Taken and adapted from, “The Temple: Its Ministry and Services as They Were at the Time of Jesus Christ”
Written by, Alfred Edersheim


“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”  –Mark 2: 27, 28.

IT is a beautifully significant practice of the modern Jews, that, before fulfilling any special observance directed in their Law, they always first bless God for the giving of it.

One might almost compare the idea underlying this, and much else of a similar character in the present religious life of Israel, to the good fruits which the soil of Palestine bore even during the Sabbatical years, when it lay untilled. For it is intended to express that the Law is felt not a burden, but a gift of God in which to rejoice. And this holds especially true of the Sabbath in its Divine institution, of which it was distinctly said, I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I, Jehovah, sanctify them.”—Ezekiel 20:12. In the same sense, the Sabbath is called “a delight, the holy of Jehovah, honorable;” –Isaiah 58:13, and the great burden of the Sabbath-Psalm is that of joyous thanksgiving unto God. 1

The term Sabbath, “resting,” points to the origin and meaning of the weekly festival. The Rabbis hold that it was not intended for the Gentiles, and most of them trace the obligation of its observance only to the legislation on Mount Sinai. Nor is another Rabbinical saying, that circumcision and the Sabbath preceded the law,” inconsistent with this. For even if the duty of Sabbath-observance had only commenced with the promulgation of the law on Mount Sinai, yet the Sabbath- law itself rested on the

Original “hallowing” of the seventh day, when God rested from all His works. (Genesis 2:3) But this was not the only rest to which the Sabbath pointed. There was also a rest of redemption, and the Sabbath was expressly connected with the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. “Remember that thou was a servant in the land of Egypt, and that Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath-day.”(Deut. 5:15) At the close of the work-a-day week, holy rest in the Lord; at the end of the labor and sorrow of Egypt, redemption and rest; and both pointing forward to the better rest, (Hebrews 4:9) and ultimately to the eternal Sabbath of completed work, of completed redemption, and completed “hallowing” (Revelation 11)  “such was the meaning of the weekly Sabbath. It was because this idea of festive rest and sanctification was so closely connected with the weekly festival that the term Sabbath was also applied to the great festivals (As Lev. 23: 15, 24, 32, 39).  For a similar reason, the number seven, which was that of the weekly Sabbath (the first seven that had appeared in time), became in Scripture symbolism the sacred or covenant-number. 2

It is necessary to bear all this in remembrance when thinking of what the perverted ingenuity of the Rabbis made the Sabbath at the time of Christ, and probably even more in the generations following. For there is evidence that the Sabbath-law has become stricter than it had been, since, for instance, the practice of taking an ox or an ass out of a pit, to which our Savior alludes 3 as uncontroverted, would now no longer be lawful, unless, indeed, the animal were in actual danger of life; otherwise, it is to receive food and water in the pit. This “actual danger to life,” whether to beast or to man (at any rate, to the Israelites), determined the only cases in which a breach of the law of Sabbath-observance was allowed. At the outset, indeed, it must be admitted that the whole social rabbinical legislation on the subject seems to rest on two sound underlying principles: negatively, the avoidance of all that might become work; and, positively, the doing of all which, in the opinion of the Rabbis, might tend to make the Sabbath “a delight.” Hence, not only were fasting and mourning strictly prohibited, but food, dress, and every manner of enjoyment, not incompatible with abstinence from work, were prescribed to render the day pleasurable. “All the days of the week,” the Rabbis say, has God paired, except the Sabbath, which is alone, that it may be wedded to Israel.”

Israel was to welcome the Sabbath as a bride; its advent as that of a king.

But in practice all this terribly degenerated. Readers of the New Testament know how entirely, and even cruelly, the spirit and object of the Sabbath were perverted by the traditions of “the elders.” But those only who have studied the Jewish law on the subject can form any adequate conception of the state of matters. Not to speak of the folly of attempting to produce joy by prescribed means, nor of the incongruousness of those means, considering the sacred character of the day, the almost numberless directions about avoiding work must have made a due observance of the Sabbath-rest the greatest labor of all. All work was arranged under thirty-nine chief classes, or “fathers,” each of them having ever so many “descendants,” or subordinate divisions. Thus, “reaping” was one of the “fathers,” or chief classes, and “plucking ears of corn” one of its descendants. So far did this punctiliousness go that it became necessary to devise ingenious means to render the ordinary intercourse of life possible, and to evade the inconvenient strictness of the law which regulated a “Sabbath-day’s journey.” 4

The school of Shammai, the sect of the Essenes, and strange to say, the Samaritans, were the most stringent in their Sabbath-observance.

The school of Shammai held that the duty of Sabbath-rest extended not only to men and to beasts, but even to inanimate objects, so that no process might be commenced on the Friday which would go on of itself during the Sabbath, such as laying out flax to dry, or putting wool into dye. 5  The school of Hillel excluded inanimate things from the Sabbath-rest, and also allowed work to be given on a Friday to Gentiles, irrespective of the question whether they could complete it before the Sabbath began. Both schools allowed the preparation of the Passover-meal on the Sabbath, and also priests, while on their ministry in the Temple, to keep up the fire in the “Beth Moked.” But this punctilious enforcement of the Sabbath-rest became occasionally dangerous to the nation. For at one time the Jews would not even defend themselves on the Sabbath against hostile attacks of armies, till the Maccabees laid down the principle, which ever afterwards continued in force, 6 that defensive, though not offensive, warfare was lawful on the holy day. Even as thus modified, the principle involved peril, and during the last siege of Jerusalem it was not uniformly carried out. 7 Nor was it, so far as we can judge from analogy, 8 sanctioned by Scripture precedent. But this is not the place further to explain either the Scripture or the rabbinical law of Sabbath-observance, 9 as it affected the individual, the home, and the social life, nor yet to describe the Sabbath worship in the ancient synagogues of Palestine. We confine our attention to what passed in the Temple itself.

The only directions given in Scripture for the celebration of the Sabbath in the sanctuary are those which enjoin “a holy convocation,” or a sacred assembly; 10 the weekly renewal of the showbread; 11 and an additional burnt offering of two lambs, with the appropriate meat and drink offerings, “beside the continual” that is, the ordinary daily “burnt offering and his drink offering.” 12 

But the ancient records of tradition enable us to form a very vivid conception of Sabbath-worship in the Temple at the time of Christ. Formally, the Sabbath commenced at sunset on Friday, the day being reckoned by the Hebrews from sunset to sunset. As no special hour for this was fixed, it must, of course, have varied not only at different seasons, but in different localities. Thus, the Rabbis mention that the inhabitants of a low-lying city, like Tiberias, must commence the observance of the Sabbath half an hour earlier, while those who lived on an eminence, such as at Sepphoris, 13 must continue it half an hour later than their brethren. If the sun were not visible, sunset was to be reckoned from when the fowls went to roost. But long before that the preparations for the Sabbath had commenced. Accordingly, Friday is called by the Rabbis “the eve of the Sabbath,” and in the Gospels “the preparation.” 14

No fresh business was then undertaken; no journey of any distance commenced; but everything purchased and made ready against the feast, the victuals being placed in a heated oven, and surrounded by dry substances to keep them warm. 15

Early on Friday afternoon, the new “course” of priests, of Levites, and of the “stationary men,” who were to be the representatives of all Israel, arrived in Jerusalem, and having prepared themselves for the festive season, went up to the Temple. The approach of the Sabbath, and then its actual commencement, were announced by threefold blasts from the priests’ trumpets. 16

The first three blasts were drawn when “one-third of the evening sacrifice service was over;” or, as we gather from the decree by which the Emperor Augustus set the Jews free from attendance in courts of law, 17 about the ninth hour, that is, about three P.M. on Friday. This, as we remember, was the hour when Jesus gave up the ghost. 18  When the priests for the first time sounded their trumpets, all business was to cease, and every kind of work to be stopped. Next, the Sabbath-lamp, of which even heathen writers knew, 19 was lit, and the festive garments put on. A second time the priests drew a threefold blast to indicate that the Sabbath had actually begun. But the service of the new “course” of priests had commenced before that. After the Friday evening sacrifice, the altar of burnt offerings was cleansed from its stains of blood. 20  Then the outgoing “course” handed over to the incoming the keys of the sanctuary, the holy vessels, and all else of which they had had charge. Next the heads of the “houses” or families of the incoming “course” determined by lot which of the families were to serve on each special day of their week of ministry, and also who were to discharge the various priestly functions on the Sabbath.

The first of these functions, immediately on the commencement of the Sabbath, was the renewal of the “showbread.” It had been prepared by the incoming course before the Sabbath itself, and –we might almost say, invariably– in one of the chambers of the Temple, though, in theory, it was held lawful to prepare it also at Bethphage. 21 For, although it was a principle that “there is no Sabbath in the sanctuary,” yet no work was allowed which might have been done on any other day. Even circumcision, which, like the Temple services, according to the Rabbis, superseded the Sabbath, was deferred by some to the close of the festive day. 22 Hence, also, if Friday, on the afternoon of which the showbread was ordinarily prepared, fell on a feast day that required Sabbatical rest, the showbread was prepared on the Thursday afternoon (This must have been the case on the Thursday of Christ’s betrayal). The Rabbis are at pains to explain the particular care with which it was made and baked, so that in appearance and color the lower should be exactly the same as the upper part of it.

But this subject is too important to be thus briefly treated. 23  Our term “showbread” is a translation of that used by Luther (Schaubrod), which, in turn, may have been taken from the Vulgate (panes praepositionis). The Scriptural name is “Bread of the Face;” 24 that is, “of the presence of God,” just as the similar expression, “Angel of the Face” 25 means the “Angel of His Presence.” 26  From its constant presence and disposition in the sanctuary, it is also called “perpetual bread” 27 and “bread of laying out” (set in order),which latter most nearly corresponds to the term used in the New Testament. 28  The placing and weekly renewal of the “Bread of the Presence” was evidently among the principal Temple services. 29 The “table of showbread” stood along the northern, or most sacred side of the Holy Place, being ranged lengthways of the Temple, as all its furniture was, except the Ark of the Covenant, which stood broadways.

As described by the Rabbis, and represented on the triumphal Arch of Titus at Rome, the table of showbread was two cubits long (two cubits = three feet), one cubit broad, and one and a half high. 30 It was made of pure gold, the feet being turned out and shaped to represent those of animals, and the legs connected, about the middle, by a golden plate, which was surrounded by a “crown,” or wreath, while another wreath ran round the top of the table. Thus far its form was the same as that made at the first for the tabernacle, 31 which was of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold.

The “table” originally provided for the second Temple had been taken away by Antiochus Epiphanes (about 170 B.C.); but another was supplied by the Maccabees. Josephus tells a story 32 about the gift of yet another and most splendid one by Ptolemy Philadelphus. But as its description does not tally with the delineations on the Arch of Titus, we infer that at the time of Christ the “table” of the Maccabees stood in the Holy Place. 33 

Considerable doubt exists as to the precise meaning of the terms used in Scripture to describe the golden vessels connected with the “table of showbread.” 34 The “dishes” are generally regarded as those on which the “showbread” was either carried or placed, the “spoons” as destined for the incense, and the “covers,” or rather “flagons,” and the “bowls” for the wine of the drink-offering. On the Arch of Titus there are also two urns. But all this does not prove, in the silence of Scripture, and against the unanimous testimony of tradition, that either flagons, or bowls, or urns were placed on the table of showbread, nor that drink-offerings were ever brought into the “Holy Place.” 35  

On the other hand, the Rabbis regard the Hebrew terms, rendered “covers” and “bowls,” as referring to hollow golden tubes which were placed between the showbread so as to allow the air to circulate between them; three of these tubes being always put under each, except the highest, under which there were only two, while the lowest rested on the table itself, or, rather, on a golden dish upon it. Thus they calculate that there were, in all twenty-eight of these tubes to support the twelve loaves. The “tubes” were drawn out each Friday, and again inserted between the new showbread each Sunday, since the task of removing and reinserting them was not among those labors which made “void the Sabbath.” Golden dishes, in which the showbread was carried, and golden lateral plates, further to protect it on the stand, are also mentioned by the Rabbis.

The “showbread” was made of the finest wheaten flour, that had been passed through eleven sieves. There were twelve of these cakes, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, ranged in two piles, each of six cakes. Each cake was made of two omers of wheat (the omer = about five pints). Between the two rows, not upon them, 36 ‘two bowls with pure incense were placed, and, according to Egyptian tradition, 37 also salt. The cakes were anointed in the middle with oil, in the form of a cross. As described by Jewish tradition, they were each five handbreadths broad and ten handbreadths long, but turned up at either end, two handbreadths on each side, to resemble in outline the Ark of the Covenant. Thus, as each cake, after being “turned up,” reached six handbreadths and was placed lengthwise on the breadth of the table, it would exactly cover it (the one cubit of the table being reckoned at six handbreadths); while, as the two rows of six cakes stood broad wise against each other (2×5 hand-breadths), it would leave between them two handbreadths vacant on the length of the table (2 cubits = 12 hand-breadths), on which the two bowls with the incense were placed. 38 The preparation of the showbread seems to have been hereditarily preserved as a secret family tradition in “the house of Garmu,” a family of the Kohathites. 39 The fresh cakes of showbread were deposited in a golden dish on the marble table in the porch of the sanctuary, where they remained till the Sabbath actually commenced.

The mode of changing the showbread may be given in the words of the Mishnah 40 “Four priests enter (the Holy Place), two carrying, each, one of the piles (of six showbread), the other two the two dishes (of incense). Four priests had preceded them –two to take off the two (old) piles of showbread, and two the two (old) dishes of incense. Those who brought in (the bread and incense) stood at the north side (of the table), facing southwards; they who took away at the south side, facing north: these lifted off, and those replaced; the hands of these being right over against the hands of those (so as to lift off and put on exactly at the same moment), as it is written: ‘Thou shalt set upon the table bread of the Presence before Me always.’” The showbread which had been taken off was then deposited on the golden table in the porch of the sanctuary, the incense burnt on that heap on the altar of burnt offering from which the coals were taken for the altar of incense, after which the showbread was distributed among the outgoing and the incoming course of priests. 41 The incoming priests stood at the north side, the outgoing at the south side, and each course gave to the high-priest half of their portion. The showbread was eaten during the Sabbath, and in the Temple itself, but only by such priests as were in a state of Levitical purity.

The importance of the service which has just been described depended, of course, on its meaning. Ancient symbolism, both Jewish and Christian, regarded “the bread of the Presence” as an emblem of the Messiah. This view is substantially, though not literally, correct. Jehovah, who dwelt in the Most Holy Place between the Cherubim, was the God manifest and worshipped in the Holy Place. There the mediatorial ministry, in the name of, and representing Israel, “laid before” Him the bread of the Presence, kindled the seven-lamped candlestick, and burnt incense on the golden altar. The “bread” “laid before Him” in the northern or most sacred part of the Holy Place was that of His Presence, and meant that the Covenant-people owned “His Presence” as their bread and their life; the candlestick, that He was their Light giver and Light; while between the table of showbread and the candlestick burned the incense on the golden altar, to show that life and light are joined together, and come to us in fellowship with God and prayer. For a similar reason, pure incense was placed between the showbread –for, the life which is in His Presence is one of praise; while the incense was burned before the showbread was eaten by the priests, to indicate God’s acceptance and ratification of Israel’s dependence upon Him, as also to betoken praise to God while living upon His Presence. That this “Presence” meant the special manifestation of God, as afterwards fully vouchsafed in Christ, “the Angel of His Presence,” it is scarcely necessary to explain at length in this place.

But although the service of the incoming “course” of priests had begun with the renewal of the “showbread,” that of the outgoing had not yet completely ceased. In point of fact, the outgoing “course” of priests offered the morning sacrifice on the Sabbath, and the incoming the evening Sacrifice, both spending the Sabbath in the sanctuary. The inspection of the Temple before the Sabbath morning service differed from that on ordinary days, inasmuch as the Temple itself was lit up to obviate the necessity of the priests carrying torches on the holy day. The altar of burnt offering was cleansed before the usual hour; but the morning service commenced later, so as to give an opportunity of attending to as many as possible. All appeared in their festive garments, and each carried in his hand some contribution for religious purposes. It was no doubt from this that the practice was derived of “laying by in store upon the first day of the week,” which St. Paul recommended to the Corinthians. 42  Similarly, the apostolic practice of partaking the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s-day may have been in imitation of the priests eating the showbread every Sabbath. The Sabbath service was in every respect the same as on other days, except that at the close of the ordinary morning sacrifice the additional offering of two lambs, with its appropriate meat and drink-offerings, was brought. 43 ”When the drink-offering of the ordinary morning sacrifice was poured out, the Levites sang Psalms 92, in three sections, the priests drawing, at the close of each, three blasts from their trumpets, and the people worshipping. At the close of the additional Sabbath sacrifice, when its drink-offering was brought, the Levites sang the “Song of Moses” in Deut. 32. This “hymn” was divided into six portions, for as many Sabbaths. 44 Each portion was sung in three sections with threefold blasts of the priests’ trumpets, the people worshipping at each pause. If a Sabbath and a “new moon” fell on the same day, the Sabbath hymn was sung in preference to that for the new moon; if a feast day fell on the Sabbath, the Sabbath sacrifice was offered before that prescribed for the day. At the evening sacrifice on the Sabbath the song of Moses in Exodus 15 was sung.

Though not strictly connected with the Temple services, it may be desirable briefly to refer to the observance of the Sabbatical year, as it was strictly enforced at the time of Christ. It was otherwise with the year of Jubilee. Strangely, there are traces of the latter during the period before the return from Babylon, 45 while the Sabbatical year seems to have been systematically neglected. Hence Jewish tradition explains, in accordance with 2 Chron. 36:21, that the seventy years’ captivity were intended to make up the neglected Sabbatical years “commencing the calculation, if it be taken literally, from about the accession of King Solomon. But while, after the return from Babylon, the year of Jubilee was no longer kept, at least, as a religious ordinance, the Sabbatical year was most strictly observed, not only by the Jews, 46 but also by the Samaritans. 47 Jewish tradition has it, that as it took seven years for the first conquest, and other seven for the proper division of the Holy Land, “tithes” were for the first time paid fourteen years after the entrance of Israel into Canaan; and the first Sabbatical year fell seven years later, or in the twenty-first year of their possession of Palestine. The Sabbatical law extended only to the soil of Palestine itself, which, however, included certain surrounding districts. The Rabbis add this curious proviso, that it was lawful to use (though not to store or sell) the spontaneous produce of the land throughout the extent originally possessed by Israel, but that even the use of these products was prohibited in such districts as having originally belonged to, were again occupied by Israel after their return from Babylon. But this, as other rules laid down by the Rabbis, had many exceptions. 48 

As Divinely enjoined, the soil was to be left uncultivated at the end of every period of six years, beginning, as the Jews argue, after the Passover for the barley, after Pentecost for the wheat, and after the Feast of Tabernacles for all fruit-trees. The Sabbatical year itself commenced, as most of them hold, on New Year’s Day, which fell on the new moon of the tenth month, or Tishri. 49 Whatever grew of itself during the year was to belong to the poor, (Ex. 23:10-11) which, however, as Lev. 25:6 shows, did not exclude its use as “meat,” only its storage and sale, by the family to which the land belonged. Yet a third Scriptural notice constitutes the Sabbatical year that of “the Lord’s release,” when no debt might be claimed from an Israelite; (Deut. 15: 1-6) while a fourth enjoins, that “in the solemnity of the year of release, in the Feast of Tabernacles,” the law was to be read “before all Israel in their hearing.” (Deut. 31:10-11)

It has been strangely overlooked that these four ordinances, instead of being separate and distinct, are in reality closely connected. As the assignment of what grew of itself did not exclude the usufruct by the owners, so it also followed of necessity that, in a year when all agricultural labor ceased, debts should not be claimed from an agricultural population.

Similarly, it was quite in accordance with the idea of the Sabbath and the Sabbatical year that the law should be publicly read, to indicate that “the rest” was not to be one of idleness, but of meditation on the Word of God. (Idleness is quite as much contrary to the Sabbath law as labor: “not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” –Isaiah 58:13) It will be gathered that in this view the Divine law had not intended the absolute remission of debts, but only their “release” during the Sabbatical year. 50 Jewish tradition, indeed, holds the opposite; but, by its ordinances, it rendered the law itself void. For, as explained by the Rabbis, the release from debt did not include debts for things purchased in a shop, nor judicial fines, nor yet money lent on a pledge. But, as the great Rabbi Hillel found that even these exceptions were not sufficient to insure the loan of money in view of the Sabbatical year, he devised a formula called “Prosbul,” 51 by which the rights of a creditor were fully secured. The “Prosbul” ran thus: “I, A. B., hand to you, the judges of C. D. (a declaration), to the effect that I may claim any debt due to me at whatever time I please.”

This “Prosbul,” signed by the judges or by witnesses, enabled a creditor to claim money lent even in the Sabbatical year; and though professedly applying only to debts on real property, was so worded as to cover every case. 52 But even this was not all, and the following legal fiction was suggested as highly meritorious to all concerned. The debtor was to offer payment, and the creditor to reply,” I remit;” upon which the debtor was to insist that “nevertheless” the creditor was to accept the repayment. In general, money owing to Jewish proselytes was to be repaid to them, but not to their heirs, even though they also had turned Jews, as by becoming a proselyte a man had separated himself from his kin, who therefore were no longer, strictly speaking, his natural heirs. Still, to make payment in such a case was deemed especially meritorious. The Rabbinical evasions of the law, which forbade the use of that which had grown spontaneously on the soil, are not so numerous nor so irrational. It was ruled that part of such products might be laid by in the house, provided sufficient of the same kind were left in the field for cattle and beasts to feed upon. Again, as much land might be tilled as was necessary to make payment of tribute or taxes. The omer (or “wave-sheaf”) at the Passover, and the two wave-loaves at Pentecost, were also to be made from the barley and wheat grown that year in the field. Lastly, Rabbinical ordinance fixed the following portions as being “the law” which was to be publicly read in the Temple by the king or the high-priest at the Feast of Tabernacles in the Sabbatical year, viz., Deut. 1:1-6; 4:4-8; 11:13-22; 14:22; 15: 23; 17:14; 26:12-19; chapters 27 28. 53 

This service concluded with a benediction, which resembled that of the high-priest on the Day of Atonement, except that it referred not to the remission of sins. 54

The account just given proves that there was scarcely any Divine ordinance, which the Rabbis, by their traditions, rendered more fully void, and converted into “a yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear,” than the Sabbath law. On the other hand, the Gospels bring before us Christ more frequently on the Sabbath than on any other festive occasion. It seemed to be His special day for working the work of His Father. On the Sabbath He preached in the synagogues; He taught in the Temple; He healed the sick; He came to the joyous meal with which the Jews were wont to close the day. (Luke 14:1) Yet their opposition broke out most fiercely in proportion as He exhibited the true meaning and object of the Sabbath. Never did the antagonism between the spirit and the letter more clearly appear. And if in their worship of the letter they crushed out the spirit of the Sabbath law, we can scarcely wonder that they so overlaid with their ordinances the appointment of the Sabbatical year as well-nigh to extinguish its meaning. 55 That evidently was, that the earth, and all that is upon it, belongs to the Lord; that the eyes of all wait upon Him, that He may “give them their meat in due season;” 56 that the land of Israel was His special possession; that man lives not by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of the Lord and that He giveth us our daily bread, so that it is vain to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows. (Psalms 127:2) Beyond it all, it pointed to the fact of sin and redemption: the whole creation which “groans and travails in pain together until now,” waiting for and expecting that blessed Sabbath, when “creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21-22)   Thus, as the Sabbath itself, so the Sabbatical year pointed forward to the “rest which remains to the people of God,” when, contest and labor completed, they sing, “on the other side of the flood,” the song of Moses and of the Lamb: (Rev. 15:3, 4)

“Great and marvelous are Thy works. Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest.” 57 

Reference Table

1 Psalms 92 The Talmud discusses the question whether Psalms 92 bears refers to the Sabbath of creation, or to that final Messianic Sabbath of the Kingdom according to Rabbi Akibah, “the day which is wholly a Sabbath.” (See Delitzsch).  It is a curiously uncritical remark of some Rabbis to ascribe the authorship of this Psalm to Adam and its composition to the beginning of the first Sabbath “Adam having fallen just before its commencement, and been driven from Paradise, but not killed, because God would not execute the punishment of death on the Sabbath.

2 The term “Sabbath” is also applied to a “week,” as m Lev. 23:15; 25:8; and, for example, in Matt, 28:1 ; Mark 16:2 ; Luke 24:1, to be regarded as separate from, but as giving its character to the rest of the week, and to its secular engagements. So to speak, the week closes and is completed in the Sabbath.

3 Luke 14:5

4 By depositing a meal of meat at the end of a Sabbath-day’s journey to make it, by a legal fiction, a man’s domicile, from which he might start on a fresh Sabbath-day’s journey. The Mishnic tractate, Eruvin, treats of the connecting of houses, courts, etc., to render lawful the carrying out of food, etc. On the other hand, such an isolated expression occurs (Mechilta, ed. Weiss pg. 110 a): “The Sabbath is given to you, not you to the Sabbath.” If we might regard this as a current theological saying, it would give a fresh meaning to the words of our Lord, Mark 2:27.

5 Shabb. 1: 5, 6, etc.

6 Josephus. Antiquities. 7: 6, 2; 14:4, 2

7 Compare Jewish Wars, 2:19, 2, but, on the other hand, Antiq. 14: 4, 2

8 Joshua 6: 15, etc.

9 There is a special Mishnic tractate on the subject

10 Lev. 23: 3

11  Lev. 24:8

12 Numbers 4:7

13 Sepphoris, the Dio-Csesarea of the Romans, was near Nazareth. It is often referred to by Josephus, and, after the destruction of Jerusalem, became for a time the seat of the Sanhedrim. –See Robinson’s Researches in Pal. vol. ii. p. 345.

14 Mark 15:42; John 19:31. The expression, Luke 6:1, rendered in our version “the second Sabbath after the first,” really means, “the first Sabbath after the second” day of the Passover, on which the first ripe sheaf was presented, the Jews calculating the weeks from that day to Pentecost.

15 See the disquisition in Mishnah, Shab. iv., as to what substances are lawful for the purpose, and what not.

16 Perhaps from the so-called “tectum Sabbathi,” or “Sabbath roof,” which Rheuferdius (Op. Phil., p. 770) identifies with the “Sabbath covert,” 2 Kings 16:18. See Goodwin, Moses et Aaron (ed. Hottinger), pp. 518, 519.

17 Josephus Antiquities 16: 6, 2.

18 Matt, 27:45; Mark 15:34; Luke 18:44

19 Seneca, ep. 95

20 The altar was whitened twice a year, before the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. But no tool of iron was used in this.

21 Mishna Men. xi 2

22 See Oehler in Herzog’s Real-Encycl. xiii. p. 202.

23 The articles in Kitto’s Cyclopedia and in Smith’s Diet, are meagre and unsatisfactory. Even Winer’s Real-Worterb. ii. p. 401, etc.  is not so accurate as usual.

24 Ex. 25:30 ; 35:13 ; 39:36

25 Isaiah 63:9

26 The curious explanation of the Rabbis (Mishna. Men. xi. 4) that it was called “Bread of the Faces” because it was equally baked all round, as it were, all “faces,” needs no refutation.

 27 Numbers 4:7

28 Matt. 12:4; Luke 6: 4; Heb. 9:2

29 2 Chron. 13: 10

30  The table on the Arch of Titus seems only one cubit high. We know that it was placed by the victor in the Temple of Peace; was carried about the middle of the fifth century to Africa, by the Vandals under Gensenc, and that Belisarius brought it back in 520 to Constantinople, whence it was sent to Jerusalem.

31 Ex. 25:23, etc.

32 Antiquities 12:2, 8.

33 Winer has, on other grounds, thrown doubt on the account of Josephus.

34 Ex. 25:29

35 We cannot here enter into the discussion, which the reader will find in Relardus, Antiq., pp. 39, 41.

36 as according to the Rabbis. Menach. xi. 5

37 LXX. Lev. 24:7 ; Philo ii. 151

38 We have been thus particular on account of the inaccuracies in so many articles

39 I Chron. 9:32 ; Mishna Shekal. v. i

40  Men. xi. 7.

41  According to other authorities, however, the incense of the showbread was burned along with the morning sacrifice on the Sabbath.

42 1 Cor. 16: 1, 2

43 Numbers, 28: 9, 10

44 ver.1-6; 7-12; 13-18; 19-28; 29-39; 40-end

45 I Kings 21:3 ; Isa. 5: 8 ; 37:30 ; 61:1-3 ; Ezek. 1:1; 7:12; Micah 2:2

46 Neh. 10:31 ; I Macc. 6:49, 53; Josephus, Antiquities 13: 8, I ; 14: 10, 6; 15:1, 2; Jewish Wars 1:2-4

47  Antiquities 11: 8, 6

48 Mishna Shev. 6:1

49  The year of Jubilee began on the 10th of Tishri, being the Day of Atonement

50 The manumission of Jewish slaves took place in the seventh year of their bondage, whenever that might be, and bears no reference to the Sabbatical year, with which, indeed, some of its provisions could not easily have been compatible. –Deut. 15:14.

51 probably “addition,” from a Greek word to the same effect.

52 Mishna Shev., sec x.

53  Mishna Sotah, 7:8, where a curious story is also told, to show how deeply King Agrippa was affected when performing this service.

54 Relandus, suggests that the expression (Matt. 24:20), “pray that your flight be not on the Sabbath,” may apply to the Sabbatical year, as one in which the fugitives would find it difficult to secure needful support.

55 Compare also the remarks by Oehler in Herzog’s Encycl. 12, pg. 211

56 Psalms 104:27; 145:16

57 For an account of the Sabbatical years, mentioned by tradition, see Wieseler Chron, Synops Cf p. 204.


Taken and adapted from,  Leif’s Articles,
Regarding Adventism, Sabbatarianism, Sabbath, Legalism. 
Written by, Leif L
Materials sourced from  Solus Christus | In Christ Alone


[The Seven Laws of Noah (Hebrew: שבע מצוות בני נח Sheva Mitsvot Bne Noah), also referred to as the Noahide Laws or the Noachide Laws (from the English transliteration of the Hebrew pronunciation of “Noah”), are a set of imperatives which, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the “children of Noah” – that is, all of humanity.

Accordingly, any non-Jew who adheres to these laws because they were given by Moses is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the world to come (Hebrew: עולם הבא Olam Haba), the final reward of the righteous.

The seven Noahide laws as traditionally enumerated are:

Do not deny God.
Do not blaspheme God.
Do not murder.
Do not engage in illicit sexual relations.
Do not steal.
Do not eat of a live animal.
Establish courts/legal system to ensure obedience to the law.

According to the Talmud, the rabbis agree that the seven laws were given to the sons of Noah. However, they disagree on precisely which laws were given to Adam and Eve. Six of the seven laws are exegetically derived from passages in Genesis, with the seventh being the establishing of courts.  –Wiki]

A weakness in the Sabbatarian worldview is the attempt to anchor the identity of the church and validate it through its connection with Torah-observant Judaism.

They understand genuine Christian origins to be found in observant and obedient Jews who accepted Jesus as their Messiah. I don’t dispute the fact that this is true among the earliest believers, but there was a divinely ordained change recorded in the New Testament which Sabbatarians seem to ignore.

Historic “Gentile Christianity” did not spring from Torah-observant Judaism, but rather, from first century “God-fearers” who accepted the gospel of Jesus. The “God-fearing” Gentiles who worshipped the God of Israel without the ceremonial requirements of Moses (circumcision, Sabbath, kosher, etc.) was valid in the eyes of Jews, who recognized that God never required Gentiles to keep these particular commands.

Therefore, Gentile worship of Yahweh, without the observance of Shabbat, was (and still is) entirely acceptable to Jews.

The book of Acts chronicles the foundational changes that happened in the Christian church in its first few decades. In Acts chapter 2, Christianity was simply a sect of Judaism, born at the feast of Pentecost (2:1); all of its adherents and converts were practicing Jews who met in the temple daily (2:46). It passed through the challenges that Gentile converts put on the movement (chapters 10-15), to the point where Paul became frustrated with the prevailing Jewish rejection of the gospel and said to them,  “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” (28:28)

First Century Jewish Relations with Gentiles

During the first century, Jews were more “evangelical” than the Jews of today. Non-Jews who were seeking to learn about the God of Israel and live their lives according to righteous principles were welcomed into early first century synagogues.

“Outsiders could and did enter the Jewish fold. Some were resident aliens (gerei toshav) who resided in a Jewish milieu, sometimes marrying a Jew, sometimes living as slaves in a Jewish household and becoming part of the family in the narrower and the wider sense, and adopting Jewish practices. Outsiders regularly attached themselves to the Jewish people in this way. Some (like Ruth with her “Your people will be my people, your God will be my God”: Ruth 1:16-17) made a more deliberate choice of Judaism and were full converts (gerei tzedek, literally “righteous proselytes”). … Between the gerei toshav and the gerei tzedek was a third group, semi-proselytes or “God-fearers” who though still gentiles were regarded as friends of the Jews.” – – Judaism in transition, 175 BCE-150 CE: Christian and Jewish perspectives, by Rabbi Raymond Apple

God-Fearers and the Law

The non-Jews who sought to honour God but did not convert to Judaism were called “God-fearers”. This is a term that is used in the New Testament at the time when early Judaic Christianity was at the cusp of an explosion of Gentile converts, when it would walk on its own apart from the temple and other Mosaic structures of Judaism, within which this new religion was born and incubated.

Ancient Jews did not teach Gentiles that conversion to Judaism and obedience to all the laws in the Torah were necessary for them to become a part of the future kingdom of God. However, they were required to adhere to the seven Noahide laws:

“Being a gentile might prevent a person from enjoying the blessings of monotheism and morality, but gentiles were not automatically debarred from the World to Come: the righteous (other versions read ‘pious’) of the nations had a place in the afterlife. The commandments of Judaism did not obligate the gentile apart from the Seven Noahide Laws, basic ethics that derive from the post-diluvian age when civilisation had to be reconstructed. These seven laws prohibited murder, robbery, adultery, idolatry, blasphemy and cruelty to animals and required a system of justice (b. Sanhedrin 56b, Tosefta Avodah Zarah 8:4).” – Judaism in transition, 175 BCE-150 CE: Christian and Jewish perspectives, by Rabbi Raymond Apple

“According to religious Judaism, any non-Jew who lives according to the Seven Laws of Noah is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the world to come, the final reward of the righteous.” – Wikipedia, Jewish Eschatology

Although these seven laws are based on Jewish tradition, they do show that Jews did not require Sabbath observance of Gentiles.

The Noahide Laws

In the first century A.D. many Greek and Roman women converted to Judaism, but few men took this step, due to the rite of circumcision. These “God fearers” were expected to obey the seven Noahide laws, but were not required to observe the specifically “Jewish” laws of circumcision, the Sabbath, festivals and eating regulations. Long before the Christian Era, Jews recognized that Gentiles were not expected by God to keep the Sabbath commandment, unless they converted to Judaism through circumcision.

“God-fearers (or ‘Fearers of God’) are considered to be of significant importance to the popularity of the Early Christian movement. They represented a group of gentiles who shared religious ideas with Jews, to one degree or another. However, they were not converts, but a separate gentile community, engaged in Judaic religious ideas and practices. Noahidism would be a modern parallel. Actual conversion would require adherence to all of the Laws of Moses, which includes various prohibitions (kashrut, circumcision, Sabbath observance etc.) which were generally unattractive to would-be gentile (largely Greek) converts.” Wikipedia, article God Fearer

Cornelius the God-Fearer

In Acts chapter ten we are introduced to Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and a God-fearer. There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. Acts 10:1-2

Prior to Cornelius, all believers in Christ were circumcised, Sabbath-keeping, Torah-observant Jews, without exception. It was expected (even by the apostles) that in order to become a Christian, it was natural and necessary to first be a devout Jew; after all, the promises of both covenants are to the house of Israel (see Jeremiah 31:31). This is why there was such great contention over the issue of circumcision in the early church.

For a Roman or Greek to completely bypass the Sinaitic covenantal requirements, and be grafted into the new covenant by faith only, was unknown.

“The [post-destruction] Judeo-Christians suffered a diminution in numbers and now, though not without an internal struggle, rebuilt and repositioned themselves as an increasingly gentile group, with new adherents directly coming to the new group without having to go through the old one first.” …

“After much internal debate it became possible for an outsider to become a Christian without ever being part of Judaism, either through genealogy or choice. Could you be a Jew without the Sabbath, festivals, circumcision (Jews were not the only ancient people to view uncircumcision as shameful) and dietary laws? The answer was no – but you could become a Christian.” – Judaism in transition, 175 BCE-150 CE: Christian and Jewish perspectives, by Rabbi Raymond Apple

The conversion of Cornelius, a non-Torah observant Gentile, created a crisis in the early church. His account reveals God fulfilling his promises given to Abraham, and through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea and Amos of opening the way of salvation to the Gentiles, while not requiring the distinctive observances of Judaism.

The Close Connection Between the Holy Sabbath day, the Tabernacle, and Beyond

Taken and adapted from “The Tabernacle, The Priesthood, and The Offerings
Written by, Henry W. Soltau, (1805-1875)


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” — Exod. 31: 12- 17

Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the Lord has commanded you to do: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of Sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” — Exod. 35:1- 3


If you look closely…

…you can see that the Lord closed His directions concerning the tabernacle with the commandment respecting the Sabbath day. (Exod. 31: 12- 17.) Moses commenced his recapitulation of these directions to the people, with the same commandment about the Sabbath. (Exod. 35:1- 3.) There is therefore evidently an intimate connection between the truths foreshadowed in the tabernacle, and the rest typified by the Sabbath. 

We read in Genesis 2 “thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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.”

Everything had been pronounced by the Creator Himself to be good. No sin, no death, had as yet entered to mar the works of God’s hands. He could rest, and be refreshed in the contemplation of His own work of creation; crowned as it was with man, the perfection and head of it all. Quickly however was this beautiful scene changed. By the “one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” “The whole creation was made subject to vanity;” and from that time to this, ceases not to “groan and travail in pain together,” having been ruined by the entrance of death, and thereby subjected to the slavery of corruption. From that time we read no more of God resting. The first intimation of a Sabbath for man is in Exodus 16 where this word occurs for the first time in the Bible. God had indeed hallowed the seventh day, having Himself rested on it: but it is not called the Sabbath, which means the rest, until the manna was given to Israel in the wilderness. And this is in keeping with the truth. The manna (bread from heaven) was rained down in profusion for a people stiff-necked and murmuring: beautiful shadow of “the true bread from heaven,” “the bread of God,” “the bread of life,” given in the riches of God’s love to a ruined world; “of which if a man eat, he shall live forever.”

In close connection with the manna, came the Sabbath.

“It shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, this is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days: abide ye every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.” Exod. 16:5, 22, 23, 26, 29, 30.

God had so provided for Israel in giving them this strange new bread from heaven, that there was no necessity for their working in any way on the seventh day. Their wants were fully met; so that they could cease or rest from any labor or toil. And here we have for the first time, man able to rest: “the people rested on the seventh day.” The first occurrence of the expression in Scripture since Genesis, chap. 2, where it is said, “and he (God) rested on the seventh day.” Is not this a very significant type of the blessed truth that God has provided in Christ, the first and only rest that man can know. A perfect and eternal Sabbath?

Another peculiar word is employed here for the first time; “the rest of the holy Sabbath;” and is subsequently used in Scripture in connection with the Sabbath day. “A Sabbath of rest.” Exod. 31:15; 35:2. “The day of atonement.” Lev. 16:31; 23:32.

“The day of blowing of trumpets;” 23:24; where it is translated Sabbath. “The feast of tabernacles,” 23:39; where it occurs twice, and is translated “Sabbath.” And “the sabbatical year,” 25:4, 5; “a Sabbath of rest”—”a year of rest.” The word in the Hebrew is, shabbahthohn; it may mean a resting, a time or continued act of resting. It is not unlikely that the word, Hebrews 4:9, “there remaineth therefore a rest, (margin, keeping of a Sabbath, a sabbatism,) to the people of God,” is a Greek translation of this Hebrew word, although it does not occur in the Septuagint.

Israel kept their first, and perhaps their only sabbatism, in the wilderness of Sin, when the manna was fresh and pleasant to their taste. Who does not know the delight, the peace and joy of the first fresh taste of “the bread of life?” The rest of soul which Christ gives to those who labor and are heavy laden? But, alas! How soon is that rest spoiled by the inroads of Satan and the world; and by the restlessness of self-will, pride, and the flesh. If we would retain the rest, yea, deepen and increase it, we must listen to the Lord’s words, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt. 11:28, 29. There is a rest that Christ gives. There is a rest we have to find.

In Exod. 16:29, it is written, “the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you the bread.” We first, by faith, receive Christ; the true bread from heaven, given by God, His Father. We eat His flesh, the bread which the Son of Man giveth, and rest from doubt and fear; from works of our own, and from the heavy burden of our sins. We experience the joy and peace of conversion. We cease from our own works, as God did from His on the seventh day. But soon the struggle comes, the conflict between flesh and spirit. Having received rest from Christ as His gift, we have next to take His yoke upon us. His yoke of love, and obedience to the Father; another kind of yoke, an easy yoke; another burden, a light burden; in the place of the grievous bondage under sin and Satan, and the heavy load of guilt and misery. And we have to learn of Him, the meek and lowly one in heart, in order that we may find rest to our souls in the midst of temptation and trial, and difficulties and perplexities in our path. The meekness and lowliness of Christ were evidenced in His constant dependence upon God. Never doing His own will, or pleasing Himself. Never putting forth His own power, but humbly trusting in, and waiting on His Father. And His soul was kept in a perfect Sabbath of rest. Circumstances, however sudden or unexpected, never disturbed the serenity of His soul’s confidence in God; neither did they cause Him to act independently of God. He trusted not in any resources of His own. He was never surprised into an act of independence, though having almighty power. However adverse therefore the circumstances, the rest and quiet assurance of His soul were unbroken. The tempter might seek to insinuate doubts of His Father’s love and care, but such thoughts found no place in His heart. He was deaf to such whispers of the enemy. He was blind as to the circumstances around Him, if those circumstances seemed to militate against the faithful love of God. Such was His rest all through His pilgrimage below, till on the cross the billows and waves of judgment, and the noise of the waterspouts of wrath overwhelmed Him. And yet even then He trusted, and was delivered.

When the Sabbath was connected with the gift of manna, there was no commandment, but the Sabbath was given; and there was no penalty for the breach of the rest. When the Sabbath was subsequently connected with God’s work of creation, as in Exod. 20:8-11; 31:14-17, there was a distinct commandment, and the penalty of death was appended to any breach of it.

This affords a striking contrast, between being under grace, and under law…

…Israel before they reached Mount Sinai were dealt with altogether in the way of grace: they had come out from Egypt under the shelter of the Passover blood. The power of the almighty hand of God had been made manifest in their favor, in opening the depths of the Red Sea, and giving them a passage through on dry land; whilst their enemies had been engulfed in its mighty waters.

They had murmured at Marah, and the bitter waters were made sweet. They had found palm trees and wells ready for them at Elim. They had murmured in the wilderness of Sin, and the manna was poured down from heaven in reply. They murmured again at Rephidim and the smitten rock yielded its streams of living water. Thus up to their reaching the mount of fearfulness and judgment, all God’s ways towards them were in unwearied goodness and mercy.

The 105th Psalm recapitulates these dealings of God with His people between Egypt and Sinai, and grounds His ways of grace towards them upon His “remembrance of His holy promise, and Abraham His servant,” v. 42; and then all the subsequent wilderness journey is omitted, and the psalm concludes with “he brought forth his people with joy and his chosen with gladness; and gave them the lands of the heathen; and they inherited the labor of the people; that they might observe his statutes and keep his laws. Hallelujah.” v. 42-45. Is there not in this a prophetic intimation of their entering upon the land and enjoying it hereafter, on the sure ground of promise and unlimited grace? When their true Sabbath, their rest shall be connected with the true manna, “the true Bread,” and not with a fiery law, they will enjoy it in reality, and retain it without fear of ever losing it.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapters 3 and 4, three rests are spoken of—the rest of Creation; the rest which Joshua gave; and the rest of God.

The two former have passed away, for in Psalm 95:11, God speaks of another day of rest, although His works of creation were finished from the foundation of the world; and the rest which Joshua gave must clearly have been in vain, for otherwise God would not have spoken by the mouth of David, of another day, after the people of Israel had actually been for many years in the land into which Joshua had brought them. There yet remaineth therefore, a celebration of rest, a full enjoyment of it to the people of God. An eternal Sabbatism, when they shall enter into God’s own rest. This is yet future. We find that there is a day of new creation yet to come. “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new.” Rev. 21:5. The old creation with all its groans— the former things, with their death, sorrow, crying and pain shall have passed away. A new heaven and a new earth, will have replaced the present heaven and the present earth. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, will be seen in all her eternal freshness, glory and beauty, coming down from God out of heaven. The Tabernacle of God will be with men, and He will dwell with them. The Lord will have reigned the thousand years, till He shall have put all enemies under His feet, and God will be all in all.

This is the eternal rest of God.

Already it can be said, “We which have believed do enter into rest.” We have a blessed foretaste of it in the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and in the victory which God giveth us through our Lord Jesus Christ. And we shall begin to keep our Sabbatism at the coming of Christ; when He will Himself descend with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God, and when we shall be caught up with the departed saints, all alike, raised and changed into His likeness, to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The connection of the Sabbath day with the construction of the Tabernacle, may have reference to this rest that remains, of which the Sabbath connected with the first creation, was a type.

A contrast may be drawn between the old creation with the man and the woman, formed at the close of it; and the new creation, of which the man and the woman are the commencement. The first Sabbath was broken (never to be restored) by the entrance in of sin and death. It stood at the close of the week of God’s work.

The closing act of God’s creative power being the making the man and the woman.

The putting forth of God’s power in new creation is the resurrection of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, “the last Adam” “the beginning of the creation of God,” and “putting all things under His feet,” according to Psalm 8. And the next exhibition of God’s mighty power in new creation, will be the resurrection of the Church in glory. The new heavens and the new earth will be the closing manifestation of His creative power.

The Sabbath is called “holy”; “a Sabbath to Jehovah”; “a Sabbath of rest—holiness to Jehovah,” and “a Sabbath of rest to Jehovah.” Exod. 16:23, 25; 31:15; 35:2. It was also “holy unto the children of Israel.” Exod. 31:14, and a sign between the Lord and them. 31:13, 17; and was “a perpetual covenant.” 31:16.

We are told in Col. 2:16, 17, that the Jewish holy days, the new moons, and the Sabbaths, were a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ. To be in Christ is to be separated off to God in true holiness. A resurrection separation: to be cut off from the body of the sins of the flesh, and to be risen with Him. In this is true rest, for rest must be holiness. “The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace saith my God to the wicked.” Isa. 57:20.

The Sabbath was a sign to Israel.

A token that they were a people separated off to God, claimed by Himself in a peculiar way as His creatures; and for whom He had prepared a rest in the holy land, provided they kept His law. May we not say that the risen Lord Jesus is a peculiar sign to us; an assurance of rest that yet remains for us. The first fruits in resurrection. A pledge therefore to us from God that resurrection shall be our portion, and that we are His peculiar people for whom He hath reserved an “inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.”

It will be observed that in Exod. 31:14, “every one that defileth the Sabbath shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.”—v. 15, “whosoever doeth any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” This serves to explain the meaning of being cut off from his people, a phrase of constant occurrence under the law. It is the judgment of death to be inflicted upon the transgressor. Four special occasions may be noted in connection with which this fearful penalty is threatened.

First—If a man did any work on the Sabbath Exod. 31:14.

Secondly—If a man did not keep the Passover Num. 9:13.

Thirdly—If a man eat leavened bread during the feast of unleavened bread. Exod. 12:15, 19.

Fourthly—If a man did not afflict his soul in the Day of Atonement. Lev. 23:29.

May we not gather some instructive warnings from the non-observance of these four feasts? First—If Christ be not our true Sabbath; if we are mingling works with that rest of God which He has given, are we not endangering Salvation?

Secondly—If we trust in anything but the shedding of blood, the blood of the true paschal Lamb, for the complete answer to God, on account of sin, and for the complete putting away of His wrath, do we not imperil the soul’s safety?

If professing “Christ to be our Passover sacrificed for us,” we indulge in the sinful lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are we not eating leavened bread, when we ought to be feeding on Him the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth? And will not our practice contradict our profession, and prove us to be still of the world, and not of the people of God?

Fourthly—If there be no real affliction of heart, because of sin, when the atonement made by the Lord Jesus in the shedding of His blood, is presented to the soul—but if there be a kind of boastful profession of faith in the doctrines of Salvation, without brokenness of heart because of sin, is not such an one in great peril as to eternal salvation, however well acquainted he may be with doctrinal truth?

The Sabbath therefore having this peculiar place in connection with the Tabernacle appears to intimate to us that a true rest of soul will be maintained only by our realizing the Lord’s presence with us, abiding in Him. And that our eternal rest will be attained when we dwell in His presence forever, in the holy perfection of new creation, on the morning of the resurrection.


ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 4

10672357_10152732564848384_3058835189221292784_n_1410285517467_7895470_ver1.0_640_480M.L. Andreasen stated that he had been asked certain questions in his classes as far back as 1924…

…and after a little test learned that not half of the students believed in the cleansing of the sanctuary. He thought they had not quite understood and could not believe because of the limit of their understanding. If that represents a cross section of our ministry we do not have a ministry that is profoundly convinced of the truths for which we stand. He feared that our detractors have made more inroads into our ranks than we think and that more research needs to be done to establish our doctrine. When men know they can talk it out they are more easily convinced, but he has been surprised by some saying they did not dare talk out what is in their minds.

. . . Unless we give proofs to our workers we shall have a weak ministry giving the trumpet an uncertain sound. He [C. H. Watson] would like to see this committee prepare matter to answer [L. R.] Conradi and [A. F.] Ballenger on October 22, 1844. Is it not time to meet the situation? Some of our ministers are troubled because we do not make any answer and think that we are not able to answer them. –Wierts, letter to L. E. Froom, June 29, 1945, emphasis supplied.

This was the very reason J. H. Wierts first approached the General Conference with his concerns. It was not to destroy the Church that these problems in chronology were presented but, rather, because truth does not contradict itself. Either the Church had made a mistake in a very fundamental area, or else there was more light Heaven wanted to bestow.

As the Research Committee shifted from October 22, 1844, to focus on the crucifixion date, they quickly and clearly saw the full ramifications of what they were dealing with. It is here that the research, led by Grace Amadon, quickly began to deteriorate. It was of the utmost importance for them to be able to establish a crucifixion date in AD 31. However, in order to do this and still keep a Saturday Sabbath, certain principles of luni-solar calendation had to be skewed. Various papers in the Grace Amadon Collection reveal the different ways the committee, led by Amadon, attempted to resolve the problem, from trying to put the crucifixion on the 15th of Abib, to, finally, creating a translation period (when no moon can be seen) that was far too long to be astronomically feasible.

From the papers preserved in the Amadon Collection, it appears that the Research Committee discussed the implications of presenting the church with the truth of the Biblical calendar. In an undated letter to Grace Amadon, M. L. Andreasen outlined the difficulties that must be expected if they should report the truth: the Biblical week does not have a continuous weekly cycle and certainly does not align with the modern weekly cycle.

It would not be easy to explain to the people that the God who advocated and instituted such an arrangement would be very concerned about the exact seventh day.

If an explanation were possible, and the people were at last adjusted to the shift in the feast day and the stability of the seventh day, it might be supposed that in time they would get used to the arrangement. But they would no sooner have become accustomed to this, till another shift is made. Now they shift back to where they were before.

But neither is this settled or stationary. Another shift comes, and another and another. Now Denver observes the day before Omaha does, then it observes the same day. Now Omaha and Chicago observe the same day, but at another time a different day. There is no uniformity, and just as the people get used to a certain arrangement the day is changed again. Such is more than the common people can understand, and if we go to the people now with such a proposition, we must expect that confusion will result. And our enemies will not be slow to point out the difficulties and ring the changes on them.  —M. L. Andreasen, undated letter to Grace Amadon, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 2, Folder 4, Center

Because the Biblical weekly cycle restarts with every New Moon, the Biblical Sabbath appears to “float” through the modern Gregorian week. Sometimes being on Monday; the next month on Tuesday; the month after on Thursday, etc. This is the constant “shift” to which Andreasen is referring in his statements.

In the end, the difficulties of presenting a new calendar by which to calculate the seventh-day Sabbath seemed overwhelming. Andreasen urged that the resulting confusion would be only detrimental to the church and for that reason, it should not be pursued.

If in the new calendar scheme we are considering adopting it should be admitted that local communities have the right of making their own observations that would determine the New Year, it would yet remain a question if the proper men competent for such observation would be available. . . . Let not the people observing God’s holy day sponsor a calendar that means confusion, and make our work unnecessarily hard. For while the proposed scheme does not in any way affect the succession of the days of the week, and hence does not affect the Sabbath, nevertheless if the people observing the Sabbath also advocates the new scheme of calendation, the resulting confusion will not be of any help to us.

. . . While the whole matter would ultimately become adjusted, it would certainly make for confusion. Seventh-day Adventists will soon have enough matters on their hands so that it will not be necessary to make trouble for ourselves before the time. The blank day may yet confront us. We cannot afford to start trouble of our own. To the world it will look that the present proposed calendar is advanced for a specific purpose – not for the purpose of adoption, for we will find that it is impossible of universal application – not for the purpose of supporting the 1844 date. I do not believe that we are under that necessity. It must be possible to establish October 22, 1844, without resorting to such devices.  M. L. Andreasen, undated letter to Grace Amadon, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 2, Folder 4, Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University, emphasis supplied.

It is not speculation to state that Andreasen rejected the Biblical calendar through fear of the consequences. He stated as much himself:

The committee has done a most excellent piece of work. The endorsing, unreservedly, of the plan now before us seems to me, appears in its implications so loaded with dynamite, with TNT, that we might well beware. I would most earnestly warn the committee in this matter. I am afraid that the repercussions of such endorsement at this time will be felt in wide circles. –Ibid.

Andreasen’s proposed solution to the situation is a heart-breaking example of political expediency taking precedence over truth:

A possible solution: I suggest that we make a report to [GC President] Brother McElhaney of what the Millerites believed and how they arrived at their conclusions, without, at this time, committing ourselves upon the correctness of their method. Let Brother McElhaney publish this report in any way it may be thought best, and let us await the reaction. This, of course, would be only a preliminary report, and would be so designated. We will soon [see] what fire it will draw. In the mean time let us study further on the final report. The reaction to the preliminary report may determine the form of the final report.M. L. Andreasen, undated letter to Grace Amadon, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 2, Folder 4, Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University, emphasis supplied.

In other words, Andreasen was urging, let us focus on how the Millerites established October 22, rather than September 23, as the Day of Atonement for 1844, but let us not come right out and admit that we agree with how they established it. Let us test the waters and, depending upon the reaction to our test, we can know whether or not we wish to say more.

This is not intellectual honesty! It is intellectual cowardice. Truth remains the same, regardless of the reaction against it. Andreasen was most eloquent in his arguments in favor of staying silent about the effect the Biblical calendar has on the weekly seventh-day Sabbath. He wrote a number of letters in which he urged the Research Committee to remain silent on the subject.

These letters are not available to the general public. Apparently, the church still considers the content too revealing, too explosive to want it released. Copies of these letters were given to the members of the Research Committee of 1995, but the committee members were not allowed to leave the room with them. “We would have made copies of them, but they picked them up before they let us leave the room,” recalled a committee member.

Ultimately, cover it up is exactly what the original Research Committee did. The GC Committee Minutes of May 31, 1939 state:

A committee that was appointed to do certain research work presented a statement concerning their extensive report which is now ready. It was felt that this report should be presented to as representative a group as possible, and it was therefore VOTED, To set July 9 and 10, beginning at 9 A.M., July 9, as the time for hearing the report in order that the union conference presidents, who will be in attendance at the General Conference Committee meeting in New York City just preceding this date, may be present; and further, that the officers be asked to invite any others they may think advisable, to be present when the report is given. J. H. Wierts, letter to L. E. Froom, June 29, 1945, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 5, Folder 9.

Strangely enough, although the meeting did take place, there appears to be no record of it. Perhaps, as with the Andreasen letters given to the 1995 Committee to read, it was considered too damaging and has simply not been made available to the general public. It is certainly unusual for a meeting of this type to leave no record, save for references to it in personal correspondence by people who attended.

The full scope of this meeting can be grasped from a description provided by J. H. Wierts who was also in attendance:

At this meeting were present all the General Conference members available, all the Union Presidents in the U.S., many Bible teachers, many Ministers and many others. The reading of the R.C.’s [Research Committee’s] Report started at 9:30 A.M. and the meeting ended about 10:00 P.M.J. H. Wierts, letter to L. E. Froom, June 29, 1945, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 5, Folder 9.

ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 3

full moonOverWater[As we have observed in our first post, the problem is when the Sabbath is calculated by the original Biblical calendar does not fall on Saturday because the weekly cycle of the luni-solar calendar does not align with the weekly cycle of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar. Furthermore, this can be proven by the fact that if the 2300 day/year time period started in 457 BC as taught by both the Millerites and the SDA Church, the year AD 31 is pinpointed as the year of the crucifixion. When the luni-solar calendar for AD 31 is overlaid the Julian calendar for the same year, Passover, the sixth day of the week, also does not fall on Friday. This was the problem facing the Study Committee of 1995. To acknowledge that the Church’s sole, unique contribution to Protestant theology was based upon a different method of time-keeping, was to open the floodgates to a problem they did not wish to deal with: i.e., the problem that the Biblical Sabbath is not Saturday!

As also mentioned in our first post, much of the source materials used herein came from a friend who obtained them from “,” who, for whatever reason, now appears to be inactive. Having said that, the thrust of this post is to further examine the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you read this THIRD post on the subject:.

  1. If the Seventh-day Adventist Church is knowingly teaching a “Sabbath” other than the true Sabbath, are they, by their own Biblical definition, a “False Prophet?
  2. By their own Biblical definition, are they a part of Babylon? Are they an “Apostate Church”?
  3. What is the reasonable thing for you to do?
  4. What would you do if you were in the Adventist leadership position?  Why?  What would Jesus say?]

Despite the clear understanding the Millerites had of the luni-solar foundation for an October 22 Day of Atonement, the young Seventh-day Adventist Church quickly forgot the foundation on which this hallmark doctrine had been built.

Barely 50 years later, (evidence suggests sometime in the 1890s), a young minister by the name of J. H. Wierts was shocked to learn through his Hebrew teachers, rabbis, that October 22 had not been Yom Kippur in 1844, but, according to them, September 23 had been.

Wierts immediately saw the ramifications of what he had discovered. If October 22 truly had not been the Day of Atonement for 1844, it opened up the church for attack by its detractors on a number of points. Years later, in a letter to L. E. Froom, dated June 29, 1945, Wierts recalled:

In contact with Jewish Rabbis my Hebrew Teachers, I discovered many years ago from their Hebrew records, that the Rabbinical Jewish day of Atonement in 1844 fell on Monday, September 23. I then determined to make a careful investigation on this important point.

Because of my aquaintance [sic.] with Dr. Eichelberger at the U. S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C. I had access to any astronomical record at the Observatory. By those astronomical records I discovered and worked out the Biblical, Chronological, Calendrical, astronomical facts relative to 457 B.C., 27 A.D., 31 A.D. and October 22, 1844, A.D. and found that all that important data in “Great Controversy” was correct even to the day.

His meticulous research finally culminated in a manuscript of 283 pages in length. “Knowing also that sooner or later our adversaries would challenge us on all that important data,” Wierts began in 1932 to appeal to various General Conference officials for the church to conduct an official investigation into the subject. His efforts appear to have met with little success for most of six years.

Finally, on November 1, 1938, the GC officials voted:

To authorize E. D. Dick to confer with M. E. Kern and bring to the officers the suggestion of a committee for a conference with J. H. Wierts regarding the position of the denomination in respect to the date October 22, 1844 and the day of the crucifixion. (Council of GC Officers with J. H. Wierts, OM, Nov. 1, 1938, emphasis supplied.)

It is important to note that, from the first, the focus covered, not only the true date for Day of Atonement in 1844, but also the correct day for the crucifixion. The two are inseparably entwined because when the principles of luni-solar calendation (used to determine Day of Atonement for 1844) are applied to the year of the crucifixion, it is undeniable that there is a problem. Specifically, the crucifixion, which occurred on the sixth day of the Biblical week, did not fall on Friday of the Julian week. This was the dilemma for which, in the end, they could not find a resolution without admitting that Saturday is not the Biblical seventh-day Sabbath.

On November 7, 1938, a committee was formed to study the subject. Initially called the Advent Research Committee, it consisted of Adventist luminaries, well-respected for their theological knowledge. Dr. Leroy Froom was elected to chair the committee. Dr. Lynn Harper Wood served as secretary. The other members were Dr. M. L. Andreasen, Professor M. E. Kern, Professor W. Homer Teesdale, Professor Albert W. Werline and Elder F. C. Gilbert.

In reporting on their initial research to the GC officers, Dr. Froom

Stated that as chairman of the committee he wanted to present certain problems they had met on which they desired counsel. The contention has been raised by some of our detractors that the Jews celebrated the Passover on September 23, of the year 1844, and that the denomination therefore had the date wrong. It has been proven, however, that September 23 was celebrated only by the Rabbinical Jews, but that the Orthodox Karaite Jews held to the correct date and had to this day. We must ascertain the reasons back of the choosing of October 22, 1844, which we have followed all these years. Some of our men also seem not to be sure of the date on which the crucifixion occurred . . . . (Minutes, Officers Meeting, December 18, 1939, emphasis supplied.)

The result of this initial report had far-reaching consequences – a new member was added to the committee:

Brother Froom stated further that we needed astronomical and chronological data to establish these dates beyond question . . . They also are united in the judgment that Miss Grace Amadon who has studied the astronomical aspects of these dates for a number of years, contacted astronomers and astronomical authorities to considerable extent, could offer the committee some real assistance if she could be present here in person and study the matter through with them under their guidance . . .

L. E. Froom stated that Grace Amadon has done enough work on the astronomical aspects of October 22, 1844, to be of value to the committee, that if she comes she would work under supervision to assist the special group of the committee dealing with that particular phase of the study. We might need her for four or five weeks and she might do some things that the members of the committee are not qualified to do. (Ibid.)

It seemed a logical choice to invite Miss Amadon to join the committee. She was the granddaughter of Adventist pioneer John Byington. She had received her education at Battle Creek and was fluent in a number of languages, including Greek and Latin. She excelled in mathematics and after doing a stint in the mission field from 1893-1899, she worked for a college in Chicago where she worked as a bacteriologist, teaching a number of science classes. She was also a skilled writer with several articles she had written on chronology being published in scholarly journals.

imagesE5J16NW2The work done by Amadon and the Research Committee was extensive. Their work has, for the most part, been preserved in the Grace Amadon Collection, housed at the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University. The research they did, explaining precisely how the Millerites arrived at October 22 for Day of Atonement, as well as the broad outlines of luni-solar calendation, is very good and provides a solid foundation for understanding these issues. However, when they attempted to fit the Passover crucifixion on Abib 14 of the Biblical calendar to Friday on the Julian calendar, they ran into irreconcilable facts.

The first is the simple fact, easily established by history, that the Julian calendar in the time of Jesus had an eight-day week, designated by the days A through H. This fragment of an early Julian calendar, called the Fasti Prænestini, was constructed AD 4 – 10. To the left is a list of days spanning parts of two weeks: G, H, A, B, C, D, E, and F. The words to the right indicate what sort of business could be conducted on those particular days of the week.

In 1944, the Review & Herald Publishing Association published a book for the Ministerial Association of Seventh-day Adventists. The book, Sunday in Roman Paganism, was subtitled: “A history of the planetary week and its “day of the Sun” in the heathenism of the Roman world during the early centuries of the Christian Era.” It openly admitted that the seven-day planetary week in use today was not standardized into general use until the Council of Nicæa in the fourth century AD.

But that was not the only problem. If one assumes that the modern week has come down uninterrupted from Creation, then, by counting in continuous weeks backward, one should be able to align Abib 14 with Friday in the year of the crucifixion (AD 31, as understood by SDAs from the prophecies of Daniel). However, when this is done, you arrive at Wednesday, (at the very latest, Thursday), for the Abib 14 Passover crucifixion. You cannot place Abib 14 on Friday.

The fact that this problem was clearly understood by the committee is seen in their discussions, as preserved in committee minutes and various correspondences between Research Committee members and others, as well as the questions they asked in the voluminous letters preserved in the Grace Amadon Collection. For example:

Though William Miller fixed the date as 1844 he still put the cross at the end instead of the middle of the prophetic week. We have never gone to the bottom of the matter. Our task now is a major one of showing why we insist on the 70 years and the 2300 years beginning at the same time. Some of the old writers confirm the beginning of 457 BC but do not define the “midst of the week. . . . L. E. Froom stated that we could easily supply facts on what was done in 1844 but we must get the facts back of what led to the choice of the date October 22, 1844. It is the same with the date of the crucifixion.” (Minutes, Officers Meeting, December 18, 1939, emphasis supplied.)

The doctrine of the cleansing of the sanctuary as taught by Seventh-day Adventists, is inseparably bound with October 22, 1844, and an AD 31 crucifixion date. They stand together as a united whole, or they fall by the same measure because the calendar used to establish those dates reveals that the weekly cycle of the modern Gregorian week does not align with the weekly cycle of the Biblical week in use at the time of Jesus.

These are legitimate issues and for too long the church has not had a resolution for them. But refusing to address the subject does not make it go away.

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

–John 9:41

ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 2

harvest_moon_lake-e1348770140423[As mentioned in our first post, much of the source materials used herein came from a friend who obtained them from “,” who, for whatever reason, now appears to be inactive. Having said that, the thrust of this post is to further examine the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you read the second post on this subject:.

  1. When confronted with their erroneous position, how has the church reacted?
  2. What is the reasoning for their reaction?
  3. Are they protecting a true scriptural approach to the Bible?
  4. What is the reasonable thing to do?
  5. What would you do in their position?  Why?

As we have observed in our previous post, the problem is when the Sabbath is calculated by the original Biblical calendar does not fall on Saturday because the weekly cycle of the luni-solar calendar does not align with the weekly cycle of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar. Furthermore, this can be proven by the fact that if the 2300 day/year time period started in 457 BC as taught by both the Millerites and the SDA Church, the year AD 31 is pinpointed as the year of the crucifixion. When the luni-solar calendar for AD 31 is overlaid the Julian calendar for the same year, Passover, the sixth day of the week, also does not fall on Friday. This was the problem facing the Study Committee of 1995. To acknowledge that the Church’s sole, unique contribution to Protestant theology was based upon a different method of time-keeping, was to open the floodgates to a problem they did not wish to deal with: i.e., the problem that the Biblical Sabbath is not Saturday!]

When interviewed, one of the committee members stated, “The main thing the NAD men wanted to cover up was the fact that October 22 is based on Jewish lunar calculation.

He said that they were wanting to get people thinking that it was based on solar calendation.” This led to extremely heated discussions among the committee members.

While the author does not know precisely which position, each specific man from the NAD and the GC took, it is to be noted that according to his interviews, three of the five members from Andrews University were vocal in their support for a truthful and consistent stance on the establishment of the date of October 22, 1844.

A committee member recalled some of the discussion that took place over the issue, stating emphatically: Anytime you have October 22 and it is your hallmark doctrine, it is the hallmark doctrine that sets your denomination apart as distinct and separate from all other denominations, and it is based on Jewish lunar calculation, and then you give people the idea that you got it from the solar calendar, you’re lying! Several of us were very, very hard on them.

When asked if the church officials who appointed the committee, in their ignorance of the topic, if they actually thought that the Study Committee could refute the lunar Sabbath, he replied: In their ignorance, they actually thought they had a committee that would rubber stamp whatever they were told to agree to. But after a few meetings they saw that they couldn’t get a consensus from us, they couldn’t bully us, and they shut it down. They saw that they were about to open Pandora’s box and so they shut it down.

The committee members who did not feel comfortable speaking up in support of an open admission of the calendar used to establish October 22 as the Day of Atonement in 1844, nevertheless saw the truth of what the others were saying. One of them admitted to another, “I see what you are saying and I agree with you.” When asked why, then, he had not spoken up in the committee, he replied: “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” If I am viewed as a liberal, I will lose everything. The fastest way to destroy your career in the SDA Church is to be branded a liberal scholar. If I come out and agree with you, my career will be over. I’ll lose my job. I’ll lose everything. Once you’re labeled a liberal in the Adventist Church, you’re dead.

Even Chairman Johnston went so far as to admit: “I agree with what you are saying, and that is why I do not teach Bible Chronology. Men and women are saved by grace and so that is what I teach. I do not teach Bible Chronology.”

In order to spare the corporate church the embarrassment of having to admit that Saturday was not actually the Biblical Sabbath, the Study Committee was shut down and the subject was suppressed. Or, as one committee member recalled, it was feared the truth “would blow up the Church.”

The concept of the need to regulate the weekly Sabbath by the lunar cycles was known very early on within Adventism. An allusion to the idea can be found as early as 1850, a full 13 years before the Seventh-day Adventist Church was formally established in 1863. In that year, Sylvester Bliss, an Adventist pioneer and one of the leaders of the earlier Millerite Movement, published a book entitled Analysis of Sacred Chronology. In his opening remarks, Sylvester Bliss, Millerite editor of The Signs of the Times and later editor of the Advent Herald.

Bliss stated:

Time is measured by motion. The swing of a clock pendulum marks seconds. The revolutions of the earth mark days and years. The earliest measure of time is the day. Its duration is strikingly indicated by the marked contrast and succession of light and darkness. Being a natural division of time, it is very simple, and is convenient for the chronology of events within a limited period.

The week, another primeval measure, is not a natural measure of time, as some astronomers and chronologers have supposed indicated by the phases or quarters of the moon. It was originated by divine appointment at the creation, six days of labor and one of rest being wisely appointed for man’s physical and spiritual well-being.

This assumption that the week is the sole unit of time-measurement that is not tied to anything is nature was repeated by J. N. Andrews in his weighty tome, History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week, published by Review & Herald Publishing Association in 1887, where he quoted Bliss’ above statement. For these statements to make it into publication would seem to indicate that there was wide enough agitation of the subject that the authors felt the need to address the matter, however briefly.

Around this same time, Alonzo T. Jones wrote a scathing rebuttal of the concept as presented by a Sunday-keeping minister. Unfortunately, his response was more of an impassioned attack rather than a well-reasoned, logical refutation addressing the various evidences supporting the concept. To the author’s knowledge, there is no evidence that Ellen White was involved in any discussion of the topic or even aware of it.

However, within the Spirit of Prophecy (as the writings of Ellen White are known to Seventh-day Adventists) numerous statements are made that do support luni-solar reckoning of time. A few examples include:

Alonzo T. Jones

  • Acknowledgment that the crucifixion occurred on the Passover, the sixth day of the week and the 14th day of the lunar month. (See Great Controversy, p. 399.)
  • Confirmation that the Passover was observed nationally the night Yahushua lay at rest in Joseph’s tomb. (See Desire of Ages, p. 775.)
  • Recognition of the latter rain link to the spring barley harvest beginning of the year. (See From Trials to Triumph, p. 30.)

([The original author notes:] It is true that there are some references in her writings to “Friday” and “Saturday” but such terminology cannot be found in Scripture. Furthermore, it is historically documented fact that the seven-day planetary week in use today did not enter the Julian calendar until after the death of Jesus.)

ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 1

[Once again, a great debt of thanks is due to just a handful of people. Much of the source materials used herein came from a friend who obtained them from “,” who, for whatever reason, now appears to be inactive. Having said that, the thrust of this post is to further examine the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism.  Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you read:

  1. Is the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism valid?
  2. Are people correct in their determination that the historical, biblical Sabbath, is different than what is understood and practiced today?
  3. Did the leaders of Adventism, then and now, know and understand that there was a problem in its calculation?
  4. If they knew at the beginning that there was a problem, and they know now there is a problem, why haven’t they addressed it with the church’s membership?  –And to God in repentance, and on their knees?

It is not lightly that we tread here. The understanding and realization that the faith of many will eventually be tested; their true spiritual identity will be both shaken and revealed, is a fact that should cause all of us to enter into this discussion with meekness and in prayer.]

LunarThesis Statement: When the Sabbath is calculated by the true Biblical calendar, it will fall differently than on the Saturday as it is worshipped on today.
Thesis Question: If the Sabbath on the Biblical calendar does not fall on Saturday, and if the Adventist Leadership knows this, why does the Seventh-day Adventist Church still teach that Saturday is the true Biblical Sabbath, unchanged since creation?

 The history of the Sabbath within the Seventh-day Adventist Church…

This is the sad story of a cover-up spanning decades. Heaven has tried many times to bring this truth to the world, but each time spiritual pride or fear of the consequences of accepting such a radically different truth has led the Church to reject it and, still more, to cover up the evidences for this truth.

In the mid-1990s, questions arising out of California and Washington regarding the concept of the lunar Sabbath prompted the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) to take action. In 1995, an order originating from the office of then-GC president, Robert Folkenberg, Sr., commissioned a study group to look into the issue of calculating the Sabbath by the ancient Hebrew luni-solar calendar.

The committee members consisted of five scholars, hand-picked from the seminary at Andrews University. In addition to these five, there was also a representative from the Ministerial Department of the North American Division (NAD) of Seventh-day Adventists and another representative from the ministerial Department of the General Conference. Robert M. Johnston, professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the seminary, was selected to head this research committee. No representative from the Biblical Research Institute was on the committee as it was felt that the well-respected scholarship of the various members was of sufficient authority that it was not needed.

The vaults were thrown open for the committee. They were asked to research the Grace Amadon Collection (housed at the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University) as well as the four volume series, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, by Leroy Edwin Froom. Additional material supplied the committee for study was a series of letters, written by well-respected Adventist scholar, M. L. Andreasen. A research paper on the subject by Elder J. H. Wierts was to be provided, but before it could, something unexpected happened.

It had been expected that the committee would be able to very quickly refute the idea of a lunar Sabbath. What was not expected was what actually happened: as the committee members began studying into the subject, a number of them became convicted of its truth!

The fact is, the entire Seventh-day Adventist denomination was founded upon a belief that the 2300 day/year prophecy of Daniel 8:14 ended on October 22, 1844, as taught by the Millerite Movement of the 1840s. This is significant because the only way to arrive at that date is by using the ancient Biblical luni-solar calendar.

As far back as April, and then in June and December of 1843, and in February of 1844 (1)– months before [William] Miller’s original date expired for the ending of the “Jewish year 1843” at the time of the vernal [spring] equinox in 1844 – his associates (Sylvester Bliss, Josiah Litch, Joshua V. Himes, Nathaniel Southard, Apollos Hale, Nathan Whiting, and others) came to a definite conclusion. This was that the solution of Daniel’s prophecy is dependent upon the ancient or original Jewish form of luni-solar time, and not upon the altered modern rabbinical Jewish calendar. . . . They therefore began to shift from Miller’s original date for the ending of the 2300 years (at the equinox in March), over to the new moon of April, 1844. –Leroy E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 4, p. 796. (2)

Without the original luni-solar calendar, there would be no Day of Atonement on October 22 in 1844. This ancient method of time-measurement was the very foundation for determining the time prophecy and the cleansing of the sanctuary doctrine which is the hallmark belief of the Seventh-day Adventist Church which grew out of the Millerite movement.

It is important to note in the quote above that a distinction must be made between the “ancient or original Jewish form of luni-solar time” and the “altered modern rabbinical Jewish calendar” in use by Jews around the world today.

The calendar used by Jews today is not the same as was used in Bible times.

Under intense persecution following the Council of Nicæa,] the Jews “fixed” their calendar to align with the continuous weekly cycle of the Julian calendar. Consequently, the Jews in 1844, kept Day of Atonement, or “Yom Kippur,” on September 23, and not on October 22 as the Millerites and later the Seventh-day Adventists claimed was the true Day of Atonement.

The fact that the Jews observed Day of Atonement on September 23 and not October 22 was a fact well-known to the Millerites.

There were many in 1844 who made merry over a lunar reckoning that was not based upon the modern Jewish calendar. The answer was returned: “Every scholar knows that we are correct as to the Karaite [original Jewish] seventh month.” The Millerites were well aware of the rabbinical seventh month in September in 1844, and the circumstance was often mentioned in their papers. At the same time they were emphatic in their challenge that they dissented from the modern Jewish calendar because it did not agree with the laws of Moses. (3)

Heaven used the Millerite Movement to restore to the world a knowledge of the original calendar of Creation, uncorrupted by the later traditions of rabbinical Jews reconciling their observances to the pagan Julian calendar.

Painstakingly studying the Karaite [Jewish] protest in the Middle Ages against the Rabbinical perversion of the calendar, they at last deliberately and irrevocably accepted, restored, and applied to their time-prophecy problem, the earlier calendation championed by the Karaites. And this they did in defiance of the whole body of Rabbinical scholarship and the general current practice of Jewry which change was introduced in the same century and at approximately the same time that the Roman Church . . . changed the Sabbath by church law from the seventh to the first day of the week. (4)

What wisdom . . . the Lord gave those earnest God-fearing and sincere believers . . . to proclaim to the world that they were following the calendar adopted by the Karaite Jews, – those Jews who profess to follow the Scripture rather than following the calendar adopted by the rabbinical orthodox Jews who were following a calendar which they admit is inaccurate in its mode of reckoning. –F. C. Gilbert

The Millerites knew the ancient luni-solar calendar so well that they were able calculate, in advance, the Day of Atonement. Without this understanding, there would have been no “Seventh-Month Movement,” no “Midnight Cry,” and later, no cleansing of the sanctuary doctrine within Adventism. It is not too strong a statement to say that without the luni-solar calendar, there would be no 2300-day doctrine within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The problem is when the Sabbath is calculated by the original Biblical calendar, it does not fall on Saturday because the weekly cycle of the luni-solar calendar does not align with the weekly cycle of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar. Furthermore, this can be proven by the fact that if the 2300 day/year time period started in 457 BC as taught by both the Millerites and the SDA Church, the year AD 31 is pinpointed as the year of the crucifixion. When the luni-solar calendar for AD 31 is overlaid the Julian calendar for the same year, Passover, the sixth day of the week, does not fall on Friday!

I will try by God’s grace to make one post each week as I am able. –MWP

  1. See Midnight Cry, April 27, 1843, p. 30; Signs of the Times, June 21, 1843, p. 123; Dec. 5, 1843, pp. 133-136; Midnight Cry, Feb. 22, 1844, pp. 243, 244.
  2. Bold in original; italics supplied.
  3. Grace Amadon, “Millerite Computation of the October 22 Date,” Box 2, Folder 4, Grace Amadon Collection, Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University.
  4. Amadon, “Courageous Action of Millerites on ‘Jewish Calendar’ Problem,” Box 2, Folder 4, Grace