Adventists Break the Sabbath

By Mark Swarbrick

Adventists Cannot Answer This

Seventh Day Adventists claim that God must be worshipped on Saturday and that worshipping on Sunday is a terrible sin and is the “Mark of the Beast.” The problem with this is that God did not command worship on the old Jewish Sabbath (Saturday). He commanded rest. This begs the question, why don’t Adventists rest on the Sabbath? Let’s take a closer look at the Sabbath and see what God commanded be done and not done on that day.

The very first mention of a Sabbath command is in Exodus Chapter Sixteen, two-thousand and five hundred years after creation. There is no biblical evidence that there was any Sabbath observance by man before this. The text tells us the Sabbath day was implemented on the seventh day after the manna was given. Incidentally, there is no statement in Scripture that this was the same day God rested in the creation week. So we must look to Exodus to see what God says about the Sabbath.

No Work and No Worship

Here is what God commanded the Israelites concerning the Sabbath:

See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:29)

Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:2-3)

Note that there is no command to have religious services on the Sabbath. God’s command was not to work, not to build a fire, and not to even leave one’s residence. Having a religious gathering would require the Israelites to leave their place, which was specifically forbidden.

Yet, Seventh Day Adventists leave their homes and go to church on the Sabbath. Why? This requires their pastor to work on that day. If they are driving their car to church, it requires that police, paramedics, doctors, and nurses also work that day. Adventists do not hesitate to use electricity on the Sabbath, which requires the kindling of fire by the power company, and necessitating that still others work on that day. Adventists will use a gas furnace to heat their homes in the winter, which involves kindling a fire, which also violates God’s command. Adventists believe in keeping the law of Moses, so why do they break that law? Why do they leave their homes and attend church on the day God commanded that people stay at home?

Two Laws

The Adventist answer to this is that there are two laws: The moral law and the ceremonial law. They claim the restrictions of not kindling a fire or leaving the home are part of the ceremonial law. They say God abolished the ceremonial law but not the moral law.

There are a number of problems with this. First of all, there is nothing ceremonial about staying home or not building a fire. Secondly, nowhere in the Bible is their mention of something called the “ceremonial law.” This is simply a construct made up by their prophetess, Ellen White.

The Apostle Paul, indeed none of the writers of Scripture, ever elucidated such a thing as the ceremonial law. When Scripture speaks of the “the Law of God,” it sometimes calls it “the Law of Moses, or “The Law of the Lord,” or simply “the Law.” Whatever God told the Israelites to do, that was “the Law.” But nowhere in the Bible do we find the phrases “ceremonial law” or “moral law.” The Bible makes no such distinction.

Adventists claim that only the Ten Commandments are God’s moral law, but that is patently absurd. Where in the Ten Commandments are, we commanded to love our enemies? Are not the words of Jesus moral law as well? Consider Jesus’ conversation with the lawyer:

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22:36-40.

Yet, these great moral commandments of the law are not found in the Ten Commandments. This proves that the Ten Commandments do not constitute the moral law, as Adventists imagine.

The Letter of the Law made for Criminals in Israel

The Ten Commandments begins with “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Were we slaves in Egypt? No. Clearly the decalogue was a law for Israel, designed to keep civil order. This is exactly what we are told in the New Testament:

“The law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers…” (1 Timothy 1:9-10)

The Law Abolished at the Cross

Adventists love to quote Matthew 5:17-18:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

They use this passage to enforce Sabbath keeping but they ignore the part that says the law would be abolished when everything is accomplished, which happened when Christ said on the cross, “It is finished.” Scripture makes it clear that the law was abolished at Calvary:

“By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, the Law of commandments contained in ordinances.” (Ephesians 2:15)

Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us which was hostile to us, He also has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14)

And to emphasize this change, when Christ died, God tore the curtain, from top to bottom, that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the temple, signifying a change in the law, which Hebrews 7:12 tells us that God can and did do:

“For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.”

The Law of Liberty

James 1:25 speaks of Christians now following “the perfect law, the law of liberty” which refers to serving God in “newness of the Spirit, not in oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6) In line with this, Romans 13:8-10 tells us:

“Whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Christians need not keep the old Jewish Sabbath. But for Adventists who want to follow the law of Moses, the Bible says:

“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” (James 2:10) Unfortunately for Adventists, who imagine Christians are lost but Adventists are saved because of their Sabbatarianism, may they know that all their law-keeping is for naught, for they are failing to keep the whole law.

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