A Celebration Of Creation: A Look At Sabbath, Part 2

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Posted by Truth Ignited on Monday, June 25, 2018

 

Click Here to read A Celebration Of Creation: A Look At Sabbath, Part 1

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, along with everything in them. On the seventh day God was finished with his work which he had made, so he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. God blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy; because on that day God rested from all his work which he had created, so that it itself could produce.
~Genesis 2:1-3 (CJB)

            In the first part of this message I covered a lot of points of opposition toward keeping a weekly Sabbath in accordance with the Fourth Commandment from a chapter titled Is the Weekly Sabbath Established in the Genesis Creation Narrative? from the book Lying For God. The authors of this book, as mentioned previously, appear to consist primarily of former members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the Worldwide Church of God. The overall tone of the book seems that they are more concerned with discrediting the doctrines of the religious cult organizations they previously belonged to than looking at actual Jewish-Christian history on the subject.

            To refresh some of what I touched on in Part 1, there is a peculiar word in this opening text, one that seems a bit out of place or unusual in regard to the characteristic of God. That word is “rested”. Why would the Scripture declare that God “rested” when Psalm 121:4 tells us: “Behold, the Keeper of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps”?

            On the surface this gives the impression that God was tired after He had finished creating the Earth and all life contained within it. But I don’t believe that is really the case at all. The Hebrew word that has been translated as “rested” in many English translations of the Bible is shabath (שָׁבַת) and is where the word Shabbat or Sabbath comes from. This point is contested in Lying For God, but I feel I have already properly addressed this and clearly shown that historical Jewish teaching throughout the centuries connects the Sabbath commandment in Exodus 20 with the Creation Sabbath of Genesis 2 and that the Jewish people have long regarded the Sabbath as a celebration of God’s Creation. Because, however, it is often defined in terms of rest, I feel there is a lot of misunderstanding to what the Sabbath Day really is.

            While a possible definition of the word shabath is “rest”, it can also mean “celebrate”. When we take a look at the character of God throughout Scripture we know, as seen in Psalm 121, that He does not slumber or sleep so there seems no need for Him to have “rested” on the seventh day. We also see throughout the Torah a series of festivals instituted for His people during the course of the year, with key Holy Days also referred to as Sabbaths. This indicates that God likes a good celebration. Therefore I feel a better rendering of our opening text would be: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, along with everything in them. On the seventh day God was finished with his work which he had made, so he celebrated on the seventh day all of his work which he had made. God blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy; because on that day God celebrated all of his work which he had created, so that it itself could produce.”

            I also mentioned in Part 1 that there is not an actual commandment to attend a corporate worship service on the Sabbath. I know a lot of people, particularly those of Messianic Jewish/Christian or Hebrew Roots groups, have a problem with this because they find the term “holy convocation” specified in Leviticus 23:3. The reality is that “holy convocation” can refer to an assembly or gathering of people, but it has a broader meaning and should not necessarily be limited to gatherings for corporate worship. I also feel that we cannot take a strict meaning of “holy convocation” as commanding us to gather for corporate worship based on a number of reasons.

            The Hebrew word in question here is “miqra” and while it can have something to do with assembly, it is generally translated in Leviticus 23:3 as “convocation”. Many scholars state that this word “convocation” simply means “a rehearsal”. One of the other possible meanings of “miqra” is “reading”. Some scholars have also suggested that originally this was a time when all Israel gathered to hear the Torah read to them so they would not forget it. As copies of the Torah became available to more people, eventually the system of the Torah portions developed and there was no longer the need for even this gathering to hear the Torah read. People could do it in their own home and it still be a “holy convocation”, a time set apart to read the Torah, commune with God, and celebrate His Creation.

            When we look at the pattern established in the Scripture for the Sabbath, particularly as seen in the Gospels and Acts, any corporate gatherings that took place on the Sabbath in Synagogues are consistently referred to as a custom. Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts and used this terminology of “custom” to refer to corporate worship on the Sabbath, gives us another clue. When he records the account of Yeshua’s death and burial, he notes that women were preparing spices and oils for his body. That was a cultural practice where dead bodies were anointed with oils and spices to mask the smell of decaying flesh. It states very plainly that they rested from their work on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

            We also have instances of people fasting for forty days and nights in a wilderness setting. Not the least of these was Yeshua Himself. Forty days and nights would cover five straight Sabbaths. If Leviticus 23:3 requires a corporate assembly, then that would make such an assembly a Torah commandment. If that were the case, the writers of the Gospels and Acts would not have used the phrase “their custom” to describe corporate gatherings on the Sabbath, and Yeshua would have been breaking the Sabbath during the five straight Sabbaths He spent in the wilderness. Yeshua could not have broken the Sabbath, to do so would make Him a Torah-transgressor and would disqualify Him from being the Messiah.

            Messianics, Hebrew Roots people, Torah-positive Christians, Jews, and even questionable groups like the Seventh Day Adventists or Worldwide Church of God love to go to this verse to demand worship be held on Saturday, the Sabbath Day. Many even go so far as to say Christians meeting on Sunday are breaking the Sabbath (that’s a whole other mess I have covered in previous articles). The reality is that there is no actual commandment to conduct a corporate worship service on the Sabbath Day.

            Does that mean that it is wrong to hold a corporate religious worship service on the Sabbath? Of course not! It was a tradition or a custom held by Yeshua our Messiah and all of the Apostles, including Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles. But that’s all it was, a tradition, not a Torah commandment.

            Since the Sabbath finds its roots in the Genesis Creation story, in Genesis 2:1-3, and there is no “assembly” instituted there, it lends that much more credibility to what I am saying. The weekly Sabbath is a “rehearsal” for the eternal Sabbath we will have in God’s Kingdom where we will live in a perpetual celebration of His Creation. And that regardless of whether there are corporate gatherings and religious liturgies.

            Look also at Exodus 16:29, where it says that nobody is to “leave their place” on the Sabbath. The Hebrew word used there is “maqom” and it can translate from something as restrictive as a chair that you are sitting in to something as broad as your country or nation.

            So, if we take the most restrictive possibility, as some do with “miqra“, then you should sit in a chair in your house from the moment of sunset on Friday night until the time of sunset Saturday night. No getting up, sit in your chair. Do not get up for food, if you didn’t set enough food by your chair you will be hungry. No getting up to go to the bathroom, just sit in your chair and if you gotta go, go in your chair. No getting up to go to bed, you can sleep in your chair if you are tired.

            Or, if we take the more broad meaning of the term, then it can allow you to travel within the borders of your nation. Depending on how big your nation is, that could be quite a bit. With the technology of cars and air travel, that means you could travel pretty far on the Sabbath. Several months ago I had the opportunity to go out to one day of a 3-day ministry conference. The day I was free was on a Sabbath. It was a two-hour drive across state lines. If I was interpreting “maqom” to mean I have to sit in a chair in my house for 24 hours, I guess I would not have been able to go. Using common sense and the broader meaning of the word, and also considering the true spirit of Sabbath, I had no problem driving out there for the conference and I got to see some good friends I have in ministry.

            So, if you are that convicted that “miqra” requires you to be in a corporate gathering every single Sabbath, no exceptions, then go ahead. Like I said, it’s not a bad “custom” or “tradition”, just that it is a “custom” and not a “command”.

No Sabbath Before Exodus 16

cel 2 1            Now we come to what seems to be the main argument of the subject chapter from Lying For God. It seems the primary objective of the authors is to “prove” that there was no Sabbath prior to the events of Exodus 16, where God began to provide manna for His people and gave them special provision of a double portion of manna on the eve of the Sabbath, a day that would become known as The Day of Preparation because preparations are made ahead of time to ensure no ordinary work is done on the Sabbath Day itself. So, let’s take a look at the argument that is made:

While there is an absence of evidence for the presence of a Sabbath ordinance in Genesis 2:1-3, there is definitive proof in Exodus 16 that there was no Sabbath prior to the arrival of the Israelites at the edge of the Wilderness of Sin.

            Furthermore, Lying For God author Kerry Wynne, in a private discussion, was so bold to say to me, “The wording of the original Hebrew language in Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20 absolutely forbids even the possibility of a Sabbath prior to Exodus 16.” As we will see as we continue this study, a Sabbath in Genesis is highly probable and the text most certainly does not absolutely forbid even the possibility of a Sabbath prior to Exodus 16.

            That all sounds good, except that in Exodus 20 when the commandment is solidified in the “Ten Commandments” it is directly connected to the Genesis 2 record. No other proof really needs to be given that the “Sabbath ordinance” existed from the seventh day of the Creation week or even before Exodus 16, particularly when so many other arguments of the authors have completely crumbled—like when they tried to claim that “Jesus” and His Apostles in the first century were teaching from a document written in the late 12th century. That alone proves either the ignorance of the authors or their reliance on the ignorance of their readers to accept their intentionally deceptive motives. [NOTE: Based on Part 1 of this message, they claim to have corrected this, admitting that they were in error.]

            The claim is made based on an article titled The Exodus Route: Travel times, distances, rates of travel, days of the week that there was no Sabbath for the first five weeks of the exodus journey (I have saved a copy of this article as I reviewed it, in the event it is updated or changed at a later date). In looking at the article I noticed a couple of things that jumped out immediately. First, much like the book Lying For God, it became quickly apparent that this was written with a motive or bias of countering Seventh Day Adventist doctrines. The next thing that jumped out was that the article starts with a calendar that claims the “first Sabbath” on the sixth weekend but shows the first “Saturday” marked as the beginning of the count to Pentecost, where it says, “Pentecost: Day 1 of Pentecost. Start counting 7 more Sabbaths.” Then I noticed that there is nothing that necessarily says that the Israelites were doing something that would be forbidden on the Sabbath. For the most part, it says that they were camped at the Red Sea. So, according to this article that attempts to claim there was no Sabbath the first five weeks of the exodus, they started the Sabbath countdown of seven Sabbaths to Pentecost when they left Egypt and they were camped at the Red Sea, meaning they could very well have been keeping the Sabbath, until the alleged “first Sabbath” in Exodus 16. In other words, they acknowledged the Sabbath to exist five weeks before the Sabbath in Exodus 16 they claim was the first Sabbath ever. Looks like another failed attempt!

            Another argument that is continually made claims that the use of “a” instead of “the” preceding “Sabbath” in Exodus 16:23 is proof that this was the beginning of Sabbath-keeping because of patterns that show use of the indefinite articles “a” or “an” to introduce something for the first time as opposed to the used of the definite article “the”. But this is not a good argument. First of all, it must rely on modern language as the Hebrew text would not have even contained such words as “a,” “an,” or “the.” For example, using the text analysis tool on the Biblehub website it shows the wording would be “shabbathon shabbath” (שַׁבָּת֧וֹן שַׁבָּת), which is literally translated as “Sabbath rest”. There is no “a” or “the” in the literal translation of the Hebrew for this phrase in the verse, as it seems such prepositions were not used in the ancient Hebrew language.

            Also, there are several English translations that do use the definite article of “the” in Exodus 16:23, such as: The King James Version, the BRG Bible, the Darby Translation, the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition, the Easy-To-Read Version, the Expanded Bible, the 1599 Geneva Bible, the International Children’s Bible, the Jubilee Bible 2000, the Modern English Version, the New Century Version, and the Wycliffe Bible. These translations range from some of the earliest English translations to some of the newest. So, any pattern that seems to appear must be a result of using select cherry-picked English translations that support the alleged pattern, ignoring translations that do not support the pattern, and not considering the actual ancient Hebrew text.

            The authors of Lying For God casually dismiss this by saying, “Not all English translations follow this principle with 100% accuracy, however. In Exodus 16 the NIV appears to supply the indefinite article correctly, whereas the King James Version does not.” But when you have so many translations that use the definite article, who can really say which is “correct” and which is not? It seems the authors of Lying For God have stated their opinion with a level of confidence in hopes that nobody would call them out on it. Well, I am calling them out on it.

            This is not a matter of some translations not following this principle with 100% accuracy, but simply shows that some translators chose to use “a” and others “the” when translating into English, as these words are required by the English language and did not seem to exist in ancient forms of the Hebrew language. Basically, it just means that some authors preferred to use “a” and others chose “the” when deciding which preposition to use. This argument, then, that the authors have put so much into, is invalid and the only thing proven is that some translators translated a little different than others without actually changing the context of the passage. It does not prove any alleged pattern of the beginning of a commandment or ordinance.

            The authors of Lying For God go on to say, “If we are not mistaken, in order for the writer of Exodus 16 to use a definite article before the first mention of the Sabbath, the Sabbath would have to have already been a well-known entity.” As I have already shown through there own sources, as well as through sources of Jewish thought used in Part 1 of this article, the Sabbath clearly was established before Exodus 16. There is no valid proof at this point that the Sabbath was not already well-known, and it seems that many of the arguments made either don’t prove anything, are completely invalidated, or even may indicate that there was a weekly Sabbath already well-known prior to Exodus 16.

            Then the authors go on to say, “There is no indication in the Exodus 16 verses to specifically suggest that the people were familiar with the Sabbath concept. If the Israelites were familiar with the Sabbath, they would not need to have been told not to gather manna on the 7th day, since that would represent work.” This too is a weak argument considering the historical record of the Hebrew people constantly having to be reminded of the Torah commandments. Even today, how many professing Christians have you met that continue to do things that oppose the Scriptures and need to be reminded of what God’s Word says? Claiming that the people should not have needed a reminder opposes actual patterns of Scripture; as opposed to alleged patterns based on the way certain English Bibles translate a phrase.

            It could also be argued that the Israelites, as well as the rest of the mixed multitude traveling with them—consisting of Gentiles who entered into covenant with the Hebrew God—needed to be specifically told that gathering manna was still considered work. Think about it: God provided the manna, not the work of the people. They simply had to gather it. Additionally, it can be said that God did not provide manna on the Sabbath because He did not work to create the manna on the Sabbath, so He was letting the people know that He would provide enough on the eve of the Sabbath. The point is, there are ways to explain why this would need to be specified to people who were already familiar with a weekly Sabbath.

            There is no indication that they were not familiar with the Sabbath prior to Exodus 16. It could even be that God wanted to make certain instructions about the Sabbath were written down to ensure future generations know it and the principle is not forgotten. When things are not written down, they tend to be forgotten over time. As we see in Scripture, there were times when the Israelites deviated from the faith, as there are many Christians today who are deviating from the faith. We believe that all Scripture, among other things, is “God-breathed” and so it can be stated that part of the reason for this clarity is for the benefit of all who would follow the Bible throughout history, and not necessarily for the Israelites if they already kept the weekly Sabbath.

            The authors continue on by saying, “In Exodus 12, when God explained His instructions for the ordinance of the Passover, He did not mention the Sabbath Day when one would expect Him to have done so. He instructed them to continue preparing food on the seventh day of the Passover Week― a task forbidden by the Sabbath-keeping laws He gave them later:”

            There is no clear commandment in Torah or anywhere else in the Bible against cooking or preparing food on the Sabbath. This appears to be at the very least a man-made Jewish law after the Talmudic style, one of the 39 Melachot. Exodus 16:23 suggests that, after receiving a double portion of manna on the eve of the Sabbath, they were to prepare what they would eat that day and store the rest, unprepared, until morning. The language of the passage suggests that they would have cooked or prepared their remaining manna on the actual Sabbath, which makes sense because preparing food for yourself to eat is not gainful work, or what you get paid for doing.

            It’s interesting, the authors make a statement that, “Andrews says this chapter suggests that the Israelites were familiar with the work-six-days / rest-on-the-seventh-day pattern because they did not agitate for an explanation regarding it. Arguments from silence are among the weakest.” Yet, the entire argument of their 45-page chapter rests heavily on the non-mention of a weekly Sabbath being kept prior to Exodus 16. So, by their own admission, their whole argument for “no Sabbath before Exodus 16” is “among the weakest” types of arguments that can be made.

            The authors then go on to say, “The wording of the passage identifies the Sabbath requirement as an obedience test. If the Israelites were keeping the Sabbath up to that point, they would have had their obedience tested continually along the way. Perhaps a different kind of obedience test would have been appropriate in that case.” This is a reference to Exodus 16:4 that states “Then Adonai said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. The people will go out and gather a day’s portion every day, so that I can test them to find out whether they will walk according to My Torah or not.’” The “test” was not about whether or not they would keep the Sabbath, but about whether or not they would gather only their portion. God was teaching them to take only their share of His provision and not allow greed to become a part of their life. He was teaching them to take only the resources they would use and not rape the land, which we know today causes the land to become desolate. So, this argument too is also invalidated as a way of claiming the Sabbath did not exist prior to Exodus 16.

Was God Not Clear?

cel 2 2            Now I would like to take a moment to look at a claim made by the authors of Lying For God that takes audacity to a whole new level. They state:

The scribes responsible for safeguarding the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible credited to Moses’ authorship) over the centuries between the Exodus and the Captivity undoubtedly confronted significant challenges. This fact should make us more reluctant than ever to formulate a globally applicable Christian doctrine on parts of the Pentateuch that are just telling a story. It is one thing to base a Christian doctrine on a statement credited to God that reads with perfect clarity, such as “Thou shalt not steal,” but it is another thing to base the doctrine that all people must keep the Sabbath for now and eternity on a passage that tells the story of what God did on a certain day in the history of Planet Earth. All other facets of Scripture teach that the Sabbath was for no one else but the children of Israel. Even Jesus excluded the Heathen “dogs” from the Sabbath. The only possible hope Sabbatarians have to make the Sabbath a universal requirement is to prove there is a Sabbath at Creation. This simply cannot be done without violating proper methods of interpretation and scholarship.

            There are a number of concerns with this paragraph. First of all, they are saying that the commandment “Thou shalt not steal” from the Ten Commandments is a statement credited to God that reads with perfect clarity while saying that the Sabbath, also from the Ten Commandments, is merely a story. As if that it not bold enough, they further say that those they refer to as Sabbatarians, presumably anyone who believes in keeping the Sabbath on any level, must prove that there was a Sabbath at Creation. I equally challenge the authors that, despite their belief in having done so, they have not proven that there was not a Sabbath established at Creation; and this poses a major problem.

            If one concludes that there must be a Sabbath at Creation and therefore the Sabbath is for all humanity, and they are wrong, what harm have they done and what violation have they committed? With the exception of the opinion of an eleventh century rabbi whose work is highly respected but who was, for all intents and purposes, at war with Christianity and did not accept Yeshua as his Messiah, there is nothing that says it is a crime for Christians (of Gentile heritage) to obey God’s Torah. So, the Sabbath-keeping Believer, if wrong, is wrong in obedience. He or she is obeying something that is not necessary, or optional because it is still a biblical commandment. On the other hand, if the one who opposes the Sabbath is wrong, they’re being wrong makes them a LAWBREAKER in the eyes of God. This means that, not having satisfactorily proven that there was not a “weekly Sabbath” established in Genesis 2, those who are pushing this agenda are literally gambling with their eternity. If they are wrong, they will suffer the fate of their violation of God’s Torah.

            Another fascinatingly absurd point they make in this paragraph regarding the Sabbath is the claim that it is merely a story and not a clear commandment while presenting “Thou shalt not steal” as a clear commandment, is that the commandment against stealing is also not mentioned in the “Creation story” while the commandment to keep the Sabbath is made perfectly clear in the same “Ten Commandments” that say “Thou shalt not steal.” So, either the Sabbath commandment is clear, or the commandment not to steal is also just a story. Which is it? It is amazing to me that anyone claiming to be an authority in theology and doctrine would actually say that one of the “Ten Commandments” is God being perfectly clear while another is merely a story. If these people were not already completely discredited when they claimed Yeshua and the first century Apostles taught from a 12th century Rabbinic document, this should be more then enough to deem these people outright heretics.

            Even if, after all of this information I have presented, you still do not believe that Christians should be keeping the Sabbath, or even a Sabbath on whatever day you choose, certainly you must agree that this claim that one of the Ten Commandments is clear and the other simply a story is both ludicrous and heretical.

            The authors also say:

You can’t argue with the way the Hebrews have interpreted their own language. When the compiler of the Book of Genesis consolidated the content of the cuneiform tablets that had been passed down to him and authored the other books of the Pentateuch, he was very clear in his wording the Sabbath-related passages in Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20. In fact his wording is so definitive that official Judaism has never entertained the possibility that the Sabbath ordinance originated at Creation.

            As I have already demonstrated in Part 1 of this article, there is a well-established history of Jewish/Hebraic thought that shows the Jewish people interpret the Sabbath as beginning in Genesis 2 as a celebration of Creation first and foremost. Whatever else the Sabbath may be to Jews and Christians, it is clear that the Jewish people believe it to begin on the seventh day of the Creation week, not five weeks after the Israelites left Egypt and were first provided with manna.

Sabbath, Circumcision, And Easter

cel 2 3            Now I want to take a moment before coming to the end of this message to address a few claims from a segment attributed directly to Lying For God author Elce “Thunder” Lauriston. He states:

…the Sabbath “came into being” at Mt. Sinai and it exclusively applied to Jews (of course provision was made for Gentiles to keep it if they became a part of Israel by firstly undergoing circumcision…)

            Under the new covenant all who enter into the covenant through Yeshua are grafted into the cultivated olive tree that is Israel (see Romans 11:16-24). To learn more about what it means to be grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel I recommend reading my article Grafted In.

            Yeshua said the Sabbath was made for man, not man for Sabbath. The Sabbath is given to bless people, not burden them. Yeshua’s statement shows that the Sabbath is not a “law” from a dictator god who needs to prove his divine authority over his subservient creation, but rather that it is the blessing of the God of love who is no respecter of persons and whose desire is that all who would enter into covenant with Him would receive the blessing of the Sabbath, as well as all other blessings provided in the Torah.

            It’s not for the “Jewish man”, something that is heavily read into the text and something that it does not say, but for all of humanity—man—whom God loves and wants to bless with all of His provisions, in this case the Sabbath where we get to take a day at the end of every week and rest from our regular work while celebrating the Creation of this God of love. Scripture is clear that God is no respecter of persons, that He shows no partiality or favoritism (see Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11). For God to bless only Israel or blood-Jews with the Sabbath would show that He loves them more than anyone of Gentile descent—or, if we interpret the Sabbath as a burden the way some do, then it would show in contrast that He loves Gentiles more than Jews by not imposing this burden on the Gentiles of Christianity. Either way, these interpretations make God something the Bible says He is not: a respecter of persons, or, to be more blunt, a bigot. The Sabbath may very well be the highest honor bestowed upon man by the Creator God for our continued relationship with Him among those who have come into covenant with Him, yet some are trying to lead people away from this great blessing.

            Lauriston then goes on to say:

Jesus illustrated the principle that the Sabbath is subordinate to the Ordinance of Circumcision when He called attention to the fact that the Jews circumcised a male child on the 8th day of his life even if that eighth day fell on the Sabbath (John 7:21-23).

            This does not make the Sabbath subordinate to circumcision, but merely indicates the priority of circumcision on the eighth day that it is permitted on the Sabbath. And even if this were to somehow make the Sabbath subordinate to another “higher” commandment, it absolutely does not deem the Sabbath irrelevant or abrogated.

            The argument is then made that the SDA uses poor interpretation methods and the example is given of associating “Easter” with the pagan goddess Eostre. An argument is made, which is accepted by some, that “Easter” actually comes from a Greek word eostarum that refers to the dawn or the sunrise, and is thus a reference to the resurrection event that took place early in the morning on the first day of the week. The problem with this accusation is that Bede, a highly regarded monk whose work is considered very credible, long before there was such a thing as the Seventh Day Adventist Church, documented the claim of the festival to Eostre. This is from Bede’s work The Reckoning Of Time:

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observances.

            As noted in my article Was Easter A Pagan Goddess? Bede’s work is confirmed by Jacob Grimm, Answers In Genesis, Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, and Professor Carole M. Cusack of the University of Sydney (Australia); all of which are cited in my article. I’m sure if I dug further I would find many more credible and highly reliable sources that rely on Bede’s initial claims. In other words, this claim is not an example of Seventh Day Adventist propaganda and satire. We are to, as Paul states, celebrate the Feast of Passover, not some “Easter” celebration that clearly has a valid historical connection to pagan worship. Lauriston’s argument about “Easter” is not only completely invalid, it is also completely irrelevant.

            Perhaps it should not be shocking, however, that the authors would oppose the historical record linking the celebration of “Easter” with the pagan goddess Eostre when they have presented a view of Eve as reminiscent of a pagan goddess.

            One thing to note here is that whenever you are dealing with information that may only be able to end as a theory, as pertaining to religion and potential eternal consequences, it is always best to err on the side of caution. I know I say this often, but it bears repeating. Just like we have the matter of whether or not we should be keeping the Sabbath and what potential consequences exist for not keeping the Sabbath, so too we have this matter of whether or not “Easter” is a pagan festival. It seems the evidence is at least strongly compelling. Additionally, “Easter” is in direct conflict with the Feast of Passover, which we already know that the Apostle Paul specifically tells us to celebrate. If there is even a chance that celebrating “Easter” with the rabbit and the eggs is a genuinely pagan activity that causes the Christian to be an idolater in the eyes of God and leads us away from keeping one of God’s actual Holy Days, I for one would rather have nothing to do with it. This just seems like the logical thing to do. Why should any Believer want to defend something that is very questionable at best when they have a clear biblical alternative, in this case the celebration of Passover?

            Will anyone go to hell for not keeping the Sabbath or for celebrating “Easter” instead of Passover? I am not qualified to answer that and neither are you. I will tell you this, anyone who says “That’s not a salvation issue” or “Nobody will go to hell for ________” is lying to you worse than the authors of Lying For God are. Sin is the transgression of the Torah (1 John 3:4, CJB), the 613 mitzvot, so anything that is a violation of Torah has a valid argument of being a salvation issue. If you really love God, then just do what the Bible says. Religion tries to find loopholes to get around obeying the Torah, and if it can’t find them it’ll make them up. Don’t get trapped into that, just obey the Bible. It really is just that simple.

Some Miscellaneous Arguments

cel 2 4            Let me take a moment now to run through a number of other arguments that I pulled from the subject chapter of Lying For God that really do not need a lot of time committed to addressing them.

            It is argued that Strong’s Concordance notes that the Hebrew word “nuach” is used both literally and figuratively in Scripture. Thus, the authors choose to claim that the use in Exodus 20:11 is figurative in nature and therefore we cannot take the commandment to keep the Sabbath as something we are literally to obey. Again, this poses a major problem with the other nine commandments. What would happen, for example, if we did the same thing with the commandment against committing murder? Being figurative instead of literal, we could then justify murder. Perhaps it would be a hard sell to get people to accept murder in general, but what about something like abortion?

            If we take this approach to this commandment, many Christian Churches and ministries that are pursuing a more liberal and culturally acceptable doctrine would have the argument they need to push for Christian tolerance and acceptance of abortion, all because some people want to claim that it is too burdensome or legalistic to tell people not to work on the Sabbath Day. After all, there is currently a so-called “Gay-Christian Movement” taking this exact approach with Torah commandments against homosexual behaviors. They easily contend that since most Christians today eat pork, which the Torah calls an abomination, that there can be nothing wrong with homosexuality, even though the Torah also calls that an abomination. What would stop these liberal-progressive seeker-sensitive Churches from accepting the freedom of choice agenda?

            The authors also claim that there was one law given to Adam and Eve, not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Actually, there were at least two other commandments given. Genesis 1:26-28 tells us that humanity was instructed to “be fruitful and multiply” and to take care of God’s Creation. The lack of mention of other commandments does not negate them. After all, a commandment against murder is not mentioned in the early Genesis record, but it would seem that it was still a violation, as seen later in the story of Cain and Abel.

            Another point made is that the alleged Book of Enoch makes no mention of the Sabbath and is supposedly written by Enoch before the flood. The lack of mention of any Sabbath proves absolutely nothing. Like stated earlier, the authors themselves claim that silence is the weakest of arguments. I could write a 500 page thesis on a number of Bible topics and not once mention the cross and the resurrection, but that does not mean that I don’t believe in those things. It simply means that I did not regard them, despite their high importance in Judaeo-Christian belief and my own personal faith, as being relevant to the topic I was presenting. So, the lack of mention of the Sabbath in the Book of Enoch, a controversial work that cannot even be confirmed as authentic, means absolutely nothing when weighed against all of the other evidence in favor of keeping the weekly Sabbath. Use of controversial and highly questionable extra-biblical texts like the Book of Enoch to establish a doctrinal view is simply not wise at all.

            Another thing the authors bring up is Yeshua’s disciples plucking grain in a field on the Sabbath. I covered this in a previous article titled Taking Back Our Holy Days: Remember The Sabbath Day. If you would like to know more about this matter, I recommend reading that article.

            Lying For God author Martin Klayman, in a private discussion, said to me, “[The Sabbath] was not for Gentiles and it is not mandatory in this age that we live in. Furthermore, it is impossible to keep it today.” I don’t see how anyone can say that it is “impossible” to not work at your job on the Sabbath and to use the day to celebrate both God as Creator and His Creation. Everyone is fully capable of not working on the Sabbath, celebrating and enjoying God’s Creation on the Sabbath, and taking time to read and study Torah on the Sabbath. These things are not “impossible” to do. Furthermore, this is what God says regarding the commandments given in His Torah as recorded in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (TLV): “For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ No, the word is very near to you—in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.” God doesn’t say it’s impossible or even difficult to obey anything in Torah, including the Sabbath—He says it’s EASY! Additionally, there are plenty of examples of Gentiles who entered into covenant with Israel and would have begun keeping the Sabbath. Perhaps the most prominent examples is seen with Ruth, but there is also Zipporah (the Gentile wife of Moses) and her father Jethro, Abraham’s servant Eliezer, converts from King Xerxes’ empire during Esther’s time, and the “mixed multitude” that left Egypt with the Israelites.

Marriage And Divorce In The Torah

cel 2 5            I want to take just a brief moment to mention something based on a statement I heard in a message by a friend of mine, Pastor Matther Vander Els of the Founded In Truth Fellowship in South Carolina. In his recent message titled Marriage and Divorce: COLLIDE 4K, part of a series of teachings he is doing on the teachings of Yeshua, he made the following statements:

“There are more details in the Torah about what to do if you find some mold in your house than there are about the topic and the details and the specifics of divorce and marriage. The Torah does this in many directions. The assumption is that you already kinda have a clue of how big of a deal divorce is and how big of a deal marriage is. That’s kind of the writer’s intention, we shouldn’t have to cover that”

            This brings up an interesting point. The reason that there is not a lot said about this seemingly important topic is that it is considered common knowledge, or something that most intelligent people should not need to be heavily educated on. Take for example this other Torah commandment, something that is mentioned only a handful of times in the entire Bible, all within the confines of the Torah:

Anyone who lies with an animal must surely be put to death.
~Exodus 22:18 (TLV)

You are not to lie with any animal to defile yourself with it, nor is any woman to give herself to an animal, to lie down with it—that is a perversion.
~Leviticus 18:23 (TLV)

If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you are to kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal, and lies down with it, you are to kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death, and their blood shall be on them.
~Leviticus 20:15-16 (TLV)

‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’ Then all the people are to say, ‘Amen.’
~Deuteronomy 27:21 (TLV)

            I often use this as a prime example of just how foolish some arguments are, such as those that have been presented throughout this message by the authors of Lying For God against the Sabbath. One of their main arguments is that this was a commandment given to Israel alone in the Torah and that any Gentile who attempts to keep the Sabbath on any level is in some sort of “serious violation”. The same logic would have to apply to any commandment given only to Israel in the Torah, and so then sex with animals would not only be permissible to Believers of Gentile descent, it would be required of them. According to the logic presented against the Sabbath, saying that a “Gentile Believer” must not keep the Sabbath, then presenting the same logic, a “Gentile Believer” must have sex with animals, it’s not even optional. I realize this is a stomach-turning thought, but think about it. We cannot claim one commandment, allegedly exclusive to the Torah, is only for Israel while demanding that another commandment, something else mentioned only in the Torah, applies to all of humanity.

            This is not too far different than proponents of modern hyper-grace circles who say that everything is covered by grace through the work of the cross and that, as a result, any attempt to keep the “old Mosaic Law” makes void the work of the cross and causes Yeshua to have died in vain. I use the same argument to such claims, asking the proponents of this view if they have sex with animals to validate the work of the cross in their life. That always goes over well, of course. I do not suggest you to use that argument unless you are very comfortable with the reactions you will get. But you see the point, right? Obviously it seems ridiculous when you counter these kinds of arguments by saying that Christians should have sex with animals in order to prove grace works. But that’s how some people act. They are just looking at it from a perspective of not keeping the Sabbath or eating pork or something they don’t see as morally wrong instead of looking at it from the perspective of bestiality. But ultimately, it’s all the same thing.

            Much like what Pastor Vander Els said regarding marriage and divorce in the Torah, we can take a similar approach to the lack of mention of Sabbath throughout the Genesis record. It was argued throughout the subject chapter in Lying For God that the lack of mention of a Sabbath in Genesis proves that there was no Sabbath until Exodus 16. Well, it could just as easily prove that keeping the Sabbath was so much a part of the cultural norm that people didn’t mention it. After all, certainly the people woke up in the morning and put their clothes on, but nothing in Genesis actually says they woke up in the morning and put their clothes on. I’m sure that they “went to the bathroom”, in whatever method that activity was done at that time in history, but there is nothing in Genesis actually saying that people went somewhere to relieve themselves when they “had to go”. Perhaps, just maybe, the Sabbath was just as much a part of routine life in Genesis that it was much like brushing our teeth is today.

The Shemitah: A Sabbath For The Land

cel 2 6            Scripture also provides instructions for a special Sabbath every seventh year that lasts the duration of a whole year. This is commonly referred to in Hebrew as the Shemitah Year. It is a time for farmed lands to be left untouched so that they might be replenished and continue to yield bountiful crops.

            Calvin DeWitt lists eight principles in his book Earthwise: A Guide To Hopeful Creation Care for a biblical model of environmentalism. Among these, he outlines The Sabbath Principle, which he describes as follows:

We must provide for creation’s Sabbath rests.

In Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, God commands us to set aside one day in seven as a day of rest for people and animals. The sabbath day is given to help us all get off “the treadmill,” to protect us all from the hazards of continuous work, to help us pull our lives together again. It’s a time to worship the Lord and enjoy the fruits of his creation, a time for rest and restoration. In Exodus 23:12, God commands, “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.”

The same chapter in Scripture says that the land also must have its time of sabbath rest. Nothing in all creation must be relentlessly pressed. “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove” (Ex. 23:10-11).

Does this command create a problem for people? Leviticus 25:20-21 says, “You may ask, ‘What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?’” God’s answer: “I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years.” God was instructing people not to worry but to practice his law so that the land would be fruitful. “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit” (Lev. 26:3-4).

In the New Testament, Jesus clearly defines for us the meaning of sabbath in our lives: the sabbath is made for those who are served by it—not the other way around (Mark 2:7). The sabbath is made for people and, through them, for the rest of God’s creation. The sabbath year is given to protect the land from relentless exploitation, to help rejuvenate, to give it a time of rest and restoration.

The sabbath is not merely a legalistic requirement; it’s a profound principle. That’s why in some farming communities the land is allowed to rest every second year, because that is what it needs. The sabbath is made for the land—not the land for the sabbath. The sabbath law is therefore not restricted to agriculture but applies to all of creation. It affects our use of water and air, for example, as we discharge our exhaust, smoke, sewage, and other things we “throw away.” God speaks strongly on this issue:

“If you will listen to me and carry out all these
  commands, and if you reject my decrees and
abhor my laws … and so violate my covenant …
your land will be laid waste, and your cities will
lie in ruins. Then the land will rest and enjoy its
sabbath years all the time it lies desolate …
then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All
the time that it lies desolate, the land will have
the rest it did not have during the sabbaths
you lived in it.”
—Leviticus 26:14-15, 33-35

These are harsh words from the holy Creator who is concerned for his creation. But God’s promises of blessing are equally powerful for all who will listen:

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please … then you will find
joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in
triumph on the heights of the land….”
—Isaiah 58:13-14

            One thing I want to point out here is that the Bible is quite clear that the land—the totality of Creation—will be provided with Sabbath one way or another. It seems quite apparent that God has determined this to be so. A good example of this is the area known as Chernobyl. As a result of the nuclear fallout in that area the land remains in quarantine and only those with special authorization can enter it. And even at that precautions need to be taken to go in there. But some research is showing that region to be in recovery. Wildlife is returning to the area and it seems that the Earth is “healing” itself of the wound left by humanity. This is not unlike the period of Babylonian exile where the land of the Israelites was placed in a state of Sabbath for seventy years, exactly as God said would happen if they refused to live by His commandments.

            While it does not seem that a single Shemitah Year is long enough for the land to recover from such destruction as nuclear fallout, perhaps we can consider the Millenial Reign in terms of Shemitah in addition to merely looking at it as a Thousand-Year Sabbath. It would seem that the Millennial Reign can be argued, among other things, as a time for the Earth to heal and become whole again. It is interesting that on the timeline of most scholars of eschatology—the study of end-times events—the Millennial Reign will immediately precede the creation of a new Heaven and a new Earth. It may very well be that, despite His ability to speak everything into existence as depicted in Genesis 1, God has chosen ahead of time to give our planet a thousand year Shemitah as a preparation for the creation of the new Earth.

            Founder of Beyond Organic and Heal The Planet Farm, author Jordan Rubin says in his book Planet Heal Thyself: The Revolution Of Regeneration In Body, Mind, And Planet, “To maintain topsoil, fields must lie fallow every few years, crops must be rotated, and measures must be taken to prevent water and wind erosion.” Rubin himself is a Messianic Jewish Believer and understands that the concept of the Shemitah, or Sabbath Year, is critical to accomplishing this. It would seem God knew what He was doing and developed the Sabbath system to maximize life on this planet. It presents a great deal of difficulty to argue against the Sabbath when scientific observations reveal the absolute necessity of the Sabbath system on Creation.

            The Sabbath principle is not a legalistic ritual, it is not ceremonial bondage of “Old Testament” law, and it is not for the Jews alone. The Sabbath principle is for all Creation. Either you are submitted to the God of Creation who instituted the Sabbath principle or you are not. It’s really that simple. People who argue against the Sabbath because they had a bad experience with a wrong religion, such as the Seventh Day Adventists or the Worldwide Church of God, are merely throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Many religious sects are wrong about things, but that does not mean they are wrong about everything. Some are wrong to a point of blatant heresy, others are wrong on smaller matters of doctrine that truly are open for debate.

            Things like “Young Earth Creationism” and “Old Earth Creationism” or the “Pre-tribulation,” “Mid-tribulation,” and “Post-tribulation” rapture theories are examples of doctrines that are open for debate because they do not have any bearing whatsoever on a person’s individual salvation. Things like whether or not Christians should keep the Sabbath should never even be a topic of debate. It’s the fourth commandment from the Ten Commandments. That alone should be enough to say that there is nothing to debate. God said it—that settles it.

When God Speaks

cel 2 7            I want to take a moment as I bring this message to an end to give a scenario that was shared with me personally by a Christian woman that I know. We were discussing a particular matter regarding employment, and I had told her that someone could always tell their employer that they keep the Sabbath and cannot work on Saturdays.

            She shared with me that when she started at her current place of employment she was required to work on Saturdays. That was before she had a child and decided that the sacrifice would lead to bigger opportunities in the future. Ultimately, however, she said that she hated doing that.

            The Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) spoke up in me when she told me this and said to me that the reason she hated it, though likely not even realizing it, was because, when she accepted Yeshua as her Messiah, God was working to put His Torah in her mind and write it on her heart (see Jeremiah 31:30-36 and Hebrews 8:8-12), according to the parameters of the new covenant. Her spirit was crying out to her “TORAH SAYS NOT TO WORK ON SHABBAT!!!” Yet, because of religious traditions and having been taught errant doctrines she was unable to recognize this because she was still following her fleshly desires to earn a paycheck and set up future advancement in her place of employment.

            Many people today do not hear God speaking to them because their minds are clouded and their eyes blinded due to religion and tradition. Wrong doctrines will always lead one to unknowingly live in opposition to the Word of God. During the course of this study on The Sabbath Day there has been one common theme: Either we are to keep the Sabbath today or we are not. Even if the arguments made by the authors of Lying For God had any real credibility and could not be so easily debunked and refuted, the question remains to all who would oppose The Sabbath: What if you’re wrong?

            As I often say with this and other similar topics of Torah-obedience: It is always best to err on the side of caution. It’s best to obey what the Bible commands and be wrong. If you obey something that truly is not required of us today, there is still no harm in obedience. Yeshua said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John says in his first epistle that if one claims to know God but does not keep the (Torah) commandments, he or she is a liar and the truth is not in them. When it’s all said and done, it comes down to one question: Do you love God and His Word enough to follow it, or are you going to follow whatever religion tells you regardless of what is made clear in God’s Word?

CONCLUSION: I want to add a couple of things at the end of this message. First, during the course of writing this there were a few times when I made stronger accusations against the authors of Lying For God or even used terms like ludicrous and ridiculous to describe their claims. I know this may seem harsh to some, maybe even “unbecoming of a Believer”. I do not apologize for any of this, even the use of harsh and insulting words to describe some of the more outrageous claims made. The Bible is quite clear that we should be angry about sin and toward things that would make God angry. I genuinely believe that God would be and is angered that anyone would be so bold as to speak so strongly against the Sabbath that He instituted. As a result, this angers me too. So, I make no apology for any tone I took in this message. If anyone is in any way offended by anything I said, then so be it. I will not apologize for speaking so strongly against what I can only conclude to be blatant and gross heresy. Anyone who would speak against obedience to anything in Scripture is walking a very dangerous path. This is amplified that much more when taking it to a level that is done through books like Lying For God that seek to deceive people through bogus claims that are easily refuted. God is not the author of confusion; He would not give a commandment, make it only for specific people, not make that perfectly clear, make it a “serious violation” to try and keep it, and then go so far as to make it impossible to keep it.

Additionally, one thing I often rebuke is an attitude that seems to have many ministers of the Bible trying to prove everyone else wrong instead of trying to prove the Bible right. I did not take on this project simply to prove wrong the authors of Lying For God, though that did not prove very challenging. I took this project on as a defense of God’s Sabbath Day, one of the most holy and sacred appointments with God ever commanded, and to prove the Bible and the God of the Bible true in the commandment to “Remember the Sabbath Day, and keep it holy.” While I have invited others, in like manner, to refute certain of my own written works, I have made such requests with the intent to find out if what I have taught on those topics is wrong. Regardless of the motives from which I was asked to review and refute this chapter from Lying For God, 12th Revision, and despite that I was told by two of the authors that upon successfully refuting their work they would return to keeping the Sabbath, ultimately I accepted this project as a defense of God’s Kingdom and His Torah. I feel I have done that. If this was not enough to convince the authors to repent of their ways and return to God and His Torah, I pray that at least this study will help those who do desire to live according to the whole Gospel of Yeshua and Torah.

Lying For God hangs on two primary assumptions to be accepted as valid. First, one must assume that God’s Word, and especially clear instructions like those found in God’s Torah, including the commandment to “remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy”, is not good enough to stand on its own merit. Second, having concluded that the Bible cannot stand on its own merit, one must assume the need for the work of a team of former members of known religious cult organizations to write a thesis of over 600 pages to explain what the Bible really means. A possible third assumption is that in order to properly interpret even a single verse of Scripture one would be required to do the most intensive in-depth word studies to find out what any given verse of Scripture means. Such conclusions as these make God out to be the author of confusion. In contrast, I believe the Bible says what it means and means what it says.

When it’s all said and done, the authors of Lying For God admittedly put a lot of work into their treatise against the Sabbath and back up their claims with a plethora of sources. At the same time, I have shown that these claims are easily refuted and even their own source material opposes their claims. We live in an age of information explosion and essentially anyone can make an argument for or against anything and then back it up. In like manner, anyone can turn around and successfully refute such claims. In a strange way, while I will not renounce God’s Torah, I do hope that these men are right. If their conclusions are right, then I am taking the hard road to heaven and obeying unnecessary or optional commandments and taking others with me down that difficult path of obedience. If they are wrong, however, they are not just ordinary Torah-transgressors, but will stand before the Judgment Seat to be counted among the captains of the armies of God’s enemies through the centuries. So, at the end of it all, it comes down to one simple question: Will you simply obey the plain commandments of the Bible or are you going to join those who go to the ends of the world to find some type of excuse or loophole to justify rebellion against the Bible?

Really though, the reality is the authors of Lying For God are not actually at war with the Sabbath. They are at war with the errors of the cult groups they came out of, primarily the Seventh Day Adventists and the Worldwide Church of God. If they ever got a revelation of the Sabbath apart from the lies they were fed in those groups, they would come to realize it is not a legalistic burden, but one of the greatest blessings God ever gave to humanity.

~Blessings and Shalom~

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