Seeing the Sabbath Through
By Kristin Jackson
January 27, 2002
Beginning in January 2001, I started very dedicated to Adventism to the point of view and I would not listen to my parents’ concerns. My hard heart began to soften to the point that I desired to understand the theme of covenants in Scripture since this was a reason why a number of prominent Adventists had left. I could not comprehend anyone leaving Adventism since it is such a tight knit community and the doctrinal truths seemed airtight. If this was something that challenged someone to reevaluate his or her SDA position I was willing to listen. After studying covenants out, I realized it had been something I had not seen before and was critical to putting the Sabbath in right perspective.
My background defined the Sabbath as a day of rest; one in seven to worship on,
rest in the afternoon and possibly get ice-cream on the way home from church in the evening. As a matter of fact, when I lived in the Midwest, a very conservative part of the U.S., Sunday was always honored and no stores were open. When we moved to the Northwest, there was a greater laxity regarding the day. After having ran into Jon and catching on to ‘Sabbath hikes,’ and ‘opening’ and ‘closing’ the Sabbath, I was fascinated since the Sabbath was a word I knew but clearly meant something unique to him. My mother was also working for a Jewish couple and that cultivated questions in my mind about their Saturday Sabbath. Needless to say I was curious. Jon and I had further talks about Deuteronomy. I was in that book for devotional reading and Jon mentioned how often the Lord says if
you obey my commandments (including the Ten Commandments) you will be blessed and if not the result is a curse. His personal experience being that, as he grew older he couldn’t wait for the Sabbath to end and he eventually walked away from the Lord for a period of time. Yet, in coming back to the Lord the Sabbath had truly become a delight.
MaryAnn had a similar testimony and she graciously gave me some pamphlets on the Sabbath in history, which revealed how Constantine played a role in changing the day of worship to Sunday and the Catholic Church changed times and laws by making Sunday the Christian day of Worship. Well, I went to my concordance on the counsel of Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Bostrom. I couldn’t believe the amount of times Israel had blown the Sabbath especially since that was the gauge as to how closely Israel was walking with God. I had to conclude I did not want to blow it either. I do not need to review any more of the bible studies, the Prophecy Seminar, Sabbath School discussions, and Ellen G. White books that transpired and thus expanded my understanding of Seventh Day Adventism truths to the point that I grasped them and got baptized. Mr. Bostrom in my pre-baptism meeting made it clear that when or if I discovered an Adventist doctrine not lining up with truth
the doors were open for me to leave.
So we fast-forward to January. My parent’s number one complaint was that I had
hastily gotten baptized and failed to study the other Evangelical side. I thought this to be a very weak argument, after all I had grown up in the church and I had a general understanding of what they would use to counter my newly found truths. After all Brian from Amazing Facts did a very good job of giving a defense to the typical cop-outs of Protestant Christians. I thought there couldn’t possibly be another argument that I didn’t have an answer for. I want to unfold for you what was presented to me when I finally started to listen. I saw a theme in Scripture that was not supporting the Sabbath Truth as set forth by Adventists and in light of that new information I could no longer continue down the Adventist path.
My aim in writing this paper is to present my position on the Sabbath. I will
begin by giving the circumstances for how the New Testament church transitioned from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. After providing a background and establishing the significance of the Apostle Paul and his contribution to the understanding of Christian Doctrine, I will explain the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Then I will begin addressing common arguments Adventists have for observing the Sabbath. My purpose in going to this effort is very straightforward. I will attempt to present where the Adventist Church has misconceptions oncerning the Sabbath and Covenants. As a result the Adventist Church needs to seriously reevaluate their eschatology and method of evangelism. The Adventist Church has a conclusion that is based on the premise of certain arguments. I am not going to react to the conclusion, instead it is more effective to look at the foundation of their arguments and see whether they hold up under the scrutiny of Scripture.
The Birthing of the New Testament Church
The Ascension was a pivotal time for the Disciples because it was the beginning
of a transition. They went from watching Jesus’ Ministry, to taking the authority He had given them and began moving out to proclaim the year of Jubilee to all that were oppressed by the devil. Yet one key event had to take place first. Their strength would fail and their efforts would be ineffective without the anointing that Christ had promised them. In Luke 24:49, Jesus said, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of my Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” In Acts 1: 4-5, Dr. Luke continues to explain the events that were about to happen that would shape Christianity forever. He said, “And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised,“Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So they returned to Jerusalem and waited in the upper room. After ten days, Acts 2:1 says, “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place,” and the Holy Spirit showed up and filled the 120 disciples. Peter, being anointed, gave a Sermon, the fruit of, which was
3,000 who repented and joined the church.
We are introduced to Stephen in Acts 6, of whom it was said, “was full of grace
and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the peoples”(6:8). This is where Stephen encountered trouble with certain Jews, who argued with him, “yet they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking”(6:10) Yet “they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they come upon him and dragged him away, and brought him before the Council” (6:12). After hearing Stephen’s defense the Jews “cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears, and rushed upon him with one impulse” (7:57). They drove him out of the city, and began stoning him, and the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul (7:58).
The Apostle Paul
Paul becomes a focal point because after being in “hearty agreement” with the
stoning of Stephen (8:1), he began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, and put them in prison. Galatians 1:13-14 says, “For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my ountrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” In his defense before King Agrippa, Paul describes the measures he took against the Christians, “As I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:11). It is in this whirlwind of passionate pride that Jesus appears to Paul on the Road to Damascus. Jesus asked “Why are you persecuting Me?” “For this purpose I have appeared to you to appoint you a minister and a witness. . . delivering you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:14-18).
In Galatians 2:9, it says, “And recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas
the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the
circumcised.” Paul was a brilliant man for he understood something that would contribute to his success in establishing churches. He would first go to the synagogues because the Jews met there. They were already prepared with the Old Testament writings and if upon accepting Christ as the Messiah, the synagogue itself would serve as a church building and reputable men were already in leadership positions. Interestingly, the terms elder or bishop and deacon were the titles given to those serving in the synagogue. The synagogue was not just the place to learn about the Law but was also a community center and in some cases provided rooms for travelers. Paul went to the synagogues in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus. Unfortunately, a pattern seemed
to repeat itself. Paul would enter a city and the Jews would resist his message and on several occasions Paul had no choice but turn to the Gentiles who were responding. This method fulfilled Christ’s mandate to go to the Jews first then the Gentiles. However, Paul didn’t just go to the synagogue he went to where the people were. In Philipi, there was no synagogue so he went to the riverbank where people prayed. In Athens, he went to Mars Hill and debated with the Greeks.
The First Missionary Journey
Thus in 47-48 AD, Paul and Barnabas embarked upon their first missionary
journey. They left their local church in Antioch and arrived in Pisidian Antioch. Paul
went into the synagogue on the Sabbath, and after speaking was begged to return. So he returned the next Sabbath, but when the Jews saw the crowd they were filled with jealousy and contradicted Paul’s words, so Paul declared that he would turn to the Gentiles. The Jews aroused the city to persecute Paul, so Paul went to Iconium next and the exact same scenario repeats itself. So he fled to Lystra, and the Jews from Antioch and Iconium followed him there, stoned him and supposed he died. Paul miraculously lived and was crazy enough to return to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, to set in elders for the churches. (Please refer to the map).
Upon returning, from the missionary journey to his local church in Antioch, Paul
encountered men who came from Judea and who said, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them. One can only imagine why, here Paul had nearly died at the hand of Jews in three cities and when the crowd was responding to the gospel the Jews made sure to put a stop to it by bringing chaos. For Jewish Christians to say it was necessary to be circumcised was a symptom of a religious spirit and brought a distortion to the gospel message. These were two things that Paul and Barnabas were not going to tolerate.
The Council of Jerusalem
In 48 AD, Paul and Barnabas were sent by the elders of Antioch to settle the
matter in Jerusalem, the local church of the men from Judea. Upon arrival, they shared with the church what God had done through them. However, Act 15:5 says, “Certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed, stood up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.’”
Peter stood up and said, “And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them
[Gentiles], giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no
distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore
why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a
yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe
that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same ways as they
also are” (Acts 15:7-11) James proceeded to make a judgement based on the Old Testament Scripture in Amos 9:12 that the Tabernacle of David would be rebuilt, ‘In order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name.’ Therefore the Holy Spirit, Apostles, elders, Paul and Barnabas determined to lay upon the Gentiles no greater burden than these essentials: “That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things you will do well” (Acts 15:28). This letter was sent back to the church in Antioch as well as to Syria and Cilicia. (Please refer to the map). Acts 15:31 says, “And
when they read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.”
The Book of Galatians
It was between 49-50 AD, that Paul wrote the Book of Galatians, The Book of
Christian Liberty. Galatia was not a single church but all the churches of the Asia Minor. (Please refer to the map). This was the region Paul entered on his first missionary journey in 47-48 AD. When he had left the conflict between the Jews and Gentiles was black and white. They ended up compromising the two by mixing Christianity and Judaism. Paul confronts the hybrid of legalism and Christianity for it was no longer the gospel of ‘good news.’ Christianity did not improve it only became distorted. Nature provides us with examples of the startling results of when the offspring of genetically dissimilar parents, both in the plant or animal kingdom, are brought together to create a new species. The product is not better than the original, but is instead a distorted mess (Hubbard). This was the purpose for the Council of Jerusalem, “Should we allow Judaism to pollute and distort the gospel?” Paul emphatically states, It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:1-4)
Fallen is a word picture of someone in the ocean hanging onto a piece of wood and the buoyancy of the wood keeps them afloat. Fallen is letting go and sinking to die a spiritual death as a result of becoming enslaved. In Galatians 1:8, Paul pronounces an irrevocable curse on anyone who changes the intent of the gospel in its purity. He feared they were no longer Christian churches.
Paul opens his letter as if in bewilderment:
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the
grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are
some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even
though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to
that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6,7,9)
Paul makes three main points in Galatians: (1) To deal with the effects of
Judaism; (2) To shows a contrast between law and grace; and finally (3) To contrast freedom and slavery (Hubbard). Paul and Peter were given the grace to give the gospel to two different people groups. Antioch was a Gentile church that did not have any legalism and when Peter was visiting, he enjoyed their church life until other Jewish brothers came from Jerusalem and began watching him. This caused Peter to back off and even caused Barnabas to back away. Galatians 2:11 is the only account mentioned in the New Testament of Paul’s confrontation with Peter. Peter and Barnabas would rather be a hypocrite then maintain liberty. Paul calls it hypocrisy to separate from the Gentiles, since now it does not matter who you are. Galatians 3:28-29 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek. . .And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
For centuries, if anyone wanted to be apart of the covenantal community of Israel,
the first rite of entry was the sign of circumcision and the perpetual sign was observing the weekly Sabbaths. Paul repeatedly addressed how circumcision did not justify, and he did not fail to mention the same concerning observing all the Sabbaths (Days are weekly Sabbaths; months, New Moons; seasons, Feasts; and years, Jubilees).
In Galatians 4:9-11, Paul says, But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain. Paul dogmatically refuted the system of Judaism, the religious codes, actions and creeds and fearlessly confronted those heading down that road. Those were the very things which drove him to become a zealous Pharisee set on annihilating the truth. He had been perfectly convinced he was right, parading about with a religious spirit. That time of his life became the very thing that he was the most ashamed of. I Corinthians 15:9 says, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” This is why he fearlessly confronted those who were not straightforward with the gospel.
The next point Paul made was to show a contrast between law and grace.
Galatians 2:16 says, “A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus.” This was a culture shock for any Jew to read, for all their life they had been taught to kept the Law to earn God’s approval and work for their salvation. Paul called legalism a form of ‘walking in the flesh’ because it is self-centered and selfpleasing, putting trust in what your physical nature can do. Legalism puts the focus on you, but if we already look good in front of God through what Jesus did; we no longer have to focus on ourselves. To ‘walk in the spirit’ brings this change in perspective and frees us to focus on and love other people. Galatians 5: 13-14 says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn you freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
For example, Jesus told the story of how a religious spirit can hinder a person
from helping those in need. In the story of the Good Samaritan, in Luke 10:30-37, a Jew had been robbed, beaten, and was left to die. Luckily, a priest passed by the dying Jew, but instead of stopping to help, the priest left him. Likewise, a Levite also passed along the road but kept going. Finally, a Samaritan had compassion and at his own expense nursed the Jew back to health. The Good Samaritan was not concerned about ritual purity and was therefore free to help someone.
The final point of Galatians is a contrast between freedom and slavery. Galatians
3 becomes the most crucial chapter in the New Testament to explain the purpose,
jurisdiction and length of the Law. Verse 24 says it was a tutor to lead us to Christ and verse 16 says it was in effect until Christ should come. The Law had very specific guidelines and if you step out of line, ‘whack,’ plagues, or ‘whack,’ locusts consume. The point is to love and obey Christ and not be afraid of being slapped when you get out of line. There is only one thing that will cover the nakedness and that is Christ. The importance of Paul’s letter was to show how easy it is to corrupt the gospel with elements of human effort. For example, if we evangelize people because we do not want them to go to hell, you will be blessed, but if we evangelize people because you want to earn merit with God then you will miss the mark. Therefore, the motivation should always be love. Thus this transition time between understanding and observing the Old Covenant and coming to the realization and implications of the New Covenant brought a tremendous amount of upheaval for everyone. It took the Holy Spirit illuminating the minds of the Apostles and the Jews who were stuck in an Old Testament frame of reference. God had to give them a new perspective. We see this in the life of Paul, once the scales fell from his eyes he went from just having received permission to storm Damascus to the very one convincing the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Acts 9:22 says,
“But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.” It was a miracle for the veil to be striped from off his mind, yet in doing so God strategically used Paul’s depth of knowledge of the Scriptures to contribute to the foundation of Christian doctrine. He wrote thirteen, possibly fourteen, books of the New Testament, which is half.
The Covenants Defined Now that the stage has been set as far as understanding New Testament times, I want to explain the term covenants. A covenant is a binding a solemn agreement made between two or more individual parties; a promise (Martin). In ancient times covenants were made between a ruling party and the ruled party. Dale Ratzlaff explains, “It has been shown that the covenants God made with His people closely follow the structure of the ancient, Near East treaty covenant documents” (28). They always contained three parts: Promises, Conditions, and a Sign or Seal. The Covenant spelled out what the ruler
would do based on whether those he ruled fulfilled their part of the bargain. The Sign was placed at the very center of the document and became a gauge as to how dedicated the ruled party was to the covenant: The ruled party was to keep or display the sign of the covenant as a symbol of their obedience to the covenant stipulations. Failure to do so would be considered by the suzerain [ruling party] a sign of rebellion and called for drastic consequences. (Ratzlaff, 28)
Noahic Covenant The first examle of this type of covenant is seen between God and Noah in Genesis 9:9-10: “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle and every beast of the earth with you.” God actually made it with all mankind and all the animals. God made a Promise in verse 11, “And I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” The Condition is presented in verses 3-4,“Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” The Sign of the covenant was the rainbow, described in verses 12 –13, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, between Me and the earth.
The Abrahamic Covenant The next significant covenant God made was with Abraham. Genesis 12:2-3 says, “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Later in Genesis 17:1-8 we see the covenant format:
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and
said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will
establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you
exceedingly.” And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As
for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a
multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name
shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.
And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and
kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me
and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an
everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I
will give you and your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings,
all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
BELIEF was the only real Condition for Abraham to receive these promises. The Sign is found verses10-11: This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
The Nation of Israel
We must realize that “deliverance from Egypt was a fulfillment of God’s promise
to Abraham, based on grace, faith and obedience and intern Israel experienced the
blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant” (Conner, Covenants, 41). It was always God’s
desire to walk with the whole nation of Israel as he had done individually with Abraham, in a walk of faith and trust. Just as Abraham’s heart was tested by having to sacrifice his son so “God took [Israel] from Egypt into the Wilderness to prove them and to know what was in their heart (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 15-16). Between Egypt and Sinai God gave them four tests of faith and obedience. In each case they failed. They failed at the test of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-12, 31). They failed at the test of the waters of Marah (Exodus 15:23-26). They failed at the Wilderness of Sin (Exodus16:1-12) and they also failed at the test of Rephidim (Exodus17:1-7)” (Conner, Convenants, 41). In each event Israel grumbled, quarreled, and cried out.
The Old Covenant
Due to the fact that Israel did not trust God and were a stiff necked and rebellious
group, we can see the context for God moving to very detailed structure of ‘does and
don’ts.’ As a result of Israel’s transgressions, they dropped from the ground of grace to works and this fall necessitated that God make a different covenant with Israel 430 years after God’s covenant with Abraham. There are several scriptures that say what the Old Covenant is. The Old Covenant is also called the Mosaic or Siniatic Covenant. The terms covenant and testament have the same meaning. And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18)
So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat
bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the
Ten Commandments. (Exodus 34:28) So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. (Deuteronomy 4:13) When I went up to the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant with the Lord had made with you. (Deuteronomy 9:9) And it came about at the end of forty days and nights that the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. (Deuteronomy 9:11) So I turned and came down from the mountain while the mountain was
burning with fire, and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands.
(Deuteronomy 9:15) There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. (I Kings 8:9) And there I have set a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord, which He made with our fathers when He brought them from the land of Egypt. (I Kings 8:21)
“These verses state unequivocally that the covenant between God and Israel which was made at Sinai was the Ten Commandments. This truth is underlined by the fact that the Ten Commandments were kept in the “ark of the covenant” (Ratzlaff, 34).
Then He [Moses] took the testimony and put it in the ark” (Exodus 40:20).
Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the
ark which I had made; and there they are, as the Lord commanded me. At that
time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the
Lord, to stand before the Lord to serve Him and to bless in His name until this
day. (Deuteronomy 10:5, 8)
Adventists would say that the Ten Commandments are eternal or were preexisting, yet if they were eternal then how can they be ADDED as Galatians 3:19
says. They were also not around for Abraham to keep since they came 430 years after he lived. Adventists also say that because the Ten Commandments are the Moral laws written by the finger of God, they are to be kept while the rest of the Ceremonial and Civil laws, hand written by Moses, have passed through the cross. However, the Ten Commandments cannot be separated from the rest of the Law. It is one inclusive covenant beginning with the Ten Commandments and expanded in the other books of the Pentateuch. The following are examples of how the Ten Commandments are explained and applied in the ‘expanded version’ of that ovenant:
1. No other gods: Sacrifice to another god (Ex.22:20) Not worship any other (Ex. 34:14) I am the Lord your God (Lev. 20:24) Fear the Lord your God (Deut. 10:12)
2. Not worship idols: Not make idols (Lev. 26:1) Never forgiven for (Deut. 29:17-21) Makes God angry (Deut 32:21) Do not turn to (Lev. 19:4)
3. Not profane God’s name: Visit iniquity to four generations (Ex. 34:7) Not profane My holy name (Lev. 22:32) Put to death for profaning (Lev. 24:16) Put to death for cursing God (Lev. 24:10-13)
4. Remember the Sabbath: Perpetual covenant (Ex.31:13) Put to death for violation (Ex. 31:14) Violator to be “cut off” (Ex. 31:14) Not kindle a fire on (Ex. 35:3) Keep evening to evening (Lev. 23:32)
5. Honor father and mother: Death penalty for cursing parents (Ex. 21:17) Death penalty for hitting father (Ex. 21:15) Reverence father and mother (Lev. 19:3) Rebellious to parents (Deut. 21:18-21)
6. Not kill: Killed in a quarrel and fist fight (Ex. 21;18) Killed by beating with a rod (Ex. 21:20) Killed by ox, first offense (Ex. 21:28) Killed by ox, several offenses (Ex. 21:29)
7. Not commit adultery: With another man’s wife (Lev. 20: 10) With father’s wife (Lev. 20:11) With daughter-in-law (Lev. 20:12) A number of situations (Lev. 18:16-30)
8. Not steal: Steals an ox (Ex. 22:1) Thief caught while breaking in (Ex. 22:2-4) Animal grazing in neighbor’s field (Ex. 22:5) Thief not caught until later (Ex. 22:8)
9. Not bear false witness: Lied and sworn falsely (Lev. 6:3-8) Swears thoughtlessly (Lev. 5:4) Not give false report (Ex. 23:1) 10. Not covet:
Not covet gold on destroyed idols (Deut. 7:25) Not covet the land (Ex. 34:24)
The Promises of the covenant can be found in Exodus and Deuteronomy.
In Exodus 19:4-6, God says, You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
The Conditions of the covenant were a total of 613 commandments to which the
Israelites heartily accepted; as a matter of fact three times they said, “All that the Lord
has spoken we will do!” (Ex. 19:7-8; Ex. 24:3; Ex. 24:7). One very important point is that these Covenant requirements were not placed upon former generations, it began in Sinai. Deuteronomy 5:3 says, The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today. Romans 9: 4-5 describes what was given to the Israelites, “to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.” This covenant was made with the sons of Israel as the following verses illustrate: Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations.
(Ex. 31:13) So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath
throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ It is a sign between Me
and the sons of Israel forever. (Ex. 31:16-17) Then Moses summoned all Israel, and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statues and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing…The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today. (Deut. 5:1-3) The Sign of this covenant was the Sabbath.
So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath
throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and
the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on
the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed. (Ex. 31:16-17) And also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. (Ez. 20:12)“In the Hebrew Bible if one counts the words of the Ten Commandments he will find the central phrase is ‘remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.’ As the sign of the covenant was placed in the very center of the ancient Near East treaty documents, so the Sabbath, as the sign of the Sinaitic Covenant, rightfully finds its place in the very center of the Ten
Commandments” (Ratzlaff, 38).
Paul describes this Old Covenant in negative terms in 2 Corinthians 3 as one that
kills (3:6), a ministry of death and is fading (3:7), a ministry of condemnation (3:9) and
when read a veil lies over their eyes (3:14). However, God made this Mosaic, Law
Covenant with Israel for a Divine purpose. The following are twelve aspects of the
Divine purpose taken from Kevin Conner’s book The Covenants:
1. To set forth the Divine standard of righteousness (Psalm 19:7-10; Romans 7:12-14).
2. To give a clear external definition of sin because of the inadequacy of man’s
conscience (Romans 3:20; 7:7; I John 3:4).
3. To show Israel the exceeding sinfulness and deceitfulness of sin (Romans 7:11-13; Galatians 3:19).
4. To expose to all men their guilt before God (Romans 3:19).
5. To preserve the nation of Israel and the chosen Messianic seed line from total
corruption by other nations (Gal 3:19).
6. To shut Israel up as a nation “in custody” under a schoolmaster and thus prepare them for Christ’s coming (Galatians 3:22-25; 4:1-3).
7. To illustrate the two major ways of God’s dealings with man, which are seen in
perfect balance in His own being; Law and Grace (John 1:17).
8. To foreshadow and typify all the truths of grace and redemption in the ceremonial
law, and to typify the person and the work of Christ (Romans 2:20; Hebrews 10:1;
9. To provide in the ceremonial law a temporary atonement (covering) for sin by which Israel could approach God in worship and upon the basis of which He could dwell in their midst (Hebrews 9-10).
10. To illustrate more fully and clearly in visible and temporal form of the elements
involved in covenantal revelation (Romans 2:20).
11. To show all the world that none can be justified (made righteous by the Law), but
only through grace and faith (Romans 3:19-22; 9:30-32; 10:1-6; Galatians 3:10-16).
12. To show that the Law Covenant could not give life, but that only the New Covenant“in Christ” could (Galatians 3:12 with Leviticus 18:5). (42)
The New Covenant We can see in Israel’s history that they repeatedly broke their covenant with God. The Babylonian captivity was a result of breaking the Sabbath. It wasn’t until Israel broke the covenant that God told His prophets, like Jeremiah, that He was going to make a new covenant. Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took
them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they
broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Paul illustrates how the New Covenant was typified in the Old Testament:
1. In Abraham’s Two Sons In Galatians 4:21-31 Paul used the two sons of Abraham as an allegory to explain their representation of two covenants Ishmael (Genesis 16) represented the Mosaic Covenant of law and works Isaac (Genesis 21,22) represented the New Covenant of grace and faith. When Isaac was weaned it became apparent that Ishmael could not be the heir of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 21). This foreshadowed that the Mosaic Covenant would be fulfilled and abolished when the New Covenant was ratified (Hebrews 10:9, 16, 17).
2. In Moses’ Law In II Corinthians 3, Paul illustrated how the Mosaic Covenant was typical of the New Covenant. The words of the Old Covenant were written in two tables of stone, and though glorious, they were to be done away with. This pointed to the words of the New Covenant which was written on the two tablets of the heart and mind. These are more glorious and are to last forever (Exodus 20; 31:18; Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:16,17).
3. In Marriage Laws In Romans 7:1-4 Paul illustrated how the Old Covenant marriage laws typified the transfer from the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant. Israel was married at Mt Sinai on the basis of the Mosaic Covenant. This marriage ended in divorce by reason of adultery (Jeremiah 3:1-14; 31:31-34; Isaiah 50:1). Because of the death and resurrection involved in the New Covenant Israel may now be joined to Christ in a new marriage.
4. In Circumcision In Romans 4 Paul referred to Abraham’s being justified by faith, while uncircumcised, as an example of the Gentiles, the Uncircumcision, being justified by faith under the New Covenant. He also referred to the Jews, who were the
Circumcision, under the Mosaic Covenant, as being justified by faith also under the
New Covenant. Therefore, by reason of the New Covenant, Abraham is the father of
all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile, Circumcision of Uncircumcision. Now the true Jew is one who has experienced the spiritual circumcision of the heart,
whether he be Jew or Gentile (Romans 2:24-29; Philippians 3:3). (Conner,
All the covenants foreshadowed how Jesus would be the fulfillment. The prophets said that the Lord Jesus Christ is the New Covenant personified.
“I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by
the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people,
as a light to the nations. To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison. (Isaiah 42:6-7)
And now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and My God is My strength), He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and its Holy One, To the
despised One, to the One abhorred by the nation, to the Servant of rulers, “Kings
shall see and arise, Princes shall also bow down; because of the Lord who is
faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You.”
Thus says the Lord, “In a favorable time I have answered You, and in a
day of salvation I have helped You; and I will keep You and give You for a
covenant of the people, to restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate
heritages. (Isaiah 49:5-8) Romans 15:8 says, “For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers.”
We see that there are many blessings and Promises that come with the New Covenant, but the most important is the salvation of the soul. Salvation means, “safety, security, preservation, deliverance and wholeness” (Conner, Covenants, 73). Jesus is the Savior of the world as John 4:42 says, “And they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’” Also, Acts 13:23 says, “From the offspring of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.”
The following are words we hear in relation to salvation and are possible as a
result of Christ’s ministry and are available for those who believe.
1) Pardon – the forgiveness and remission of the penalty of sin (Acts 10:43; 13:36-
39). Jesus forgave sins (Luke 7:36-50; Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5) and brought
salvation to sinners (Luke 19:1-10). The Old Covenant simply covered forgiven
sin while the New Covenant provides cleansing of forgiven sin (I John 1:5-9).
2) Justification – the pronouncing just, a declaration of righteousness and right
standing before God through Christ (Romans 5:1; 3:24-26). By the works of the
Law, the Mosaic Covenant, none could be justified (Romans 3:19-20; Acts 15:8-
11). The New Covenant makes possible justification by faith in an accomplished
3) Regeneration – by which one is born again into the family of God and call God
“Father” (John 3:1-5; Matthew 6:9; I Peter 1:23). Under the Old Covenant none
could be born again, but the New Covenant makes possible the miracle of the new
4) Assurance – whereby one has the witness of the Spirit that he is secure in
obedience to the Word of God (Hebrews 5:8-9; 6:10-12; 10:38-39; I John 3:19).
The Old Covenant believers never had the blessed assurance that New Covenant
believers are given.
5) Sanctification – whereby one is set apart unto the Lord and His holy service and
use (John 17:17; I Thessalonians 5:23-24; Ephesians 5:26-27). The Old Covenant
believers generally did not experience the blessing of sanctification made
available for every believer under the New Covenant.
6) Adoption – whereby one is placed as a son in the family of God (Romans 8:15,
23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:13-14). By this act we are set in as mature
members of the family of God and Jesus is the Firstborn among a vast family of
brethren (Matthew 11:46-50; Romans 8:29). The Old Covenant believers never
experienced this sonship as do New Covenant believers.
7) Glorification – to render or esteem glorious, honorable, or magnify.
Glorification is the final work of redemption in the perfected saints. Men fell
from the glory of God when he sinned under the Edenic Covenant (Romans 3:23).
The New Covenant makes provision for the believer from justification to
glorification (Romans 8:17:30). Old Covenant saints saw and experienced in
small measure the glory of God, His majesty and brightness. The New Covenant
brings the believer into the fullness of the glory of God (John 17:22-24; II
Corinthians 3:18). (Conner, Covenants, 73-74).
The Conditions of the New Covenant are Repentance, Faith, and Obedience.
Repentance is a changing of the mind and turning to God and is the first step to be in
covenantal relationship with God. John the Baptist had a message of repentance,
Matthew 3:1-18, as did Jesus. In Matthew 4:17 it says, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Peter spoke of
repentance as the initial step on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:37-38. Paul preached
repentance as well in Acts 17:30 and in Acts 26:20-21.
Faith is the next step and “becomes the channel through which the covenant
benefits are received” and “is the attitude in which the covenant must be held” (Conner, Covenants, 80). Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Acts 20:21 “solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance
toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he
who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord, Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does
not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”
The final Condition is active obedience. James 2:17 says, “Even so faith, if it has
no works, is dead, being by itself.” John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, you will keep My
commandments.” Hebrews 5:9 says, “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” There is a difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant obedience:
The Old Covenant gave an external standard and required strict and full obedience
to it before mercy was given. The New Covenant imparts an internal standard as
well as the grace to be able to keep it. (Conner, Covenants, 80)
New Covenant believers are not under the Law of Moses. Romans 7:4 says,
“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of
Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who has raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.” Galatians 5:22-23 lists what that fruit is, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, selfcontrol: against such things there is no law.” What law can force love, joy or peace? That is a heart condition and cannot be externally forced. The Holy Spirit works these fruits in the life of the believer. Just because we are not under the Law of Moses does not mean there is no law for the believer to follow. I Corinthians 9:20-21 says that we are under the Law of Christ: And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the Law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.
Many of the following commandments of Christ were given on the Sermon on the Mount as Christ was describing the Law that would constitute the Kingdom of God because every kingdom needs a law.
1. The first commandment to love God (Matthew 22:27,38).
2. The second commandment to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:39,40; John 13:34).
3. The commandment of witness (Matthew 5:13-16).
4. The commandment of righteousness (Matthew 5:17-20).
5. The commandment of reconciliation (Matthew 5:21-26).
6. The commandment concerning adultery and divorce (Matthew 5:27-32; 19:1-9).
7. The commandment concerning oaths (Matthew 5:33-37).
8. The commandment concerning retaliation (Matthew 5:38-42).
9. The commandment concerning enemies (Matthew 5:43-47).
10. The commandment concerning perfection (Matthew 5:48).
11. The commandment concerning alms (Matthew 6:1-4).
12. The commandment concerning prayer (Matthew 6:5-13).
13. The commandment concerning forgiveness (Matthew 6:14,15; 18:21-35).
14. The commandment concerning fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).
15. The commandment concerning values (Matthew 6:19-34).
16. The commandment concerning criticism (Matthew 7:1-5).
17. The commandment concerning discretion (Matthew 7:6).
18. The commandment concerning requests (Matthew 7:7-11).
19. The commandment concerning consideration (Matthew 7:12).
20. The commandment concerning self-discipline (Matthew 7:13,14).
21. The commandment concerning character and ministry (Matthew 15-23).
22. The commandment concerning obedience (Matthew 7:24-27).
23. The commandment concerning communion (Matthew 26:26-29).
24. The commandment concerning water baptism (Matthew 28:19,20).
25. The commandment concerning the Gospel (Mark 16:15-18; Acts 1:8).
26. The commandment concerning the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,5).
(Conner, Covenants, 80-81)
Finally, the Seal of the New Covenant must be identified. Let’s first evaluate how
Adventists arrive at their New Covenant Seal.
The traditional support for the seventh-day Sabbath as the seal of God comes
from the common understanding of what a seal is: it is a mark which shows
authenticity by (1) giving the name of the one in authority, (2) the title of the one in
authority, and (3) the dominion of the one in authority. Seventh-day Adventists show
that the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment has all of this information: “The Lord”
(name), “The Lord your God” (title), “Who made the heavens and the earth, and sea
and all that is in them” (dominion).
This may be good human reasoning, but the New Testament never speaks of the
Sabbath as the seal of God. (Ratzlaff, 305)
So what is the Sign or Seal of the New Covenant? It is none other than the Holy
Spirit. The Holy Spirit also personifies the New Covenant.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your
salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit
of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to redemption
of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for
the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
Who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as pledge. (II
An interesting point is that Jesus said that blaspheming the Holy Spirit was the
unpardonable sin. When considering the fact that He is the Seal, then the love and
relationship with the Holy Spirit is a reflection of how committed the believer is to his
covenant relationship with God.“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” because they were saying,“He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30)
As the Seal of the New Covenant this is what the Holy Spirit does:
1. The Holy Spirit brings the new birth (John 3:5-6; Titus 3:5).
2. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer’s spirit (Romans 8:9; John 14:16-17; I
Corinthians 3:16; 6:17; I John 2:27).
3. The Holy Spirit is the anointing who abides within and teaches the New Covenant
believer (I John 2:20,27; John 16:13).
4. The Holy Spirit gives assurance of salvation (Romans 8:16).
5. The Holy Spirit fills the believer with Himself (Acts 2:4; Ephesians 5:18).
6. The Holy Spirit by the baptism in the Spirit enables the New Covenant believer to
speak in unknown languages and edify himself (Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; Mark 16:17; I
7. The Holy Spirit leads and guides the believer into all truth (John 16:13; Romans
8. The Holy Spirit enables the believer to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans
9. The Holy Spirit produces the Christ-like nature and character in the life of the
believer (Galatians 5:22-23; II Peter 1:4).
10. The Holy Spirit empowers the New Covenant believer to be a witness for Christ (Acts 1:8; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 24:49).
11. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to those whom He fills (I Corinthians 12:7-13).
12. The Holy Spirit will bring about the resurrection and immortality of the believer’s
body in the last day. Such will consummate the Spirit’s work as the seal of God
(Romans 8:11; I Corinthians 15:47-51; I Thessalonians 4:15-18).
(Conner, Covenants, 90)
Along with being sealed with the Holy Spirit, the entrance sign in the covenant
community is baptism. For the old covenant community it was circumcision, but for the New Covenant, circumcision is replaced with baptism. And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)
Also, as the Sabbath was the remembering sign of the old covenant community, so
partaking of the Lord’s Supper is the remembering sign for the new covenant community. And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing,
He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them,
saying, “Drink from it, all of you; For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and
gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in
remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22:19- 20)
Arguments for the Sabbath
Now that the Old Covenant and the New Covenant have been clearly defined, one
can see that by placing the commandment to remember the Sabbath on New Testament Christians is confusion of seals and of Covenants. However, let us address common arguments for observing the Sabbath today.
Sabbath since Creation Adventists would say that the Sabbath was instituted at Creation, so regardless of the covenants, the Sabbath will always be the sanctified and holy day of worship. “The Bible indicates that the Sabbath of Sinai served as an imperfect reminder of God’s finished rest of creation. It reminded the Israelites of the perfect relationship which existed between God, man and creation before the entrance of sin.” (Ratzlaff, 287) With the amount of detail contained on the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, never once does Scripture mention their observance of the Sabbath. This is because the Sabbath was not given until 430 years after the Abrahamic Covenant according to Galatians 3:17. Exodus 16:22-30 is the first mention of the word Sabbath. Moses explained to the people that they were to collect double on the sixth day for both the sixth and seventh day. This was a couple months before Mt Sinai. The fact that Moses instructs them means they had not known about keeping a Sabbath’s rest. The very fact that some still tried to collect on the seventh day is another indicator that this had not been an established custom on their part, yet God was getting them ready to obey what would symbolize their covenantal relationship. In fact, Deuteronomy 5:3 clearly says,
“The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today.” Also, Moses experienced Mt. Sinai and the giving of the covenant before he wrote the Genesis account of creation. One can see the similarity of the language in the Creation account and the Decalogue, specifically in calling the seventh day holy and sanctified. The Genesis account could be a reflection of what had already happened at Sinai:
Genesis 2:3 “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because
in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
Exodus 20:11 “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord
blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” Therefore during these couple thousand years of history we do not read about the Sabbath being kept by man and only by God at creation.
Sabbath in the New Heavens and Earth
The next argument is based on Isaiah 66:23 which says, “And it shall be from new
moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, all mankind will come to bow down
before Me,” says the Lord. This argument proposes that based on the fact that the
Sabbath will be observed in the new heavens and new earth, we should observe it now. The first important observation to draw out is the context of the surrounding verses of this prophecy. Verses 20-21 says, Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the Lord, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “Just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. I will also take some of them for priests and for Levites,” says the Lord.
“Old covenant eschatology is set forth in old covenant terminology,” therefore, to take this prophecy at face value requires the reinstitution of the Levitical priesthood and grain offerings. (Ratzlaff, 284,285) Also in verse 23, the Sabbath is mentioned along with new moons. New moons are not being kept now since it was a ceremony that was temporal and did not pass through the cross. It is inconsistent to say that we are to keep the one and not the other, as well as not reinstate the Levitical priesthood and specific offerings. The Book of Hebrews addresses these very things for it was written to the Jews to show how Jesus fulfilled the temporal aspects of the temple services and the priesthood, because his blood, sacrifice, and priestly ministry superceded that of the Old Covenant. Also in Hosea 2:11, a minor prophet after the time of Isaiah, the Lord declared, “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all her festal assemblies.” We can see Paul reiterating this in Colossians 2:16-17: Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Jesus is My Example
The next argument is that Jesus is my example and because He kept the Sabbath,
so must I. Again to take his example at face value misses an important aspect of His
mission. Jesus was born a Jew with the mission of being a perfect spotless Lamb of God who would then be able to die for sinful man. Had Jesus sinned once, than His death would have been only for His sin and not for the world’s. Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” We must not misunderstand His example for He also kept circumcision, all the feasts and all 613 laws found in the Pentateuch. If we were to follow His example in all these points it would make all that He died for meaningless.
“If You Love Me”
Another argument Adventists use is that because Jesus said, “If you love Me you
will keep My commandments,” therefore, since these commandments are referring to the Ten Commandments, one is obligated to keep the Sabbath. Sometimes ‘commandments’ does refer to the Ten Commandments, but different authors of New Testament Scripture consistently use a Greek word to mean one thing and another author will use that same Greek word to mean something else. The one time that commandments referred specifically to the Sabbath is found in Luke 23:56, “And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Luke used the Greek word entole to refer to this ‘commandment.’
The Writings of John
Johannine writing is different. The book of John is where we discover this scripture where Jesus says that love is the motivation for keeping His commandments.
John also authored I, II, and III John and Revelation. The Apostle John always uses the Greek word nomos when referring to the Law and his use of entole is usually referring to the new commandment of love. The following is a list of all the verses that John used for the Law: For the Law [nomos] was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (Jn.1:17) Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law [nomos] and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ (Jn. 1:45)
“Did not Moses give you the Law [nomos], and yet none of you carries out the
Law[nomos]? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (Jn. 7:19)
“If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath that the Law [nomos] of Moses
may not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the
Sabbath?” (Jn. 7:23)
“But this multitude which does not know the Law [nomos] is accursed.” (Jn 7:49)
“Our Law [nomos] does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows
what he is doing, does it?” (Jn. 7:51)
“Now the Law [nomos] Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do
You say?” (Jn. 8:5)
“Even in your law [nomos] it has been written that the testimony of two men is
true.” (Jn. 8:17)
Jesus answered them, ‘Has it not been written in your Law [nomos], “I SAID,
YOU ARE GODS”? (Jn. 10:34)
The multitude therefore answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law [nomos]
that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be
lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” (Jn.12:34)
“But they have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in
their Law [nomos], ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’” (Jn. 15:25).
Pilate therefore said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to
your law [nomos].” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (Jn. 18:31)
The Jews answered him, “We have a law [nomos], and by that law [nomos] He
ought to die because He made Himself out to the Son of God.” (Jn. 19:7)
Next is a complete list of the times John uses the word commandment:
“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I
have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This
commandment [entole] I received from My Father.” (Jn. 10:18)
“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me
has given Me commandment [entole], what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment [entole] is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” (Jn. 12:49-50).
“A new commandment [entole] I give to you, that you love one another, even as I
have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jn. 13:34)
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments [entole].” (Jn. 14:15)
“He who has My commandments [entole] and keeps them, he it is who loves Me;
and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” (Jn. 14:21)
“But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me
commandment [entole], even so I do. Arise, let us go from here.” (Jn. 14:31)
“If you keep My commandments [entole], you will abide in my love; just as I
have kept My Father’s commandments [entole], and abide in His love.” (Jn. 15:10)
“This is My commandment [entole], that you love one another, just as I have love
you.” (Jn. 15:12)
“And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments [entole]. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments [entole], is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (I Jn. 2:3-4).“Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment [entole] to you, but an old
commandment [entole] which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment [entole] is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment [entole] to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness I passing away, and the true light is already shining.” (I Jn. 2:7-8)“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments [entole] and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment [entole] that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded [entole] us. And the one who keeps His commandments [entole] abides in Him, and He in him. And we know this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (I Jn. 3:22-24) “And this commandment [entole] we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (I Jn. 4:21).“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments [entole]. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments [entole]; and His commandments [entole] are not burdensome.” (I Jn. 5:2-3)“I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment [entole] to do from the Father. And now I ask you, lady, not as writing to you a new commandment [entole], but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.” (II Jn. 4-5).“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments [entole]. This is the commandment [entole], just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.” (2 Jn. 6) And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments [entole] of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)
Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments [entole] of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12).
These last two verses in Revelation are proof texts for Adventists teaching the necessity to keep the Ten Commandments, specifically the fourth commandment Sabbath because the remnant church will keep the commandments of God. However, we have just seen by comparing nomos and entole, that if John meant the Ten Commandments he would have used nomos. Instead, he used entole and defined what he meant by this Greek word consistently in all five of his books. What was the significance of the Apostle John’s interest in Jesus’ command to love? Jesus had circles of those who were close to Him. There were the 70 sent out, then there were the 12 disciples. Even closer were the three, Peter, James and John. The three had been on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1) and had gone further into Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37). However, John gave himself the title ‘The one whom Jesus loved’ (John 13:23). He was the one who laid his head on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper. Jesus left the care of His mother to the disciple whom He loved, John (John 19:26). He was the only one to receive a revelation of the glorified Christ described in the book of Revelation. John was the one who was given the Apocalypse. Of the twelve disciples, ten were martyred, one committed suicide and one died a natural death. John died the natural death and was the one who lived the longest. Several attempts had been made on his life and in one instance he was put into boiling oil, being severally burned and as a result became grotesque looking. John had migrated to Ephesus, was arrested, was sent to a penal colony on Patmos. He went back to Ephesus and died as bishop of the church. John was an example of one whose nature had changed by being with Jesus. Mark 3:17 says he was a “Son of Thunder.” In Luke 9:54, he wanted to command fire to come down from heaven and consume a Samaritan village for not lodging the disciples. This former man of anger is the author of the Epistle of Love, I John. John had something special to say about love in relationship to God, Christian brothers and for the world (Hubbard).
With the clarification of the fact that the new commandment of love is what John meant by ‘commandments’ in Revelation 12:17 and 14:12, one can quickly see that Adventist eschatology, requiring the observance of the fourth commandment, is ill founded.
We aren’t Legalistic.
Another argument that Adventists use is they don’t like being called legalistic for worshiping on the Sabbath since keeping the other nine commandments is not considered legalistic. One very important fact however, is that the other nine are repeatedly mentioned in the New Testament especially in the long lists of acts of the flesh such as in Gal. 5:19-21, Rom. 1:28-32, Eph. 5:3-6, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 2 Tim. 3:2-5, Rev. 21:8, 2 Cor. 12:20 and Col. 3:5-8. Breaking the fourth commandment is not mentioned as a sin. The problem with this argument is that for the Sabbath to be a crucial “testing truth” for end times and a determiner of eternal states and yet is not plainly commanded in the New Testament raises some red flags concerning Adventist eschatological interpretation.
The Sabbath Never Changed to Sunday
Finally, because there simply is no mention of the Sabbath changing to Sunday, the Sabbath is understood to have remained. The fact is that Sunday was never intended to be the new Sabbath. The New Testament never specified which day to worship, instead in Hebrews 10:23-25 believers are encouraged to assemble together. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.
Having established there is not a specified day there is biblical validity to worshiping on Sunday. The following are ten reasons why many New Testament believers keep the Lord’s Day and is taken from The Feasts of Israel, by Kevin Conner:
1. Because the waving of the Sheaf of Firstfruits took place on the morrow after the Sabbath. This pointed to the fact that Christ’s resurrection took place on the first day of the week, not the Jewish Sabbath (Leviticus 23:11; Luke 23:54; John 19:31; I Corinthians 15:20-23). Christ rose from the dead the first day of the week.
2. Because the Feast of Pentecost took place on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath, which was the first day of the week. This pointed to the fact that the Holy Spirit was to come on the first day of the new week, not on the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16; Acts 2:1). The Holy Spirit was outpoured on the first day of the week.
3. Because the disciples met to break bread on the first day of the week and to hear preaching of the Word (Acts 20:7).
4. Because the believers gathered together and took their offerings as God had prospered
them on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:2).
5. Because the Sabbath day was the rest of Creation, and the Lord’s Day is the rest of redemption (Genesis 2:1-3; Matthew 28:1-6).
6. Because the Sabbath day was the sign and seal of the Mosaic or Old Covenant and the believer is under the New Covenant sign and seal.
7. Because the Sabbath day in the Old Testament was obligatory on pain of death. Under the New Testament there is absolutely no command to keep any special day. The keeping of the Lord’s day was voluntary, spontaneous day of worship and service to the Lord. The day was kept, not because it was a legal obligation but because they loved to keep it. This should be the attitude of believers today, according to the Government they may be under.
8. Because all the moral commandments of the Decalogue are repeated, in one form or another, by Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament; the one exception is the keeping of the fourth commandment which is never once commanded in the New Testament.
9. Because in the early Church the Christian was eventually forced out of the Synagogue by persecution for he could not have Christ in one hand an Moses in the other hand (Acts 8:3-4). God allowed this to come to force the separation between the Synagogue and the Church. For a while Jewish Christians kept both the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day, but the two were incompatible and had to be separated (Acts 15:24- 29). The Sabbath was never enforced on the Gentile believers after this, only by Judaizing teachers of the Law. The early believers who did keep Sabbath were Judaizing believers, a mixture of Law and Grace. They were cut off from the main flow of the Christian Church and despised by the Synagogue. Hence it is wrong for legalizers today to use these people as a “proof” that early believers kept the Sabbath.
10. Because Church History confirms the fact that Christians kept the Lord’s Day.
a. Barnabas, one of the Apostolic Fathers of the First Century A.D., writes: “We keep the Lord’s Day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead.”
b. The “Didache of the Apostles,” one of the earliest Christian Documents states:
“On the Lord’s Day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks.
This is also of the first Century.
c. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, in the year 110 A.D., says: “Those who have walked
in ancient practices attain unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths, but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s Day, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ, our only teacher.”
d. Justin Maryr, in the year 135 A.D., says “Sunday is the day on which we all hold common assembly, because it is the first day on which God having wrought a change in the darkness and matter made the world, and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. And on the day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place and the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophetic Word are read as long as time permits.”
e. According to Iranaeus in 155 A.D., Tertullian, 200 A.D., and Eusebuis 315 A.D., Christians repudiated the seventh day Sabbath and recognized the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day. (Conner, Feasts, 105-106)“Thus Sunday observance, or the keeping of the Lord’s Day was already in vogue before the rise of the Popes or Constantine the Great, when he in 321 A.D., made “Sunday Law” observance obligatory. Judaizing Christians kept the Sabbath day, while the Christian Church kept the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10). Christ did not change the Sabbath to Sunday. Sunday is not the Sabbath. It never was and never can be.” (Conner, Feasts, 106)
For many attending the Amazing Facts Prophecy Seminar, where an Adventist Evangelist presents the Doctrines of Adventism, all these arguments for keeping the Sabbath seem logical. The Seminar begins by establishing grounds for keeping the Sabbath and then links the Sabbath to end times. The Catholic Church is the Beast and the Protestant Church hasn’t fully come out of Babylon (Catholic Church) by keeping Sunday. Sabbath is not only mandated because it is in the Ten Commandments but also because it is the Seal of God and those who worship on Sunday will receive the Mark of the Beast (come the passing of the Sunday Law). I have written this paper because it was necessary to expose the inaccuracies concerning these arguments and since these are the foundations for Adventists to conclude that those who know the ‘truth’ about the Sabbath and leave have committed the Unpardonable Sin. They are not going to heaven, since they are not counted among the remnant that keep the commandments of God. Thus I did the BIG NO NO, I left Adventism.
For many at Ridge Dell, I have failed, did not persevere, did not pass the test, couldn’t handle the persecution or pressure, and counted my family as dearer than Christ. I am sorry to disappoint you all, since these are not the reasons why I left. I left because my spirit would not rest knowing that if I continued down that path, I would be pretending the new information I had studied did not exist, when in fact it exposed crucial fallacies of Adventism both historically and Scripturally. My spirit would not allow me to continue in a doctrinal belief that was toxic to my faith because of its enslaving nature. I have appreciated the sincerity in my precious Adventist friends. I can honestly say that I gave a significant part of my heart to the college group and Bostrom family and I will treasure the memories of such a godly, fun loving, inviting group. I know you loved me enough to let me go and search the Scriptures. I also know you are disappointed that I am no longer there, however, I hope you realize I did not leave to form enemies or to learn how to debate. It would have been easier to never write this paper and just “moved on.” Yet I saw that it was necessary to address those who questioned why I left Adventism. It has taken a year of healing and research to finally write what I have learned and believe, but I have found a restored freedom and liberty in Jesus. Often times I heard the phrase “By beholding you become changed” and yet what Adventists have the potential of doing is beholding the Law, which Romans 7:5 says arouses the sinful passions. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Are we going to behold Christ or the Law? It is my prayer that each one of my dear friends seriously asks yourselves if the veil of 2 Corinthians 3:14-17 lies over your heart: But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Sprit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Conner, Kevin and Ken Malmin. The Covenants. Portland: City Bible Publishing, 1983.
Conner, Kevin J. The Feasts of Israel. Portland: City Bible Publishing, 1980.
Hubbard, Lanny. New Testament Survey: Notes on John, Galatians & I John. Spring
Martin, J. Mark. The Gospel and the Covenants I & II. Phoenix: Grace upon Grace.
New American Standard Bible. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1977.
Oxford Bible Atlas: Third Edition. Herbert G. May and John Day. Eds. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1984.
Ratzlaff, Dale. Sabbath in Crisis. Sedona, AR: Life Assurance Ministries, 1995. [Now Sabbath in Christ]
Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville:
Thomas Nelson, 1990