Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lying For God v8 PartI pp9-16

Today we bring you installment #2 of Kerry Wynne's comprehensive study "Lying For God" version 8, Part I. Reproduced here by permission.

This section is particularly interesting to me, since it goes over the Lunar Sabbath theory (I've hinted at this idea in recent posts). In a nutshell, the Sabbath was the seventh day but weeks reset with each moon so the Sabbath was not every seven days in absolute succession. The Lunar Sabbath theory was a complete novelty to me upon leaving Armstrongism, as I recall no mention whatsoever about it in all of my years in the system. This study is remarkably fair-minded about the topic, properly addressing scholarly evidence both pro and con, which is refreshing in our time. Agree with the Lunar Sabbath theory or not, I believe you will be challenged by it. Hopefully in a good way.

Again, I want to make it clear that I am posting this because it is thought-provoking, not because I absolutely agree with every word and endorse the study in its entirety.

Today's installment picks up where the previous article left off, and will include material from pages 4-16. It's a lot of pages, but I felt it was better to include all of this since one idea flows throughout.


Adventism And The Lunar Sabbath Issue

We do not take a position for or against the lunar Sabbath theory, but since the idea is creating so much controversy within Adventism at this very moment, we would be irresponsible not to cover this topic for our readers. We will try to show you the arguments pro and con. Our task is made difficult because of the obvious biases of those who write in favor or against the concept. It is our intention as researchers to find truth and to follow it at all costs. The cost to us seems to be that the idea of a lunar Sabbath appears to be so far-fetched that it is almost too much for even our anti-Sabbatarian supports to swallow. At its very best we can only make educated guesses about what happened in ancient times. However, some theories are more respectable than others. Most readers do not know some very unflattering things about the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s extensive knowledge of its credibility and its troublesome implications for Adventism:
  1. William Miller learned about the lunar calendar from the Karaite Jews who were teaching him Hebrew. He applied the lunar calendar to help him solve some biblical time problems. It worked, and he was able to resolve those problems and arrive at the “correct” date Christ would return.
  2. The Advent Movement adopted his prophetic charts, which were based on the lunar calendar, but in doing so they accepted an AD 31 date for the crucifixion—a date which differs from the AD 33 date accepted by most Christian scholars and which is supported better by historical and astronomical data. See Appendix IX for an analysis of the Adventist Sabbath “Paradox.”
  3. The lunar Sabbath issue has been looked at three times by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Each time the committees were disbanded and the records of the committee proceedings destroyed. The most significant lunar Sabbath research paper, submitted to the General Conference back in the 1930’s, has disappeared without a trace. The committee established in 1995 to study the question of the lunar Sabbath was scuttled when, so we are told, three of the delegates, theologians from the Church’s seminary at Andrews University, became convinced that the lunar Sabbath was correct and that the Church should adopt the practice.
  4. Seventh-day Adventists would naturally have a bias against the lunar Sabbath for at least two reasons:
  1. The concept that one day of the week is intrinsically holy is dependent on the idea that such a day represents an exact seven-day multiple of the seventh-day of Creation. If the Jews kept the Sabbath according to a lunar calendar, the Sabbath day would have wandered, rather than having been fixed, making it next to impossible, if not impossible, to keep track of that exact seven-day multiple.
  2. It makes the loaded question of who changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday irrelevant. You can’t “change” a moving target. The lunar Sabbath concept would make it impossible that the papacy could or anyone else could have “changed” it.
  1. William Miller probably new that the position of the Karaite Jews was that a number of factors, including calendar issues, make it impossible to know which day of the current “fixed” week was really the 7th day and that Jews have known for a very long time that they were keeping an arbitrarily chosen 7th day as their Sabbath. The earliest leaders of Adventism might have known that the current 7th day has only one chance in seven of being an exact seven-day multiple of the 7th day of Creation.

Nehemia Gordon, a prominent advocate for Karaite Judaism and the webmaster for the Karaite Corner, listed the following objections to the lunar Sabbath theory in a recent podcast. His position is that the Jews never observed the lunar Sabbath. (Later we quote from an entry on the Karaite Corner’s website the current position of Karaite Judaism that Jews have known for a very long time that the day they accept as their 7th day was arbitrarily chosen and may or may not be an exact seven-day multiple of the 7th day of Creation.) Gordon is a former president of a Jewish university, and his opinion is worthy of respect because of his presumed knowledge of the Hebrew language and the history of Judaism:
  1. People who espouse this concept tend to have gotten their idea from skeptical scholars from the past who believe that the Hebrews borrowed the Sabbath idea from the pagan nations around them. The pagan “sabbath” was lunar-based. Currently (2014), even most skeptical scholars have abandoned this theory of the origin of the Sabbath concept.
  2. You can go anywhere in the world and find that the Jews in every country where they are found worship on the same seventh day. Furthermore, this has been true for over 2,000 years. None of these Jews seem to know anything about a wandering Sabbath that was based on the lunar month.
  3. The only scriptural evidence of something Sabbath-related that “moved” was the Sabbatical Year, which had to be adjusted frequently to adjust their year to correlate properly with the seasons.
  4. Although the Jews eventually adopted pagan names for the days of the seven-day week, this fact did not mean that the Jews abandoned a supposed lunar week with Hebrew names for a fixed week with those pagan names. Furthermore, the theory that the wandering Sabbath had to be moved to “fixed” Saturday because the pagan name for the fixed 7th day, Saturday, was related to the word from any language for “sabbath.” Rather, Saturday was named in honor of the pagan god, Saturn.
In addition to these objections of Nehemia Gordon, other biblical scholars report that they have studied the Scriptures and have not found any evidence that God instructed Israel to observe the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar. Researchers report that they find exceptions to the rules of the so-called lunar Sabbath principles that disprove the entire theory. The work of scholars who oppose the lunar Sabbath are widely available on the Internet and appear to us to have some validity.


The best way to see the very best that the lunar Sabbath community has to offer is to study Appendix XI, excerpts from John D. Keyser’s paper entitled, “From Sabbath to Saturday.” Whether his research proves that the lunar Sabbath concept is true or not, he appears to make a respectable case for it. He utilizes resources we have not seen elsewhere. Together with a study of Appendixes IX, X, and XI, our readers should walk away with less reluctance than ever to reject the idea categorically.

Let us evaluate the objections of Nehemia Gordon. First, the issue of whether the Hebrews borrowed the Sabbath concept from the pagans or it came from direct, divine revelation is a serious issue, but it tells us nothing about how the Jews practiced that belief, wherever that belief might have come from. (Hopefully all of us belief the Sabbath concept came directly from God on Mt. Sinai during the Exodus.)

Second, the fact that Jews everywhere have kept the same fixed 7th day for a very long time—perhaps for a couple thousand years—tells us nothing about whether the ancient Hebrews observed the lunar Sabbath prior to the building of the second temple hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. The primary claim of lunar Sabbatarians is that the Jews kept the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar prior to the building of the second temple, although they cite evidence that some of the Jewish sects were observing the lunar Sabbath at the time of Christ and that some Christians and some Jews kept the lunar Sabbath for a few hundred years after the death of Christ. (We will look at the evidence for these additional claims later.)

Third, there is some evidence that Israel kept the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar, and some very tenacious lunar Sabbath researchers have uncovered it. As you will learn later, world civilizations did not have any notion of a fixed calendar until around the time of the building of the second temple. Just as the idea of a lunar calendar with extra days at the end of the month is incomprehensible to us today, so the idea of a fixed calendar would have been unfathomable to the civilizations of the world back then. It appears that in these ancient times the concept of a week existed, but not that of a fixed week. The week was based on the four phases of the moon, which were approximately seven days in length. It would be unreasonable to expect God or any Old Testament writer to specify that the Sabbath had to be kept according to a lunar calendar because there was no other way in existence to keep track of time.

While we will give you more documentation in regard to the extra days of the lunar months later, the only reasonable explanation for the biblical account of the Battle of Jericho involves the use of the lunar calendar. Recall that the Israelites were instructed to march around the city for seven days in a row. It is unlikely that God would have instructed the Hebrews to break the Sabbath, and one of those seven days would have to have been a Sabbath day if Israel had been using a fixed week at that time to determine their Sabbaths. See Appendix X for a full explanation. Please do not skip reading this appendix.

The ancient civilizations contemporary to the time of the Israel’s Exodus from Egypt marked time by lunar months. We also know that their smallest “absolute” unit of time for periods of time less than a solar year was the lunar month. They had no concern for numbers of days within a lunar month. Universal to virtually all ancient societies contemporary with Exodus Era Israel was that the number of days between the lunar months were of no consequence or concern. These civilizations were focused on the absolute reference point represented by the appearance of the new moon. (The reference point was always an absolute, fixed event, but this is not at all the same thing as saying that the time between the reference points were absolutely the same length.)

Furthermore, we know that in between the new moons they kept track of time by seven-day weeks that were correlated to the four phases of the moon. Finally, we know that their focus on the new moon as the absolute reference of time-keeping resulted in a total lack of concern for the number of days between those absolute reference points. This is one more prime example of the danger of studying the Bible without an understanding of the culture and the language which produced the biblical record. It is a very naive biblical scholar who would demand that Moses explain that his time references were lunar at a time when the entire world had no concept of fixed calendars.

Many of the cuneiform writings discuss a day of cessation from work at the end of each phase and suggest that the extra days between the last new moon and the first new moon were spent resting, rather than working. This information, which has been widely available for a very long time to scholars, raises serious questions about the usual Sabbatarian explanation for the existence of the pervasive heathen concept of a seven-day week and a day of rest at the week’s end. Sabbatarians claim that this heathen familiarity with a kind of sabbath principle is due to the retention (with corruption) of the memory of a seven-day fixed week and a Sabbath ordinance that all people were supposed to keep since Creation. Unfortunately there are better explanations for this phenomenon – the universal association between seven-day periods of time and the four phases of the moon. Since there was no Sabbath ordinance in Genesis, other explanations demand to be found.

The Hebrew word for Sabbath is closely related and derived from a word that means “propitiation.” When God ceased His creative work on the 7th day of Creation, He did not ask to be propitiated, and there is nothing in the story of Adam and Eve to suggest that any such propitiation if for no other reason than sin had not entered the world yet. The fact that in these ancient languages the sabbath concept was equated with the need to appease the gods is a major linguistic barrier to the idea the Sabbath originated at Creation.

The work of D. A. Carson and his team of distinguished biblical scholars published From Sabbath to Lord’s Day in 1982. This landmark study of the Sabbath-Sunday Question provided the world with a break-through understanding of the Hebrew linguistics of Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20 that definitively proved that Moses worded his language carefully to make it impossible for his Hebrew readers to see a Sabbath commandment in Genesis 2. Their studies also proved to the point of over-kill that Christians abandoned Sabbath-keeping for biblical reasons and that all the known conspiracy-apostasy theories to explain this abandonment are contrary to facts of history that have been known for nearly 2,000 years.

The lunar connection explains the development of the Heathen concept of a seven day week and a day of rest at the end of the week better than any other theories, since we now know for certain that there was no Sabbath in Genesis.

The Encyclopedia Biblica (The MacMillan Company, 1899, p. 4180) says that the Hebrew word for Sabbath, or sabbathon, conveys the propitiation or appeasement of divine anger:
It is the opinion of [Professor Jastrow] that the idea of propitiation or appeasement of divine anger, and it is . . . the opinion of [Professor Jastrow] that the Hebrew Sabbath (i.e. Creation Sabbath) was originally a Sabbathon – i.e. a day of propitiation and appeasement; marked by atoning rites . . . it was celebratred at intervals of seven days, CORRESPONDING WITH CHANGES IN THE MOON’S PHASES, and was identical in character with the four days in each month, i.e. 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th! (page 4,180). Cited in From Sabbath to Saturday by John D. Keyser.)
The Encyclopedia Biblica also notes that the word translated “rest” in Genesis 2:1-2, indicates that the 7th day of Creation was a day that divided something and has nothing to do with resting. For our immediate purposes, note that the word indicates a division of the month—not days. (We hasten to point out, as discussed elsewhere, that to us it seems to divide the seven days of Creation into two categories —the days that God created and the day that he did not create.) However, since Jastrow is an expert in Ancient Hebrew linguistics, we may find ourselves having to defer to his interpretation – one that represents still another serious argument against a Creation Sabbath from Hebrew linguistics. On page 4,173 we read:
The word, “Sabbath” is a feminine form/word. The ROOT (of Sabbath) has NOTHING to do with resting in the sense of enjoying repose; in transitive forms and applications, it means: “to sever,” “to put an end to”—“to come to an end.” In a transitive sense – “the divider” – indicates the Sabbath as dividing the month. It certainly cannot be translated “The Day of Rest.”
Lunar Sabbath Researcher, John D. Keyser, has studied the “heathen” Sabbath in depth, and he presents numerous examples of it in his remarkable book, From Sabbath to Saturday. These are some examples he discovered:
Discovered by Assyriologist, George Smith in 1869 among the cuneiform tablets in the British Museum and summarized here by Hutton Webster:
. . .a curious religious calendar of the Assyrians, in which every month is divided into four weeks, and the seventh days or “Sabbaths,” are marked out as days on which no work should be undertaken.”It appears to be a transcript of a much more ancient Babylonia original, possibly belonging to the age of Hammurabi, which has been made by order of Ashurbanipal and placed in his royal library at Nineveh. The calendar, which is complete for the thirteenth or intercalary month, called Elul II, and for Markheshwan, the eight month of the Babylonia year, takes up thirty days in succession and indicates the deity to which each day is sacred and what sacrifices or precautionary measures are necessary for each day.All the days are styled “favourable,” an expression which must indicate a pious hope not a fact, since the words ud-khul-gal or umu limnu (“the devil day”) are particularly applied to the seventh fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eight days . . . With regard to the reasons which dictate the choice of the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days, two views have been entertained. It has been held, in the first place, that the “evil days” were selected as CORRESPONDING TO THE MOON’S SUCCESSIVE CHANGES; hence the seventh day marks the close of the earliest form of the seven-day week, A WEEK BOUND UP WITH THE LUNAR PHASES.(Hutton Webster, Rest Days: a Study in Early Law and Morality, New York: The MacMillan Company. 1916, p. 223-224.)
It seems like the utilization of the lunar calendar appears to have produced some extra rest days between the months:
Assurbanipal in the seventh century promulgated a calendar with a definite scheme of a seven-day week, a regulation of the month by which all men were to rest on days 7, 14, 19, 21,28. The old menology of Nisan made the TWO DAYS OF THE DARK OF THE MOON, 29, 30, rest days, so that each lunar month had 9 rest days, on which neither the sick could be cured nor a man in difficulty consult a prophet, none might travel, and fasting was enforced.


Keyser cites Hutton Webster, a contributor to Rest Days: A Study in Early Law and Morality, pp. 228-229, regarding the fact that the Babylonian “Epic of Creation,” includes a discussion of lunar weeks that end in a Sabbath rest day. Keyser says:
“Finally,” writes Webster, “in the fifth tablet of the Babylonian ‘Epic of Creation,’ a work which in its original form is traced to the close of the third millennium B.C., it is told how the god Marduk, having created and set in order the heavenly bodies, then placed the moon in the sky to make known the days and DIVIDE THE MONTH WITH HER PHASES.” “Although this interesting production, in its present mutilated state,” elicits Webster, “mentions only the seventh and fourteenth days, we are entitled to believe that the original text also referred to the twenty-first and twenty-eighth days of the month.”
Keyser’s research suggests that the seven-day week synchronized to the four phases of the moon was virtually universal in the ancient world that surrounded Israel. He cites the work of Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (Charles Scribner & Sons, New York, 1892-1902), the article, “On Sabbath: Babylonian,” it appears that the document referenced by Hastings is the same one referenced by Webster above:
Almost all scholars today agree that the primal seven-day calendar, as used among the very ancient Semites (including the Babylonians and Hebrews), was based upon the moon. Furthermore, this unique weekly cycle was observed in tandem with the lunar phases. An example of the early week, based upon the phases of the moon, is described in the Fifth Tablet of the Semitic Story of Creation. Note that the moon is said to “make known the days” and its horns “the seasons,” creating the Sabbath on the 7th and 14th days of the month. Quoting the tablet’s translation, he finds:[The moon] He caused to shine, ruling the night: He set him then as a creature of the Night, to make known the days.Monthly unfailing, He provided him with a tiara.At the beginning of the month then,Appearing in the land,The horns shine forth to make known the seasons.


With the ancient lunar-solar calendar, the first sighting of the new moon started the first day of the first week of the new month. The ancients viewed the monthly cycle of the moon as the absolute marker for any period of time less than one solar year, and they cared nothing about the number of days in between the markers represented by the appearance of each new moon. But what about the extra days between the new moon months? They never seem to add up to seven.

If you look back at our example of a lunar month and analyze it, you can’t help being puzzled by the fact that the new moon seems both to end the month and to begin it. The orbit of the moon around the Earth varies by up to several days. Therefore, there are almost always (it seems) these extra days left over at the end of each lunar month. As “moderns” accustomed to a fixed calendar and having never known anything else, our first reaction to the lunar concept of marking time is that these extra days “mess up” the weekly cycle. This perception is the result of normal cultural bias, but one that is dangerous when it comes to translating one language into another. We will explain momentarily that the Hebrews simply discarded these days and either rested or worked on them. Their absolute standard was the appearance of each new moon. The records left by these societies strongly suggest that they simply rested on these extra days. Recall from the previous section that Assurbanipal’s calendar of the 7th century BCE had a total of nine rest days, a few of them represented by the extra days in between the months.

Elsewhere in VERDICT, we cite the work of Benner, a noted Hebrew language scholar. Benner says that the Hebrew language is impossible to translate accurately without an advanced understanding of the culture that produced it. The culture in which the early Israelites and their ancestors found themselves was overwhelmingly enmeshed in the concept of the lunar calendar and the lunar week. The trouble we have comprehending the variable day lunar month is the result of our Western idea, forged into our minds by our fixed calendar cultural experience. Since a fixed calendar has been used by civilizations roughly since the time of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, the weeks “butt up” against each other consecutively. However, by either method of reckoning time, a week is always seven days.

The fact that the ancients likely rested on these extra days is supported by the obsession they appear to have had on fertility subjects and celebrated with fertility rites. They did not fail to notice that the number of days it takes the moon to go around the Earth is roughly equal to the number of days in a woman’s reproductive cycle. Notice the research of Janet and Stewart Farrar in their book, The Witches’ Goddess (Phoenix Publishing, pp. 24-25, & p. 106):
The modern use of seven day weeks also stems from the ancient lunar calendar. The first of every lunar month was marked as the first day of a new week and a Sabbath was celebrated every seventh day to mark the 4 quarters of the moon. The last week was followed by the days of the dark moon when the goddess was held to be menstruating and so an extended Sabbath was observed until the waxing crescent moon reappeared and the new month began.
The Jewish Encyclopedia addresses the problem of the extra days between the lunar months with this explanation in Volume 10, p. 482, the article, “Week:”
The idea of the week, as a subdivision of the month [was found] . . . in Babylonia, where each lunar month was divided into four parts, CORRESPONDING TO THE FOUR PHASES OF THE MOON. The first week of each month began with the new moon, so that, as the lunar month was one or two days more than four periods of seven days, these additional days were not reckoned at all. Every seventh day (sabbatum) was regarded as an unlucky day. This method of reckoning time spread westward through Syria and Palestine, and WAS ADOPTED BY THE ISRAELITES, probably after they settled in Palestine.
Another well-respected encyclopedia supports this view as well. The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia was an English translation of a German encyclopedia that had been published first in 1805, and the American version was released between 1908 and 1914, according to its Wikipedia entry:
“The Israelites . . . made the Sabbath the feasts of a living and holy God. The work of man became symbolic of the work of God, and human rest of divine rest, so that the Sabbaths became preeminently days of rest. Since, moreover, the LUNAR MONTH had 29 or 30 days, the normal lapse of time between Sabbaths was six days, although sometimes seven or eight; and six working days were accordingly assigned to the creation, which was to furnish a prototype for human life. The connection of the Sabbath with lunar phases, however, was [later] discarded by the Israelites . . . .” (The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, pages 135-136.)


Thanks to advanced studies in Hebrew linguistics we now know that there is no possibility that the Sabbath ordinance was imposed on God’s people until the time of the Exodus. We also know that Heathen societies that predated Exodus Era Israel had a “sabbath” concept based on the four phases of the moon and fertility themes. The next logical step requires the obvious conclusion, and that is that the sabbath of propitiation and fertility associations that was so prevalent in the societies that predated ancient Israel could not have developed as the result of some kind of “dim memory” of the “original Sabbath” in the Garden of Eden. No such thing ever existed! Additionally, some historians see evidence that this lunar-fertility sabbath was part of the Egyptian culture when the Hebrews were their captives.

The next logical step is to conclude that the evidence available to us suggests that when God gave Israel its sabbath system, His thinking was that He would take a useful but purely heathen concept, redeem it, wash it clean of its fertility and superstitious connotations, and present it to Israel in the glorious and holy form in which it came down to them from Mt. Sinai – The Mountain of the Moon. It would appear that while it was washed of its Heathen connotations, its association with the four phases of the Moon was retained. After all, in Genesis, Chapter One, God stated that the sun and moon were given to the human race to determine “sacred times.” The lunar connection with the Sabbath, then, did not need to be cleansed as it reflected His provision for time-keeping for all peoples for all time from the beginning of time. The earliest societies on Earth had retained the memory of the lunar method of time reckoning that God had given to the world in the very beginning. And, this memory was not a “dim” one either. With each appearance of the Moon, all the people on the Earth recognized the existence of God's long-lasting timepiece.

This theory of how the Jewish Sabbath came into existence is in keeping with God’s apparent habit of communicating spiritual truths to Israel through cultural concepts with which they were already familiar. For example, God modeled the Ten Commandments after the formula for the treaties that Israel’s neighbors made with one another. It was the custom of the time to draft these agreements so that a list of required actions by the people of a conquered nation had a ceremonial requirement placed right in the middle. The ceremony that the people were required to enact at regular intervals was designed to help the conquered people to remember the one who had the power to require them to fulfill their obligations, as well as to remember his actual requirements. Consider the fact that Jehovah did not choose to ban slavery for Israel. The practice of slavery was universal at the time. The way the Heathen practiced it created extreme human suffering. God’s regulations for slavery within Israel were just, humane, and designed to give the worker-slave hope for the future at the end of his seven-year indenture. Similarly, He chose to control—not to erase—certain inequalities between the role of men and women in society. The Law of Moses provided, for example, that women could own property, and they enjoyed many protections and privileges while the women of Israel's neighbors were frequently treated as having less value than livestock. Jehovah seems to have chosen to work within the culture of the day whether in regard to the Sabbath, slavery, or women’s rights. Even female slaves had a status of honor and protection unheard of in the Heathen world. In the New Testament, Jesus redeemed the concept of baptism – always a symbol of spiritual renewal – from heathen cultic sources.

It appears to be impossible to divorce the Sabbath from its lunar foundations. Recall once more that Jehovah gave these treaty-like Ten Commandments from the top of the Mountain of the Moon (Sin = Semitic for Moon) which sat on the edge of the Wilderness of the Moon. Furthermore, He thundered these requirements to the Hebrews on the same day as the pagan High Sabbath of the lunar month. The Sabbaths before and after the giving of the 10 Commandments from Mt. Sinai correlated with the designated sabbaths of the lunar month.

Was it just a coincidence that God chose the High Sabbath of the pagan lunar month to present the terms of His treaty with the ceremonial Sabbath requirement placed in the middle with His Hebrew people? It would seem that if we were to humbly attempt to think about the way God would view this question, we would reason that if He were concerned about the linkage between the Holy Sabbath of the Hebrews and the pagan sabbath concept of their neighbors, He would have avoided giving the terms of His treaty to Israel on that day. Because ALL the countries around Israel kept time by the phases of the moon, all sabbaths, whether sacred or pagan, would have been observed on exactly the same day in that part of the world.

The lunar month and the lunar-based seven-day week system was simply the way things worked at that time in the history of the world. Back then the concept of a fixed calendar would likely have been as incomprehensible to them as their lunar calendar is to us. To demand that Moses record the fact that Israel was using a lunar calendar at the time of the Exodus is as unreasonable as demanding that Robert Hemingway explain that in the age he wrote in, there were things called cars that drove on things called roads. He would simply put a car in his story if it was a necessary part of his story-telling, and his readers would already know what a car was.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Social Media Pays: COGWA Calculated Split with "Likes" and Tithes

Abigail Cartwright. Gideon's 300. William T. Sackett. If these names are familiar to you, you just might have gone through the 2010 split between the United Church of God (UCG) and the Church of God, a Worldwide Association (COGWA).

During the split, it was easy to see how hard UCG was working to spin its membership against the ministers who would later form COGWA. The late Dennis Luker called for a split during his first public address as the head of UCG. Later letters to the membership referred to the would-be COGWA leaders as "spiritual wolves." This kind of attitude turned many members against UCG before they even knew what hit them. I was one of them.

Now, almost five years later, we learn the COGWA leaders may have been spinning just as hard, possibly going to even greater lengths to manipulate the membership.

This week, James Malm posted inside information he was given by John Kilough and other COGWA leaders. John Kilough is the father of Clyde Kilough, the embattled former UCG president who currently serves as COGWA's Media Operations Manager. Malm has previously written about the senior Kilough's attempts to recruit him to support the dissenters during the 2010 split. While we at As Bereans Did do not endorse the doctrinal positions Malm advocates, he is usually "in-the-know" about drama within the Churches of God.

Many have claimed that social media was used as a tool to foment the 2010 UCG/COGWA split so that the junior Kilough and Jim Franks wouldn't have to get their hands dirty. Malm's allegations seem to support that conclusion.

To gauge support for a potential split, would-be COGWA leaders created a Facebook site named "UCG United We Stand" in May 2010, Malm says. Cecil Maranville, a long-time WCG/UCG higher-up who manages COGWA's Personal Correspondence Department, created the site, according to Malm.

The purpose of the UCG United We Stand page was to feel out how many brethren were unhappy with UCG and would support a split, Malm says. People were "carefully tracked" according to their "likes" on posts and the comments. Later, the UCG dissenters used these figures to determine when a split was financially feasible for them, according to Malm.

"The average income that could be expected from the brethren was calculated according to the numbers expected to support the action; and when a sufficient income was calculated as achievable for their expected needs; the split become a sure thing," he said.

Maranville was simultaneously trying to gauge support for a split among the UCG elders, Malm claims. He created a secret Facebook group called "Gideon's 300," then asked trusted elders to report other elders, wives and other significant members to the group. Once Maranville vetted them, they were invited to join.

To spur discussion on these forums, the soon-to-be COGWA leadership created a fictitious profile of a woman named Abigail Cartwright to disseminate anti-UCG information and official statements. During that time period, Maranville had access to internal UCG information and letters, which regularly appeared on the Abigail Cartwright page. Malm says that the information was written by a number of people, then compiled by Doug Horchak, so that no one could be pinned down on who wrote the articles. Abigail Cartwright was operated by Gloria Dilberto, the wife of Cecil Maranville's step son, Frank Diliberto. Frank played a role in the other Facebook groups.

And in the event that even more pot-stirring was needed, Maranville would comment on the UCG United We Stand forum under the pseudonym William T. Sackett, a character from a series of Louis L'Amour novels, according to Malm. Once it had served its purpose, the forum name was changed to COGWA United We Stand, and later abandoned.

Just in case anyone thinks I'm picking on COGWA, I know that UCG's political machine was working overtime in social media during the same time period. They just weren't as good at it. And now we hear reports that the Living Church of God is cracking down on its membership over Facebook likes and comments. The sister splinters of the Worldwide Church of God all learned their tactics from the same place.

It saddens me to realize I was probably used as a pawn in a chess match between ambitious men. It's sobering to realize that my "likes" and my words of support were probably not used to encourage, but instead to calculate whether a political faction would have enough money to survive.

Still, it doesn't shock me. I recall reading an email Malm posted, the December 17, 2010 message Jim Franks sent to his "supporters" just before the split was made official. It found its way into my inbox a handful of days after Franks sent it. Even then, as a COGWA supporter, I was taken aback by its flippant tone.
"Hello, I simply can't imagine how things could get any more interesting! Each day now brings a new twist."
Families and lifelong friends being torn apart is interesting? A new twist? No remorse that a fellowship was being ripped apart? No gauging and probing whether or not Jesus was being magnified? In that moment, I knew what my gut had told me all along was true. Something was wrong. These were words I would expect from a politician, not a pastor. This was not a shepherd who lamented the division of his flock. But that was the answer then, wasn't it? Oh, I was a sheep, all right. A tithe-sheep. And you are, too. Perhaps you will come to realize this before COG history repeats itself, as it always does. You are a beloved child of God; a human being for whom your Savior willingly died a brutal death. You, your loved ones, your friends and your children deserve better than to be treated like chattel.
"'Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture,' says the Lord. Therefore this says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: 'You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings, says the Lord'." - Jeremiah 23:1-2
The UCG/COGWA split and the months that followed were some of the darkest, most depressing times of my life. But I'm glad it happened, because it helped me see the cracks in the foundation of the Churches of God and question why things were as they were. It helped me to surrender to Jesus Christ because I had reached the end of myself. He in turn helped me to see that the end of myself is the beginning of Himself. That's not something to fear. Jesus isn't like the example I got from the ministry. He is the True Shepherd who gives Himself for His flock. God is working all things out for His good, for His purpose, to His glory. In looking back what was once darkness is now joy. I write this in thankfulness that a system being torn apart has led some, including me, to the New Covenant. And in hopes that you, too, will escape this dysfunctional Armstrongist system and step into the blessings of an abundant life in a truly Christ-centered, New Covenant community.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lying For God v8 PartI pp4-9

A recent copy of Kerry Wynne's comprehensive study "Lying For God" was sent to As Bereans Did. I personally have read through Lying For God more than once over the years and have been increasingly impressed by the depth of the investigation as newer versions arrive. The latest is the best yet. I thought it might be a good idea to share the study here, so I sought and received permission.

I want to make it clear that I am posting this because it is thought-provoking, not because I absolutely agree with every word and endorse the study in its entirety.

I had to mess with formatting just a touch for readability, but in general I tried to leave it as unedited as I could. The study is quite long, and directed specifically at the Seventh Day Adventists doctrines which puts it slightly outside of the scope of this blog but just close enough to make parts of it quite relevant since Armstrongism is an Adventist off-shoot, so I am not going to reproduce the entire study here, only the parts I feel are most interesting/relevant. I will put a link to the full study in the Categories page. I think the section called "Part I" is the most relevant to Armstrongism, so there I shall begin. What I am going to put here is going to take several posts. I've decided to name them "Lying For God v8 PartI" and I will affix the pages that I cover to the end of the title just to keep them all straight.

Today's installment will include material from pages 4-9.



Version 8 - August 1, 2014

by Kerry B. Wynne, William H. Hohmann, Robert K Sanders, and Duane Johnson.

[Page 4]


From The Land Of Goshen To The Mountain Of The Moon

The Hebrews left Egypt on a Thursday night and marched and camped for a total of 38 days before they kept their first Sabbath, treating all the previous days of their journey the same in regard to travel and work. One week before observing the first Sabbath ever kept by anyone, they marched 20 kilometers from their camp by the Red Sea to the edge of the Wilderness of Sin, trampling on the 7th day of their week, arriving around 5 pm on the 31st day of their journey late that “Saturday” afternoon. That evening, God introduced the Manna Obedience Test to Israel, instructing them to gather daily an amount sufficient for their needs for one day, and that on the sixth day they were to gather a double portion in order to provide them with manna on the Sabbath, seeing as there would be none provided on that day. Critical thinking elicits the fact that you cannot keep the Sabbath holy without a preparation day before it. All the work has to be completed before sundown on the 6th day.

At this point in the Exodus journey, the Sabbath represented nothing more than the second of two obedience tests. It was not until a few weeks later when, at Mt. Sinai, the Sabbath was incorporated into the treaty between God and Israel known as the 10 Commandments. Like the ordinance of circumcision and the Jewish dietary laws, the institution of the Sabbath was designed to set the Hebrews apart from every other society on Earth, forming a protective social barrier that would severely restrict their interaction with the Heathen. Regarding these cultic Jewish rituals, a scholar once observed that people who do not eat together seldom become friends. If the Sabbath were a Creation ordinance with truly moral qualities, God would not have led His children out of Egypt without provision for keeping it every step of the way. Once, because of their sins, God seems to have threatened to take Israel’s Sabbaths away.

Hosea 2:11 (NIV) I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath
days—all her appointed feasts.

There is some evidence that this text may merely represent a prophecy of what would become of Israel’s sabbath system as a result of their disobedience, rather than an actual statement that God would specially intervene to take away their sabbaths. During their various captivities, Israel undoubtedly experienced disruptions of their Sabbath -keeping. In either case, the adoption of the fixed calendar by their conquering nations made it impossible to keep the Sabbath as is was specified in the Law of Moses. In effect, they were forced to keep “Saturday” rather than the “Sabbath.” All of this Sabbath chaos illustrates the fact that the Sabbath is characteristically ceremonial rather than moral. For example, if Israel was committing adultery and fornication “too much,” God would not suspend the parts of the Law of Moses that forbid these sins. Not even God Himself can set aside or suspend moral laws because such laws are based on the natural laws of cause and effect.

Before the Hebrews left Egypt, the instructions God gave them regarding the keeping of the Passover Feast suggest that no Sabbath existed at that time. This feast was to last seven days, so whether a fixed or lunar calendar is used for our calculations, one of those days would have to have been a Sabbath-- if there had been a Sabbath in existence at that time. The preparation of food was allowed on all of the seven days of the Passover feast. By contrast, cooking on the Sabbath was forbidden. For the Sabbath, the cooking must be done on the Preparation Day, or the sixth day of the week. If there was no sixth day of preparation, there could be no seventh-day Sabbath because food would have to be prepared for the people on it. While permission to prepare food on th e Sabbath may have been granted in connection with some of the Jewish feast celebrations that God added later, the only national feast week God had given them up to the time of the Exodus was the Passover.

As our study unfolds it will become painfully clear that Exodus 16 provides water-tight proof—not merely evidence--that no Sabbath existed before the giving of the Manna. We do not use the term, proof, loosely. What this fact means is that any

[Page 5]

argument for the existence of the Sabbath prior to the Exodus must be remarkably clear, or it is hardly worth discussing. Also, any pro-Sabbatarian arguments must be able to stand on their own with evidence gathered only from Genesis 1 through Exodus 16. In view of the absolutes of Exodus 16, Sabbatarians should not expect to be taken seriously if their approach involves taking references to the Sabbath from beyond the account of the Exodus journey and stuffing them back into Genesis 2. In order for them to provide meaningful support for their agenda, they must demonstrate clear Sabbath content in Genesis 2.

All it takes is a brief survey of Genesis through Exodus 16 to see that there is nothing of this sort available to Sabbatarians. At the same time, there is only a limited amount of evidence available to anti-Sabbatarians, such as the four of us, to actually prove that there is no Sabbath content in Genesis. This evidence in found in part in that Moses used special literary devices to limit the blessing, hallowing, and sanctifying (the setting aside) of that day to t hat ONE day ALONE. We will explain these indicators and how they work subsequently. Meanwhile, let us turn our attention back to the Exodus journey. God introduced the Sabbath to Israel as something new. The people acted as if it were something new — a stiff-necked and stubborn people testing the boundaries. Some individuals gathered firewood on that first Sabbath. They did so publicly. If the Sabbath had existed prior to Exodus 16, these offenders would have been stoned. The stubborn nature of the Hebrew people strongly suggests that if there were Sabbaths before Exodus 16, some of them would have tested God by breaking the Sabbath every chance they got; yet there is no record that God ever rebuked them for Sabbath -breaking prior to Exodus 16. Here is what the Law of Moses has to say about Sabbath-breaking:

Num 15:32 - 36 (NIV) 32 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Think how bad the Exodus journey would make God look if the Sabbath had originated at Creation! Was He not powerful enough to control the events of the Exodus to provide for Sabbath-keeping, including, in each case, a Preparation Day? What kind of example would He have set for His people? Do God’s children only have to keep the Sabbath when it is convenient? Clearly, there was no Sabbath to break until day 38 of the Exodus. Sabbatarian apologist, Brendan Knudson, suggests the possibility that if there was Sabbath-breaking involved under God’s direction-- “The ox is in the ditch” principle excusing God for leading His people to trample on it. Our position is that God had enough power to halt all the forces of Evil and Nature to enable them to keep the Sabbath if there had been a Sabbath to keep, and that as a cognate requirement, He would have also given them preparation days to assure that they could keep their Exodus Sabbaths without preparing food or gathering firewood upon it. People get hungry on Sabbath whether food was prepared the day before or not.

Everything we know about God’s character screams out that He would not lead His people to break an eternally binding moral law. This fact explains several mysterious things that honest-at-heart, thinking Sabbatarians have secretly pondered. Why is there no mention of the Sabbath in Genesis? Why did God give Abraham a surgical procedure (circumcision) as a “seal” for his descendants instead of the Sabbath, which was never even mentioned? Why was Sabbath-keeping not included in a list of basic laws that God gave to Noah around the time of the Great Flood? Why did St. Paul instruct the early church not to require Sabbath-keeping of the new Gentile converts (Colossians 2:14-17)? And why did St. Paul not list Sabbath-breaking in any of the several lists of sins he discussed in his writings? In Galatians St. Paul discusses the Christian's freedom from the “LAW,” and it is clear he is discussing moral, rather than ceremonial, laws because the example he cited was adultery. Yet in the same breath he explained that the Christian is not subject to the LAW, he gave a list of 15 sins that he said would keep a person from entering Heaven. Robert K. Sanders observes that in Romans 1:28 -32 he listed 16 sins that were not mentioned in Galatians 5 and that he listed still more sins in Ephesians 4:25-32-- and that in all of these lists there is not a single mention of Sabbath-breaking. With all the sins that Paul’s writings mention-- which included sins of motive and omission in addition to the sins of commission that are the focus of the Decalogue -- it is difficult to imagine how an objective Bible student could think that the 10 Commandments were intended to represent a complete guide to morality or that the Sabbathkeeping should be transferred from Judaism to Christianity. Apparently God didn’t think so either because he gave additional moral laws to Moses after He wrote the 10 Commandments in stone, including prohibitions against fornication (a very different sin from adultery in Hebrew thought) and homosexual relationships.

[Page 6]


Imagine you are trying to keep the Jewish Sabbath above the Arctic Circle! The Arctic night “Sabbath” eventually arrives. Suddenly you are not allowed to light a fire in your dwelling place because the sun went down but didn’t come back up. Your heater goes out. You honor God’s “law” by not re-lighting it. The next morning you are found frozen to death, and you go down in history as a noble Christian Jewish Sabbath-keeper who would rather die than break the Jewish Sabbath. Perhaps you miraculously survive the Polar Winter “Sabbath without a fire. You can’t work for the oil company that hired you until the sun comes up (making it “Saturday” morning) and goes back down again, creating a Saturday night. Eventually, however, the sun does come back up, stays up for a day, and goes back down. The Arctic stretch of extended non-Sabbath is finally over. You can go to work now. Sabbath-keeping is conventional for a while, but eventually the sun comes up and won’t go down! Now you have to contend with the extended Arctic stretch of non-Sabbath time. Because the sun won’t go down, Sabbath won’t “start” on Friday night. You have to go to work every day because the Sabbath won’t start since there is no sundown on Friday night.

Actually, there are more variations of this Arctic Sabbath nonsense. In the Arctic fall, If the Sun fails to set on a Friday night, you have “endless” work days. If the Sun fails to set on a Saturday night in the Arctic fall, you have an “endless” Sabbath. We will leave it up to your imagination to figure out what happens in the Arctic spring depending on which day the sun rises for the first time of the season. Please review t he dual requirements of the Sabbath commandment. Both requirements apply to Jews. Christians who keep the Jewish Sabbath seem to forget the six-day requirement since it works against the ill-contrived idea that Adam and Eve qualified to rest on the 7th day of Creation along with God. God had worked for six days prior, but Adam and Eve had existed only about one day:

Exodus 20:8 (NIV) :“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

If you manage to die of over-work during this stretch of non-Sabbath time, you go down in history as the Sabbath-keeping Christian who would rather die than break the Jewish Sabbath. Is it illogical to think that God would impose a moral law on His earthlings that could not be kept anywhere in the solar system. The sins of fornication and adultery can be committed on Planet Earth or in a space ship on its way to Mars, but the Sabbath can’t be kept anywhere but in a climate like Palestine in the Mid-East. The Adventist prophetess, Ellen G. White, “solves” this problem by mandating that people should not live in parts of the Earth where the Sabbath cannot be kept. Try presenting the Gospel to a Polar -living Eskimo while at the same time telling him that he has to move to a different part of the world in order to keep “God’s Law.”
"In the countries where there is no sunset for months and again no sunrise for months the period of time will be calculated by the records kept. But God has a world large enough and proper and right for the human beings He has created to inhabit it without finding homes in those lands so objectionable in very many, many ways" (Ellen G. White, Letter #167, 23 March, 1900).
For the above reference, follow this link:

God gave the Sabbath to Israel only. The Nation of Israel is located in a mild climate where the sun does rise and set every 24 hours for the entire year and where the temperatures are moderate enough to get through a cold winter night simply by piling on the blankets.

If you lived in the Arctic Circle as so many people do now, would you be condemned to Hell and receive the Mark of the Beast because you COULD NOT keep the Sabbath right no matter how hard you tried? Would God have to give you a special dispensation to break His law so you wouldn’t end up with the Mark of the Beast?

On top of all this, Sabbath-keepers at the North Pole cannot keep the Sabbath according to a fixed calendar or the lunar calendar. During the Arctic winter, the moon’s position remains very close to the sun after it goes down. Here is what happens according to astronomer, Laura Spitler:

[Page 7]

While the Moon does rise during the summer at the North Pole, since the Sun is always up, you generally can't see it, so I'll focus on the movement of the Moon during the winter. 
The daily movement from Earth's rotation causes the Moon to circle once around the sky. If you spent the entire day staring at it, you'd have to turn around exactly once. This movement is also the same that the Sun makes during the summer . . . 
The second movement caused by the Moon's orbit around the Earth is analogous to the movement of the Sun over the course of a year only it repeats over the course of a lunar month. Near the new Moon phase, the Moon is near the Sun and therefore never rises during the winter. As the Moon approaches full, it will start to pop up above the horizon. Eventually near the full Moon phase it will be high enough in the sky to stay up all day and circle like the Sun. . . The elevation of the circle will rise as the Moon becomes completely full and then start to decrease until it begins to dip below the horizon. Eventually the Moon will stop rising at all as it gets close enough to the new phase. The cycle then repeats.

Follow this link to the above reference:

It appears that even our lunar Sabbath brethren can’t keep the Sabbath “right” above the Arctic Circle. Will they go to Hell because they can’t keep it right? Does God have to give them a special dispensation that would go something like, “Well, my lunar Sabbath-keepers have such a good heart and they really want to do what’s right, but in this case they can’t. I’m going to let them into Heaven anyway.”


There is no greater lunacy about the Sabbath than what happened to the Seventh-day Adventists of the South Pacific Islands of Western Samoa and Tokelau in 2011. On midnight on December 29, 2011, a world agreement moved the International Date Line from the American side to the Australian side for the purpose of benefiting tourism. These islands never experienced December 30th because an instant jump was made from December 29th to December 31st at 10:00 GMT. The seventh day of the week got turned into the day that was formerly Sunday. The General Conference of Seventh -day Adventists considered the matter and decided that the Adventist churches on Samoa and Tokelau were to keep the same day they had always kept, ignoring the change of the International Date Line. As a result, Adventist Sabbath -keepers on these islands began keeping Sunday with the other Christians. These other island Christians, by keeping their new “Sunday,” are expected, according to the statements of Ellen White, to receive the Mark of the Beast if they don’t start worshiping on the right day. These other Christians moved their “Sunday” to the new “Sunday,” which was the former 7th day “Sabbath,” but because they are still thinking of it as “Sunday,” they are probably doomed, according to the typical viewpoint espoused by Adventism, to end up in Hell. Now, they are worshiping on what used to be the 7th day Sabbath, which would have rescued them from Hell. But, alas, the INTENT of these other Island Christian s is observe the first day of the week. Their motives are, therefore, wrong, but the motives of the Adventists are pure because they are trying to keep the actual 7th day of the week. It seems that by special dispensation of the General Conference, the Adventists, who now are keeping Sunday will be protected against receiving the dreaded Mark of the Beast. Now, if the non-Adventist Christians on these islands would become Seventh-day Adventists, they could get a special dispensation from the General Confere nce president to keep the “wrong” day, and both Adventists and non-Adventist Christians could be saved.

The ability of the General Conference to change Sunday into Saturday by dispensation appears to give it powers that rival the ecclesiastical authority falsely credited to the pope by the Catholic Church. For the whole story, see the article in Adventist Today, “Samoa, the International Dateline Shift, and the Seventh -day Sabbath,” which appeared in the publication in 2013 at the following link. Note that the author of the Adventist Today article does not discuss the Mark of the Beast problem.
The authors of VERDICT are solely responsible for taking the Mark of the Beast logic to its furthest logical extent:

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Hanson summarizes a variety of opinions submitted by various Sabbath-keeping theologians, but the one that fixes the problem the best is the lunar Sabb ath approach. As we will explain shortly, the lunar calendar was by Israel in favor of a fixed calendar at some time after the building of the second temple but before the birth of Christ. Therefore, the Jews had been keeping the 7th day of an arbitrary fixed week even before the time of Jesus. However, if the following author is correct, it is possible that the arbitrarily chosen day that the Jews were keeping at the time of Christ may have been changed a second time by Constantine. Some authorities find that some Jewish sects were keeping the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar during the time of Christ. Please note that you are about to read a Seventh -day Adventist’s point-of-view. We object to his assertion that “the Sabbath is introduced in the biblical book of Genesis.” We quote him according to his written statement:
The Samoa Dateline Dilemma shows that one cannot use the International Date Line in determining the Sabbath. In fact, the Old Testament Sabbath does not use the modern Gregorian Calendar: The calendar used by Moses was based upon the phases of the Moon, not a continuous weekly cycle. 
The Old Testament calendar starts every month on New Moon Day, and the Sabbaths are always in the same place: The 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month. This is why the feast days in Leviticus 23 have a Sabbath on the 15th of the month, and why the words "New Moon" and "Sabbath" often occur together in Scripture. 
The Moon is the clock which orbits the round Earth and provides the reference for Biblical time. If this reference is ignored, then an arbitrary man-made marker (such as the International Date Line) has to be substituted. 
The Sabbath is introduced in the Biblical book of Genesis. Note that does not say "count every seven days", but rather Genesis 1.14: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for SEASONS, and for days, and years. 
“The word for SEASONS is Strong’s #4150, ‘religious festivals’. Notice that Genesis 1:14 says that the "religious festivals" are designated by the "lights in...heaven". Psalm 104:19 identifies the light as the Moon. 
The Sabbaths and Feast Days are linked by the Fourth Commandment as recorded in two different Bible books: The Fourth Commandment in Exodus 20 clearly references the seventh day Sabbath based on Creation; The Fourth Commandment in Deuteronomy 5 clearly references the seventh day Sabbath based on the deliverance from Egypt, which occurred on the evening of the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. 
Note that the Sabbath commandment in Deuteronomy 5:12-15 does not mention Creation, but rather the Exodus from Egypt, which happened on the 15th, at night. To repeat, the seventh-day Sabbaths are always in the same place: The 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month, and they use the same calendar as the Feast Days—the Lunar Calendar. The format of the Biblical Month: 
Note: Moon phases are approximate, and are shown for the Northern Hemisphere; If you're south of the Equator, they are reversed. 
The reason most Jews today keep Saturday is the same exact reason that most Christians keep Sunday—because of Constantine's calendar change, and the persecutions by which he enforced these changes. Prior to this, in 46-45 BC, Julius Caesar (the Julian Calendar) had separated the months and weeks from the Moon and made a continuous eight day cycle, but he did not enforce it on other nations living within the Empire. 
In AD 321, Constantine created a compromise calendar. He blended the Hebrew idea of a seven day week with the Julian concept of a continuous weekly cycle, and added the veneration of the "sun god" from Mithraism to create the Roman calendar used today. He enforced his calendar upon the entire Roman Empire with military power. 
[Page 9]
Because of these changes which were being enforced by persecutions across the Roman Empire, the Jewish Sanhedrin met for the last time around AD 350, and modified their calendar to the form used by most Jews today, in which the Sabbath is on Saturday. Other Feast Days are determined using a form of the Lunar calendar. 
Constantine's calendar was modified slightly by Pope Gregory into the calendar used today. However, the true Calendar ordained at Creation, according to Genesis 1:14 and Psalms 81:3, is based on the phases of the Moon. Therefore, neither Saturday nor Sunday is the Old Testament Sabbath, and the International Date Line is not involved at all. 
This situation in Samoa is a tiny foreshadowing of what is coming. If the proposed New World Calendar is adopted, and the 364-day perpetual year is implemented, then the extra "blank" day (called "World Day Holiday") will disrupt any continuous seven-day cycle. At that point, the whole world will face a situation where the day that "should have been" Saturday or Sunday will fall on a different day.

NOTE: According to Hanson, this on-line source for this information no longer exists.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Jesus and the Sabbath

It has been claimed by many that Jesus upheld the law, especially the sabbath. What we will be doing in this article is examining the examples of Scripture where Jesus and the sabbath are discussed, and what can be concluded as a result.

(MAT. 12: 1-4) At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn (grainfields); and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

Mark contains this added information:

(MAR. 3: 4-5) And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand.

Jesus and His disciples walked through a field of grain and His disciples began plucking the grain and eating it. The Pharisees see this, and decry that what they are doing is breaking the sabbath law. Sabbatarians are quick to claim that they didn't actually break the sabbath, but rather transgressed the added sabbath restrictions created by the Pharisees, The problem with this claim is that the claim ignores the context.

Jesus cites the example of David, who, when he and those who were with him were hungry, ate the show-bread that was “unlawful” for him and those with him to eat. This too gets its particular twist by sabbatarians, claiming David had the right of a king to do so. But this "right of a king" response would mean that those who were with David did sin, and that God is a respecter of persons.

Jesus then makes this comparison between His disciples, and David and his men, pointing out that they all essentially did the same thing; broke the letter of the law, yet were blameless due to their genuine need at the moment. They were hungry, and here was food. In the one case, it was unlawful to eat the showbread, and in the other case, it was unlawful to acquire food on the sabbath by picking it from a field. Jesus did not claim the Pharisees were in error regarding the law. He did point out to them that to charge them with sin for doing something similar to what David did, and what the priests do continually on sabbaths regarding work that was done in the service of the temple, was to be hypocritical, seeing as David and the priests were blameless for having done essentially the same thing His disciples did, as they were in the service of God in the personage of Christ; the One there who was greater than the temple where the priests served on the sabbath, desecrating the sabbath, as the temple service was more important than the sabbath, and Jesus being more important than the temple.

(MAT. 12: 7-8) But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

Sabbatarians tend to focus on the second verse here, excluding the first. Yet, the statement here needs to be taken together:

(MAT. 12: 7-8) But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless, for the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

Mercy and sacrifice are being contrasted by Christ. He is saying they do not understand the statement; the implications.

They sought perfection through that law. Anyone not living up to their standard, found in the legalities of the law, was seen as inferior and a sinner, to be avoided. Jesus elsewhere chided them for being so focused on the minutia of the legalities of the law, they neglected the “weightier” matters; justice, mercy, and faith. These are the things God desired, and not “sacrifice” in the guise of self-denial and dedication to the legalities of that law.

Here in Matthew 12, the Pharisees sought to judge and condemn over the sabbath, which Jesus puts in its proper perspective, given the circumstances. It was of no consequence, and He should know, being Lord of the sabbath also. The focus should have been on mercy, given the need and hunger of those men, and not condemnation. The examples in the law were contrary to the judgment of the Pharisees.

Jesus then proceeds to a synagogue and further confronts and confounds them over the sabbath by again doing a work of healing. He declares to them that it was lawful to do well on the sabbath, healing a man, assigning to the man greater importance than that of an animal any one of them would take hold of and pull out of a ditch on the sabbath. They maintained a double standard, devoid of faith, mercy, compassion.

The religious leaders of Israel attempted to put a hedge around the law, with an emphasis on the sabbath, having interpreted the sabbath to the point that it became burdensome; the people served the sabbath instead of the sabbath being the servant of the people. The modern day sabbatarian, also intent on ignoring the teachings of Christ, seek to alter the sabbath command by creating exemptions to the sabbath regarding types of work deemed acceptable, while claiming in the next breath that the ten commandments, especially the sabbath, remains inviolate down to jots and tittles, citing Matthew 5:17-18. They have transcribed justice, mercy, and faith to a modified list of do's and don'ts in an attempt to reconcile the sabbath with the actions of Christ, while ignoring what He taught regarding the sabbath and the law. It is lawful to do well on the sabbath.

The Pharisees and religious leaders emphasized and focused on the legalities of the law, so much so that true Justice, mercy, and faith were essentially ignored; the things Jesus focused on to the exclusion of the legalities of the law.

(LUK. 13: 10-17) And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

The ruler of the synagogue was indignant. To him, that work of Jesus was seen as making light of the sabbath. Mercy was the furthest thing from his mind. Yet Jesus referred to him as a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is where a person maintains a double standard regarding judgment. There was no true justice with his perspective. Justice without mercy is tyranny. It was okay for someone to loose an animal from his stall on a sabbath so as to see to the needs of the animal, but it was not okay to loose a poor woman from her bondage on a sabbath. Jesus not only makes this comparison, but goes even further, stating it was even appropriate that she be healed on the sabbath, attributing her bondage to Satan. She was given rest from her infirmity on the sabbath. The sabbath heralded her freedom.

(JON. 5: 1-18) this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

The modern day Christian Pharisees, who hold a legalistic view of the sabbath, insist John was writing from the perspective of the Jews, for they cannot abide the idea and belief that Jesus actually broke the sabbath; something anathema to them. They rationalize that to break the sabbath was to sin, and Jesus could never sin without disqualifying Himself as our sacrifice for sin. They have trapped themselves in this paradigm where their beliefs drive their interpretation of Scripture. In the process, they miss what was being taught by Jesus – teachings that are also incompatible with their paradigm based also on the legalities of the sabbath, sans justice, mercy, and faith.

The idea of being able to break the letter of the law in favor of the spirit of the law cannot be comprehended by those focused strictly on the letter of the law; the legalities of the sabbath. What the apostle Paul wrote in II Corinthians chapter 3 bears this out, where Paul describes those whose focus is on the legalities of the law (the writings and teachings of Moses) cannot “see” or comprehend the true Jesus – the One whose focus was not on the legalities of the law, but on justice, mercy, and faith.

This may come as a surprise to many, but Moses did not write about the Israelites practicing justice, mercy, and faith. He wrote of God's justice and mercy, and foretold in prophesy Israel doing these things, and related God's reference to those Israelites as being faithless. Justice tempered with mercy and faith came later in the writings of the prophets, and the prophets are seen as being a part of the overall law.

If, as most sabbatarians claim, they reject as “nailed to the cross” all else sans the ten commandments, claiming them to be, collectively, “sacrificial and ceremonial law, then, logically, they reject justice, mercy and faith as it could relate to the ten commandments, specifically the sabbath commandment.

Knowing personally the mindset and paradigms of the sabbatarians, having been one for 25 years, they will conclude that moral law, which they attribute to the ten commandments, cannot be compromised with. Yet, Jesus refused to condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8) that was brought before Him by the scribes and Pharisees, who no doubt used the situation as a means to bring an accusation and subsequent condemnation upon Him. His reply, based in justice tempered with mercy, demanded that they examine themselves; whether they were any better than her so as to justify their condemnation of the woman. To uphold the law of Moses regarding the law of adultery, they would prove themselves to be hypocrites of the greatest order. They saw Jesus as a sinner and a threat. To expose themselves as hypocrites before Him was too much to bear. Jesus did not condemn the woman, but rather extended mercy to her, something the legalities of the law, written and taught by Moses, did not allow.

Judging Righteous Judgment Versus Judging According to Appearance: The Sabbath Perspective

(JON. 7: 19-24) Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

“I have done one work, and ye all marvel.” (v.21)

What was this “one work” Jesus did? What was it He did that He called “work”? Healing a man on the sabbath. What did the law demand in regard to “work” in relation to the sabbath?

(EXO. 20: 10) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

(EXO. 31: 14-15) Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Another interesting observation is the relationship between the sabbath and circumcision. Circumcision took precedence over the sabbath. A “ceremonial” law trumped a “moral” law. How is that possible? Isn't a moral law a law where there is never a case where it can be violated? There is never a time when murder is acceptable. There is never a time when adultery is acceptable. There is never a time when having other gods is acceptable.

The only explanation I have ever heard from the sabbatarian perspective was that circumcision predated the sabbath, and as such, took precedence as a result. Yet, sabbatarians have also insisted that the weekly sabbath was established during Creation Week, which would mean sabbath keeping would take precedence.

“If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (JON. 7: 23) 

By applying the letter of the law regarding the prohibition against “any” work, the detractors of Jesus were judging according to appearance, which contextually is seen by Jesus as being unrighteous judgment. His actions of healing people on the sabbath were examples of mercy, and mercy is a “weightier matter” of the law. Instead of working from the perspective of mercy, the modern day Pharisees again defer to to the letter of the law, and make modifications to it. The earlier Pharisees added prohibitions in an attempt to build a fence around the law and sabbath, making the sabbath more of a burden. The modern Pharisee adds to the law categories of work now that are “acceptable”, still ignoring the spirit of the law and intent of heart. Even with these added categories of acceptable work (working without pay, for example), they are still judging according to appearance. The “unavoidable” conclusion of the matter is avoided at all costs by the modern Pharisee: The letter of the law is ultimately incompatible with true justice, mercy, and faith, where one practices righteous judgment (II COR. 3: 6).

The Man Born Blind

(JON. 9: 1-6) And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

Jesus produced His arguably greatest miracle up to that point, again going out of His way to do it on a sabbath. This resulted in no small confrontation with the religious of the time. The Pharisees saw the sabbath as an absolute unless they decided otherwise, based on their own criterion.

The modern legalist will argue that it was not really work, despite how Scripture defines work. This however overlooks what was actually going on. Jesus knew it was work, and the religious leaders knew it was work. What they could not (would not) concede was that this “itinerant self-appointed uneducated bastard prophet” was not going to usurp their authority when it came to such matters. They, however were self-appointed experts of the law, just like today's modern legalists.  It is Jesus who is the real expert.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11