Old Paths Masthead

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Psalm 25:14


Vol. 22, No. 9 Straight and Narrow September 2013


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The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)


This month’s articles:

The Incarnation as Revealed in the Gospels

From the File Cabinet of History

Youth's Corner

Benevolence

Weekly Sabbath or Lunar Sabbath

Tasty Recipe

The Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower

Lunar Sabbath

Watching Unto Prayer

Publisher Information


The Incarnation as Revealed in the Gospels

Allen Stump

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, the manager of Baltimore’s largest hotel refused lodging to a man dressed like a farmer, because he thought the fellow’s lowly appearance would discredit his inn. Even though this man had one of the best farms in Virginia and had plenty of money; he was rejected because of his appearance. So the man left and took a room elsewhere. That man happened to be the vice president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Later, the innkeeper discovered that he had turned away none other than the Vice President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence!

Immediately he sent a note to the famed patriot, asking him to return and be his guest. Jefferson replied by instructing the messenger as follows: “Tell him I have already engaged a room. I value his good intentions highly, but if he has no place for a dirty American farmer, he has none for the Vice President of the United States.”

Today we may view Jesus Christ the same way. We gladly accept the divinity of Jesus but concerning his humanity, are we afraid we will be soiled by the dirt from under the nails of the strong carpenter? Do we accept him with the splinters in his hands? Do we accept him in his humanity? This study is to look at how the humanity of Jesus is revealed in the gospels.

What Happened at Bethlehem?

The Bible says that Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:18–21)

The angel made an announcement to Joseph and recognized that Mary’s conception was a miracle. Matthew realized that this was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:22, 23)

Jesus Christ would be “God with us.” Commenting upon this, A. T. Jones stated:

Not God with Him only but God with us. God was with Him in eternity and could have been with Him even though He had not given Himself for us. But man through sin became without God, and God wanted to be again with us. Therefore Jesus became “us” that God with Him might be “God with us.” (The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, p. 26)

This truth, repeated in typical A. T. Jones style, is a foundational point of the incarnation. It must be God with us to save us. In the first chapter of Luke, we read of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary to announce to her that she would be the mother of the Messiah:

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

When you use a King James Bible, you may be aware that when a word has been added to the original text for the sake of clarity, that word is supposed to be italicized. Sometimes translation requires added words for clarification. A word is supplied in Luke 1:35 that is not in the original text, but is certainly implied and demanded by the original text and is needed for proper translation. This word, however, has not been italicized in the King James Version, and that word is thing: “That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” The reason that the word thing has been added to the text is that the Greek word for holy is in an adjective form and it must modify some noun or pronoun. The Greek text, however, does not supply the noun but assumes by the language structure that the reader will understand what should be supplied.

The Greek word for holy is hagion, from the root word hagios. Hagios means holy and hagion is an adjective form of the word in the nominative case, singular in number, and neuter in gender. In the graphic below (from Logos software), we have an interlinear breakdown of the verse, with the text its original Greek, the transliteration, and the morphology of the word. The JNSN under the word holy in the last line stands for adjective, nominative, singular, neuter. In Greek grammar, an adjective and the noun it modifies must agree in all of these forms; therefore, one needs to look within the verse for a noun that is in the nominative case, singular in number, and of neuter gender to find a possible word to be modified by the adjective hagion.

Luke 1:35

Luke_1-35_morph.JPG Luke 1-35 morph

The one, and only one, noun in Luke 1:35 that is in the nominative case, singular in number, and neuter in gender is the Greek word pneuma, which is translated ghost in the KJV or spirit in many other translations. The best noun, therefore, that could be supplied to fill the place of thing is spirit; thus, the latter part of the verse should read “therefore also that holy spirit which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Ellen White agreed with this concept when she wrote:

He [Jesus] united humanity with divinity: a divine spirit dwelt in a temple of flesh.” (The Youth’s Instructor, December 20, 1900; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Notice the grammar of the sentence quoted above. It contains a colon which means that the second clause explains or defines the first clause. How was his divinity united with humanity? A divine spirit dwelt in a temple of flesh.

Of course, the translators for the King James Version must have understood that the supplied word for Luke 1:35 should be spirit but due to a Trinitarian mindset, it would not make sense to translate the text according to the demands of the grammar; therefore, they used the supplied word thing.

If the trinity were a reality, Jesus would not really be the son of the Father. If the Holy Spirit were a person like the Father and Son and distinct from them instead of being the spirit of the Father, then Jesus would not be the son of God, the Father, but would be the son of the Holy Spirit!

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Greek word translated was is en. En is the imperfect from the root word eimi and they both mean to exist or to be. When Jesus said “I am,” such as recorded in John 8:58, the Greek expression is ego eimi (ejgw eijmi). In each case of John 1:1, eimi is given as en (pronounced n) which is the imperfect tense and carries the concept of repeated past action without a definite reference to time.

The Bible says that Christ’s “goings forth [origin] have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Ellen White notes: “He [Jesus] was with God from all eternity” (Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, April 5, 1906).

As long as there has been time or eternity, the Son has been with the Father. He is divine and as the Son of God, he is God by nature.

John 1:1

John1-1 morph John1-1_morph_1.JPG

John 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Now we see a transition. The verb was made in this verse is in the aorist tense and means a completed, finished action. He who had always been with the Father as Michael now, at a definite point, becomes flesh.

The study of the incarnation is very important. We earlier noticed a statement from The Youth’s Instructor, a magazine focused toward young people. That statement was from 1900. The following statement is from 1899 and these statements reveal that Ellen White did not think that all of the aspects of the incarnation to be a doctrine too difficult for the youth to understand, despite the mysterious nature of how it happened:

The work of redemption is called a mystery, and it is indeed the mystery by which everlasting righteousness is brought to all who believe. In consequence of sin, the race was at enmity with God. At an infinite cost, and by a process mysterious to angels as well as to men, Christ assumed humanity. Hiding his divinity, laying aside his glory, he was born a babe in Bethlehem. (The Youth’s Instructor, July 20, 1899)

This is a fantastic statement! Even the angels cannot understandthe how of the incarnation. We may never understand how the Son of God could become flesh, but we can understand why this was necessary. I can understand the purpose that God has in the incarnation. But again, how did it happen? We cannot know, except that the Bible says that the Holy Spirit came upon the virgin Mary, and she became with child.

Two Objectives of the Scriptures

Whether one listens to BBC, CBS, NBC, or any other news program, one will hear certain facts given, but then usually an interpretation, or commentary, of the facts is given. Commentators will spin the facts to present them from a perspective with which they agree. Sometimes the commentaries vary greatly on their interpretation of the news.

While we could make a list of several reasons the Bible was given to humanity, I think that we can sum all the reasons up into two principles. There are two great objectives of the Scriptures. Firstly, the Bible has been given that we might have facts, so that we might be provided with information. Secondly, we are given the Scriptures to provide understanding or an interpretation of what the facts declare. Jesus illustrated this when, after the resurrection on the road to Emmaus, he taught two discouraged disciples:

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. (Luke 24:44, 45)

Unlike the news organizations that wish to give the facts a slant toward the right or toward the left, God gives the correct, truthful, straight-up interpretation and explanation of the facts he presents.

Like many today, these disciples had a superficial knowledge of the Scriptures, of the prophecies about the Messiah, and about Jesus, and they could not put it all together. Many have a superficial knowledge of the Bible and some may have a great understanding of much of the Bible, but just being able to quote a text is not enough. Just knowing where every verse in the Bible is located is not enough. Even if we could recite from memory the whole Bible, it would do us no good unless we had an understanding of what we are reciting.

As we see Jesus today, we can clearly see he is the Son of Godbut in the first century, his person as seen after the incarnation and before the resurrection was not understood by those without the aid of the Holy Spirit. In other words, as you look through the gospel accounts, you find that most people thought that Jesus was just another man, just another rabbi, or just another teacher.

How Jesus Was Viewed in His Day

One of the clues to understand how Jesus was viewed in his day is found in Matthew 16, where we read how Jesus quizzed the disciples on what the public opinion polls were saying about him: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am” (Matthew 16:13)? The disciples answered, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets” (v. 15), but Jesus also wanted to give his disciples a chance to declare what they believed, so he asked them who they thought he was. Peter quickly responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). This answer was very unlike what the majority thought, for they could only understand based upon what they had seen, but Peter was given understanding above this by the Father. Jesus replied, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (v. 17).

The only way we can understand the divinity and the humanity of the Son of God is through the illumination of the Father’s spirit. In other words, the faculties of human perception cannot understand spiritual things, only a mind enlightened by the spirit of God can understand the truths of heaven.

Mark records the story of Jesus being called to the house of Jarius because his daughter had become sick, finally dying:

While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. (Mark 5:35–40)

The Bible says that the people there laughed Jesus to scorn. They showed great contempt to the Son of God. Do you think that if these people really understood the identity of the one standing in front of them, they would have laughed? If they had understood that he was the Creator of the heaven and earth, the one they to whom they owed their existence, would they would have laughed? I do not think so! If they had seen Jesus in his glory and majesty, they would have trembled but because they did not know how to interpret the facts, they laughed. They saw him like so many of the people did—just a man. So completely was divinity clothed with humanity that men dared to laugh at God in the flesh with scornful derision.

Romans 1:3 says that “Christ our Lord, . . . was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Yes, the people could accept him as being from the seed of David, but only as a human being, but not as the Son of God.

Jesus Shared the Common Experiences of Humanity

Jesus shared the common experiences of humanity that most would not have expected God to share. For example, Jesus became tired and needed to rest:

And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? (Mark 3:35–38)

After the foe had departed [from the temptations in the wilderness], Jesus fell exhausted to the earth, with the pallor of death upon His face. (The Desire of Ages, p. 131)

Jesus could become exhausted, but the Old Testament also says: “The Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary” (Isaiah 40:28). The people knew this verse, but did not interpret the facts correctly.

Not only was Jesus tired, but he became thirsty:

Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (John 4:6, 7)

When Jesus first sat at the well, the testimony was that he was wearied, which means very tired and worn out.

Jesus had emotions and could weep (John 11:35). We are told:

Though He was the Son of God, yet He had taken human nature upon Him, and He was moved by human sorrow. His tender, pitying heart is ever awakened to sympathy by suffering. He weeps with those that weep, and rejoices with those that rejoice. (The Desire of Ages, p. 533)

While it is true that Jesus wept because of the inhumanity that the Jews would bring to believers, we are also told that Jesus wept “. . . because of His human sympathy with Mary and Martha” (Ibid.).

Jesus groaned: “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (John 11:33). Jesus was sorrowful: “Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matthew 26:38).

As the people saw Jesus, they came to understand him to be very human.

Christ’s Humanity

John tells us the purpose of writing his gospel. He says:

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:30, 31)

Since John said that he wrote his gospel so that we might believe Jesus is the Son of God, we expect to see this theme taught in the gospel of John, and we find it not only in John, but also in the whole Bible. What is interesting, though, is the way that Jesus portrayed himself and the way that the inspired writers portrayed Jesus.

Jesus is called, or is referred to as, the Son of God forty-seven times in the Bible, and some of these times were about people who doubted him. Daniel and Revelation use this term once, Matthew eight times, Mark three, Luke six, John ten, Paul in his epistles ten, and John in his epistles seven times.

Jesus is called, or refers to himself as, the Son of man eighty-six times in the Bible: Once in both the books of Daniel and Acts, twice in the book of Revelation, thirty-one times in Matthew, fourteen in Mark, twenty-five in Luke, and twelve times in John.

Though Jesus is clearly set forth in the Bible as the Son of God, he is presented almost twice as often as the Son of man. Christ’s most often used expression for himself was Son of man. He wanted us to know that he identified himself with us.

Jesus’ usage of “Son of God” and “Son of man” in the Bible

“Son of God”

“Son of man”

Daniel — 1

Daniel — 1

Matthew — 8

Matthew — 8

Mark — 3

Mark — 14

Luke — 6

Luke — 25

John — 10

John — 12

Paul’s Epistles — 10

Paul’s Epistles — 0

John’s Epistles and
Revelation — 7

Acts and Revelation — 2

Total Usage = 47

Total Usage = 86

The concept that Jesus was the Son of man was picked up by others. John the Baptist said: “This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me” (John 1:30). Pilate set Jesus before the people and said, “Behold the man” (John 19:5)!

Of course, Jesus was a man, but he was much more. The sixth chapter of John records Jesus walking upon the water to meet the disciples. When they saw him coming, they were afraid, thinking that they had seen a spirit. Jesus then said to them, “It is I; be not afraid.” Interestingly, the expression It is is from the Greek ego eimi, which means I am. The translators render the text as It is I, but it is the same as I am, and in several places in the gospels Jesus uses this expression to speak of himself. Notice the following text:

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (John 8:24)

In the Bible the word he is italicized (it is a supplied word), but the grammar of the text does not demand an added word. The text could read: “If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins.” Here Jesus is claiming to be the I AM of Exodus 3:14. Continuing in other texts in John, we read:

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:56–58)

And Jesus said unto them,: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (John 11:25)

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

It has been noted by some that the term ego eimi in the Greek is the simple copula, and this is true, but Ellen White clearly upholds and endorses the concept that Jesus is connecting Exodus 3:14 with his messages (see The Desire of Ages, page 24).

Though Jesus is declaring himself to be the self-existent one, he also declared that he had a total dependence upon his Father, setting us an example that we could follow:

And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (John 5:16–19)

Jesus declared that he and his Father worked together. The Jews understood what this implied, for in verse 18 the Jews sought to kill Jesus for making himself equal to the Father. Jesus simply replied by noting that he could do nothing of himself but was dependent upon the Father. Why? Speaking of a time when Jesus and his disciples were on the Sea of Galilee during a storm, Ellen White writes:

When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in the possession of almighty power. It was not as the “Master of earth and sea and sky” that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, “I can of Mine own self do nothing.” John 5:30. He trusted in the Father’s might. It was in faith—faith in God’s love and care—that Jesus rested, and the power of that word which stilled the storm was the power of God. (The Desire of Ages, p. 336)

Concerning the transfiguration, Ellen White notes:

He prays for strength to endure the test in behalf of humanity. He must Himself gain a fresh hold on Omnipotence. (The Desire of Ages, p. 420)

As Jesus also noted in John 5:30, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” While some believe that Jesus retained his divine power in the incarnation, there can be no question on the issue of him not having availability to his own power, for he said he could do nothing without the Father.

What one possesses innately one does not have to obtain in a new way each time one desires to make use of it. In the incarnation Jesus laid aside his omniscience, or all knowledge. Concerning his second coming Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Luke 2:52 says that as Jesus grew he “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” You cannot increase in wisdom if you already have all the wisdom that the term omniscience implies.

Jesus laid aside the ability to be omnipresent. The gospels, especially the eleventh chapter of John, clearly present this picture.

With Jesus devoid of any power that is not inherent in man, he had to depend upon the Father to do the works. “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10). Ellen White noted:

The miracles of Christ for the afflicted and suffering were wrought by the power of God through the ministration of the angels. (The Desire of Ages, p. 143)

They accused Him of performing miracles by the power of Satan. But here Christ claims God as His Father, and with perfect confidence declares that He is the Son of God.

In all that He did, Christ was co-operating with His Father. Ever He had been careful to make it evident that He did not work independently; it was by faith and prayer that He wrought His miracles. (The Desire of Ages, p. 536)

The privileges and tools that Jesus had access to are also freely offered to all of humanity:

He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God. He says, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8. As He went about doing good, and healing all who were afflicted by Satan, He made plain to men the character of God’s law and the nature of His service. His life testifies that it is possible for us also to obey the law of God. (The Desire of Ages, p. 24)

While bearing human nature, he was dependent upon the Omnipotent for his life. In his humanity, he laid hold of the divinity of God; and this every member of the human family has the privilege of doing. Christ did nothing that human nature may not do if it partakes of the divine nature. (The Signs of the Times, June 17, 1897)

This is the secret for humanity to be overcomers and that is to become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

The word was made flesh. He was:

The Jewish nation was looking for the Messiah; yet, the testimony was “he came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). He came to them on their level, and they received him not. Why? Because they were looking for one who would reveal himself through omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. They were not looking for nor wanting a Redeemer who would meet the demands of the law on a level on which they lived or could live. Such as example would place too much of a demand upon their lives and upon the development of their characters. Could it be that this is also our problem today concerning the doctrine of the incarnation? Whenever we hear the doctrine of the incarnation taken and twisted, distorted, and preached to make Jesus into someone very much unlike ourselves, to make him someone who cannot understand our temptations and who could not have been tempted like we are tempted, it is because the demands of the perfection of the law and the demands of the character that law produces are not palatable to the pipers of unrighteousness nor to their followers. Jesus came unto his own and his own received him not. He comes to those who profess the three angels’ messages and many receive him not. Yes, they receive a Jesus; but not the true Jesus, rather, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:4, “another Jesus.”

His ancient people rejected him, many of his professed remnant people have rejected him, and the questions for you today are:

1) Who do you say the Son of man is?

2) Will you receive him?


From the File Cabinet of History

Froom to Rittenhouse

Youth’s Corner — A Netherlands Maiden and the
Escape of Grotius

How Elsje Van Houwening, a Holland maiden, for the love of truth and fidelity to her famous master, risked her freedom and even her life in helping to deliver him from the castle of Loewestein, is one of the interesting stories of the stormy times of early seventeenth-century religious controversy in Holland.

Grotius was still a young man when imprisoned, and his was certainly an illustrious youth—illustrious childhood, one might say, in the light of such a record as this:

He was a prodigy of accomplishment even in boyhood, composing good Latin verses at eight, entering the University of Leyden at twelve, and taking his bachelor’s degree on graduating at fifteen. He accompanied Barneveld on his mission to France in 1598, and Henry IV, in presenting him to his courtiers, said, “Behold the miracle of Holland!” The University of Orleans conferred upon him the honorary degree of doctor of laws. At seventeen he practised in the highest courts at The Hague, having previously edited difficult classic authors, and at twenty-three was made attorney-general of Holland. (History of the Netherlands, Young, p. 534)

The side he took in the religious controversies of the time must draw our sympathies, though issues were sadly mixed. The Netherlands had come through the long struggle that drove back the forces of Catholic Spain, and the states of Holland were trying to find a basis for a settled religious and political system. None of the leaders of the time had caught the truth which their own William of Orange had enunciated long before, in declaring that the state should keep hands off religion—perhaps the first declaration of true religious liberty principles by a reigning prince since the days of Theodoric the Goth.

Grotius was a believer in the gospel of God’s free grace, with its invitation, “Whosoever will, may come.” This was the teaching Arminius had spread in Holland, as opposed to the popular Calvinistic doctrine of election. These ideas, with many fine distinctions, were threshed out at the famous Synod of Dort, with which Grotius was, in a way, mixed up. For one hundred eighty sessions the synod ran on. An English Protestant bishop and a Protestant delegate from Germany were surprised at the bitterness engendered. The latter said that he saw in that synod “some things divine, some things human, and some things diabolical.”

Grotius and his friends were on the unpopular side because of the good old doctrine of free grace, for one thing; and they also stood for the more liberal policy of allowing each state to regulate its religious affairs according to the desire of its people, as opposed to the plan of one general national religion. The opponents of this national plan in religion and politics were warned, and their meetings were proscribed. Their leaders were imprisoned, including Barneveld and Grotius. Barneveld was taken out and executed on the ground of disloyalty to the States-General, and nobody knew when Grotius might follow.

All this is just to get the setting of the story of Elsje and her part in delivering Grotius from the castle.

It was in the year 1621. The year before, the Pilgrim Fathers had sailed from Delfshaven, nearby, for the New England coast. The fortress of Loewestein was a stern old prison. “The prisoners, after crossing the drawbridge, were led through thirteen separate doors, each one secured by iron bolts and heavy locks.”

Motley, whose account we shall follow (in “John of Barneveld”), says truly that such a fortress prison seemed to say: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” It was here that Grotius (De Groot, this narrative sometimes spells it) was to be “immured for life.” His wife was allowed to visit him, and had succeeded in getting permission for his friends to send him books, which were now and then brought in and carried out in a wooden chest. All the time Grotius was busy with literary labors, helping Erpenius on a new edition of the Greek New Testament, and writing works that became standard textbooks in international law. Meanwhile he was praying devoutly for deliverance.

It seems to have been the wife, a spirited young woman of twenty-nine, who thought out the plan of escape from the prison with its thirteen iron-bound doors to pass.

As they talked it over and prayed, it was determined to try it, by the help of God, perilous as the attempt must be. Their conviction of duty was strengthened by a little incident just as they were to make the venture.

Watching a storm through the window of the prison one wild day, their little daughter Cornelia turned of a sudden to her mother, “without any reason whatever,” and said, “Tomorrow papa must be off to Gorcum, whatever the weather may be.”

Gorcum was the very place they had in mind to make for, over the broad waters of the Waal River. “De Groot, as well as his wife,” says Motley, “was aghast at the child’s remark, and took it as a direct indication from heaven.”

Now they took their maidservant into their confidence, Elsje Van Houwening, a devout Christian girl. She was twenty years old, keen and bright and courageous of spirit. They explained the plan of sending Grotius out of prison and to Gorcum in the book chest, instead of sending the books in it. Would she be willing, they asked, to take the chest in charge, with her master in it, for the journey to Gorcum?

It was a suggestion that paled Elsje’s cheeks. She asked what punishment would be hers in case of discovery.

“None, legally,” said Grotius; “but I too am innocent of any crime, and you see to what sufferings I have been condemned.”

It was surely a crucial test to come to a young girl. But Elsje’s heart had courage to meet it.

“Whatever comes of it,” she said stoutly, “I will take the risk and accompany my master.”

They selected the time when the commandant of the castle was away at the Gorcum fair, having left his wife in charge. Permission was secured from her at this stormy week-end to send out the book chest on the Monday. The narrative runs:

Monday morning the gale continued to beat with unabated fury on the turrets. The turbid Waal, swollen by the tempest, rolled darkly and dangerously along the castle walls.

But the die was cast. Grotius rose betimes, fell on his knees, and prayed fervently an hour long. Dressed only in linen underclothes, with a pair of silk stockings, he got into the chest with the help of his wife. The big Testament of Erpenius, with some bunches of thread placed upon it, served him as a pillow. A few books and papers were placed in the interstices left by the curves of his body, and as much pains as possible taken to prevent his being seriously injured or incommoded during the hazardous journey he was contemplating. His wife then took solemn farewell of him, fastened the lock, which she kissed, and gave the key to Elsje.

They had put in also a few of the regular cargo of books, so that they might be able to talk about the books in the chest as they sent it out.

The soldiers were called in as usual to carry the chest out of the castle. They shoved it about and tried its weight.

“The Arminian himself must be in it,” said one soldier, joking, “it seems so heavy.”

“The Arminian books are heavy,” said Mrs. de Groot.

They dragged the chest down the stairs and through the thirteen doors. Several times they jested about the weight and declared Grotius himself must have climbed into it with his books.

Elsje, with prayer in her heart, turned their jests aside with a laugh.

At the keeper’s lodge, the commandant’s wife, Madame Deventer, asked if it was customary to open the chest before sending it out. She was told it had not been done for a long time. So she let it go, and carriers took the precious freight to the boat.

Elsje sat down on the chest as the boat sailed away, and let her white handkerchief flutter over her head, the signal to the anxious watcher at the fortress-room window that all was well so far. The wind blew, and the ship heeled so that Elsje persuaded the skipper to lash the chest down lest it slide overboard. So they sailed toward Gorcum, where the chest was to be delivered to the shop of one Daatselaer, whose wife had been the agent through whom friends had all along sent books to Grotius.

No further incident occurred. The wind, although violent, was favorable, and Gorcum in due time was reached. Elsje insisted upon having her own precious freight carried first into town, although the skipper for some time was obstinately bent on leaving it to the very last.

At last on promise of payment of ten stuivers, which was considered an exorbitant sum, the skipper and son agreed to transport the chest between them on a handbarrow. While they were trudging with it to town, the son remarked to his father that there was some living thing in the box. For the prisoner in the anguish of his confinement had not been able to restrain a slight movement.

“Do you hear what my son says?” cried the skipper to Elsje, “he says you have got something alive in your trunk.” “Yes,” replied the cheerful maidservant; “Arminian books are always alive, always full of motion and spirit.”

They arrived at Daatselaer’s house, moving with difficulty through the crowd which, notwithstanding the boisterous weather, had been collected by the annual fair. Many people were assembled in front of the building, which was a warehouse of great resort, while next door was a bookseller’s shop thronged with professors, clergymen, and other literary persons. The carriers accordingly entered by the back way, and Elsje, deliberately paying them their ten stuivers, and seeing them depart, left the box lying in a room at the rear and hastened to the shop in front.

Here she found the thread and ribbon dealer and his wife, busy with their customers, unpacking and exhibiting their wares. She instantly whispered to Madame Daatselaer’s ear, “I have got my master here in your back parlor.”

The dame turned white as a sheet, and was near fainting on the spot. It was the first imprudence Elsje had committed. The good woman recovered somewhat of her composure, by a strong effort, however, and instantly went with Elsje to the rear of the house.

“Master! master!” cried Elsje, rapping on the chest.

There was no answer.

“My God! my God!” shrieked the poor maidservant, “my poor master is dead.”

“Ah!” said Madame Daatselaer, “your mistress has made a bad business of it. Yesterday she had a living husband, now she has a dead one.”

But soon there was a vigorous rap on the inside of the lid, and a cry from the prisoner:

“Open the chest! I am not dead, but did not at first recognize your voice.”

“The lock was instantly unfastened, the lid thrown open, and Grotius arose in his linen clothing, like a dead man from his coffin.

The dame instantly accompanied the two through a trapdoor into an upper room.

Grotius asked her if she was always so deadly pale.

“No,” she replied,” but I am frightened to see you here. My lord is no common person. The whole world is talking of you. I fear this will cause the loss of all my property, and perhaps bring my husband into prison in your place!

Grotius replied: “I made my prayers to God before as much as this had been gained, and I have just been uttering fervent thanks to Him for my deliverance so far as it has been effected. But if the consequences are to be as you fear, I am ready at once to get into that chest again and be carried back to prison.”

But she answered, “No; whatever coes of it, we have you here, and will do all we can to help you on.”

Hugo de Groot's book chest that he escaped in at fortress of L
The trunk through which Grotius escaped

Suffice it to say that in the disguise of a journeyman mason, supplied by a Lutheran friend, he made his way to Antwerp, to the home of a banished preacher, Grevinkhaven, an old friend. As he called at the door, the daughter, who did not know him, said her father was upstairs waiting by the bedside of his sick wife. But when the daughter went up and announced the name of the guest, down came the minister and the sick wife also, rushing to greet him. The news was quickly spread through Antwerp.

Castle Loewestein Netherlands

The castle of Loewestein

When Captain Deventer, the commandant, returned to Loewestein fortress, he met a surprise.

“Here is your cage,” said Maria de Groot with a smile, “but your bird is flown.”

He hastened to Gorcum and found the chest, empty but for a few books and the skeins of thread which had served as a pillow.

After a time Madame de Groot was released.

Fortress of Loewestein Netherlands by Frans de Wit_flickr

Closeup of the castle of Loewestein

Elsje, the brave girl who saw the plan of escape through, suffered no punishment. She married a servant of Grotius, who, during the two years of the imprisonment in the castle, had studied Latin and the rudiments of law with his master. By this help, and by Elsje’s wise-hearted encouragement also, we may be sure, he became a well-respected advocate in the tribunals of Holland.?


   Center Spread Sept 2013

Weekly Sabbath or Lunar Sabbath:
Are Adventists Keeping the Wrong Sabbath?

Gerhard Pfandl

(We wish to graciously thank Dr. Gerhard Pfandl for his permission to reprint this article. While not covering all the details of the lunar Sabbath issue, this article gives an excellent, concise understanding of the lunar Sabbath and why it fails the test of Scripture. Editor)

Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, and other Sabbath-keeping groups keep the Sabbath every seventh day in accordance with the creation account in Genesis 1:1–2:3 and the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:9–11. In the last few years, a number of individuals among Messianic Jews and Seventh-day Adventists have started to promote the Lunar Sabbath Theory.

The Lunar Sabbath Theory

This theory says that the fixed traditional Sabbath keeping every seventh day from Friday sunset through Saturday sunset is a corruption of an “original” biblical Sabbath based on the lunar cycle. Under this model, the Sabbath always falls on the 8th, 15th, 22st and 29th day of each lunar month.

On the Biblical lunar-solar calendar, each lunation (or lunar month) always begins with a New Moon day, which is in a class of worship day all by itself. Six work days follow on the second through seventh of the month. The seventh-day Sabbath always falls on the 8th, the 15th, the 22nd and the 29th of every lunar month. This is the reason it is called a lunar Sabbath. (www.worldslastchance.com, “Saturday Sabbath? Or Lunar Sabbath?” — accessed January 2011)

Since the lunar month is 29 1/2 days, each month has 4 weeks with seven days and one or two days over depending on whether the month has 29 or 30 days. If you maintain a seven-day rhythm, it means that the lunar Sabbath can fall on any day of the regular week; because with each new lunar month it falls a day or two later in the week than the last month (see below). As a result, to follow this system one must deal with the difficult and impractical situation of having to take a different day off from work each month on a rotating schedule.

A further complication arises from the alleged counting of new moon and transition days. That is, because the seven-day rhythm cannot be maintained if the Sabbath must always fall on the 8th, the 15th, the 22nd, and the 29th of every lunar month, the first day, the New Moon day, and 30th day of the month are not counted as part of the week.

All days are not created equal according to Scripture. The Lord Yahuwah has ordained three separate and distinct classes of days that occur monthly: New Moon days, six work days, and seventh-day Sabbaths. The 30th day, known in astronomical terms as translation day, is simply a work day, but is not part of a six day week followed by a seventh-day Sabbath. (www.worldslastchance.com “Three Months in a Row.” — accessed January 2011, emphasis in original)

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The transition days (yellow) and the New Moon days (blue) are not counted as part of the regular week because “the New moon is a worship day all by itself and is not counted when counting out the week” (Arnold Bowen, “The Lunar Sabbath,” page 1, http://www.lunarsabbath.org/ accessed January 2011). Therefore, when a lunar month has 30 days the time between the Sabbath on the 29th of the month and the first Sabbath of the next month are not six days but eight days (transition day, New Moon day, and six work days). (I am indebted to Terri Heagy for the above calendar graphic. Her unpublished manuscript “Challenges Regarding the Lunar Sabbath” contains an excellent rebuttal of the Lunar Sabbath theory. )

The Calendar of Israel

It is hard to imagine a people with lives more closely regulated by the calendar than the people of ancient Israel. (G. W. Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988), 1:576.)The Israelite year was a lunisolar year of 354 days in which the months alternated between 29 and 30 days, but the seven-day week was not affected by the lunar calendar. The Jewish month invariably began with the new moon. No exact information is available to explain how the Israelites originally adjusted their inaccurate lunar calendar to synchronize with the actual solar year. But we know that in post-exilic times an extra month was inserted between Adar and Nisan. That month, sometimes called Veadar (“and Adar”), was added seven times within a 19-year cycle.

The Jewish calendrical system and the annual feast cycle was tied to the harvest seasons of the Jewish year. The Passover on the 14th day of the first month and the wave sheaf offering two days later always fell in the period of the newly ripened barley harvest, Pentecost fifty days later in the time of the ripening of the wheat harvest, and the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles in the 7th month after the remaining harvests (primarily grapes and olives) had been gleaned. This was the general pattern in Old Testament times as well as in the time of Jesus.

While the Jewish feasts were set by the lunar calendar, the seventh-day Sabbath was not. It had its own set time and was not considered part of the feasts. The feasts were dependent on the lunar calendar but the Sabbath was not dependent on anything except the seven-day cycle God developed and preserved since Creation.(See Gerhard F. Hasel, “Sabbath” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 5:849–856.)Throughout the Bible there is a distinction between the feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths of the ceremonial system (see, e.g., Lev 16:31; 23:4–8; 25:4) and the seventh-day Sabbath (Gen 1:2–3; Exod 20:8–11; 28:9; Lev 23:3; Deut 5:12).

The Claims of Lunar Sabbatarians Examined

Claim # 1 – “The seventh-day Sabbath fell on every 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th of the lunar month” (www.worldslastchance.com “Time by Design.” — accessed January 2011).

a. All the ceremonial Sabbaths were assigned to certain dates. The Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month (Lev 23:5); the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the fifteenth day of the first month (Lev 23:6); the Feast of Firstfruits on the sixteenth of the first month (Lev 23:10, 11); the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits (Lev 23:16); the Feast of Trumpets on the first day of the seventh month (Lev 23:24); the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev 23:27); the Feast of Tabernacle on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Lev 23:34).

God tied each ceremonial Sabbath to a particular day. If He wanted each weekly Sabbath celebrated on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th of the month why is there not a single verse in Scripture telling the Israelites that the Sabbath should be observed on these days? Was not the weekly Sabbath more important than the yearly Sabbaths?

b. According to Numbers 33:3 the Exodus took place on the fifteenth day of the first month. The fifteenth day was the day after Passover, “They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.” They began their journey on the 15th while it was still night. Ellen White says, “Before the morning broke, they were on their way” (Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 281). If the 15th was a Sabbath it would have been their first full day of travel. In light of Matthew 24:20 where Jesus told the disciples “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath,” it is hardly likely that God began the Exodus from Egypt on a Sabbath.

c. The children of Israel arrived in the wilderness of sin “on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt” (Exod 16:1). Again, they traveled on the 15th; therefore it cannot have been a Sabbath.

d. In Joshua 5:10–12 we are told that the manna ceased on the 16th of the first month:

Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.

The Passover was the 14th day of the first month. On the 15th they ate the produce of the land, and on the 16th the manna ceased. If the manna ceased on the 16th of the first month, it must have fallen on the 15th otherwise the text would have said it ceased on the 14th or on the 15th. Hence the 15th cannot have been a Sabbath because God never gave manna on the Sabbath.(I am indebted to Michael Pedrin for some of the material in this article. His unpublished manuscript “The Big Lie” is another excellent rebuttal of the Lunar Sabbath theory.)

We have looked at four biblical texts that indicate that the 15th of the month could not have been a Sabbath. This shows the fallacy of the Lunar Sabbath theory. The main pillar of this teaching is clearly not as sound as advocates of this theory would have us believe.

Claim # 2 – “The Lord has ordained three separate and distinct classes of days that occur monthly: New Moon days, six work days, and seventh-day Sabbaths.” In addition, the 30th day is also not counted as part of the six-day week. (www.worldslastchance.com “Three Months in a Row” — accessed January 2011)

a. According to Genesis 1:1–2:3, God created only two classes of days: six working days and the Sabbath. This is confirmed in in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work” (Exod 20:9, 10).

b. There is evidence for a New Moon festival among the nations in ancient Mesopotamia as far back as the third millennium B.C. (See William W. Hallo, “New Moons and Sabbaths: A Case-study in the Contrastive Approach,” Bible and Spade 9, 1980).In the Bible, however, the New Moon celebration is not mentioned until the time of Moses. The only legislation concerning the New Moon in the Old Testament is in the prescribed burnt offering of Numbers 28:14. While Amos 8:5 seems to indicate that no work was to be done on the New Moon day, other texts show that it was not a day of rest. For example, Moses was told to set up the tabernacle on the first day of the month (Exod 40:2); Ezra began his journey to Jerusalem on the first of the month (Ezra 7:9). William Hallo says, “Only the first day of Tishri had the character of a special holiday, and even here the biblical text, as is well known, avoids the term ros hassana, head of the year.”(Ibid., p. 64).

Even if the New Moon was a day of rest like the Sabbath, there is no indication that it was not reckoned as part of the 6-day week, as were all the other ceremonial Sabbaths of Leviticus 23. Why should all the other yearly Sabbaths be part of the 6-day week but not the New Moon day?

c. That the weeks in the Old Testament were continuous unbroken cycles uninterrupted by the New Moon is shown in Leviticus 23:15, 16.

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

Seven Sabbaths are forty-nine days and the day after the last Sabbath is the fiftieth day. This can only be so if the weeks are counted as uninterrupted cycles of seven days. This is confirmed by the timeline for the Flood. According to Genesis 7:24, “the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.” It began to rain “in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month” (Gen 7:11). The ark came to rest on Mount Ararat five months later “in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month” (Gen 8:4). This is clear evidence that the biblical month has 30 days; therefore, 150 days are five months, uninterrupted by New Moon days.

Claim # 3 – The Jews were forced to give up their lunar calendar and accept the pagan Roman calendar.

The Julian/Gregorian calendar has never changed its seven day cycle once it changed from the original eight day cycle around the time of Constantine in A.D. 321. . . . Most people have had no idea that the eight day week of the original pagan Julian calendar was not recognized by the Hebrew communities at the time of Christ. . . . It was only after Rome conquered Jerusalem in A.D. 70 that the Jews began to succumb to the ways of Rome and her pagan calendar. (K. L. French, “The Creator’s Calendar,” unpublished manuscript, 3, 4.)

Traces of the seven-day week can be found among the earliest civilizations of the Middle East. Mesopotamian astrologers designated one day for each of the seven most prominent objects in the sky—the Sun, the Moon, and the five major planets visible to the naked eye. The Israelites always adhered to the seven-day week as Genesis 1:1–2:3 and Leviticus 23:15, 16 clearly indicate. Other nations had weeks of different lengths. (In Assyria, 6 days was the rule; in Egypt, 10; in China, 15. The ancient Germans used a five-day cycle; the early Romans used eight days. )

The Roman eight-day calendar was changed to a seven-day calendar early in the imperial period not in the time of Constantine. (“During the first two centuries AD, the Greco-Roman world generally adopted the planetary seven-day week of the astrologers” — Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, s.v. “Church Year”).Now, if the Jews were forced to give up their lunar Sabbath calendar in exchange for adopting the pagan Julian calendar either in the days after A.D. 70 or since the time of Constantine, there should be a huge amount of evidence in existence today that this change occurred.

The Jews have always been persistent and faithful in observing the Sabbath. If they believed God had given them a lunar Sabbath, they would not have given it up without a major struggle. There would be records everywhere in history about the resistance of the Jews in changing their method of keeping Sabbath.

Since the Jews were spread throughout the nations of the world it would have required an army of missionaries going everywhere to convince and enforce the change of their Sabbath-keeping from the lunar method to the weekly cycle. There should have been pockets of Jews worldwide ferociously clinging to the old ways that God had given them and many Jewish groups still keeping the lunar Sabbath to this day.

But the exact opposite is true. History is absolutely silent as to any such events taking place. There are no recorded commands given to change the cycle from a lunar to weekly Sabbath, and the Jews today around the world keep the Sabbath on Saturday.

When differences arise between two groups, there is always a split, with some believing one way and others believing the other way. With such conflicting changes to the belief structure of the Jews, we should see such a split among them. There was a split between Jews, but it wasn’t over the lunar Sabbath theory. It was the split between the Karaite and Rabbinical Jews—and that was mainly over how to calculate the feast days.

The mathematical odds of all the Jews worldwide changing from the lunar calendar to the 7-day week without leaving any historical trace are astronomical—it is virtually impossible. This is an overwhelming missing link for the lunar Sabbath theory.

Summary and Conclusion

Lunar Sabbatarians claim that the luni-solar calendar is the true biblical calendar in which the Sabbath falls always on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month. Furthermore, the New Moon and the 30th day of the month are not counted as part of the week. They also claim that the Jews under the Romans were forced to give up the lunar calendar and accept the Julian calendar with its continuous cycle of seven-day weeks.

Our investigation has shown that these claims cannot be substantiated from Scripture or history. The biblical Sabbath, as the seventh day of the week, was instituted in Eden and was celebrated by the Jews in Old and New Testament times without interruption. Like the feast days the new moon days were part of the weekly cycle. Ellen White clearly stated:

Like the Sabbath, the week originated at creation, and it has been preserved and brought down to us through Bible history. God Himself measured off the first week as a sample for successive weeks to the close of time. Like every other, it consisted of seven literal days. [Ellen G.. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1958), 11]

In conclusion, all the arguments of lunar Sabbatarians seem to boil down to whether God tied the Sabbath to the lunar calendar, as He did with the feasts, or if He set up a weekly cycle at Creation for the Sabbath and preserved it to our day. There is no conclusive evidence in Scripture pointing to the Sabbath being tied to the moon. On the contrary, the Bible is clear that the week has a recurring cycle of seven days ending with the Sabbath. This is supported by the plain statements of God’s word, the Spirit of Prophecy, and history.?

(This is the first of several different perspectives we will be publishing on the lunar Sabbath in the next few months. Brother Lynnford Beachy’s article, which immediately follows this article, begins the second perspective.Editor)


Tasty Recipe: Quick Chili

This simple chili recipe is really delicious. It is not spicy and is easy on the stomach!

Heat thoroughly and serve!


The Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower

(These comments on Proverbs 18:10 come from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Complete and Unabridged, Logos electronic edition.)

Here is, 1. God’s sufficiency for the saints: His name is a strong tower for them, in which they may take rest when they are weary and take sanctuary when they are pursued, where they may be lifted up above their enemies and fortified against them. There is enough in God, and in the discoveries which he has made of himself to us, to make us easy at all times. The wealth laid up in this tower is enough to enrich them, to be a continual feast and a continuing treasure to them. The strength of this tower is enough to protect them; the name of the Lord is all that whereby he has made himself known as God, and our God, not only his titles and attributes, but his covenant and all the promises of it; these make up a tower, a strong tower, impenetrable, impregnable, for all God’s people. 2. The saints’ security in God. It is a strong tower to those who know how to make use of it as such. The righteous, by faith and prayer, devotion towards God and dependence on him, run into it, as their city of refuge. Having made sure their interest in God’s name, they take the comfort and benefit of it; they go out of themselves, retire from the world, live above, dwell in God and God in them, and so they are safe, they think themselves so, and they shall find themselves so.


Lunar Sabbaths

Finding the Sabbath in Scripture

Lynnford Beachy

I first heard the term lunar Sabbaths in 2003, and initially I was shocked when I heard an explanation of the term. I was told that Saturday is not the true Sabbath and that the true Sabbath should be counted from the new moon and could fall on any day of the week. In some months, I was told, the Sabbath would be on what we commonly call Monday, the next month it may be on Tuesday or Wednesday, and it continues to change from month to month. The lunar cycle is approximately 29.5 days long, so the lunar month is alternatively twenty-nine and thirty days long. Since the time from one new moon to the next is not evenly divisible by seven, at the end of every month there is one or two extra days—this is what causes the lunar Sabbaths to change every month. (If the moon revolved around the earth in exactly twenty-eight days, then the Sabbath could be calculated by the phases of the moon, since twenty-eight is evenly divisible by seven, giving four weeks per month. However, as we have noted, the moon revolves around the earth about every 29.5 days or every 29.53059 days, to be more exact.) The first and thirtieth days in a lunar Sabbath calendar are said not to count toward the week nor form a part of any seven-day week. This causes a gap between the last Sabbath of the month and the first Sabbath of the next month to be seven or eight days every month. That is unusual, compared to the six-day gap between all other Sabbaths.

To the right is a sample lunar Sabbath calendar. Notice that every eighth, fifteenth, twenty-second, and twenty-ninth days are in the seventh-row column, and it is claimed that this is the way it should be every month. Please keep in mind that this calendar does not coincide with the common Gregorian calendar. The first day of a lunar month may fall on any day of the Gregorian month from January to December, and it can fall on any day of the week from Sunday to Saturday. The Jews, to this day, use a lunar calendar to calculate their annual feast days, but they do not use a lunar calendar to determine the weekly Sabbath.

When I first heard the lunar Sabbath theory, many objections rose up in my mind, and I could not understand how anyone could believe it. However, after studying the subject more thoroughly, I have come to understand how some people can believe this way. There is a certain amount of pseudo evidence that can sound reasonable to support this conclusion, if one only views the surface of the so-called evidence. Remember that the Bible is used as proof by some to support even abominable practices, such as homosexuality, so it should be no surprise that the Bible is given as evidence for a false Sabbath. As with all subjects, there is a danger in coming to a conclusion on this subject without examining all the evidence. Too often people come across a subject and only study one side of it, basing their conclusion on evidence that may not even be genuine and at the same time, they miss strong evidence that disproves the theory. When this is done, it is easy to become imbalanced. The Bible warns against this saying, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).

Before you come to a conclusion on what day the Sabbath is, you better take the time to examine all the evidence to see if it is factual and study it from God’s perspective. Any biblical or historical quotations should be read in context to see if they are saying what it is claimed they are saying. You may be surprised by what you find.

The Day God Blessed

The Bible says, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified [to make holy] it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2, 3). There is no other day that God blessed and sanctified. When God blesses something, the nature of it changes. It cannot remain the same. If he blesses a field, it may produce more, look greener, or in some way be enhanced. If God blesses a cruse of oil, that oil may be of a better quality, or it may not run out. If he blesses shoes or clothes, they may not wear out, such as how God blessed the Israelites during their forty-year trek through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:5).

Supposed Lunar Sabbaths

The very nature of the holy time on the seventh day of the week is different than any other time. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27), and it is a blessing to man. But it is not a blessing to the man who does not seek for it on that day. If you miss the day, you miss the blessing. It is impossible to keep any other day holy, for there is no other day that is holy. And if you miss the day, even by one day, you will be breaking one of God’s commandments, a particular one that he holds very dear to his heart.

To give us some idea of how jealously God regards his holy day, notice what he said through Moses: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death” (Exodus 35:2). That is serious! God does not want us to miss his holy day; violating this command carried a death penalty.

The Sabbath in the Bible

It is true, that there is another kind of Sabbath mentioned in the Scriptures other than the weekly Sabbath. There were certain dates which were required to be kept in a similar way as the weekly Sabbath and were called “Sabbath.” These were in connection with the feast days and were typical or prophetic of specific points in the plan of salvation. But there is something that clearly distinguishes the weekly Sabbath from these annual (ceremonial) Sabbaths. The command concerning the weekly sabbath clearly stated that they were not to do “any work” on that day (Ex 20:8–11). The prohibition concerning work on these annual Sabbaths, however, simply prohibited “servile work.” Leviticus 23:24: “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.” Now notice the work restriction command of this verse: “Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” Notice that not all work was prohibited on this day, only servile work was forbidden. Servile work is service work, work that you would do as a service to receive an income.

The word service is a qualifier word. It qualifies the type of work that is prohibited. For example, I could tell my son, “You may not eat any food today.” This statement has nothing to qualify it and therefore, he is not allowed to eat any type of food. But if I say to him, “You cannot eat any green food today,” he knows that he can eat any food such as potatoes, carrots, blueberries, etc., as long as it is not green. The only type of food that was prohibited for him was green food. This is similar to what God did by adding the qualifier word servile to the type of work that was prohibited on an annual sabbath. If God had intended “no work” to be done on that day, he would not have included the qualifier servile before the word work. So, there is a clear distinction between the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths.

The first day of unleavened bread (the fifteenth of Abib) has the same servile work prohibition applied to it. The Bible says, “In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein” (Leviticus 23:7). This prohibition did not include food preparation, for the Bible says, “And in the first day [of unleavened bread, the fifteent of Abib] there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day [the twenty-first of Abib] there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you” (Exodus 12:16).

Yet, on the weekly Sabbath days, food preparation was not allowed. The Bible says, “This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow 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” (Exodus 16:23). We are beginning to see a clear difference between God’s view of the weekly Sabbath and an annual Sabbath that occurred on certain calendar dates. Why is this difference important? It is important because, as we will see, the lunar Sabbath teaching necessitates having weekly Sabbath and annual Sabbath days together on a regular basis for two of these annual Sabbaths. But, as we have seen, they are given different restrictions, showing that they could not have been talking about the same thing!

Comparison of Days

Activity

Weekly Sabbath

Annual Sabbath (except for the Day of Atonement)

Preparing food

No: Exodus 16:23

Yes: Exodus 12:16

The Passover Lamb

Exodus 12:3, 6 states, “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb… And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” Deuteronomy states the time the Passover lamb would be killed. “Thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun.” (Deuteronomy 16:6). In the Bible, days began and ended at the going down of the sun. Recently there have been some lunar Sabbath proponents who have challenged this fact. But what does the Bible say?

When Does a Day Begin?

Notice how this earth began:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:1–5)

Darkness preceded the light, and together they comprised a day. The word day has two meanings in the Bible—it can mean the light part of a day (approximately twelve hours), or it can mean the entire day, including the dark part (twenty-four hours). When it was dark and “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” it was part of the first day. Afterward, God created the light, and together he called the darkness and the light the first day.

Some lunar Sabbath proponents have observed that the term evening can mean sunset, and morning can mean sunrise and conclude that the first day in Genesis 1 must have begun with the daylight part of the day and ended when the dark part was finished at sunrise the next morning. Thus they propose that a complete day in the Bible is from sunrise to sunrise, instead of from sunset to sunset. Some even propose that since God said “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” that God only wants us to keep holy the part of the Sabbath that has daylight. Therefore, they attempt to keep the Sabbath from sunrise to sunset (approximately twelve hours). One of the most bizarre theories attached to the lunar Sabbath doctrine is the idea that God created the sun and moon on the day before day one of creation, sometimes called day zero. But the only part of the Bible that God wrote with his own finger on tables of stone says, “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” (Exodus 20:11). According to God himself, all of the things that God created in heaven and earth were created within six literal days.

The reason lunar Sabbath proponents wish to believe that God made the sun and moon on day zero is because if the world was created in six days, with the moon created on day four as the Bible says (Genesis 1:14–19), it would not allow the first Sabbath to fall on the eighth day of the month, as they so tenaciously maintain. (This only works if the moon was created in the new phase.) But there is no biblical verse to suggest that the moon was created on any day before the fourth day of creation, nor that there existed a day zero that could be called the first day of the month.

One of the main reasons to push for the interpretation of a day beginning at sunrise is because the lunar Sabbath theory becomes a problem when applied to the fifteenth day of the first month, when the children of Israel left Egypt (more on that later). Even though this interpretation of a day does not completely eliminate the problems of the Exodus, it is promoted as one way of trying to reconcile some of the contradictions introduced by the theory of a lunar Sabbath. We will examine the Exodus in more detail later in this study, but let us first look at how the Bible defines a day.

Speaking about the Day of Atonement, God instructed, “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.… It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath” (Leviticus 23: 27, 32). Here God instructed that the Day of Atonement was to be held on the tenth day of the seventh month. Then to define that day, he explained that it began on the even of the ninth day and further explained that it was to be held from evening to evening. From this we see that the tenth day of the month began the evening of the ninth and continued until the evening of the tenth. This is the biblical definition of a day. It begins in the evening and ends the following day at evening. The Bible also defines what the term evening means: “Thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun.” (Deuteronomy 16:6). A day is from sunset to sunset.

Evening and Morning

As proof that a day is from sunrise to sunrise, some postulate that the Hebrew words ereb, translated evening, andboqer, translated morning, must refer to sunset and sunrise, rather than to the entire night or the entire daylight hours. Therefore, the first day had to have had a sunset and then a sunrise before the day was finished. Since the light was created on the first day, they propose that the sun could not have set until that evening and could not have risen until the next morning. This interpretation overlooks the fact that the sun did not exist on the first day, nor on the second and third days of creation. (It seems strange that there could be light and dark days for three days before God created the sun and moon. This is an area of the Bible that God has not explained (Deuteronomy 29:29). Some have proposed that God made light on day one and then caused it to be gathered together as the sun on day four. The Bible is silent on this point, so nobody can be sure how it happened and where the Bible is silent on a matter, wisdom dictates we should be silent, but we can be certain that the sun did not exist until day four of creation because that is what God said.) God did not make the sun until day four (Genesis 1:14–19); therefore, the Hebrew words boqer and ereb could not mean sunrise and sunset in Genesis 1:5, 8, 13.

The evening and morning of Genesis 1:5 are not a problem since the Bible uses ereb to refer to the entire night and boqer to refer to a day. Here are a few examples: “When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night (ereb) be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day” (Job 7:4). “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night (ereb), but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalms 30:5). It is clear in these verses that the Hebrew word ereb refers to the entire night, rather than just the sunset. In Numbers 16:5, 16, God used boqer interchangeably with machar (tomorrow), which means the day after today. When God said, “The evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5), he meant that the dark part and the light part together comprised the first day, without reference to the position of the sun which did not even exist on that day.

It may seem elementary or insignificant to discuss the meaning of a day, but it is important because misunderstandings on this point have led some to accept false doctrine in other areas. Several times when God described activities that were to take place on particular days, he explained that the days began and ended at sunset.

God told the children of Israel, “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread” (Leviticus 23:6). The feast of unleavened bread was to be held for seven days beginning on the fifteenth day of the first month and extending to the 21st day of the month.

Notice how God explained this: “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land” (Exodus 12:18, 19). According to God, a seven-day period, fifteenth–twenty-first, began at sunset after the light part of the fourteenth day, and continued until sunset after the light part of the twenty-first day.

Another example is given when Samson gave a riddle to the Philistines. The Bible says, “And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments: … And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle” (Judges 14:12, 18). Everyone at the feast knew that the seven days would be completed at sunset on the seventh day. Days begin and end at sunset.

Exodus 12:6 states, “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” The Hebrew for in the evening is literally between the two evenings. The sun begins visibly to decline from its zenith at about noon. This beginning of the evening is the first evening.The second evening would be at sunset. Between the two evenings would be at three o’clock in the afternoon (or at the “ninth hour”). ( See 1 Corinthians 5:7; Matthew 27:45–50.)

What is a Day

After the lamb was killed, then the Bible says, “And they shall take of the blood, … And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. … that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire” (Exodus 12:7, 8, 10). Notice that the burning of the remains took place on the fifteenth day of the first month, even though servile work was not allowed.

Now notice what God says about the Sabbath: “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day” (Exodus 35:3). This demonstrates that there were different requirements for the weekly Sabbath than there were for the annual Sabbath days. We also read about the fifteenth of Abib: “And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual” (Exodus 12:39). Let’s notice a comparison again.

The Only Annual Sabbath

The Day of Atonement, on the tenth day of the seventh month, was the most solemn time of the year, for it signified the removal of all sin from the camp of Israel. This day is the only annual feast that is called in the Hebrew a Shabbath day, and all manner of work was strictly forbidden.

And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath. (Leviticus 23:28–32)

The next feast in the year was the Feast of Tabernacles, from the fifteenth to the twenty-second day of the seventh month.

Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. (Leviticus 23:39, 40)

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, the Israelites were commanded to collect branches and build temporary dwelling places, a task that would be considered “servile work.”

On the weekly Sabbath, however, such an activity would have resulted in sudden death: “They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.…And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses” (Numbers 15:32, 36).

Departing from Egypt

After the first Passover was slain and the blood was applied to the doorposts, the angel of death came through Egypt and killed all the firstborn in those houses which did not have their doorposts covered with the blood of the sacrifice. “And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said… And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men” (Exodus 12:29–31, 33).

That night, after the firstborn were killed at midnight, Pharoah and the Egyptians urgently compelled the Israelites to leave. “And it came to pass the selfsame day [the fifteenth of Abib], that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies” (Exodus 12:51). “In the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night” (Deuteronomy 16:1). “And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians” (Numbers 33:3). It is clear that the Israelites left Egypt the same day that the angel passed through Egypt to kill the firstborn, which was the fifteenth day of the first month. The Bible says that there were “about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children” (Exodus 12:37). Counting the women and children, there were well over two million people who came out of Egypt that day, plus an innumerable amount of sheep, goats, and cattle. It was in immense amount of work for all of those people to gather all of their belongings and begin such a journey. This was perfectly acceptable on the fifteenth day of the first month, even though no servile work was allowed. Yet, this same activity was strictly forbidden on the weekly Sabbath.

God said, “Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath (shabbath) day, as I commanded your fathers” (Jeremiah 17:21, 22). If carrying a burden out of your house was considered breaking the Sabbath, then taking all of your belongings out of your house on Sabbath would certainly be breaking the Sabbath. The solution is simple—the fifteenth day of the first month was not a Sabbath.

Comparison of Days

Activities

Weekly Sabbath

Annual Sabbath (except the Day of Atonement)

Preparing food

No: Exodus 16:23

Yes: Exodus 12:16

Baking unleavened cakes

No: Exodus 16:23 (except for shewbread made by the priests)

Yes:
Exodus 12:39

Burning a carcass with fire

No: Exodus 35:3

Yes:
Exodus 12:7–10

Gathering branches and building booths

No:
Numbers 15:32, 36

Yes:
Leviticus 23:39, 40

Conclusions Thus Far

If every fifteenth is already a weekly Sabbath, why would God add a lesser restriction on top of an already-existing stronger restriction? There is clearly a stronger restriction regarding the seventh-day Sabbath, as compared to the restrictions for the fifteenth day of the first and seventh months. If God expected the Israelites to consider the fifteenth day of every month to be a Sabbath wherein no manner of work was to be done, why would he tell them not to do any “servile work” on the fifteenth day of the first and seventh months? This would be like me telling my son, “Do not eat any food between meals” and then telling him, “Do not eat any green food between meals.” This would not make sense and would contradict the earlier instructions. God has instructed, very plainly, that no work at all is to be done on the weekly Sabbath. This instruction included a prohibition on food preparation, kindling fires, gathering sticks, and carrying burdens out of your house. God then gave instructions regarding the fifteenth and twenty-first days of the first month, the day of Pentecost, and the first, fifteenth, and twenty-second days of the seventh month, that no servile work was to be done on those days. If all work was already forbidden on the fifteenth and twenty-second days of every month, God would not have added a restriction that only covered servile work. There would be absolutely no need for such instruction, unless the fifteenth and twenty-second days of the month were normally work days.

Teaching the Israelites about the Sabbath

When God taught the Israelites about the Sabbath after coming out of Egypt, he did not use the observation of the moon as a guide, but rather the manna. ( See Exodus 16.) God used the falling of manna for six days, followed by no manna on the seventh day, continually for forty years. Also, God made no provision for a lapse of manna for two or three days every month, as would be required if no work was to be done for two or three consecutive days at the end of every month. Some have said that the Israelites fasted on these extra days, but there is no record of that in the Bible, and you can be sure the Jews would have complained about this compulsory fast every month, and it would have been recorded. Yet, there is no record of manna failing to fall for two or three days in a row, nor is there any record of manna falling for seven or eight consecutive days. There was six days of manna, with a double portion falling on the sixth day, and no manna on the seventh for forty years.

According to Scripture, God created the world in six days, and the following day was the Sabbath, and it has remained this way ever since. Every seventh day is the Sabbath. If anyone from Adam to Noah became confused over which day was the Sabbath, certainly Noah had the day right. The Bible says that he sent birds out of the ark in seven-day intervals (Genesis 8:10), indicating that he kept a seven-day weekly cycle. If anyone was confused from Noah to Abraham, certainly Abraham had the day right because he kept God’s commandments (Genesis 26:5). It is likely that many of the Israelites lost sight of the Sabbath during their slavery in Egypt, but we are certain that they were instructed correctly by the miracle of manna during Moses’ time. If anyone lost sight of the Sabbath from Moses’ time to Ezra and Nehemiah’s time after the captivity in Babylon, we can be sure that God set them straight, since their revival at that time was centered around the Sabbath.(See Nehemiah 9:14; 10:31; 13:15–22.) If anyone lost sight of the right day from Ezra’s time to the coming of the Jesus Christ, you can be sure that he would have corrected them. The Bible record indicates that Jesus offered no correction to the Jews regarding the day in which they kept Sabbath, but rather on the manner in which they kept it. The Jews were keeping the correct day in Christ’s time.

A Shaky Foundation

Those who promote the idea of counting the Sabbath based on the moon are forced to rely on a very shaky foundation to discover which day is the Sabbath. They extol the benefits of the moon as a very reliable means of discovering the proper day of the week, yet are forced to admit that there are many opinions about how to count it. There is a lunar Sabbath website that lists lunar Sabbath fellowships around the world, and they have added the following disclaimer: “Please note that lunar Sabbath fellowships may, and often do, differ in their understandings of the how they believe the count works and other varied opinions related to it” (lunarsabbath.com/lunar_Sabbath_fellowships.htm). Even with a list of lunar Sabbath fellowships, if a believer in that doctrine wished to fellowship with one of these groups on a lunar Sabbath, it would be possible that they would show up on a different day than the group was meeting. This is true for several reasons: 1) Lunar Sabbath proponents differ on which phase of the moon is considered the new moon. Some claim that it is to be counted as a new moon when the moon is completely dark (the opposite of a full moon), while others claim that it is to be counted from the time when the first crescent of the new lunar month is visible. 2) In each camp of theories there can be a day or two difference in how one calculates or sees the new moon. 3) There is no biblical verse that states how we are to determine a new moon.

The moon is very unreliable to tell you when the Sabbath begins. If you go by observation alone, you will certainly be off at least one or two months in a year. That means you would miss the Sabbath at least 8–16% of the time, and it is quite possible for this number to be as high as 50% of the time, or even 100% of the time, depending upon whether you count the new moon by the visible crescent or by the dark part of the moon. This is very unreliable. I have a friend who keeps the lunar Sabbath cycle, and he told me that he called one of his friends across the country who also keeps the lunar Sabbath cycle, and said, “Happy Sabbath.” His friend replied, “Today is not the Sabbath, tomorrow is.”

On the same website mentioned above is the following testimony: “Been keeping scriptural shabbath 4 years with out a calendar or a computer just by sheer observance so some months I’m off give or take a day but I’m hoping to get correspondence from fellow believers” (Ibid.). If God considers the Sabbath so important that he attached the death penalty for its violation, would he leave his people with such an unreliable means of discovering which day it is? We think not!

It might be argued that with our telescopes and computers today we can pinpoint the exact time of the new moon to the second. That is true, but has God’s plan ever required sophisticated equipment for his people to render obedience? And if so, what about people in past years or those in cultures without such equipment?

The sun is a much more accurate means of determining when the seventh day of the week occurs. It is very simple to observe when a day has passed. I understand the Jews would have a string tied to their clothing that they would use to count seven days. Each day they would tie a knot in their string, until they reached seven knots, and then they would untie them and start over. Even people in concentration camps have been able to keep track of the passing of days.

Some have claimed that a continuous seven-day cycle could not possibly have been retained throughout the last six thousand years. They assume that it would have been lost. Yet, have you ever woken up in the morning and forgotten which day of the week it is? I have. It has only happened to me a very few times. How hard would it be to find out what day it is, even before calendars and digital clocks? You could just ask your neighbor! What are the chances that your neighbor would reply, “I don’t know, I woke up this morning and forgot which day it was too”? As unlikely as that would be, it could happen. But then suppose that you both go to your next nearest neighbor and ask him, and he likewise replies, “I forgot too,” and then everyone you know has mysteriously forgotten which day of the week it is on the same day. The chances of that happening at any time in history are virtually zero. The most likely time for that to happen would have been on Noah’s Ark, when only eight people were alive, but even then, the odds of it happening to eight people on the same day is astronomically high. And the Bible tells us that Noah was counting the days and knew exactly how many days had transpired when the rain started and stopped, and when the ark landed, etc. There is no chance that the weekly cycle was ever forgotten by everyone in the world at the same time.

God’s plan is simple. Even a child can understand the passing of days by observing the sun. God created the earth in six days, then rested on the seventh. God told us to count weeks in the same way. He said, “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 23:3). God could very easily have said the eighth, fifteenth, twenty-second, and twenty-ninth days of every month are Sabbaths, but he didn’t. God simply said “the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God” (Exodus 20:10), and there can be no unit of time here meant other than the seventh day of the week. Certainly the seventh day of neither the month nor the year could be understood to fulfill the commandment.

Friends, God desires you to keep his commandments. He wants you to know which day is the Sabbath. The mark of the beast crisis is soon to come upon this world, and it will divide those who keep the commandments from those who don’t (Revelation 14:12; Matthew 7:21–23). I pray that you will “prove all things” and “hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Do not settle for man-made theories, but “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

To be continued


Watching Unto Prayer

Ellen G. White

Eagle soaring Thinkstock 153778608I once read of an eagle that had left her home in the Alps, and clouds dark and heavy intervened between her and her home in the towering cliffs. She seemed bewildered, and with loud screams flew first one way and then another against the over-hanging clouds. Suddenly, with a shrill scream of determination, she darted upward through the dense clouds into the clear sky above. The clouds were beneath her, and she was again in her mountain home. And so may we rise above the clouds of skepticism, and dwell in the clear sunshine of God’s presence.

 It is only by watching unto prayer, and the exercise of living faith, that the Christian can preserve his integrity in the midst of the temptations that Satan brings to bear upon him. But “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Talk to your heart constantly the language of faith: “Jesus said He would receive me, and I believe His word. I will praise Him; I will glorify His name.” Satan will be close by your side to suggest that you do not feel any joy. Answer him: “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. I have everything to be glad of; for I am a child of God. I am trusting in Jesus. The law of God is in my heart; none of my steps shall slide.” (This article was taken from The Bible Echo, September 24, 1894)


 

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