Sabbath: Questions & Answers
Question: You mentioned how Satan attempts to culturally ingrain things. Can you elaborate on that subject?
We know better, but still tend to think that Satan has unlimited resources virtually the same as God. He is very powerful, but finite and must depend upon strict and efficient coordination of resources and a master plan. That plan pretty much culminates in the condition of the end time church and the world that has been prophesied in both the Old and New Testaments.
To get things into that condition at any one point in time would be impossible if Satan had to recreate all of these conditions for each generation. Remember, only the Father knows the day and hour. So Satan has to assume the return of Christ could be at any moment. This requires solidifying his aims through the centuries, building one on top of the other, leaving only minimal effort required to shore up most of his past building blocks.
He primarily accomplishes this by acculturating believers and non-believers. Once that has occurred, then various important scriptural precepts become secondary to the culture. Just a little thought is required to understand the impact on theology with things like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But there are deeper, more subtle elements particularly as you see a breakdown of the 10 Commandments. Satan has been so effective that those commandments have virtually become a relic of the past as Satan’s cultural process has distorted them so profoundly that they are far from resembling their true identity.
This is what I believe has happed to the 4th Commandment. Any attempts today to even address the topic is met by extremely strong resistance. That wide path that the vast majority of “Christians” follow should be a warning sign. That is the cultural path and could very well be one that Satan has well-established. To counter this requires being a part of how God deals with the predominate type of church just before Jesus’ return: the church of Laodicea. Following God requires true believers to push for people to make those drastic and clear decisions; to not muck about in the gray areas; to go either to the cold or the hot. Look around you, particularly the church or fellowship you are in. Is it solidly grounded on God’s word and actually living it? Can you bring up any Biblical subject and engage in a dialogue or will you be invited to leave as a troublemaker? Look at the state of our churches today in light of:
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:14-22
Stand back from our social and religious culture. Look at the Bible afresh. Do not let the culture dictate what the Bible truly says. Christians should be above any culture on this earth. Theirs is a heavenly culture that the world does not understand. Live that culture and you will be a bright light in the midst of darkness. You will be an immovable pillar standing firm in the midst of the torrential floods, the greatest of tsunamis. Then and only then can you thwart Satan’s designs through the centuries. Only then can the cultural shroud be stripped away, revealing the holy of holies. Only then can you avoid being one of Satan’s puppets and engage him on the battlefield at the side of your mighty Captain. Then the defeat of Satan will be secured, for you will be one and hopefully one of many to cry out in glorious exclamation; cheering your Lord’s coming with the trumpet of true and abiding faith.
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8
Question: It sounds to me you’re like those Judaizers you mentioned and are just waiting to stand in judgment on other people. Jesus fulfilled the law therefore why would you push this Sabbath issue?
I’m no one’s judge as we all will stand before the judge (God) and have to give an account of ourselves. I am merely sharing what I have found in scripture, what I have experienced, and calling out a warning for everyone to search the scriptures like the Bereans to see if this is so. The dangerous aspect of the Judaizers had to do with following the law as a means to God or it being works oriented. The Christian basis of the law should be as a tool for examining oneself to see if one is truly in the faith.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? II Corinthians 13:5
A born again person has a new spiritual nature that should always desire to reflect Christ and will always do so when in reliance upon the Holy Spirit. We fail and sin when we instead rely upon the flesh. The purposeful and especially the habitual breaking of God’s commandments are a cause for deep reflection to avoid this horror:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:21-27
Concerning Jesus fulfilling the law, Jesus said this at the sermon on the mount:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20
The destruction mentioned in the verses above includes both the law and the prophets. Both were not destroyed by Jesus. Neither is the fulfillment complete otherwise all that the prophets prophesied would be complete and therefore the 2nd coming of Christ would have already been fulfilled. Therefore it should be evident that Jesus, at the cross, fulfilled that portion in the law requiring sacrifice and those same elements as predicted by the prophets. The upcoming end times events are still to be fulfilled, including Jesus’ role in that fulfillment. Until that time (the passing of heaven and earth and the final fulfillment of the law), this still holds:
Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18
I don’t push people personally on this issue, rather I just try to live it and actually try to avoid any confrontation. Perhaps I should be more pushy on a personal level but for now, that is how I feel inclined to operate. Universally though, I have found a web platform to help bring out this issue to those who are not satisfied with the status quo: the seekers. I don’t claim to have all the answers but know there is a perfect source for finding all the important answers. The Sabbath issue is just one of many that have been buried under layers of cultural distortions. I see what is happening as a danger to a Christian’s faith and possibly one’s very salvation. Here are two reasons that compel me to bring out this issue to the best of my ability:
- I am commissioned to exhort my fellow believer like the watchman in Ezekiel 33:1-9. Perhaps I might unwittingly call out false warnings on occasion but at least the hearers should prepare themselves for battle just in case. Not to exhort is negligence on my part and could result in damage or death if the enemy is truly approaching.
- We are not alone in this warfare but are corporately Christ’s body on earth. God calls for us to reflect the Lord Jesus Christ and I believe this reflection should include all of the Ten Commandments. If I incorrectly said it was okay to ignore one or more of the commandments, I would then be condoning a flaw in Christ’s body. I would much rather error on the side of caution than on the side of permissiveness.
Question: Of all the 10 Commandments, only the Sabbath commandment is not directly affirmed in the New Testament. Isn’t that sufficient evidence that it is no longer in effect?
That is a valid deductive argument. The main question concerns whether you want to risk sinning against God with that as your primary evidence. God never excuses sins of ignorance. It can actually be a dangerous argument though. The argument says that if God does not specifically repeat something in the New Testament that was in the Old that you can consider it invalid. You could then say that if God did not specifically condemn something in the New Testament that was commanded by God in the Old that you could consider it as still valid in the New Testament. Then you would have to be in favor of stoning witches as the New Testament does not specifically forbid such a practice which was condoned in the Old Testament. Most Christians would consider this a heretical policy.
Taking a similar deductive stance provides a different conclusion concerning Paul’s relationship with the Judaizers. He was condemned by them for all sorts of things like not requiring Gentiles to be circumcised and falsely claiming that he allowed the Gentiles to fornicate. They primarily wanted all these Gentile converts to follow the Jewish Talmud, a document which in standard text is over 6,000 pages long (plus the Halakhah, which is far more voluminous). In all the accusations in the New Testament, never is Paul accused of breaking the Sabbath. During Jesus’ ministry on this earth that was one of the Jewish leadership’s primary weapons against him, claiming that he was constantly doing things that violated the Sabbath. We never see Paul accused of this by the Judaizers. Unless the Jews suddenly shifted their stance after the death of Jesus, I think it is safe to deduce that Paul was very careful never to violate the Sabbath. In fact, his missionary activity was intimately tied to the Sabbath as most of his initial contact was among the Jews when they gathered on the Sabbath day.
I believe both deductive arguments are valid albeit contradictory. That leaves you with a choice.
- To follow all of the 10 commandments, including the Sabbath.
- If you do and you find out that you weren’t actually commanded to hallow and rest on the Sabbath day, then you will stand before the Lord having had a bit more rest.
- If it truly is the 10 commandments and not the 9 commandments, you can expect that to be favorable for you. It certainly will bode well for the blessed hope of hearing from God: “…Well done, thou good and faithful servant …”. Matthew 25:21
- To eliminate the 4th Commandment.
- To be honest, you should side with all those who are trying to remove the 10 Commandments from our public places throughout the country. At the least, you should start or join a movement to scratch out the 4th commandment from all these places. If you are right concerning the removal of the 4th commandment then you are helping to spread the truth (And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32). God will then bless your actions for the truth and commend you at the judgment day.
- If you do not take a strong stance concerning the removal of the 4th commandment but instead strongly believe the 10 Commandments should remain as just an icon in our society then you are a hypocrite. No Christian should ever want to stand before the Lord as a hypocrite.
Question: What about the Seventh Day Adventists? Are they a good source for understanding the Sabbath issue?
During my time in Kuwait for about a year, I found a few good Christian religious broadcasts on cable. A couple of those were by the Seventh Day Adventists. I benefitted much from their broadcasts. Oddly, the topics they covered never touched upon the Sabbath issue. I just happened to know that it is considered one of their strong identifying characteristics for their denomination. It merely got me to rethink the issue rather than having any theological influence. Right now, I haven’t actually checked out their theological reasoning, but hope to eventually and will provide an internet link to anything that seems to be helpful.
I do want to briefly address why some people think the Seventh Day Adventists are a cult. Some on the broadcast would spend an inordinate amount of time on the end times and on whether dead Christians were just dead in the grave and not with the Lord. I just know that the dimension of time is not in Heaven but is made up of events, therefore whether you are just dead in the grave or not, it is a moot point, because the next event after death is to be with the Lord. Whether you spend several thousand years in the grave is therefore meaningless as a person wouldn’t even realize the longevity of time since it doesn’t exist in the spiritual realm. The other element of concern is where they will sometimes focus on the acclaimed visionary, Ellen G. White concerning some of her predictions for the end times. There is a danger here if there are some who place her words on the same level as scripture rather than her having come to some predictions based upon scripture.
There is no perfect denomination and every church is being thrust into the Laodicean fold. Which is why we should be exhorting one another, which unfortunately is not the case. Don’t be swayed by the outward appearance of things. Delve into the foundational issues seeking God’s guidance always. If you are truly seeking the truth with reliance upon the Lord, you absolutely will find it. It is a promise of God and it will absolutely occur.
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Luke 11:9
Question: I’m not totally convinced, but can’t see any harm in following the 4th commandment, just to be on the safe side. I guess I’d rather error on the side of righteousness than take a risk and end up doing that which is unrighteous. So does that mean I have to adhere to the Sabbath the same as the Jews?
This to me is the really tricky part. The reason is because the Sabbath adherence among the Jews was primarily a “national” phenomenon. It was not just individualistic, as God’s witness and testimony to the world up till Christ was the Old Testament covenant as a testimony on a national scale (Deuteronomy 4:6-8). Therefore, adherence to the law was covered in detail in such voluminous writings as the Talmud and Halakhah. The attempt was to instruct all the Jews and gentile converts to Judaism in this detail of the law. To study these writings and try to adhere to them might be positive and beneficial, but I would suppose few if any Christians are so inclined mainly because the Jewish understanding of the law ended up becoming works oriented which results in pushing the grace of God aside.
The Talmud and Halakhah might give some good tips on keeping the Sabbath observance. The commandment itself though seems complete enough to provide the proper guidance using just common sense. Keeping the seventh day holy involves a purposeful effort to maintain a state of rest from one’s work. The Bible specifically excludes from this rest basic food preparation (kitchen duties) and emergencies (like cattle falling into a pit). You are to strictly avoid business or activities that would require others to labor on the Sabbath (causing them to violate the Sabbath), therefore no McDonalds or shopping at the Mall. For my wife and me, we actually find it exciting as we bustle around before the Sabbath and strategize on what can be done to minimize any “necessary” work. Things like preparing some foods beforehand to minimize the kitchen work on the Sabbath; even sometimes eating a bit earlier on Friday so as to have the dishes done before the Sabbath begins; basically seeking for ways to make the Sabbath as full of rest as possible. The Jews put all their ideas in their writings, and we can share tips with one another, but I believe it is mostly individualistic. When the attitude is right and we are looking for guidance from God, I believe He will help us in our preparations to make the Sabbath a restful, contemplative, holy day.
I do want to reiterate that trying to follow the Sabbath teachings from the Talmud and Halakhah should not be construed as a wrong approach unless one is doing it thinking that by your works you will be justified before the Lord. I only caution you in the area of judging others who do not follow that same approach to following the 4th commandment. However, if you feel strongly on this being a universal approach and have good exhortative points to help enlighten others, I encourage you to follow and share that which God has laid upon your heart.
Question: How do I figure out the Sabbath times for where I live?
Most or many Jews follow the rest time with inclusive beginning (Shabbat) and end (Havdalah) ceremonial times. They go through somewhat standard rituals that might be a beneficial blessing for inclined Christians to follow. My wife and I tried to incorporate these ceremonies but it just felt too stilted and devoid of meaning compared to what the Jews would feel, it being a part of their culture for millennia. You can find the Shabbat/Havdalah times here for many locations if you choose to follow those ceremonies.
For now, we just aim for the actual sunset times for Friday and Saturday and use the site SunriseSunset to find the times for our location. Hopefully it can provide some of you with very useful monthly calendars.