Is the Sabbath only for Jewish people?

Is the Sabbath only for Jewish people?

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Some claim that the Sabbath is just for Jewish people or Israelites. What does the Bible say about this subject?

The Sabbath was first revealed in Genesis 2:1-3 before there were any Jewish people or any distinction of nations whatsoever. The only two people alive at that time were Adam and Eve. This is why Jesus said that it was given to all mankind: “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). The seven-day cycle continued to be observed by later generations, such as in the days of Noah (Gen. 8:10-12).

God chose the nation of Israel to be His chosen representatives of the nations (Ex. 19:4-6). They were supposed to be a Kingdom of priests to the rest of the earth; this included spreading God’s way of life world-wide. God revealed to them the Sabbath and by extension the seven-day week (Exodus 16, Ex. 20:8-11). When He did so, He reminded them that the Sabbath was HIS day.  

Exodus 16:23, 29 – “23 And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning…29 See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” (ASV)

Exodus 20:8-11 – “8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (ASV)

Jesus kept the Sabbath and we are also told to follow His example!

John 14:12 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.” (ASV)

I Cor. 11:1 – “12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.” (NIV)

Throughout the Bible, God affirmed that the Sabbath is HIS. He was the first one to rest upon the day. In the New Testament, we are also instructed to follow His example in this manner:

Leviticus 19:1-3, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.'” (NIV)

I Peter 1:15-16: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.'” (NIV)

The Apostle Peter instructed us to pattern our holiness of life after God and quoted Lev. 19:2, which concerning the Sabbath.

Within the many verses in the Bible on the Sabbath, there are specific ones addressed to Gentiles and all of humanity relating to Sabbath observance (see Isaiah 56:1-7 as an example). In these verses, the Sabbath is referenced as its own covenant with mankind.  In the last age of God’s plan, the New Heavens and the New Earth, all mankind will worship Him on the Sabbath.

22 ‘As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the Lord, ‘so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the Lord.” (Isaiah 66:22-23, NIV).

Ultimately, we keep the Sabbath because we are made in the image of the God who created and rested on the Sabbath Himself (Gen. 1:26-28, 2:1-3) and because our Savior, Jesus, kept the Sabbath. The Sabbath is never called Jewish or Israelite in the entire Bible. God always addresses the Sabbath as “the Sabbath of the Lord your God” or “My Sabbath.” We have a sample list of verses at the bottom of this article that demonstrate this fact.

God Bless!

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

Other related articles: Were the Ten Commandments in Existence Before Mount Sinai?

A sample of verses where God takes ownership of the Sabbath:

Exodus 20:10 – “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:”

Leviticus 19:3 – Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:30 – Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 23:2-3 – 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. 3 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.

Leviticus 26:2 – Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

Deuteronomy 5:14 – 14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

Isaiah 56:4 – For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

Isaiah 58:13 – 13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

Ezekiel 22:26 – Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.

Ezekiel 23:38 – Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths.

Ezekiel 44:24 – And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.

Mark 2:27-28 – 27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Beholding the Lord in Our Presence

Beholding the Lord in Our Presence

by Jerry Laws

“Many times during my personal Bible study, I will ask our Father for His guidance in the direction that He wants me to go during this time. Not too long ago I was directed to the book of Acts, chapter 2. It was not Pentecost season, when we traditionally cover this chapter, so as I was reading it once again I kept looking for something new for me.

It was in the middle of Peter’s message that I did “see” something new. He was explaining to the “Men of Judea, and all who live in Jerusalem” the meaning of what they had just witnessed regarding the power of the Holy Spirit. In verses 22 through 24, Peter was beginning to bring their focus of attention to Jesus.

As he continued in verse 25, Peter spoke of the patriarch David, saying:

“For David says of Him, ‘I was always beholding the Lord in my presence; for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will abide in hope; because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou wilt make me full of gladness with Thy presence’” (Acts 2:25–28, NASB).

My eye kept coming back to the sentence, “I was always beholding the Lord in My presence…” This is a prophecy of Jesus Christ speaking of the special relationship with His Father. This was Jesus’ mind-set— “always beholding the presence of His Father with Him.” We must know from the Scriptures…”

(this article is an excerpt from the September–October 2003 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 17, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/503/tss_503.pdf

The Biblical Week Versus the Planetary Week

The Biblical Week Versus the Planetary Week

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Have you ever wondered where the names for the days of the week came from? Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. None of these names are found in the Bible. The only day named by God was the Sabbath.

Did you know that the pagans in the first century had an alternative seven-day weekly cycle? It was based upon certain planets. For this reason, it has been called the planetary week. In this article, we will compare it to the Biblical week!

In the beginning of the Bible, we learn about creation and the establishment of the seven-day week. The first six days God created everything. On the seventh day, He rested. The day was blessed and set apart from the other six days.

Genesis 2:1-3 reads: “1 And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made” (ASV).

Knowledge of the seven-day weekly cycle continued after that time. It was understood in the days of Noah. This detail is explained in Genesis chapter 8.

“10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11 and the dove came in to him at eventide; and, lo, in her mouth an olive-leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 12 And he stayed yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she returned not again unto him any more” (Gen 8:10-12, ASV).

Many years later, the children of Israel moved to Egypt where they were enslaved. During their captivity, they lost the knowledge of the Sabbath. Historical records show that the Egyptians had a ten-day weekly cycle (Fagan, 476). One of God’s first acts when they left Egypt was to re-establish the original creation week.

In Exodus chapter 16, we learn about a narrative familiar to many Jewish people and Christians – the story of the manna. What many people do not realize is that the main goal of the manna was to teach the Israelites which day of the week was the Sabbath. Through it, he restored to them the knowledge of the original seven-day cycle.

“4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not. 5 And it shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.… 22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath spoken, Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake, and boil that which ye will boil; and all that remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning… 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day is the sabbath, in it there shall be none…’” (Ex. 16:4-5, 22-23, 26, ASV).

Notice in this passage that God never ascribed a name to any day of the week except the Sabbath. This is one practice that helped the children of Israel maintain the seven-day week through the centuries. The first six days of the week are as follows: first day, second day, third day, fourth day, fifth day, and sixth day. The seventh day of the week was named Sabbath or in Hebrew shabbat.

The Sabbath was one of the chief ways that time was reckoned in the Bible. This day is mentioned in dozens of verses in the Old Testament. It is the weekly regular of time (Ex. 20:8-11, 23:12, 2 Kings 11:5-9) and has special blessings for all people (Is. 56:1-7, 66:22-23).

Other days of the week only receive a sparse mention in the Bible. The first day of the week is inferred in the giving of the manna (Ex. 16:11-21). It is also alluded to in a few other verses (Lev. 23:11, 15-16). It is simply called “the day after the Sabbath.” In the New Testament, it receives several mentions. The sixth day is mentioned in the manna story (Ex. 16:5, 22, 29). There may be some other days of the week inferred from context of various Scriptures. However, the other days of the week are only referenced in relationship to the Sabbath (the weekly regulator).

By the first century AD, the Jewish people called the sixth day ‘preparation day’ because they prepared for the Sabbath on it. The earliest Christians seemed to continue this practice.

The Planetary Week

At some point in the centuries before Christ, another seven-day week developed in the Greco-Roman culture. Each day of this week was named after a heavenly body. It also had a different order than the Biblical week.

Some ancient cultures considered there to be seven planetes, which means wanderers in Greek. This is much different than our modern conception of a planet. They thought that the planets were stars because they could be seen in the night sky (Pliny, Natural History, 2.4; Cicero, The Republic, 6.17). These heavenly bodies also corresponded to deities that the Greeks and Romans worshiped.  

The names ascribed to each day of the week and their order were as follows:

Greek: Kronos, Helios, Selena, Aires, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite

Latin: Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jove, Venus

Utilizing our modern vernacular, the planetary week was ordered to start with Saturday and end with Friday. Archaeological evidence has been found to confirm these details. Below, we will look at a few inscriptions pertaining to this subject.

Approximately mid-first century AD

In Pompeii, an inscription was found on a wall which listed the deities over each day in the planetary week. It was originally written in Greek and the heading of it reads: “Days of the gods.” It lists them in a specific order (original found in CIL 4: 5202). Below, we have provided the information from the inscription with the English translation in brackets.

THEON HAMERAS  [Days of the gods]

Kronou                        [Kronos]

Heliou                         [Helios]        

Selenes                        [Selena]

Areos                           [Aires]

Hermou                      [Hermes]

Dios                             [Zeus]

Aphrodeites                [Aphrodite]

Two more inscriptions were found near Pompeii. They showed the order of the days of the planetary week in Latin (CIL 4: 6779). I have placed the English translation beside them in brackets.

SATVRNI      [Saturn]

SOLIS            [Sol or Sun]

LVNAII          [Lunas or Moon]

MARTIS        [Mars]

                     [Mercury]

IOVIS            [Jupiter or Jove]

VENERIS      [Venus]

(One name was missing from the original inscription: Mercury. This name is supplied by other findings).

The second inscription lists the days of the planetary week in short hand (Notizie degli Scavi, p 98 and CIL 4: 8863).

DIES    [Days]

SAT     [Saturn]

SOL     [Sol or Sun]

LVN     [Lunas or Moon]

MAR   [Mars]

MERC [Mercury]

IOV     [Jupiter or Iovi]

VEN    [Venus]

Christian Writings and the Planetary Week

Were early Christian writers in some way affected by the planetary week? If so, did it affect their theology? Below, we have listed some early Christian writings that discuss days of the week.

Didache (approx. 100 AD) – This ancient document mentions that the Jewish people fasted on the second and fifth days of the week. The author instructed fasting on the fourth day and the preparation day (chapter 8). No planetary names were used.

Epistle of Barnabas (130s AD) – This work referred to the Sabbath multiple times and the ‘eighth day’ in one chapter (chapter 15). No planetary names were used.

Justin the Martyr (150s AD) – In his work, Dialogue with Trypho, Justin mentioned the Sabbath multiple times. In chapter 41, he referred to the first day of the week which he also called the eighth day. In chapter 138, he mentioned the eighth day. In another work, Hortatory Address to the Greeks, Justin refers to the first day (chapter 33). In a third work, The Apology, Justin the Martyr possibly referenced the planetary names Saturday and Sunday. However, this reference contains inconsistencies; modern research shows that it is likely an interpolation. We will review this text in another article. Outside of this one spurious reference, Justin does not use the planetary names.

Theophilus of Antioch (160s-180s AD) – In his work To Autolycus, Theophilus discussed all the days of the week. He did not mention any planetary names.  He spoke very positively about the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments (idem, 3.9).

Clement of Alexandria was the first known Christian author to make an indisputable reference to the planetary week. He started writing in the late second century (180s). In Stromata, he wrote:  

“He knows also the enigmas of the fasting of those days — I mean the Fourth and the Preparation. For the one has its name from Hermes, and the other from Aphrodite. He fasts in his life, in respect of covetousness and voluptuousness, from which all the vices grow. For we have already often shown above the three kinds of fornication according to the apostle: love of pleasure, love of money and idolatry….He fasts, then, according to the law, from bad deeds, and according to the perfection of the gospel, from evil thoughts. He undergoes temptations, not for his purification, but as we have said, for the good of his neighbors…” (idem, 7.12; emphasis mine throughout).

He started this passage with the names for the days of the week that are used in the Bible – fourth day and the preparation. Some Christians were known to fast on these days, as the Didache indicates. He then acknowledged that these days of the week were commonly named after Hermes and Aphrodite (Latin: Mercury and Venus).

In another passage from the same work, Clement directly discussed the seven planets and the planetary week more in a more pronounced way:

“Now the high priest’s robe is the symbol of the world of sense. The seven planets are represented by the five stones and the two carbuncles, for Saturn and the Moon. The former is southern, and moist, and earthy, and heavy; the latter aerial, whence she is called by some Artemis, as if Aerotomos (cutting the air); and the air is cloudy. And cooperating as they did in the production of things here below, those that by Divine Providence are set over the planets are rightly represented as placed on the breast and shoulders; and by them was the work of creation, the first week. And the breast is the seat of the heart and soul” (ibid, 5.6; emphasis mine).

Clement tried to Christianize the seven planetes. He claimed that the high priests’ garment from the Old Testament was a foreshadowing of the seven planets. This is an allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures. He then tried to claim that the planetary names of the days of the week go back to the first week of creation in Genesis. Besides being archeologically and historically inaccurate, these claims are also far from Biblical.

Clement clearly had knowledge of the planetary week. He lived in Alexandria, Egypt; this city was heavily influenced by Greek culture. His knowledge on this subject is to be expected. He tried to merge the Biblical and Planetary weeks, though the orders were different. This was an attempt to syncretize or mix Christianity with other religions. Nothing in the Old Testament foreshadowed an alternative week than that given by God.

Tertullian, who wrote between 197-220 AD, discussed the Sabbath and Sunday using the planetary names for the days of the week. In the following two quotes, he made some unique statements that contribute to this topic.

“Others, with greater regard to good manners, it must be confessed, suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians, because it is a well-known fact that we pray towards the east, or because

we make Sunday a day (Latin: die solis) of festivity… It is you, at all events, who have even admitted the sun into the calendar of the week” (Against the Nations, 1.13).

“Others, again, certainly with more information and greater verisimilitude, believe that the sun (Latin: solem) is our god… In the same way, if we devote Sun-day (diem solis) to rejoicing, from a far different reason than Sun-worship…” (The Apology 1.16).

Tertullian is the first Christian writer to defend the faith from accusations of sun worship. This accusation came about through two practices: praying towards the sun and Sunday gatherings. He acknowledged that Sunday (or die solis) was celebrated by those who worship the sun. He also explained that the pagans added this day to the week (because the original seven-day week was not named after the planets).

Some later writers utilized the name Sunday as a theological justification for why they met on the day.  In his work In Die Dominica Paschae, Jerome (342-420) wrote: “If the pagans call it the ‘day of the sun’, we willingly agree, for today the light of the world is raised. Today is revealed the sun of justice with healing in his rays” (no. 1166, English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America. 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.; Latin found in CCSL, 78:550).

As Christianity extended its influence into central and northern Europe, gods from those regions replaced four of their Greek/Roman counterparts in the planetary week: Tuesday (Tiw), Wednesday (Wooden or Odin), Thursday (Thor), and Friday (Frigga). The concept behind this revised terminology and where it came from remained the same.

Conclusion

The planetary week is much different than the Biblical week in two key ways. First, each planetary day was named for a heavenly body which corresponded to a god or goddess. On the other hand, the Biblical week only ascribed a name to the seventh day, the Sabbath. It is connected to the one true God resting on it. Secondly, the order for the days of the week was different. The planetary week started with Saturn-day and ends with Venus-day (modern usage: Saturday through Friday). The Biblical week starts with first day ends with Sabbath (modern usage: Sunday through Saturday).

For the first 140 years or so after the time of Jesus, references to the planetary week appear to be absent in Christian literature. Clement of Alexandria tried to Christianize the pagan names for the days of the week. He was likely the first to make these references and set the precedent continued by Tertullian and others.

His writings were part of a larger trend to syncretize Christianity with other religious influences. He tried this with other subjects, such as Greek philosophy. For the next two centuries, Christians in the West continued to use the planetary names for the days of the week on inscriptions such as gravestones.

In the West, the planetary week contributed to a decline in Sabbath observance. The use of the planetary name Sun-day in the West combined with a theological connection between Christ and the sun reinforced Sunday gatherings. On the other hand, the Sabbath has no linguistic connection to the planetary names for the days of the week.

In the East, the planetary week did not last as long. The Sabbath was also observed for a much longer period. Sabbaton was the common name for the seventh day of the week in the East, which allowed it to be reinforced both in name and in practice. Even in modern Greek, the terms preparation day and sabbath are retained in the words used for Friday and Saturday (paraskevi and savvato, respectively).

To learn more about the Biblical week, the Planetary week, and their impact on the Sabbath, download our free book How Did Sunday Become the First Day of the Week? (click here to download for free).

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Bibliography

Cicero, M. Tullus. Of the Nature of the Gods. Translated by Thomas Francklin. London, 1829. pp 105-106.

Cicero, M. Tullus. The Republic. Translated by Francis Foster Barham and Charles Duke Yonge. Bohn’s Classical Library. London, 1878. pp 383-384.

Clement of Alexandria. Stromata, 5.6, 5.14, 7:12. Translated by William Wilson. Roberts, Rev. Alexander and Donaldson, James, eds. Revised by A. Cleveland Coxe. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 2. Buffalo: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1885. pp 453, 469, 544-545.

Corpus Inscriptorum Latinarum (CIL). 4: 5202, 6779, 8863.

Epistle of Barnabas. chapter 15. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Roberts, Rev. Alexander and Donaldson, James, eds. Revised by A. Cleveland Coxe. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol 1. Buffalo: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1887. p 147

Fagan, Brian M. ed. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Vol. 1. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press. New York, 1996. p 476.

Holy Bible. American Standard Version (ASV).

Justin the Martyr. First Apology, 67. Dialogue with Trypho, chapters 41, 138. English. Translated by Marcus Dods and George Reith. Roberts, Rev. Alexander and Donaldson, James, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Revised by A. Cleveland Coxe. Vol. 1. Buffalo: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1887. pp 187, 215.

Justin the Martyr. First Apology, 67. Latin. Patrologiae Cursus Completus. Series Graecae. Migne, JP. Vol. 6. Paris, 1857. pp 429-432.

Clement of Alexandria. Stromata, 1.5, 1.21, 6.14, 7.7. Translated by William Wilson. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Vol. 2. Buffalo: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885, pp 305-306, 333, 505, 532-537.

Jerome. In Die Dominica Paschae. English: The Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America. 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc. Latin: CCSL, 78:550

Notizie degli Scavi Di Antichita.1927. Alla R. Accademia Nazionale Dei Lincei. Di S.E. il Ministro della Pubblica Istruzione. (V) Roma. Notizie degli Scavi, 26 April 1927. p 98.

Pliny the Elder. Natural History, 2.4. The Natural History of Pliny. Translated by John Bostock and H.T. Riley. Vol 1. London, 1855. pp 19-22.

Tertullian. Against the Nations, 1:13. English: Translated by Peter Holmes. Roberts, Rev. Alexander and Donaldson, James, eds. The AnteNicene Fathers. Vol. 3. Buffalo: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1918. p 123.

 Tertullian. Against the Nations, 1.13, Apology, 1.16. Latin: Migne, Patrologiae Cursus. Completus. Series Latina. Vol. 1. Paris: 1844. pp 369-372, 579.

Tertullian. Apology 1.16. English: Translated by Rev. S. Thelwall. Roberts, Rev. Alexander and Donaldson, James, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 3. Buffalo: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1918. p 31.

Theophilus. To Autolycus, 2.11-12, 15, 27. 3.9. Translated by Rev. Marcus Dods. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 2. Roberts, Rev Alexander and Donaldson, James, eds. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913. pp 99-101, 105, 113-114.

First Aid for the Criticized

First Aid for the Criticized

by Sandra Doran

“Question: How should Christians react when they see members of the congregation being hurt by a critical member? Should they try to intervene or just ignore the situation and hope it goes away?

Answer: As Christians, whenever we see people being hurt, we have no choice but to be an agent of healing. Whether we directly confront a situation or choose to handle it in a less obtrusive way, we have a moral obligation to staunch the pain that we witness in the world around us. In looking to the life of Christ, we find an array of examples that range from direct action to subtler methods of problem resolution.

In response to the moneychangers in the temple, Christ left no questions as to His feelings. His actions were clear, swift, and decisive. When reacting to wealthy church officials who looked down upon the widow with a two-mite offering, He simply validated the woman who was the object of ridicule. In all cases where Christ witnessed maltreatment of human beings, He stepped in, role-modeled kindness, and restored dignity to the demeaned and demoralized. Consider His reaction to the downtrodden in the following instances:

• When the disciples criticized mothers longing to place their little ones on Jesus’ lap, He reacted by affirming the women who were so often the recipients of bias and negativity….”

(this article is an excerpt from the March–April 2004 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 12, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/506/tss_506.pdf

My Journey to Finding God, His Healing, and His Sabbath

My Journey to Finding God, His Healing, and His Sabbath

By Sharon Darling

The Sabbath is a delight and is a beautiful gift our Father has given us. I did not always know this though. The story of how I came into it is long, but I know it is exactly what God knew I needed so I could follow Him. So grab your favorite drink, get cozy and if you are like me, some chocolate perhaps, while I tell my story.

I grew up without any religion in my life. My father did not like his religious upbringing, so he purposely chose not to introduce anything about God or Church to us. We were taught that religion was a crutch; he made sure we understood that it was bad. I believed there was a God out there, but He was not real to me.  I was so broken inside that I did not care. In fact, anything to do with the concept of God or Jesus made me very uncomfortable. I did not believe that life could get better.

A lot of people say they had a terrible childhood from which they never recover. That is so sad and tragic. During those early years, my life was traumatic. Thank God He had a plan for me to be free from that dark place, but it would take years to come around to accept His reality. You see, my mother left us when I was a baby. When I became older, I found out that I did not know my biological father. This does explain why I was treated so poorly.

When I was very young, we moved in with my grandmother. I had a cruel childhood. I lived much of my life feeling worthless, unloved, and hated. I felt as if I was a burden. I was demeaned and endured some pretty awful treatment. At fifteen, I was kicked out of the house. In those days, I had a major attitude and mouth on me that I am not proud of. In my teens, I was very angry and stayed away from home as much as I could.  I wanted to feel like I mattered to someone and being away from home at least brought some peace in some way.

When I was fifteen, I met my now husband, Aaron. We were friends for a time before we started “dating”. I could tell that something was different about him. I was very drawn to that young man, but I had no idea why. God will work things out whether you want them to or not. We were fifteen and seventeen when our journey began.

There was one thing about his family that stuck out to me. They kept the Sabbath and His ways. My husband had been born into it and raised that way. He grew up in the Worldwide Church of God. I have never heard of anyone keeping the Sabbath outside of Jewish people. It was kind of strange to me, but I didn’t care. By this time, he wanted nothing to do with it. He did not care. 

Aaron had become disaffected with the church and the Sabbath because of the hypocrisy he witnessed throughout his childhood. He saw it and there was plenty to go around. Kids who are surrounded by hypocrisy in their families, brethren, and the leadership can get to the point where they do not see anything good from following His way. It turns them off, like it did him, and that continues to this day with the youth who see division, discord, and hypocrisy all around them by those who claim to be following God.

As I mentioned earlier, I had never been interested in religion because I did not trust anyone or anything. Aaron was the first person who ever made me see my own worth. He made me feel that I was worthy of being loved, the first person I ever trusted, and the only person to ever stood up for me. He was what my brokenness needed to start healing. Certain barriers in my brain and heart were penetrated by this man. God used him to start preparing me for my calling.

It was quite the journey to us getting married at nineteen and twenty-one. God took two broken people and brought us together at exactly the right time. As much as I needed him, he fully admits he needed me too. About the age of nineteen I started wondering about life. I wanted to belong somewhere. I did not really do much other than occasionally attend a Baptist Church and another Christian Church.

One and a half years after we got married our son was born. It was then that I started questioning life and our purpose in a bigger way. I did not know where to go or what to do so a relative and I started going to their old church. I got baptized that summer and something entirely shifted within me. During the laying on of hands I felt a peace come over me that was completely foreign. A hunger to know the truth of God began to be lit inside of me.

Within months I stopped going to that church and knew it was not what I was supposed to do. I started diving into the Bible and anything I could get my hands on which helped me understand the Bible. That went on for months. I wanted to know which day was the Sabbath and our purpose on earth. It is easy for us to say to someone: “Just look it up… it is easy to see.” However, I had zero background in Bible study or the things of God that would help me. I was inspired by God to search out Truth in His Word and to try to find likeminded people. Since I was already aware of keeping the Sabbath through my husband’s background, it was a familiar concept to me.  

As part of this process, I did ask questions to learn about it. I read the Bible a lot. I can remember that my first focus was everything relating to the Sabbath. That was what I was truly searching for inside to know for sure. I do not remember how long it took for this subject to become solidified in my mind. During this same time, I also was receiving a lot of literature and material that I requested from various ministries. I cannot recall all of them but there were many. I had stacks of books and tapes. I listened to a lot of messages and read material online too. A lot of them were about the Sabbath.

It was a process, but it did not take long – perhaps a few months. God revealed to me the true Biblical Sabbath. I was able to finally see that God wanted us to keep the Sabbath as His set apart day. I also did not have anything to unlearn when it comes to what day to keep in the same way as others.  I wanted to follow Him, so I started observing it and wanted to know more of His Truth.

Even by this point, my husband still wanted nothing to do with any of it. Despite this attitude, he did not hinder me from pursuing God. I am thankful for that! At first, it was sad that I was on this walk alone but praise Yah that this situation lasted less than two years. God then opened his heart and we have been walking this walk together since about early 2006.

I wanted to find a group with which to fellowship. I looked heavily into the splinters that came from WCG. I had so much literature that I received or read online from some of them. They were a huge focus for me since I was familiar with them. Some got back to me, and some did not. One group had more information and responded more favorably than the others, so I chose to attend with them.

Although I attended by myself at first, I hoped and prayed my husband would come with me. He was a little hesitant because the group reminded him of his youth. After a year, he decided to go with me. We attended this group until 2016, when it became clear that it was time to leave. We have been on our own ever since.

My story shows that God can turn anything into something that glorifies Him. Personally, it was a long hard path for me to unlearn the lies and brokenness within.  I was that child who was told so many horrible things from a very young age like “I didn’t have to take you; I could have left you in foster care.” I was yelled and screamed at with such a vitriol that it just wounds you. Things would be held over my head for months at a time and some of it was never let go last I knew. I didn’t trust anyone. Angry men scared me for many years.

I still don’t like confrontation, but it doesn’t do the same thing to me internally anymore. The things that I lived as a child breaks you. I did try a few years ago to have a relationship with the man who may be my father but unfortunately it did not work out. I still do not know my biological father, but I am satisfied knowing my Heavenly Father. Broken people do things that are just so unkind sometimes.  Sometimes we do not understand the why, but we all need our Savior. This is a very broken world. One day that will change. Hallelujah!

Rejection was a constant theme in my life. Along my journey, I finally understood that our identity is not in other people, but it is in God and Jesus. We spend so much time in this life chasing the love and acceptance from people, but God is waiting for us to respond to him and to experience real, true, Godly love that is unfettered to human error. 

My process took from spring 1998 until 2004/2005 for me to fully surrender to God, but I still had much to learn. While I was so blessed to have been called into His way; it would take years for some of my broken parts to heal. Sometimes God does not instantly heal our brains and hearts. We must go to Him and continue our pursuit of His will for our lives. We fail when we try to do it on our own. God wants to heal the broken hearted and bind up their wounds. I finally learned that our Father in Heaven can be trusted! He loves us unconditionally! Yes, there are lots of “if….thens” but He does not withdraw His love from us the way humans sometimes do.

God is willing and waiting to forgive us! HE LOVES US!  Everything He asks from us is for our good and His glory. He is not selfish or broken. He is love. Calling us into the Sabbath and following His ways is such a gift and not a burden. As I consider all the changes I have been able to make over the years, the changes I still am trying to make, where I am, where our marriage is today, the man my husband has become, and how our family is, I believe much of this progress comes from starting with obedience to the fourth commandment. How glorious that is! Praise Him. Something so simple ushers in so many blessings!

Sharon’s Ministry – Heart of a Torah Woman

Sharon Darling is the founder of Heart of a Torah Woman. This ministry was birthed out of a God-given desire to help other women in their walk with God. She provides mentorship that helps women focus on how to bring glory to God in all aspects of life. She helps women adjust their thinking and approach to Biblical womanhood through an emphasis on the importance of routine prayer and Bible study, strengthening our marriages and families, and encouraging and supporting each other. You can find her on social media, her podcast, and her blog www.torahwoman.com

May you be blessed by what God is using her to do.

New FREE Book: Constantine and the Sabbath

New Book: Constantine and the Sabbath

Available for Free Download!

“Did Constantine try to change the Sabbath? Did he pass a law to prohibit people from keeping it? Did he work with the Church of Rome to pressure people to observe Sunday? In this book, we will sort out the confusion and provide clarity on Constantine’s reign. This research will also unearth new, exciting paradigms for this subject.”

Just click the picture below to download this FREE e-book!

Is Your Religion Neurotic??

Is Your Religion Neurotic??

by David L. Antion, Ph.D.

“Can a religion be neurotic? The word “neurotic” is derived from the word “neurosis.” It has to do with forms of mental disorders in which the person is not delusional – i.e. seeing things that are not there or hearing sounds that are not there (psychotic). A person who is a hypochondriac (believes s/he is sick all the time) would be neurotic. So would a person who is depressed. Depression is a form of neurosis.

The late psychologist, Rollo May, suggested three main features that characterize a neurotic religion. In this article we will paraphrase them and expound on each.

1. A religion is neurotic when it separates people from, rather than strengthening their attachment to, fellow human beings.

 Many churches and religious leaders cause their followers to shun others and look on them as polluted or inferior. Even when religious leaders claim they preach to the contrary, you will find their followers shunning and avoiding neighbors and oftentimes relatives too.

 A prime example was the sect of the Pharisees. Their very name meant “separatists.” They separated themselves from those they thought to be sinners and looked on them with disdain. Jesus used their neurotic tendencies to teach His disciples better ways. In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9), the Pharisee compared himself and his righteousness to the lowly publican. He even thanked God that he was not like other men (or women for that matter)—extortioners, unjust, adulterers. And he was also glad that he was not like the publican (v. 11). But Jesus pointed out that it was the publican in his total humility in admitting his sins who went away justified!…”

(this article is an excerpt from the March–April 2005 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 19, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/512/tss_512.pdf

Sabbath Meditation #39 – The Appointed Time

Sabbath Meditation #39 – The Appointed Time

“2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. 3 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” (Leviticus 23:2-3, KJV).

In life, we will have many appointments. When these appointments come, it is anticipated that we will be prepared. We take measures to dress appropriately and be timely in our attendance. We set aside distractions and other events to make sure that we are there.

In Leviticus 23:2-3, The Lord God lists the Sabbath as one of His feasts. The Hebrew word translated as ‘feasts’ is moade (root word: moed), and it means an appointed time, set time, appointed meeting, or fixed time. It involves specific, set apart time.

The Lord God set an appointment with us; it happens every seventh day without fail. Do we give our Sabbath appointment the weight and importance that it deserves? What is our approach? What is our preparation? Do we give it more attention than our earthly appointments?

Because the Sabbath happens every week, we can slip into the mindset of taking this appointment for granted. We can just let the time come and go without giving it the planning and attention it so richly deserves. It’s not just the appointment itself we should focus on, but also WHO the Sabbath appointment is with and WHAT He has done for us. The God of the Universe loves you and I so much that He sent His only begotten son to die for us. That should humble us all.

As Christians, we must also realize that we are appointed to meet with Him. He wants us to come to Him and lay down our burdens. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This appointment with the Lord God will change us! It will help us overcome in our trials and tough times.

In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28). The Sabbath is a fixed appointed meeting we have with our Lord and Savior. Jesus is our Lord, and He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28). When the LORD sets the moade or appointed time it isn’t cancelled, moved, or adjusted. This is one reason why the Sabbath can never be changed. The one who never changes set the seventh day for a specific time; it will always be that time (Hebrews 13:7).

We have an appointment that cannot and will not be canceled with the Creator God. He will never miss it and never disappoint us during it. At these appointments, we will be blessed abundantly by HIS presence. Do you look forward to your appointment with Him? Do you have anticipation in your heart and mind? Are you excited?

God already has an appointment with you and I every Sabbath – He will not fail to be ready for us on this set time. Will you be ready to visit with Him?

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr

BSA President www.biblesabbath.org

The Council of Nicaea and the Sabbath

The Council of Nicaea and the Sabbath

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

The Council of Nicea in 325 AD is considered one of the important milestones in early Church history. In this article, we want to review the events leading up to Nicaea and what impact, if any, this Church Council had on the Sabbath. Many people fail to fully understand Nicaea because they do not understand events before it, such as the Council of Arles.

Background to Nicaea

In 303, the Great Persecution started. Among the ways that Roman officials harassed Christians was to require that they hand over important texts of the faith, such as the writings of the first Apostles and early church writers. Those who handed over these writings were called the traditor, which is from the Latin root tradere meaning ‘to hand over.’ This is the origin of the modern English word traitor. 

During and after the Great Persecution, there was controversy concerning those who handed over these writings. Should they receive correction or be allowed to hold positions of authority?

In the north African city of Carthage, there was a bishop named Mensurius who was a traditor. He ordained a man named Caecilian to take his place – who may have aided his actions as a traditor. Seventy leaders gathered in North Africa and refused to accept the ordination of Caecilian because it was conducted by a traditor. They placed another leader, Majorinus, in the position instead.

This was a significant issue for multiple reasons, but I will mention two for our purposes. First, Christians in Carthage and other areas needed to know who to trust as the legitimate leader. Secondly, this position concerned great influence, finances, and property. This debate impacted other cities, as some chose a bishop loyal to Caecilian and others loyal to Majorinus.

In 313, the two sides appealed to Constantine to help sort out the mess (Augustine, Letter 43.4). At that time, he was the highest civil official in the Western Empire. According to Eusebius and Augustine, Constantine appointed bishops from other regions who were not affected by this conflict to help judge which person should be bishop of Carthage.

The Council of Rome was convened in October 313 to make the final decision. By this time, a man named Donatist had succeeded Majorinus. It was decided by the bishops appointed to the case and the bishop of Rome that Caecilian was innocent and should remain bishop. They also determined that Donatist should be removed from his position. All those cities with two bishops were ordered allow the one with the longest tenure to remain.

The Donatists, as they came to be called, appealed this decision on the basis that only nineteen bishops decided the Council of Rome, but seventy bishops in North Africa previously decided the issue. They argued based on the number of bishops that the first ruling was more correct.

Constantine then ordered a meeting with Christian bishops of many different cities in the Western Roman Empire. Representatives from these regions convened at Arles, a city in modern-day France, in August 314. Sylvester was the bishop of Rome at the time of this gathering.

This was the first time a council was held with such a variety of representation. While the Donatist issue was the central focus of the meeting, it was utilized by the Roman Church to pressure other churches to conform to its wishes in practice and church discipline. For instance, Roman Church leaders used this meeting to impose upon all the churches one and the same practice for the Pascha observance. Pascha was observed at different times in different locations.

The next episode in this saga occurred at the Council of Nicaea in 325. The year before this event, Constantine gained control of the entire Roman Empire by defeating his brother-in-law Licinius. The circumstances surrounding the Council of Nicaea were very similar to that of the Council of Arles.

The two main subjects which caused Nicaea to be convened were Arianism and the Meletian Schism. These controversies required decisions from Christian bishops of the highest stature and civil authority. What were these issues?

In the early fourth century, Arius of Alexandria began to teach about the nature of God and Christ in a way that was contrary to the Roman Church. This caused a serious division among the churches, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean world. His followers were called Arians.

A similar division occurred with a group called the Meletians. Like the Donatists, they disagreed with the laxity with which the Roman Church addressed apostasy during and after the Great Persecution. The group was also known as the Church of the Martyrs.

The Council of Nicaea

Hosius of Cordova was a religious advisor to Constantine and presided over the council until the emperor arrived. Hosius was likely the one to convene the meeting and invited the emperor to participate and make final decisions – in a manner like Arles. The emperor arrived about a month into the proceedings of Nicaea

At the council, decisions were made concerning Arius and the Meletians. Twenty canons, or church principles, were also passed. None of them mention the seventh-day Sabbath.

At the end of the meeting, there was a letter composed by Constantine which mandated that all churches follow the Roman rite as it comes to the observance of Pascha. This composition is the basis for some who claim that Constantine changed the Sabbath. We have an excerpt from it below (In the translation, I have substituted the word Easter for Pascha to retain more historical accuracy; the term Easter was not known to be used until about the seventh century). We have an English translation of the letter below:

“At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Pascha was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present, that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day. For what can be more becoming or honorable to us than that this feast from which we date our hopes of immortality, should be observed unfailingly by all alike, according to one ascertained order and arrangement? And first of all, it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. For we have it in our power, if we abandon their custom, to prolong the due observance of this ordinance to future ages, by a truer order, which we have preserved from the very day of the passion until the present time. Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way. A course at once legitimate and honorable lies open to our most holy religion. Beloved brethren, let us with one consent adopt this course, and withdraw ourselves from all participation in their baseness. For their boast is absurd indeed, that it is not in our power without instruction from them to observe these things. For how should they be capable of forming a sound judgment, who, since their parricidal guilt in slaying their Lord, have been subject to the direction, not of reason, but of ungoverned passion, and are swayed by every impulse of the mad spirit that is in them? Hence it is that on this point as well as others they have no perception of the truth, so that, being altogether ignorant of the true adjustment of this question, they sometimes celebrate Pascha twice in the same year. Why then should we follow those who are confessedly in grievous error? Surely we shall never consent to keep this feast a second time in the same year. But supposing these reasons were not of sufficient weight, still it would be incumbent on your Sagacities to strive and pray continually that the purity of your souls may not seem in anything to be sullied by fellowship with the customs of these most wicked men. We must consider, too, that a discordant judgment in a case of such importance, and respecting such religious festival, is wrong. For our Saviour has left us one feast in commemoration of the day of our deliverance, I mean the day of his most holy passion; and he has willed that his Catholic Church should be one, the members of which, however scattered in many and diverse places, are yet cherished by one pervading spirit, that is, by the will of God. And let your Holinesses’ sagacity reflect how grievous and scandalous it is that on the self-same days some should be engaged in fasting, others in festive enjoyment; and again, that after the days of Pascha some should be present at banquets and amusements, while others are fulfilling the appointed fasts. It is, then, plainly the will of Divine Providence (as I suppose you all clearly see), that this usage should receive fitting correction, and be reduced to one uniform rule.” (Life of Constantine, 3.18; emphasis mine).

A portion of this quote, which I have placed in bold, is most often used to claim that the Sabbath was changed by the emperor. However, even a casual reader will note that the purpose of this letter was to force uniformity for the observance of Pascha. Particularly, Constantine opposed keeping that specific feast in any manner like the Jewish people. The subject matter of this quote had nothing to do with the Sabbath.

What does the letter mean?

While it appears that Constantine was against keeping Pascha in a manner like Jewish people, there is also no record of any laws to punish people for non-compliance. Thus, we must not misconstrue his ruling to have the weight of the imperial government behind it.

He did not issue this letter as a Christian leader, but as a civil ruler adjudicating between two disputing parties. He left it up to the Christian congregations and their leaders to enforce its rulings. Being an emperor, he probably thought that they had the ability to force compliance regarding their own religious rites.

At this point, it is important to understand how many of the Councils of this time worked. The Roman Church did not have the power of civil authority to force compliance. Instead, these Councils are attempts to affirm what they view to be ‘orthodox’ or accepted teaching. Moreover, these councils sought to bring about greater uniformity among Christians. At the very least, many of these convocations express the will of the Roman Church.

As time passed, those who refused to comply with these church councils would be threatened by the Roman Church. They would threaten to withhold financial support, spiritual support, or approval of that church’s ‘orthodoxy’. At first, this meant very little. As the Church of Rome grew in influence, these councils had greater weight. The Roman Church could refuse to help another diocese in time of need if they did not meet their demands.

As time passed, civil rulers increased their interest and involvement with church councils. Roman Church officials appealed to temporal rulers to intervene on their behalf. Constantine set the precedent.

Conclusion

The rulings at Nicaea did not stop people from keeping Pascha in a manner like the Jewish people. References to Christians keeping Passover like the Jewish people are found decades later in writers such as John Chrysostom (Eight Homilies Against the Jews) and Epiphanius (Panarion, sections 50 and 70) as well as church councils such as the Councils of Antioch (341) and Laodicea (364).

Many people are not aware the Nicaea addressed many of the same issues as the Council of Arles eleven years earlier. This knowledge and the proper context of Constantine’s letter help us to understand that Nicaea had zero impact on the Sabbath.

God Bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

www.biblesabbath.org

A Sermon to the Wind

A Sermon to the Wind

By Kenneth Westby

“Preachers and religious writers often wonder if their messages are simply sermons to the wind. Without a doubt many are. What makes an article or sermon have a constructive impact upon an audience? Is it the quality of the message or the attitude of the individual receiving it . . . or both?

“I might as well be talking to a brick wall,” is a common comment from exasperated parents after an encounter with their teenage kid. I’ve heard many preachers, teachers, and writers express similar frustrations believing their spiritual messages go in one ear, and without slowing down to visit the grey matter, exit the other ear. They wonder, is the audience dull, deaf, or just dumb?

Of course, the blame for fly-over sermons may need to be equally shared with the preacher whose poor content and delivery make his messages easily forgettable. Simply being able to talk louder than people can snore isn’t the top talent required of a preacher. More on a minister’s responsibility later…”

(this article is an excerpt from the July–August 2006 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 5, click this link: