Sabbath, September 12, 2015

“Such are the warnings which God has given to guard men against changing in any manner that which He has revealed or commanded. These solemn denunciations apply to all who by their influence lead men to regard lightly the law of God. They should cause those to fear and tremble who flippantly declare it a matter of little consequence whether we obey God’s law or not. All who exalt their own opinions above divine revelation, all who would change the plain meaning of Scripture to suit their own convenience, or for the sake of conforming to the world, are taking upon themselves a fearful responsibility. The written word, the law of God, will measure the character of every man and condemn all whom this unerring test shall declare wanting.” –The Great Controversy, p. 268. 

Not always faithful

1. In the times of the prophets, how did the people of Israel regard God’s holy law? What did Jesus say about people’s attitudes toward the Ten Commandments in His day? 

Jeremiah 9:13; 16:11 And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;… 16:11Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the Lord, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law. 

Matthew 15:3, 6 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?… 6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 

“When Christ came to the earth, humanity seemed to be fast reaching its lowest point. The very foundations of society were undermined. Life had become false and artificial. The Jews, destitute of the power of God’s word, gave to the world mind-benumbing, soul-deadening traditions and speculations. The worship of God ‘in Spirit and in truth’ had been supplanted by the glorification of men in an endless round of man-made ceremonies. Throughout the world all systems of religion were losing their hold on mind and soul. Disgusted with fable and falsehood, seeking to drown thought, men turned to infidelity and materialism. Leaving eternity out of their reckoning, they lived for the present.” –Education, pp. 74, 75.

“Christ had shown them

[the Jewish leaders of His day] that they continued to disbelieve because they had not the spirit which leads to obedience. He had declared to them, ‘Ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.’” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 276. 

Disregarding the second commandment

2. What does the second commandment teach about the way to worship God? How do some religious organizations attempt to override this commandment? 

Exodus 20:4-6 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 

Matthew 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 

“To afford converts from heathenism a substitute for the worship of idols, and thus to promote their nominal acceptance of Christianity, the adoration of images and relics was gradually introduced into the Christian worship. The decree of a general council finally established this system of idolatry. To complete the sacrilegious work, Rome presumed to expunge from the law of God the second commandment, forbidding image worship, and to divide the tenth commandment, in order to preserve the number.” –The Great Controversy, p. 51.

“I saw that at last the standard was lowered, and that the heathen were uniting with the Christians. Although these worshipers of idols professed to be converted, they brought their idolatry with them into the church, only changing the objects of their worship to images of saints, and even of Christ and of Mary His mother. As the followers of Christ gradually united with them, the Christian religion became corrupted and the church lost its purity and power.” –Early Writings, p. 211. 

Attacks against God’s law

3. What did two prophets write about lack of respect for God’s law and attempts to change it? 

Isaiah 24:5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 

Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. 

“The spirit of concession to paganism opened the way for a still further disregard of Heaven’s authority. Satan tampered with the fourth commandment also, and essayed to set aside the ancient Sabbath, the day which God had blessed and sanctified, and in its stead to exalt the festival observed by the heathen as ‘the venerable day of the sun.’ This change was not at first attempted openly. In the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians. They were jealous for the honor of God, and, believing that His law is immutable, they zealously guarded the sacredness of its precepts.” –The Story of Redemption, pp. 328, 329.

“Satan has caused the change of the Sabbath in the hope of carrying out his purpose for the defeat of God’s plans. He seeks to make the commands of God of less force in the world than human laws. The man of sin, who thought to change times and laws, and who has always oppressed the people of God, will cause laws to be made enforcing the observance of the first day of the week. But God’s people are to stand firm for Him.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 229, 230.

Trying to change the day and the commandment

4. What commandment at the heart of God’s law became the special object of subversion? 

Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10But 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: 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 

“The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments. Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: ‘He shall think to change times and the law.’ Daniel 7:25, R.V. And Paul styled the same power the ‘man of sin,’ who was to exalt himself above God. One prophecy is a complement of the other. Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exalt itself above God….” –The Great Controversy, p. 446. 

“While the worshipers of God will be especially distinguished by their regard for the fourth commandments–since this is the sign of His creative power and the witness to His claim upon man’s reverence and homage–the worshipers of the beast will be distinguished by their efforts to tear down the Creator’s memorial, to exalt the institution of Rome. It was in behalf of the Sunday that popery first asserted its arrogant claims…; and its first resort to the power of the state was to compel the observance of Sunday as ‘the Lord’s day.’ But the Bible points to the seventh day, and not to the first, as the Lord’s day.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 446, 447.

Claiming the change

5. Does the Catholic Church admit its role in undermining this commandment? 

“… You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.” –James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of our Fathers, 1917, pp. 72, 73.

“The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.” –The Catholic Mirror, September 23, 1893. 

“We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” –The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 1951, p. 50.

“I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says: ‘No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! the entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.” –T. Enright, C.S.S.R. of the Redemptoral College, Kansas City, in a lecture held at Hartford, Kansas, February 18, 1884.

6. Although Protestants claim to believe and follow the Bible and the Bible only, what day do they honor? Do some of them recognize that this has no Biblical foundation? 

Lutherans. “But they err in teaching that Sunday has taken the place of the Old Testament Sabbath and therefore must be kept as the seventh day had to be kept by the children of Israel…. These churches err in their teaching, for Scripture has in no way ordained the first day of the week in place of the Sabbath. There is simply no law in the New Testament to that effect.” –John Theodore Mueller, Sabbath or Sunday, pp. 15, 16. 

Anglicans. “And where are we told in the Scriptures that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day…. The reason why we keep the first day of the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the Bible, but because the church has enjoined it.” –Isaac Williams, Plain Sermons on the Catechism, vol. 1, pp. 334, 336. 

“We have made the change from the seventh day to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy Catholic Church.” –Bishop Seymour, Why We Keep Sunday, Article 12.

Baptists. “There’s nothing in Scripture that requires us to keep Sunday rather than Saturday as a holy day.” –Harold Lindsell, Editor, Christianity Today, November 5, 1976.

“The Scriptures nowhere call the first day of the week the Sabbath…. There is no Scriptural authority for so doing nor, of course, any Scrip-tural obligation.” –The Watchman.


7. What do the Scriptures say about those who keep the law in general while violating it in even one particular? What did Jesus teach about those who break even one commandment and teach others to do the same?

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

Matthew 15:8, 9 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 

Proverbs 30:5, 6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. 

“Those who depart from the plain precepts of God, will support error, and be ranged against the soldiers of Christ. They will make manifest who is their leader by the course they will pursue in opposing the truth of God, and in enforcing error on the conscience by oppressive measures. It is now time to take a decided stand on the side of truth; and as God has given to every one his measure of influence, he should exert it to the glory of God and for the good of his associates. Not one of the faithful stewards of Christ will be idle in such a time as this, or will be content to live simply for self.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 269.

For further study

“Rome is clearly involved in idolatry in her use of images and pictures as worship centers, to which people bow in their prayers…. She seeks to avoid the clear teaching of the Law on this subject by subsuming the Second Commandment under the First, and splitting the Tenth Commandment to make up ten.” –Morton H. Smith, “Rome and the Second Commandment,” The Counsel of Chalcedon, February/March 1991, p. 5.

“Here is the test of every man’s profession. We cannot accord holiness to any man without bringing him to the measurement of God’s only standard of holiness in heaven and in earth. If men feel no weight of the moral law, if they belittle and make light of God’s precepts, if they break one of the least of these commandments, and teach men so, they shall be of no esteem in the sight of Heaven, and we may know that their claims are without foundation.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 472, 473.

  • Can we imagine that such huge changes were made quickly without much thought? 
  • Against whom are those who tamper with God’s law working? 
  • What should be our prayer so we do not fall because of blindness and apostasy?