Does Sabbath require Worship Attendance?

Most Sabbatarians fail to comprehend the implications of the belief system they embrace. Much of what they ‘know’ about their beliefs is a highly sanitized version that is promoted by their church and pastors, and errors they learned from other churches. Few bother to read and understand what is written in the Bible or think critically about what the doctrine implies, or even understand history, writings of early Christians, church fathers, and Jewish culture and practice. 

Communal worship in Israel 

If we are to understand attending worship services for a Jew in its context, we have to know something about the manner of communal worship in Israel under the old covenant. The national corporate worship had to occur in the place that God designated as a central worship site. Originally, this was at the Tabernacle, and after Solomon’s time, at the Temple in Jerusalem. We can see an explicit instruction about the place to worship in Deuteronomy: 
“You are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go…” (Deuteronomy 12:4).
 
This command to worship only at a designated location is also seen in Deuteronomy 16, which lists the annual festivals. See verses 5, 7, 11, and 16, among others.
 
The reasons for this were numerous. One consideration was that Israel should not alter the worship format and purpose that God had given the nation; otherwise they would easily lapse into worship that was directed to pagan deities. We can see how this happened in the wilderness when Moses left the people to receive the stone tablets (Exodus 32), and when Israel broke politically from Judah and set up its own religious system, including new worship formats, places and times (1 Kings 12:25-33).
 
 
What made Sabbath “holy”? 
 
The essence of Sabbath-keeping was physical REST. 
Ex 20:8-10 ”Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it HOLYSix days you shall LABOR, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall NOT DO ANY WORK
 
In Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath command specifies rest from labor as the way to keep the day “holy.” There is no COMMAND or mention of going to a worship service each Sabbath for worship. 
Other passages in the Old Testament also define the Sabbath by rest (ceasing from labor), not by attendance at worship services. See Exodus 31:12-17, Numbers 15:32, Nehemiah 13:15-22 and Jeremiah 17:19-27. The latter two passages, though they refer to Jerusalem, do not mention anything about failure to attend worship services, but only work on the Sabbath as a desecration of this day.
 
An interesting study is to look up the word “Sabbath” in a concordance, find all the Old Testament references and then read those passages to see how this day was kept “holy.”
The conclusion will be that rest from labor is what made the Sabbath sacred time, not attendance at a worship service.
Most Israelites lived too far from the tabernacle to attend a worship service every Sabbath – and there is no evidence in the Old Testament that they did. And the law did not allow them to assemble anywhere else for worship. Nor do we find commands even for people near the Tabernacle that they had to gather for worship. The Sabbath was kept at home, by resting or ceasing from all activity.
 
Leviticus 23:3 ”Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your DWELLINGS‘. 
 
Hence, there is no indication in Scripture of Israelite’s going to worship services of one kind or another in their local towns and villages. 
 
Ex. 16:29, ”Understand that the LORD has given you [Israel] the Sabbath. Each of you stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.”
 
They could travel to worship services at the Tabernacle only for the annual festivals. But they were COMMANDED by God to cease from labour in their living places, and EVERYONE was to not leave their place on the ritual Sabbath day. 
 
 
 
When did the Synagogue system come?
 
One might point to the New Testament and say, “But Jesus and Paul attended the synagogue on the Sabbath. Doesn’t this indicate that worship services were an essential part of God’s command to keep the Sabbath holy?”
 
Based on Scripture or Jewish history, there was no national system of Sabbath-day worship sites or places of communal instruction throughout Israel’s history in the Promised Land up to the captivity of Judah in the 530s B.C. and the return of a remnant to Judea a few decades years later.
There were no synagogues before the exile; there were no local meeting places in Israel before the exile, because there was no command for weekly meetings.
According to Jewish Encyclopedia,The synagogue as a permanent institution originated in the period of the Babylonian captivity, when a place for common worship and instruction had become necessary‘. 
The synagogue system allowed Jews to meet together in local towns and villages for prayer, the reading of the Holy Scriptures and for fellowship. The synagogue became a miniature sanctuary to replace the loss of the Jerusalem Temple.
 
Hence, Jews added the synagogue worship system, not based on biblical command, but on a sociological need, due to the loss of the Temple and the scattering of the people far away from the Promised Land. Nowhere in the Old Testament will you find a command to have local worship sites.
 
Now, there wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with the Jews setting up synagogues. They became an important center of fellowship and instruction in the Jewish faith. The New Testament does not condemn the practice; it is taken for granted. However, it is nowhere commanded, and no Sabbatarian group should command attendance at worship services as a way to keep Sabbath holy. 
For instance, even Christ did not consider it was important to have weekly meetings on the Sabbath while he was in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:2). 
So, when Jesus, Paul went to synagogues, it was actually out of a tradition of man (a custom that came about), and not a command of God.  
 
Hence, the Old Testament does not indicate that the Sabbath is kept holy through a meeting. Rather, it was kept as holy through rest (ceasing from labor and activity) by remaining in their dwellings.
 
Are modern day Sabbath keepers really Sabbath keepers? 
 
 
God is very specific about His Sabbath commandments and how to keep it holy. If anyone claims to observe the Sabbath ritual, they must comply with His specific commandments. If they don’t, they are Sabbath breakers. The following Sabbath commandments must be observed from ‘Friday sunset to Saturday sunset‘ (Leviticus 23:32) in order to claim holy Sabbath observance.
 
1. No work done at all (Ex. 20: 10; Lev. 23: 3; Jer. 17:21-22): By law if a person did not stop all types of activity in honor of the Sabbath, he was breaking the law. In Numbers 15:32-36 a man was caught collecting sticks on the Sabbath, and He was condemned as one who broke the Sabbath law.
 
2. Work shall be done for six days (Exod. 35:2): Do you or your congregation work for 6 days? Or 5?  The actual whole command is to work 6 days with only the 7th observed as a rest day. Many Sabbatarian’s observe Sunday just like Saturday except for the gathering in Church (which there is no command to do). So if you not doing this you’re still breaking the Sabbath, even if you take Sunday off.
 
3. Your servants, and friends must rest with you: “In it you shall not do any work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:12-14). If you have any friends over that are not Christian they must observe the rest day also. You can’t ask your servants to cook or sweep the floor on the Sabbath. 
 
4. No cooking or baking: SDA ‘prophet’ Ellen White wrote: “The command is, “Bake that ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; for tomorrow is the rest day of the holy Sabbath (Ex. 16:23)” That day is not to be given to the cooking of food…to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment — Bible Echo, February 13, 1899). 
 
 
5. No kindling of a fire (Ex. 35:3). No fellowship cookouts or barbecues. Adventists for instance annually meet up for camp meetings and cook food every Saturday for the entire congregation. They break the Sabbath law as a congregation at least once annually. 
 
6. No traveling (Ex. 16:29). Later the Jews added to this law, allowing only a half mile of travel on the Sabbath but the Jehovah given pure law says “stay at home.” Actually, If you kept this part of the law, you could not travel to your church gathering away from home. 
 
7. No buying and selling (Neh. 10:31; 13:15,19; Amos 8:5). Which means no eating out from restaurants or shops. Make sure you do no shopping whatsoever. If you run out of food or drink at home you failed to prepare for Sabbath (ceasing from buying activities). 

8. No carrying any sort of loads from your houses:  ”This is what the Lord says: not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy (Jeremiah 17:21,22)

9. No ironing of clothes: This goes out to Adventists specifically. These are the inspired words of their prophet, Ellen White. She was apparently ‘inspired by God’ to include ironing clothes as part of DO NO WORK even TODAY: ‘See that all the clothing is in readiness, and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked, and the baths be taken (EGW, the inspired prophet of God of the remnant Adventist church says you can’t bathe on the Sabbath). It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule, you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments (no stitching or ironing clothes on Sabbath), to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking (TV? playing in the park with children?), or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun, let all secular work be laid aside, and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment — Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 355, 356 (1901).
 
If you insist on the Jewish ceremonial Sabbath law as binding on new covenant Christians, do you understand what the law says? Are you who claim to observe the Sabbath, really a Sabbath keeper or a Sabbath breaker according to the Jehovah’s commandments? You decide.
Remember to break one commandment, is to break all (James 2:10). 
 
In the Adventist human definition of Sabbath keeping, Sabbath keeping is primarily going to church on Saturday, refraining from paid employment, and doing some good works, but that is not what the Lord commanded from the Jewish Sabbath, unfortunately.
By their Sabbath keeping definition, even my Catholics friends who attend church on Saturday evening must be Sabbath keepers as most catholic churches are now open for church services on Saturday. My catholic friends do not work on Saturday or Sunday, instead they go visiting their grand parents, and do acts of kindness. Even other Christians who attend worship services on Saturday or Friday evening would qualify for observing the ritual. Yet that is not Sabbath keeping as per the 4th commandment.
 
 
Sabbath law or ceasing from labor in the new covenant
 
 
The concept of “rest” is important in Scripture, and it has a deep spiritual meaning for Christians.
As Christians, we understand that our rest is in Christ, who is our Sabbath; He is the reality (Col 2:17). We enter this Sabbathismos today, daily, not on any particular day any longer. God’s ‘seventh-day rest’ (Hebrews 4:4), was ‘ready since He made the world’ (Hebrews 4:3), and the ‘time for entering his rest is today’ (Hebrews 4:7), not Saturday or Sunday.
When we rest spiritually in Christ, we present ourselves as the people of God before his presence in continuous sacred assembly. We are always the church, in his presence every day of the week, not just one.
 
 
For Israelites, the Sabbath was a day to rest at home, not a day to travel long distances and attend a worship service. The annual harvest festivals were the time for Israelites to enjoy communal worship and fellowship. Here is what the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (volume 2, page 623) says about Leviticus 23:3:
 
There is an emphasis here that the Israelite rested at home. There were special offerings given in the tabernacle (e.g., a double burnt offering), but the ordinary Israelite and his whole family rested. Presumably here was an opportunity for family worship and instruction in the law of God, but this is not specifically enjoined. What a boon a weekly rest must have been to the ancient laborer and farmer in his weary round of toil!
 
As did the Jews in their synagogue system, Christians find that regular fellowship and communal instruction is an important foundation of their religious life.
As Christians, we are free to meet together at any time of the day, any day of the week, and any season of the year (Romans 14:5).
We are also free to rest on any day, and one in seven days is a good principle. However, the Jewish Sabbath ritual was fulfilled in Christ, and is not longer a requirement or a command for new covenant Christians (Col. 2: 16,17), 
 
We are not limited to meeting on just one day, since no day has been specifically set aside by God for Christian fellowship and worship. This was the case in the old testament. This is the case in the new testament. We are always in the presence of God and worship him continually because he and Christ reside in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. At the same time, we can gather weekly (Saturday, Sunday, Monday etc) and seasonally in small groups or in larger communal situations to praise God, to recall Christ’s work of salvation and to fellowship in the Spirit.

A brief outline of Sunday meetings from the Bible and History: 

Lord’s day – Neither from Pagan or Catholics but from the Bible!


1 Century evidence:

Jewish Sabbath no longer a Christian obligation:

Col. 2:16, 17 ”Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day

Christians can treat every day alike or consider some days sacred:

Rom. 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

A.D. 53 – Weekly giving commanded on Sundays for all the churches of Galatia:

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 ‘Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

A.D. 60 – Christian met every day for worship, also gathered for communion on Sunday, the first day:

Acts 20:7 “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread”

Early Christians, church fathers met on Sunday for worship, communion, fellowship. Never on the Jewish Sabbath (No Christian Sabbath keeping in Acts) for it was abolished (see also: Sabbath is ceremonial!

Sunday is not a Christian Sabbath or a day of rest, or a holy day to be kept. No more holy days, but Christians met for assembly on the first day since the time of the apostles before there was Constantine or Roman Catholic church. Sunday is not a pagan day for pagans didn’t have a weekly worship day:

2nd  to 3rd century evidence

AD 140 – Justin Martyr(Rome) wrote:

Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly … Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead” (Apology, I.67).

AD 110 – Ignatius (Antioch) wrote:

”Let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days of the week. (Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, chp 9. Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 62-63.)

Early Christians understood Sunday as the Lord’ day. John wrote:

Revelation 1:10 ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day

AD 180 – Bardesanes, Edessa (Asia) wrote:

“On one day the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together.” Book of the Laws of Countries.

AD 194 – Clement of Alexandria (Egypt) wrote:

He does the commandment according to the Gospel and keeps the Lord’s day, whenever he puts away an evil mind . . . glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself. (Vii.xii.76.4)

AD 200 – Tertullian in Africa:

“We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradiction to those who call this day their Sabbath.” Apology, Chapter XVI. “We however, just as we have received, only on the day of the Lord’s resurrection, ought to guard not only against kneeling, but even posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our business.” On Prayer, Chapter XXIII.

The New Testament does not give a single example of Christians conducting their religious services on the Sabbath after the resurrection of Christ because Sabbath is abolished (See: No Sabbath in Acts).

For the first several centuries of the church’s existence, the written testimony is uniform that Christians met for worship on Sunday. Dr. Schaff says: “The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it had its root in apostolic practice.” History of the Christian church, Vol. I, page 478.

There have always been a few sabbatarians, but never the mainstream. They have always been fringe groups and considered heretical or cultic by the main church. Most of them were rooted in Judaism (Jewish converts to Christianity) and not gentile churches. The Ebiionites are an example. Then, Sabbatarians began to be resurrected in England in the time of the Reformation, over five hundred years ago. Yet, they (likes of the SDA’s, church of God) remain outside of mainstream today.

However, they have grown their numbers through the spread of false information (such as sunday is pagan, catholic church changed the Sabbath day in the 3rd century, Sabbath law is universal), conspiracy theories (sunday law etc), and a false understanding of the doctrine of law (see: Decalogue examined, Covenants).

Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, Luther, Calvin, all understood that Sabbath was ceremonial. None of these believed that the Pope or Roman Catholic church changed the Sabbath. Instead they saw that it was abrogated as clearly stated in the new testament and by the apostles (see: Did they teach Sabbath is ceremonial?)
 Part of the above articles have been adapted from GCI.
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God’s great moral law is unchangeable 

The foundation of the Sabbatarian error, is a false theory of the law taught by some other churches that led them into this sad error. For many years I was held in that “bondage.” Now that I have found my way out, if I can help others, I shall rejoice.

The following simple facts with regard to the law helped me out of Adventism and I have never known anyone to get out of it any other way. I believe it to be the correct answer to the Saturday Sabbath error. I write for candid readers. They will examine our arguments fairly and allow others to do the same, even if they should not agree fully with every position. Many years of investigation and discussion of the question have firmly settled me on the following propositions. They are in harmony with the best men and theologians of this and past ages; hence nothing original on our part.

Antinomianism

Antinomians, from ANTI, against and NOMOS, law, against law, is a term applied to those who maintain that Christians are under no obligation to keep the law of God or to do any good works. This is an abominable doctrine, subversive of the gospel; yet Seventh-Day Adventists brand all as Antinomians who do not agree with them as to what is the law of God. I am as much opposed to Antinomianism as they. We believe in strict obedience to law, in keeping the commandments of God (see there are over 1000 commands for Christians), and in the necessity of good works, as strongly as they do.

Luther vehemently opposed Antinomianism and yet taught the abolition of the Mosaic law & Sabbath. It is ignorance for Adventists to call people Antinomians who abhor that doctrine. We plead for a pure life, good works and obedience to God, as fruit of our salvation. Bunyan, Judson, and a host of such men have repudiated the Sabbatarian idea of the law, and yet have been holy men. We are not afraid to stand with them.

Even Elder Waggoner says: “As to whether the Saviour abolished the ten commandments and with them the Sabbath, is a theological question; it is only a matter of Scripture interpretation.” Replies to Elder Canright, page 164. Very well; then men may differ on this question and still be honest Christians. I will now lay down a few propositions concerning the law, which seem to me so plain and well supported by the Bible, that all must agree with them.

PROPOSITION 1. “THE LAW” EMBRACES THE WHOLE MOSAIC LAW, MORAL, CIVIL AND CEREMONIAL. The term, “the law,” when used with the definite article and without qualifying words, refers “in nine cases out of ten, to the Mosaic law, or to the Pentateuch.” Largely the Adventists use the term, “the law,” for the ten commandments only. This is their fundamental error on the law. We affirm that “the law” included the whole system of law given to the Jews at Sinai, embracing all those requirements, whether moral, civil or ceremonial, decalogue and all. Even Elder Butler is compelled to make this confession: “The term, “the law,’ among the Jews generally included the five books of Moses, thus including the whole system, moral, ritual, typical and civil.” Law in Galatians, page 70.

Now bear in mind this one simple fact, wherever you find the term “the law,” and you will have no trouble with Sabbatarian arguments on “the law.”

Take a few examples of the use of the term “the law.”

  • 1 Cor. 14:34: Women “are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” Where does the law say this? Gen. 3:16. So Genesis is in the law.
  • Again: “The law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Rom. 7:7. Where? Ex. 20:17. So Exodus is in the law.
  • Once more: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Matt. 22:36. Jesus then makes two quotations from the law; first, “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart.” This is taken from Deut. 6:5. So Deuteronomy is in the law.
  • Second, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is from Lev, 19:18. So Leviticus is a part of the law.
  • And this: have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” Matt. 12:5. It is from Num. 28:9.

These then, embrace all the five books of Moses as “the law.” Observe a little where the law is spoken of and you will soon see that it refers indiscriminately to each and all of the books of Moses as “the law.” Of course any verse in any of these books is quoted as “the law,” because it is a part of the law. So then the ten commandments are quoted as the law because they are a part of the law.

Again, “the law” embraces all parts of the law, moral, civil or ceremonial.

  • Thus the ceremonial precepts: “The parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him after the custom of the law.” Luke 2:27. That is, to offer a sacrifice.
  • Moral precepts: The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers.” 1 Tim. 1:9.
  • Civil precepts: “Commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” Acts 23:3.

Notice that every time it is simply the law. “Gamaliel, a doctor of the law.” Acts 5:34. Of what law? Was he simply a doctor of some part of the law, as the moral, or civil, or ceremonial precepts? Every intelligent man knows that “the law,” of which he was doctor or teacher, was the whole Pentateuch, decalogue included. The law, then, is the whole Jewish law, in all its part.

This one point, clearly settled, destroys nine-tenths of all the Seventh-Day Adventist argument for the Jewish Sabbath.

The Two Laws

PROPOSITION 2. THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS TWO SEPARATE LAWS GIVEN TO THE JEWS. To sustain their doctrine Sabbatarians have invented a theory of two laws given at Sinai; one the moral law, the other the ceremonial.

Adventists attach the utmost importance to their theory of two laws as well they may; for if this is wrong their cause is lost.

1. “Moral law,” “ceremonial law.” Adventists use these two terms as freely as though the Bible was full of them; yet, strange to say, the scriptures make no such distinctions, never speak of one law as “moral” and of another as “ceremonial.” Adventists severely criticise those who happen to use an unscriptural word or phrase; yet they themselves do the very thing commonly, as in this case. It would be amusing to hear one of them try to preach on the “two laws” and confine himself to Bible language! He could not possibly do it. If there were two distinct laws given to Israel, so opposite in their nature, it is strange that there is no record of it, no reference to it in the Bible. If one was abolished and the other was not, strange that Paul should not make the distinction when he has so much to say about the law. Why did he not say, “we establish the moral law”? or, “the ceremonial law was our schoolmaster”? No, he just says “the law” and leaves it there. He seems not to have been quite as clear on that point as Adventists are!

On this point Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, Article Law, says: “Neither Christ nor the apostles ever distinguished between the moral, the ceremonial, and the civil law, when they speak of its establishment or its abolition.”

2. The two laws contrasted. Adventists have drawn up a long list of things which they claim are true of the “moral” law and an opposite list which can apply only to the “ceremonial” law. These two they contrast and make out two laws.

Thus Adventists say: “Moral law:

  • “Was spoken from Sinai by the voice of God and twice written upon tables of stone by his own finger.”
  • “Was deposited in the golden ark.” “Related only to moral duties.”

Of course this was just the ten commandments, nothing more, nothing less, according to SDA’s. So here we have their “moral law.” Now here is the other one:

Thus Adventists day: “The ceremonial law:

  • “Was communicated to Moses privately and was by Moses written with a pen in a book. Deut. 31:9.”
  • “Was put into a receptacle by the side of the ark. Deut. 31:26.” “Was wholly ceremonial.” 

Hence everything not found in the decalogue belongs to the ceremonial law and everything Moses himself wrote in the book of the law placed in the side of the ark is “wholly ceremonial.” Deut. 31:26, reads: “Take this book of the law and put it in the side of the ark.” The decalogue was in the ark, the book of the law was by the side of the ark.

We enquire from Adventists, then, how much “the book of the law” contained? The answer is easy:

  • It contained all the five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
  • Thus 2 Kings 14:6, says it “is written in the book of the law of Moses,” and then quotes Deut. 24:16, as that book of the law.

Dr. Scott on Deut. 31:26, says “This book appears to have been a correct and authentic copy of the five books of Moses.”

So what Adventist call the ceremonial law contains scores of precepts as purely moral as any in the decalogue.

Read these:

  • “Thou shalt not vex a stranger.” “Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child.” Ex. 22:21, 22.
  • “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” Ex. 23:2.
  • “Ye shall be holy.” “Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale bearer among thy people.” “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Lev. 19:2, 16, 18.
  • Thou shalt not discriminate people.” “Thou shalt be perfect.” Deut. 16:19, 18, 13.

Are these precepts, and scores like them, to be classed as ceremonial because God did not write them on a stone but gave them to Moses to write in a book? Surely not.

Then the nature of a precept was not determined by the way it was given. God gave them all at different times as it pleased Him.

As we have seen, “the law” embraces the “whole law.” Gal. 5:3.

Of course, in that law, some precepts refer to moral duties, other to civil, and others to ceremonial but all are only different parts of the same law, called, as a whole, “the law.”

Thus Jesus quotes from Lev. 19, as “the law.” See Matt. 22:36-40. Now read the whole chapter, Lev. 19, and you find moral, civil and ceremonial precepts all mingled together, and often in the same verse. Adventists, to sustain their theory, have to go through this chapter, as they do through the whole Bible, and cut and carve, and split hairs, and label one sentence “the moral law,” another “the ceremonial law,” etc. This is what is properly termed “the scrapping system or proof text method.” It does great violence to the Scriptures, wresting them out of their evident meaning.

In no place can they find their ceremonial law given by itself.

They have to pick it out here and there in scraps. The “book of the law,” which was placed in the side of the ark, Deut. 31:24-26, is pointed to as the ceremonial law. But this “book of the law,” as we see, embraced the whole five books of Moses, which had the ten commandments.

It contains all of the ten commandments word for word twice repeated.Ex. 20 and Deut. 5.

Adventist Elder G.I. Butler himself makes this confession: “The “book of the law,’ which was placed in the side of the ark, or at the side of it, contained both the moral and ceremonial laws.” Law in Galatians, p. 39.

That drops the bottom out of the theory that the moral law was “in the ark, and the ceremonial law in the side of the ark,” as they usually claim.

So, on close examination, every text on which they rely for two laws will fail them. That the “book of the law” did contain moral precepts is settled by Gal. 3:10: “It is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Where in the book of the law is this written?

In Deut. 27:26. Turning there we have a curse against images, verse 15, disobedience to parents, verse 16, adultery, verse 20; murder, verse 24; bribery, verse 25; then comes the verse quoted as “the book of the law.” So if the decalogue contains moral law, then the book did too. This shows the utter fallacy of their theory of two laws.

The following passage alone overturns the two law theory of Adventists: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law [Torah = 5 books of Moses] and the prophets.” Matt. 22:36-40.

Note that:

1. These two great commandments were “in the law.”

2. But neither of them is found in the decalogue.

3. Both of them are in what Adventists call the ceremonial law.

4. Neither of them was spoken by God, nor written by him, nor engraved on stones, nor put into the ark. Both were given by God to Moses privately and he wrote them with a pen in the book of the law which was placed in the side of the ark. And yet these two precepts are the greatest of all. Jesus said of the first one that it is “the first of all the commandments.” Of the two he said, “There is none other commandments greater than these.” Mark 12:29, 41. And on these two hang all the law.

So, then, the greatest commandments are in the book of the law, not on the tables of stone. How utterly this demolishes their two law argument. It shows that the mere fact that the ten commandments were spoken by God, written on stone, and placed in the ark, is no proof that they were superior to those given through Moses in the book of the law.

We will examine a few more of their contrasts of the two laws as they arrange them. Thus:

“1. Moral: Existed in Eden before the fall. Ceremonial: Was given after the fall.

2. Moral: Was perfect. Ps. 19:7. Ceremonial: Made nothing perfect. Heb. 7:19.

3. Moral: Contains the whole duty of Man. Eccl. 12:13. Ceremonial: “Stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances.’ Heb. 9:10.”

1. Where do they read that the decalogue was given in Eden? Nowhere. This they assume not only without proof, but against the plain record of Ex. 19 and 20 that it was given at Sinai. So their very first comparison is a failure.

2. The law is perfect, Ps. 19:7, and again, the law made nothing perfect. Heb. 7:19. This they regard as one of their clearest proofs of the two laws. But where is the proof? Does it follow that if the law is perfect it will or can make sinners perfect? If it could, then, as Paul says, righteousness should be by the law,” Gal. 3:21, and “then Christ is dead in vain.” Gal. 2:21. The law could be perfect and yet fail to make anybody perfect. So there is no proof of two laws here after all.

3. Eccl. 12:13 is quoted as referring to the ten commandments alone and then it is asserted that these contain every duty of man. Both statements are fallacious. There are scores of duties we owe to God and men not even hinted at in the decalogue. Then there is not a particle of evidence that Eccl. 12:13 refers alone to the decalogue. It manifestly embraces all God’s commandments on all subjects. Look at the second quotation, Heb. 9:10. It does not refer to any law whatever but is speaking of the services of the priests in the temple, which service “stood only in meats, drinks,” etc. Read it.

Thus their “two laws” are made out:

1. By pure assumptions.

2. By misapplications of scripture.

3. By detached phrases here and there taken out of their proper connection. So I could go through their whole list and show that it proves no such contrast as they claim.

But they assert that such opposite things are said of “the law,” that it cannot be the same law all the time. This method of proving two laws by contrasting particular expressions about the law when spoken of from different standpoints would make bad work with the Bible if urged on other subjects.

Paul said he was “a Jew,” Acts 21:39, and again that he was “a Roman,” Acts 22:25; two Pauls?

So Christ is “a Lion” and “a Lamb,” Rev. 5:5, 6. “The everlasting Father,” Isa. 9:6. And born of a woman, Luke 2:7; Prince of Life, Acts 3:15, yet died through weakness, 2 Cor. 13:4; a child, Isa. 9:6; and yet God, Heb. 1:1-8; two Christs?

It would be much harder to reconcile the apparently opposite things said of Christ, than it would be the different things said about the law. There were different sides to Christ’s nature, yet he was but one person. So there were different sides to the law, but it was only one law for all that.

  • Viewed in the light of its ultimate design, viz.: to prepare the way for Christ, Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:23-25, in its spirit, Rom. 7:6; in its righteousness, Rom. 8:3, 4; it was “holy and just and good,” Rom. 7:12.
  • But viewed from the side of its mere letter, Rom. 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6, 7; its numerous rites, ceremonies, penalties and rigorous exactions, it was “the ministration of death,” 2 Cor. 3:7; and a “yoke of bondage,” Gal. 5:1-3; Acts 15:1-10.

This is the true explanation of their “two laws.”

Further, it is not true that there was nothing ceremonial in the decalogue. The weekly Sabbath was the chief ceremonial of all the Jewish worship. The Bible is so clear on this. Jesus, Paul categorized Sabbath a ceremonial. Mainstream Jews believe it. Early Christians taught it. Early father’s who learned from apostles wrote about it. Luther, Bunyan and scores of other godly men preached it. In fact no moral law is called a SIGN in the Bible; but only the rituals and ceremonies such as Passover, Circumcision, & the Sabbaths.

PROPOSITION 3. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ALONE ARE NEVER CALLED “THE LAW OF THE LORD” NOR THE “LAW OF GOD.” Sabbatarians constantly use these two terms, applying them to the decalogue alone. With them “the law of God” and “the law of the Lord” is just the decalogue and nothing more. They are the only ones who keep God’s law, as all others break the Sabbath, the seventh day.

But now notice this fact which is simply the truth. The word law occurs in the Bible over 400 times, yet in not one single instance is the decalogue as a whole and alone called “the law.” It is never in a single instance called “the law of the Lord,” or “the law of God.” Of course the ten commandments are a part of the law of God, but only a part, not the whole. Examine a few texts:

Luke 2:22. “The days of her purification according to the law of Moses;” verse 23, “It is written in the law of the Lord, every male that openeth the womb;” verse 24, It is “said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves;” verse 27, “To do for him after the custom of the law.”

Here “the law,” “the law of the Lord,” and “the law of Moses,” all mean the same thing, viz: the law touching the birth of a son.

Again, sacrifices, offerings, Sabbaths, new moons and feasts are all required “in the law of Moses.” “He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to-wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the Lord.” 2 Chron. 31:3.

Scores of texts like these could be quoted, showing that “the law of the Lord” includes sacrifices, circumcision, feast days and all the Jewish law. So “the law of God” is not simply the decalogue, but the whole law of Moses. Read Neh. 8:1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 14, 18. “The book of the law of Moses,” “the law,” “the book of the law,” “they read in the book of the law of God,” “the law which the Lord commanded by Moses,” “the book of the law of God.”

The law of God, then, includes the whole law of Moses.

No Sabbatarian, therefore, keeps “the law,” “the law of God,” or “the law of the Lord,” for if he did he would offer sacrifices, be circumcised, and live exactly as the Jews did.

So all their talk about “keeping the law” amounts to nothing, for none of them do it.

Moreover in their attempt to keep a part of that law they thereby bring themselves under obligation to “keep the whole law,” as Paul argues in Gal. 5:3. But as none of them keep the whole law, they bring upon themselves the curse of the law, by constantly violating one part while attempting to keep another. This is the very point which Paul made against Judaizing legalists of his day. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: For it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to them.” Gal. 3:10.

That is, the person who keeps one precept of the law just because the law says so, thereby acknowledges that the law is binding on him. Then if he neglects some other part of the law, he thereby becomes a transgressor of the very law he professes to keep. This is exactly what Sabbatarians do. They keep the Sabbath because the law says so and thereby become “debtors to do the whole law.” Gal. 5:3. Then they neglect many things in the same law and so are under the condemnation of the law. Gal. 3:10. But Christians do this or that, not because the law of Moses says so, but because so says law of Christ as commanded through the commandments of Jesus and apostles in the New Covenant, that was established after His resurection.

PROPOSITION 4. “THE LAW” WAS GIVEN BY MOSES AND THE “LAW OF MOSES” INCLUDES THE DECALOGUE. Not that Moses was the author of it, but it was through him God gave it to Israel. This is stated so distinctly and so many times that it is useless to deny it. Thus:

“For the law was given by Moses,” John 1:17.

“Did not Moses give you the law?” John 7:19.

“The law which the Lord had commanded by Moses,” Neh. 8:14.

“God’s law which was given by Moses,” Neh. 10:29.

Law of Moses includes the decalogue.

Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother,” Mark 7:10. This is the fifth commandment. Again: “Did not Moses give you the law and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” John 7:17. The law against killing is here called the law of Moses.

In Heb. 10:28, it is said that “he that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses.” Persons were put to death for violating the decalogue. See Deut. 17:6. They were put to death for breaking the Sabbath, Ex. 31:14, blasphemy, theft, and the like. Hence the decalogue is included in the “law of Moses.” But in verse 24 they said ye must “keep the law.” So in one verse it is “the law of Moses” and in another verse it is simply “the law”: Hence there is no difference between “the law” and “the law of Moses.”

PROPOSITION 5. “THE LAW” WAS NOT GIVEN TILL THE TIME OF MOSES AND SINAI. The texts above quoted prove this. Thus: “The law was given by Moses.” John 1:17. “Did not Moses give you the law?” John 7:19. “For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses.” Rom. 5:13-14.

The entrance of this law is here located at Moses. Again it is located under the Levitical priesthood. “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, for under it the people received the law.” Heb. 7:11.

So the giving of the law is located “430 years after the covenant with Abraham.” “And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul.” Gal. 3:17.

This brings us to the very year the Jews came out of Egypt and arrived at Sinai. “And it came to pass at the end of 430 years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all of the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Ex. 12:41. Beyond dispute, then, what the Bible calls “the law” was not given till Moses, 2,500 years after Adam, or nearly half the history of the world.

PROPOSITION 6. THE LAW IS NO WHERE FOUND TILL MOSES. No copy of this law nor any reference to it can be found till Moses. Of course God’s great moral and spiritual law, condemning every sin and requiring every righteous act – existed from Adam, nay, from eternity. That’s how Adam and Eve sinned, Jospeh knew adultery was sin.

But what in all the Jewish Scriptures is known as “the law,” as drawn out in a code on Sinai, whether in a book or on the tables of stone, this certainly did not exist till Moses.

The whole dispute between Paul and the Judaizers of his day was over this law. See Romans, Galatians and Acts 15 and 21. The question was whether “the law,” that which was written in “the book of the law,” Gal. 3:10, and “engraved in stones,” 2 Cor. 3:7, was to be kept under the gospel. Paul said, No; they said, Yes.

Sabbatarians now stick for the national law of Sinai as did the Judaizers of old.

To say that the principles of the law existed before Sinai, does not prove that the law existed. These principles could have been taught to Adam and his descendants in a different form from the law as afterwards given at Sinai. But where do you find the law or even one of the ten commandments, as worded on Sinai, before that time? Nowhere.

The various principles and precepts, moral, ceremonial, and typical, which had previously been taught in different ways, were now gathered into one code and worded so as to adapt them, for the time being, to the circumstances of the Jewish nation. As thus worded, certainly this law had never been given before (see also Decalogue Examined).

PROPOSITION 7. THEIR FATHERS DID NOT HAVE THE DECALOGUE AS WORDED ON THE TABLES. This Moses directly states. Deut. 4:12, 13, says God spoke to them from heaven, and declared to them “his covenant,” “even ten commandments,” Chap. 5:2, 3, says: “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us.” Then he repeats the ten commandments as spoken from heaven. Verses 4-22;

That the main principles and requirements of this code were taught to the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacon) in some way no one can doubt; but that the fathers had the law as worded and arranged at Sinai is directly denied by Moses, as above.

PROPOSITION 8. THE LAW WAS GIVEN ONLY TO THE JEWS. This is so manifest in every item of the law, that it needs no argument to prove it. Moses says, Deut. 4:8, that no nation has a law so good “as all this law which I set before you this day.” Then he names the ten commandments as a part of it. Verses 10-13. “This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel.” Verse 44. Before whom? Israel, not the Gentiles.

So again, Chap. 5:1. “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears.” Then follows the decalogue. So it is a hundred times over all through the law. It is addressed to the Jews and to them only. The very wording of the law shows it was designed for them only.

THIS IS A NATIONAL LAW FOR ISRAEL, NOT UNIVERSAL.

The decalogue is introduced thus: “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods” Ex. 20:2,3. To whom is that applicable? Only to the Jewish nation. Neither angels, Adam, nor Gentile Christians were ever in Egyptian bondage. Then this law is not addressed to them. To whom was the law given. Let Paul answer.

“Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law.” Rom. 9:4.

It was given to Israel. “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” Malachi 4:4. The law was “for all Israel,” and them only.

All these things show that this was a national law worded to fit the condition of the Jews at the time.

PROPOSITION 9. THE GENTILES DID NOT HAVE THE LAW. This has been proved already; but Paul directly says so.

Rom. 2:14. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves.

This is too plain to need arguing. The Gentiles did not have the law. Paul says so directly and that ought to settle it, and does. To understand and obey the great moral principles of that law is one thing, to be under the letter, the exact wording of the law as given in detail on Sinai, is quite another, as we will see further on.

PROPOSITION 10. THE REWARDS AND PENALTIES OF THE LAW WERE ALL TEMPORAL. There are no promises of future rewards, nor threatenings of future punishments in all the Mosaic law. Every careful student of that law must be aware of this feature of it. The reason is evident: it was a national, temporal law, given for a national, temporal purpose. As a sample of all, see Deut. 28:1-19.

If they keep the law, they shall be blessed in children, in goods, in cattle, in health, etc. If they disobey, they shall be cursed in all these. Stoning to death was the penalty for theft, murder, etc. Hence that was the “ministration of death written and engraved in stones,” 2 Cor. 3:7, and “is done away,” verse 11.

Paul states that the promise of Christ and the future inheritance was made to Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law was given. From this he argues, and forcibly, too, that the keeping of that law was not necessary in order to obtain Christ and the inheritance. Verses 16-18. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”

So to the Romans he wrote: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.” Rom. 4:13,14.

This plainly teaches that the law was not given with reference to the future inheritance.

Certainly Abraham did not keep a law which was not given till hundreds of years after he died. But Abraham is the father of all the faithful, and not simply of those who were “of the law.” Rom. 4:13-16. This point alone ought to open the eyes of those who contend so earnestly for the keeping of that law as necessary to salvation. We are the children of Abraham, Gal. 3:29, and “walk in the steps of our father Abraham,” who was never under that law of Moses. Rom. 4:12-16. We are under the covenant of promise made to Abraham 430 years before the law, Gal. 2:15-19, and not under the covenant of law from Sinai, which is bondage. Gal. 4:21-26.

PROPOSITION 11. GOD’S ETERNAL LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS EXISTED BEFORE THE LAW OF SINAI WAS GIVEN. This proposition is self-evident. God has a law by which to govern his creatures, both angels and men, long before Sinai. Long before he ‘made’ national laws for Israel. Long before he ‘made’ the ritual sabbath day under the national law. But “the law,” as worded in the decalogue and in “the book of the law,” was not given till Moses, 2,500 years after creation.

Hence universal moral obligation did not begin with that law, nor would it cease if that law was abolished. 

“All unrighteousness is sin.” 1 John 5:17. And “sin is the transgression of the law.” Chap. 3:4. This text is used by Sabbatarians to prove that every possible sin is always a violation of the ten commandments. But,

1. “The law” is the whole Mosaic law, not merely the decalogue.

2. A correct translation entirely spoils this text for them. The word law is not in the text in the original 1 John 5:17. The revised version gives it correctly. “Sin is lawlessness.” This is the true meaning of the text. Sin is lawlessness, a disregard for some law, but not necessarily always the same law. Thus: “The angels sinned.” 2 Pet. 2:4. But they did not violate the law of Sinai, for it was not given till thousands of years after they fell, and they were not under that law any way.

Adam “sinned” long before that law was given. So Paul says, Rom. 5:12-14. Cain sinned, Gen. 4:7. The Sodomites were “sinners,” Gen. 13:13, and vexed Lot with their “unlawful deeds,” 2 Pet. 2:8.

Surely none of these violated “the law,” which was not given till Moses, hundreds of years afterwards. To say that they must have violated the principles of that law is not to the point. When the Jews killed Stephen, Acts 7:59, they violated the principles of the law of Michigan, which forbids murder; but did they violate the “law of Michigan, USA”? No; for it was not given for 1800 years after. And they were not under it any way. So neither the angels, nor Adam, nor the Sodomites could have transgressed the law of Sinai, for it was not yet given. So Abraham kept God’s laws, Gen. 26:5, but surely not “the law which was four hundred and thirty years after,” Gal. 3:17.

All this clearly shows that God had a higher universal law before the code of Sinai was given.

Jesus, under the gospel 1500 years later, in naming the commandments, gives them neither in the same words nor in the same order as found in the decalogue. Further, he mingles with them some precepts from the book of the law as of equal importance with the ten commandments.

Thus: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother. Mark 10:19. This shows that the mere form and order of the commandments is of no consequence as long as the idea is given. So the two editions of the decalogue in Ex. 20 and Deut. 5 vary much in the wording; yet one is as good as the other. This shows that the exact wording is not essential.

In whatever form or manner God chose to communicate his will to men, this would be “his commandments, his statutes, and his laws.” Gen. 26:5. Paul says: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” Heb. 1:1, 2. A disregard for his revealed will would be lawlessness – sin. But to claim that God gave the patriarchs his law in the exact form and words of the ten commandments is a proofless assumption, contrary to reason and all the facts in the case.

PROPOSITION 12. THIS ORIGINAL LAW IS SUPERIOR TO THE LAW OF SINAI. When asked “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22:37-40.

Neither of these is in the decalogue; but that law hangs on this higher law.

These principles, clad in the panoply of eternal immutability, lay back of the Mosaic law and existed with it throughout that dispensation as they had existed before and exist now.

In its very nature this great law of supreme love to God, and equal love to fellow creatures, must be as eternal and everlasting as God himself. This law governs angels, governed Adam, the patriarchs, the pious Jews, while under “the law,” and gentiles without ‘the law’, and Gentile Christians now.

It is applicable to all God’s creatures, in all ages and all worlds.

Idolatry, murder, theft, selfishness and “all unrighteousness,” 1 John 5:17, are and always were violations of this supreme law of God. This great law might be worded in different ways at different times and yet the same essential idea be preserved. Thus Jesus stated the second great commandment in another form.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matt. 7:12.

The idea is the same as “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The exact words or form in which this law is stated is not material so long as the idea is made plain. Evidently this supreme law must have been made known to Adam and to the patriarchs but in just what form we are not told. To say that it was in the exact words of the decalogue is to affirm what can in no wise be proved.

PROPOSITION 13. THE MOSAIC LAW WAS FOUNDED UPON THE HIGHER AND ORIGINAL LAW. Jesus directly affirms this, Matt. 22:40. “On these two commandments hangs all the law.” The principles of this great law were interwoven all through the law of Sinai, being the life, “the spirit,” or “the righteousness” of “the law.” Rom. 2:26-29; 8:4. As an example, examine Lev. 19. Here you have the second great commandment, verse 18, and the principles of every one of the ten commandments.

Thus: 1st commandment, verse 32; 2nd, verse 4; 3rd, verse 12; 4th, verse 30; 5th, verse 3; 6th, verse 17; 7th, verse 29; 8th, verse 13; 9th, verse 11; 10th verse 35. Mingled among these are commandments about sacrifices, verse 5; harvest, verse 9; clothing, verse 19; priests, verse 22; first fruits, verse 23; wizards, verse 31. Gentiles, verse 34, etc. All these (moral, ceremonial, civil) are founded upon this higher law of love and can be changed to fit circumstances without affecting the supreme law, which is ever the same.

The particular wording of the law as adapted to the Jewish age was “the letter” or “form” of the law for the time being. While the spirit of the law can never change, the letter of it must change to fit the changing circumstances of God’s people.

If a Jew loved God with all his heart, he would have circumcised his sons, offered burnt sacrifices, paid tithes, kept the passover, the new moons, the Sabbath, and attended the temple worship, for this was “the law of the Lord.” 2 Chron. 31:3; Luke 2:22-27.

But if a Christian loves God he will be baptized, Acts 2:38, take the Lord’s supper, 1 Cor. 11:24,  will not neglect meeting together for worship and fellowship (Heb. 10:25), will not judge anyone on the Sabbath whether they observe it or not (Col 2:16, 17), Consider all seven days alike, or some days sacred (Rom 14:5), and do much more.

Hence “there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Heb. 7:12. This is both Bible and common sense.

Those who make the mere letter of the Jewish law an iron rule, and contend for the exact wording under all circumstances, and in all ages, miss the spirit of the gospel, and are in bondage to a system out of date. Gal. 3:19-25; 4:21-25; 5:1-3, 13, 14; 2 Cor. 3:3-15.

PROPOSITION 14. “THE LAW” OF SINAI WAS GIVEN TO RESTRAIN CRIMINALS WHO WOULD ONLY OBEY GOD THROUGH FEAR. Consider this proposition well. A failure to understand this simple fact is the cause of all the blunders of Sabbatarians and legalists in their extravagant and unscriptural praises of “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones.” 2 Cor. 3:7.

On this point hear Paul state why that law was made and notice that it is of the moral precepts of the law that he speaks. “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” 1 Tim. 1:9, 10.

There can be no doubt that he refers to the code of Sinai, that which prohibited murder, thefts, etc. This law he says was not made for a righteous man but for the lawless. Of this law in another place Paul says: “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions.” Gal. 3:19. Again, “The law entered that the offense might abound.” Rom. 5:20, and, “until the law sin was in the world,” verse 13.

Hence it is manifest that sin, offense and transgression existed before “the law” was given, and that it was given to prohibit already existing crimes. Evidently God put the race on trial from Adam to Moses under the same eternal law of right and love which governed the angels and holy men. But mankind failed shamefully. They did not live by that rule. They became lawless. Disregard of God and open violence towards men were increasing, till life and property were insecure. Then God selected one nation, the Hebrews, and gave up the rest to their own ways. Rom. 1:20-28.

Up to this time God’s people had not been a nation by themselves but had dwelt among other nations and had been subject to their civil laws which prohibited open violence and protected life and property. But as soon as they became a nation by themselves, it became absolutely necessary to have a national law of their own which would prohibit and punish open crime, such as murder, theft, adultery, etc. Life and property would not have been secure without this, because many among them were wicked, lawless men, “stiff-necked and rebellious.”

If all had been righteous, if all had loved God and their neighbors, there would have been no need of a prohibitory law with a death penalty. We can readily see the reason why Paul says “the law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless,” These lawless ones would have robbed and murdered the righteous ones had there been no national, temporal law to protect them, for these, wicked men would have cared little about God’s higher law, which pertains to the future judgment. But as the Jewish government was a theocracy, one in which God himself was ruler, the law required and regulated service to him as well as duties among themselves.

Hence to this nation God gave the law of Sinai. Ex. 20:2. Would it have been given if men had obeyed God without? Paul has settled that point. “The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient.” l Tim. 1:9.

Then the law was not made till man had sinned, Rom. 5:13, offended, verse 20, transgressed, Gal. 3:19, and became lawless.

This then is not God’s original law by which he prefers to govern men. It was a law largely of prohibitions, threats, pains and penalties.

Its object was to restrain open crime, protect men in their natural rights and preserve the knowledge of God in the earth till Christ should come. Gal. 3:19-25. In order to keep that nation separate from all others, many burdensome rites were incorporated into the law which made it a yoke of bondage. Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1, 3.

When Christ came, and the Jewish nation was rejected and dispersed, and their national law overthrown, and the gospel went to all nations, that law had served its purpose, and so passed away as a system. Matt. 5:17-18; Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:24; Heb. 7:12-19.

Now Christians are not under the Aaronic priesthood, nor the Jewish law. Heb. 7:11, 12; but are under the priesthood of Melchisedec, verses 14-19, as was Abraham our father, Gen. 14:18-20, who never had “the law” of Sinai, Gal. 3:17, but walked by the higher law which governs angels and holy men, Gen. 26:5.

The Jewish law being removed, we now come under the same law by which Enoch and Abraham “walked with God.” The sermon on the mount is a beautiful elucidation of that law, the rule by which all Christians should live, and by which all sinners will be judged at the judgment.

Now, as in the days before Moses, God’s people are not a nation by themselves, but are scattered among all nations where they are governed and protected by the civil law of those nations.

Hence the New Testament provides no civil law for the government of Christians, no temporal penalties for criminals. It would be directly contrary to the nature of the gospel to do either.

All this is left to the rulers of nations wherever Christians happen to be. Open criminals, who will not obey from principle, the higher law, are now turned over to the civil magistrate. Paul makes this matter very plain and puts the question beyond dispute.

Thus: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.” Rom. 13:1-6.

There is where you find prohibitory law for “the lawless;” that is, in the civil law of the land where they live. This punishes their crime against society. Their offenses against God’s great law will be recompensed at the judgment, but the saints of God must be governed by the higher law, the law of supreme love to God and equal love to fellows. Such obedience can come only from a heart renewed by the Spirit of God, 2 Cor. 3:3, and “if ye be led of the Spirit ye are not under the law.” Gal. 5:18.

Is any man a Christian who refrains from murder, theft, and adultery, simply because the law says, “Thou shalt not”? No, indeed, he must refrain from these from a higher motive than that.

Then surely he must be governed by a higher law than the decalogue. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Rom. 13:10. The dispute between Paul and the Judaizers then was over the nature and obligation of the Jewish law. The dispute now concerning the Jewish Sabbath involves the same point, the obligation of the letter of the Jewish law.

PROPOSITION 15. THE LETTER OF THE LAW IS NOT BINDING UPON CHRISTIANS AS A COERCIVE CODE. Little argument ought to be needed to prove this; for if the letter of that law is binding, then we must be circumcised; offer sacrifices, keep the seventh day and all the Jewish ritual, for “the law” included the whole law, Gal. 3:10; 5:3.

Notice in the following text that “the righteousness of the law” and the spirit of the law is one thing, while “the letter” and outward service is quite another. Notice further that a man may “fulfill the law” without keeping the letter of it, and thus condemn the formalist who keeps the letter of the law but not the spirit of it. Paul says:

“If the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom. 2:26-29.

Paul argues that Christians must be circumcised, but not “outwardly in the flesh,” as formerly, but “inwardly in the spirit, not in the letter.” By this he illustrates the difference between keeping the law now and formerly. So, further on: “Ye are not under the law but under grace.” Rom. 6:14. So in the next chapter he says:

“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Rom. 7:6.

How can one misunderstand language so plain? Now, under Christ, we are delivered from the law of Moses; that law is dead, and we serve Christ in the spirit, “not in the old letter.” So again he says, urging this point: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” Chap. 8:4. Paul uses the word “flesh” for the outward “works of the law.” See Gal. 3:2, 3. We do not walk according to the outward form of the law, but we do obey the intent and spirit of it or its “righteousness,” as he here calls it.

The higher law of God, supreme love to God and equal love to our neighbors, upon which the Jewish law hung, was the “spirit,” “righteousness,” or real intent of “the law.” This “first and great” law Christians do keep, while free from the mere letter of the law, which was bondage. Hence to the Galatians who were being troubled with Judaizing legalists, Paul wrote: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Gal. 5:13, 14, 18.

How he reiterates the truth in all his letters, that Christians are not under the law; that they are called to a liberty which Jews never enjoyed. Notice how he states it over and over that all the law is fulfilled in this, Love your neighbor as yourself. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Rom. 13:8, 10.

This is not a liberty to licentiousness and self-indulgence; but it is a liberty from the forms and ceremonies of the law which bound the Jews.

In Jer. 31:3l-34, it was foretold that the Lord would make a “new covenant” with Israel, “not according” to the one he made at Sinai; for he would put his laws in their hearts and minds. This clearly indicated a change from the previous formal way of governing God’s people. Paul thus refers to that prophecy: “not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” “Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” 2 Cor. 3:3, 6.

Now the law for the Christian is not that written in the book or on the tables of stone. It was not the letter but the spirit of that law which the apostles taught. So Paul says. Then he says that “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones, was” “done way.” Verses 7, 11.

Surely, then, Christians are free from the letter of that law; but it is still to be studied with reverence and its spirit carried out in Christian duties though in form these must differ from Jewish duties. The voluntary gathering on the Lord’s resurrection day meets the spirit of the fourth commandment. We are circumcised in heart, not in the flesh. Rom. 2:26-29.

Hence, the coming of Christ did not repeal any moral law, and the ceremonial law was not repealed, but fulfilled. All that was permanent, useful, or spiritual in the Mosaic economy remains, NOT IN THE LETTER OF STATUTES, but in the fulfilled and completed dispensation of grace.

The following, from Peter, is a fair illustration of the spiritual application of the old law which the apostles make all through the gospel: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5. The old temple, priesthood, and sacrifices of the law, now have a spiritual meaning as found in the church and its service.

PROPOSITION 16. THE LAW WAS CHANGED. Jeremiah predicted that under the new covenant, God’s law would be written in the heart and not as it was before. “I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts.” Jer. 31:33. Paul refers to this when he says, Ye are our epistle “written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” 2 Cor. 3:3. So then God’s law is not now written on tables of stone as at Sinai. This is a square contradiction to what Adventists teach. They claim that God’s law is still on stones in heaven the same as of old. Paul says no, it is written by the spirit upon the heart.

This implied a radical change in the form of the law and the way it was to be taught. In Heb. 7:12, it is expressly declared that “there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” The letter of the Jewish law is wholly unfitted to the condition of the Christian church. It can only be a guide to us as modified and interpreted by the gospel. But in the gospel there is no injunction to keep the seventh day or circumcision law. Hence the letter of that command does not concern us.

PROPOSITION 17. THE WHOLE MOSAIC SYSTEM ENDED AT THE CROSS. Surely this is so plainly taught all through the New Testament that no one should deny it. But we have clearly proved that “the law” included the whole code of laws given to Israel at Sinai, moral, civil, and ceremonial precepts, decalogue and all.

That entire system of law was framed to fit the Jewish age and could not possibly be applied to Gentile Christians in all parts of the world. Hence a “new way,” Heb. 10:20, a “new covenant,” Heb. 8:13, a new “ministration,” 2 Cor. 3:8, was introduced, so there was “made of necessity a change also of the law,” Heb. 7:12.

Examine carefully a few texts to which I will refer. “The law was given by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. This teaches a change. “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Rom. 6:14. “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster,” Gal. 3:24, 25. “Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ,” Rom. 7:4. “Now we are delivered from the law,” verse 6. “Christ is the end of the law,” Rom. 10:4. “The ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious.” “That which is done away was glorious,” 2 Cor. 3:7, 10. That ends the decalogue.

“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances,” Eph. 2:15. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” “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 the Sabbath days,” Col. 2:14, 16, “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.” “For the law made nothing perfect but the bringing in of a better hope.” Heb. 7:12, 18, 19.

Read Acts 15:1-29 and see this whole matter of “the law” discussed by the apostles and settled in these words:

“Forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, YE MUST be circumcised, and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment.” Verse 24.

The, decision is positive and clear: the apostles gave no commandment to “keep the law.” It does not say “ceremonial law,” or a part of the law, but simply “the law.” Adventists say we must keep the law or “ye can not be saved,” exactly what those Judaizers said, verse 1, and just what the council condemned.

Circumcision was specially mentioned because it was the initiatory rite, the sign which represented the whole law. Thus when a Gentile would partake of the privileges of the nation, he had first to be circumcised. Ex. 12:48. To be uncircumcised was to be a heathen, unclean, and lost; to be circumcised was to be an Israelite, a member of the holy nation.

Hence circumcision represented the whole law of Moses in all its parts.

Elder Butler, Adventist leader, has to confess this. He says: “The term ‘the law,’ among the Jews generally included the five books of Moses, thus including the whole system, moral, ritual, typical, and civil. This as a system these Judaizing teachers desired to maintain. Circumcision was a sign of the whole.” Law in Galatians, page 70.

Never was a truer statement.

Circumcision was the sign of the whole Mosaic system, moral, typical, civil, all that was written in the five books of Moses, of which the decalogue was a chief part. The apostles decided that Gentile believers were free from this whole system of law. Put with Butler’s statement this from Elder Smith, another leading Adventist, and you have the whole truth:

That which was abolished at the cross was an entire system. God did not single out and abolish portions and pieces of some arrangement or system, and leave other parts remaining.” Synopsis of Present Truth, page 259.

Correct; the whole system ended at the cross.

PROPOSITION 18. NO PART OF GOD’S GREAT SPIRITUAL LAW WAS ABOLISHED, RE-ENACTED, OR CHANGED AT THE CROSS. Adventists make a great ado over the absurdity of the idea that God should abolish his law at the cross and then immediately re-enact nine-tenths of it. They say, as well cut off your ten fingers to get rid of one bad one and then stick nine on again. So they go on with a whole jumble of absurdities involved in the position that God’s moral law was abolished at the cross and a new one given. But this is only a man of straw of their own making and hence easily demolished.

We hold no such absurd position. God’s great moral law is unchangeable.

 But the Mosaic law was only a national one founded upon the principles of God’s moral law. Even while it existed it did not supersede God’s higher law, and when it ended it in no way affected God’s law, which continued right on unchanged and unchangeable.

To illustrate:

The state law of Michigan forbids murder, theft and adultery. In these items it is founded upon God’s moral law. Now abolish the law of Michigan. Does that abolish God’s law? No.

So with the state law of Israel. Neither its enactment on Sinai nor its abolition at the cross in any way changed God’s great moral law by which he will judge the world. The Advent absurdities grew out of their own false theory, that is all.

Adventists agree with us that the law of Moses, Acts 15:5, was abolished. Well, that law contained many precepts as purely moral as anything in the decalogue.

Here are some: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” Deut. 6:5. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.” Lev. 19:11, 18.

Scores of such precepts are all through this law which they admit was abolished. They are just as moral, spiritual, and necessary as anything in the ten commandments, and yet all this law was abolished as they admit. But did that abolish the duty enjoined in these precepts? No, because they were inherent in a higher law.

Just so every moral principle involved in the decalogue existed in a higher law before that document was given, and so did not cease when that law expired.

Elder White himself makes this admission: “The ten commandments are adapted to fallen beings. As worded in the sacred Scripture, they are not adapted to the condition of holy angels, nor to man in his holy estate in Eden. * * * But the two grand principles of God’s moral government did exist before the fall, in the form of law. * * * These two great commandments embrace all that is required by the ten precepts of the decalogue.” Law and Gospel, pages 4, 5. Good and true.

Then the ten commandments are not God’s primary law. They are only temporary, while that containing all that is moral in them, and much more, continues always.

“The teachings of Christianity are facts and principles, not propositions and restrictions; its institutions are simple outlines, not precise ceremonies; and its laws are moral sentiments, not minute mechanical directions.” Pulpit Commentary on 2 Cor. 3:6.

This is the truth well put.

So the wicked who do not live by these principles, who do not love God nor their fellows, but who live selfish, corrupt lives, will be judged and condemned by these principles of God’s eternal law.

Catholic Church Changed the Sabbath?

Adventists and certain Sabbatarians claim that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday by the Catholic Church, and Constantine during the 3rd century. This is utterly false both Biblically and historically, as the practice of meeting on the first day started with the apostles, and continued with the early church in the 1st, 2nd centuries, and it continues till today given the commands, and example of the apostles, and early Christians.
Adventist misquote certain recent century Catholic and Protestant quotes : Catholic & Protestant Confessions as proof that the Catholic Church changed it. But in this Adventist ignore, fail to state, another claim which all these same Catholic authorities always make just as strongly, namely, that their Holy Catholic Church extends back to, and began with, the apostles, who started this practice of meeting on Sunday.
What about these Catholic and Protestant ‘Sabbath was changed’ quotes? 
Firstly, none of those quotes, whether from first or 20th century has any bearing on the Sabbath issue, because the New Testament has settled that the weekly ritual ceremonial Sabbath is a shadow, and is not binding on Christians. Christians can treat every day alike, or consider some days sacred (like the seventh day if you may). However, there is no command or obligation for Christians to observe the seventh day, or Sunday or any day  as a holy day or day of rest for that matter in the new testament (neither in Genesis).
Neither is there an example of Gentile Christians observing the Sabbath anywhere in the New Testament. Of course Jewish converts to Christianity observed not only the Sabbath days, feast days, circumcision laws, purification laws and other laws of the law of Moses, as the Jerusalem church shows in Acts (obviously for valid reasons as they took time to transition out of that old system), until God revealed through the apostles that they are shadows and are no longer binding.
Sabbath was purely a Jewish ritual law, and  none of the Sabbtarians today observe the God commanded Sabbath laws which require not worship or church attendance, but ceasing from labor on the seventh day (Ex. 20:9-10), no travelling (Ex 16:29-30) , no cooking (Ex. 16:23) , no buying (Neh 13:15-17), not working others (Ex. 20:9-10) in any way, among other things. Based on these specific Sabbaths commands, most Sabbatarians are Sabbath breakers.

Secondly, no where in Scripture is it stated that the Sabbath was changed from the 7th day to the 1st day.

If someone (CATHOLIC OR PROTESTANT) say that Sabbath was changed to 1st day from 7th, it is utterly false! Sunday is not a Christian Sabbath or a day of rest, or a holy day to be kept. It was a day Christians gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, for communion (Acts 20:7), and give offerings (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), and they did not view it as the Jewish Sabbath, for they believed that it was abolished (Col. 2:16).
Justin Martyr, an early christian apologist, who was born 70 years after Christ wrote: “Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly … Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead” (Apology, I.67).

The belief that the Sabbath was transferred to Sunday is an old error (puritans believed this Sunday Sabbath error, and some protestants still do; but we we disagree with).

The reformers, Calvin and Luther, were careful to state that the Sabbath was not binding on Christians as expressed in the new covenant, but they saw merit in taking a day for rest and worship. It was not until the English Reformation that the Decalogue Sabbath began being promoted. The chief proponents of this were the Puritans. They began to teach that the Sabbath (although they called Sunday the Sabbath) was not abolished, and they instituted strict rules according to the Old Testament regulations. This, of course, affected the other religious English groups, such as the Methodists and the Baptists. Many of these groups came to America, and New England became known for strict Sabbath (Sunday) observance.

WE BELIEVE THIS PURITAN INSPIRED CLAIMS ARE INACCURATE.

We believe what Jesus and the apostles taught was that the ritual Sabbath was a shadow that was fulfilled in Christ (not transferred to another day). These quotes by protestants do nothing to disprove or negate the teaching of the apostles that the ritual Sabbath was abolished!

In fact, this is exactly what some of these protestants that SDA’s fondly quote were also saying, ‘Sunday is not another Sabbath nor a day of rest nor a holy day‘, and neither were they promoting that the Jewish Sabbath should be observed and yet Adventists misquote these statements by ripping them out of their context, propagating that these authors supported the Jewish Sabbath day.

Take for example the quote SDA quote by the following protestant:

Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, Feb. 2, 1824,vol. 1. no. 7, p. 164. “‘But,’ say some, ‘it was changed from the seventh to the first day.’ Where? when? and by whom? No man can tell”
Absolutely true! The Sabbath was abolished, not changed to Sunday! Campbell taught that the Sabbath was abolished like most other protestant writers!
The first day of the week is commonly called the Sabbath. This is a mistake. The Sabbath of the Bible was the day just preceding the first day of the week. The first day of the week is never called the Sabbath anywhere in the entire Scriptures. It is also an error to talk about the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any place in the Bible any intimation of such a change.” (Alexander Campbell, First Day Observance, pp. 17, 19)

”Under the new constitution all disciples live if they knew it; and if you go back to Moses for a Sabbath, you may go back to him for a new moon, a holy day or what you please. And indeed we are, and must be confessed to be, either under the old constitution or the new. We cannot be under both. We cannot live under the English and American constitution at the same time. If I were to go to Moses for a “Seventh Day Sabbath,” I should not blush to take from him an eighth day circumcision or an annual passover. The Christian Baptist, Vol. 3 No. 1, August 1, 1825, pp. 177-178:

”He that keeps the Sabbath of the Jews is a debtor, to do the whole law (torah). The Sabbath could not be changed from the seventh day to the first day, for the reasons given for its observance; nor can the first day of the week be changed into a Jewish or Patriarchal Sabbath, for the reasons which consecrated it to the Lord. (Millennial Harbinger of 1837, p. 279)

So, the protestant quotes that SDA’s quote means nothing. They are misquoted!  Most of these protestants understood that the Bible teaches that Sabbath is a ritual law fulfilled at the cross, no more binding, and Sunday is not the Sabbath, but Sunday is a day for Christian common assembly.
What about the Catholic quotes?
Adventists assume and argue on the assumption that the “Catholic Church” began to be formed about three hundred years after Christ.  However, if the popes or Catholic Church, or Constantine did change the Sabbath (ex: 3rd century), the change could not have been made before that late date (ex:1st & 2nd century).  
Adventists find, and gladly quote, a large number of Catholic catechisms, Catholic priests, and Catholic challenges to Protestants, all boasting that the Holy Catholic Church changed the Sabbath.  Adventists say that this settles the question. 
 

But in this Adventist ignore, fail to state, another claim which all these same Catholic authorities always make just as strongly, namely, that their Holy Catholic Church extends back to, and began with, the apostles, and that the change was made by them.  If Adventists accept one claim of the Catholics, then, to be fair, they should accept both.  But this would overthrow their argument.

We wish Adventists might see error and stupidity in presenting all these statements trying to prove their case and tell the whole truth! 

We will begin with the very highest authority, in the Catholic Church – the Council of Trent. “The Catechism of the Council of Trent,” published by order of Pius IV, contains the creed of the Church.  Every member has to swear to this creed when he joins the Church, hence it is authoritative.  It devotes eight pages to the Sabbath question.  It says:

The Sabbath was kept holy from the time of the liberation of the people of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh; the obligation was to cease with the abrogation of the Jewish worship, of which it formed a part; and it therefore was no longer obligatory after the death of Christ. The apostles therefore resolved to consecrate the first day of the week to the divine worship, and called it ‘the Lord’s Day’; St.  John, in the Apocalypse, makes mention of ‘the Lord’s Day’; and the apostle commands collection to be made ‘on the first day of the week,’ that is, according to the interpretation of St.  Chrysostom, on the Lord’s Day;” (pages 264, 265).

Notice that this creed says the apostles consecrated the day; it was was called the Lord’s Day.  The Scriptures are quoted to prove all this.  This is the creed of the Roman Church.

Any Catholic priest or writer teaching differently contradicts the sacred creed of his own Church and violates his oath to believe and teach it. Only a misinformed, uneducated group of men, could misquote such statements!

The following is a decisive witness to the position of the Catholic Church as to when they say the day was changed and who changed it.  It is a comment on Acts 20:7, in the Catholic Bible itself.  Observe how they place the change:

”And on the first day of the week.’ Here St.  Chrysostom, with many other interpreters of the Scripture, explain that the Christians, even at this time, must have changed the Sabbath into the first day of the week (the Lord’s Day), as all Christians now keep it: This change was undoubtedly made by the authority of the Church: hence the exercise of the power which Christ had given to her; for He is Lord of the Sabbath.”

In 1913 Monsignor John Bunyan was the special representative of the Pope in America.  Next to the Pope, he was then the highest official authority of that Church in the United States, and what he says is authoritative.  “Why Sunday is the First Day” was the title of an article he furnished the Washington Times, October 11, 1913.  He says:

“In the New Law the time for the fulfillment of this [Sabbath] obligation was changed by the apostles from the Sabbath, or the seventh day of the week, to Sunday, or the first day of the week, primarily to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who, early in the morning on the first day of the week, arose, glorious and triumphant, from the dead.  Hence it is that in Scripture, the first, day of the week is called the ‘Lord’s Day’ (Rev 1:10).  It was also on this same day of the week that the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, and that the faith and law of Christ was for the first time solemnly published to the world by them.”

On this the Advent Review and Herald, October 23, 1913, says:

“As we read this article we should not forget that we are reading the deliberate declaration of the highest official in America of that Church which claims to reach back to Apostolic days.”

Here, then, by the highest authority deliberately stated, is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as to who changed the Sabbath and the time when it was done.  It was done by the apostles, in the time of the apostles.  All Seventh-Day Adventists certainly know this, for it was published by the editor in their official organ, The Advent Review.  Now will they cease teaching that the Catholic Church claims to have changed the Sabbath several hundred years after Christ without Apostolic authority?  PLEASE NOTE the question here is not whether the apostles really did make the change, and all their claims about the sanctity of sunday or if Sunday is the Sabbath, but what does the Catholic Church claim about it, and when they say they did it?  The papal delegate has settled that.

Cardinal Gibbons comes next in authority. Here is the answer:

Baltimore, Md.,July 1896

Dear Sir: In reply to your favor of the 20th inst., to his Eminence the Cardinal, I beg to say:

First.  The Catholic Church dates back to the day when our Lord made St.  Peter the visible head of the Church, and when St.  Peter established, first at Antioch, then at Rome, the seat of his residence and jurisdiction.

In these days and those immediately following, we find traces of the beginning of the custom of the Sunday observance.  You may refer to the Christian writers of that period.  (Confer Ignatius ad Magnes, 9; Justin Martyr, 1, Apol.  59; Tertul., Apol.  16.) All these writers speak of the Sunday as the Lord’s Day; no other more distinct trace has been preserved, and the mention which occurs in the following centuries rests on the fact of a previous custom more or less general.

After the Cardinal, the next highest dignitary in America is Archbishop Ireland.  In answer to our question as to when the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath, this high prelate answered as follows:

St.  Paul, March 1914

My dear Sir:

In answer to your question I would state that the Jewish Sabbath was simply a positive precept in the Mosaic law and lapsed with that law.  The apostles and early Christians instituted the Sunday as a day of special prayer in honor of the great mysteries of the Christian religion, the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, both occurring on the first day of the week.

Very sincerely, JOHN IRELAND.

That is clear, positive, and directly to the point.  Here is another high Catholic authority, “The Catholic Encyclopedia on Doctrine,” Article, “Sunday”:

“Sunday was the first day of the week according to the Jewish method of reckoning time, but for the Christians it began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in apostolic times as the day set apart for the public solemn worship of God” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10).

The same Encyclopedia, Article, “Sabbath,” says:

St.  Paul enumerates the Sabbath among the Jewish observances which are not obligatory on Christians (Col.  2:16; Gal.  4:9-10; Rom.  14:5).  The Gentile converts held their religious meetings on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2), and with the disappearance of the Jewish Church, with the Christian Churches the day was exclusively observed as the” Lord’s Day.”

Notice that Catholics quote the same texts as Protestants do to indicate the change.  They trace its origin to the New Testament and thus claim Scripture authority for it.  It will be seen that all these high Catholic authorities agree in locating the change in the days of the apostles and by the apostles.

The following is from “The Catholic Dictionary, the Universal Christian Educator, Containing Doctrine of the Church,” by Rev.  Wm.  A.  Addis and Thomas Arnold, A.M., both of the Royal University of Ireland.  Endorsed by Cardinal Manning and Cardinal McClosky.  There could be no better Catholic authority.  Now read, Article, “Sunday”:

The precept of observing the Sabbath was completely abrogated in the Christian Church.  In commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, the Church observes Sunday.  The observance does not rest on any positive law, of which there is no trace.  Sunday is of merely ecclesiastical institution, dating however from the time of the apostles.  Such is the opinion of St.  Thomas.  The Scripture given above (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10) shows that the observance of Sunday had begun in the apostolic age; but even were Scripture silent, tradition would put the point beyond doubt.”

I quote all these to show only one point; viz., the time when Catholics claim the change was made by the Church.  They all say it was made by the apostles.  No other date is given or suggested.

Now read the written testimony of two Catholic priests:

TESTIMONY OF A CATHOLIC PRIEST

“Having lived for years among the Seventh-Day Adventists, I am familiar with their claims that the Pope of Rome changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week.  Such assertions are wholly unfounded.  Catholics claim no such thing; but maintain that the apostles themselves established the observance of Sunday and that we received it by tradition from them. The councils and Popes afterwards simply confirmed the keeping of the day as received from the apostles.” JOHN MEILER, Rector of St.  John’s Church, Healdsburg, Cal.

A leading Catholic priest of Grand Rapids, Mich., who readily signed it, as will be seen below:

“The Catholic doctrine of the change of the Sabbath is this:

The apostles, by instruction from Jesus Christ, changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Ghost, both of which occurred on Sunday.  The change was made by the apostles themselves, and hence by divine authority, at the very beginning of the Church.  There are references to this change in Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:1, 2; Rev.  1:10, etc.  Yet these texts do not state positively such a change; hence Catholics go to the statements of the early Christian Fathers, where this change by the apostles is confirmed and put beyond doubt.

Catholics also rely upon the tradition of the Church which says that the change was made by the apostles.  Catholics never teach that the change of the day was made by the Church two or three hundred years after Christ.  Such a statement would be contrary to all the facts of history and the traditions of the Church.

Even SDA top scholar Samuel Bachiochi proved that Ellen White is a false prophet and her denominations claim that Pope changed the Sabbath was false: I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sundaykeeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise. ( “Free Catholic Mailing List” on 8 Feb 1997)

Not just history, and the new testament, and even SDA scholars admit that all SDA claims about WHEN AND WHO DID THE CHANGE are wrong, and not to be trusted!

Here’s more:

“The Holy Catholic Church began with the apostles.  St.  Peter was the first Pope.  Hence, when they say that the Church changed the Sabbath, they mean that it was done by the Church in the days of the apostles.  Neither the Church nor the Pope, two or three hundred years after the apostles, had anything whatever to do with changing the Sabbath, for the change had been made ages before.  Catholics do not call the first day of the week the Sabbath, for that was Saturday; but they call it Sunday, or the Lord’s Day.  This above statement by Rev.  D.  M.  Canright is true and pure Catholic doctrine.” Rev.  James C.  Pulcher, Pastor of St.  James’ Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.

See how all these Catholic authorities agree.  Now come to the catechisms which Adventists are so fond of quoting.  This is from a ” Systematic Study of the Catholic Religion.” It is the one used by all students in the Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.  On page 294 I read, “The Church from the time of the apostles has changed the Sabbath into the Lord’s Day.” In the Advent book, “Who Changed the Sabbath?” page 9, the following is quoted from the “Catholic Christian Instructed.”

“Quest.  What are the days which the Church commands to be kept holy?

“Ans.  The Sunday, or our Lord’s Day, which we observe by apostolic tradition instead of the Sabbath.”

You see this catechism refers the change of the Sabbath back to the apostles the same as all other Catholic writers do.  The Church did this in the time of the apostles, Here follows another from the same catechism:

“Quest.  What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday, preferable to the ancient Sabbath, which was the Saturday?

” Ans.  We have for it the authority of the Catholic Church, and apostolic tradition.”

Here we are again referred right back to the apostles as before.

“A Full Course of Instruction in Explanation of the Catechism,” by Rev.  J.  Perry, edited and adapted to the present wants of Colleges, Academies, and Private Families, by a priest of the Mission.  It is endorsed by the Archbishop of St.  Louis, Mo.  Notice that this is the authority studied in families, high schools, colleges, and academies.  Is there any better witness?  Now read: “Third [Sabbath] commandment.  Its obligation transferred from Saturday to Sunday.”

“What day of the week is the seventh day or Sabbath Day?” “It is Saturday.” “Then why do we not keep Saturday holy?” ” Because the Church in the apostles’ time transferred the obligation from the seventh to the first day of the week.” “Why was this done?” “In honor of Jesus Christ, and therefore the first day of the week is called the Lord’s Day (Rev.  1:10).  It was on the first day of the week (or Sunday) that Christ rose from the dead; that He commissioned His apostles to teach all nations; that He empowered them to forgive sins; that He sent down upon them the Holy Ghost; it was on this day that the apostles began to preach the doctrines of Christ and to establish the Christian religion “(pages 168-169).

But do not the catechism and Catholic writers, when controverting Protestants, assert that the “Holy Catholic Church” changed the day?  Certainly, but they also claim that the Catholic Church began with the apostles who changed the day.  Do not Adventists know this?  Yes.  Why, then, do they not tell the whole facts in the case? Let them answer.

Consider the high Catholic authorities quoted on this subject – the Council of Trent; the papal delegate, Cardinal Gibbons; Archbishop Ireland; the Catholic Encyclopedia; the Catholic Dictionary; written statements of priests; and the teachings of the catechism.  All agree that the change in the day was made by the apostles.  Beyond dispute, this establishes the doctrine of the Catholic Church on the origin of the Lord’s Day.  Not a single Catholic authority can be quoted teaching that the change of the Sabbath was made by the Popes or by the Papacy centuries later. 

That is purely an invention of Seventh-Day Adventists.  Here, then, is the testimony of the millions of Roman Catholics, all agreeing that the observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day originated with the apostles.  Now if Adventists quote the Catholics, then let them abide by their testimony.

Now read “Rome’s Challenge,” “Father Enright’s Challenge,” and a lot of other Catholic “challenges,” which Adventists gleefully gather up and endorse and peddle the world over as unanswerable. 

Read them very carefully and notice particularly that not one of these Catholic “challenges” ever locates the time when the “Catholic Church” made the change.  In all these “Challenges” they adroitly leave this point out, and presume on the ignorance of the general public, which supposes that the Catholic Church began centuries after Christ.  Then Adventists take advantage of this popular idea of the Catholic Church and locate the change about 300 years after Christ.  Such deception is unworthy of Christian teachers.

The position of Protestants on the abolition of the Sabbath is so well known that no proof need be given.  All hold that apostles came together on first day.   Catholics claim just the same as Protestants do that the change of the day was made in the time of the apostles and by the apostles and quote Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10 to prove it just as Protestants do.  The only difference is that Roman Catholics claim that their Church goes back to the apostles, begins with them and includes them.  Hence, when the apostles changed the day it was done by the “Holy Catholic Church.”

That is the whole of it.  This is exactly what all Protestants teach, except that they deny that the apostles were Roman Catholics.  Adventists deny it too.  So as to when, why, where, and by whom the day was changed Catholics agree exactly with Protestants, and contradict what Adventists quote them to prove.  Reader, remember this, and that Adventist bugbear will frighten you no more.

Hastings’ “Dictionary of the Bible,” Article “Lord’s Day,” says, “When Jesus uttered the cry, ‘It is finished,’ the Mosaic dispensation virtually passed away.  His Resurrection, Ascension, and Outpouring of the Holy Spirit were successive affirmations of the great fact, and the destruction of the temple made it plain to all but the blindest.  But in the meantime nothing is more striking than the tender way in which the apostles and Christians of Jewish birth were weaned from the old religion.  The dead leaves of Judaism fell off gradually.  They were not rudely torn off by man.  The new facts, the new dogmas, the new ordinances first established themselves, and then, little by little, the incompatibility of the old and the new was realized which necessarily issued in the casting off of the old as apostles instructed these through divine inspiration.

“The old things of Judaism were made new in Christianity.  This, however, was not accomplished by a deliberate substitution of one ordinance for another; but first the old ordinances were simply antiquated, and their experience matured under the influence of the Holy Spirit, proved that the positive institutions of the new religion more than fulfilled those of the old.” “Jesus enunciated the great truths of the Gospel, and left them to germinate and bear fruit through their own inherent power”.

Adventists are very good at accumulating out of context quotes to uphold their view that the Sabbath was always the day Christians observed until the Catholic Church changed the day. 

Scripture shows that there is no Sabbath in Genesis, the Jewish Sabbath is a ritual done away, and Christians can treat every day alike. The only recorded times Paul went to the synagogue was when he was preaching to the Jews upon his arrival in any town. He preached on Sabbath until they threw him out; he did not go to the synagogue to worship because He was keeping the day holy. Rather, he was doing it to fulfill the Lord’s commission and his own commitment to preach to the Jews first and also to the Greeks.  

The Biblical record show that apostles met on the first day, and also the writings of the early Christians, church fathers, historians show that the first and second century Christians came together on the first (or sometimes called the eighth) day. So what nonsense it is to claim that a change happened in 3rd century when the change had happened already!

There have always been a few sabbatarians, but never the mainstream.  They have always been fringe groups and considered heretical or cultic by the main church. Most of them were rooted in Judaism and not gentile churches. Then, Sabbatarians began to be resurrected England in the time of the Reformation, over five hundred years ago. Yet, they remain outside mainstream till today. 

Adapted: Catholics and the Change of the Sabbath by Dudley Marvin. Retrieved from: loudcry.org

Sabbath is a ritual law, not moral

The evidence for the Sabbath being a ritual ceremonial law is overwhelming.

The Bible is clear that the weekly ritual Jewish Sabbath is not the same rest as God’s seventh day rest in Genesis (Hebrews 4; see Sabbathismos).

The Decalogue had the ritual Sabbath (the only ritual law in the ten commandments), as a sign of the covenant only for Israel.

The uniform testimony of the prophets, Jesus, apostles, mainstream Jews, early church fathers, and the protestant reformers is this: Sabbath is a ritual ceremonial law. Let’s examine these things to see if they are so.

 

1) The Scriptures clearly state that the weekly Sabbath is a feast day.

Leviticus 23 is the one chapter in the Bible that lists all of God’s feasts – the weekly Sabbath as well as the other Holy Days. Weekly Sabbath is one of Gods’ appointed FEASTS!

Lev 23:1-24 “The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are MY APPOINTED FEASTS, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as SACRED assemblies. “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD. “The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering..On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.'” The LORD said to Moses, “Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. ”  ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work. (“These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the LORD by fire–the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)  So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of the LORD.

How clear can it be? It is claimed by Seventh-Day Adventists that the Lord here separates out the Sabbath from all other holy days, showing that it is of a different nature, in these words, verses 37, 38: “These are the feasts of the Lord: beside the Sabbaths of the Lord.” Yes, but read the whole verse, “Beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your free-will offerings, which ye give unto the Lord.”

Not only the Sabbath, but gifts, vows and offerings are also excepted with the Sabbath in the same verse. The idea is this: the Sabbath, the gifts, vows and offerings are of regular weekly or daily occurrence, whereas the other holy days and special offerings were to come only once a year at stated seasons. When these yearly offerings and holy days came at the same time of the regular daily or weekly service they were not to take the place of the regular daily and weekly services, but must be observed besides all these. Any one can see that this is the simple meaning of the words “beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts,” etc. The idea is not to distinguish the Sabbath above the other feasts, but to say that these must be kept in addition to the regular service of the Sabbath and the daily offerings. 

It’s very plain to see what the Sabbath of the decalogue belongs to. It’s a feast day, a ceremonial law, a ritual law.

Simply because Sabbath is placed within the Ten Commandments (location) doesn’t make it a moral law. The reason why Sabbath is categorized with feast days, and ritual law is because it is a feast day, a ritual law. The reason why it is in the ten commandment is because the ten commandments followed a similar pattern to covenant agreements made by people those days. Covenants contained three parts: Promise, Condition, Sign. For instance, a KING would make a covenant with his conquered NATION, not to kill (Promise), if they provide grain and food (Condition). The (Sign) was often arbitrary and could be an earring in the left ear, an ankle bracelet, or any other external sign. Similarly, the Sabbath was the ‘sign [of the covenant] between me [God] and you (Israel)” (Exodus 31:13).

Almost all Sabbatarian groups like the United Church of God, and many others accept that Sabbath is a feast day, and hence they keep all feasts including the weekly Sabbath, unlike SDA’s .

2) The expression “to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day” is used throughout the Old Testament and it is used in ascending or descending order repeatedly and always refers to the weekly, monthly and yearly festivities. 

1 Chron 23:31 “And whenever burnt offerings were presented to the LORD on Sabbaths and at New Moon festivals and at appointed feasts. They were to serve before the LORD regularly in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them.” (here weekly, monthly and yearly is stated).

a) God categorizes Sabbath with new moons and other festivals. Clearly, Sabbath is a ceremonial feast day, a ritual law!

Isaih 66:23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD.

b) In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to the weekly Sabbath, one of God’s feast days as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come.

Colossians 2:16-17 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ 

In fact, “Sabbaton” is translated as “weekly Sabbath” 61 times in the New Testament.  Only here in Colossians 2:17 would sabbatarians want to desperately argue that “sabbaton” no longer means the weekly Sabbath day, but even prominent Sabbatarian scholars (including SDA scholars) have eventually concurred that the weekly Sabbath is referred here.

3) The Sabbath is not a moral law because the priests were allowed to profane it 

Matthew 12:5-8 Or have ye not read in the law, how that ON THE SABBATH DAYS THE PRIESTS IN THE TEMPLE PROFANE THE SABBATH, AND ARE BLAMELESS?

Sabbath was a law that could be broken, set aside, and profaned for various reasons without sin (blameless). Which moral law can be profaned? No moral law could be profaned or set aside under any circumstances . Christian are not above it, but are subject to those moral laws (see: Matt 12:5; Num 28:9-10; Josh 6:15; 1 Ki 20:29; Jn 5:10).

4) The Sabbath is not a moral law because Jesus broke the ritual Sabbath without sin (John 5:10)  just like priests could break it and be blameless. He also defended breaking it and gave examples.

John 5:10. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR THEE TO CARRY THY BED.

Jews were pointing to a law that the Lord Yahweh gave Israel. Note it is not a law that Pharisees or rabbis added to the Sabbath; it is a law God commanded Israel.

Jeremiah 17:21 Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and BEAR NO BURDEN ON THE SABBATH DAY, NOR BRING IT IN BY THE GATES OF JERUSALEM

John 5:10 so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.

Whatever your interpretation or the interpretation of the Jews on NO BURDEN, the letter of the law said NO burden! While Jews had their rabbinic laws added to the Sabbath, however their accusation against Jesus for breaking the Sabbath law is not based on their added laws, but based on the Torah, THUS SAITH THE LORD (Jeremiah 17:21). This will be proven when Jesus defends Sabbath breaking from the Law of God itself (see point 5).

This is not the only incident. Similarly, Pharisees saw disciples going out and picking grain on the Sabbath as Sabbath law breaking because GOD (not their traditions) commanded Israel to stay in one place on the Sabbath, and prepare food on Friday (Ex 16:29-30). That was how they were instructed to observe Sabbath holy. Jesus once again doesn’t conform to the letter of these Sabbath laws. Moreover, Jesus broke ritual laws on uncleanliness without sin. He touched people with skin diseases, leprosy, blood flows (Leviticus 15:7–8; Matthew 8:3) when the law prohibited touching unclean people. Of course He did it for a purpose and to heal people. There is also a greater message here.

In these circumstances, Pharisees understood Jesus was claiming to be God, and breaking the letter of the Sabbath commandment of the Lord. Both accusations have weight:

John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

What pharisees failed to see was that not only was Jesus claiming to be the divine Messiah, but the shadows (ritual Sabbath, Cleansing laws) loses their significance when they had the reality (Jesus). Jesus went on to say, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt. 11:28). True rest is not found in a day but a person. That’s why Paul says Sabbath was a shadow, and the reality is Christ (Col 2:16, 17). 

5) When Jesus’ disciples were hungry on a Sabbath day, and they were picking some heads of grain in a field to eat them. They were accused of breaking the Sabbath: Matt 12:1-6 “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.'”

Jesus defends His disciples and His Sabbath actions with 2 arguments:

  1. Matt. 12:3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread-which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.

Please ask yourselves: What type of law was David breaking? Moral or ceremonial? It is obvious, it was ceremonial. David was never above the moral law. He had to pay dearly for his sin with Bathseba!

2. Matt. 12:5 “Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?”

Again, giving precedence to the ceremonial priestly law over the Sabbath.

In both of these scenarios given by Jesus Himself, what category is the Sabbath placed under? Moral or ceremonial? 

If David could break the ceremonial law, if priests could break the Sabbath, and if circumcision could be carried out on Sabbath, then Jesus is over and above the ceremonial Sabbath law. Jesus is: Matt 12:8 “Lord of the Sabbath.” This was Jesus’ response and this further shows that he not only broke the letter of the Sabbath law without sin, but he defended breaking it citing Scripture and taught that the ritual Sabbath can be set aside, or broken without sin.

Now let me ask you another question. Could an Israelite kill someone in order to circumcise his child? Could a Jew steal in order to circumcise his child? Could a priest covet in order to do his calling? No, never. These ceremonial laws were never seen as being above the moral law! Why, then, could they break the Sabbath law in favour of their ceremonial law? Why is it that they could not break 9 moral commands in the ten commandments or thousands of morals laws in the Bible for any reason, but the law about the Sabbath could be broken in favour of the ceremonial law? Think about it!

5) Sabbath is not a moral law because the Israelites could honour their ceremonial laws above the Sabbath law.

Jesus Himself declared:

John 7:21-23 “Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?”

Circumcision took precedence over Sabbath. The law of Moses stated that every male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day. If this day happened to fall on the Sabbath day, the child would be circumcised, despite the fact that this was working on the Sabbath day of rest and breaking it! Clearly showing Sabbath is ceremonial, and circumcision had higher value as a ritual more than Sabbath. The message was no one was expected to observe the rituals  like the Sabbath unless they became Jews first through circumcision, the entrance sign of the old covenant.

6) The Prophets treated Sabbath as a Ceremonial Law.

Isaiah 1:13: “Bring no more futile sacrificeincense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the SABBATHS, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts, My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.”

Here God counts all the SABBATHS along with the rest of the Ceremonial Law, when He tells Israel not to bother keeping it (even though He had ordained it), because it has no value to Him with Israel in sin. However God would never command Israel to stop keeping any of the Moral Law! The Sabbath is Ceremonial!

Hosea 2:11: “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, Her feast days, Her New Moons, Her Sabbaths – all her appointed feasts.” 


Again God classifies the Sabbaths among the Ceremonial Laws, and who are we to do otherwise? According to this prophecy, it is God Who will cause Israel’s Sabbaths to cease for a period of time. That is, He will cancel His Sabbath Command to Israel. He fulfilled this prophecy by annulling the Old Covenant and bringing in the New Covenant for this Dispensation, which has no Sabbath Law or feast days.

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Now it is not possible for God to cause His Moral Law to cease or pass away, as it is eternal and unchanging. Therefore all the things mentioned in this verse (including the Sabbaths) are Ceremonial.

8) The Law treats the Sabbath as ceremonial in nature by its requirements. 

Numbers 28:9-10 And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: This is the burnt offering of EVERY sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.

Sabbath was part of the ritual worship system of Israel, and when the priesthood change (Jesus is our high priest now), so did this ritual system of Sabbath law changed. It is not longer binding, not commanded in the new covenant, neither is there an example of Christians observing this ritual, but Christians have the liberty to observe it, but not to judge anyone if they don’t (Col. 2;16,17).

9) Whereas the MORAL Law of God is based on His nature and is eternal, transcending time and all covenants, circumstances and local conditions; the Sabbath Law, by nature and definition, is temporal and created, not eternal. It was given for the first time in Exodus 16 only to the Jews. There is no time in eternity, but Sabbath is based on earth-time, marking one day in seven, so it is clearly temporal and creational.

10)  A moral law, unlike a ceremonial or ritual law,  is in effect 24/7 (every nanosecond of time) and not merely once a year, season, month, or week. Also, moral laws are never trumped by any ceremonial laws (i.e., ritual circumcision on the eighth day, priestly sacrifices, weekly showbread placement, etc.), and they never allow any exceptions due to works of charity, mercy, or necessity for proper compliance. Surely, there is never a valid excuse to worship another god, to murder someone, to steal something, to commit adultery, etc.

11) Mark 2:27,28: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath”

Here Jesus was clearly correcting the error of the Jewish Rabbis who elevated the Sabbath above man. He points out that the Sabbath Law is not eternal, but that it it was made (created) for man. However, moral Law is before man and above man, but the Sabbath Law came after man, exists for man and so is under man, therefore the Son of Man who is Lord of the Sabbath, meaning have authority over the Sabbath, and is above it!

Jesus makes the statement that He is Lord over the Sabbath, after defending that He can break it and still be blameless  just like David could break the ritual law be blameless:

Mark 2:24-27 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?

25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”

27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

11) Moreover the Sabbath started at Moses (Ex. 16) – if it was a Moral Commandment it would have applied from the beginning. If the Sabbath is part of the eternal moral character of God, it would have been observed in heaven in eternity past before creation. Instead, the Sabbath was created for man under the Mosaic law, and it is related to the rotation cycle of earth. Unless heaven and other planets have the same rotation cycle it is irrelevant. Revelation indicates that the day-night cycle will cease in the new earth (Revelation 21:25), implying that there will be no Sabbaths.

13) Natural law and the conscience do not reveal that a man should observe a day or seventh day unless it is commanded.

Rom. 2:14‑15 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”

Think about this for a moment. Regardless of what country, what culture or language you were raised with we ALL have morality stamped within our conscience. Adolescent children all around the world naturally know it is wrong to lie, to steal, and to murder and commit adultery – this is how gentiles knew about the moral law of God even without the LAW. However no one naturally feels guilty about not resting 1 day in 7. That is the difference between a rule that is based on moral right and wrong, and a rule that is practiced because of a ceremonial nature.

Man’s conscience does not naturally tell him that he is being immoral, if he does some work on a Saturday, whereas it would convict him of sin, if he broke any of the moral commands. Therefore our God-given conscience tells us that by its very nature, the Sabbath is not absolute Moral Law.

14) If the Sabbath Law was Moral Law, it would have also been included in the New Testament, but it is not, in contrast to all the other 9 Commandments, and thousands of moral commands which are all clearly moral.

Although Jesus kept the Sabbath as a Jew who lived under the Law before the Cross, that is no basis for us to keep the Sabbath today. He also observed circumcision which is superior to Sabbath law and many other laws in the Mosaic law. Should we too?

Although He gave us many Commandments for the new dispensation, He never gave the Sabbath Law. Not only is it absent from the teaching of Jesus, but also from the teaching of His Apostles, and from example of gentile Christians (see no Christian Sabbath keeping in Acts). This would be a glaring omission if it were a vital moral Commandment that we had to keep. This is especially true, with all the Gentiles coming into the Church, who were not used to keeping the SabbathIf it was an eternal Moral Law, then it would be a major New Testament teaching, and one of the main things that would have had to be taught to new converts. If the Sabbath was Law for us now, it would surely be in the New Testament. The absence of the Sabbath Law in the New Testament is further proof that it is Ceremonial just like the Bible states it.

In fact, when the issue arose concerning what parts of the Law of Moses the Gentile converts should keep, there was a Church Council to decide the issue (Acts 15:1-29) and the Sabbath was not even mentioned. When the leaders gave the list of requirements for believing Gentiles to keep, the Sabbath was not included, in fact there was nothing specifically from the Law of Moses that was given for the believing Gentiles to keep. If God wants New Testament Gentile believers to obey the Sabbath then surely it would have been brought up in Acts 15.

Paul explicitly states in Col 2:16, 17 that the weekly Sabbath was a shadow that pointed to Jesus, and that as such it is not the basis for judgment of a Christian.

Further, God condemned heathen gentile nations for murder, idol worship, child sacrifices but never for not observing the Sabbath in the old testament. There is no command or even an example of anyone observe the seventh day in Genesis. If Sabbath is so vital, we would have had plenty of instructions for violating. Instead, the WEEKLY Sabbath was GIVEN only to the Jewish nation, and its SIGN, RITUAL distinguished them from the rest of the nations. Moral laws are for all people and they are never a SIGN such as circumcision, passover, sabbath!

15) Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, Luther, Calvin, all understood that Sabbath was ceremonial. None of these believed that the Pope or Roman Catholic church changed the Sabbath. Instead they saw that it was abrogated as clearly stated in the new testament and by the apostles.

Jesus taught that the Sabbath law is a ritual law unlike moral laws where people are not above it.

“The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27)

Mainstream Jews taught that Sabbath was not a universal moral law given to everyone but just the Jews:

The Jewish Talmud says: “The children of Noah…were given seven Laws only, the observance of the Sabbath not being among them.” (Soncino edition, p. 131),Sanhedrin 56 a, b; and Midrash Song of Songs Rabbah 1:2(5) (Soncino edition, pp. 26-27).

Jews believe that Sabbath is a ritual law, not a moral law; the only ritual law in the Ten (See: Jewfacts.org)

Apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit taught that in the new covenant, no one should judge anyone on the Sabbath, Christian can treat every day (all seven days) alike, those who insist on observing days for any reason connected to meriting favor from God do not understand the gospel:

Col. 2:16 ”Therefore do not let anyone judge you..with regard to a Sabbath day”

Rom. 14:5 ”One man regards a certain day above the others, while someone else considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind”

Gal 4: 10, 11 ”You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain

Testimony of the early church fathers, some of whom who learned from the mouth of the apostles was that Sabbath was not kept before Moses, nor is it binding in the new covenant:

Ignatius of Antioch (AD 110): ”If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death (Letter to the Magnesians(shorter) Chapter IX.—Let us live with Christ [A.D. 110]).

Justin Martyr (AD 155): For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham (The Second Apology of Justin for the Christians Addressed to the Roman Senate. Chapter XXIII.—The opinion of the Jews regarding the law does an injury to God).

Tertullian (AD 203): “Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath..(An Answer to the Jews Chapter II.—The Law Anterior to Moses. [A.D. 203]).

Augustine of Hippo (AD 400): When you ask why a Christian does not keep the Sabbath, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian does not keep the Sabbath precisely because what was prefigured in the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ. For we have our Sabbath in Him who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Reply to Faustus the Manichæan. Book XIX.-9)

Even SDA J.N Andrews admitted about early church fathers: “We must, therefore, pronounce Justin a man who held to the abrogation of the ten commandments, and that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution which was unknown before Moses, and of no authority since Christ. He held Sunday to be the most suitable day for public worship.” Page 44. This is the doctrine that the early church and fathers held. 

Martin Luther taught the validity of the moral law of the old covenant but saw Sabbath as ceremonial.

Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath day; for it teaches that since the gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of the old law can be omitted” (Article 28, The Augsburg Confession(1530)).

John Calvin wrote:

First, with the seventh day of rest the Lord wished to give to the people of Israel an image of spiritual rest…there is no doubt that it ceased in Christ (Col. 2:17),  Hence, though the sabbath is abrogated, it so happens among us that we still convene on certain days in order to hear the word of God” ([From Instruction in Faith, Calvin’s own 1537 digest of the Institutes, sec. 8, “The Law of the Lord”].


Sabbatarians falsely argue that the Sabbath law is a moral law merely because it is in the ten commandments.

What does the argument: “because it is in the 10 commandments” prove? NOTHING! The Sabbath law is not “moral” just because it was numbered with the other nine commandments. They are assuming the point to be proved and this is circular reasoning! What’s engraved on stone (ten) and with ink (ten including law of Moses) is done away (2 Cor. 3:7). In other words we don’t go to stones tables or law of Moses to know if killing is wrong. We go to the teaching of Jesus and the apostles who reiterates all moral principles of God, but who clearly states that many laws have changed now in the new covenant like circumcision, Sabbaths, dietary laws etc.

Another false Adventist argument is that the Sabbath law is moral BECAUSE violation was punishable by death: Ex 31:15;35:2. Yet the truth is that all the following non-moral or ceremonial laws were punishable by death:

  • For touching the Ark: 2 Sam 6:7
  • Aaron’s sons, (Nadab and Abihu) priests were killed for violating ceremonial law when offering incense to Jehovah: Lev 10:1-5
  • for touching the mount Horeb: Ex 19:12-13
  • Unauthorized entrance into the holy place of the tabernacle: Lev 16:2
  • For looking into the Ark: 1 Sam 6:19
  • For disobeying ceremonial commands of any Priest: Deuteronomy 17:12-13; Exodus 31:14 “Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.”

Sabbatarians are falsely taught that the Sabbath is moral because spoken by God verbally and personally written on stone. Yet God verbally and personally spoke many “ceremonial laws”, and what’s engraved on stone is done away:

  • God verbally and personally spoke many altar, sacrifice and offering laws at exactly the same time he have the 10 commandments: Ex 20:21-26
  • Sabbatarians would admit that the “foremost” moral law, to love God and your neighbour as yourself, was not even spoken verbally and personally by God. Mt 22:36-40. This alone proves that the “verbal/personal” argument is invalid!
  • God verbally and personally spoke to many from Adam to Moses regarding burnt offerings: Cain and Abel’s offerings
  • God verbally and personally spoke the land promise: Gen 17:8
  • God verbally and personally spoke the law of circumcision: Gen 17:10
  • God verbally and personally spoke to all these: Job 38:1; 42:7; 1 Ki 19:9,12; 1 Sam 23:12; 30:8,10; Ex 33:11; Num 12:8; Deut 5:3
  • The Bible nowhere teaches that things verbally, personally or handwritten by God are eternal! What’s one stone is out!

The Sabbath is moral and sacred inherently in itself?

  • Other than merely stating this, what proof do Sabbatarians offer??? None! But we can prove otherwise!
  • The First seventh day was sanctified not because it was inherently moral, but because God rested on that day! The seventh day was not holy because it was the seventh day, but because God declared it to be and MADE it holy above the other six days of the week after he rested on it!
  • [God made this specific day Holy, not every seventh day, and He did not command Adam and Eve to observe it! This day had a REST that was much bigger than a weekly rest as Hebrews 4 shows, and we can enter it every day, TODAY, as Hebrews 4 clearly states.
  • God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, but that does not mean that he required people to rest on it. As the Jubilee year shows (Lev. 25:8-12), time can be holy without requiring a rest.]
  • The day itself did not make it holy, resting on it did not make it holy, but God blessing and hallowing it did. Thus its holiness did not come from its own nature but from an act of God in blessing and hallowing it.
  • In this regard, the first seventh day is no more inherently “holy” than any of the other Jewish weekly Sabbath or other holy days that God blessed and set apart in the Law of Moses.
  • The Jewish weekly Sabbath was MADE in Exodus 16 for the first time, and was a shadow of God’s rest in Genesis.

Paul explicitly states in Col 2:16, 17 that this weekly Jewish Sabbath was a shadow that pointed to Jesus, and that as such it is not the basis for judgment of a Christian. He explicitly states in Romans 14 that Christians are free to observe special days, and Christians are free to treat very single day the same. Paul says explicitely in Gal. 4 that saying a person is required by God to keep special days and times and so forth, puts the Christian back into the slavery he was set free from.

(The above has been adapted from LoudCry.org, and various Sabbath articles)

The New & Old Covenants

No other subject perplexes Adventists so much as the covenants. They dread to meet it. They have tried various ways to explain it away, but they are not satisfactory even to themselves. I have been there and know. The abolition of the Sinatic covenant carries with it the abolition of the Jewish Sabbath so completely that no authoritative trace of it can be found this side of the grave of our risen Lord.

Adventist Elder Smith said: “If the ten commandments constituted the old covenant, then they are forever gone.” “This, therefore, becomes a test question.” Two Covenants, page 5. 

We will soon see the force of this. Jer. 31:31, 32, says: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

Here we learn these facts about the first, or old covenant:

1. It was made between God and Israel.

2. It was made when he brought them out of Egypt.

3. A new covenant is to be made.

4. It will not be according to the old one.

Adventists and all agree that this old covenant is found in Ex. 19 to 24. We all know that the ten commandments, how and why they were given, are the prominent things in those five chapters. We also know that they are called “the covenant,” that was given on Sinai or Horeb.

Thus: “And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

“The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” Deut. 4:12,13; 5:2,3. Then follows the ten commandments as the covenant named. Again: “The tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you.” Deut. 9:9. So also, “and he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” Ex. 34:28. Surely this is plain enough for a common man. 

What is a covenant? As the decalogue alone is not a mutual agreement, it must enter into, and so become a part of, some agreement, to be called the covenant as it is so frequently. Examining, we find that the decalogue was the very basis of the covenant at Sinai; the chief thing in the covenant between God and Israel. This even Elder Smith owns: “It was the basis of the whole arrangement.” The Two Covenants, page 10. Being the chief thing in the covenant, it is by way of eminence put for the whole and so called “the covenant.”

Opening to Ex. 19, we read: “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.” Verse 1. It was at Sinai as they came out of Egypt. Moses was mediator.

Verse 3. The Lord sends him to say to Israel “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.”

Verse. 5. Moses goes and repeats this offer to the Jews: they say: “All that the Lord hath said we will do.”

Verse 8. Here was an agreement, a covenant, between God and Israel. They agree to obey his voice. He agrees to bless them. Next they prepare to hear his voice. Verses 9-25.

In Chap. 20 God speaks the ten commandments and follows them with various precepts through Moses to the end of chapter 23, closing with a promise to bless their bread and water, to take away sickness from them, to drive out the Canaanites and give them the land

Chapter 24:1-8, relates how Moses then rehearsed to the people “all the words of the Lord and all the judgments.” Again they agree to obey.

Verse 3. Then “Moses wrote all the words of the Lord” in a book.

Verse 4. Assembling the people again, he read “the book of the covenant” to them, and the third time they say, “All that the Lord hath said we will do.” Verse 7.

Verse 8. “And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.’  

That closed the covenant. We know that this was the first, or old, covenant, for the author of Hebrews, quoting this very verse, says it was. Heb. 9:18-20. 

Heb 8:13-9:5

8:13  By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

9:1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lamp stand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

Notice that the Old Covenant included ceremonial aspects, and also the “stone tables of the covenant.”  It cannot be any clearer. That settles it.

How much did the covenant embrace? Only one truthful answer can be given, viz. All included in the record from Ex. 19:1 to Ex. 24:8, for this is the covenant in detail written out.

Is the decalogue included in it? As well deny that the sun shines, for there it is written out in full in the very heart of the covenant. Ex. 20:1-17. As Smith said above, “It was the basis of the whole arrangement.” It was so prominent a part of the covenant that it alone is put for the whole covenant, as we often speak of seeing a vessel, a house, or a river, when we saw only a part of it. 

Hence:

  • The stones on which the decalogue was written are called “the tables of the covenant,” Deut. 9:9
  • The book in which it was written was called “the book of the covenant,” Ex. 24:7
  • The ark in which it was deposited was called “the ark of the covenant,” Deut. 31:26.

But Ex. 19-24, is only an epitome of the covenant; for all the subsequent teachings of Moses are only a further explanation of it and belonged to it. Indeed, it gave its name to the whole Old Testament, that is, Old Covenant.

This covenant was only national and temporal, given only to the Jews and referred only to earthly blessings. It made no reference to the future life. It was an engagement of God, to give Israel possession of Canaan,” etc. “It did not refer to the final salvation of individuals.” On Ex. 19:5.

Now notice how plainly and how repeatedly the ten commandments are called “the covenant,” which God gave at Sinai to Israel when he brought them out of Egypt.

  • “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.” Deut. 4:13.
  • “When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you.” Deut. 9:9.

What covenant was on the tables of stone? The one the Lord made with them. Again he tells when it was made and what it was:

  • “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire (I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount), saying, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” Deut. 5:2-7. So He goes on giving the ten commandments. That ought to settle it. 
  • “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” Ex. 34:27, 28.

If that is not plain enough, what would be?

  • “There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.” “And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, which he made with our fathers when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.” 1 Kings, 8:9-21.
  • “And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, that he made with the children of Israel.” 2 Chron. 6:11.

This shuts off all possible doubt as to what the covenant was. 1) There was nothing in the ark except the tables of stone. 2) Yet in that ark was “the covenant of the Lord which he made with Israel when he brought them out of Egypt.” That certainly was the ten commandments. Elder Smith says: “If the ten commandments constituted the old covenant, then they are forever gone.Two Covenants, page 5. So they are indeed as we will now see.

That Covenant Is Done Away

As we have seen, Jeremiah, Chap. 31:31-34, foretold that the Lord would make a new covenant not according to the old one. The author of Hebrews quotes this in full and says it is fulfilled in the gospel, thus: 

“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Heb. 8:6-13.

Notice the points in this. 

1. Jesus is mediator of a better covenant than the old. Verse 6. Then we have something better than the decalogue. 

2. The new is established on better promises than the old, which as we have seen, were all temporal. See Ex. 23:22-33. But the promises of the new covenant are all spiritual. They are

(1) God’s laws are to be in their hearts.

(2) All shall know the Lord, as only converted souls will be admitted; whereas under the old, every member of the nation, good or bad, was a citizen.

(3) God will forgive and forget all their sins, and so they will all be saints and heirs of heaven.

(4) Hebrews says that if the first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second. 

This shows that the first covenant was always imperfect. Hence the Lord says he will make a new one, not according to the old one. Then we cannot have the old decalogue right over again unchanged. Finally, Hebrews says the first is made old and is ready to vanish away. That ends the old covenant, the one from Sinai, the ten commandments as the Bible shows.

In 2 Cor. 3 Paul makes it even plainer still that the decalogue has been removed.

Verse 3. “Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. verse 6. Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament [covenant] not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away; 8. How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9. For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 11. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. 13. And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14. But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ.”

Observe the following points: 

1. Verse 3 refers to the prophecy of Jeremiah that a new covenant would supersede the old one on stones. Now Paul says it is not written with ink as the law of Moses was in a book, nor on stones as the decalogue was, but by the spirit in the heart. The law in the book and on stones have both gone. 

2. Verse 6: he says the apostles do not minister the letter but the spirit. “The letter refers exclusively to *the law*.” “The context shows that by the letter he meant the old covenant and by the spirit the new.”

3. To put it beyond all doubt, as to what he means, Paul, in verse 7, specifies “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones.” Surely we know that this was the decalogue. This he calls “the ministration of death.” 

4. In verses 8 and 9 he calls the gospel “the ministration of the spirit” and “the ministration of righteousness” and says that it exceeds in glory the old ministration of death. 

5. To put it beyond doubt that he means the decalogue, he refers to the vail which Moses put over his face when he came down with the tables of stone in his hands. Compare verse 13 with Ex. 34:27-35.

6. Twice Paul directly names that which was “written in stone,” verses 3 and 7; once he says we do not minister the letter, verse 6; he says that that which was engraven in stones was the ministration of death, verse 7, and the “ministration of condemnation,” verse 9; then he says this was “abolished,” verse 13, and three times he says it “was done away,”verses 7, 11, 14. 7.

Compare verses 7 and 11. “The ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious” and “that which is done away was glorious;” the very thing which was written in stones in verse 7, is said to “be done away” in verse 11.

8. In verse 7 the ten commandments are evidently taken to represent the whole Mosaic dispensation. If these, the foundation of the whole system, are removed, then of course all the system must go with them. “The ten commandments thus written here represent the whole Mosaic economy.”

Adventists have tried to save their theory here by saying that in verse 7, “ministration” was not what was “engraven” in stones; but that “death” is what was written there. This will not do. In the Greek the word for engraven exactly agrees with *ministration* but does not agree with *death*, hence the decalogue is what is called “the ministration,” and that was done away. Dr. Adam Clarke says on this verse: “Here the apostle evidently intends the law.” “This ministration of death, the ten commandments, written on stones, a part of the Mosaic institution, being put for the whole, was glorious.”

The Pulpit Commentary on this verse says: “Literally, *engraved in* letters on stones (Ex. 31:18). The reference shows that, in speaking of ‘the letter,’ St. Paul was only thinking of the Mosaic Law, and indeed, specifically of the decalogue.” How can a candid man deny that Paul meant this very thing, the decalogue?

To the Galatians Paul also writes that the covenant of Sinai has gone. It will be seen that he uses “covenant” and “law” as synonymous, showing that the law was the covenant [cf: ”Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments (Mal. 4:4); ”The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb” (Deut. 5:2)].

“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” Gal. 4:21-24. Here the old law covenant of Sinai is declared to be “bondage” and he says “Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Chap. 5:1.

So in Heb. 12:18-24, Paul distinctly says that Christians do not go to Sinai and the thunders of the law, but they come to Jesus and the new covenantRead it all. Here are a few sentences:

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest. And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: But ye are come unto Mount Sion. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.”

Adventists are always dwelling upon the terrible scenes at Sinai at the giving of the law and pointing others there; but Paul says, No, do not go there; but to Mount Sion, to Jesus and the new covenant, to its teachings.

So Jeremiah predicted the rejection of the covenant in the ark and that instead of it, men would seek to the name of the Lord at Jerusalem where the gospel went forth.

“In those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, the ark of the, covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem.” Jer. 3:16,17.

Adventists are trying to revive the very thing the Lord said should be forgotten, “the ark of the covenant.” All their study and worship is centered around that just as of old with the Jews. But the effort is vain. God has said it. Since the cross Jesus and Jerusalem have been where all eyes have turned while the ark and old covenant are forgotten, just as the Lord said it would be. So Isa. 2:3; “Out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” There is where we now go for the law, not to the ark or to Sinai.

Adapted: Covenants by Dudley Marvin. Retrieved from : https://www.nonegw.org/canright/sdar19.htm

The Decalogue Examined

The Decalogue Examined


With Seventh-Day Adventists the decalogue is the one supreme moral and spiritual law of God, than which there is none higher. It is the law which governs the angels in heaven. It governs all men in all ages, and in the world to come. These tencommandments cover the whole duty of man, so that there is no sin which can be committed that is not a violation of this law, while at the same time it enjoins every virtue. 

But these claims are extravagant and unfounded. A desire to sustain the seventh-day Sabbath has led to this false position on the decalogue. Twenty-five hundred years, nearly half the entire history of the world, passed away before the decalogue was given at all, as the Bible clearly says. This is strange if the decalogue is so all important.

Let us examine it. Moses says distinctly that all the words which the Lord spoke were written on the tables of stone:

“And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone, written with the finger of God: and on them was written according to all the words which the Lord spake with you in the Mount, out of the midst of the fire.” Deut. 9:10

This text is too decisive to be evaded. All that God spoke was written on the tables and was a part of the decalogue. Here are the first of those words: 

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” etc. Ex. 20:1-3. 

These words are as much a part of the decalogue as any of the rest of it. They were spoken by God from heaven, written by his finger, were engraven on the stone, and put in the ark. Now look at the law chart which Seventh-Day Adventists hang up as the “law of God.” Are these words on there? No, indeed. Why are they left off ? 

Because, if put on, they would spoil their whole theory of that law. They claim that this law is binding upon the angels. But how would this sound to the angels: “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”? Were the angels in bondage in Egypt? Would not that sound a little queer to Gabriel and the seraphs, to be told that they had been in bondage in Egypt? Read it to Adam. That would have been news to him to learn that he had been in bondage in Egypt! Read it to a free-born American; read it to all the redeemed hosts in heaven. To whom are the words applicable? Just to the Jewish nation and to no others. For them the decalogue was framed and to them it was given. For years I searched to find one text stating that THIS law was ever given to any people but the Jews. I never found it. These first words show plainly that it was addressed only to them.

Seventh-Day Adventists assert that the Sabbath precept is the only thing in the decalogue that tells who gave it. Thus: “Aside from this precept [the Sabbath] there is nothing in the decalogue to show by whose authority the law is given.” Mrs. White, in Great Controversy, page 284

This is not true. The introductory words tell plainly who gave it. It was the God who brought them out of Egypt. Here are the name, signature and seal of that law in the first words of it. Here God stands before them as their *Deliverer*, rather than as their *Creator*. Their obedience to these commands is based upon this fact. See how plain it is. I am the Lord thy God that brought thee out of Egypt, therefore thou shalt do thus and so. Egypt, not Eden, is pointed to. In the copy of the decalogue as given in Deut. 5:6-21, there is no reference whatever to creation, while deliverance from Egypt is made prominent. “To extend it further than its own preface is to violate the rules of criticism.”

What an unnatural and unheard of thing it would be, in giving an important document, to sign the, name of the author in the middle of it, as Sabbatarians say the Lord did in giving the decalogue! In our time the name is signed at the close of a document; but anciently, specially among the Jews, the name of the author was, always given first, in the first sentence of the document. 

Thus:

  • “Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra,” etc. Ezra 7:12.
  • The vision of Isaiah,” etc. Isa. 1:1.
  • “The words of Jeremiah,” etc. Jer. 1:1.
  • “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,” etc. Rom. 1:1.
  • “James, a servant of God,” etc. Jas. 1:1.
  • “Peter, an apostle,” etc. 1 Pet. 1:1. 

So it is all through the Bible, the name and authority are given first, then follows the body of the document. Just so the Lord, according to this ancient custom then in use and familiar to all, in giving the decalogue first announces his name, “the Lord thy God,” and his power, “that brought thee out of Egypt.”

This he does in the opening words of that law. Here, then, in the very first words of the decalogue, and not in the Sabbath precept in the middle of the law, is the name of the law-giver. Jehovah, who brought them out of Egypt. This settles it that this law was not given till then, was given only to the Jews and was designed for no others.

To illustrate: Opening to a law passed by the legislature of Michigan, February 16, 1882, I read: “Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the state of Michigan,” etc. Now suppose that some one should claim that this law was passed one thousand years ago and was designed for the whole world. Would not these opening words show that this law was not enacted till Michigan became a state and that it was designed only for the people of Michigan? Assuredly. 

Just so the opening words of the decalogue show that this law was not given till God brought Israel out of Egypt, that it was given to them and to no others. If any one will find a copy of the decalogue before this time, we will give up the case. All the way through it there are evidences that it was worded to fit only the Jewish nation in their peculiar circumstances.

Take the Sabbath commandment: “Thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Ex. 20:10

Think of that commandment being given to angels in Heaven! “Sons,” “daughters,” and “thy neighbor’s wife,” verse 17, when they neither marry nor are given in marriage! 

Again: “Cattle,” “ox,” “ass,” etc. Do the angels own cattle and work oxen and asses in heaven? So “man servants and maid servants.” This means bond servants or slaves, such as the Hebrews owned in those days. This is shown also by the tenth commandment, verse 17. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s man servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his ass.”

 These were his property, servants or slaves, oxen, asses, etc. But do the angels own slaves? Did Adam have servants in Eden? Will the redeemed own them hereafter? What nonsense to apply this law to the angels and to Eden and to heaven! This wording was specially adapted to the social condition of the Jews as a nation in the land of Canaan, and to no others.

Once more: “Thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Verse 10. As everybody knows, “the stranger” was the Gentile. “Within thy gates” was a common expression meaning within your cities or dwelling in your land. It has no reference to living on your farm or inside the gates that enclose your farm, as Adventists always explain it. The towns were walled in and entered by gates. Here is where the judges sat and all business was done. Thus: “All that went in at the gate of his city.” Gen. 23:10. “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates.” Deut. 16:18. To this custom of the Jews the Sabbath commandment refers. All the Gentiles dwelling in their cities among them must be made to keep the Sabbath. This shows it to be a national law, worded in all its parts to fit the circumstances of the Jews at the time.

This command, then, could not apply to any but the Jews there.

Again, the fifthcommandment: “The land which the Lord giveth them,” verse 12, plainly refers to Canaan, which God gave them.

The ninth precept: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors” This does not relate to lying in general, but only to a false oath against a neighbor in court. See Deut. 19:15-19. A man could tell a hundred lies which would not be false witness against a neighbor. The command against lying is found in Lev. 19:11: “Neither lie one to another.” This is a moral precept much broader than the ninth commandment.

Every principle contained in the decalogue is also found time and again laid down in the law of Moses, either in the same or similar words. Thus, for example: Lev. 19 reiterates every principle found in the ten commandments, with many more besides. How erroneous, then, to call one (ten commandments) the moral law and the other the ceremonial law, when both are of the same nature, the decalogue simply being representative precepts from the law of Moses.

But the chief argument used to prove the superior nature of the ten commandments is that they were spoken by God’s voice, written by His finger on stone, and placed in the ark, while all the rest of the law was written by the hand of Moses in a book.

Why were these commandments thus selected out and given in such a manner if not to exalt them above all others?

The answer is easy: According to the custom of those times, any solemn contract or covenant was commemorated by selecting some object as witness or testimony of it. Thus:

  • Jacob erected a pillar as a witness of his vow to God. Gen. 28:18.
  • Jacob and Laban made a heap of stones as witness of their covenant. Gen. 31:48.
  • Abraham set apart seven lambs as “a witness” of his covenant with Abimelech. Gen. 21:27-30.

Just so when the solemn covenant was made between God and Israel at Sinai, the Lord gave them the tables of stone to be always kept as a witness or “testimony” of that agreement. Hence they are called the tables of testimony,” that is, witness. Ex. 31:18. 

So the tabernacle was “the tabernacle of testimony,” Num. 1:53; or, “the tabernacle of witness,” Num. 17:7. These tables of stone, then, containing some of the chief items of the law, were always to be kept as “witness” of the covenant which Israel had made to keep that law. Evidently this is the reason why the decalogue was given as it was, and not because it was a perfect and eternal law in and of itself.

Manifestly it would have been impossible to carry around the whole law if written on stones; hence only a few samples out of that law could have been selected and put on stones to be kept as a witness of that covenant. So the reason why God spoke these words was not because it was a perfect law, but to impress their minds so that they never would forget it. This is just what God says himself: “I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live.” Deut. 4:10. How much more simple and manifest these reasons are than the imaginary ones invented by Sabbatarians.

That the decalogue was merely the national law for the Jews and temporal in its obligation, is proved by the fact that stoning to death was the penalty for its violation.When death was thus inflicted upon a man, he had paid the penalty of that law, and all the penalty there was. But is stoning to death the penalty for God’s moral law? No, that is eternal death at the judgment. A man who is hung for murder has paid the penalty of the law of our land, the same as the Jew who was stoned paid the penalty of the law of his land. Will God judge a man the second time at the judgment by the law of our land after he has once paid its penalty by hanging? No, but he will be judged by another and a higher law, the great spiritual law of God. And so it will be with the Jews. They will never be judged the second time by the decalogue, for that was only national, but by the higher law, the one that requires supreme love to God, and love to man as to himself. A law without a penalty is a nullity; but stoning, the penalty attached to the decalogue, was abolished at the cross; hence the law also ceased there too.

Seventh-Day Adventists claim that the ten commandments are a perfect law, condemning every possible sin and requiring every possible virtue. But this is all assumption and contrary to the manifest truth. Which one of the ten commandments condemns pride, boasting, drunkenness, unthankfulness, love of pleasure, anger, filthy talk, impatience, variance, selfishness, and the like? 

Which one of the ten commandments requires us to feed the poor, to visit the fatherless and the widow, to suffer long and be kind, to be gentle, meek, temperate, to pray, to repent, to go to meeting, to forgive, and the like?

No, the, decalogue does no such thing, because it was made for no such purpose. It was merely prohibitory in its nature. The man who merely did nothing, who simply avoided crime, kept that law. But the law of God, by which a Christian must live, requires him to do, and to do much. He must love God, love his neighbor, love his enemies, visit the widow and the needy, suffer wrong, be patient, entertain strangers, and be active in every good work.

It requires unceasing activity and the consecration of all our energies to good works; but the decalogue requires nothing but to avoid open crime. The decalogue alone is never called the law of God, nor the law of the Lord, nor a perfect law, nor is it said that any one will be judged by it, or that it is binding on Christians.

 

Eminent Authors On The Decalogue

Many of the most eminent, devout and learned men of the church have held that the decalogue was abolished, though they were far from being Antinomians.

Among these were the apostolical fathers, Luther, Calvin, Milton, Baxter, Bunyan, Doddridge, Whately, Grotius, Locke, Sherlock, Watts, Hessey, Judson, George Dana Boardman, and a host of such men. 

Justin Martyr, A. D. 140, says: “The law promulgated on Horeb is now old and belongs to yourselves (Jews) alone: but this is for all universally. Now law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it.” Dialogue with Trypho, Chap. 11. On this Elder Andrew says: “That Justin held to the abrogation of the ten commandments is also manifested.” Testimony of the Fathers, page 43.

Tertullian, A. D. 200, says: “The abolition of the ancient law we fully admit.” Against Marcian, Book 5. Chap. 2. On the law he quotes Col. 2:16, and says: “The apostle here teaches clearly how it has been abolished.” Ibid. Chap. 19.

Luther says: “The ten commandments do not apply to us Gentiles and Christians, but only to the Jews. If a preacher wishes to force you back to Moses, ask him whether you were brought by Moses out of Egypt. If he says no, then say: ‘How, then, does Moses concern me, since he speaks (in the ten words) to the people that have been brought out of Egypt.’ In the New Testament Moses comes to an end and his laws lose their force.”

Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, says: “In its individual, or what is usually called its ‘moral’ aspect, the Law bore equally the stamp of transitoriness. It seems clear enough that its formal, coercive authority as a whole, ended with the close of the Jewish dispensation.” 

Says Dr. Dobbs, Baptist says this was the teaching of the protestant reformers : “Nor is this ‘new and dangerous teaching.’ It was the doctrine of the Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century’.

Rev. George Dana Boardman, D. D., the eminent Baptist divine, in his recent book on “TheTen Commandments,” says: “Although the decalogue, in its spirit, is for all lands and ages, yet, in its letter, it was evidently for the Jews. The very preamble proves the assertion: ‘God spake all these words, saying: I am Jehovah, thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’ Then follow the ten commandments, based on the unique fact that Jehovah was the covenant God of Israel.” Pages 127-130.

John Milton says: “With regard to the doctrine of those who consider the decalogue as a code of universal morality, I am at a loss to understand how such an opinion should ever have prevailed; these commandments being evidently nothing more than a summary of the whole Mosaic law as the fourth is of the whole ceremonial law; which therefore can contain nothing applicable to the gospel worship.” Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chap. 7.

Adapted: Decalogue Examined by Dudley Marvin (Retrieved from: https://www.nonegw.org/canright/sdar18.htm)

The True Church not an Institution

one-true-church
• The New Testament teaches that the attributes of the true church are soteriological (determined by faith in Jesus) and not institutional.

• The church is one because the atonement that Christ made on the cross has “brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” (Eph. 2:14, 15).

• So, the barrier which separates fellow believers according to class, race and sex has been removed by Christ’s death on the cross. The risen Lord is therefore the exalted Head of “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) which is His “one body” (Eph. 1:16, 19-23; 2:14).

• The community of believers in Christ is the fellowship of “who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord” (1 Cor. 1:2). So, the “saints” are those who have put their trust in Christ as Saviour, who have been born again by the Spirit, who have been reconciled to God and to each other and whom God has separated from the world to be His people (2 Thess. 2:13, 14; 2 Tim. 1:9, 10).

• The church is catholic (i.e. universal) because Christ has made atonement (payment) on the cross for the sins of the whole world and because this good news is now being proclaimed “to every nation, tribe, language and people” (Rev. 14:6).

• So, the universal church of God consists of all believers in Christ throughout the world. These are they who have received forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ’s name (Acts 10:43) and who have been born again into the family and kingdom of God (John 1:12, 13; 3:1-8). Local congregations are but the local manifestations of the one universal church of Christ.

• The church is apostolic because its faith and life are grounded solely on the testimony of the apostles whom Christ sovereignly appointed to witness and proclaim His saving work (Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2, 21, 22; John 14:26; 15:26f; 17:20).

• The New Testament has preserved for the church the content of the apostles’ teaching concerning Christ, His redemptive work on the cross, His triumphant resurrection from the dead, and His ascension to heaven where He was exalted by the Father to sit at His right hand.

• Just as the church was founded upon the apostles’ witness, so it is nourished and grows by continuing in the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). The strongest condemnation rests upon anyone who would corrupt the purity of the apostolic Gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).The apostles’ interpretation of the Gospel is the final norm of sound teaching (2 Ti. 1:13-14; Tit. 1:3, 9).This is “the faith that was once (for all) entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3), and insofar as the Christian Church upholds the true Gospel as proclaimed by the apostles, it is “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).This commitment to the apostolic witness alone will safeguard the unity, holiness of the church.

Roman Catholicism

• Rome interprets the attributes of the church in institutional terms. Unity means lockstep conformity and submission to the demands and teachings of the hierarchical Roman structure.

The Reformers

• The Reformers denied Rome’s claim that its organization constituted the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church because they had discovered a vital truth in the New Testament—that the attributes of the church are not institutional but soteriological.

• Therefore, according to the New Testament and the Reformers, Christ’s true church is the community of all who have put their trust in Him. The marks by which we may know the true church are: it believes and faithfully proclaims the pure and unadulterated Gospel as recorded in the Scriptures by the Lord’s chosen apostles, and it faithfully administers baptism and the Lord’s Supper (by which the gospel is portrayed).

Sectarian Claims

• Certain religious institutions claim to be Christ’s only true church to the exclusion of other Christian groups, which are regarded as apostate Babylon. In attempts to find scriptural support for such self-commending claims, appeal is made to certain isolated proof-texts upon which dubious interpretations are imposed. For example, Roman Catholicism appeals to Matthew 16:18 (“And I tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”) in an effort to establish its supremacy.

• Some religious groups make the name of their denomination the mark of the true church (e.g.“The Church of Christ”).

• Sectarianism is contrary to the principles of the Bible by denying the unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity of the Christian Church as depicted in the New Testament Scriptures. It denies the unity of all who believe in Christ for the forgiveness of sins and that all believers have a common Father in heaven and share a common new life in the Spirit constituting them members of one family. Thus does sectarianism bring division into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 3:16, 17).

• It denies the holiness of the church because it ignores the fact that the imperfections in belief and practice seen in the different segments of the Christian community are covered by the blood of Christ. It usually claims perfection for the doctrines it promulgates referring to them as “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” According to them all other denominations are steeped in darkness and error.

• It denies the apostolicity of the church by its claims to have light and knowledge in advance of the rest of Christendom and sometimes even of the chosen apostles of Christ to whom were revealed all the truth the church needs to know this side of eternity. This advance light and knowledge is usually based on an extra-biblical authority.

Seventh-day Adventism

• In many respects the Adventist understanding of the church is very much like that of Roman Catholicism.

The True Church and Remnant

• Adventism regards itself not merely as “a church” but as “the church.” It claims that its denomination is the only true church on earth today. All other denominations it denounces as Babylon.Therefore, according to Adventism, it is the only legitimate visible church in the entire world. As stated above, such claims are only made by sectarian cults of which the Roman Catholic denomination is the greatest.

• Adventism not only claims to be the only true church on earth today, it also claims to be God’s remnant—His end-time church. The two main proof texts for this claim are Revelation 12:17 and 19:10. Based on these two texts it states that the true end-time church—the remnant—must observe all ten commandments and have a prophet. Accordingly, Adventism claims that it alone qualifies as “the remnant church.”

Adventism’s 1844 Theology

• The above claims by Adventism are also based on its unique interpretation of its cardinal text of Scripture—Daniel 8:14. Mrs. E. G.White, Adventism’s end-time prophetess, states: “The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the decla ration:‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’ Daniel 8:14” (GC 409).

What can be said of Adventism’s 1844 theology? Just as Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection event (1 Cor. 15:1-4), so Adventism stands or falls on the “1844 event.” If there were no resurrection, there would be nothing salvage- able in Christianity. If no event of redemptive significance occurred in heaven on October 22, 1844, there is nothing salvageable in Adventism.

• Adventism is adamant that God had revealed the true meaning of Daniel 8:14 to its pioneers and Mrs. White and that He has entrusted it to the Adventist denomination as His end- time message to Christendom and the world. This is the basis of Adventism’s triumphant self-image:“a special people with a special message for a special time” (to quote a popular Adventist slogan).

• Not only, however, is there no biblical data—a clear ‘Thus saith the Lord’—to support the 1844 date and Adventism’s explanation for the Great Disappointment debacle, the 1844 theology is contrary to the New Testament Gospel.

• Christ’s finished work of atonement (redemption) on the cross and His once-and-for-all entrance into the heaven itself—Heb. 9:24 to sit down at the Father’s right hand exclude a redemptive event beginning on October 22, 1844 (such as the ‘final’ atonement, the blotting out of sins started from 1844, the transfer of sin onto Satan, justification ‘full and complete’, the latter rain, the final seal of God, etc).

• In proclaiming such an event and exhorting people to place their faith in it, Adventists are preaching “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6-8)—a gospel with features not found in the writings of the New Testament apostles.

• At best, Adventism’s 1844 theology can only rest on an extra-biblical authority—that of its prophetess, Mrs. White. Raymond F. Cottrell, one of Adventism’s leading scholars, frankly admitted this. (See his paper submitted to the Glacier View Sanctuary Review Committee, August 10-15, 1980, entitled, A Hermeneutic for Predictive Prophecy, esp. pp. 28-30).

• So, in promulgating their 1844 theology, Adventists go beyond the apostolic witness as recorded in the New Testament. It cannot therefore claim to be a church based on the apostolic teaching of the Gospel.

• The remnant motif first appears in the Old Testament in reference to the minority in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18).

• But the New Testament apostles employed the remnant motif to describe the New Testament community. (Acts 15:14- 18; Rom. 9:27-29; 11:1-5). Therefore, in the light of the New Testament, the Christian Church or Body of Christ IS the remnant since its inception on the day of Pentecost and will remain so until the last day when Christ will come again.

• The pioneers of Adventism developed their 1844 and end- time-remnant doctrines on the assumption that the last days did not arrive until 1798 (1844 era).

• But the apostles declared that they were already living in the time of the end and that the Gospel they were preaching was God’s end-time message for the world (Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:1, 2; 9:26; 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 1:1

• Therefore, Adventism’s claim that the last days arrived when it arrived on the scene in 1844 is way off the mark by about 1800 years! No, the last days arrived when Jesus arrived on the public scene 2000 years ago. This is the witness of His apostles.

• To now go beyond what the apostles preached and wrote is cultic. Adventism has officially denied what the New Testament says in this regard in order to maintain its unique 1844 theology and all that goes with it.

Conclusion

• In view of the above, what arrogance is manifested in Adventism’s claim to be the remnant church while not possessing that which alone makes a person part of God’s remnant—the true Gospel of Christ as promulgated by the New Testament apostles. Faith alone in this Gospel made the Gentiles part of the end-time remnant.

• The Jews had the Ten Commandments, observed the Sabbath and boasted the possession of more than one prophet (outdoing Adventism on this point).Yet they were excluded as a nation from the remnant because they rejected the Gospel concerning Christ and His saving work.

• Therefore, when weighed in the balances of the apostolic witness of the Gospel as recorded in the New Testament, Adventism is found wanting. Not only does it not have the true Gospel, the three or more divergent theological strands within Adventism (conservative, progressives, liberal, Sequeiran SDA gospels preached in the church) constitute nothing less than Babylonian confusion.

• And then it has the audacity to label all other Christian denominations Babylon!

• Adventism does not therefore qualify as the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” as per the attributes stated in the Bible.

(Adapted: The True Church not an institution by Christ Badenhorst (appeared on Proclamation Sept/Oct 2006)

Is the Sabbath the “seal” of God?

  Holy-Spirit-sky

  • Ellen White wrote: “The sign, or seal, of God is revealed in the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath...” —8T 117 (1904).

Is the seal of God really Sabbath observance?

  • The Bible is very clear in what it says about God’s Seal:
  • Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13, 14)
  • Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22)
  • The seal of God shows authentic ownership, and evidence that we are His. He has approved of us as His children.

  • Similar to believers, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, was the sign or seal of approval God gave to Christ at His baptism and on the mount of Transfiguration. ‘For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval (John 6:27)
  • “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
  • Again this is very clear—we are sealed by, and with the Holy Spirit, designated for the day of redemption, or the second coming of Christ, when He takes us to be with Him, forever.
  • Nowhere the new covenant records anything written or hinting that the seal of God that assures our salvation is dependent on Sabbath observance. It’s foolish to believe so.
  • You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? .. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse (Gal 3:1-25)
  • The Holy Spirit cannot be earned through observance or bought (Acts 8:18-30)
  • This is hugely important and should be restated: as scriptures teach here, any human effort to keep the law, including Sabbath keeping, cannot account for our identity of salvation with God or by being identified with His seal.
  • A common SDA answer or spin on this is that the Sabbath is kept in a love response to God and as a remembrance of His creation. This may be sincere, but if it is truly a love response to God, it would not be required (as SDA doctrine and Ellen White teach) and could not qualify as a sign or seal; it would be a gift of praise and only that.
  • Now let’s look at the terms “sign” versus “seal”. SDA’s have used these terms interchangeably to spin their proof texts to support the Sabbath-Seal of God doctrine. However, the original term for “seal” (Hebrew, chotham: Greek, sphragis) is never translated “sign” in the Bible. The original term for “sign” (Hebrew, oth; Greek, semeion) is never translated “seal”.
  • Romans 4:11 says Abraham  ‘received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised’. Note carefully, the “sign” is one thing and a “seal” is something completely different!
  • According to Paul, Romans 4:11 tells us that Abraham was identified with God (the righteous one or sealed as righteous ), because of what he believed by faith before he had the sign of circumcision! The point is there is no new testament confirmation that the Sabbath is a seal in anyway. It’s the Holy Spirit who is the seal, who does the sealing, and who identifies us as belonging to God (Ephesians 1:13, 14). Not Sabbath keeping.

Is the Sabbath still a “sign” between God and His People? 

  • Under the old covenant agreements, several SIGNS were instituted.
  • Circumcisionshall be a sign of the covenant..for an everlasting covenant’ (Gen. 17:9-14);

  • Passover, ‘shall be a sign…for your generations.. forever’ (Ex:12:13-14);

  • ‘Speak to the Sons of Israel…observe my Sabbaths, for this is a sign…forever’ (Ex:31:13,17).

  • Notice Sabbaths are plural which means it includes all Sabbaths (weekly, monthly, yearly).
  • Also, the Sabbaths as a “sign” was given to the children of Israel. Seventh-day Adventists claim that they are “spiritual Israel”. If so, then why do they not also practice the other “eternal signs” of obedience between Israel and God? How inconsistent!
  • Is the Seal of God found in the Ten Commandments?
  • Isaiah 8:6 reads: “Bind up the testimony, seal the law (torah) among my disciples
  • Adventists teach the word “law” refers to the Ten Commandments which is sealed on people upon observance based upon the above verse. In reality, the word “law” means the Torah, which refers to the first five books of the Bible, said to be written by Moses. In the Torah there are 613 laws which the Israelites were expected to follow. The new covenant is clear Christians are not required to keep all of the laws of the Torah. Hence, this verse has nothing to do with the Seal of God in the new covenant.
  • If the Lord’s name, title, and dominion appear in a Bible verse, is that passage the Seal of God?
  • Just because a Bible verse mentions the name (YHWH), title (Elohim or Adonay) and dominion of God does not mean that verse is describing the “Seal of God”.
  • For example, using SDA logic, one could argue that the Torah is the “Seal of God” because it contains this verse:

‘Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is’ (Deut. 10:14)

  • Or one could claim that the prophetic writings of Isaiah or Jeremiah are the “Seal of God” using SDA logic: (Isa. 37:16; Jer. 32:17).  Look at all of the other Bible verses that mention God’s name (God), His title (Lord), and His dominion (heaven and earth): Gen. 14:22, Gen. 24:3, Deut. 3:24, Deut. 4:39, Deut. 10:14, Jos. 2:11, 1 Ki. 8:23, 2 Ki. 9:15.
  • Just because God’s name, title, and dominion appear within a Bible verse does not prove that passage has any particular connection with the “Seal of God”.
  • Not once in the New Testament is the Sabbath ever referred to as a sign or a seal for Christians. Just as the Lord’s supper celebration replaced the Jewish Passover celebration, so has the Holy Spirit replaced the Sabbath as the “sign” or evidence that a person is one of God’s chosen people. If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, the New Testament teaches the seal of Christianity is the Holy Spirit, not the Sabbath.
  • The truth is the rest of God on the seventh-day in Genesis 2 is without ‘morning and evening’, meaning that it was a continuous rest available for God’s people,  and not the Saturday Sabbath given to Israel. Hebrew 4 makes it clear, that God’s ‘seventh-day rest’ (Hebrews 4:4), was ‘ready since He made the world’ (Hebrews 4:3), and the ‘time for entering his rest is today’ (Hebrews 4:7), not Saturday or Sunday.

Jesus himself compared Sabbath to a ritual law. Jews to this day believe Sabbath is the only ritual law in the Ten commandments. Paul himself taught in Colossians 2:16-17: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by a Sabbath day’. Jesus nor Paul taught the new testament church that the Sabbath is a seal. See: Sabbath.

  • One may enjoy the Sabbath if he or she wishes, but if one is to remain true to the Scriptures and not the teachings of man he or she must separate “Sabbath keeping” from the “seal of being identified with God” and His people. This is the teaching of God’s word.
  • Will SDA’s listen, or will they continue in pride with the teachings of man?

The little horn of Daniel 8 is the Papacy?

800px-Antiokhos_IV

  • Seventh-day Adventist’s teach that the little horn power of Daniel 7 and little horn power of 8 are Rome (Papacy). However, there is a problem with this, as there are important differences between the little horn of Daniel 7 and the little horn of Daniel 8. Here are a few:

Little Horn of Daniel 7

Little Horn of Daniel 8

Is associated with a beast representing the fourth empire (Rome)

Is associated with a beast representing the third empire (Greece)

Rises directly out of the head of the beast (Rome)

It does not come up from the head of the goat (Greece), but rises out of an already existing four horns (Alexander’s four generals)

Is a horn (ruler) that comes out of a beast (Kingdom)

Note: Horns represents rulers or kings (Dan. 8:20). Beast represents kingdoms (Daniel 7:17, 23)

Is a horn (ruler) that comes out of a horn (ruler)

Note: Horns represents rulers or kings (Dan. 8:20). Beast represents kingdoms (Daniel 7:17, 23)

  • Daniel 8:9 says the little horn (ruler) would originate from one of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire:
  • The goat (Greece) became very powerful (under Alexander the Great). But at the height of his power, his large horn (ruler Alexander) was broken off. In the large horn’s place grew four horns (four generals of Alexander) pointing in the four directions of the earth. 9 Then from one of the [four] prominent horns came a little horn (ruler from the same Grecian empire) whose power grew very great (Daniel 8:8,9).
  • Daniel 8:9 says the little horn would originate from one of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire when these were in their “latter time” (v. 23). This points us toward a power originating from the Greek world sometime after 300 BC, and not Rome.
  • Therefore, the little horn of Daniel 8 was to arise six centuries before the little horn (Roman emperor Nero) of Daniel 7 existed!

So who is the little horn of Daniel 8?

  • There is a near-unanimous opinion among Bible scholars of all denominations–Jewish and Christian, and even including a few prominent SDA scholars–that the “little horn” of Daniel 8 is Antiochus Epiphanes, a Grecian King.
  • Let’s examine the evidence:
  • The little horn of Daniel 8:9 ‘was to wax exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land
  • Antiochus’ sphere of operations was precisely in the three areas that Daniel mentions (See: Ancient History. Vol IV. P422, 1 Maccabees 1:20-42). This is not true of Rome. Many of Rome’s greatest conquests were to the North and West of Rome.

  • Since the little horn is said to wax ‘exceeding great’, SDA’s argue that compared with Medo-Persia and Greece, Antiochus was not “exceeding great,” (only Rome was), and therefore could not have been the little horn of Dan. 8:9.
  • However, a careful reading of Dan. 8:9 reveals that the prophecy never says the little horn will be exceeding great in comparison to Persia and Greece. The little horn is not compared with other powers, but merely said to wax “exceeding great” in three regions: to the south, the east, and the pleasant land. Antiochus was not a big horn on a big stage. He was a little horn that played a big role on a little stage.
  • The little horn in Daniel 8:10 is said to cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them
  • The above verse is not talking about heavenly beings, because no empire, not even Rome, has cast down heavenly beings. Both the Bible and the Jewish Apocrypha use similar language to calls the priests and rulers of the Hebrew people as stars (Genesis 37:9). In 2nd Maccabees 9:10 (a history book), Antiochus persecuted Jews including priests and rulers and is described as, “the man, which thought he could reach to the stars of heaven…
  • The little horn in 8:11 is said to, ‘magnify himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down
  • Prince in the Bible is defined as (sar) meaning “a head person, captain, chief, general, governor.” Therefore, the little horn would magnify himself to the head/captain/ruler of the host (Jews). Antiochus did this literally, during his rule, when the high priest, Onias, was driven into exile and later killed in the cruelest manner.
  • Furthermore, Antiochus figuratively magnified himself to the ultimate prince of the host, God Himself. His surname Theo Antiochus declared him to be an effulgence in human form of the Divine, a god manifest in the flesh (see Edwin Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. 2, p. 154).
  • Antiochus Epiphanes ‘took away the daily sacrifices’ (Dan 8:11) as prophesied by forbidding the daily sacrifice of lambs and profaned the sanctuary. The book of Maccabees describes how the daily sacrifice was taken away, and how the sanctuary was desolated: “And in his arrogance he went into the sanctuary and took away the gold altar and the lampstand for the light, and all its furniture…” (1 Maccabees 1:21)
  • Daniel 8:12 says ‘And an host (army) was given him (Antiochus) against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth [of sacrifices] to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered’
  • Antiochus’ attack on the Jewish religion was the worst crisis to face the Jews between the Babylonian captivity in 606 BC and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. History records, “And they (Antiochus’ army) shed innocent blood all around the sanctuary, and polluted the sanctuary itself. … Her sanctuary became a desolate wilderness…” (1 Maccabees 1:37,39)
  • The Bible says these calamities came upon the Jews “by reason of transgression.” (Dan 8:12). In other words, it was the sins of the Jews that brought this calamity upon themselves.
  • The question is raised with regard to the duration of this attack on the sanctuary in Daniel 8:13, 14 ‘How long shall be the vision concerning the [attack on ] daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
  • Since the context of the verse itself is talking about the daily sacrifices in the temple, which took place every morning and evening, the only reasonable conclusion is that this verse is talking about the daily sacrifices in the temple. Certainly it would be reckless to apply the “year-day” principle to every prophecy where “days” are mentioned. In Genesis 6:3 God prophesied there would be a period of 120 years before the flood, which did not equate to 43,200 years.
  • The 2300-day prophecy witnessed an amazing fulfillment during the terrifying reign of Antiochus. According to the Jewish calendar, the 2300 days works out to be six years, three months, and 18 days. This is the time period in which Antiochus took the daily sacrifices away, and at the end of the 2300 days, was eventually defeated.
  • This attack on the sanctuary by Antiochus was the beginning of a period of intense suffering for those in Israel who chose to remain faithful to God. Judas Maccabeus was outraged over the injustice done to God’s sanctuary: ‘Behold, our sanctuary and our beauty and our glory have been laid waste, and the heathen (Antiochus) have profaned them.” (1 Maccabees 2:7,8,12)
  • Maccabeus rose up and started a revolt against Antiochus. The Sanctuary was “cleansed” by Judas Maccabeus when he purified the holy places, sanctified the courts, rebuilt the altar, renewed the vessels of the sanctuary, and put all in their proper places: “Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: Who cleansed the sanctuary..’ (1 Maccabees 4:41-51)
  • The Sanctuary is being vindicated or cleansed from having been trampled upon and cast down by the ‘desolation’ which is the devastation due to sacrilegious or wrong treatment of the temple by Antiochus. Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the temple of God by offering sacrifices to idols upon the holy altar of God.

  • Jesus referred to the abomination (by Antiochus) in the book of Daniel (Dan. 9:27) as a warning to His followers that a similar desolation was going to happen to the Jewish nation in the future: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation (sacrileges treatment of the temple leading to emptiness), spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (referring to Jerusalem temple destruction by Titus in AD70), then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” (Matt. 24:15)
  • When Daniel 8:19 says the prophesy of 2300 days is ‘at the time of the end…in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be’. We must bear in mind that the “time of the end” is not the same as the “end of time.” Rather, it refers to the end of the particular period associated with this prophecy. In this case, the “end of the indignation” is definitely indicated, namely, the afflictions permitted to be brought upon the Jewish people.
  • Daniel 8:25 says the little horn power (Antiochus) ‘shall be broken without hand’. This is a stunning prophecy indicating how Antiochus would die. Notice how this prophecy was fulfilled:
  • But the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable and invisible plague;.. Thus the murderer and blasphemer having suffered most grievously, as he entreated other men, so died a miserable death in a strange country in the mountains.” (2 Maccabees 9:5-12,28)

  • Albert Barnes adds, “All the statements given of his [Antiochus] death, by the authors of the books of Maccabees, by Josephus, by Polybius, by Q. Curtius, and by Aarian agree that the Divine prediction in Daniel was fully accomplished, that his death would be ‘without hand,’ in the sense that it would not be by human instrumentality, but that it would be a direct divine infliction.” (Notes on Daniel, p. 355)
  • To summarize:
  • There is near universal agreement among scholars (including both Christian, Jewish, agnostic, and even some Adventist scholars) that Antiochus Epiphanes is the “little horn” of Daniel 8.
  • The 2300-days represents a literal period during which the daily evening-morning sacrifices ceased and the Temple in Jerusalem was profaned by the gentiles led by Anticohus Epiphanes.
  • The cleansing of the sanctuary refers to the restoration of the temple services after Antiochus Epiphanes was defeated by the armies of Judas Maccabees.

Seventh-day Adventists make some very unusual claims about Daniel 8:

  • Gabriel was unable to make Daniel understand the vision–particularly the 2300-day portion of it
  • Gabriel came back later (in Daniel 9) to help Daniel understand the 2300 days
  • Daniel 9 is an expansion upon the subject of Daniel 8
  • The 70-week prophecy is “cut-off” from the 2300 days, and therefore they have the same starting date
  • First, I will address whether Gabriel failed in his mission to make Daniel understand the vision.
  • SDA’s claim that the latter part of Daniel 9 is a further explanation of Daniel 8. This teaching is derived from Daniel 8:27: “And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.”
  • First, we need to recognize that the word it is supplied by the translators, and is not in the original Hebrew. Removing the word makes the meaning of the verse clear: “…I was astonished at the vision, but none understood.”
  • What does “none understood” refer to? Did no one understand the vision? Or did no one understand Daniel’s reaction to the vision? Isaac Lesser, a leading Jewish scholar, renders the verse as follows:
  • “And I Daniel, grieved, and was sick several days: afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was depressed because of the appearance; but no one observed it.”
  • It is obvious from this translation that the part about “not understanding” was referring to the people Daniel worked with who did not comprehend why he was ill and depressed.
  • To make the claim that Daniel failed to understand the vision–thus requiring a second visit from Gabriel–one must first assume the angel failed in his first mission. In Daniel 8:16 a voice commands, “Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.” If one is a Bible-believing Christian, then one must believe that Gabriel obeyed the command to make Daniel understand the vision.
  • Is the sanctuary of Daniel 8:13-14 the heavenly sanctuary?
  • Notice the question: “How long shall…the sanctuary…be trodden under foot?” (Daniel 8:13)
  • The answer is 2300 days (evenings-mornings). This puts the Seventh-day Adventists in a dilemma, because they insist that the sanctuary being “cleansed” in verse 14 is the heavenly sanctuary.
  • However, according to their own calculations, the papacy did not arrive until after 476 AD–nearly a millennium after the 2,300 years started! Who was trampling the sanctuary for 934 years before the rise of the papacy? Seventh-day Adventists claim that “Imperial Rome” trampled the earthly temple in 70 AD when it was destroyed by Roman armies, but that was the earthly, not the heavenly temple. If the sanctuary is the heavenly sanctuary in verse 14, then how could it be the earthly sanctuary in verse 13, since verse 13 is a question being answered in verse 14?
  • The truth is that there has never in human history been a 2300-year period where the sanctuary in heaven (or on earth) was trodden under foot. This fact alone should prove that the SDA interpretation does not fit historical facts, and is therefore invalid.

Daniel 7 – Little horn is the Papacy?

Roman-Emperor-Nero

  • Are Seventh-day Adventist’s accurate in interpreting the little horn of Daniel 7 as the Papacy?
  • The four kingdoms of Daniel 2 (Image from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream), and Daniel 7 (four animals) represent Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. SDA’s agree to this point, but thereafter drifts away.
  • Little horn of Daniel 7 is described this way: On the head of the fourth beast (Rome) there are ten horns, three of which are plucked up by a little horn.

  • SDA’s teach the ten horns are ten tribes that conquered Rome in 476 AD.
  • The problem with this teaching is that there were more than twenty or more tribes that actually conquered the western Roman Empire as per recorded history, but SDA’s and few others arbitrarily selected ten tribes and decided these were the tribes represented by the ten horns (Vandals, Ostrogoths, Heruli, Visigoths, Burgundians, Anglo-Saxons, Alamani, Suevi, Lombards and Franks).
  • The Bible clearly says the ten kings will arise from within the Roman Empire. ‘And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise…’ (Daniel 7:24 KJV). None of the ten tribes cited by SDA’s arose from within or ruled over the Roman Empire. They were outsiders.
  • SDA’s teach the little horn is the Papacy and it uprooted three tribes. Adventists teach that the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heuli were destroyed by the Pope of Rome. However, any history textbook will explain that the Heruli were defeated by the Lombards, the Vandals and Ostrogoths by the Byzantines.
  • SDA’s teach the Papacy persecuted the saints for 1,260 years. There is no doubt at all that the Papal church persecuted others, but the 538 – 1798 timeframe of the persecutions does not fit very well with actual historical facts.
  • SDA’s teach that when it says papacy was thinking of changing laws, it is the Sabbath. However, Sunday observance started hundreds of years before the Roman bishop’s rise to pre-eminence. The official Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, “The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day ..is at the heart of the Church’s life…This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age” (sections 2177-2178).
  • Besides, the law the little horn think to change is not ‘torah’ but ‘dat’ meaning “decree”. Thus, Daniel is speaking of a beast who would change times and laws is no reference to to God’s law—and certainly the Sabbath is not in view.
  • Did the Papacy have Supremacy for 1260 years? The Bishop of Rome was gradually consolidating power for many centuries, and the papacy continued to grow and thrive even after the temporary setback of 1798. These dates were concocted by Adventists and a few others because they were convenient.

 

  • Even SDA Theologian Dr. Bacchiocchi explains what happened after the pope was captured in 1798: “The death of Pius VI can hardly be seen as the ‘abolishment’ or ‘the downfall of the Papacy.’ It was simply a temporary humiliation of the prestige of the Papacy. ‘Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., Endtime Issues #87, “A Reply to Criticisms Part I ‘The Use of Ellen White’s Writings in Interpreting Scripture'” (August 1, 2002).
  • SDA’s teach that when Daniel 7:10 says ‘judgement was set’, it is an investigative judgment of the righteous: However, there is nothing said in this sequence of events about investigating the deeds of the righteous. The ones being judged are the little horn and the beast power.
  • The truth about the little horn in Daniel 7:
  • Daniel 7 makes it abundantly clear the ten kings will “arise from this kingdom“. This could not possibly refer to outside entities that come in and conquer Rome. The only reasonable Biblical interpretation is that the ten horns represent ten kings or rulers over Rome.
  • History records that there were, in fact, ten Roman Caesars who ruled Rome prior to the destruction of Jerusalem:
  • Julius Caeser 49-44BC
  • Augustus 31BC-14AD
  • Tiberius (Luke 3:1) 14-37AD
  • Gaius (aka. Caligula) 37-41AD
  • Claudius (Acts 17) 41-54AD
  • Nero 54-68AD
  • Galba 68-69AD
  • Otho 69AD
  • Vitellius 69AD
  • Vespasian 69-79AD
  • The truth is that Daniel is a Jewish book, written by a Jew, written for the Jews, containing God’s prophecies relating to His Covenantal people (Dan. 9:24). It is all about events that would directly impact the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. The last prophecy of Daniel, the 70-week prophecy, ends with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
  • Except for a few brief comments about future events (Christ’s kingdom filling the earth (Dan. 2:34-35), the resurrection (Dan. 12:1-3)), the entire book of Daniel is focused on the Hebrew nation and its interaction with world powers from the time of Babylon up until the final destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

  • Who is the Little Horn?

  • It is an established historical fact that the Little Horn of Daniel 7 is Nero. Consider the incredible correlations between Nero and the little horn of Daniel 7:
  • He will uproot “three of the first horns” (7:24) – Three Emperors, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius were assassinated to make way for Nero, who was not in the line of succession.
  • He shall speak words against the Most High” (7:25) – Nero encouraged emperor worship and had a huge statue of himself erected in Rome. Inscriptions found in Ephesus called him “Almighty God” and “Saviour….”
  • He “shall wear out the saints of the Most High” (7:25) – Nero was the first Roman Emporer to launch a persecution against Jews and Christians. Some of the saints slain during his persecution include the Missionary Paul and the Apostle Peter. Historians have described the persecution as “the most cruel that ever occurred.”
  • The saints “shall be given into his hand for time, times, and half a time’ (7:25) – Nero’s persecution began in November of 64 AD, and ended with his death in June of AD 68, a period of exactly 42 months (1260 days).
  • His dominion shall be taken away” (7:26) – The Roman Senate eventually voted to put Nero to death, thus effectively taking away his dominion.
  • The kingdom “shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High (7:27) – It is a mistake to think this passage is a reference to God’s eternal kingdom. It is a reference to God’s spiritual kingdom, which was established in approximately 30 AD when John the Baptist announced, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2).
  • Christ talked about the “kingdom” as being present then (Matt. 12:28; 16:19; 23:13), not in the far distant future. Daniel talks about a kingdom that gradually fills the earth, and Jesus speaks of a Mustard seed which grew into a great tree. (Dan. 2:34-35; Matt. 13:31-33).
  • Therefore, the giving of the kingdom (Rome) to the saints of the Most High began when Christ established his kingdom on this earth, and the kingdom continued to grow until one day Christianity would became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire. Who is being Judged?
  • As noted earlier, the Bible clearly indicates that the judgment of Daniel 7 is a judgment against the little horn and the beast power, not an investigative judgment of the saints. Did such an event occur in the first century? Notice carefully the words of Jesus:
  • Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out’ (John 12:31)

  • ‘And when he [Comforter] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment …because the prince of this world is judged’ (John 16:8,11)

  • Jesus said that the judgment of Satan was happening “now”, during the final hours of His life on earth. He said that the Holy Spirit would come to convict the world that the prince of this world is judged. It was during the reign of the Roman Empire that judgment sat in heaven and passed sentence on the prince of this world and the Roman Empire.
  • It was the Roman Empire, under the guidance of Satan, acting through a Roman governor and Roman soldiers, that crucified the Son of God.
  • The judgment, although decided in heaven, was not instantly executed upon Rome when Jesus died, just as Satan will be punished only after the second coming. A generation of time was given to allow for Rome to manifest what it was going to do with Christ and Christianity.
  • Jesus’ death was as a mustard seed being planted in the earth. After His death the gospel sprouted and spread throughout the empire. Nero and later Caesars manifested a Satanic hatred towards Christianity. They thought to persecute it into non-existence, and Nero almost succeeded.
  • However, he was killed, his perseuction halted and his dominion was taken away. The very persecution he started in an attempt to stamp out Christianity would later become the seed that fueled an even more explosive growth of Christianity. Eventually the dominion of Satan was broken in the Roman Empire and it became the dominion of the saints. Christianity was recognized as the official religion of the Roman Empire.
  • Every specification of Daniel 7 came to pass just as predicted. In fact, the fulfillment in the events of the Roman Empire were so dramatic that atheists and agnostics insisted the book of Daniel was written after Nero’s death.

  • These enemies of God were silenced in shame when parts of the book of Daniel were discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, and were carbon-dated to 165 BC. Only God could have known about Nero and the Roman empire hundreds of years beforehand. Praise God!

Source: Adapted from Amazingfiction.org