The Sabbath is the "hinge" on which the others turn. This basic study treats the foundational truths about God's Sabbath day.
A common idea is that the Sabbath is the sign of the Old Covenant, but the Holy Spirit is the sign of the New. Yet the seventh day has been holy since creation.
The Sabbath provides an opportunity for God's children to develop a relationship with Him, reflecting on the spiritual as well as the physical creation.
It is from the proper use of the Sabbath—in fellowshipping with Him and getting to know Him—that we derive true spiritual rest and refreshment.
We need to develop righteous judgment about what constitutes a genuine Sabbath emergency and what may be a deceptive rationalization of our human nature.
In the Gospels, questions about the Sabbath center on how to keep it, not whether it should be kept. The way Jesus approached the Sabbath gives us an example.
Observing the Sabbath day is a vital key that this world's Christianity has lost. It opens up whole vistas of God's way and purpose!
The recent Lunar Sabbath phenomenon is unbiblical and unworkable. The weekly Sabbath, observed every seventh day, is correct and in line with God's Word.
The biblical instructions for Sabbath keeping apply far more to the church than to the Israelites, who did not have the fullness of scriptural counsel.
How and why a person keeps the Sabbath determines whether this test commandment is really a sign between God and His people or an act of futility.
In order to justify not keeping the Sabbath, many use Colossians 2:16-17 as proof that Paul did not command it. Here is what they are overlooking.
The Sabbath is an antidote to the weariness we experience. It recalls God's pausing after completing His physical creation, focusing on the spiritual creation.
God has blessed us with the Sabbath, a period of holy time, when He redeems us from the clutches of our carnality and this evil world.
In 1893, the Catholic Mirror—the official organ of Cardinal Gibbons and the Vatican in the United States—ran a series of articles discussing the right of the Protestant churches to worship on Sunday. The articles stress that unless one was willing to accept the authority of the Catholic Church to designate the day of worship, Christians who wish to follow the Bible should observe the seventh-day Sabbath.
The vast majority of Christian churches today teach the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, as a time for rest and worship. Yet it is generally known and freely admitted that the early Christians observed the seventh day as the Sabbath. How did this change come about?
The Preparation Day is a day of 'gathering' what relates to eternity so that we can properly ingest the spiritual manna on the holy day without distraction.
We live in a society that is increasingly concerned about ownership. Yet who owns the Sabbath? How does the answer to this question affect our keeping of it?
Herbert Armstrong presents seven arguments proving that the week has not been altered over the centuries, and thus, we keep the same seventh-day Sabbath as God created in Genesis 2.
The fourth commandment is the one that most people think is least important, but in reality it may be one of the most important! John Ritenbaugh explains the Sabbath commandment and its vital teaching.
Correct actions become a sign—a witness—even without any preaching, which is why God's words are symbolically bound to the hand rather than the tongue.
The timing of Jesus Christ's resurrection has nothing to do with establishing which day God made holy, and everything to do with whether He is the Messiah.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that God gave the Sabbath (a sanctified, set-apart period of recurring time) to His people in order that they come to know Him intimately, learning to live as He lives. Idolatry, scattering, and captivity have always been the natural consequences of Sabbath breaking. Freedom from bondage and liberty are the natural consequences of Sabbath keeping. God gives relatively few broad principles concerning how the Sabbath is to be kept. Our Elder Brother has given us specific examples of how to use Sabbath time properly, having begun His redemptive liberating ministry on the Sabbath and ending it on a preparation day. Christ emphasized the liberating or redemptive intent (or burden-relieving aspect) of the Sabbath. Acts of liberation or release from bondage occur frequently on the Sabbath Day. We need to follow our Elder Brother's example of relieving burdens.
Protestants will not concede Papal authority. Instead, they justify Sunday-worship by saying they are honoring the day on which Christ rose from the dead.
The Sabbath is a period of time God purposefully sanctified and set apart for the benefit of mankind, a time dedicated to God's spiritual creation.
Universal in scope, the Edenic Covenant introduces God to mankind as his Creator and establishes the way human beings are to relate to Him and the creation.
At creation, God sanctified only one day, the seventh, as a day of rest. At Sinai, He again sanctified it as a holy day, tying it to creation and freedom.
Though the search criteria for the whereabouts of Israel point to only one conclusion, most Israelites are blind to their origins. In this final installment of the series, Charles Whitaker deals with the question of why Israel has forgotten its identity.
The work required on the Sabbath is to prepare for the Kingdom of God, fellowshipping with our brethren, serving where possible, and relieving burdens.
God, not man, created, sanctified and memorialized the seventh day Sabbath from the time of creation, intending that man use this holy time to worship God.
The Sabbath reminds us that God is Creator and that we were once in slavery to sin. The Sabbath is a time of blessing, deliverance, liberty, and redemption.
The Sabbath is a special creation, a very specific period of holy time given to all of mankind, reminding us that God created and is continuing to create.
Jesus magnified the Sabbath, giving principles by which to judge our activities. Each time Jesus taught about the Sabbath, He emphasized some form of redemption.
Keeping the Sabbath definitely marks a person as different. Perhaps the feeling of being odd that comes from Sabbath observance affects young people most of all. Clyde Finklea recounts the story of a friend's momentous choice regarding his keeping of the Sabbath, a decision he had to make all on his own.
Can anything be more paradoxical than professing Christians not following the words of the One they claim as their Savior? In works they deny Him.
Focusing on material and temporal things undermines faith. The Sabbath is holy time, created for building faith, energizing our minds for fellowship with God.
In our hectic culture, we commit far too little time to God, depriving ourselves of the Holy Spirit and attenuating the faith required to draw close to God.
John Ritenbaugh warns that benign neglect of the Sabbath covenant can incrementally lead us into idolatry, as it apparently led Solomon into idolatry. We are admonished to respect or treat this holy time as different from the other days of the week, forsaking our mundane concerns, but allowing God to perform intense spiritual work, redeeming us from spiritual bondage, increasing our faith, and working out salvation in us. The Sabbath provides us the necessary time to systematically inculcate God's Word into our inner beings, fellowshipping with God and other called-out brethren. We need to carefully prepare for the Sabbath, making careful use of this precious preparation time for future service in His Kingdom. The Sabbath typifies the time of full redemption of Salvation and the establishment of His Kingdom on this earth- a millennial rest for this creation.
The reason for refraining from many activities on the Sabbath is not labor or energy, but the overall motivation. Certain works are perfect for the Sabbath.
David Grabbe cues in on Matthew 12:39 in which Jesus Christ told the Pharisees that an evil generation looks for a sign from heaven (perhaps like fire or manna). Christ said the sign of Jonah, specifying His time in the tomb, was all He would give them. Jesus was not against signs; the Gospel of John is structured around eight signs. The Old Testament is full of signs, which the Pharisees missed because they failed to keep the Covenant properly. Ancient Israel witnessed numerous signs on the Sinai, but because of the hardness of their hearts, the signs profited them nothing. When God gives a sign, He intends it should be taken seriously. God links a disbelief in His signs as a rejection of Him. Forgetting God's signs leads to forgetting Him. A sign serves as a symbol of divine communication. God desires His Word to be bound as signs in our forehead (our will) and in our hands (our actions and behavior), impressed in our hearts and in our lives. When we behave according to God's Word, it truly is a sign to others, most of whom do not see the value and practicality of following God's Commandments. Obedience is a testimony that there is a God who wants us to live a certain way, modeling our behavior after Jesus Christ, who kept Our Father's Law in the spirit and letter. Obedience to God's Law constitutes a sign to others that we are different, in a positive sense, from the ways of the world, enabling us to demonstrate by our behavior the superiority of God's plan for us. As well, obedience to His Law constitutes a sign to God that we are loyal to Him and will respond to anything He says, including keeping His Sabbath. Sadly, only a fraction of the religious community on the earth take God's Law seriously. The Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (including the command to eat unleavened bread daily during the seven Days of Unleavened Bread) are also signs we dare not take lightly. If we forget the signs of God, we forget our identity, as has most of Israel, and will bring curses upon ourselves, as has our nation
There are over 1,200 Christian denominations in the United States! Why has God not intervened to remove the confusion and set things straight?
God has sanctified no day other than the Sabbath. Sunday worship is a pagan deviation, perpetuated by Gnosticism, a movement that despises God's laws.
John Ritenbaugh explores the several contexts in which the "first day of the week" (the word "Sunday" never appears) is used in scripture, observing that none of these scriptures (8 in all) does away with the Sabbath nor establishes Sunday as the 'Lords Day,' but invariably portrays the first day as a common work day. Because the days begin at sundown, the meeting Paul conducts at Troas in Acts 20 (on the first day of week) actually occurs Saturday night, having continued from the Sabbath. The miraculous resurrection of Eutychus occurs at this event. Paul, feeling pressed for time (feeling a compulsion to go to Jerusalem), decides (realizing he would have difficulty saying Good bye) not to go back to Ephesus, but gives final (Paul would never see them again) admonitory instructions to the Ephesian elders at Miletus, transferring responsibility for the care of the congregation over to them. Paul perceived that his work in the eastern part of the Mediterranean was coming to a close.
The Millennium or God's rest will be an exceedingly busy time, a time when all of humanity will be converted, a time everybody will be on the same trek.
The focus of Psalms Book IV and the Summary Psalm 149 is on the work of the glorified saints in serving as mediating priests under Christ.
Rejecting the Sabbath or embracing Christmas requires rejecting fundamental biblical truths. If we do not do what Christ did, we cannot claim to follow Christ.
There is a clear demarcation in God's mind regarding which is the true way and which is not. We were formerly children of Satan until God rescued us.
A summary of the Covenants, Grace, and Law series, reiterating the differences in the Covenants and the respective places of grace and law in God's purpose.
Catholics and Protestants, because of lack of belief, do not find the Bible a sufficient guide to salvation. They claim to believe Christ, yet disobey.
A scriptural explanation of the time of Christ's death, burial and resurrection, showing that He died on a Wednesday and rose from the dead on the Sabbath.
Despite the Council of Laodicea's condemnation of the Sabbath, a group of believers termed Paulicians kept God's laws and resisted the heresy from Rome.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the days, months, and times referred to in Galatians 4:10 do not refer to Jewish Holy Days or the law of God, but to Pagan Gnostic rites connected with the worship of demons. To refer to the liberating law of God as weak and beggarly constitutes rank blasphemy. To use Galatians as an antinomian tract denigrating God's holy and righteous law creates a hypocritical dichotomy- in which Paul, while keeping the law, allegedly urged the people not to keep it. Paul, as a light to the Gentiles, kept the Sabbath and the rest of God's law in the middle of gentile territory (Acts 18:11, 13:44) indicating that neither the Sabbath nor any other aspect of God's law had been done away. The target of Paul's wrath was Gnostic asceticism, which was syncretized with both extra- biblical Judaistic and Pagan elements.
John Ritenbaugh affirms that the Word of God is not ever improved by syncretizing or alloying it with human philosophy, a pattern of reasoning which often begins with a faulty or dangerous premise. The Gnostics criticized by Paul in Colossians 2:16-17 were guilty of bringing in ritualistic ascetic discipline to propitiate demons. While Paul never criticized self-discipline and rigor, he did condemn the practice if it did not emanate from Jesus Christ and if it contaminated the keeping of the Sabbath or Holy Days. God is not merely interested in what we do, but why we do the thing. Some misguided scholars, looking at the "touch not, taste not" phrase, assume that God is not careful about rules. They ignore the context in which Paul condemns an attractive self-disciplining mind control regime or system (Gnosticism) totally cut off from the Headship of Christ.
The Sabbath is not a mere ceremonial observance, but identifies God's people as different, and consequently a perpetual irritant to the world.
People who try to supplement their spiritual diet with lawlessness or other heresies risk losing their identity, and ultimately their spiritual life.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the Sabbath Command (as well as all of the Ten Commandments) was made for both Jews and Gentiles (all of mankind). Throughout the book of Acts, Gentiles are faithfully keeping the Sabbath along with the Jews. Paul's insistence that a relationship with God could not be established by keeping the law did not lead to the fallacious conclusion that the law (including the Sabbath command) had been done away. Following Paul's tearful and poignant farewell to the Ephesian elders, one finds startling parallels between Paul's final journey to Jerusalem and Christ's final journey to Jerusalem, including their awareness of plots on the part of zealous Jews to kill them, their being handed over to Gentiles for sentencing, their receiving multiple predictions and warnings that they would be apprehended, their demonstrating a resolute determination to do God's will regardless of the consequences and resigning themselves to suffer death. Paul, like Christ, was accused and tried on totally fabricated charges of being antinomian and defiling the temple. As with Christ, the Gentile officials recognized that the charges made against Paul were baseless, but felt coerced by mob influence to carry out the sentence anyway. Paul, through the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, times his arrival in Jerusalem to coincide with the pilgrim crowds arriving for Pentecost, when his testimony would have the greatest impact. Before his apprehension and imprisonment, Paul delivers the love offering collected from Gentile converts for the Jerusalem church after undergoing a purification rite demonstrating his respect for law and custom.
John Ritenbaugh focuses upon the proclivity of the ancient Israelites to nullify the power of the gospel, refusing to mix it with actual obedience, which stems from faith and belief. What they heard never became a part of their lives; "Egypt" never left the Israelites. We have to exercise care that we do not follow suit, assenting intellectually but hardening our hearts when it comes to making the changes demanded of us. The consequences for us are far graver than the consequences for them. By yielding to God, we begin to experience the kind of life that He experiences. The rest (katapausis) which God experiences (a period of refreshment, prefiguring the Millennial rest) is a rejuvenating, exhilarating peace of God we can experience right now. We need to yield to the correcting powers of His Word, a means of reflecting the contents and intents of the heart.
We must avoid forgetting the connection between past and present, especially as our forebears had to battle outer and inner enemies of God's truth.
It is easy to denigrate a matter as not being 'salvational,' but the real question to ask is, How will this action affect my relationship with God?
The traditions of men have perverted the Sabbath, but if we keep His law with the intent in which He gave it, we can produce actions in line with His will.
God promises to write His Law on our hearts and minds. When we experience the consequences of our or others' sins, we lean the depth of how bad sin is.
Kim Myers, reflecting on the uniqueness of our calling, asks us if we appreciate the miracle of our calling, an event which changed our orientation regarding our belief structure, diet, and moral behavior, totally at odds with the world. God has called each of us differently, giving us different support systems and different time sequences, and motivations. Nobody can come to God without His calling. God manages the events, contacts, and circumstances so we are motivated to obey Him. The men Christ called to be His disciples were not the rich and powerful, nor the high profile movers and shakers of the world, but everyday men. The calling of Saul of Tarsus, a man who had many trials and triumphs, was particularly dramatic. The common denominator of all these callings constitutes adoption as God's offspring. As a result of our calling, we will have tests and trials, but the end of the process is sanctification and glorification.
John Ritenbaugh insists that this particular topic is attached to the Old and New Covenants, solemn agreements which are eternal (God's Word is eternal) and will not pass away, nor will they be 'done away.' Some things may be set aside for a while, but they are there for our purposes for learning how to judge. Some of the aspects which the world's religious claim are 'done away' will at a future time be brought back. We need to learn to judge in a godly manner, putting merciful restraints on our tendency to condemn or jump to conclusions. We need to inculcate the two great commandments: loving God and loving our fellow humans. We need to learn that sin has different levels of consequences. When it comes to judgment, one size does not fit all. Not everything is on the same level. God is going to judge each of us individually. Our ultimate destiny is to share rulership with our High Priest, Jesus Christ, judging righteously in God's Kingdom, rightly dividing the Word of God. God's Laws set the standards upon which righteous conduct is to be judged. It takes a lifetime to prepare to judge in the Kingdom of God. Learning to apply the spiritual dimension of the law is much more difficult than applying the physical dimension. But both of these dimensions are easier to keep than the traditions and regulations of men, inherently heavy burdens. When Gentile converts were admitted into the church, they were instructed to follow Old Covenant laws regarding the strangling of animals, eating of blood, or eating meat offered to idols. Clearly, the Old Covenant was not 'done away.' After Christ's return, some of the aspects of the Old Covenant, currently in abeyance (for example, circumcision and sacrifices), will be re-instituted. There is nothing evil about the Old Covenant; it provides insights on righteous judgment.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting that science fiction has been moving toward dystopian themes, depicting venues of unpleasantness or grimness, the opposite of Utopian themes- a pleasant or idealistic state. A dystopia is a repressive and tyrannical state, whose rulers think they are bringing in utopia. Dystopian societies regulate every aspect of life, coercively regimenting every aspect of life. Dystopias lack freedom, prosperity, and peace. In the dystopian novel and movie, Hunger Games depicts a totalitarian state supposedly taking place in America after a holocaust. Government gains control by offering bread and circus. Today people are being appeased by food stamps, cell phones, and reality games. How do we, as God's called out ones, vision the future? —- Dystopia or Utopia, or both. Unfortunately, before the return of Christ, we will have to endure. The Feast of Tabernacles (or the fall holidays) portrays a time of rejoicing, although the temporariness of the booths indicates that the inhabitants will be continually on the move. The concentrated second tithe enables brethren to fellowship in luxury. The Feast of Tabernacles is an instructive time, enabling us to consider the perennial effects of cause and effect. Scriptures portray the fall harvest as taking a significant amount of time (a millennium) , a time people will be systematically learning the ways of God without the influence of Satan. The ugly human traits described in Paul's letter to Timothy ( II Timothy 3:1-10) have not yet come to total fruition, but will evidently take place in the future. Sadly, Christians will always be subject to persecution, but will crescendo at the end of the age. The Great Tribulation is the ultimate dystopia—war, pillage, rape , and grim captivity. The return of Christ will avenge all the crimes committed against God's called ones, as God's Kingdom is restored a
Richard Ritenbaugh, ruminating about the years many of us have been in the Church of God, affirms that the repetition of the messages and themes of these holy days adds many layers of insight to our understanding. We are commanded to keep a Feast to the Lord, to eat unleavened bread, and to refrain from eating leavened bread, commemorating our Exodus from sin (as typified by Egypt)—an event to be kept perpetually. At the beginning and the end of the days of Unleavened Bread, we are summoned to holy convocations. With the help of God's Holy Spirit, we are enabled to purge out any residual or invasive sins which attack us following our calling and baptism. We are admonished to imitate the life of Jesus Christ, walking though our entire wilderness journey, faithfully keeping His Law. Even though keeping the law does not justify us, it does give us the rules, and points out to us what sin is. The law is a guide keeping us within moral and ethical boundaries. God's commandments are given in love. David (or perhaps Jeremiah) had nothing but praise for God's Law because it provided him guidance throughout life. Law-keeping is a commanded work, but it does not save us; grace does that. Law-keeping molds us, giving us practice to live like God lives—the practice which could make us perfect, putting on the very character of God. Paul reminds us that God's Law is holy and spiritual. Jesus Christ magnified the Law, giving it both a physical and spiritual dimension. Keeping God's Law keeps us a step beyond all the rest because we have God's advice on matters. God's Law instructs our minds and restrains our conduct, illuminating our understanding and our walk, as our teacher and guide. We ought to perpetually meditate on God's Law, keeping it in our minds constantly. Law can also be rendered into the words: way (pattern of life marked out by God's revelation), the Torah
If we patiently endure, trusting in God's faithfulness to bring us to completion, there will be a time when we will attain the rest we desperately yearn for.
Galatians 4:9-10 is a favorite crutch of those who claim Christians no longer need to observe God's holy days. However, Paul's meaning is quite different.
John Ritenbaugh exposes the deplorable contraditions in the arguments of those who advocate doctrinal change. By their reasoning, they portray God as 'a confused and false minister who lacks the power to instruct his chosen leaders to 'get it right." But that is not the way the Bible portrays Him!
The proponents of a 15th Passover discount clear scriptural details and instead speculate. One cannot build doctrines on implication, distortion, and traditions.
Nine steps had to be included with the Passover observance, all within the house until morning. It takes place between sun's setting and complete darkness.