The Apple Of God's Eye

January 30, 2011

Is The Sabbath The Third Or Fourth Commandment?

Filed under: Bible,Sabbath — melchia @ 8:11 pm
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Remembering the Sabbath day is indeed the Third Commandment, according to the Roman Catholic and Lutheran enumeration. But according to the original enumeration in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, it is the Fourth.

The Catholic and Lutheran numbering comes from virtually dropping the Second Commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image… thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them…” (Exodus 20:4-6, Authorized Version).

By omitting the Second Commandment from the Ten, the succeeding commandments become renumbered so that the Third becomes the Second and the Fourth becomes the Third, and so on. The Tenth Commandment is then divided into two separate commandments — coveting your neighbor’s wife and coveting your neighbor’s goods — to fill in the gap (My Catholic Faith, by Louis LaRavoire Morrow, page 194).

The Bible, however, gives no precedent for dividing this one commandment into two. Jesus referred to just one commandment against coveting in Luke 12:15, and the apostle Paul wrote: “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’ ” (Romans 7:7).

It is not logical to divide the first two points of the Tenth Commandment (coveting one’s neighbor’s house and coveting his wife) into two separate commandments while ignoring the four other items mentioned (manservant, maidservant, and donkey and ox). The overall principle of not coveting anything of one’s neighbor’s (the last point stated in the Tenth Commandment) adequately covers all potential situations (Exodus 20:17).

Source: The Good News, August 1985

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March 16, 2010

Seven Sabbath Miracles

Filed under: Sabbath — melchia @ 3:05 pm

Over the centuries, the Jewish religious leaders had added rule after rule to God’s law. For example, God’s law said the sabbath is a day of rest (Exod. 20:10-11), but the religious leaders added to that law, creating one that said, “You cannot heal on the Sabbath” because it is work.

Seven times Jesus healed on the Sabbath. In doing this, He was challenging these religious leaders to look beyond their rules to their true purpose – to honour God by helping those in need. Would God have been pleased if Jesus ignored these people?

Here are the seven distinct Sabbath miracles:

  1. Jesus sends a demon out of a man – Mark 1:21-28
  2. Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law – Mark 1:29-31
  3. Jesus heals a lame man by the pool of Bethesda – John 5:1-18
  4. Jesus heals a man with a deformed hand – Mark 3:1-6
  5. Jesus restores a crippled woman – Luke 13:10-17
  6. Jesus heals a man with dropsy – Luke 14:1-6
  7. Jesus heals a man born blind – John 9:1-16

March 3, 2010

Is The Sabbath True With Man's Changes To The Calendar?

Filed under: Roman Calendar,Sabbath — melchia @ 11:11 pm

Over the millenia, mankind has used many methods to chronicle time. The Roman calendar now in use has undergone some changes, but the weekly cycle was not altered with those changes. The original Roman calendar, introduced during the days of Julius Caesar, 45 B.C., was imperfect since it was based on the premise that the year was exactly 365’/4 days long. To maintain the pattern an addition of an extra day to the month of February was made every four years. However, it was later found that the year was 12 minutes and 14 seconds shorter than this.

A correction was made during the time of Pope Gregory XIII in the 16th Century by dropping ten days from the calendar. Thus in 1582, Thursday, 4 October was followed by Friday, 15 October. Notice that the weekly cycle was not altered. The Hebrew calendar used from the time of Christ till now preserved the same seventh day of the week (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) as it was in Christ’s time. The Jewish people, through the centuries of migrations and persecutions, have never lost the Sabbath day. Nor do most Christians doubt the fact that Sunday is the first day of the week. There is no real debate on this point. The problem is with whether or not we will follow the example of our Savior and keep the same Sabbath that He kept (Mark 2:28).

October 17, 2009

Sabbath Questions: How To Keep God's Sabbath Day Holy!

Do you keep God’s Sabbath holy? Do you find the Sabbath a real delight and joy? Or is it a day of “bondage” or question to you? How often have you wondered if you have broken the Sabbath by a particular act or thought? How many times have you felt condemned about the Sabbath?

Should you attend a funeral, a wedding, a movie on the Sabbath? How do you take care of unconverted relatives who drop in unexpectedly on the Sabbath? Is it okay to have a family outing on the Sabbath? How many dishes should you wash? This is just a sampling of some of the many questions asked regularly about the Sabbath.

Since God’s Sabbath is special HOLY time set aside by God, you need to understand it, know its purpose and meaning to you as a true Christian. Too often, the tendency is to the two extremes — either treating the Sabbath too lightly as the world does, or becoming completely Pharisaical — afraid to move on the Sabbath.

Petty Arguments

Because of the many supposed complications in keeping the Sabbath, men have excused themselves from keeping it — saying it is too difficult. Of course, these are only their puny excuses to keep from obeying God, but many of the questions which come up are derived from these petty arguments. You need to understand them. Once they are cleared up completely in your mind, you will be ready to understand how to keep the Sabbath as God intended!

Fire on the Sabbath

They say you cannot build a fire on the Sabbath according to Exodus 35:2. Then what about people who live in cold climates? Won’t they freeze to death? If this is true, then God made the Sabbath too harsh, and it should not be kept — according to the rebellious, carnal mind!

Notice Exodus 35:2 with the context around it. Verse three says, “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.” From the original Hebrew, this word, “kindle,” means a consuming flame, a flame that would devour — that is, a great, roaring fire! The question is why would you need such a fire on the Sabbath? Read the rest of Chapter 35 and you will see. They were building the tabernacle and needed a fire large enough to work metal!

Haven’t you ever looked out on the Sabbath day and noticed some trimming you would like to get done on your lawn, or have a job you would like to get finished — and catch yourself wanting to get it done in spite of the Sabbath? This is exactly what the Israelites were doing. They were so zealous for the tabernacle that Moses even had to tell them to stop bringing materials. God knew that if He did not stop them, they would work right through the Sabbath on the Tabernacle.

This was not a cooking or household heating fire! It was an industrial fire. The same principle holds true today. There should be no industrial fires kindled on the Sabbath. On the other hand, fires of the proper type were commanded by God to be kept burning! Notice Leviticus 6:13: “The fire shall be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” Hence a sacrificial fire (from which the Israelites cooked their meat and grain) remained burning on the Sabbath! God was not even discussing a cooking, sacrificial or personal heating fire — but a fire which is used for work that should be done only on one of the other six days provided for that purpose.

Sabbath Day’s Journey

The Sabbath day’s journey question seems to stipulate that a true believer should travel no more than the distance from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem (Acts 1:12) about 2,000 cubits or approximately seven-eighths of a mile. But yet almost all the Sabbath keeping people who attend church around the world travel many times that distance each Sabbath! Does this mean they are breaking the Sabbath each week by attending church?

If you will check carefully, you will find that this reference is the only place in the entire Bible a “Sabbath day’s journey” is mentioned. This was a common expression of the Jews at that time, but was never employed by Christ and his disciples. It was derived as a custom by the legalistic Jews from Exodus 16:29: “…let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

The explanation of this is found in Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, page 573, under “Sabbath day’s journey”: Acts 1:12. The law as regards travel on the Sabbath is found in Ex. 16:29. As some departure from a man’s own place was unavoidable, it was thought necessary to determine the allowable amount, which was fixed at 2,000 cubits or about 1,000 yards, from the wall of the city. The permitted distance seems to have been grounded on the space to be kept between the ark and the people, Joshua 3:4, in the wilderness, which tradition said was that between the ark and the tents. We find the same distance given as the circumference outside the walls of the Levitical cities to be counted as their suburbs. Num. 35:5. The terminus a quo was thus not a man’s own house, but the wall of the city where he dwelt.

Notice it is not a law of God, but simply a tradition of the Jews! Since God required attendance at Sabbath services, they had to leave their homes or tents and travel to the tent of meeting. It just happened that the distance from the fringe tents to the center of the encampment where the tent of meeting was, measured about 2,000 cubits. Rather than strive to understand and obey the principle of the Sabbath, they punctiliously set about on their own to draw up definite physical limits for Sabbath observance.

God has never set on his people a “Sabbath day’s journey”!

Ox in the Ditch

Christ said, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?”  (Luke 14:5.) From this, many have argued that their job was an ox in the ditch because it requires them to work, or they work at a job which has “regular emergencies” requiring work on the Sabbath.

They reason that God surely would not want the men to lose their jobs which provides for their families and also enables them to continue to give offerings to God’s Work. Some have gone so far as to work on the Sabbath, then give that whole day’s pay as an offering, to avoid losing their jobs. But these persons have not known that God says, “Hath the Eternal as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Eternal? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (I Sam. 15:22).

God is not interested in sacrifices or offerings at the expense of disobedience to His laws!

But what about the ox or ass in the ditch? How often should you expect it to happen, and what does it really mean and how does it apply today to people who don’t own oxen and asses?

First, you need to understand literally what an “ox in the ditch” means. Since the ox and the ass are rather sure-footed creatures, the odds against them regularly being stuck in a ditch are quite high. When you add the fact that the Sabbath is only one day out of a total of seven, the odds go even higher. Normally, in order to have an ox in the ditch, you have to have the following factors: It must be Sabbath, you must have some kind of severely inclement weather (snowstorm, rainstorm, etc.), and you need a clumsy ox!

Rest assured that if the ox is in the ditch on the Sabbath, Christ makes it very clear you should pull it out. But an ox in the ditch on the Sabbath is a very rare occurrence — that is, a genuine emergency.  Normally, a farmer can go through a whole lifetime and be able to count on one hand the number of oxen (cattle) or asses he has pulled out of a bog or ditch — and the odds are seven to one against it being on the Sabbath.

The principle of the ox in the ditch obviously includes such genuine emergencies as personal injuries, burning houses, power failures, accidents and other occurrences which would entail injury, loss of life or personal property.

The principle does not include, however, the person who “pushes his own ox into the ditch” by acquiring or keeping a job where he knows he will be required to work on the Sabbath each week, or by “putting off” work which should have been done during the week. Nor does it include harvesting or plowing on the Sabbath — even if there has been bad weather or machinery breakdowns during the week. God says, “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing [better translated, “plowing” — see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #2758} time and in harvest thou shalt rest” (Exodus 34:21).

Jewish Ritualism — Pagan Permissiveness

By their strict adherence to certain physical limitations they (not God) placed on the law, the Jews consistently broke the spirit of the law. One story is told of how the Pharisees, to prohibit a profit from milking on the Sabbath, decreed that the cows should be milked on a rock so the milk would not be gathered in a bucket and sold. This apparently worked fine until one enterprising person began milking his cow on a rock — which had been placed in the bottom of a bucket!

Christ scorched them with the truth, “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers”  (Mat. 23:4). They were totally carnal and could not see nor understand the principles behind the law.

On the other hand, the pagans have rejected completely God’s laws, thinking they could make up for it with self-flagellation, pilgrimages, enforced fasts, assuming that is what God wants. They have completely forgotten what God is like.

Our so-called “Judeo-Christian” society has inherited a strange mixture of this ill-conceived “marriage.” This is what the people of God must come out of! We have grown up being too lax in some things — thinking we had to be punished for nonsensical things — and too strict and legalistic in others. We must come out of this and strive to learn the right balance of living and keeping the Sabbath from God!

From the Beginning

God ordered the Israelites at Mount Sinai to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy! (Ex. 20:8.) They were to remember how the Sabbath began and what it was all about from the beginning. Genesis 2 describes the Sabbath as the day God hallowed by resting. He rested the seventh day after working six — thereby setting the perfect example.

It was done for man — for his well-being and benefit. It is not nearly as complicated as some think!  “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” states Christ (Mark 2:27). It was created after man for his good and physical and spiritual health — not before man with a long list of stringent requirements and harsh bondage!

FIRST a Day of Rest and a SIGN!

It is a day of rest for God and man! God set us a positive example by taking extra pains to set aside this special space of time — holy to Him — as His time, belonging to Him, It was so important to Him that He set it up as a special sign to man, to be observed throughout his generations.

Notice Exodus 31:12-17: “… Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations…. Ye shall keep the Sabbath…for it is holy unto you… It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel FOREVER: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”

A sign is an identifying mark, or brand. God’s people were to have been identified throughout their generations by the keeping of God’s Sabbath. A mark or brand shows ownership. God “bought” the children of Israel out of the bondage of abject slavery to the Egyptians. His token of ownership became the Sabbath Day! “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual COVENANT” (Ex. 31:16).

Why would His people be different, strange and even “peculiar”? Because of this covenant! “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine,” says God! (Ex. 19:5.) He continues, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deut. 14:2).

In an evil world fraught with wretchedness, misunderstanding, and separation from God the Almighty Creator, only His people, Israel, would have His sign, His identifying mark or brand of the Sabbath day. The world lost sight of the Creation and the True God because they did not have His sign of Creation, the Sabbath!

God worked six days creating physical masterpieces on earth, and rested the seventh,  creating the spiritual masterpiece — the everlasting sign and symbol of creation with Him as Master of creation! When rebellious man lost sight of that sign of creation, he lost sight of God!

When Israel later lost sight of the Sabbath, they too lost sight of God with disastrous results! Notice Jer. 17:27, “But if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched!” The result was the sacking and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (See Jer. 52:12-30). God’s people lost His protection!

Type of the Millennium

God’s people today still are to have this sign and covenant with their Creator! “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). The original Greek word for “rest” here is “Sabbatismos” which means a literal Sabbath observance! It denotes a literal cessation from labor as a type of the far more important meaning of the Sabbath.

But notice Heb. 4:5: “… As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest [Gr. “Katapausin“]” — and again, “And God did rest [“Kata­pausin”] the seventh day from all His works” (verse 4). In addition to a Sabbath observance, “Katapausin” literally means “the act of giving rest; a state of settled or final rest” (The Analytical Greek Lexicon by Bagster). It can also mean a place of rest, place of abode, dwelling, habitation.

“For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest [i.e., final rest or habitation], then would he not afterward have spoken of another day?” This is the millennial rest, a time of final settling down, cessation from the 6,000-year struggle of man in a sin sick world. “For he that is entered into His [God’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (verse 10). A day with God is as a thousand years (II Pet. 3:8), and this represents that final SEVENTH-thousand-year rule of peace and rest under Jesus Christ!

The Personal Application

Theologists have for years argued the technical “meanings” of the Sabbath, but how does it apply to you, personally? How does it affect your weekly life? You cannot understand the ultimate meaning of the Sabbath without first knowing and applying the Sabbath properly in your own life!

It is a time of relief and relaxation from your regular daily work and cares. God did not intend man to slave his life away seven days a week. He made man to need a day of rest and recuperation from a vigorous, work-filled week. Far from a day of bondage, it is a day of freedom — freedom from daily cares and problems; freedom from the stress and frustration you have already endured for six long days.

Notice God’s positive instruction on the Sabbath: “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” (Isa. 58:13-14). Here are three important facets to keeping the Sabbath.

Let’s analyze them:

1. YOUR ways. This means course of life, mode of action — that is, your employment, enterprises, finances, the more serious business of making a livelihood. You should not involve yourself in doing what you normally do during the week — those things by which you feed, clothe and care for yourself physically. This includes working at your job or business, working around the house, sewing, cleaning, washing the car — all the things that pertain to your physical maintenance during the normal course of the week.

This is the day to be about God’s ways! You rest from doing your ways. Devote this time to God’s business of eternal life. The Sabbath gives you extra time to study and meditate about God’s course of eternal life, His principles and mode of action. You will need all the knowledge about God’s business you can acquire if you hope to be an active and living part of it one day!

2. YOUR pleasure. Your desire, delight, that which you take extra pleasure in doing — hunting, fishing, golfing, swimming, cards, movies, boating — those things which take up the majority of your “leisure” time. This would also include the many time-consuming hobbies such as the “ham” radio operator, woodworking shop, stamp collecting, etc. Of course, it would be impossible to list all the hobbies and activities available, but you know what yours is. Whatever your pleasure, or leisure-time activity is, you should not engage in it on the Sabbath.

You should engage in God’s pleasure on the Sabbath. What is God’s pleasure? It is His creation — planning, working and building for the future of eternity! “… for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Just as you have or may have had an absorbing interest in your hobby or leisure-time interest and all of its interesting facets and details, God has an absolutely absorbing interest in His creation and all its myriad facets! He gives us the Sabbath to learn to have an interest and pleasure in His creation. His pleasure — the true and lasting pleasure — is to become our pleasure!

3. YOUR words. This is the spiritual application of the first two principles. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” We talk about what we are thinking. Our words show what is going on in our minds and hearts. This is obviously the most difficult of all! We may cease our ways and our pleasures, but it is much more difficult to cease thinking or talking about them!

Really, it is no problem just to rest and do no physical exertion on the Sabbath. Some people regularly do this seven days a week! You must serve God with your mind. Those who can’t or don’t control their minds call the Sabbath bondage, because they can’t wait ’til sunset to be about their ways and pleasures which they have been thinking about all day anyway!

Once you are able to get your mind and thoughts on God’s pleasure and God’s ways on the Sabbath, you will find out what real delight and joy in the Sabbath is! “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isa. 58:14).

How do you accomplish this? Devote your Sabbath time to Sabbath service, extra Bible study,  extra prayer and especially extra meditation! This is your one time in the week when you don’t have to worry about getting to the job, making payments, working out schedules, cleaning house and all the other things you find that takes away from your study, prayer and meditation during the week. This is free time — free from all your daily cares and worries — free to be completely absorbed in God and His word.

However, there is one more basic element necessary to make all this possible — that is preparation.

Preparation for the Sabbath

Many do not or cannot properly observe the Sabbath because they have not understood when or how to prepare for it. On the Sixth Day of the week— Friday to us—God said, “Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe (boil) that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” (Ex. 16:23).

The preparation day is the time to get everything ready for the Sabbath so you won’t even be tempted to do it on the Sabbath. Specifically mentioned are baking and boiling — or, the heavier cooking and household duties. The principle here includes everything which can be done before the Sabbath begins such as cooking a roast, baking a cake or pie, cleaning house, getting chores done, etc.

Obviously, there are some things which cannot be done before the appointed time on the Sabbath. Common sense will tell you which would be easier, to fry an egg on Friday, store it in the deep freeze, thaw it out the next morning and eat it, or to simply wait until Sabbath morning to cook and eat. But the items which will keep for a period of time such as roasts, bread, etc. should be prepared ahead of time.

Keep a Checklist

Many find themselves run “ragged” on Friday trying to frantically get everything done only to collapse in a heap Friday night to discover something they forgot to get done! This can all easily be avoided if each member of the family will make a checklist of everything he must get done to prepare for the Sabbath. Then, each week, all he has to do is run down the list in a rapid, organized manner to get everything done.

But remember, the preparation day is only one day. Don’t make the mistake of leaving everything — house-cleaning,  baking,  cooking,  grocery shopping, car washing, etc. — until that day! Do this and you will find the Sabbath a day of total collapse rather than a peaceful day of rest and relaxation with enough energy to communicate with God! It is to be a day to prepare for the Sabbath, not a day to catch up on what you should have been doing all week.

Plan to have everything in readiness to truly greet God’s Sabbath — making sure there are no other things pressing on your mind or schedule. Only when you have everything done and out of the way can you really become absorbed in the Sabbath as you should. Plan it this way and you will be amazed at how much more you delight in the Sabbath. You don’t have to go to work, nor worry about the endless trivia which clutters up every normal week. This is the day to completely put all that away from you!

A good checklist will help you accomplish this. Just sit down and think it over carefully. Then prepare a list you can use every Friday, and you will be amazed at how much easier and more simple your preparation becomes.

What About the Many Questions ?

The main reason God has never “listed” in the Bible any “do’s and don’ts” for the Sabbath is that He wants us, as individuals, to learn to think, be personally responsible and use the principles He has given us. It is too easy to lose sight of the goal when you have a myriad of legalistic lines drawn up for you. But once you know and can apply the principles, you will be able to almost automatically answer your own questions.

Just remember some very basic questions to ask yourself: “Is this in God’s service? Is this a genuine emergency, or can I put it off till tomorrow? Should I have already done this as a part of preparation? Have I prayed about this and thoroughly gone over the principles in my mind?” If you find there is some question which still bothers you after thoroughly studying it out, you should seek advice from one who should know more about the principles of Sabbath-keeping — your local minister.

Apply these principles and you will soon find that God’s Sabbath is one of His greatest gifts to mankind — a gift for rest, peace, knowledge and true delight!

Source: The Good News, 1968

September 29, 2009

Is "First Day Of The Week" The Same As Sunday?

There is a theory circulated among certain Sunday-keeping groups that Sunday became the Sabbath after the resurrection of Christ. As supposed proof, they mistranslate the original Greek phrase, usually rendered “first day of the week,” as “first of the sabbaths.” They claim that the first Sunday after the resurrection became the first “Christian Sabbath” — and that Saturday was the “Jewish Sabbath.” This idea is absolutely FALSE!

No competent Greek scholars accept such a translation. But let the Bible itself disprove this fable. If the Sunday after the resurrection were the first “Christian Sabbath” — which it never could be — then any Sunday thereafter could not be the “first of the sabbaths,” but would of necessity be either the “second or third … or hundredth of the sabbaths!”

Acts 20:7 recorded of  56 A.D. — 25 years after the resurrection! Yet the same original Greek phrase, translated “first day of the week” in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, occurs here! This could not be the “first of the sabbaths” 25 years after the resurrection — since, by their theory, the first of the “Christian sabbaths” would have already occurred 25 years before the event recorded in Acts 20:7. Obviously the Greek cannot mean what they say it does!

Now turn to I Corinthians 16:2. This letter was written in the late winter of 55 A.D. — almost 24 years after the resurrection — and the same Greek expression occurs here. This certainly was not the “first of the Christian sabbaths!” It would be 24 years too late! The answer is that the only proper idiomatic rendering of the Greek phrase is “first day of the week,” not “first of the sabbaths.”

But, it may be objected, is not the Greek word sάbbaton, translated “week,” the same word often translated “sabbath”? Of course it is, but the inspired Greek word may also mean “week” — because the sabbath determines the length of the week. The Greeks had two words for “week”: hebdomad and sάbbaton. Only the word sάbbaton is used in the New Testament. It comes from the Hebrew word meaning “rest,” “sabbath,” “week,” “seven.”

In Luke 18:12 the Greek word sάbbaton is translated properly as “week,” not “sabbath.” The Jews fasted “twice in a week,” Monday and Thursday, not “twice on a sabbath.” That would be foolish! This verse alone proves that the Greek word sάbbaton may mean “week.”

But there is even more proof. The English expression “first day of the week” comes from two different Greek idioms. In Mark 16:9, the original Greek is prootee sabbάton. It has only one meaning: “first [day) of [the] week.” In this verse sabbάton is the Greek singular possessive form of sάbbaton — and means “of the week.” Prootee means “first.”

But in all other cases (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2) the Greek word sάbbaton, which may mean either “sabbath” or “week,” is in the plural. The Greek expression translated “first day of the week” is, in these verses, mia toon sabbάtoon. It is an idiom and cannot be translated literally into English. It, too, means “the first day of the week,” but it refers to one particular “first day” — the Sunday upon which the wave sheaf was offered — the Sunday AFTER two sabbaths!

Since the Greek word sάbbaton in these verses is in the plural, it may mean either “weeks,” or “sabbaths.” Professor Sophocles, a Greek scholar, indicates in his Lexicon, p. 43, par. 6, that the expression means “[day number] one after the sabbaths.” Which sabbaths? The first high day or annual sabbath and the weekly sabbath falling within the Days of Unleavened Bread! Here is the proof!

The same plural form — sabbάtoon – is found in the Greek Septuagint translation of Leviticus 23:15. In this verse the Greek for “the morrow after the sabbath” is epaύrion toon sabbάtoon and means idiomatically “the day after the sabbaths.” The Greek translators understood that you begin counting Pentecost from the Sunday after the weekly sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread. They used the plural word sabbάtoon, meaning “sabbaths,” to make plain that the Sunday on which the wave sheaf was offered followed BOTH the first annual sabbath AND the weekly sabbath in the Days of Unleavened Bread.

In other words, every New Testament writer was making especially plain which particular Sunday followed the resurrection — the Sunday after the two sabbaths, which in that year fell on Thursday and, of course, Saturday. In all these verses the original Greek, loon sabbάtoon, means idiomatically “AFTER the sabbaths” — and cannot be taken literally to mean “of the sabbaths.” It is a Greek idiom which uses the possessive plural with the meaning of “after.” The Greek translation of Leviticus 23:15 proved it!

Even in Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 16:2, the day referred to was the day the wave sheaf was offered. In 56 A.D., when the events in Acts 20 occurred, the Passover occurred on a weekly Sabbath. The Days of Unleavened Bread extended from Sunday through the following Sabbath. The day of the wave-sheaf offering in that year immediately followed the Days of Unleavened Bread. That was the day Paul preached until midnight — beginning Saturday night immediately after the Festival was over (Acts 20:7).

Those with Luke kept the entire Feast in Phillipi. After the feast, Luke and those with him left Phillipi for Troas (Acts 20:6). Paul left Troas on the day the wave sheaf was offered — before Luke arrived at Troas. Luke does not say “when we came together, Paul preached unto us” — he clearly states “when the disciples come together, Paul preached unto them.” Whenever Luke includes himself he uses the “we” form (Acts 20:6, 13).

Some translations incorrectly insert in Acts 20:7 the pronoun “we.” The overwhelming majority of New Testament Greek manuscripts have “they,” not “we.” The original Greek of Acts 20:13 indicated that Paul “had left arrangements,” prior to Luke’s arrival at Troas, for Luke to proceed in ship to Assos in order to pick up Paul.

I Cor. 16:2 also refers to the day the wave sheaf was offered at Jerusalem — just another indication that what was laid in store was fruit of the field, not money in a church offering-plate! The time those Christians began to harvest was “upon the day after the sabbaths” — upon Sunday after the early-morning offering of the wave sheaf.

This precise history, not usually understood, clearly indicates that the New Testament Church continued to observe the sabbath and the annual festivals God gave, and that they always regarded Sunday as a work day.

Source: Good News, 1958

August 31, 2009

Is Keeping The Sabbath A Ritualistic Law?

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riovidafoundation.wordpress.com

Is the Sabbath a ritualistic law?

The short answer: no! It is one of the basic Ten Commandments (Ex. 20; Deut. 5). When a young man asked Jesus how he could enter into eternal life, Jesus replied: “Keep the commandments.” Jesus then proceeded to quote several of the commandments of the decalogue to show which law He meant (see Matt. 19:16-19).

Second: Since the Sabbath is one of those decalogue commandments, the breaking of which is sin (I John 3:4), a person who has knowledge of the true Sabbath must observe it to avoid sinning.

Third: Jesus Himself talked about the liberty of the gospel. He said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Not understanding what Jesus meant, the Pharisees retorted that they “were never in bondage to any man” (verse 33). So “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin [transgression of the law] is the servant of sin” (verse 34).

Some of the Pharisees were indeed in bondage to sin. And anyone who knowingly breaks God’s Sabbath is committing a sin and is, therefore, in spiritual bondage. James said: “… To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Fourth: It is fulfilling God’s law of love to keep the Sabbath. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments [including the Sabbath] are not grievous” (I John 5:3). Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Further: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me …” (verse 21).

In summary, keeping the Sabbath is one of the four basic ways in which we love God. It is an unchanging moral law — not a ritualistic law.

August 4, 2009

Does The Bible Mention 6000 Years Of Rule For Man Only?

7000Does the Bible mention God’s 7000 year master plan for mankind? Does it also mention 6000 years of rule for man only? Yes it does, though most people, including mainstream religions, have never heard about it. And there is a crucial reason why!

God’s plan for mankind is pictured by the seven-day week. God refashioned the earth and created all life forms in six days and then rested on the Sabbath (the seventh day). Out of these seven days, six were set aside by God for man to work, followed by a day of rest (Ex. 20:9-11). On the seventh day, man is to put aside his normal routine of daily activities (work, play, socialize, etc), and worship the true God (Isa. 58:13-14).

The seven-day week is a pattern that applies to time on a far wider scale. The Biblical justification of a 7,000-year plan of God is based on the principal that to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day:

“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8).

God’s perspective on time is additionally outlined in the Psalms:

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night (Ps. 90:4).

Paul explained that the seventh day of the week pictures the peaceful time of rest that will follow this present age of human activity (Heb. 4:3-11). And the apostle John tells us that this period will occur after Christ’s intervention in world affairs and that it will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-4).

Since the seventh day of the week symbolizes 1000 years of peace under the rule of Jesus Christ, the first six days of the week represent 6000 years in which man has been allowed to govern himself and work out his own ideas and plans. In other words, each day of the week represents 1000 years of human existence.

Where are we now in this great plan? Charts which list biblical events in time order (as found in some Bibles) are accurate enough to show that HUMAN LIFE was created about 4000 years before the birth of Christ. History makes it clear that almost another 2000 years have elapsed since then — making a total of nearly 6000 years of human civilization to date. In short, there will be 6000 years of labor and toil for man, under the sentence of sin and death, followed by a 1000 year “day” of rest for mankind. Man’s “week” is nearly over, and God’s great millennial rest will soon be here.

July 2, 2009

Comparing Denominational Doctrines On The Sabbath

Editors Comment: I found the following information here and thought it was interesting to see what other denominations had to say about the Sabbath and its supposed transfer of authority to Sunday. The results are surprising indeed for those not aware. It makes for a great read.

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Exodus 20:8-11 [The 4th Commandment]
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Roman Catholic: “Sunday is a Catholic institution, and its claim to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles . . From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.”-Catholic Press, Sydney, Australia, August, 1900.

“… you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.” The Faith of Our Fathers, by James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, 88th edition, page 89. Originally published in 1876, republished and Copyright 1980 by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., pages 72-73.

“The Sabbath was Saturday, not Sunday. The Church altered the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of Sunday. Protestants must be rather puzzled by the keeping of Sunday when God distinctly said, ‘Keep holy the Sabbath Day.’ The word Sunday does not come anywhere in the Bible, so, without knowing it they are obeying the authority of the Catholic Church.” Canon Cafferata, The Catechism Explained, p. 89.

“Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. “The Day of the Lord” (dies Dominica) was chosen, not from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church’s sense of its own power. The day of resurrection, the day of Pentecost, fifty days later, came on the first day of the week. So this would be the new Sabbath. People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.” Sentinel, Pastor’s page, Saint Catherine Catholic Church, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995

Baptist: “There was and is a command to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will however be readily said, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction be found: Not in the New Testament – absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week.” Dr. E. T. Hiscox, author of the ‘Baptist Manual’.

“The Scriptures nowhere call the first day of the week the Sabbath. . .There is no Scriptural authority for so doing, nor of course, any Scriptural obligation.” The Watchman.

“We believe that the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of His moral government.”-“Baptist Church Manual,” Art. 12.

Lutheran: “The observance of the Lord’s Day (Sunday) is founded not on any command of God, but on the authority of the Church.” Augsburg Confession of Faith.

“They [the Catholics] allege the Sabbath changed into Sunday, the Lord’s day, contrary to the Decalogue, as it appears, neither is there any example more boasted of than the changing of the Sabbath day. Great, say they, is the power and authority of the church, since it dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments.” –Augsburg Confession of Faith, Art. 28, par. 9.

Episcopal: “The day is now changed from the seventh to the first day . . but as we meet with no Scriptural direction for the change, we may conclude it was done by the authority of the church.”-“The Protestant Episcopal Explanation of the Catechism.

Presbyterian: “There is no word, no hint in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday. The observance of Ash Wednesday, or Lent, stands exactly on the same footing as the observance of Sunday. Into the rest of Sunday no Divine Law enters.”-Canon Eyton, Ten Commandments.

“God instituted the Sabbath at the creation of man, setting apart the seventh day for the purpose, and imposed its observance as a universal and perpetual moral obligation upon the race.” ­American Presbyterian Board of Publication, Tract No. 175.

“The observance of the seventh-day Sabbath did not cease till it was abolished after the [Roman] empire became Christian,” ­American Presbyterian Board of Publication, Tract No. 118.

Methodist: “It is true that there is no positive command for infant baptism. Nor is there any for keeping holy the first day of the week. Many believe that Christ changed the Sabbath. But, from His own words, we see that He came for no such purpose. Those who believe that Jesus changed the Sabbath base it only on a supposition.”-Amos Binney, Theological Compendium, pp. 180-181.      

Southern Baptist: “The sacred name of the seventh day is Sabbath. This fact is too clear to require argument [Exodus 20:10, quoted] . . On this point the plain teaching of the Word has been admitted in all ages . . Not once did the disciples apply the Sabbath law to the first day of the week,-that folly was left for a later age, nor did they pretend that the first day supplanted the seventh.”-Joseph Judson Taylor, The Sabbatic Question, pp. 14-17,

Does Rom. 14:5-6 Do Away With The Sabbath?

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Some have asked whether Romans 14:5-6, says that it makes no difference to God which days we keep holy. Actually, these verses do not concern ANY days which must be kept holy. This is proved by the context of the entire chapter.

Paul admonished the saints at Rome to receive the “weak in the faith” and not to sit in judgment of them (verse 1). Some of those recently converted, not yet having grown strong in the faith, refused to eat meat and subsisted mainly on vegetables.

Paul explains why in another one of his letters. Most of the available meat had been offered to idols. Some gentiles who had been converted and had come out of idolatry still held some superstitious beliefs. They thought that idols actually had power over their lives. Therefore, “some with conscience of the idol” ate meat “as a thing offered unto an idol” (I Cor. 8:7).

But why did Paul break into his dissertation about eating meat or refraining from eating it and mention “day”? Notice the answer in the New King James translation of this passage: “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who EATS, EATS to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not EAT, to the Lord he does not EAT, and gives God thanks” (Rom.
14:5-6, RAV).

Not only were there weak converts who were afraid of eating meat offered to idols, but there were others who customarily abstained from a particular food — they practiced a semifast or abstained from foods on certain days. Others regarded all days alike as far as eating was concerned.

The whole matter involved abstention on particular days. The question was, “To eat or not to eat!” It was merely a question of the days upon which many voluntarily abstained from certain foods. Paul was not referring to God’s Holy Days, and there is nothing here referring to the Sabbath.

Jesus said that we should fast before God and not be seen or let it be known by others unnecessarily (Matt. 6:16). But Jews and gentiles both practiced semifasts on particular days of each week or month. The Jews customarily fasted “twice in the week” (Luke 18:12). They also fasted during certain months (Zech. 7:4-7). The Jews were divided on the matter. The gentiles also were divided over when to abstain from certain foods. These things are mentioned in “Hasting’s Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics.”

In God’s sight, it does not matter when one abstains or fasts — but it does matter that we do it with a right heart.
Paul wanted the brethren to live at peace with one another and not argue or judge each other over their human opinions.

The Bible elsewhere teaches very plainly which days God made holy and commands us to KEEP holy.

May 26, 2009

The Truth About Sunday Observance

Why do most observe Sunday as their day of rest? Not because they can prove that they should from the Bible!

“You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday.”

That’s a quote which came from Catholic James Cardinal Gibbons in The Faith of Our Fathers (1917 ed.).

A Catholic study course states: “If we followed the Bible only, we would keep holy the Saturday … Well, did Christ change the day? … We have no record that He did … The Church … transferred the obligation from Saturday to Sunday” (Father Smith Instructs Jackson).

The Catholic church makes no secret that it is responsible for replacing Sabbath keeping with Sunday observance.

And the Protestants? At the time of the Reformation they protested against many teachings of the Catholic church. But few protested against Sunday observance. One of those who did was named Carlstadt. So striking were his writings on the subject that Martin Luther admitted in his book Against the Celestial Prophets: “Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath — that is to say, Saturday — must be kept holy.”

But Luther did not want to go to that extent in rocking the ecclesiastical boat of his time. His reasoning, as found in his Larger Catechism, was that “to avoid the unnecessary disturbance which an innovation would occasion, it [the day of worship] should continue to be Sunday” (Shaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, article “Sunday”).

Martin Luther did not take issue with Sunday observance. The Protestant reformers as a whole accepted the Catholic position on Sunday. This is the real reason Protestants observe Sunday today!

When was Sunday substituted?

It didn’t happen all at once. It was gradual. “For some time it [Sunday] was observed conjointly with the Sabbath, verbal and ritual relics of such observance still remaining in our liturgical books and customs. But as Jewish habits [an admission that the early true Church kept some of the same customs as the Jews] became disused [On whose authority? God’s? No, man’s!] by the gentile [pagan-influenced] churches, this practice [Sabbath keeping] was generally, though slowly, discontinued” (Blunt’s Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, article “Sunday”).

Even while the original apostles were alive it was necessary to warn of “certain men … crept in unnoticed” (Jude 4) who were trying to introduce pagan ideas into the Church. Worshiping on the day of the sun was but one of those ideas. Multitudes in the world were being deceived by an expanding counterfeit “Christianity” based on the ancient Babylonian mystery religion.

In the early years of the Church many fraudulent epistles were circulated, masquerading as apostolic letters. Notice how a letter written to gentiles shortly after the turn of the century and attributed to one Ignatius reveals that they, gentiles, were keeping the Sabbath:

“Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner … But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body [a deliberate attempt to water down God’s Sabbath law] … And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day [Sunday] as a festival … the queen and chief of all the days of the week.”

Both days were being kept, but observance of Sunday was being emphasized by Ignatius.

Not all early Catholics, however, favored Sunday observance. Around 230, Catholic Origen wrote to fellow Catholics of the gentile churches in Egypt:

“But what is the feast of the Sabbath except that of which the apostle speaks, ‘There remaineth therefore a Sabbatism’ [Hebrews 4:9], that is, the observance of the Sabbath by the people of God? [Notice how this man understood his native Greek tongue!] Leaving the Jewish observances of the Sabbath, let us see how the Sabbath ought to be observed by a Christian. On the Sabbath day all worldly labors ought to be abstained from. If, therefore, you cease from all secular works, and execute nothing worldly, but give yourselves up to spiritual exercises, repairing to church, attending to sacred reading and instruction … this is the observance of the Christian Sabbath” (Origen’s Opera, Book 2, p. 358).

Council of Laodicea prohibited Sabbath keeping

In 321 the Roman government issued an edict making Sunday a civil day of rest. The paganized, counterfeit “Christian” religion, which was becoming the empire’s dominant religion, supported the edict.

Sabbath keepers were forced to flee the confines of the western Roman Empire. Only in the east did Sabbath keepers remain. Eventually, however, Sabbath keeping was to be stamped out of the eastern Roman Empire as well.

About 365 the Council of Laodicea was called to settle, among other matters, the Sabbath question! One of its most famous canons was the 29th: “Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s Day, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found Judaizing, let them be anathema from Christ” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. XIV, p. 148).

The force of the Roman state had already been utilized in 325, after the Council of Nicaea, to confiscate the property and to destroy the lives of any who obeyed God’s command to keep the Passover. So the heavy hand of the state fell upon any who would be faithful in resting on the Sabbath and worshiping God as commanded in the Bible.

Why give such a command if there were no true Christians observing the Sabbath at that time?

Although Sabbath keeping was absolutely prohibited by this council, yet the whole Greek world still continued to attend church services on the Sabbath and work the remainder of the day! Saturday then was observed much as Sunday is observed now!

Public worship on the Sabbath was far from expelled in the churches of the east even four centuries after Christ.

Gregory, Bishop of Nyassa, a representative of the eastern churches, about 10 years after the Council at Laodicea, dared to tell the world: “With what eyes can you behold the Lord’s day, when you despise the Sabbath? Do you not perceive that they are sisters, and that in slighting the one, you affront the other?”

Sunday finally made a rest day

Observance of Sunday as a day of total rest was not strictly enforced for almost two centuries more. We even find Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible, working after the Sunday services several years following the enactments at Laodicea.

But Augustine, around 400, declared: “The holy doctors of the church [not the Bible, but men] have decreed that all the glory of the Jewish Sabbath is transferred to it [Sunday]. Let us therefore keep the Lord’s day as the ancients were commanded to do the Sabbath” (Sabbath Laws, p. 284).

It was the Roman church that sanctioned the Roman Sunday as a rest day, and not merely a secular holiday. It was that church that transferred the law of the Sabbath to Sunday. Another 600 years passed before the last recorded semblance of public worship on the Sabbath was completely extirpated from the eastern churches.

Meanwhile Pope Gregory of Rome, who reigned from 590 to 604, anathematized “those who taught that it was not lawful to do work on the day of the Sabbath” (History of the Popes, vol. II, p. 378).

That stamped the Sabbath out of the churches of the British Isles and the Continent where, according to Webster’s Rest Days, “The Celts kept Saturday as a day of rest, with special religious services on Sunday” (A. Bellesheim, History of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Edinburgh, 1887-1890, i, 86).

That’s the record of history!

Source: The Good News, August 1983

April 20, 2009

What Is The Land Sabbath And The Jubilee Year?

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pictopia.com

God said, “When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord” (Lev. 25:2, NKJV). Following verses explain that each seventh year was to be a land Sabbath, during which no crops were to be sown or harvested. But whatever produce grew by itself could be used for daily food by the farmer and the poor of the land (verse 6). See Exodus 23:10-11 also. Debts incurred by the poor during the previous six years, and that had come due, were also to be canceled at the end of the seventh year (Deut. 15:1-11). 

After seven cycles of sabbatical years (49 years), the fiftieth year was proclaimed a jubilee (Lev. 25:8-12). Again the land was to rest from cultivation (verse 11) and all families that had become poor and had mortgaged their land could return to their possession (verse 13). 

These were major economic laws given by God. They were meant to prevent undue wealth gotten through acquisition of farm land from accumulating in the hands of the rich while the poor become further impoverished. God emphasizes over and over that people are not to oppress one another (Lev. 25:14, 17). Deuteronomy 15 states emphatically that following these economic laws would bring God’s blessing (verses 4, 6, and 10). God wants people to learn to be generous and compassionate — to have the “give” attitude rather than the “get” attitude. 

Today’s world, however, is characterized by materialism and greed. Farmers driven by economics try to milk the last bit of production from their tired soil and livestock. Economies collapse in wrenching depressions — or major recessions — and great hardship affects the world’s economy approximately every fifty years. People practice selfishness and oppression of others. 

God’s land Sabbath and jubilee were intended to prevent this hard-hearted attitude and the economic curses that naturally result. Man was to willingly forego his crop in the sabbatical year and the jubilee by letting the land rest. He was to acknowledge God as the true owner of the land and be thankful for God’s generosity. And he was to share the good things of the earth with others. The rest from tilling the land provided opportunities for education, travel, community service, and spiritual reflection. 

God promised to perform a miracle in granting abundant crops in the sixth year of the cycle so that the bounty would suffice until a new crop came in two or three years later (Lev. 25:20-22). This would be a continuing witness of God’s power as Provider, just as the manna in the wilderness had been. 

The question naturally arises, then, how can a Christian apply these laws of God now? Obviously, an individual cannot observe all the details of these laws, since that would require national legislation. An individual cannot release his own debts, and there is no divinely appointed inheritance for each family today. But these laws are all for man’s good, so we ought to observe them to the extent that this can be done in the present system. Even where a law cannot be practiced in the letter, it should be kept in the spirit. 

We must not oppress anyone in our dealings, and we must strive to be generous, kindhearted, patient, and forgiving. A farmer who owes money to banks probably cannot let all his land rest every seven years, since he owes mortgage and other loan payments that must be made each year. In such a case, it is suggested that the land be rested in rotation so that each field receives its rest sometime during a seven-year period. If one is able to rest the whole farm at once, so much the better. He can reckon his seventh year from the time of his baptism or from the time that the knowledge comes to him regarding the land rest.

(Note that the Jews in the state of Israel observe their sabbatical years in the sequence 1993-1994, 2000-2001, 2007-2008 and so on.) God does want us to take care of the soil and to recognize that we are merely tenants on His land, responsible for maintaining its fertility. Virtually all agricultural colleges know the benefits of crop rotations and of “resting” land by putting it in pasture or cover crops periodically. Good soil conservation measures should also be practiced. 

God is concerned with how we use the resources He allows us to manage. He is judging each of us by how we deal with and treat our fellowman (I Pet. 4). Thus, His laws and instructions are not archaic or quaint customs! They are living laws to be observed by God’s people!

March 28, 2009

Pagan Holidays Or God’s Holy Days – Which?

Editors Note: This article is the introduction to the above mentioned booklet. I will keep sections short, for brevity, and include other parts of the booklet in different articles and subjects.

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From The Booklet: Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days— Which?
by Herbert W. Armstrong

Does it make any difference which days we observe or whether we keep them? Does the Bible establish whether we are to keep certain days holy to God? Were these days given to ancient Israel only? Are they binding today only on the Jewish people, while Christians are commanded to keep holidays such as Christmas?

In the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel is an amazing prophecy picturing, for twenty-five hundred years into future, from the day it was written, the course of the Gentile kingdoms. Starting with the ancient Chaldean Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, this prophecy foretells the successive world rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander’s Greco-Macedonian kingdom with its four divisions, and finally, of the mighty Roman Empire.

Out of the original Roman Empire, symbolized by “horns” growing out of the head of a “beast,” are pictured the ten resurrections of the Roman Empire that have continued since its fall to the present, and are scheduled to continue until the coming of Christ.

Among these ten kingdoms, which have ruled in the Western world since the fall of Rome to the present, appeared another “little horn,” whose “look was more stout than fellows.” In other words, another government, actually smaller, yet dominating over all the others. Students of prophecy recognize this “little horn” as a great religious hierarchy. And in the 25th verse of this prophecy, it is stated that this hierarchy shall “think to change times and laws.”

How Time Was Changed

This same power is mentioned again in the 17th chapter of Revelation, here pictured as ruling over the kings and kingdoms of the earth, persecuting the true saints.

In every possible manner, this power has changed TIME.

  1. God begins the days at sunset, but “the little horn” has changed it so the world now begins the day in the middle of the night by a man-made watch.
  2. God begins the week with the ending of the true Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, but the world begins the working week in the middle of the night, the second day of the week.
  3. God begins the months with the new moons, but this “little horn” has induced the world to begin the months according to a clumsy man-made calendar of heathen origin.
  4. God begins the year in the early spring, when new life is budding in nature everywhere, but ancient heathen Rome caused the world to begin the year in the middle of dead winter.
  5. God gave His children a true rest day, designed to keep them continually in the knowledge and true worship of the true God, a memorial of God’s Creation, the seventh day of the week. But the “little horn” has fastened upon a deluded world the observance of the days on which the pagans worshipped the Sun, the first day of the week, called SUNday.

Pagan Origins

Ancient Rome’s pagan holidays have been chained upon a heedless and deceived world. These include certain annual holidays Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, as well as many more, every one a pagan day, every one used to stimulate the sale of merchandise in the commercial markets. Upon honest investigation, the earnest seeker-after-truth learns that these days are all of heathen origin and pagan significance. He learns that he can have no part in them.

But is the Christian of today left without any annual holy days? Did God never give to His people annual holy days, as well as the weekly Sabbath? Are not ancient Rome’s annual holidays mere counterfeits of God’s true holy days, exactly as Sunday is a counterfeit of the true Sabbath?

Banishing Prejudice

We are told to study, not argue, not to refute, but to show ourselves approved unto God to learn God’s will. We are commanded, as Christians, to grow in knowledge as well as in grace (II Peter 3:18). All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable to correct and to reprove us, where we have, through assumption, false teaching, or prejudice, been in error.

Most people have supposed that all the annual Sabbaths and feast days of Israel were done away. And yet Church history shows that the early true Church did, for more than four hundred long years at least, perhaps much longer after Christ’s resurrection, continued to keep and observe these annual holy days given by God!

And just as the Sunday observer is inclined to look, at first, upon any argument for the weekly Sabbath with prejudice, as a heresy, and to examine every argument only in an attitude of attempting to refute it— so it will be only human, only natural for us, if we are not on our guard against it, to look upon any presentation of these annual Sabbaths in the same spirit of prejudice. But remember that, “he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).

Study This Twice

Certain objections will be sure to come to the mind all of which, will be dealt with and explained later on. But unless the reader is careful to guard against it, the mere presence of this objection in his mind will, to him, overthrow each point as it’s presented— and then, when the objections are later explained, the points made will not come back to the mind, unless the whole exposition of the subject is carefully studied again from the first.

And in each case, the objection will be one of the very arguments used by Sunday preachers in attempting to overthrow the truth of the weekly Sabbath! For the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths stand or fall together. The arguments used against the annual Sabbaths will be the identical arguments used to overthrow the Sabbath and if these arguments could hold, then they would abolish the weekly Sabbath!

Such arguments as “the annual Sabbaths are part of the law of Moses,” or “they offered sacrifices on the annual Sabbaths,” or “Colossians 2:16 does away with the annual Sabbaths,” are not scriptural.

For the annual Sabbaths were not part of the law of Moses, but were observed before the ritualistic ordinances contained in the law of Moses were given. Sacrifices were offered on the weekly Sabbath, but this does not do away with the Sabbath. In fact, sacrifices were offered on every day of the year (Numbers 28:3).

Colossians 2:16 refers, not alone to the annual Sabbaths, but to the annual days, the monthly new moons, and the weekly Sabbath. Whenever the Bible uses the expression “Sabbath days,” with new moons and holy days, it is referring to the weekly Sabbath days, the new moons and the annual holy days or feast days. The “Sabbath days” of Colossians 2:16 refers to the weekly Sabbath. Compare I Chronicles 23:31 with II Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33; Ezekiel 46:3. If Colossians does away with the one, it also abolishes the other.

The Old Testament Church

When did the true Church begin? In Acts 7:38 we learn that the congregation of Israel was called the church in the wilderness, in the days of Moses. The English word “congregation” used throughout the Old Testament is only another rendering, having the same identical meaning, as the word “church” in the New Testament. The word translated “congregation” in the Old Testament is ekklesia in the Septuagint the same identical Greek word that is always translated CHURCH in the New Testament.

Israel was both church and state. As a kingdom, it was for years ruled by a system of judges, over 50s, 100s, thousands, etc., later having a king. But as a congregation, or church, Israel was organized with a leader Moses, Joshua, etc. and the priests of the tribe of Levi. The law of Moses contained those ritualistic or ceremonial laws which were ADDED, because of transgressions, to the Old Covenant— added until Christ— to teach and instill into them the habit of obedience. These consisted of meat and drink offerings, various washings, and physical ordinances. Also they had the sacrifices, as a substitute for the sacrifice of Christ.

Prior to the Law of Moses

In the 12th chapter of Exodus, while the Children of Israel were still in Egypt, long before any of the Law of Moses had been given, prior to the time when God revealed to Moses and the Israelites He would make the Old Covenant with them, we find God’s annual holy days being observed. And in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus we find a summary of these annual holy days or set feasts.

Now when God made the Sabbath for man, He gave man a rest day carrying great significance and purpose. To His Church in the wilderness, God said that the Sabbath was a covenant sign between Him and His people. A sign is a supernatural proof of identity. It is the sign by which we know that He is God. How does it prove that to us? “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested.” It is a memorial of creation.

And creation is the proof of the existence of God. Creation identifies God. The Sabbath is a weekly memorial of creation. A weekly reminder of God’s power to create. Therefore it identifies God to us, keeps us in the true memory and true worship of the true God. No other day, but the seventh day of the week, could have that great significance and meaning. It was designed to keep us in the true worship of God.

The Purpose of Holy Days

Now in like manner, when God gave His Church seven annual Sabbaths, God, in His wisdom, had a great purpose. These days, too, were given to keep God’s children in the true memory and worship of God, by keeping us constantly in the understanding of God’s great plan of redemption. For these annual days picture the different epochs in the plan of spiritual creation, mark the dispensations, and picture their meaning.

The whole story of spiritual regeneration was, in these feast days, to be reenacted year after year continually. They have vitally important symbolism and meaning.

It is an historic fact that any nation which ever profaned God’s holy Sabbath (weekly), has lost contact with and knowledge of the true God, and gone into idolatry. The only nation which ever did keep God’s Sabbath is the only one that was kept in the true memory and worship of the true God— and only when they kept the Sabbath. When ancient Israel began to profane God’s Sabbath, they began to worship idols!

And in the same way, when in these New Testament times we have failed to observe God’s annual Sabbaths we, as a nation and people, are without knowledge of God’s true plan of reproducing Himself.

The so-called Christian churches today do not understand or teach what sin is— they do not teach that sin must be put away— they do not understand what man is, the purpose of life, the meaning of being born again, and of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit— they do not understand that God’s Church, today, is not to convert the world, but to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness— to live a life of overcoming sin, enduring unto the end, and that the over-comers shall reign with Christ, being kings, and priests, in His Kingdom.

They do not understand that Christ is coming again, and those who preach the second coming fail to understand its meaning and purpose. They have no knowledge or conception of the good news of the coming Kingdom of God— the only true New Testament Bible gospel.

Not understanding these vital steps in the true plan of regeneration, the Christian churches teach that the Law is abolished. They teach the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul, going immediately to heaven or hell at death and they teach that death is only life.

And all is confusion!

God’s feasts, or holy days, or Sabbaths, were commanded to be kept year after year, and forever! Thus God purposed to impress the truths these “high” Sabbaths picture upon all the minds of His children through all time, keeping His Church in the true understanding of His plan!

March 27, 2009

First Day Of The Week: Sunday Or Saturday?

There was a theory circulated among certain Sunday-keeping groups that Sunday became the Sabbath after the resurrection of Christ. As supposed proof, they mistranslate the original Greek phrase, usually rendered “first day of the week,” as “first of the sabbaths.” They claim that the first Sunday after the resurrection became the first “Christian Sabbath” — and that Saturday was the “Jewish Sabbath.

This idea is absolutely FALSE! No competent Greek scholars accept such a translation. But let the Bible itself disprove this fable. If the Sunday after the resurrection were the first “Christian Sabbath” — which it never could be — then any Sunday thereafter could not be the “first of the sabbaths,” but would of necessity be either the “second or third … or hundredth of the sabbaths!”

Look at Acts 20:7. The event recorded here occurred in 56 A.D. — 25 years after the resurrection! Yet the same original Greek phrase, translated “first day of the week” in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, occurs here! This could not be the “first of the sabbaths” 25 years after the resurrection — since, by their theory, the first of the “Christian sabbaths” would have already occurred 25 years before the event recorded in Acts 20:7. Obviously the Greek cannot mean what they say it does!

Now look at I Corinthians 16:2. This letter was written in the late winter of 55 A.D. — almost 24 years after the resurrection — and the same Greek expression occurs here. This certainly was not the “first of the Christian sabbaths!” It would be 24 years too late! The answer is that the only proper idiomatic rendering of the Greek phrase is “first day of the week,” not “first of the sabbaths.”

But, it may be objected, is not the Greek word sάbbaton, translated “week,” the same word often translated “sabbath”? Of course it is, but the inspired Greek word may also mean “week” — because the sabbath determines the length of the week. The Greeks had two words for “week”: hebdomad and sάbbaton. Only the word sάbbaton is used in the New Testament. It comes from the Hebrew word meaning “rest,” “sabbath,” “week,” “seven.”

In Luke 18:12 the Greek word sάbbaton is translated properly as “week,” not “sabbath.” The Jews fasted “twice in a week,” Monday and Thursday, not “twice on a sabbath.” That would be foolish! This verse alone proves that the Greek word sάbbaton may mean “week.”

But there is even more proof. The English expression “first day of the week” comes from two different Greek idioms. In Mark 16:9, the original Greek is prootee sabbάton. It has only one meaning: “first [day) of [the] week.” In this verse sabbάton is the Greek singular possessive form of sάbbaton — and means “of the week.” Prootee means “first.” But in all other cases (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2) the Greek word sάbbaton, which may mean either “sabbath” or “week,” is in the plural.

The Greek expression translated “first day of the week” is, in these verses, mia toon sabbάtoon. It is an idiom and cannot be translated literally into English. It, too, means “the first day of the week,” but it refers to one particular “first day” — the Sunday upon which the wave sheaf was offered — the Sunday AFTER two sabbaths! Since the Greek word sάbbaton in these verses is in the plural, it may mean either “weeks,” or “sabbaths.”

Professor Sophocles, a Greek scholar, indicates in his Lexicon, p. 43, par. 6, that the expression means “[day number] one after the sabbaths.” Which sabbaths? The first high day or annual sabbath and the weekly sabbath falling within the Days of Unleavened Bread!

Here is the proof! The same plural form — sabbάtoon – is found in the Greek Septuagint translation of Leviticus 23:15. In this verse the Greek for “the morrow after the sabbath” is epaύrion toon sabbάtoon and means idiomatically “the day after the sabbaths.” The Greek translators understood that you begin counting Pentecost from the Sunday after the weekly sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread. They used the plural word sabbάtoon, meaning “sabbaths,” to make plain that the Sunday on which the wave sheaf was offered followed BOTH the first annual sabbath AND the weekly sabbath in the Days of Unleavened Bread.

In other words, every New Testament writer was making especially plain which particular Sunday followed the resurrection — the Sunday after the two sabbaths, which in that year fell on Thursday and, of course, Saturday. In all these verses the original Greek, loon sabbάtoon, means idiomatically “AFTER the sabbaths” — and cannot be taken literally to mean “of the sabbaths.” It is a Greek idiom which uses the possessive plural with the meaning of “after.” The Greek translation of Leviticus 23:15 proved it!

Even in Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 16:2, the day referred to was the day the wave sheaf was offered. In 56 A.D., when the events in Acts 20 occurred, the Passover occurred on a weekly Sabbath. The Days of Unleavened Bread extended from Sunday through the following Sabbath. The day of the wave-sheaf offering in that year immediately followed the Days of Unleavened Bread. That was the day Paul preached until midnight — beginning Saturday night immediately after the Festival was over (Acts 20:7).

Some translations incorrectly insert in Acts 20:7 the pronoun “we.” The overwhelming majority of New Testament Greek manuscripts have “they,” not “we.” The original Greek of Acts 20:13 indicated that Paul “had left arrangements,” prior to Luke’s arrival at Troas, for Luke to proceed in ship to Assos in order to pick up Paul.

I Cor. 16:2 also refers to the day the wave sheaf was offered at Jerusalem — just another indication that what was laid in store was fruit of the field, not money in a church offering-plate! The time those Christians began to harvest was “upon the day after the sabbaths” — upon Sunday after the early-morning offering of the wave sheaf. This precise history, not usually understood, clearly indicates that the New Testament Church continued to observe the sabbath and the annual festivals God gave, and that they always regarded Sunday as a work day.

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