Sabbath Meditation #31– God With Us

Sabbath Meditation #31 – God With Us
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God”…the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Rev. 21:1a, 3, 22:3b-4).

“22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 66:22-23).

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

The New Heavens and the New Earth are the final phase of God’s plan for humanity. That is where we will spend eternity with God and Christ. It is called the home of righteousness in 2 Peter 3:13. In Isaiah 66:22-23, we also learn that the Sabbath will still be observed – not by a remnant or a small group, but by everyone! Many wonderful promises await us there, such as those described in Rev. 21:4-6:

“4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 – I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

In this present age, we rest from the weary world around us on the Sabbath. We must persevere through trials, heartaches, and sorrows, yet still learn how to rest in the Lord God Almighty. In the home of righteousness, the sorrow and pain that started in the Garden of Eden will no longer exist.

In the home of righteousness, our tears will be wiped away! We won’t need rest from weariness of work, healing from rejection, and defensiveness from satan’s wiles. We will not have to ponder the instabilities of the age that we live in now. We will not have concern about our family members not living the right way. Everyone in the New Heavens and New Earth will be our permanent family. At that time, people will no longer make poor decisions or operate selfishly.

There are benefits of the Sabbath that we will understand then which we could not understand now because we are presently limited in our knowledge of spiritual and physical things. “9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (I Cor. 13:9-10). There are also aspects of the Sabbath we will experience then that are available only for glorified beings.

In the New Heavens and the New Earth, God and Christ will be permanently dwelling with us. This means that we will not have to reach out to God and Christ merely in the Spirit by prayer or worship. We will no longer wonder where God is when we need Him; we will see His face. This means that our Sabbath observance will be much more intimate and fulfilling than it has ever been in our present age. They will be with us in the most personable, intimate way possible. In that future age, the physical and spiritual will be merged for the whole universe. We will have a peace and assurance that transcends anything we have ever experienced in this age.

I pray that these thoughts will spur you on to honor the Sabbath in this age as we look forward to its observance in the home of righteousness when God is with us!

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Just What Is a Woman’s Role in the Church?

Just What Is a Woman’s Role in the Church?

by Royce Mitchell, Jr.

“Over the years, I have been consistently troubled by the seeming disparity in the way that women are “dealt with” as compared to how men are treated in “the Church.” This discrepancy seems to have come from a myopic interpretation of certain scriptures within the confining context of societal predispositions. I have admittedly been complacent on the issue—due to a lack of being directly affected—yet, when challenged on this, it became clear that the time was overdue to find out exactly what God has to say.

In order to gain a clearer view of God’s perspective as it relates to women in His Church, one must first look deeply into what God has placed within the authority of women. That is best done by first checking the Old Testament scriptures which relate to women. We should find the answers to the following questions as we search: “What can a woman do and not do?”, “What have women done under the approval of God?”, “Is a man the head of a woman, or is the husband head of the wife?”, “Why is the distinction of man and husband important?”, “When does a man become the head of a woman?”, “What does it mean to be the head?”, and “Does a woman ever have authority?”. Let’s begin at our beginning….”

(this article is an excerpt from the September—October 2000 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 16, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/485/tss_485.pdf

Sabbath Laws in the Roman Empire

Sabbath Laws in the Roman Empire

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Rome’s first significant contact with Jewish people came in the mid-second century BC after the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus Epiphanes. During this time, the Romans formally ratified a treaty with the Jewish people and recognized their state, which was ruled by the Hasmonean dynasty.  After a civil war within this dynasty in the 60s BC, Rome took control of the Judean state and forced them to pay tribute. Jewish slaves were brought to Rome.

Biblical practices, such as keeping the Sabbath, also came with these slaves. Eventually a Jewish quarter was founded in the city. This led to a series of laws issued over hundreds of years to protect the right of the Jewish people to practice their faith.

In this article, we will examine laws that protected Sabbath observance in the Roman Empire. The earliest of these laws are recorded by Josephus. However, these protections are also referenced in later Roman laws.

 The time of Julius Caesar (approx. 46 BC) – Josephus, in his work Antiquities of the Jews, says that Julius Caesar was favorable towards Jewish people (idem, 14.10). He then gives a series of decrees issued by various cities that confirmed their rights to worship their God and keep the Sabbath. Among them are: Laodicea, Milesians, Halicarnassus, Sardians, and Ephesus (ibid, 14.10.20-25). Apparently, these cities were once hostile to Jewish practices.

Julius’ Caesar’s nephew, Octavian Augustus, became Roman Emperor about 31 BC. About 30 years into his reign, he issued a decree protecting Sabbath observance for Jewish people.

Edict of Augustus on Jewish Rights, approx. 1 BC – “2. “Cesar Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, and Tribune of the people ordains thus. Since the nation of the Jews has been found friendly to the Roman people, not only at this time, but in time past also, and especially Hyrcanus, the High Priest, under my father Cesar the Emperor, it has seemed good to me and my council, according to the wish and oath of the people of Rome, that the Jews should have liberty to follow their own customs, according to the law of their forefathers…and that they be not obliged to appear in court either on the Sabbath-day, or on the day of the preparation before it, after the ninth hour.…”  (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 16.6.2).

This law gave more formal protection to Jewish practices, specifically the Sabbath. By this time, the Jewish people labeled Friday “Preparation Day” to signify that they prepared for the Sabbath on that day. The Jewish people were free from legalities starting about 3 pm on Friday so that they could prepare to honor the Sabbath. Just over forty years later, the Emperor Claudius, issued a similar decree regarding Jewish religious practices.

“Tiberius Claudius Cesar, Augustus, Germanicus, Pontifex Maximus, tribune of the people, chosen consul the second time, ordains as follows. Upon the petition of King Agrippa, and King Herod, who are persons very dear to me, that I would grant the same rights and privileges should be preserved to the Jews throughout all the Roman Empire, as I have granted to the Jews of Alexandria, I very willingly comply therewith, not only to gratify my petitioners, but also judging those Jews for whom I have been petitioned worthy of such a favour, on account of their fidelity and friendship to the Romans. I think it also very just that no Greek city should be deprived of such rights and privileges: since they were preserved to them under the great Augustus. It is therefore right to permit the Jews throughout all our Empire to keep their ancient customs without let or hindrance…” (ibid, 19.5.3).

The importance of these initial laws cannot be overlooked. Other primary sources from this time confirm that such protections for Jewish people existed. Seneca, who lived between 4 BC and 65 AD, said that the “…customs of that most accursed nation have gained such strength that they have been now received in all lands, the conquered have given laws to the conquerors….” (preserved by Augustine, The City of God, 6.11).

Tacitus, writing about 110 AD wrote: “…They are said to have devoted the seventh day to rest, because that day brought an end to their troubles. Later, finding idleness alluring, they gave up the seventh year as well to sloth. Others maintain that they do this in honour of Saturn…Whatever their origin, these rites are sanctioned by their antiquity…” (The Histories, 5.4-5).

Dio Cassius, a Roman historian who lived between 155-235 AD confirmed that Jewish religious practices were protected; he also mentioned the great numbers of Jewish people at that time. “…the country has been named Judea, and the people themselves Jews. I do not know how this title came to be given to them, but it applies also to all the rest of mankind, although of alien race, who affect their customs. This class exists even among the Romans, and though often repressed has increased to a very great extent and has won its way to the right of freedom in its observances” (Roman History, 37.16-17).

Constantine (313-337)
The next Emperor to protect Sabbath observance was Constantine (contrary to popular opinion). He continued the tradition began by other Emperors. In the correct translation of The Life of Constantine book 4, chapter 18, section 2, we learn that Constantine “…He therefore decreed that all those under Roman government should rest on the days named after the Saviour, and similarly that they should honour the days of the Sabbath…” (Cameron and Hall, p 159). To read more about We reviewed Constantine’s Sabbath protections click HERE.

Codex Theodosianus (438/439)
The Codex Theodosianus was a code of laws issued during the reign of Theodosius II about 438/439 AD. It was a compilation of Roman laws from 311 to 438 AD. In it, we find three laws pertaining to the Sabbath that were issued between 409 and 412. I have listed two of them below (one is repeated in two places).

CT: 2.8.26 – “…On the Sabbath Day called on all other days at the time when Jews observe the reverence of their own cult, We command that no one of them shall be compelled to do anything or be sued in any way, since it appears that the other days can suffice for fiscal advantages and for private litigation. (Etc.) – July 26, 409; 412.  (Pharr, p 45). This law is repeated in CT: 8.8.8 (Pharr, p 210).

CT: 16.8.20.1 – “…Moreover, since indeed ancient custom and practice have preserved for the aforesaid Jewish people the consecrated day of the Sabbath, We also decree that it shall be forbidden that any man of the aforesaid faith should be constrained by any summons on that day, under the pre-text of public or private business, since all the remaining time appears sufficient to satisfy the public laws, and since it is most worthy of the moderation of Our time that the privileges granted should not be violated although sufficient provision appears to have been made with reference to the aforesaid matter by general constitutions of earlier Emperors”** – July 26, 412 (Pharr, p 469; emphasis mine).

**This law referenced earlier “constitutions” (plural) made by other emperors (plural). This law and the statement which concludes it is further proof that previous emperors provided protections for Sabbath observance. At the very least this law refers to the decrees of Augustus, Claudius, and Constantine. There may have been other Emperors who protected the Sabbath.

Codex Justinius (520s/530s AD)
The Codex Justinius was composed by the command of the Emperor Justinian. In it, we find CT:  16.8.20 repeated as CJ: 1.9.13, which means that he continued the same protections as earlier Emperors.

Conclusion
The Sabbath was protected by Roman rulers as early as Julius Caesar. This custom was retained by other Emperors until at least the time of Justinian. While these laws specifically granted privileges to Jewish people, they were also extended to Christians as well. There are two ways to know this was the case.

First, since the late second century AD, many leaders in the Roman Church labeled the Sabbath a Jewish institution. They attempted to lump Sabbath keeping Christians and Jews together. For some examples of this practice, see the following sources: Tertullian, Against the Nations, 1.13, John Chrysostom, Eight Homilies Against the Jews and Comm. on Galatians 1:7; Epiphanius, Against All Heresies, 29.1-7, 69.63; Athanasius, Against Arianism, 3.29.55; Council of Laodicea canons 29, 37, 38; Augustine, Letter 36. Dio Cassius wrote that people from other nations were considered Jewish if they practiced things considered Jewish (Roman History, 37:16-17 – quoted above).

Secondly, Christian sources also confirm this finding. During the first four centuries after the time of Christ, most Christians still honored the Sabbath. CLICK HERE to read an article on this subject. Eusebius’ comment above about Constantine bolsters this point.

Next month, we will start a multi-part series on Sunday laws in the Roman Empire. At the end of that two-part series, we will compare and contrast Sabbath and Sunday laws in the Roman Empire.  To read more about this subject, download our free booklet Sabbath and Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire by clicking HERE

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Sources Cited

Augustine. The City of God, 6:11. Schaff, Philip. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Vol 1. Buffalo: The Christian Literature Company, 1886. pp 120-121.

Codex Justinian, 3.12.2. Latin. Corpus Iuris Civilis. Krueger, Paulus, ed. Codex Iustinianus. Vol 1, pt 2. Berlin, 1892. p 91.

Codex Theodosianus. English. The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions. Translated by Clyde Pharr. Princeton University, 1952. pp 45, 210, 469.

Dio Cassius. Roman History. 37:16-17. Translated by Dr. Earnest Cary. Vol 3. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1914. p 127

Eusebius, The Life of Constantine, 4.18.2. Trans. By Averil Cameron and Stuart. G Hall. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999. p 159.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 14.10, 16.6.2, 19.5.3. The Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by William Whitson. Revised by Rev. A. R. Shilleto. London: George Bell and Sons, York Street, Covent Garden, 1889. Vol. 2, pp 31-42, Vol. 3. pp 170-171, 365.

Tacitus. The Histories. Book 5, sections 4 and 5. Fyfe, W. Hamilton, trans. Tacitus: The Histories. vol 2. Oxford: 1912. pp 205-208.

Our True Roots

Our True Roots

by Pastor Brian D. Jones, Ph.D.

“Have you ever looked up into the night sky and thought, Who am I? How did I get here? What are my roots and the purpose of my existence?

Noted American writer Alex Haley undertook the quest of tracking his ancestral roots, and traced them back as far as the mid-eighteenth century to the Ivory Coast of Africa. He brilliantly narrated this fascinating historical adventure in his classic work, Roots. But Haley could only find the outer branches of his ancestral tree. Who was his primal ancestor? Who is yours and mine?

Evolutionists since the days of Charles Darwin would have us believe that we are lucky descendants from the ape, which in turn evolved from more primitive forms of life that unexplainably modulated over generations from the first organic cell to creatures of increasing complexity and intelligence. However, science has never been able to rationally defend this theory. The chain of evolution consists of a series of missing links; the chain simply isn t there….”

(this article is an excerpt from the March—April 2001 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 6, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/488/tss_488.pdf

Finding Your 24/6 Rhythm in a 24/7 World

Finding Your 24/6 Rhythm in a 24/7 World

By Matthew Sleeth

In Sabbath-keeping we become more ourselves, not less. — Eugene Peterson

A decade ago, I was chief of staff at a hospital and director of emergency services. Taking care of sick people is good work, and I loved my job. Like many physicians, I was often called a workaholic. The label didn’t surprise me. For many years, I worked 24-hour shifts in the emergency room. Throughout the early years of my career, work identified both what I did and who I was.

This all-consuming passion for my work persisted until my early forties, when I read the Bible for the first time. That’s when I discovered God’s answer to our always-on, 24/7 culture of work, work, work.

The answer first appears in the opening pages of Genesis. God’s rhythm since the beginning of time has been 24/6 — six days on and one day off. When I began adopting that rhythm, my entire life changed for the better — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Weekly pause

What does the word Sabbath mean? It simply means “stop.” That’s all. The Hebrew people didn’t have names for the days of the week. There was one-day, two-day, three-day, four-day, fiveday, six-day, Stop Day. The fourth commandment says that we don’t work on Stop Day. We don’t make our sons work; we don’t make our daughters work; we don’t make anybody in our household work. We don’t make strangers work; we don’t make illegal aliens work; we don’t make minimum wage employees work. We don’t make anything work, including the cattle and the chicken and the sheep. We stop. We cool our jets. We just idle our engines on that day.

When my wife, Nancy, started teaching, she had a student named Clinton. His essay on the first day of class was three pages long. It didn’t have a comma; it didn’t have a period; it didn’t have a paragraph in it. It was a three-page, run-on sentence.

I don’t think God intended our lives to be like that paper — just one long, run-on sentence. The work of our life is meant to be punctuated by rest. Musicians talk about this. They say that it’s not the notes that make the song but the pauses in between the notes. This rhythm is equally true for our lives.

Grounded in Sabbath

The word holy first occurs in the second chapter of Genesis. The seventh day is blessed as holy because the Lord stopped and rested. Stopping and resting are the working definitions of holy. We are introduced to the creative aspects of God through the making of the heavens and the earth, but we learn about other qualities of God through the concepts of rest and stopping. These two concepts are not the same. Rest is done by stopping. By coming to a stop, we give rest a place to happen. We make rest possible.

But instead of resting, we move and move and don’t stop to know what we are walking on. We are ungrounded. No place means much of anything to us. When no place is our home, then the whole earth is reduced to a commodity. The most we can be is consumers.

The Sabbath commandments contained in the Old Testament set the worth of all things. The ground is allowed to rest every seventh year. The newborn calf cannot be taken immediately from its mother. The fruit tree has a right to exist in a time of war.

I do not advocate the throwing over of civil law in favor of Old Testament law, but I do believe in the inherent worth that God places in His creation. Often we see no worth in what the Lord created beyond its mere utilitarian value. We talk about forests as timber and flowers as bouquets. Yet when God placed the trees on the earth, He said that they are pleasing to the eye (Genesis 2:9). He dresses the lilies of the field more lavishly than a king (Matthew 6:28, 29). God’s soliloquy to Job is about the mystery and beauty that creation has beyond its usefulness to humanity

When we take Paul’s words to the Colossians to heart — “Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:16, 17) — we realize that the very ground we walk on and the air we breathe are the constant outpouring of God’s creativity and love.

Resting in rest

I have a memory from when my kids were younger that defines Sabbath rest for me. We lived in a house that had a big attic with a window on either side. The only thing in the attic was a hammock and a pull rope. The kids and I went in there one evening when it was too cold outdoors but was perfectly warm inside. As I lay on the hammock, my son, Clark, was on one shoulder, pulling on the rope, and my daughter Emma on the other. I read a book to them, and, at the end I put the book on the floor. In that quiet, while the swaying of our hammock slowed down, they both fell asleep.

I think that heaven is going to be a whole lot more like that moment than the typical Monday at work. When practiced regularly, Sabbath becomes a piece of heaven that can be taken with us into the other six days of the week.

What’s missing matters

Why in the last few decades has the church decided to throw out the fourth commandment? Why have we dismissed our day of rest? Which commandment are we going to throw out next?

Now Jesus isn’t a legalist. Instead, He’s about the intent behind the laws. So if the Ten Commandments say, “Don’t kill somebody,” Jesus says, “Don’t even call them a jerk.” If the Ten Commandments say, “Don’t commit adultery,” Jesus says, “Don’t even cruise the Internet looking for racy pictures.”

So what does Jesus have to say about the longest of the Ten Commandments — to keep a day of rest once a week? He clarifies that this is a day dedicated to God, so it’s OK to feed the hungry. It’s OK to take care of the sick. It’s OK to go and rescue an animal. But we’re still supposed to “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”


The Bible is about people trying to have a relationship with God while existing in a fallen world. Yet in our twenty-first century culture, we’re not content to just live in a fallen world: We’re putting rocket boosters on our backs to accelerate our descent.

A day of rest counteracts this trajectory. It’s about restraint. And that restraint is needed now more than ever.

Be still. Know God.

For me, one of the most profound lines in the Bible comes from Psalms. God says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

As you prepare for your next Sabbath, try meditating on this scripture. Then take one word from the end of the line, each time you say it.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

Stop Day is when you’re no longer just a human doing; you’re a human being. Just be.

Sabbath for us

Sabbath doesn’t just happen. You have to prepare for it. The day before the Sabbath, my wife and I always clean the house. We pay bills, answer e-mails, go grocery shopping, and prepare food so that on the Sabbath we can truly rest.

Sabbath morning we almost always take a long walk. Nancy reads the Bible. I take a nap. We rest in rest. If there’s an important deadline approaching and it seems like we just have to get it done, we stop. We trust in God’s promise that six days of work each week is enough.

If you can’t imagine twenty-four hours of rest, start with four or six hours of holy rest. Stopping is about restraint. It’s not about doing everything that we can do. It’s about finding the peace of God that passes all understanding.

The Sabbath was not meant to be saved by humanity; rather, humanity was meant to be saved by the Sabbath. I know from firsthand experience. After practicing the Sabbath for almost a decade, I have seen how it has saved me from the disease of workaholism. It has saved countless numbers of my patients from the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of unremitting stress. If practiced regularly, the Sabbath can save you too.

can save you too. I pray that you remember to open this gift of stopping one day a week. I pray that you find peace in this weekly oasis of time. I pray that you will be still and that, through rest, you will come to know God. And it will be good.

Matthew Sleeth, MD, a former ER physician, is the executive director of Blessed Earth and author of 24/6: Prescription for a Happier, Healthier Life (Tyndale, November 2012). He lives in Lexington, KY, with his wife, Nancy, and two children. Scripture quotations were taken from the New Living Translation This article was originally printed in the January-February 2013 edition of the Bible Advocate (to read more, click the following link: BA-2013-1_January-February-Eng.pdf (baonline.org)

Sabbath Meditation #30 – The Great Reunion

Sabbath Meditation #30 – The Great Reunion
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings” (Lev 23:3).

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

One important detail we garner from Leviticus 23:3 is that the Sabbath is a holy convocation. The Hebrew word translated as convocation is miqra; it means a gathering or rehearsal. When we gather together on the Sabbath, we are also rehearsing for events that have yet to happen. One of those is the great reunion with each other that will happen at the first resurrection.

“16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:16-17).

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17).

When Christ returns, the dead in Christ will rise first. Then, those who are still alive will be caught up. As Paul said in Romans, we will be glorified together. This is another reason why gathering together with other believers on Sabbath and learning to get along is so important. One day we will all be glorified together. This gathering together and glorification of all saints past and present is a future event that we rehearse on the Sabbath. It is a rehearsal for the great union!

As we keep the sabbath in an assembly now but there are those who have passed on the Lord. On the Sabbath, sometimes we remember their memories. We miss seeing them. When that great union occurs, we won’t miss them any longer! We will all be together then, which means our Sabbath experience will be even more fulfilling then than it is now. Imagine meeting not just those brothers and sisters from our past, but all the saints from the centuries! Imagine Jesus! Imagine meeting Paul, Peter, John, the other disciples, Timothy, Polycarp, Ulfilas, and the list goes on and on. The stories and history we will come to understand at the great reunion! – and at that time we will all be in our glorified bodies! Who will you look forward to seeing?

When that day comes, all the saints will be permanently together. We won’t have to miss someone whether it is for one Sabbath or for the rest of our lives.

This is why we should want to gather together even more as we see the return of Christ drawing closer. It means that we are even closer to that great reunion of all the saints to be together forever!

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Things You May not Know about Evolution

Things You May not Know about Evolution

by John D. Morris, Ph.D.

“Because (God) hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world … by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

Recently I had the privilege of addressing a gathering of state legislators and other influential political individuals. These gifted men and women are typically highly educated, most having been taught evolution and an evolutionary worldview extensively and exclusively. Now, they have the power to establish educational guidelines and societal norms. Sponsors of the banquet requested a talk both informative and evangelistic. What can one say in 45 minutes to a gathering of influential leaders that will make a difference? I don’t pretend to know what would be best, but perhaps you would be interested in what I did say. My talk was entitled, “Three Things You May Not Know about the Theory of Evolution.” I was speaking only from notes, but a summary of the talk, with a few alterations, appears below.

Introduction

I started with definitions for clarity. There is much misunderstanding of important words today, and some purposefully misuse words to confuse students and hide their true intentions….”

(this article is an excerpt from the May–June 2002 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 6, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/495/tss_495.pdf

Andreas Fischer’s 26 Reasons for Keeping the Sabbath

Andreas Fischer’s 26 Reasons for Keeping the Sabbath

Andreas Fischer was a Sabbath keeping minister in reformation-age Germany. In the 1520s and 1530s, he spent time spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and obedience to the Sabbath in areas such as Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia, Bohemia, and perhaps Saxony. His testimony for the faith is incredible.

One time the authorities tried to hang him from a castle tower, but the rope around his neck broke and he escaped. He continued preaching the gospel for years after this event and repeatedly returned to areas from which he was expelled or persecuted. He was martyred for his faith about 1540/1541. He is truly an inspiration. We reviewed his work for the gospel message last month on the Sabbath Sentinel Blog. To read more about the events leading up to his work and the work he did, click here.

Andreas was part of a movement which lasted about 70 years. Though that specific movement faded from the pages of history, modern technology allows us to keep his work and memory alive. By reading and sharing this post with others, we get a chance to honor this martyr for the faith. I am encouraging people to please share this post to honor the sacrifice that he and others made for our beliefs. 

He wrote a work which detailed at least 26 reasons to keep the Sabbath. We only know the work existed because a counter work was composed to refute him. From this opposition work, Fischer’s beliefs have been at least partially reconstructed. Though the enemy sought to expunge his memory and work for the Lord, we can bring his work and memory back to life. I encourage everyone to share this article with as many people as possible.

We have listed his reasons for Sabbath keeping below, which are taken from pp 37-39 of Daniel Liechty’s book “Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century.” Andrews University Press: 1993.

“1. There are Ten Commandments of God which constitute the Covenant. The Sabbath commandment is one of these. Therefore, if one breaks the Sabbath commandment, one violates the Covenant.

2. Moses and the Old Testament prophets, as well as the Apostles in the New Testament, all teach that one should keep the Ten Commandments, which includes the Sabbath.

3. The New Testament teaches that the Ten Commandments should be kept. The New and Old Testaments speak with one voice on this issue.

4. Christ works in the heart of the believer the will of God. Yet the Decalogue, the Covenant, expresses directly the will of God. Therefore, Christ works in the heart of the believer to create the desire to keep the Sabbath.

5. The Sabbath commandment is one of the longest commandments in the Decalogue, which indicates its importance.

6. Faith in Christ does not abolish the law (Romans 3:31) but rather through Christ we are able to uphold the law. This includes the Sabbath.

7. Even before Moses it is said that the Patriarchs kept the Commandments. If by this was meant the Decalogue, it must have included the Sabbath.

8. According to the New Testament (James 2:10), if you break one of the commandments, you are guilty of breaking them all. This indicates the importance of observing the Sabbath.

9. It is to be understood that when Paul or any of the Apostles referred to one or two of the laws, this was a customary abbreviation. They were referring to the whole of the Decalogue.

10. Paul and all of the New Testament Apostles held their meetings for worship on the Sabbath.

11. While the Sabbath is mentioned repeatedly in the New Testament, there is no mention of Sunday. (Fischer said that if Sunday were spoken of in the New Testament as the Sabbath, he would gladly hold the Sunday.)

12. Christians and Jews have much in common-they worship the same God, and both insist that this God is the only true God. Christians furthermore believe that salvation has come through the Jews, True, Christians are not Jews. Nevertheless, Christians should welcome Sabbath worship as another point of commonality with Jews.

13. Christ, the apostles and all of the earliest church fathers taught Sabbath worship.

14. It was Pope Victor and the Emperor Constantine who instituted and decreed Sunday worship. God instituted and decreed Sabbath worship.

15. All Christian assemblies for many years after the time of Christ met on the Sabbath.

16. The will of God (Ecclesiasticus 1; Baruch 4) is eternal and therefor independent of any written form of God’s law.

17. Because the fifth commandment is called “the first commandment with a promise” (Ephesians 6:2), it is improper to place the first four commandments (which include the Sabbath) in the context of promise and fulfillment.

18. The Holy Spirit works in the believer the commandments of God.

19. It is exactly the “New Creature in Christ” who will keep the commandments of God.

20. The Sabbath should be kept out of love for God. The motivation is love, not servitude.

21. The Spirit of Christ works in the believer “ all good works.” Therefore, the believer will not forsake the Sabbath.

22. Only Christ is truly free for sin, death, hell and duty to the law. But Christ fulfills that law in the heart of the believer, and the believer is therefore also free from the oppressiveness of the law, for he will follow the law out of joy and not out of compulsion.

23. The teachings of Jesus and those of the apostles must be read in light of Ecclesiasticus 1. Therefore, when the Scriptures speak of the will and commands of God, they always mean the Ten Commandments. Where the Sabbath is not specifically mentioned, it was left out only for the sake brevity; references to a spiritual Sabbath are allegory; when Paul wrote that love fulfills the law (Romans 13), he meant that we will and obey the law out of love; James 2:8ff. refers to the Decalogue; when in Ephesians 2:10 the believer in Christ is said to be a creation of God for doing good works that were prepared beforehand, this can only mean the Decalogue.

24. The “natural law” is nothing other than the Decalogue. Paul used this natural law (1 Corinthians 5) to admonish the man involved with his father’s wife, yet Paul is called the servant of the Spirit and not the servant of the letter. Therefore, his appeal to the Decalogue in the form of the natural law proves that it was not his intention that the Decalogue be thrown out as “written law.”

25. Only the priestly law has been superseded. This is what the New Testament refers to whenever it speaks of the law having been abolished. Likewise, the council in Acts 15 dealt only with the issues of the priestly, ceremonial law. Likewise Hebrews 7 refers only to the Priestly Law.

26. Christians must come to Christ in both body and soul together. You cannot be constantly separating the “inner” from the “outer.” Therefore, the “Sabbath of faith” must be seen as allegory and does not mean at all that the Sabbath should not be held externally.”

These reasons both build our faith in keeping the Sabbath and give us important perspectives to share with others about Sabbath keeping.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

A New Theory on the Mark of the Beast

A New Theory on the Mark of the Beast

By Lenny Cacchio


In this piece I’m taking a different approach to what the Mark of the Beast might be. Search the ‘net and you’ll find plausible theories that range from embedded chips to which day to count as the Sabbath. I’m going to offer another theory which I gladly label “theory”. However, I’m coming to believe this more and more to be the real issue at hand. I welcome comments and insights.

——————————————————–

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16-17) 

He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. (Daniel 7:25)

This enigmatic mark of the beast has been interpreted in a number of different ways. Given modern technology some have posited that implanted microchips could be the fulfillment of this prophecy. 

Others identify the mark as a change in the day kept as the Sabbath. Those who believe in this interpretation refer to such scriptures such as Ezekiel 20:12 and Exodus 31:13 where the seventh day Sabbath is referred to as a sign between God and his people. Thus, the mark of the beast would refer to a counterfeit Sabbath “sign”, and conditions would be such that the Fourth Commandment is made impossible to keep because of forced Sunday observance. Refusal to accept that sign would result in economic hardship.

This article is not intended to challenge either theory. It is intended to continue the conversation.

Let’s begin with the observation that the mark is placed on either the right hand or the forehead. In the book of Deuteronomy we find an interesting expression shortly after a listing of the Ten Commandments:

And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart. … You shall bind them as a sign on your hand , and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. (Deuteronomy 6: 6, 8)

This suggests that the Ten Commandments should be the rule for what we do (“bind them as a sign on your hand”) and how we think (“they shall be as frontlets before your eyes”). The mark of the beast is also placed on the hand or the forehead, suggesting that this mark is some kind of counterfeit way of living and way of thinking.

In comparing with this Daniel 7:25 (“he shall intend to change the times and the laws”), could Revelation be telling us that the time is coming when all ten of the Ten Commandments will be supplanted by some other law? What possible civilized system could say that murder, lying, stealing, and every form of deviancy is not a crime? 

It is not too far fetched to see the makings of such a world emerging today. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with and reverence for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We see Christian groups being banned form college campuses. We see churches and synagogues being attacked with violence and either marginalized as ignorant bigots (Christians) or incited against as shylocks, diamond merchants, and “it’s all about the Benjamins” (Jews). Prayer is prohibited in public places, and professions of faith are ruled out of order. Netflix feels free to spite Christians by portraying Jesus as a homosexual, and the Salvation Army has been assailed for its charity work with the accusation that their sincere desire to help those in need is no more than cover for the sinister purpose of ensnaring people into their religion.

As for “Thou Shalt not Kill”, do we need to bring up abortion for the millionth time, and do we need to remind people that several states allow newborns to be left to die without medical care as long as they are “kept comfortable”? Or that physician assisted suicide, formally known as euthanasia, is now in may places legally permissible? 

Or how about the younger generations’ musings about how Boomers have ruined the world. Honoring one’s parents is being replaced by a resentment of the seasoned generations amid the accusation that they  screwed up America, and it has become accepted for activists to co-opt our children, using them as bullhorns in loud attacks on the cause du Jour. 

And if you’re wondering about that “adultery” commandment, think of the deviancy now celebrated as alternative lifestyles, and if you disagree and say so, you might lose your job and be attacked and threatened mercilessly on social media. Children are celebrated when they or their parents decide it is perfectly normal to pump their kids full of hormones of the opposite sex and even contemplate major surgery to rearrange their sex organs. Worse, in some places it is not just considered bigotry but also illegal to try to help people clean up their lifestyles. 

And “Thou shalt not steal”? Did you know that in some places such as California among several others, criminals who shoplift less than $950 per incident will not be prosecuted? Or what about the license some law enforcement agencies have to engage in “civil asset forfeiture“, which means they can seize your property without due process on only the suspicion of a crime, and it is often extremely difficult to recover those assets.

Do we need to talk about bearing false witness in a society where it’s illegal for you to lie to the government, but not for the government to lie to you? How about the growing trend of a culture where everyone is allowed to have his or her “own truth”. 

And of course coveting what your neighbor has and electing people who promise to take other people’s property by force is now the norm in our election campaigns. 

That is why I’m floating the theory that the mark of the beast is much more all-encompassing that merely changing the Sabbath. It could well be that the passage in Revelation is about a complete revolution in how the culture views good and evil, right from wrong. 

Consider this from Ezekiel:
They had not executed My judgments, but had despised my statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols, therefore I also gave them up to statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they could not live. (Ezekiel 20:24-25)

Removing the Law of God and giving ourselves over to what seems good through our self-centered eyes is devastating to a culture and a nation. It is impossible to have any kind of society without law. What kind of law will we be given up to in the absence of any semblance of God’s law?

What law will fill the vacuum created by the absence of the perfect law of liberty

—————————

Other references:

Matthew 24:12

Romans 1:18-32

II Timothy 3:1-9


II Thessalonians 2:7-10

This article was updated om December 26, 2020

This article was first published on Lenny’s blog site, Morning Companion, on January 3, 2020. We encourage you to follow Lenny’s blog at: http://morningcompanion.blogspot.com/.

Free New Booklet! – A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Bible

Free New Booklet! – A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Bible
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.


The Bible is God’s instruction book and love letter to mankind. In it, we learn how He plans to use you in His great
plan. This booklet will help you understand the Bible on a very basic level. It will give you practical tips to help you
get the most out of your Bible. These simple tips will transform your view of the Bible and your walk with God.

To download for free, just click the picture below!