|June 2013||A Publication of Seventh Day Home Church Fellowships||Vol 04 - Issue 02|
The Lundar Sabbath - Fact or Fiction
Investigating It’s Claims – Part 2
by Thomas Akens
INTRODUCTION – In this issue we will be investigating another most startling claim by the proponents of the lunar sabbath. What is it? The bold claim that our present seven day or weekly ‘cycle’ is an ASSUMPTION. Does it sound too audacious to be true? Read the following excerpt taken from an article published on one of the the more prominent websites promoting the lunar sabbath:
Christians who worship on Sunday base this practice on the belief that Christ arose from the tomb on Sunday. Jews and Christians who worship on Saturday do so because it is the seventh day of the week. Both parties base their belief, and thus their practice, on an assumption. ― (The Modern Seven day week: Exploring the history of a lie)
The above quote is the second pillar which seeks to uphold the lunar sabbath theory. Let’s now begin to examine this claim.
Calendar confusion – They claim that our “belief” in keeping the 7th-day of the present week to be an assumption. The main argument put forth to support this claim is the history surrounding the change from the old Roman weekly cycle to the present day weekly cycle. Their sole evidence rests upon some calendar shifting by the Jews & Romans, and of a gradual shift to the present seven day “planetary” week with each day receiving its name from a celestial luminary (pagan God). Though the above article has much more to say, and quotes over two and a half dozen secular and “religious” sources as “conclusive evidence” to prove the above conclusion, yet it fails to answer the underlying principle under-girding our present weekly cycle. Even if the entire world adhered to a 5 day week or any other cycle than the Bible week, and though all should cease to recognize God’s Sabbath, and keep some other, yet such can in truth have no bearing on the subject. Our teachings and practices, as Christians, are based upon the Word of God alone. Neither the fact of the Jews or Romans shifting their calendar, nor the fact that the days have been renamed by pagans to honor false gods have anything whatsoever to do with the biblical weekly cycle. We know there was a general knowledge of the 7th-day Sabbath before the law was given on Sinai (see Ex. 16), and that this same Sabbath Christ kept, as did the Jews of his day. These two facts alone are sufficient proof for the Christian to know that he is keeping the right day. However, the lunar sabbath advocates expect you and me to believe that somehow God’s faithful few lost count of which day was the Sabbath, and that somehow what these pagan nations did necessitated a calendar change. While it is true, that many of the Hebrews apostatized, turned to paganism, possibly adopted heathen calendars, and might consequently have lost their knowledge of the true calendar, and forgot which day the Sabbath was. Yet are we to believe that such apostasy in any way affected the keeping of the weekly Sabbath by those true and faithful Hebrews as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and, yes, even Christ and his apostles on the 7th day? Looking back through biblical and modern history we find an unbroken record of Sabbath keeping among the Hebrew people for at least 4,000 years, during which time God’s remnant people continued to keep the Sabbath every 7th day. Suppose though we grant that the Sabbath was forgotten and lost track of by some, yet what is that to God, who has never lost count, never apostatized, and never needed to be reminded by any man as to what day of the week he rested? No, friends, Jesus knew what day the Sabbath was, and he has hallowed the day of his rest both at creation and by his own example on earth.
The argument of a calendar change, though true, is a moot supposition, and how can either suppositions or inferences, though drawn from Bible and/or historical truths, convince any man otherwise than what God’s inspired record declares? How can the words of “learned scholars,” though they be Jew or Christian, when they stand in defiance to what is plainly written in God’s word, in any way count as “proof” to cause you or me to disbelieve what is written in God’s true and inspired account, and consequently to disobey his clear and express command (Ex. 20:8-11)? You and I dear reader are right and perfectly warranted to demand from any such sophist a clear and explicit “Thus saith the LORD” for their argument.
Leaving historical hearsay behind, let us proceed to the meat of the issue at hand.
The central issue – The whole matter concerning the Bible Sabbath hinges upon one concrete, unmovable fact which the promoters of the lunar sabbath have tried to explain away by “historical, scientific, and mathematical proofs”. It centers upon the accounts in Gen. 1:1-31; 2:2-3, and repeated in Ex. 20:8-11 and Deu. 5:6-21, where we are clearly told that the Sabbath is a day, not just any day, but a one definite, blessed, and sanctified day. Neither is it simply “the day following six work days”, or “one day in seven”, but the 7th day. The Lord God blessed and sanctified only one definite day of the week. No other day of the week was so blessed or sanctified. However, the advocates of the lunar sabbath would have us believe that the 7th day Sabbath can come on any day of the week. Thus they essentially make every day of the week hallowed and blessed by God.
Moreover we are told that,
“they [the Jews] never counted the New Moon worship day when counting out the six workdays” ― (The Weekly Sabbath is not Saturday or Sunday).
Though such a statement cannot be proven from the Bible, yet its advocates don’t fail to tout it as a “fact” that the weekly cycle begins anew with each new moon (month), and that the week must be recalculated according to the “conjunction” of the new moon (on which point there is considerable disagreement among them). And what do they do with the leftover days? After all the 7 days of the week don’t go into the 29.5 days of the month evenly; there will necessarily be 1.5 days left over. What would they have us do with them? Answer – They are not counted, and are simply expunged as “no days” from the cycle. Consequently their “weekly cycle” is not a cycle at all, but a disjointed mess.
Dear reader, honestly ask yourself, How can a day be a “no day”? The Creator has given us just seven days, no more or less. What else could be understood from this than that they are to be counted in repeated series or cycles?
Any attempt to diminish or augment the number of days in a week is an attempt to diminish or augment God’s word, and to undo God’s work of creation. All such work belongs to the infidel, not to the Christian.
The above quoted author goes on to say,
“It might pay every-one to find out what a Scriptural 7th day is” ― (ibid).
That is sound advice, as far as I’ve quoted. It most surely would “pay every-one”. It would “pay” them by grounding their faith in a “thus saith the LORD”, and leading them away from the groundless suppositions, inferences, and theories of men, who trust in their own wisdom, to trust the plain and simple words of Holy Writ. Indeed, it would pay them by indelibly engraving upon the tables of their hearts the words as they are recorded, not as they are paraphrased and “explained away” by wise and learned philosophers and lovers of men’s wisdom. Yes, I would earnestly encourage all who would know the truth to faithfully follow such advice, as far as the quote goes. However, the above author has not followed his own advice; for he continues thus:
The true weekly Sabbaths are determined by the phases of the moon, not a carnal count [?] of one through seven. (Genesis 1:14 and Psalms 104:19 compared to Leviticus 23:2-3)....― (ibid).
What exactly does the author mean by “a carnal count of one through seven”? In another place he gives us a clue, saying,
“Sure the seventh day is the Sabbath, but the seventh day from where?” (7th Day: True Prophets Don’t Lie).
Hear his answer:
“...you can start counting to seven from any where. Example, a leper was unclean until the SEVENTH day, and on the SEVENTH day he was to wash his clothes etc. Was this the seventh day to remember? Absolutely not” (ibid).
All this pseudo-science is an attempt to show that it is only by the moon that we can know when to start our count. However, to the Bible believing Christian there is only one answer as to when we are to begin our count – Where God started, from day one of creation, the 1st day of the week (Gen. 1:1-5). This is the only biblical method. It is where the great Creator started, and we are commanded to continue HIS count, not some other “from any” day of the week as is taught by this the lunar sabbath promoter. And I should add that it was God who counted the days, not any man, therefore they are a divine count, not a “carnal” or “fleshly” “count”. To each he gave a number as a name to indicate its precise order in the weekly sequence or cycle (Gen. 1:1-31), which he commenced and set in motion. Moreover, God instituted the Sabbath upon the 7th day (Gen. 2:1-3), blessed it, sanctified it by his rest (Heb. Shabbath) thereon, and gave to it a name (Sabbath) indicative of its purpose and exalted place “above his fellows”; thus exalting it (the Sabbath day) above the other six days (see part 1). One 19th century Sabbath keeper and scholar stated these facts in the following clear and forceful manner:
With the beginning of time, God began to count days, giving to each an ordinal number for its name. Seven different days receive as many different names. In memory of that which he did on the last of these days, he sets that apart by name to a holy use. This act gave existence to weeks, or periods of seven days. For with the seventh day, he ceased to count, and, by the divine appointment of that day to a holy use in memory of his rest thereon, he causes man to begin the count of a new week so soon as the first seventh day had ceased. And as God has been pleased to give man, in all, but seven different days, and has given to each one of these days a name which indicates its exact place in the week, his act of setting apart one of these by name, which act created weeks and gave man the Sabbath, can never – except by sophistry – be made to relate to an indefinite or uncertain day. ― (John Nevins Andrews’, “History of the Sabbath,” p. 16, 1873).
That is sound biblical doctrine, and is based upon the pure and simple facts of Scripture. Thus the “weekly cycle” was born, which contains seven days. Note also that the very word for week in the OT (עובש – shabu‘a) signifies signified a heptad or group of seven. It was in this way that the word Sabbath (the seventh of that series) became the symbol whereby to designate the whole week (sabbaton) in the NT.
The Sabbath & the week – The word Sabbath (Grk. σάββατον – sabbaton) was used by both the Gospel writers and the apostle Paul as the word for week (Mat. 28:1; Mar. 16:2, 9; Luk. 18:12; 24:1; Joh. 20:1, 19; Act. 20:7; 1Co. 16:2). In each of the foregoing passages the word translated week is either the Genitive singular or plural form of the Greek noun sabbaton (which means “of the sabbath”). The days of the week were counted by the Hebrews and early Christians by enumerating the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th of the Sabbath (sabbaton) or week, etc., the word “day” being understood.
That the 7th day (the Sabbath or Saturday) follows the 6th, and the 1st day (not an 8th or 9th) follows the Sabbath is clearly shown in the following accounts of the Gospel writers: (1) Luke 23:56 – certain women “rested the sabbath day [sabbaton] according to the commandment [see Ex. 20:8-11]”. What day precedes the Sabbath day? (2) Mark 15:42 – “the preparation, [Παρασκευή – Paraskeue]*” “is, the day before the sabbath [προσάββατον – prosabbaton]”. What day follows the Sabbath? (3) Matthew 28:1 – “In the end of the sabbath [sabbaton], as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week [sabbaton].” Thus God has provided us in his Word with clear self-evident witnesses of an unbroken weekly Sabbath cycle.
The Bible Sabbath, not a lunar sabbath, was kept by all the patriarchs and prophets of old, by Christ himself, and by his disciples, and was by them faithfully committed unimpaired to his church. This we know, not because mere men tell us, but because God in his word tells us. This day God commanded all people, saying,
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made [‘asah – make or fashion] heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested [shabath – rest or cease] the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it [not another]” ― (Ex. 20:8-11).
Ask yourself, dear reader – What is inconclusive or needs to be explained in this command? God has given us a clear and express command, easy to be understood, that none be confused or deceived by vain sophistry.
The miracle of the manna – Another piece of evidence is found in Exodus 16. In verse 4 God relates through Moses that they were to gather “a certain rate [of manna] every day”. Such language clearly indicates an unbroken succession of days. This gathering continued for the space of 40 years (see v. 35). However, God had stipulations. The gathering was only allowed during the six working days, and on the 6th day the people were commanded to gather twice as much as normal, for God warned them that he would not rain manna upon the Sabbath (7th) day (Ex 16:26), saying,
“Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none”.
This God did to “prove them, whether they will walk in my law [Ex. 20:8-11], or no” (see v. 4). The instruction to Israel was to gather manna for 6 days only, and that the 7th day is the Sabbath. It does not teach an eight or nine day week, but a seven day week. Thus we have clear evidence that the “weekly Sabbath” was kept every 7th day for at least these forty years.
Conclusion – Let us hear the conclusion of the matter:
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” ― (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Let us therefore “stand fast” beloved, and “hold the traditions” which we “have been taught,” not by self-proclaimed prophets or apostles, but by those men and women upon whom the holy spirit moved (2 Peter 1:21), as recorded in their own epistles and in their own words. For the apostle Paul warned the flock long ago of the dangers from within, saying,
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” ― (Acts 20:29, 30).
“It follows from this testimony that we are not authorized to receive the teaching of any man simply because he lived immediately after the apostolic age, or even in the days of the apostles themselves. Grievous wolves were to enter the midst of the people of God, and of their own selves were men to arise, speaking perverse things. If it be asked how these are to be distinguished from the true servants of God, this is the proper answer: Those who spoke and acted in accordance with the teachings of the apostles were men of God; those who taught otherwise were of that class who should speak perverse things to draw away disciples after them” ― (John Nevins Andrews,’ “History of the Sabbath,” pp. 194-95, 1873).
And so say I. Amen! Until next time, may the Lord by his spirit bless and guide and keep you in all truth.
* Note: the word for “Preparation” (Paraskeue) is the ancient and modern Greek word for Friday. (See Παρασκευή, “Oxford Greek Dictionary,” Oxford University Press, 2000).
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Seventh Day Home Church Fellowships is an association of Sabbath-keeping groups, which through web & tele-conferencing provides means for study, fellowship, and jointly organized missionary projects.
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