upon this point; after having written several works in favor of the Seventh Day, which were satisfactory to my brethren; after having debated the question more than a dozen times, after seeing the fruits of keeping it; and after weighing all the evidence in the fear of God, and of the judgment day, I am fully settled in my own mind and conscience that the evidence is against the keeping of the Seventh day".
In summary then, Christians need not keep the seventh day sabbath and in fact don't have to keep any day holy. Christians by tradition generally worship on Sunday because Christ rose on Sunday, appeared to His disciples on Sunday, and the Christian Church was born on a Sunday, the day of Pentecost. Adventists, and any others are quite entitled to worship on Saturday if they prefer. However they do not have the right to pervert the gospel of Christ, insisting that all Christians worship on Saturday under threat of receiving the mark of the beast. Adventists will most likely be held responsible for their perversion of the gospel.
In closing this chapter I feel it is appropriate to recall Paul's words. "For there are many insubordinate men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially the circumcision party; they must be silenced, ... they have no right to teach ... Therefore rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith, instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth." (Tit. 1:10-14)