- "The kind of work that God prohibited on the sabbath day does not refer to ordinary, common work; it only refers to secular and worldly work (which should be avoided all seven days a week)."
Exodus 20:8-11, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 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."
So the question is, "What kind of work does God prohibit"?
There are only three categories of work in scripture.
- Works that are holy and merciful (i.e. preaching truth; helping others, studying God's Word)
- Works of sin (i.e. fornication, murder, theft).
- Works that are ordinary and common (i.e. harvesting, buying and selling, building things).
So, which kind of "works" are the 4th commandment referring to? Well, it cannot be referring to holy or merciful works, because these are to be done seven days a week, and is not limited to only 6 days a week. It would not be a sin to do holy and merciful acts on the sabbath. Therefore, we know that the 4th commandment cannot be referring to this kind of work.
How about works of sin? Well, it cannot be referring to works of sin, because these are to be refrained seven days a week. Besides, it would make no sense if God commanded that works of sin be done 6 days a week. Would it?
Therefore, the kind of work that God limits to only 6 days a week can only be common, ordinary work. God commanded this work to be done six days a week, so this is not the kind of work that should be avoided seven days a week. There is nothing wrong with this kind of work, but God commands us to rest from it once every week for our sakes.
- "As long as we are holy, the ordinary acts we do are also holy, as long as we do them in the name of the Lord."
Answer: The problem with this way of thinking is that it avoids going to the scripture for what is good and evil. We say, “Oh, I don't have to go to scripture anymore for what is good and evil, I don't care about the examples and teachings of scripture on this topic, since I am Holy, my acts will be considered holy.” That is a common way of how holy men of God have fallen away from God. The fact that we are holy has absolutely no bearing on whether or not our acts are holy. The only thing that determines whether our acts are holy or not is the Word of God, Period. Otherwise, we would be as gods determining for ourselves what is good and evil.
This was a mistake the Jews made. In the Old Testament, the Jews were called “holy” by God himself (Exodus 22:31, Leviticus 19:2; 20:26; 21:6, Deuteronomy 7:6-8; 14:2,21; 28:9). Since the Jews were holy, they thought that whatever ordinary acts they do, as long as it glorified God, were holy also. But God rebuked them for that attitude.
Ezekiel 22:26, "Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them."
Ezekiel 44:23, "And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean."
The bolded words “profane” (Hebrew word #2455, chol) in the two verses above does not mean “defile,” it is defined as “common” or “ordinary.” The Hebrew word #2490, chalal, is defined as "to profane, defile, pollute, desecrate." An example of this word is the underlined word in Ezekiel 22:26 above.
Therefore, the priests were holy, and they did not put a difference between the holy and the ordinary on the sabbath day, because they believed their ordinary acts were automatically holy just because they were holy. If God says an act is ordinary, then it is ordinary, even if committed by a holy man of God.
And if we are allowed to do work that glorifies God on the sabbath day, then why was it a sin to build the temple of God on the Sabbath Day? This act would Glorify God, and this act was commanded by God to be done six days a week. Why not on the seventh day? In Exodus 35:1-3, God specifically prohibited even kindling a fire on the Sabbath to build articles for the tabernacle or sanctuary of the Lord (verses 11-19). Even though the tabernacle was holy, it was forbidden to work on the holy tabernacle on the Sabbath, because God does not want us doing ordinary, common labour on that day, even if it glorifies God. We are to do holy and merciful acts only on this day, and do ordinary work on the other six days.
- "The Sabbath is when we rest in the lord."
Answer: Yes, we are to rest in the Lord whenever we do ordinary work. But the Sabbath Day is not defined as resting in the Lord while doing ordinary work, it is defined as resting in the Lord while ceasing from ordinary work. The Sabbath day is defined as resting from ordinary work; we cannot rest from ordinary work when we do ordinary work. When we rest in the Lord while doing ordinary work, that's defined by God Himself as a work day, not a Sabbath day.
- "The Sabbath could not have been binding from Creation, because Adam did not work in the Garden of Eden. And if Adam did not work, there would have been no need for him to rest one day a week."
Answer: On the other hand, if Adam did work, and labour, and till, and cultivate, etc, then there would be a need to rest from his physical work one day a week. Correct? If Adam did do ordinary work and labour in the Garden, then the reason given for believing that the Sabbath was not given at creation is not true. And if the witness and testimony is not true, then our conclusion, which was based upon that witness and testimony, should likewise be reconsidered as not true.
If Adam did work and labour, then that would give a reason to believe that Adam did have a need to rest from his ordinary labour, which would give evidence that the Sabbath was made for Adam as well.
Genesis 2:15, "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it (cultivate it, till it, harvest it, work it, labour in it) and to keep it."
This is confirmed in:
Genesis 2:5, "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground."
This same word translated "dress" (cultivate) and "till" above, is the same Hebrew word #5647 that is used in the 4th commandment! In other words, the kind of work that God commanded Adam to do in the Garden is the same kind of work that God commanded to be done only 6 days a week, and prohibited to be done on the 7th day, in his 4th commandment:
Exodus 20:9, "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:"
Deuteronomy 5:13, "Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:"
Exodus 34:21, "Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest."
Would God have Adam work 7 days a week without rest? When a man tells another man to work 7 days a week without a day of rest, we call that man tyrannical. Adam worked so hard in the garden that God created a helpmeet for him! God created Eve so she can be Adam's helper. Eve helped Adam in his calling, and his calling was to work in the garden. If Adam was not doing any work, what would Eve need to help Adam with? Eve helped Adam, she gave him an extra hand in his duties in the garden. His work.
- "There is no difference between a work day and the sabbath day; every day is a sabbath day; as long as one has the law of God written in ones heart, rests in the Lord every day, glorifies our Father every day, has faith in the Lord, has the Holy Spirit in him, remaines separate from the things of the world every day, is a holy man of God, and does holy and merciful acts every day."
Answer: Let us go to the Old Testament for a parable. There is this holy man, in the Old Testament, called Hesus. Here is a description of Hesus: He...
- had the law of God written in his heart.
- rested in the Lord every day.
- glorified our Father every day.
- had faith in the Lord, stronger than a mustard seed, every day.
- had the Holy Spirit in him.
- remained separate from the things of the world every day.
- was a holy man of God.
- did holy acts every day.
- did merciful acts every day.
Hesus has a field with lots of fruits and vegetables. Would it be a sin for Hesus to cultivate, till, and harvest his land on the Sabbath day? Yes. Is every day to be treated like God says to treat an ordinary work day, or is every day to be treated like God says to treat the Sabbath day? If, in the Old Testament, Hesus rested in the Lord every day, and felt he could do ordinary work all 7 days a week, would he be treating every day as a Sabbath day, or would he be treating every day as a work day? The answer...as a work day.
Question: If a man today kept every day of the week like God says to keep the six working days, for him, is every day a working day or is every day a Sabbath day? If a man today kept every day of the week like God says to keep the seventh day Sabbath, for him, is every day a Sabbath day or is every day a working day?
Here is the difference between the sabbath and a work day:
Every day (both working day and Sabbath day) allowed fellowshipping on God's Word, preaching the word of God, meditating on God's law, praying to our Father in heaven, healing people, doing merciful acts to one another, and being holy, resting in the Lord, glorifying God, having God's Law written in the heart, having faith in God, remain separate from the unclean things, remain separate from the ways of the heathens.
Working day allowed freely giving something of value in exchange for food, building a barn to keep ones animals in, doing household work such as cleaning and washing things, reaping and harvesting the fruits and vegetable of ones field, having cattle work and plow the land, building an addition to ones house, such as a patio, fixing things.
Sabbath day forbade freely giving something of value in exchange for food, building a barn to keep ones animals in, doing household work such as cleaning and washing things, reaping and harvesting the fruits and vegetable of ones field, having cattle work and plow the land, building an addition to ones house, fixing things.
The Sabbath day is a day of rest from common, ordinary labour. The Sabbath day is not a day in which we rest in the Lord while doing ordinary work, but a day in which we rest in the Lord while ceasing from ordinary work.
If one says that the ordinary "work" that God commanded to be done 6 days a week, can now be done every day of the week, one is saying that every day is an ordinary work day. If every day was a Sabbath day, that means that what God prohibited to be done on the Sabbath day, must also be prohibited every day. If what God prohibited on the Sabbath can be done every day now, that means that zero days are to be treated like the Sabbath day. Therefore, it is not every day that's a Sabbath day, but every day is an ordinary working day.
Imagine Hesus saying to himself, “I believe the meaning of the Sabbath is to rest in the Lord. Therefore, I'm going to rest in the Lord while I do ordinary work, each day of the week.” So, he rests in the Lord every day. As he is moved by the spirit of God to work around his house, he works; as he is moved by the spirit of God to physically rest, he rests. If he did this all 7 days a week, would Hesus be doing God's Will? Or would he be sinning?
The answer is that Hesus would be sinning, because he would be doing the kind of work that God says is an abomination to do on the sabbath day. Now, why is it that if you do this same exact act today as Hesus did, why is it that it would not be considered a sin for you? Here is the same exact act with the same exact intention, and it is a sin for Hesus but not a sin for you? Why?
- "There is nothing wrong with buying food on the sabbath day. We can buy food seven days a week."
Answer: Proverbs 31 defines a virtuous woman. This is for our example. She bought and sold with merchants and Canaanites. She was doing this for sustenance, and this is how God was supplying her needs, and the needs of her family. If she did this on the Sabbath day, and hopped over the closed gates of Jerusalem to buy food, and she treated the Sabbath day just like she treats other days of the week, would this be a sin for her to do that?
If yes, that means her act would be an abomination to God, a sin against Him.
If no, then the 4th commandment would not pertain to that woman.
If the 4th commandment did not pertain to that woman, who was one of the children of Israel, then who does the 4th commandment pertain to? Obviously, the 4th commandment does pertain to that woman, and it would have been a sin for her to buy food on the sabbath, just like is was a sin for everyone else to buy food on the sabbath day (Nehemiah 10:31; 13:15-22).
And if it was a sin for the Proverbs 31 woman to buy food on the sabbath (which it was), and it would have been a sin for Jesus Christ to buy food on the sabbath (which it would have been), why do you feel it would not be a sin for you to buy food on the sabbath day? Are you above your Master?
The 4th was given to His children to tell them what was good and what was sinful. He did not give them the 10 commandments and say, “Oh, by the way, if you rest in the Lord every day, you can ignore the 4th commandment. This command is only a sin for unbelievers, not for believers.” No, He was not saying that if they were holy, then this does not apply to them, He was saying that they would be holy if they kept the 4th commandment.
- "Well, we shouldn't buy food from merchants anyway. We would be partaking of their sin if we do."
Answer: Was it God's Will in the Old Testament that people be separate from Canaanites and other heathens, and enter into no covenants with them? Yes, it was. But look at this passage.
Isaiah 23:17-18, "…the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing."
Food stores are comparable to the merchants of the earth who commit fornication against the Lord. They profane the Sabbath and other things. Yet, God says that their merchandise is holy if used according to his provisions. Therefore, eating food bought from merchants is holy in God's eyes, if used by His children when hungry.
Are there examples of godly people working with merchants? Yes. God's description of a godly woman includes her working with merchants and Canaanites (Proverbs 31:14,18,24 - In verse 24, is the Greek word for “merchant” is actually “Canaanite”). God permits and commands us to sell to the stranger (Leviticus 25:47, Deuteronomy 14:21). Israel worked with merchants six days a week, but did not buy or sell on the Sabbath (Nehemiah 13:15-21). We do not partake of their sin when we buy and sell from merchants on a day other than the Sabbath.
In the New Testament books, buying and selling is never spoken as something that would be a sin to do.
Matthew 14:15, "And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals."
Mark 6:36, "Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat."
Matthew 19:21, "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."
Luke 12:33, "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth."
Luke 22:36, "Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."
John 4:8, "(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat)"
Notice that when the apostles went to buy meat, they were not chastised by Jesus, or told by him to get meat another way.
John 6:5-7, "When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little."
Jesus tested him by asking where he could buy bread. When Philip answered, Jesus did not condemn him for not realizing it was sinful to buy from merchants.
John 13:29, "For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor."
The apostles thought that Jesus would either give to the poor, or buy something. This was the last night they were with Jesus. If, after three and a half years of being with Jesus, they did not think it sinful to buy something with money, what is the reason? Could it be because Jesus never told them it was not God's Will?
Revelation 13:17, "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
God said it is evil for a man to say “you cannot buy or sell,” and this is what the beast was doing. Surely, God is not telling us today, “Do not buy or sell,” and that it would be a sin if we do.
Jesus and the apostles did not buy or sell food on the Sabbath. They were resting in the Lord 24 hours a day. They were glorifying God. If they bought food on the sabbath day, they would have sinned against the Lord. It would have been a sin if Jesus bought food on the seventh day of the week. Is it possible that what would have been a sin for our Saviour to do, would not be a sin for us to do? If our Saviour did this act, he would have sinned, but if we do this same act with the same intentions as Jesus, we do not sin? Are we above our master? Are we more holy than our master? If something would have been a sin for Him, is it not also a sin for us?
- "Even though the seventh day was sanctified on the seventh day of Creation, it did not go into effect until thousands of years later."
Genesis 2:2-3, "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 it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
Sanctified means “to set apart.” Most things that are sanctified in the scripture are things like dishes, utensils, tents, houses, land, and people and certain days. If someone sanctifies a house, it is set apart from other houses. If someone sanctifies bread (shewbread), it is set apart from other bread. If someone sanctifies a day, it is set apart from other days.
Now, when you look at every occurrence, throughout the entire scripture, of "when" something was sanctified, you will discover something very important. Each and every time something is sanctified, then that is the moment it becomes sanctified! Without exception.
To say that the sabbath was sanctified on the seventh day of creation, but that it will not actually be sanctified for another 2500 years, is like dedicating ones house to the Lord, separating it, and making it holy (Leviticus 27:14-16), but then telling others, “Yes, I did dedicate this house to the Lord yesterday, but it won't go into effect for another 2500 years.” If man sanctifies his house and makes it holy on a specific day, that moment is when it goes into effect.
Once bread is sanctified, it is called shewbread, and it is to be treated differently from that moment forward. One cannot sanctify something, make it holy, and then after that moment, treat it like ordinarily bread. One cannot say, “well, this bread will not actually be set apart until 2500 years from now” This is deceptive, and is contrary to what God established. The moment something is made holy and sanctified, from that very moment it goes into effect. Being sanctified, and making something sanctified, go hand and hand. It happens at the same time.
Scripture says the Old Testament priests were holy. When they sanctified the bread, the bread was holy bread. If the priests were holy (rested in lord, etc.) does that mean all the bread they touched was holy? No. Whether someone is holy or not has nothing to do with whether the bread is holy or not holy. To a holy man, there will be some bread that is holy and some that are not. Only if the bread itself is made holy, is it holy. Same thing with a house. If a man sanctifies his house, that house is separate from other houses. If the man is holy, does that mean every house he enters from that moment on is sanctified also? No. Only if the house is made holy, can it be holy. All houses do not become holy just because a man is holy. And He lays down laws explaining how to treat these holy thing differently than ordinary things. And the fact that he sanctifies houses and bread from other houses and bread means that other houses and bread are ordinary houses and bread which are to be treated ordinary. The holy house is under a different law than other houses. The shewbread is under a different law than ordinary bread.
Likewise, the seventh day of the week is sanctified, set apart, and made holy. He made no other day this way, only one day out of seven. Does that mean if someone is holy, that every day is now holy? No. What matters is if the day itself has been made holy. Just because a man is holy, it does not mean every day is holy. He lays down laws showing how to keep the day holy, and the fact that he sanctifies it from other days means that other days are ordinary days to be treated ordinary. The seventh day is under a different law than ordinary days. If every day was a Sabbath, that means every day must be treated the same as He said to treat the seventh day Sabbath.
The shewbread and holy house laws were part of the temple and priestly laws, which were added after sin, and were done away with after Christ. The Sabbath was not a priestly law, it was sanctified before priests and temples, and before sin. This is what scripture says God did to the seventh day, on the seventh day of creation. God blessed it (he did not bless the other six days), he sanctified it – set it apart (from what? From the other six days), hallowed (made holy) the seventh day (he did not make holy the other six days), on the seventh day of creation. It would be contradictory to agree to this, and say, “well, it did not go into effect until 2500 years later.The moment it was sanctified, it went into effect. Therefore, the seventh day sabbath went into effect at the moment it was sanctified, and not thousands of years later.
In addition, when something becomes sanctified, it remains sanctified until it does not exist anymore. The seventh day still existed after God sanctified it, and it still exists today.
- "Well, even if it was sanctified at Creation, that does not mean it was given to man."
Answer: Throughout scripture, there are 100's of things that were blessed and sanctified by God. God does not bless and sanctify anything unless it will be used by man for the Lord's sake. This is true in every example of something being sanctified. That is how everything that was every sanctified was used. It was always used by men for the Lord's sake from that day forward.
Since the Sabbath was sanctified at Creation, we must ask "Who was it made for?" Was it made for God, or was it made for man? Christ Jesus tells us "The sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27). If it was made for man, then it went into effect, for man, from the seventh day of creation, not 2500 years later. The 4th Commandment tells us why His children are to separate the seventh day of the week from the other six; because God blessed it, sanctified it, and made it holy on the 7th day of creation. That's why. Before sin existed in the world; before there was a need of a Saviour; before there was a need of Christ Jesus. There was nothing lost at this point. Jesus came to save that which was lost because of sin. He did not come to change things that were ordained by God before sin existed.
What else could something be blessed and set apart for, if not for man?
- "The Lord is our Sabbath."
Answer: So, the question is this: "Does the Sabbath refer to our rest in the Lord 7 days a week, or does it refer to a limited rest only 1 day a week?" Or in other words, which statement is true: "The Lord is the Sabbath," or "The seventh day is the Sabbath."
First, let us see how God himself defines the sabbath:
Exodus 20:10, "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD"
Leviticus 23:3, "Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings."
Deuteronomy 5:14, "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD."
Scripture does not say that the Lord is the Sabbath, but that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath. It also says that the Lord gives us rest:
Psalms 37:7, "Rest in the LORD,"
Joshua 1:13, "Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest,"
Joshua 22:4, "And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them:"
1 Kings 5:4, "But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side,"
1 Kings 8:56, "Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people"
1 Chronicles 23:25, "For David said, The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever:"
2 Chronicles 14:11, "…O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee."
Isaiah 63:14, "…the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name."
Jeremiah 6:16, "Thus saith the LORD, 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."
So yes, the Lord is our rest; both in the Old Testament and New Testament. In the Old Testament, this did not make it unnecessary for a Sabbath day of rest. This does not mean the Lord is our Sabbath. Yes, scripture says He is Lord of the Sabbath, but it does not say the Lord is the Sabbath.
Exodus 16:23, "And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD:"
Exodus 31:15, "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."
Exodus 35:2, "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."
Leviticus 23:3, "Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings."
Deuteronomy 5:14, "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God:"
Notice scripture does not say the Sabbath is the Lord, it says the Sabbath of the Lord. Scripture does not say the Lord is our Sabbath, it says the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a specific day of the week. Yes, we are to rest in the Lord every day. But every day is not a Sabbath. These are two completely different “rests.”
Now let's see if it has the same meaning in the New Testament.
Matthew 12:8, "For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day."
Mark 2:28, "Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath."
Luke 6:5, "And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath."
Christ Jesus also taught that he was Lord of the Sabbath, not that the Lord is the Sabbath. And also, like the Old Testament, Jesus says he gives us rest:
Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Greek word #373)."
Christ gives us rest. “Rest” is something that Christ gives us, it is not something he is. If Jesus said, “come unto me and I will give you sleep,” does that mean Jesus is sleep? No, it does not; even though Jesus described "sleep" as a "rest" (Greek word #373) in Matthew 26:45 and Mark 14:41. We do not say Christ is our sleep, do we? In addition, this word for "rest" (Greek word #373) is never associated with the sabbath; never.
To say “Christ is our rest” is fine. But to say “Because of this (which scripture does not say), it replaces the 4th commandment (which scripture does say).” We cannot replace something God told us, with something God never told us.
The fact that the Lord gave us rest in the Old Testament did not change the law of keeping the seventh day as the sabbath. Likewise, the fact that the Lord gives us rest in the New Testament does not change the law of keeping the seventh day as the sabbath. Just because we rest in the Lord seven days a week, it does not do away or change the seventh day Sabbath rest.
- "At Matthew 12:1-7, David ate shewbread, which was not lawful to eat. The priests profaned the sabbath and were blameless. Therefore, it is okay if we do that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath day also."
Answer: Let us read the entire passage in context:
Matthew 12:1-7, "At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless."
The whole point Jesus was making is found in the last verse, “ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” One can be guiltless, only if one has not sinned. If one has broken the law, then one has sinned and is guilty.
Jesus did not break the letter or the spirit of the law. The Pharisees were condemning him and the apostles, even though scripture does not say that it was unlawful to do what he was doing. Jesus was basically asking the Pharisees, “Have ye not read in scripture where it is unlawful to pluck ears of corn on the Sabbath?” The answer is “no.” The Pharisees were judging him by their own preconceived ideas, instead of going to scripture itself.
When Jesus asked the question if they read in scripture where it says David ate bread that was not lawful to eat, except for the priests, we must remember he was asking a question, and not making a positive, declaratory statement. If David was doing something unlawful, then scripture must say that he was doing something unlawful. However, you can search scripture for all the laws regarding shewbread, and holy bread, and you will not read anywhere where it says only priests can eat the shewbread. Just like in Jesus' case, scripture does not say it is unlawful to pluck corn.
Next, let's go to the actual passage in scripture where David does eat the shewbread. Before we go there, let us presume that it is unlawful for anyone but priests to eat shewbread. Okay? God said to the priests, “It is a sin, and an abomination, and is evil for anyone to eat shewbread, except for the priests.” Now, we would expect that a priest would take that command very seriously. After all, he is appointed guardian of holy things. If a priest was to sin intentionally, it was a very serious thing, and he would not be permitted to perform the Holy parts of the priesthood for a while.
If you were a priest, and someone came up to you and asked for some bread, and all you had was shewbread, what would you do? Would you just give it to him? Would you not inform him that it is against God's Law for anyone but priests to eat this bread? Would you not determine if he was a priest first before giving it to him? And once you determine he was not a priest, would you give it to him anyway, without questioning why he wants you to commit a sin, and an abomination before God, and why he wants you to partake of his sin also?
Leviticus 4 explains what the priest must do if he sins through ignorance. But if he sins intentionally, it is a different matter. Leviticus 21 and 22 explains this. In short, he was not permitted to perform any essential function of the priesthood if he was defiled. The great perfection required in the Jewish priesthood was intended principally to point out the perfection of that priesthood of which the Jewish was only the type. And yet, as the apostle assures us, that law made nothing perfect, but pointed out that most perfect priesthood and sacrifice by which we draw near to God.
As none who had a blemish could enter into the holy of holies, and this holy of holies was a type of the kingdom of God, so nothing that is defiled can enter into heaven; for he gave himself for his church that he might purify it to himself, and present it at last before the presence of the Divine glory having neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing (Ephesians 5:27).
With this in mind, let us read what happened when David asked the priest for bread:
1 Samuel 21:1-6, "Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee? And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place. Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present. And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women. And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel. So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away."
As we can see, the priest who gave David the shewbread knew he was not a priest. Yet, he did not remind David that is was against God's Law. He did not warn David that, not only would he be sinning, but that the priest himself would be partaking of his sin if he gave David the shewbread. The priest did not tell David that he would not be able to perform any essential services of the priesthood if he sinned against God and gave him shewbread. The only thing the priest asked David was if he kept himself from women. From this one and only question, it is clear that the only thing possibly required before anyone can eat shewbread was to not be defiled with women. That's it. There is nothing in this passage, nor in any other part of scripture, which even hints that is was lawful only for priests to eat shewbread.
In addition, when Saul came looking for David soon afterwards, the priest casually informed Saul that he gave David shewbread, and Saul did not even hint that it was unlawful to do that. He murdered all the priests because they helped David, who Saul was trying to capture. Saul could have said they committed evil before the Lord by giving David shewbread, to help justify his slaughter of the priests, but Saul never did charge the priests with sin (1 Samuel 22:9-20).
Another thing to consider: David is a servant of God, and God is watching over him. Does our Father feed those he loves and provides for their needs? Would God ever allow his servants to get to the point where they would starve so much, that the only way they could eat would be to commit an abomination against Him, and sin against the Lord? No! If a servant of God was ever in a situation that required him to sin, or face inconvenience or death, the true servant of God will choose death over sinning against the Lord.
Now, let's look at the next question Jesus asked. When Jesus asked if they read in scripture where it says the priests profaned (desecrated) the Sabbath and were blameless, we must remember he was asking a question, and not making a positive, declaratory statement. If the priests profaned the Sabbath, and were blameless, then scripture must say this if it is true.
However, you can search scripture for all examples of when the priests profaned the Sabbath, and you will not read anywhere where it says they were blameless. Just like in Jesus' case, and David's case, scripture does not say this.
Ezekiel 22:26, "Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them."
Were the priests blameless for profaning the Sabbath? Let's see:
Ezekiel 22:31, "Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD."
Scripture says the priests were to blame, and were guilty. All other scripture passages that show priests profaning the Sabbath also tells us that they were to blame as well (Ezekiel 20:12,13,16,21,24, Nehemiah 13:15-18).
Now, it may have “appeared” like they were sinning, but again, scripture does not say anywhere that David “appeared” to be sinning, nor does it say anywhere that the priests “appeared” to be profaning the Sabbath. Scripture does not say these things. So Jesus was not quoting from scripture, he was asking the Pharisees if they read those things in scripture. The answer, of course, is “No.”
Jesus was showing them their hypocrisy, because the Pharisees were going by their own commandments and traditions, and laying aside the Law of God. We are to go to scripture for what good and evil is, not to the opinions of man. Jesus was showing them, by these questions, that according to their own laws, David would have been guilty and the priests blameless, whereas scripture says the opposite, that David was guiltless and the priests were to blame. He showed them this to evidence that we must go to scripture for good and evil, and not to man's opinions.
- "Nehemiah 9:13-14 proves that the Sabbath was "madest known" to the children of Israel for the very first time, that it was a fresh revelation, and was not given previously."
Answer: if you look at the word "madest known" it is translated from Hebrew word #3045. This word is used 947 times in scripture. The lexicon definition of this word does NOT mean it was revealed for the FIRST time, but simply that it was made known. A look at all the 947 times this word is used will show that the meaning of this word does not mean this.
For example, in Exodus 3:7, the word "know" does not mean that this was the verse first time that the sorrows of His people were "revealed" to God. God knew their sorrows way before this time, for God knows everything. At the time of Exodus 4:14, it was not a fresh revelation that Aaron could speak well. This knowledge existed before this point, to both Moses and God. God did not suddenly "knowest" the people for the first time ever at this point in Exodus 32:22. Likewise, does Exodus 29:46 mean that His children, would have known, for the first time ever, that God brought them out of Egypt, at this point? No. Because the same phrase is used in Exodus 16:6. This shows that Hebrew word #3045 does not, in and of itself, mean a fresh revelation.
Even the book of Nehemiah (where this sabbath issue is currently at) does not use this word in this matter: Nehemiah 9:10 does not mean that "this day" is when God understood, for the first time, that they dealt proudly. Likewise, Nehemiah 10:28 does not mean that all these people had "understanding" for the very first time.
However, for the sake of argument, let us presume that "made known" does mean that something was made known to a specific person or people for the very first time, okay? Also, let us use the phrase "made known", as it is used in Nehemiah 9:13-14 this way. Okay?
Psalms 98:2, "The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen."
Was God’s salvation revealed for the very first time to this psalmist? Maybe it was, maybe it was not. But even if it was, does that mean God’s salvation was revealed for the first time ever? No. It can only be applied to the psalmist himself. Not to other men. Because even if God's salvation was revealed for the very first time to the Psalmist, that does not mean it was revealed for the very first time ever! To wit:
Exodus 14:13, "And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever."
You see, even if God's Salvation was a fresh revelation to the psalmist, it has no bearing at all if God's Salvation was given earlier! Here's another example, very similar to the sabbath issue at hand:
Psalms 103:7, "He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel."
Did God “make known”, for the first time, his ways to Moses and the children of Israel? Maybe. But even if it was revealed for the first time to them, does that mean God’s ways were revealed for the first time ever to anyone? No. Does this mean God never “made known” his ways to any man before Moses and the children of Israel, simply because of the phrase "made known"? No. It can only be applied to Moses and the children of Israel. Maybe it was given to them for the first time, but certainly it does not mean it was never given to other men before the time of Moses and Israel. To wit:
Genesis 18:19, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him."
Obviously, God's ways were revealed to other men before Moses and the Israelites. Therefore, the phrase "made known" cannot possibly be used to determine if something was revealed to any man for the very first time ever. It just does not have that meaning.
What determines if something was "made known" for the very first time is the context of the passage in which it is used. So, let us look at the context of Nehemiah 9:13-14.
Verse 13 refers to the commandments given after Moses came down Mount Sinai. The Sabbath was given in Exodus 16, and Exodus 16 takes place before Moses came down Mount Sinai. Therefore, the phrase "madest known" cannot have the meaning you claim it does. Otherwise, you would have to say that what took place in Exodus 16 happened after Moses came down from the Mount, which contradicts scripture.
However, for those who still believe that Nehemiah 9:13-14 was a fresh revelation, and all the laws given at this point in time were never given previously, then I would like to break this passage down, so we can understand each other's interpretation better. I will give you my interpretation, and you give me yours. Okay?
Nehemiah 9:13, "Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:"
- This verse is describing an event after Moses came down from the mount. Agreed?
- After he came down, this passage says he gave them all these laws. Agreed?
- If we go to Exodus 20, and through many of the following chapters, we can see all these judgments, statutes, commandments and laws that Nehemiah 9:13 refers to. Agreed?
- This verse excludes any point in time before Moses came down from the Mount, because verse 13 is clear that it is describing an event after he came down from the Mount. Agreed?
Nehemiah 9:14, "And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:"
- If disagreed, please explain how Nehemiah 9:13-14 can describe an event before he came down from the mount (Exodus 16), when verse 13 describes what happened after he came down (Exodus 20ff).
"In the eternal state, there will be no sabbath day. Therefore, this law is not binding upon us today."
Answer: First of all, God does not say, anywhere in his Word, to use this criteria to determine which laws are binding upon us and which laws are not. God does not tell us which laws would be observed in the eternal state, and which laws would not be.
Of course, one can say, "the seventh day would not be observed in heaven." But my reply would be, "What if I can show an example, from scripture, of someone in Heaven keeping the seventh day sanctified, and actually resting on that day?" Would this not show that it was observed in the eternal state? Genesis 2 shows us this example. God lives in the eternal State. God was in Heaven, yet he rested on the seventh day, while in thie eternal state!
We should not use this "eternal state" argument, because it does not work for other laws, such as adultery. We all agree that "adultery" is still a sin for us today. However, is adultery a law that is observed in the eternal state? No, it is not. Why? Because Jesus told us that there is no marriage in that state (Matthew 22:30). If there is no marriage in the eternal state, there cannot be any adultery in the eternal state, since adultery is impossible without a marriage.
Therefore, using this logic, that means that adultery would not be a so-called "eternal law", and that the law prohibiting adultery does not need to be observed by His children on earth today. Do you see the dilemma here? It just does not work. There cannot be adultery committed in the eternal state, yet this law is still binding for His children today.
We are flesh, and the law of adultery does need to be observed today because we are flesh...those in the eternal state are not. Similarly, we need to observe a day of rest because we are flesh, and the body cannot work seven days a week without a physical day of rest. Many tyrannical countries, throughout time, have had its citizens work 7 days a week, and depression, corruption, degeneration, and a savage selfishness of spirit were always the result. History has proven this to be the result of working 7 days a week. It would be cruel and evil to subject the body to this. God knows this, and He knows that we, as being in this physical body, need to rest for our spiritual, physical, and mental health.
But in any case, since God does not tell us to judge which laws have passed away by saying, "would this law be observed in the eternal state," then we should not use this criteria either. It would be safer to use the criteria that God has specifically given us, in scripture.
"The Sabbath commandment works with a local people. However, it doesn't with a Global community. For example, how would you fly airplanes within different time zones and not break the Sabbath? You may phone someone in another time zone who couldn't respond because it may be their sabbath, etc. Once you realize the implications, you will see the impossibility of universal Sabbath-keeping. The implications are enormous!"
Answer: To answer the first question, the pilot of an airplane would choose a time zone that he sojourns in, the one where he has his principle place of domicile. By law, each man can only have one principle place of domicile, not two or more. For example, people in America can have lots of different houses. Some live 6 months in New York, and 6 months in Florida. However, by law, they can only be a resident of one of those states, and the other state they go to is only considered "temporary," a "vacation". Only one state can be his principle place of domicile. No man can carry both a New York and a Florida drivers license at the same time, without breaking the law regulating licenses. Which is why people who get a license in one state must give up their license from their previous state.
Anyway, with this in mind, the pilot would make sure that during the 24 hour period of the sabbath in his principle place of Domicile, he would not be flying his plane. It's that simple. If he flew a plane Friday, and the next day would be the Sabbath (according to his time zone), even though it would not be the sabbath in the place he is at currently, he would rest.
The purpose of God's Sabbath is to rest one day out of seven. And by this pilot doing it this way, he will not break the spirit, nor the letter, of the sabbath law. He would still be resting every 7th day, as God instructed.
As far as calling someone who could not answer the phone on the sabbath, that is no problem here either. Simply call on a day that is not his sabbath. It's that simple.
"If the Sabbath was binding since the beginning, where are the regulations for it's observance in the book of Genesis? Surely, with a commandment that warranted the amount of instruction that God provided when He gave it to Israel, there should be plenty of instructions to people before the Mosaic law?! Why are there none?"
Answer: There is no explicit verses in Genesis to instruct anyone in the Law of God, because all the explicit details are located from the book of Exodus onward, even though all these explicit details were revealed to His children before the book of Exodus. If this argument does not hold true for all the other laws of God, then it cannot be used for any law of God to determine if a law existed during the book of Genesis or not.
There was no explicit law prohibiting murder in Genesis, yet it was a sin for Cain to murder Abel, even without this law being revealed in Genesis. God warned him: "sin lieth at the door." (Genesis 4:7). How could God warn Cain he was about to sin, and then place him under a curse for murdering his brother, if God had no law back then prohibiting murder?
How did King Abimelech (the Philistine king of Gerar, a heathen) know adultery was wrong, and that the penalty was death (Genesis 20:1-7)? As did Joseph (Genesis 39:9)? How did Jacob know stealing was wrong (Genesis 30:33; 31)? There are no explicit laws prohibiting these acts in Genesis, yet they knew God's Law. How? The answer is obvious, because God's Law did exist before Moses, before Jews existed in the world. God Himself said of Abraham that he, "...obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws" (Genesis 26.5). How could Abraham have obeyed God's commandments and laws unless God had already given it to him? God's Law did exist before Moses repeated them, however, the book of Genesis does not record these laws, because they are recorded from the book of Exodus onward.
How did Abel know to sacrifice the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof to the Lord (Genesis 4:4) if there was no law explicitly stating how to do sacrificing and offerings? How did Noah know to take clean animals and offer them as burnt offerings on the altar to the Lord (Genesis 8:20) if there were no burnt offering laws? But more importantly, where are the explicit verses explaining to Noah which animals are clean and which are unclean? The fact is, there are none in the book of Genesis! All the explicit laws are found from the book of Exodus onward.
Your question rephrased:
"Does the fact that there is no specific mention of which animals are clean and which animals are unclean, in the book of Genesis, mean that there was no difference between clean and unclean meats at Genesis 8:20? If God wanted Noah to separate the clean and unclean animals, where are the regulations for its observance? Does the fact that God wanted Noah to distinguish between the clean and unclean meats mean that there should be plenty of instruction, in the book of Genesis, explaining which meats are clean and which ones are unclean?"
I have rephrased your questions above about the sabbath, and applied it to the clean and unclean meats, because I wanted to show you that just because there are no explicit laws defining how to keep God's Law in the book of Genesis, it does not mean these laws did not exist. As a matter of fact, I can give you a list of 34 specific laws that are seen in the book of Genesis, which have no explicit instructions at all on how to observe these laws. Yet, they are all confirmed later under Moses.
Therefore, we cannot conclude that just because there are no explicit laws in the book of Genesis, it does not mean these laws did not exists during Genesis.
"In Numbers 15:32-36, when a man was caught picking up sticks on the sabbath day, nobody, including Moses, knew what to do with him, so they put him in jail! Obviously, the Israelites were inexperienced with the penalties, which shows that Moses did not know what the penalties were for breaking the sabbath. This shows that the sabbath was not given to all men at Creation, because the penalty would have been known to everyone."
Answer: A reading of Exodus 31:12-18 will prove, beyond any doubt, that Moses did indeed know what the penalty was for breaking the Sabbath, for God told him before he brought down the Ten Commandments. This took place many years before Numbers 15. In addition, Moses would "remind" the people that the penalty for breaking the sabbath was "death" (Exodus 31:14-16; 35:2), many times before Numbers 15, which evidences that Moses did not "forget" the penalty.
Numbers 15:32-36 does not say Moses did not know what to do with him, it says he put him in jail because it was not declared what should be done to him. The reason it was not decalred what was to be done to him was not because they did not know what to do (for it was declared, many years prior to Numbers 15, that the penalty for breaking the sabbath would be death), but it was because the judge of Israel, God, had not yet declared what was to be done to him.
Numbers 15:32, "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day."
Numbers 15:33, "And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation."
Numbers 15:34, "And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him."
Numbers 15:35, "And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp."
Numbers 15:36, "And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses."
When the man was found picking up sticks, nobody had the authority to stone him with stones, until the accused was brought before a judge. But at this point in Israel's history, there were no judges who had the authority to judge in great matters as these. At this point, it was God who passed judgment, through Moses, because the children of Israel were ruled by God directly at this point.
God judged His children, through Moses. Moses was in direct communication with God at this point. In Exodus 18, Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, suggested that Moses appoint other judges to help him. And he did. But these judges only had the authority to judge in small matters. The great matters and hard causes were brought to Moses (Exodus 18:22,26). 1 Samuel 2:25 confirms this, when it says a judge shall judge in matters where a man sins against another man, but when a man sins against the Lord, only the Lord can judge him.
But when a big matter, such as a decision of a death penalty, was brought to Moses, Moses brought the causes unto God, and God would declare what to do with the accused. This is how Israel operated at this point. That is why Israel brought the sabbath breaker to Moses. And Moses brought the cause unto God. And then God directed Moses what to do.
Exodus 18:19, "...Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:"
The man who picked up sticks was put in ward because it was not declared what should be done to him. Moses could not declare what was to be done with him until he brought this cause to God and God would declare what was to be done with him. It was not because they did not know what to do with the man.
It was common for law breakers to be put in ward when they broke a law. As a matter of fact, by comparing scripture with scripture, we find that Moses put men in ward until God directed them what to do with a law breaker. This is one way the mind of the Lord would be showed to Moses. Here is an example of an incident before Numbers 15:
Leviticus 24:12-14, "And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him."
This is the way that great causes were judged at this point in Israel's history. Not the small cases, but the big ones. They put law-breakers in jail, and when God would declare what to do, they would do it. When a cause was brought to Moses, Moses would put the accused in ward and wait for God's direction before passing judgment.
But, for the sake of argument, let us say that Moses did not know penalty to give for the man picking up sticks (pure supposition, but I will indulge your point). Could this be evidence only for the sabbath being given to Moses for the first time? Or can it be evidence for the Sabbath being given at Creation also?
Numbers 15 can reinforce your belief. If the sabbath was given to Moses for the first time, then Numbers 15 would seem to reinforce the reason for him not knowing the specific penalty.
However, Numbers 15 can also reinforces my belief. If the Sabbath was first given at Creation, and the sabbath was lost to those living in Egypt, then Moses and the other children would not know about the sabbath or its penalty, then Numbers 15 would seem to reinforce the reason for him not knowing the specific penalty.
Could Numbers 15 be used to back up your belief or mine? Yes, it can be used to prove both our points. Or maybe none of our points. Therefore, Numbers 15 cannot be used, one way or the other, to determine if the Sabbath was given at creation or to Moses first. However, once we determine if the Sabbath was given at Creation or to Moses first, then we can use that knowledge to interpret Numbers 15 more accurately. But not the other way around.
We are trying to establish verses that show us proof of when the sabbath was given for the first time. But the point is, Numbers 15 cannot be used one way or the other to answer this question. If Moses did not know what the penalty was, it could have been because the sabbath penalty was never enforced in his lifetime. Correct? This, in turn, could be because Moses received the Sabbath for the first time at Sinai, or it could be because the sabbath was lost in Egypt. In both situations, Moses would not know the specific penalty, nor the Hebrews.
It is speculation on both our parts if we claim either point. Once the truth about the sabbath is established, then we will know if Moses did not know the penalty because it was given for the first time even at Mount Sinai, OR because the sabbath was not being kept anymore in Egypt after it was given at Creation.
Numbers 15 might be used to determine that Moses did not know the specific penalty of the sabbath, yes. But the reason he did not know about the sabbath, is again, speculation. It could be because it was given for the first time to him at Sinai, or because this knowledge was lost while they were slaves in Egypt. Or another completely different reason that both you and I have not considered before.
"A heathen is never chastised for breaking the sabbath."
Answer: Actually, heathen are chastised for breaking the sabbath. Nehemiah 13:15-21 tells us this. Now, let us take this one verse at a time, on the verses we disagree with. We agree on verses 17-18, so I will skip this. I will attempt to only express what the scripture specifically says, and you can tell me what you believe scripture is specifically saying.
Nehemiah 13:15, "In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals."
The "some" are not defined here. For all we know, it could be the children of Judah, or merchants from all places and countries. It is speculation to say who these were. All we know for sure is that Nehemiah (a prophet of God) used the testimony of God to show the evil of selling on the sabbath day.
Nehemiah 13:16, "There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem."
This verse tells us who some of these men were, who sold on the sabbath: men of Tyre; heathens. Nehemiah is testifying against men for selling on the sabbath, in both verses 15 and 16.
Nehemiah 13:19, And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day."
The only purpose for closing the gates, as stated in the above passage, is so the merchants would not bring in burdens on the sabbath and sell (as happened in verses 15-16).
Nehemiah 13:20, "So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice."
These merchants still came, hoping to sell on the sabbath day. But the gates were shut so they were not able to enter into the city to sell. Therefore, these heathen merchants were outside these gates. Now, let us see what happens.
Nehemiah 13:21, "Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath."
Nehemiah used God's testimony against these merchants, and threatened to arrest these merchants if they tried to sell again on the sabbath day. Now, if the merchants were threatened with arrest, what law were they breaking? The law of God, which forbids work to be done on the sabbath by the heathen/stranger (Exodus 20:10)!
If God's Sabbath law did not apply to these heathen merchants, that would mean the Law which prohibited selling on the sabbath would not apply to these heathens, since they were not forbidden to do so. But scripture tells us that they were chastised for doing so. In addition, if these merchants were not forbidden to do these acts on the sabbath, and they were chastised by Nehemiah for doing what God's Law permits them to do, was not Nehemiah breaking God’s Law by forcing a stranger to do what was only commanded to the children of Israel?
"Well, how do you know these heathens were testified against using God's Law?"
Answer: Nehemiah “testified against them” in Nehemiah 13, verse 15 (within the gates) and verse 21 (without the gates).
The phrase “testified against them”, or whenever someone testifies against another in scripture, it always means, without exception, that God’s Law was used to testify against them that they were sinning against God, or that they were going against God’s Will. This is the way this phrase is used in each and ever verse this phrase appears in:
Ruth 1:21, "I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?"
2 Samuel 1:16, "And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD'S anointed."
2 Kings 17:13, "Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets."
However, since the term “testified against them” is used in Nehemiah 13:15,21, let us see what scripture means when it uses this term:
2 Kings 17:14-15, "Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them."
2 Chronicles 24:18-19, "And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear."
Nehemiah 9:26, "Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations."
Nehemiah 13:15, "In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals."
This phrase always means that someone went against the testimony of God himself. Which brings us to this passage:
Nehemiah 13:19-21, "And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath."
When this prophet of God testified against these heathens, it was not his personal opinion, it was the testimony of God he was using against them. The testimony of God prohibits heathens from working on the sabbath!!! This is another way to tell someone "you are going against the Law of God...you are sinning...you are doing evil."
"The word "stranger" in Exodus 20:10 does not refer to heathens, but to jewish proselytes; to those who converted to Jews."
Answer: When a stranger was converted, he was then known as a Jew from that moment on. He would no longer be called a "stranger" but a "Jew."
Esther 8:17, "And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."
Therefore, when the sabbath was given to "the stranger," it was given to heathens, since those who were converted became known as Jews.
"The word "stranger" in Exodus 20:10 does not refer to heathens, but to slaves."
Exodus 20:10, "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:"
Leviticus 25:6, "And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee,"
If "stranger" meant slave, it would be redundant to use the term "stranger" when slaves are used in the same verse. When a stranger became a slave, we was always referred to as a slave from that moment on, and never as a stranger. The reason is that a slave was no longer an inhabitant of a foreign land, but was an inhabitant of Israel. Thus, a "stranger," (which is defined as a man from a foreign land), is no longer a valid description of the state of a slave.
"The Old Covenant was given to the children of Israel only. It was not given to strangers or heathens."
Answer: Well, there are quite a few verses that show the Covenant was binding upon the stranger (heathen) too. Deuteronomy 29 an Isaiah 24 are a couple of examples.
Deuteronomy 29:1, "These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb."
The covenant formerly made on Mount Sinai is here renewed, in different circumstances. They had violated its conditions. This is said to be beside the covenant made in Horeb, because though the covenant was the same, it was a new promulgation and ratification of it. Notice it says "with the children of Israel." The question is, does this mean it was given to the children of Israel only, and strangers (heathens) were exempt? Remember, God wanted the children of Israel to be an example to the world. It was God's Will "that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel" (1 Kings 8:43). He wanted other people to do as the people of Israel do, to keep His Laws, etc.
Deuteronomy 29:10-13, "Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."
Notice it starts with "Ye stand this day all of you..." Does this refer to only all of the children of Israel? It goes into detail as to who was standing there. Notice that the stranger (heathen) that happened to be in their camp is included. God says "That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God." This includes the stranger (heathen) that was with them. Why? So "that he may be unto thee a God." God wants the heathen to recognize that He is God too. Not just the children of Israel.
Now, if there is any question that God made this covenant with both the children of Israel and strangers, the following passages is of importance:
Deuteronomy 29:14-15, "Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:"
Not the men of Israel only, but the heathens that were in their camp were part of this covenant also (verse 11 and 14). And the covenant is not limited to only those individuals standing there. Just as with the children of Israel, for those children of Israel that were physically located somewhere else at the time this covenant was made, and for all the children of Israel that would be born afterwards, the same for the stranger, in that all the strangers that were physically located somewhere else, and all the sons of the strangers that would be born afterwards, not only those heathens that were in this camp, but those heathens also that were not with them in this camp, they too were taken into covenant (verse 15).
This is the reason why heathens had to obey God's Law while in Israel. This is why they had to obey the sabbath. Because they were under the covenant of God too. This is one of the reasons why the nations were constantly judged alongside Israel for their transgressions throughout time, because they were breaking the Laws of God which were part of the Laws of the Covenant of God.
This next passage explains this and shows that the reason heathen nations are judged is because they broke the everlasting covenant with God. But before we go to Isaiah 24, it is important to examine the context of the preceding chapters first, for it is a continuation of them.
From the thirteenth chapter to the twenty-third inclusive, in Isaiah, the fate of several cities and nations of the earth are denounced: of Babylon, Assyria, Philistines, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia, Egypt, Seir (Edom), Arabia, and Tyre. After having foretold the destruction of these foreign nations of the earth, the prophet declares the judgments impending upon the people of the earth for their wickedness and apostasy, and the desolation that shall be brought on the earth.
Isaiah 24:1-6, "Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left."
This prophecy is a conclusion of that which has been threatened to the nations of the earth from the 13th chapter to the 23rd. Therefore, the "earth" refers to at least those lands which were named before (chapters 13-23), and at most the whole earth. God charges them with transgressing the laws (which scripture shows happened many times with these heathen nations), and with breaking the everlasting covenant. This passage proves that other nations of the earth, besides the children of Israel, are art of thie covenant with God. It only makes sense that one cannot be charged with breaking God's Law, unless one is also bound to the law for some reason. One of the reasons is that there is an everlasting Covenant between Almighty God and all men.
It should also be noted that, concerning Isaiah 24:4, the word "world" is Hebrew word #8398, and is used 36 times in scripture. This word is used exclusively for all the earth, and never as pertaining to any one particular or specific land, such as Israel. Furthermore, when scripture wants to make clear that a passage is referring to the nations of the earth (and not just a specific land on the earth), it uses the words “earth” (Hebrew word #776) and "world" (Hebrew word #8398), in the same, exact verse!! This occurs 25 times in the Old Testament to stress that it is the earth, and not a specific land, that is being addressed. Isaiah 24:4 uses both these words. Which is why, when we come to verse 5, when it says the "earth" broke the everlasting covenant, we know it is refering to the nations of the earth.
"Well, if the Old Covenant was given to heathens, then that means circumcision was also given to heathen nations. Correct?"
Answer: Correct. God threatened heathen nations with punishment for being physically uncircumcised, which tells us that the law of circumcision was binding upon both heathen nations and Israel.
Jeremiah 9:24-26, "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart."
The Septuagint is even clearer as to the reason why God will punish these heathen nations, along with Israel:
Jeremiah 9:26, "...for all the Gentiles are uncircumcised in flesh, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised [in] their hearts."
Scripture tells us the reason God will punish these heathen nations is because they are uncircumcised in the flesh. God would only punish them for being uncircumcised if it was a law for these heathen nations to be circumcised.
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