Journey of Sin and Grace

Journey of Sin and Grace

by Richard Wiedenheft

“During the 1996-97 school year at Spring Vale Academy, I taught Old Testament Survey to freshmen and sophomores. As my students and I completed Genesis and reflected on it, they were amazed that this book displayed so much human nature in the raw. It was as if the Devil were thwarting God at every turn, pulling humanity into the cesspool of selfishness and sin, making it impossible for God to be in loving fellowship with the beings He created in His image.

Even among the heroes in Genesis there were minor and major flaws, sins that underscored the fact proclaimed later by the apostle Paul: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Yet just as Genesis demonstrates the sinfulness of humanity, so it displays the inexorable power of God’s grace, before which all human beings must bow in reverence or be crushed in judgment. Nothing thwarts the redemptive plan of God!

Sinfulness of humanity

We don’t get through the third chapter of Genesis before we read about the rebellion of our first parents. Tempted by the Devil, they broke the one command God gave them. This is followed in chapter 4 by the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, a heinous crime that must have stuck a knife of disappointment and grief into the hearts of their parents and Creator…”

(this article is an excerpt from the May–June 2007 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 6, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/525/tss_525.pdf

Are the Ten Commandments Mentioned in the New Testament?

Are the Ten Commandments Mentioned in the New Testament?

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

There are some who believe that in the New Testament, especially after the resurrection of Jesus, the Ten Commandments are no longer relevant in the believer’s life. Below, we have listed references to all Ten Commandments in the New Testament before and after the resurrection.

1) No other gods before Him: Matthew 6:24, Mark 12:32, Luke 16:13, Acts 19:26, Rom 3:30, I Cor. 8:4-6, Gal 3:20, 4;8, Eph. 4:6, I Tim 2:5, James 2:19.

2) No graven images/idols (and by extension no other gods): Acts 15:20, 15:29, 21:25; Romans 1:25-27, I Cor. 5:10-11, 6:9, 8:1-10; I Cor. 10:7,14,19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Gal. 5:20; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5; I Thess. 1:9; I Peter 4:3; I John 5:21; Rev. 2:14, 20, 21:8, 22:15.

3) Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (this literally means to bear or take up His name in vain): Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7, Romans 1:21, I Cor. 15:2, 2 Cor. 6:1, Col. 2:8, I Tim. 1:6, Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-32, James 2:20.

4) Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy: Matthew 12:1-12, 24:20, 28:1, Mark 1:21, 2:23, 2:24-28, 3:2-4, 6:2, 16:1, Luke 4:16, 4:31, 6:1-9, 13:10-16, 14:1-5, Luke 23:56, John 5:9-10,16-18, 7:22-23, 9:14-16, Acts 1:12, 13:13-45, 15:21, 16:11-15, 17:1-4, 18:1-4, Col. 2:15-17, Hebrews 4:4-11.

5) Honor your father and mother:  Matthew 15:4, 6, Matthew 19:19, Mark 7:10, 10:19, Luke 18:20, Rom. 1:30, Eph. 6:1-2, Col. 3:20, I Tim. 5:4, 2 Tim. 3:2.

6) Do not commit murder: Matthew 5:21-22, 15:19, 19:18, Mark 3:4, 7:21, 10:19, Luke 18:20, Romans 1:29,13:9, Gal. 5:21, I Peter 4:15, James 2:11, 4:2, 5:6, I John 3:15, Rev. 21:8, 22:15.

7) Do not commit adultery: Matthew 5:27-32, 15:19, 19:9, 19:18, Mark 7:21, 8:38, 10:11-12,19, Luke 16:18, 18:11, 18:20, John 8:1-10, Romans 2:22, 7:3, 13:9, I Cor. 6:9, Gal. 5:19, Hebrews 13:4, James 2:11, 4:4, 2 Peter 2:14, Rev. 2:22.

8) Do not steal: Matthew 19:18, 21:13, Mark 10:19,11:17, Luke 18:20, John 10:10, Romans 2:21, 13:9, I Cor. 6:10, Ephesians 4:28.

9) Do not bear false witness (said another way, do not lie): Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19, 14:56-57, Luke 18:20, John 8:44, 55, Acts 5:3-4, Romans 13:9, Col. 3:9, I Tim. 1:10, 2 Tim 3:13, Titus 1:10, 3:3, Hebrews 6:10, James 3:14, I John 1:6,10, 2:4, 2:22, 4:20, I John 5:10, Rev. 2:2,3:9, 21:8.

10) Do not covet: Mark 7:22, Luke 12:15, 16:14, Romans 1:29, 7:7, 13:9, I Cor. 5:10-11, 6:10, 2 Cor. 9:5, Ephesians 5:3-5, Col. 3:5, I Thess. 2:5, I Timothy 3:3, I Tim. 6:10, 2 Tim. 3:2, Hebrews 13:5, 2 Peter 2:3, 14.

New Free Booklet: How Do We Know Jesus is Real?

New Free Booklet!

How Do We Know Jesus is Real?

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Imagine for a moment that you did not have a Bible to learn about Jesus. How would you know that He ever lived on
earth? Would it be possible to prove His existence? In this book, we will address the historical, archaeological, and textual evidence to see if Jesus and His earliest followers ever existed.

To download this free booklet, just click the picture below!

Should I Kill Insects?

Should I Kill Insects?

by Dusti Howell

“There are 256 types of mosquitoes here in Thailand. A visit in Chiang Mai, Thailand to one of the many insect museums showcases the amazing designs of these fascinating blood suckers. Some of them are so small that you might mistake them for a fruit fly, but after swatting them, you marvel at how something so small could have been successful and sucking so much blood. As much as I dislike mosquitoes, ants are a bigger nuisance here. I’ve learned to always inspect my large 32oz big gulp cup drinking from it or before filling it up with water. One day I was in a bit of a rush to get to class. I still had nearly half a cup of water in the cup and decided to drink the entire cup in one gulp. I was half way through my enormous gulp when I noticed a huge trail of ants around the rim of the cup… Aaah… I’d just swallowed a bunch of small ants. Yuck. Interestingly, the ants will find my water cup everywhere, even on top of a seven foot bookshelf.

The ants here come in lots of sizes. One day I killed a big ant but left it on the carpet. The next day I just happened to notice a large trail of very small ants. They were working on devouring the body of the large ant I had killed the day before. So don’t kill a big ant on your bed or you’ll have a trail of ants there later. My son caught two small lizards just under three inches in length and put them in fairly large plastic bins as pets. He has a pet frog back home in Kansas, so he was pretty excited about this. The next day both were dead. They had been killed by ants. Large trails of ants were found working on devouring the bodies. It was after one of these instances that the scripture reading for church was from Proverbs, exhorting us to go to the ant you sluggard. They are relentless and they don’t stop….”

(this article is an excerpt from the November–December 2008 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 17, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/534/tss_534.pdf

The Oldest Archaeological Reference to the Sabbath

The Oldest Archaeological Reference to the Sabbath:
Pottery from Josiah’s Time

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.


Today, we reveal a new category of blogs called “Archaeology and the Sabbath.” Special thanks to our graphics design helper, Marisa Shoop for creating the graphic for this category!

We open this category with the oldest archaeological find which refers to the Sabbath!

The Mesad Hashavyahu Ostracon is a piece of pottery dating to the time of King Josiah. It is the oldest archeological finding that references the Sabbath! An English translation of the text is found below:

“…Let my lord commander hear the case of his servant! As for thy servant, thy servant was harvesting at Hazar-susim. And thy servant was (still) harvesting as they finished the storage of grain, as usual before the Sabbath. While thy servant was finishing the storage of grain with his harvesters, Hoshiah son of Shobai came and took thy servant’s mantle. (It was) while I was finishing with my harvesters (that) this one for no reason took thy servant’s mantle. And all my companions will testify on my behalf-those who were harvesting with me in the heat (?) […] all my companions will testify on my behalf! If I am innocent of all gui[lt, let him return] my mantle, and if not, it is (still) the commander’s right to take [my case under advisement and to send word] to him [(asking) that he return the] mantle of thy servant. And let not [the please of his servant] be displeasing to him…” (Pritchard, 568).

The overall theme of this ostracon is a person (the author) who was pleading with someone of authority for justice. As part of this discussion, the author mentioned that he finished his work before the Sabbath began. He described this as his usual behavior.

The author of the pottery message also pleaded with a person of authority for the return of his mantle. The Torah allowed someone to lend their cloak as a pledge, but it was supposed to be returned to them by evening (Ex. 22:26-27, Deut. 24:10-15). This part of the Torah is called “the judgments”  or mishpatim. The author also referenced witnesses that could defend him and help his case, which is a provision allowed in the judgments (Deut. 19:15-21).

In 2 Kings chapter 22, we learn that the book of the Law was read aloud to King Josiah.  He then realized the idolatry and sin that the nation had fallen into and repented. In the next chapter, we learn that he had this book read to the people and renewed their covenant with God. He then removed idols, pagan priests, and other abominations from the land. He turned the nation back unto the Lord and obedience to His law.

Since Josiah enacted reforms to restore obedience to the commandments of God, we would expect to find evidence detailing both Sabbath observance and an appeal to the judgments in the Law of God. The Mesad Hashavyahu Ostracon is a reminder that the Sabbath of the Lord our God has been observed for thousands of years, despite claims to the contrary.

Look for more blog posts from this category in the future!

Blessings!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President, www.biblesabbath.org

Bibliography
Pritchard, James B. ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Third edition with supplement. Translator W.F. Albright. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1969. p 568.

Rekindle the Flame

Rekindle the Flame

By Pastor David Guerrero

“As you read the first three chapters of the Bible, it is very clear that God has created us for relationship. The first relationship is with Him (divine), and then the second is the human relationship beginning with husband and wife. As evidenced in the book of beginnings (Genesis), Satan’s objective from the beginning has been to destroy those relationships.

Satan’s Objective

Satan’s first objective is to get us to doubt God’s word. As we examine Genesis, we discover that the first step in leading Eve to sever her relationship with God was to cause her to doubt and then confuse what God had said (Genesis 3:1-5). Doubting what God says confuses us and then leads to conflict in our relationship with Him and our relationship with others. I read a quote once that said, “a man at peace with God and his fellowman cannot be made miserable.” While I see this to be true, I have come to learn that if we are at peace with God, then we will be a peace with our fellow man.

Our fellowship with God begins with His word (Romans 10:8-17). If we can’t stand on what God says, we are then open to listening to other voices and following bad counsel. It happened to Eve, and it can happen to us today. We must remember that all of our relationships and how we carry them out must be rooted in the word of God. Examining Genesis, chapter 3, we discover that Satan worked on Eve’s senses….”

(this article is an excerpt from the November–December 2009 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 5, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/540/tss_540.pdf

Samuel and Tacy Hubbard: A Couple Devoted to God’s Sabbath

Samuel and Tacy Hubbard: A Couple Devoted to God’s Sabbath

By Rev. Don A. Sanford

[Editor’s note: Given the theme of the publication this month, we have elected to print this previously unpublished work from the beloved (and now departed) SDB Historian Don A. Sanford.]

Few people in colonial times left as complete a record of the times and families as did Samuel Hubbard. Much of his journal was later used by such Baptist historians as Isaac Backus. Extracts copied from Hubbard’s journal are still considered a primary source of thought and actions of the last half of the seventeenth century. It is from this journal that we find an account of the 1549 Cramner New Testament in possession of the Seventh Day Baptist Council on History:

Now 1675, I have a testament of my grandfather Cocke’s printed in 1549 which he hid in his bed-straw lest it be found and burnt in Queen Mary’s days.1 Samuel was born to Dissenter parents in Mendelsham, England in 1610. Samuel’s paternal grandparents, Thomas Hubbard and wife, are listed in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs as having been driven out of the town of Mendelsham in 1556 for believing that Scripture contained enough information on its own to teach necessary doctrine to be saved.

Samuel emigrated to Salem, Massachusetts in 1633, and became acquainted with Roger Williams. The following year he moved to Watertown and became a member of the Congregational Church which had been organized there. Two years later, a large contingent migrated westward to the wilderness along the Connecticut River. They experienced considerable hardships from the weather as well as from unfriendly natives. But the journey was not all bad, because among the company was a young woman named Tacy Cooper from Dorchester who was able to cheer him up through all these difficulties.

After their marriage, the Hubbards made several moves. At Springfield, they were instrumental in gathering a church together. In 1647, they moved to Fairfield where they subscribed to Baptist ideas. Samuel gives his wife credit for taking the lead in this enlightenment:

God having enlightened both, but mostly my wife, into his holy ordinance of baptizing only visible believers, and being very zealous for it, she was mostly struck at and answered two times publicly; where I was also said to be as bad as she, and are threatened with imprisonment to Hartford jail, if not to renounce it or to remove; that Scripture came into our minds, if they persecute you in one place flee to another: and so we did.

In 1648, they moved to Rhode Island where they were baptized by John Clarke and joined his church, which had been established in 1644 as the second Baptist church in America. Samuel appears to have been recognized as a leader. In 1651, Samuel Hubbard was sent by the church “to visit the brethren who were in prison in Boston for witnessing the truth of baptizing believers only.” A few years later, he accompanied Obadiah Holmes on a mission to brethren on Long Island.

In 1668, a Baptist church under the leadership of Thomas Gould was established on Noodle Island in Boston Harbor. This was the first Baptist church of record in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Governor and Council of the colony “accounting themselves bound by the law of God and the Commonwealth to protect the Churches of Christ from the intrusion made thereby made upon their peace in the way of godliness,” had these Baptists arrested and put in prison. In order to correct them in their errors, they promised a “full and free debate” on the issues. Mr. Clarke’s church at Newport sent three men to help represent the imprisoned Baptists. Two of these had already accepted the Sabbath along with their Baptist beliefs: Samuel Hubbard and William Hiscox.

The record of the Hubbards’ acceptance of the Sabbath is recorded in Hubbard’s journal: My wife took up keeping of the Lord’s holy 7th day Sabbath the 10 day of March 1665. I took it up 1 day April 1665. Our daughter Ruth 25 Oct. 1666 – Rachel – Jan. 15 day 1666. Bethiah – February 1666. Our son-in-law Joseph Clarke 23 February 1666.4

The exact circumstances of their coming to the Sabbath are not recorded. Since this happened shortly after the arrival from England of the Stephen Mumford family, who had been Sabbathkeeping members of Tewkesbury Baptist Church, it is generally assumed that the Mumfords were instrumental in bringing them to the acceptance of the Sabbath. Yet Seventh Day Baptists are not dependent upon an “apostolic succession” for the Sabbath. The question of the Sabbath was seriously debated in England during the Great Decade of the 1650s and could hardly have escaped notice by the people in the colonies who were in close communications with the mother country. In a letter written by Hubbard in 1669 to the church in Bell Lane, London, reference is made to books by Stennett, Cowell, and probably Saller, all leaders among the Sabbatarians in England. Stephen Mumford may have introduced members of the congregation to some of these writings and called Tacy and Samuel Hubbard to the concept of the Sabbath, but it was the study of the Scriptures which confirmed this belief.

By the end of the 1660s, there were eleven people within the congregation who had chosen to embrace the Sabbath. In addition, there were others, including John Crandall and Dr. Clarke’s nephew, Joseph Clarke, who had moved to the western part of the colony where several of Hubbard’s family had settled. In 1671, the first Seventh Day Baptist church in America was born. But as in any birth, there was a considerable time of gestation accompanied by discomfort and labor pains.

In his biographical sketch of Obadiah Holmes, one of the chief antagonists of the Sabbatarians, Edwin Gausted commented upon this period: The six years between Tacy Hubbard’s first apprehension of her Christian duty in 1665 and the final separation at the end of 1671 were years of painful decision and almost daily discomfort. From the Sabbatarian side, the questions were these: how much proselytizing of others within the church was appropriate? Could one still take communion with non-Sabbatarians? How much loyalty did the Hubbard family, for example, owe the church of Clarke and Holmes? How should one behave toward those who became Sabbatarians and then changed their minds?5

It was this last question which in the end forced a separation from the mother church. Two couples, Nicholas Wyld and John Salmon and their wives, had been among those who accepted the Sabbath, but in 1669 they left the Sabbath and even spoke against it within the church. The anxiety and discouragement which accompanied this “apostasy” (as it was viewed) is revealed in correspondence which Samuel Hubbard carried on with Sabbathkeepers in England, with members of his family in Westerly, and even with other Baptists in the colonies. When Obadiah Holmes preached a series of sermons accusing the Sabbathkeepers of leaving Christ to go to Moses, it became apparent that a split was inevitable.

Hubbard gave a little information in his journal about the immediate break stating simply: We entered into a church covenant the 23rd day Dec., 1671, Wm. Hiscox, Stephen Mumford, Samuel Hubbard, Roger Baster, Sister Hubbard, Sister Mumford, Sister Rachel Langworthy.6

A John Comer manuscript among the Isaac Backus papers at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library contains the content of that covenant: After serious Consideration and seeking God’s face among ourselves for the Lord to direct us in a right way for us, & our Children, so as might be God’s glory and our Souls good and others Example, We entered into Covenant with the Lord and with one another, and gave up ourselves to God and to each other, to Walk together in all God’s Holy Commandments and the Ordinances accord to What the Lord had Discovered & Should Discover to us, to be his Mind for us to be obedient unto; with Sence upon our Hearts of great need to be watchful over oneanother, Did promise to do, and in Building and Edyfying each other in our Most Holy faith.7

Nearly 350 years later, that covenant and the example of Samuel and Tacy Hubbard still provide incentive for Seventh Day Baptists to renew a covenant which upholds God’s Holy Sabbath.

From the Hubbards, we see many encouraging messages:

  1. There is value in one’s heritage. We do profit from the ideals and examples of our ancestors.
  2. Sometimes it is necessary to make moves for one’s conscience’s sake in order to have freedom to practice convictions.
  3. Although history is often male-dominated, Tacy Hubbard is an example of countless women who have been spiritual leaders in their families. She was the first to accept the concept of adult baptism and the first to come to the Sabbath.
  4. Samuel in his journal gave recognition to this fact, otherwise her role might have been neglected. Do we give women their rightful place in history?
  5. The Hubbards symbolized the importance of the covenant relationship and Lord’s Supper.
  6. Although they felt it necessary to break with their Baptist Church, their relationship remained cordial and cooperative.
  7. They passed their convictions on to their children and grandchildren. Only three of their seven children lived to maturity, but what an impact those three had for Seventh Day Baptists through their families! Many Seventh DayBaptists with roots in the tradition can claim the Hubbards in their family trees, including the author of this piece!This article was first published in the February 2020 edition of The Sabbath Recorder, which is the official publication of the Seventh Day Baptist Church. We encourage you to follow them and read more of their material at: https://www.sabbathrecorder.com/

    Works cited

1 Samuel Hubbard, Register of Mr. Samuel Hubbard, (copies in many locations; Backus transcription at Rhode Island Historical Society)

2 Hubbard, Register…, pg4-5

3 Edwin S. Gausted, Baptist Piety: The Last Will and Testament of Obadiah Holmes, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian UP, 1978, p22-30.

4 Hubbard, Register…p9-10.

5 Gaustad, Baptist Piety…p52-53.

6 Hubbard, Register…p10.

7 John Comer, “History of Baptists in Newport,” n.d., Isaac Backus Papers, MSS 273, B1, F2, Box 6, p2, Rhode Island Historical Society. [Note: there are slight variations between the exact text in the extant copies of the Newport SDB covenant.]

Sabbath Meditation #28 – A Changed World

Sabbath Meditation #28 – A Changed World

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion,  the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations  and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.’” (Isaiah 2:2-5)

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).

In Psalm 90:4, we learn that “a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” The Sabbath day wonderfully depicts the coming 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. There will be rest from the works of mankind and the devil, which have caused war, famine, disease, strife, and evil. Instead, there will be peace, harmony and joy. The world will do things His way, which is summarized by the Sabbath day.

In the last Sabbath Meditation, we considered the holy work God continues do to in us individually every week. Let us not forget the work that He is doing in the entire Body of Christ to prepare us to rule and reign with Him (Rev. 20:4-6). He is working in us all to bring us together for His Glory. Moreover, consider the work He will one day do in the entire world!

One day the entire world will honor the Sabbath. When humanity understands God’s Wisdom in the Sabbath, then the entire world will be transformed. The efficiency, quantity, and quality of the world’s work will increase. First, everyone will be in obedience to God’s weekly cycle. Secondly, we will be collectively working/resting together; that will put us all on the same page. This will one day create a world-wide synergy and productivity like has never been witnessed in human history; the Creation will be in harmony with the Creator.

We will see God’s purpose without hindrance. With Jesus Christ ruling the world, we will get to see it all come together.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Cor. 13:12).

During the Millennial reign of Christ, God’s ways will be the only option. Everyone will work together in harmony. Isaiah 2:1-5 and Rev. 20:6 are two reminders of that wonderful time.

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Holy Living in a Fallen World

Holy Living in a Fallen World

by Lori Stuckey

“In today’s society holy living has lost its meaning. People are more concerned with the physical circumstances of their lives than in the life God has called them to live. It’s time for a new beginning.

From Genesis to Revelation holiness is not just a happy-sounding suggestion. It is a commandment. If holiness were unimportant to God, He would not be holy. In order to navigate the many pitfalls that lead to sin and complacency and arrive at true holy living, we must seek to understand the many tools the Bible gives Christians to assure them of a victorious life.

One tool for effective, holy living is to read the Word of God and put its principles into effect. This makes the Word of God a living principle inside us. Some other avenues are prayer, fellowship with other believers, putting on the whole armor of God, and witnessing to others of the wonderful benefits that come from having close fellowship with God.

Holy living draws us close to the fount of all blessings, our Heavenly Father, and that is what we call, “living in the Spirit.” When we live in the Spirit—close to the Father—and not in the flesh, holy living flows from us like a fountain…”

(this article is an excerpt from the May–June 2010 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 9, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/tss_543.pdf

Historical Background of Matthew 24:20

Historical Background of Matthew 24:20
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Pray that your flight not take place in winter neither on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20).

Across the Sabbath community, I have seen a few perspectives on the importance of Mathew 24:20. There are two common viewpoints. The first is that this verse illustrates the importance of Sabbath observance among the first disciples of Christ. After all, they were the immediate audience of the verse. The second view is that the Sabbath would still be observed by the disciples of Christ at the time just before the end of the age.

While these perspectives are true, there is also an overlooked historical background to Matthew 24:20. As a major city at the crossroads between continents and Empires, Jerusalem was periodically besieged in ancient times. The Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans were among the first people groups to conquer it. Ancient records and some modern calculations reveal that the Sabbath seemed to be a preferred day for invading armies to attack the city.

The first complete conquest of Jerusalem occurred in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (597 and 586).  In the mid twentieth century, John Alger did thorough calculations to determine the dates upon which these sieges occurred (see Works Cited).  Using careful chronology, he asserts that the first siege under Jehoiachin was completed on March 16, 597, which was the Sabbath. While Zedekiah was put on the throne as his replacement, but he later rebelled. This resulted in another siege, which he gauges to have occurred on January 15, 588 BC. This was also the Sabbath. The final capture of Jerusalem took place on July 29, 587. This date also turns out to be the Sabbath.

Ancient historians reveal that other sieges definitively took place on the Sabbath. We have listed these events below with the appropriate historical quotes.

Sometime between 320 and 305 BC, Ptolemy Soter, who was the ruler of the Greco-Egyptian Kingdom, seized Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Josephus recorded this event:

“…insomuch that all Syria, by the means of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, underwent the reverse of that denomination of Saviour, which he then had. He also seized upon Jerusalem: and for that end made use of deceit and treachery. For as he came into the city on a sabbath day, as if he would offer sacrifice, he, without any trouble, gained the city: while the Jews did not oppose him. For they did not suspect him to be their enemy: and he gained it thus, because they were free from suspicion of him; and because on that day they were at rest and quietness: and when he had gained it, he ruled over it in a cruel manner” (Antiquities of the Jews, 12.1).

While there isn’t a record that the troops of Antiochus Epiphanes captured Jerusalem on the Sabbath, they During the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, his soldiers attacked the Jewish people on the Sabbath (event occurred about 165 BC).

“…they fought against them on the sabbath day, and they burnt them as they were in the caves, without resistance, and without so much as stopping up the entrances of the caves. And they avoided to defend themselves on that day, because they were not willing to break in upon the honor they owed the sabbath, even in such distresses; for our law requires that we rest upon that day. There were about a thousand, with their wives and children, who were smothered and died in these caves…” (idem, 12.6).

In the 60s BC, a civil war erupted in Judea. The Roman general Pompey intervened in this conflict and captured Jerusalem (about 64/63 BC). Josephus recorded that the Romans made major progress on their siege ramps during the Sabbath (ibid, 14.4; Wars of the Jews, 1.7). We have two quotes from Roman authors that discuss this siege. Note that the Romans called Saturday the ‘day of Kronos’ or ‘day of Saturn’.

“Pompey seized the city, it is said, after watching for the day of fasting, when the Judeans were abstaining from all work…” (Strabo, Geography, 16.2.40) Note: Some writers consider the “day of fasting” to be the Day of Atonement, which is an Annual Sabbath, and others consider it to be a reference to the weekly Sabbath, which some pagans thought the Jewish people fasted upon every week.

“16 Most of the city, to be sure, he took without any trouble, as he was received by the party of Hyrcanus; but the temple itself, which the other party had occupied, he captured only with difficulty. 2 For it was on high ground and was fortified by a wall of its own, and if they had continued defending it on all days alike, he could not have got possession of it. As it was, they made an exception of what are called the days of Saturn, and by doing no work at all on those days afforded the Romans an opportunity in this interval to batter down the wall. 3The latter, on learning of this superstitious awe of theirs, made no serious attempts the rest of the time, but on those days, when they came round in succession, assaulted most vigorously. 4Thus the defenders were captured on the day of Saturn, without making any defence, and all the wealth was plundered…” (Cassius Dio, Roman History, 37.16.1-4).

In the 30s BC, Herod (called the great) conspired with the Romans to be made king of Judea. As part of this plan, he besieged Jerusalem. One Roman source said that the city was attacked on Sabbath.

“The Jews, indeed, had done much injury to the Romans, for the race is very bitter when aroused to anger, but they suffered far more themselves. The first of them to be captured were those who were fighting for the precinct of their god, and then the rest on the day even then called the day of Saturn…” (ibid, 49.22.4-6).

Just 40 years after Jesus’ life and the words of Matthew 24, Jerusalem was conquered again by the Romans. In 70 AD, the Romans attacked and defeated the people on the Sabbath.

“The deified Vespasian Augustus attacked the Jews on their Sabbath (Iudaeos Saturni die), a day on which it is sinful for them to do any business, and so defeated them” (Frontinus, Strategems, 2.1.17).

“Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, the day which even now the Jews reverence most…” (Dio Cassius, Roman History, 65.7.2).

Why might these attacks over the centuries occur on the Sabbath? Because it was the day of rest and the most likely time to catch the people off guard.

In 70 AD, Jesus’ disciples heeded his words and fled to the mountains before the Romans besieged the city. These early Christians were called Nazarenes; they also kept the seventh-day Sabbath. To read an article about them, click this link: The Nazarenes.

With this historical background, we can better understand Jesus’ warning about a Sabbath flight.  Historically, it was a day that the Jewish people and Jerusalem were attacked. An invading army might begin a siege or seizure of the city on that day of the week. This may indicate that a future invasion of Jerusalem, such as that described in Zechariah 14:1-3, could take place on Sabbath and thus connect to the future fulfillment of Matthew 24:20.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President
www.biblesabbath.org

Works Cited
Cassius Dio. Roman History, 37.16; 49.22; 65.7. Dio’s Roman History. Translation by Earnest Cary. vol. 3. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1914. pp 124-131; vol. 5. 1955. pp 386-389. Vol. 7. 1925. pp 268-271.
Frontinus. Strategems, 2.1.1. The Strategems and the Aqueducts of Rome. Translation by Charles E Bennett. New York, 1925. pp 98-99.
Johns, Alger F. “The Military Strategy of Sabbath Attacks on the Jews.” Vetus Testamentum, vol. 13, no. 4, 1963, pp. 482–486. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1516866. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.
Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews, 12.1, 12.6, 14.4; Wars of the Jews, 1.7. The Genuine Works of Flavius Jossephus the Jewish Historian. Translated by William Whitson. London, 1737.
Parker, Richard and Dubberstein, Waldo. Babylonian Chronology: 626 B.C. – A.D. 75. Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University Press, 1956. pp 25-28.
Strabo. Geography, 16.2.40. The Geography of Strabo. Translation by Horace Leonard Jones. vol. 7. Cambridge, 1954. pp 290-291.