We are living in a time when every position of truth is going to be attacked. The most dangerous are those in which people do not know they are being attacked. Attacks are made against the law of God. Some believe that the law of God, as well as the whole law of Moses, is just one law; therefore, it is necessary to keep the feast days and other ceremonial commands. Others believe also that the law of God and the law of Moses are just one law, and because Jesus fulfilled it and we are now under grace, there is no need to keep it. All that is necessary is to love God and love your neighbor. This position, spearheaded by Desmond Ford, is one taken by many former Adventists and former Adventist ministers.
This teaching, started by the denial of the investigative judgment, has caused much confusion. True Seventh-day Adventist belief is neither one of these positions. We believe that there are two laws—one which is unchangeable and eternal; the other being temporary and nailed to the cross when Jesus died. Adventism is caught in the crossfire of those who want to keep the feasts and others suggesting that Sabbath is optional—you can keep it if you want; however, many do not because it is not convenient. It is more convenient to go to church on Sunday, which is customary and common. Sadly, there are many former Adventist ministers who also hold this position.
If the Sabbath is optional and a future law is made prohibiting you from keeping it and being penalized by not being able to buy or sell, or forced into prison or even losing your life, would you keep it then? It is necessary to have Biblical evidence for why we believe what we believe, because attacks come from both sides accusing us of error. Many Protestant theologians, in discussing their reasons for Sunday keeping, have had some influence on Seventh-day Adventist ministers. Many have spent years doing research on this subject and can show lots of Bible texts and historical documents to support their position, so it is necessary to know why you believe what you believe.
In the book, Patriarchs and Prophets, 363, it says, “Adam and Eve, at their creation, had a knowledge of the law of God; they were acquainted with its claims upon them; its precepts were written upon their hearts. When man fell by transgression the law was not changed, but a remedial system was established to bring him back to obedience. The promise of a Saviour was given, and sacrificial offerings pointing forward to the death of Christ as the great sin offering were established. But had the law of God never been transgressed, there would have been no death, and no need of a Saviour; consequently there would have been no need of sacrifices.
“Adam taught his descendants the law of God, and it was handed down from father to son through successive generations. But notwithstanding the gracious provision for man’s redemption, there were few who accepted it and rendered obedience. By transgression the world became so vile that it was necessary to cleanse it by the Flood from its corruption. The law was preserved by Noah and his family, and Noah taught his descendants the Ten Commandments. As men again departed from God, the Lord chose Abraham, of whom He declared, ‘Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’ Genesis 26:5. To him was given the rite of circumcision, which was a sign that those who received it were devoted to the service of God—a pledge that they would remain separate from idolatry, and would obey the law of God. The failure of Abraham’s descendants to keep this pledge, as shown in their disposition to form alliances with the heathen and adopt their practices, was the cause of their sojourn and bondage in Egypt.”
Notice that disobedience was the cause of the bondage in Egypt and the continual rejection of God’s law made it necessary for the written law to be given at Sinai. “But in their intercourse with idolaters, and their forced submission to the Egyptians, the divine precepts became still further corrupted with the vile and cruel teachings of heathenism. Therefore when the Lord brought them forth from Egypt, He came down upon Sinai, enshrouded in glory and surrounded by His angels, and in awful majesty spoke His law in the hearing of all the people.
“He did not even then trust His precepts to the memory of a people who were prone to forget His requirements, but wrote them upon tables of stone. He would remove from Israel all possibility of mingling heathen traditions with His holy precepts, or of confounding His requirements with human ordinances or customs. But He did not stop with giving them the precepts of the Decalogue. The people had shown themselves so easily led astray that He would leave no door of temptation unguarded. Moses was commanded to write, as God should bid him, judgments and laws giving minute instruction as to what was required.” Ibid., 363, 364.
Many Adventists are not aware that most of what Moses wrote was actually the Ten Commandments spelled out in more detail. For example, Leviticus 18 is simply an amplified explanation of the seventh commandment, leaving the people with no excuse. Moses also explained all of the other commandments in detail. These writings are not ceremonial laws and are just as much a part of the moral law as that written by God Himself.
“Moses was commanded to write, as God should bid him, judgments and laws giving minute instruction as to what was required. These directions relating to the duty of the people to God, to one another, and to the stranger were only the principles of the Ten Commandments amplified … .” Ibid., 364.
The Ten Commandments were amplified, explained and made simple so that everyone would understand the principles.
In Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are laws in regard to clean and unclean foods—foods to eat and foods not to eat. This instruction directly relates to the sixth commandment. Killing yourself slowly by unhealthy life practices is just as much breaking that commandment as taking a gun and putting it to your head to kill yourself. If a person lit a cigarette and instantly dropped dead, nobody would smoke. But on the average, for every cigarette smoked, life is shortened between six and ten minutes. Cigarettes slowly kill! This same principle applies to all other unclean foods that are eaten and which shorten life. Disobedience is a violation of the sixth commandment.
“These directions relating to the duty of the people to God, to one another, and to the stranger were only the principles of the Ten Commandments amplified and given in a specific manner, that none need err. They were designed to guard the sacredness of the ten precepts engraved on the tables of stone.” Ibid.
Most of what Moses wrote was simply the principles of the Ten Commandments amplified, so nobody would need to make a mistake. Commandment keepers need to be in harmony with what Moses wrote explaining each of the Ten Commandments.
“If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Noah, and observed by Abraham, there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God’s law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai or engraved upon the tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the Ten Commandments, there would have been no need of the additional directions given to Moses.” Ibid., 364.
Since the beginning of time there has been a lot of knowledge lost. The Bible talks about two laws—the moral law, which is eternal, and the ceremonial law, which was temporary. There are many Protestants who are confused on this point, believing that the law was given for the first time at Mt. Sinai, but the fact is that the law has been in existence ever since Adam and Eve were created.
Romans 4:15 says, “Because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law, there is no transgression.” Even children can understand that, but some theologians do not. Sin is simply the transgression of the law, so if there is no law there is no transgression, there is no sin.
Isaiah 43:27 says, “Your first father sinned, And your mediators have transgressed against Me.” Who was the first father? It was Adam. How could Adam have sinned if there was no law before Sinai? There had to be a law in the Garden of Eden or Adam could not have sinned. The penalty for sin is death. Here the confusion gets worse, because our Protestant friends say the law was to just love the Lord and not eat the forbidden fruit.
At one time my father was testing out the first muscle car he had ever owned, a 1956 Oldsmobile, Super 88 with a 4-barrel carburetor and a big 394 cubic inch V-8 engine. Our family was on vacation in Montana, and my father said, “This is wonderful! Montana does not have any speed limits.” Soon there was a little red light flashing behind us, and we pulled over. My father said to the officer, “I thought there was no speed limit in Montana.”
The officer replied, “Yes, there is no speed limit in Montana in the daytime. But at night time the speed limit is 55.” If it had been daytime, the officer could not stop my father, as there was no law to govern his speed, but we were traveling in the night hours, there was a law, and we had broken it.
Before the law was ever given at Mt. Sinai, there is much evidence that all ten of the commandments were in existence. Genesis 2:1-3 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
This passage contains a lot of information. The first point in this passage to notice is that there was no sin in the Garden of Eden at this time; Adam and Eve were innocent. Adam and Eve were not in need of a Saviour, as no transgression had yet occurred. The Sabbath was created and given to mankind as a memorial of creation; it was not added because of transgression.
We talk about the laws of types and shadows, but when we read Genesis 2, does it sound like a shadow of something that is going to come in the future? No, it is a memorial of something that has already happened, the creation of the world. There is nothing shadowy about the seventh day Sabbath. It is not a type of something but a memorial of something that has already happened.
Notice three separate qualities about the Sabbath:
- It specifies that on that day, God rested. God does not rest like a human being rests. The Bible says that God never slumbers or sleeps. He does not need to take physical rest.
- In addition to resting, God blessed that day. The Sabbath is a day that God has blessed. When you read the record in Genesis 1 and 2, you will find that the Sabbath is the only day that God blessed. He did not bless any other day. The wise man (Solomon) said, in Ecclesiastes 3:14, “I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever: Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.”
There are several questions that need to be considered by those wanting to keep another day. Is there any other day besides the Sabbath in the Bible that God has blessed? If some day other than the Sabbath is kept, where does the Bible say that God removed His blessing from the Sabbath?
- God did not only rest on the Sabbath, He blessed it and sanctified that day. The word sanctify simply means to make something holy. Holiness is a quality of God; it is something that is God-like. The Sabbath was sanctified or made into a holy day.
Not only is the Sabbath a rest day, a blessed day, but it is a holy day, because God sanctified it. The Sabbath is a holy day. We cannot make anything holy, because we do not have any holiness of our own. The only way we can become holy, and we do have to become holy, is if God makes us holy. God says, “I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” Exodus 20:12. The Sabbath is a sign to God’s people that He will make you holy, and those He makes holy He will take to heaven.
In Genesis 4:3 is recorded the story about Cain and Abel. “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.” In the margin, the literal Hebrew text says, “At the end of the day Cain brought an offering.” Was it the end of the day, the end of the year, the end of the season, the end of the days of the month or the end of the days of the week? Many theologians believe that this was the Sabbath when Cain brought his offering. That was the end of the days of the week.
Ellen White says that Adam and Eve came to the edge of the Garden of Eden to worship every Sabbath. “The Garden of Eden remained upon the earth long after man had become an outcast from its pleasant paths. The fallen race were long permitted to gaze upon the home of innocence, their entrance barred only by the watching angels. At the cherubim-guarded gate of Paradise the divine glory was revealed. Hither came Adam and his sons to worship God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 62.
In Exodus 5:4 it says, “And the king of Egypt said to them, Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people from their work? Get back to your labor.“ While slaves in Egypt, the Egyptians forced the Israelites to work seven days a week. Moses told the people that the Lord was going to deliver them, but they would have to keep His law. When the Israelites began to keep the Sabbath again, Pharaoh did not like it.
Have you ever thought about the logistics of supplying water, food, restroom facilities, bathing and laundry facilities for over a million people out in the desert? The Israelites looked around and wondered how in the world they would survive in a place like that. They knew they would run out of the food they had brought with them, but they were instructed not to worry, because God was going to rain bread from heaven for them.
In this act they would understand clearly what was involved with keeping the Sabbath. In Exodus 16:4, 5 it says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law, or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.’ ”
Every day the people gathered what they needed for that day. Jesus said in the Lord’s prayer, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). God has not promised food for the next month. Gathering food six days was to teach them to trust in the Lord. Anything kept over until the next day spoiled. On the sixth day they were to gather twice as much as they did every other day and then on the Sabbath it did not spoil. Some went out and gathered more than they needed and found that on the next day it had bred worms. Then on the sixth day (Friday), some people gathered only what they needed for that day, not making any preparation for the Sabbath. When they went out to gather on the Sabbath, there was not any.
“And Moses said, ‘Let no man leave any of it till the morning.’ Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted. And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. Then he said to them, ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.” ’ So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, ‘Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none.’ Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ So the people rested on the seventh day.” Verses 19–30.
The children of Israel knew about the Sabbath. This was not something new that was introduced to them at Sinai. They had just been given specific instructions about their food supply and the Sabbath. In fact, when the Ten Commandments were given, the very first word of the fourth commandment was “Remember.” You cannot remember something if you have never heard about it beforehand.
As we have just seen, there is plenty of evidence that the Sabbath existed from creation. It was kept by Adam and Eve; it was also kept by Abel, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the first part of the Bible we have also seen that all of the commandments existed before they were given on tables at Sinai.
For example, Eve was the first one to break the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). She made the serpent her god—she listened to the serpent instead of God. Adam listened to and obeyed his wife, causing him also to break this commandment.
The second commandment is a prohibition against the use of idols of any kind (Exodus 20:4). “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.’ And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments.’ ” Genesis 35:1, 2. Verse 4 tells that they gave Jacob all of their foreign gods and all of their jewelry, and he buried it. Jacob knew that it was wrong to worship these idols.
The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). There is a lot of swearing that is reported in the book of Genesis. Genesis 25:32, 33 says: “Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’ Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him …” that day and sold his birthright, the right to become the progenitor of the Messiah. Referring to this it says, in Hebrews 12:16, 17, “Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” By the way, you do not need to repent if you have not sinned. Esau sinned because he took the name of the Lord God in vain by considering his birthright something that was not worth very much.
There are several references to the fifth commandment in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 9:22–25, it says, “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. Then he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brethren.’ ”
Noah and his sons knew the principle of the fifth commandment to honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12). A curse was put on the son who did not obey this commandment.
When Cain killed his brother, the Lord called that sin (Genesis 4:7). When Levi and Simeon killed a whole city full of people, they brought the curse of their father on them (Genesis 49). Those are not the only references to the sixth commandment.
There are many references to the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14) in the book of Genesis, showing that it had validity and the people knew that it was wrong to break it. God burned Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sexual immorality (Genesis 19). The story recorded in Genesis 38 about Judah and Tamar reveals that they knew what they did was wrong and that it deserved the death penalty. In Genesis 21:12–14 Abraham understood when God told him to send Hagar away, that she did not have a right to stay there because Sarah was his wife.
Jacob knew it was wrong to steal (the eighth commandment, Exodus 20:15). When Laban came looking for the gods that Rachel had stolen, Jacob said that if anybody in his camp had stolen the idols, to let him die (Genesis 31:30–34).
When the sons of Jacob answered Hamor and his son Shechem deceitfully, Jacob pronounced a curse on Simeon and Levi for lying to those people in Genesis 34:13 and Genesis 49:5–7. Jacob understood the principle of the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16) that it was wrong to lie.
Throughout Genesis 37 over and over is recorded a violation of the tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17) referring to coveting. Jacob made a bad mistake in loving Joseph more than his other sons, and as a result, the other brothers became covetous of the love and attention that he received from their father. It says they envied him so much that they decided they would kill him.
Every one of the principles of the Ten Commandments existed during the time of Genesis, clear from creation. It was commonly known that it was wrong to break any of those principles.
When Adam and Eve were created the moral law was written in their hearts. “Though this covenant was made with Adam and renewed to Abraham, it could not be ratified until the death of Christ. It had existed by the promise of God since the first intimation of redemption had been given; it had been accepted by faith; yet when ratified by Christ, it is called a new covenant.” God’s Amazing Grace, 133.
It is the promise of the New Covenant to write the law which existed in the Garden of Eden that was written by God’s own finger on the tablets of stone, and that is the foundation of God’s government in both heaven and earth, in each heart. Then, man will be restored into harmony with his Maker.
[Bible texts quoted are NKJV translation.]
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.