Friday, September 12, 2008

Adventist Heritage of the Sabbath

The reason it has been worth all of this study is that the Sabbath is at the heart of Adventist belief and practice. So much so that, as noted before, it is incorporated into the name of the group:

“The name Seventh-day Adventist is a standing rebuke to the Protestant world. Here is the line of distinction between the worshippers of God and those who worship the beast and receive his mark. The great conflict is between the commandments of God (i.e. Sabbath-keeping) and the requirements of the beast.” Spiritual Gifts Vol 4, p. 54

To keep the Sabbath you would need to get all of your food ready on Friday, do no cooking or boiling on the Sabbath, not go out from your place, not buy or sell, not carry anything. And the penalty for infraction of these rules would be a death penalty. It is interesting that the Sabbath is always associated with a death sentence both in the Old Covenant and in Adventist eschatology. Could that be because it is from “the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone?” 2 Cor 3:7 (NIV)

Do Adventists who “believe the Sabbath” keep the Sabbath? No. In fact, there has been something of a role reversal. Sabbath-keeping for many has become vespers on Friday night, going to church on Saturday morning and attending meetings on Saturday afternoon. That is much closer to how Christian’s observe the Lord’s Day. But this is not a treatise to say that Sunday is the Sabbath. It is a plea to break the bondage of loyalty to Sabbath that amounts to idolatry. It is a teaching to show that Sabbath-keeping is not a part of the New Covenant and those who observe it do not please the Lord any more than those Christians who do not.

I would direct these paraphrased questions that Paul addressed to the Jews (who felt superior to the gentiles because they kept the Ten Commandments) to ourselves: “Now you, if you call yourself an Adventist; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-- you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who feel superior to others because you observe the Sabbath, Do you actually keep the Sabbath? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?” Romans 2:17-23 (CRV)

Sabbath-keeping from an Adventist perspective would be unrecognizable to the original Sabbath-keeping ordained by God for the Jews. It has its own set of rules, its own rights and wrongs, and its own meaning. It has become an identifying mark of membership in a specific subculture. These group-specific tags were born out of the writings of Ellen White. Here are some examples of her teachings which she claimed to have been shown in vision:

"Here is the life-insurance policy for every soul that shall strive in the right way and upon the right principles. They shall never fall, but shall have their eternal life insurance papers in the sign given in Exodus 31:12-18, in the obervance of the Lord's Sabbath." Life-insurance policy? I thought that was the cross.

“Here is the life-insurance policy for every soul that shall strive in the right way and upoEllen Gould Whiten the right principles. They shall never fall, but shall have their eternal life insurance papers in the sign given in Exodus 31:12-18, in the observance of the Lord's Sabbath. This means obedience to all His commandments, for the keeping of the Sabbath, which God has sanctified and blessed at Creation, ‘is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations’ ‘for ever,’ ‘that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.’(Verses 13, 17.)" {5 Manuscript Release 88.3}

Here were some of those commands for Sabbath-keeping that would have to be obeyed. "Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day." Ex 35:2-3 (NIV) "Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out." Ex 16:29 (NIV) Nowhere in scripture have those rules been modified or relaxed. So if Sabbath obedience is to be followed, who makes the rules and sets up the parameters? What does it even mean if the original intent and practice has been completely lost? Even the injunction against work has been modified. Where does the authority for that come from?

“While the observance of the false Sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God's law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.”--Great Controversy 605 (1911).

“I saw the leading men of the earth consulting together, and Satan and his angels busy around them. I saw a writing, copies of which were scattered in different parts of the land, giving orders that unless the saints should yield their peculiar faith, give up the Sabbath, and observe the first day of the week, the people were at liberty after a certain time to put them to death.” {Maranatha 268.3}

“When there shall be a ‘restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began’ (Acts 3:21), the creation Sabbath, the day on which Jesus lay at rest in Joseph's tomb, will still be a day of rest and rejoicing. Heaven and earth will unite in praise, as ‘from one Sabbath to another’ (Isa. 66:23) the nations of the saved shall bow in joyful worship to God and the Lamb.’” {Desire of Ages 769.2} So that’s where that came from.

“The Sabbath of the fourth commandment, sanctified by God, was given to man as the memorial of the creation of the world and all things therein. Ever since the institution of the Sabbath in Eden, Satan has made a determined effort to destroy this memorial, and in its stead to institute a spurious sabbath, in order that the memorial of God's great and wonderful works might be lost from the mind, and there be brought about a worldwide apostasy against God's law. He well knows that, by leading men and women to disregard the fourth commandment, he has placed them on his side of the controversy; for God says, "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’” (Manuscript 24, 1891, p. 7) Read in context, this scripture is an injunction to get rid of the Old Covenant but is twisted here to mean the opposite.

Isn’t it provocative to see that other Christians do not believe this? So, why would Adventists believe this if it has nothing to do with Ellen White or her teachings?
"Here is God's great test, and the sign of our loyalty to Him. We must either observe the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, or repudiate the word, and accept a day that He has not sanctified and set apart for our observance." Our great test of loyalty is not to the gospel, not to Jesus, not to the cross, but to the Sabbath? Isn't it interesting that Jesus never spoke such words? When He was asked, He spoke of love for God and love for others.

“Here is God's great test, and the sign of our loyalty to Him. We must either observe the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, or repudiate the word, and accept a day thJames and Ellen White with their childrenat He has not sanctified and set apart for our observance. In the day when every case is decided, these charges of the word of God will be brought forth, and men will be judged by them. Those who have not searched the Scriptures to know what God has commanded, and who have observed a day that He has not blessed, will not be excused for their ignorance…” (Manuscript 99, 1908, p. 3) The strange fire kindled by her words make me tremble as the day for her accountability draws near.

In an imagined conversation of Satan with his evil hosts: “Now that we are bringing the Protestant churches and the world into harmony with this right arm of our strength, we will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority. When death shall be made the penalty of violating our sabbath (meaning Sunday), then many who are now ranked with commandment keepers will come over to our side.” {Maranatha 163.4}

“A mark is placed upon every one of God's people, just as verily as a mark was placed over the doors of the Hebrew dwellings to preserve the people from the general ruin. God declares, ‘I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.’" [Eze. 20:12].--V 7 SDA Bible Commentary 969 (1900).

Ellen White goes on in A Word to the Little Flock (WLF) to relate a supposed vision:

“Soon I was lost to earthly things, and was wrapped up in a vision of God's glory. I saw an angel swiftly flying to me. He quickly carried me from the earth to the Holy City. In the city I saw a temple… After viewing the glory of the Holy, Jesus raised the second veil, and I passed into the Holy of Holies. [HEB. 9:1-24.] {WLF 18.2}

“In the Holiest I saw an ark… Jesus stood by the ark. … In the ark, was the golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of stone which folded together like a book. [HEB. 9:4.] Jesus opened them, and I saw the Ten Commandments written on them with the finger of God. [EX. 31:18.] On one table was four, and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth (the Sabbath commandment,) shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God's holy name. [ISA. 58:13,14.] The holy Sabbath looked glorious--a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to go forth and break them all, as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. [MAL. 3:6.] But the Pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws. [DAN. 7:25.] {WLF 18.3}
"I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers..." Isn't Jesus the rock on which people fall or stand? Isn't Jesus the stumbling block? But in Adventism that loyalty has been transferred to a day instead of to The Sabbath - Jesus.

“ … I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question, to unite the hearts of God's dear waiting saints. And if one believed, and kept the Sabbath, and received the blessing attending it, and then gave it up, and broke the holy commandment, they would shut the gates of the Holy City against themselves, as sure as there was a God that rules in heaven above…And at the commencement of the time of trouble, …God's chosen, all saw clearly that we had the truth, and they came out and endured the persecution with us…

“ I saw all that ‘would not receive the mark of the Beast, and of his Image, in their foreheads or in their hands,’ could not buy or sell. [REV. 13:15-17.] I saw that the number (666) of the Image Beast was made up; [REV. 13:18.] and that it was the Beast that changed thHistoric Marker at EGW's Last Homee Sabbath, and the Image Beast had followed on 
after, and kept the Pope's, and not God's Sabbath. And all we were required to do was to give up God's Sabbath, and keep the Pope's, and then we should have the mark of the Beast, and of his image. {WLF 19.1}

“{We} were pursued by the wicked, who entered the houses of the saints with the sword. They raised the sword to kill us, but it broke, and fell, as powerless as a straw…God spoke the day and hour of Jesus' coming, [EZE. 12:25. MARK 13:32.] and delivered the everlasting covenant to His people…Their countenances were lighted up with the glory of God; and they shone with the glory as Moses' face did when he came down from Sinai. The wicked could not look on them, for the glory. [Wisdom of Solomon. 5:1-5.]” I found it surprising that Ellen White quoted from the apocrapha.

Her comments above are interesting in relation to 2 Cor 3:5-15, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!“ 2 Cor 3:6-11 (NIV))

“And when the never ending blessing was pronounced on those who had honored God, in keeping His Sabbath holy, there was a mighty shout of victory over the Beast, and over his Image.” {WLF 19.2}

As you well know, there are hundreds of other quotations from Ellen White - and teachings from others - that continue to have a grip on hearts. Because these beliefs have not been confessed as sin, their power remains in place. These words are curses that extend over our families and over us and must be broken. Isn’t it time to disconnect from the deceptions that continue to have power over us and move into the New Covenant? Why do we insist on remaining at odds with the body of Christ when there is no biblical support for that position?
Summary of Adventist Heritage of the Sabbath
1) The Ten Commandments are the words of the Old Covenant Law.

2) According to the Old Covenant, anyone who does not do everything written in the law is cursed.

3) To keep the Sabbath you would need to get all of your food ready on Friday, do no cooking or boiling on the Sabbath, not go out from your place, not buy or sell, not carry anything.

4) The penalty for breaking any of these requirements is the death penalty.

5) Do Adventists keep the Sabbath? No.

6) Adventism continues to hold onto the Old Covenant teaching of the Sabbath, but it is strange fire on the altar that God has not asked for nor desired.

The Next Chapter: The Rest That Remains
There is a Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God - the ultimate rest - the Sabbatismos: Jesus.

1 comment:

Ramone said...

How interesting, Cherry... I had never known that EGW quoted from the apocryphal book, "The Wisdom of Solomon"!