Think you understand what a “week” is? Maybe you don’t! (Actually, yes you do…)

It's not that hard...
For those who can count to seven, finding the Sabbath is pretty easy…

Someone recently asked me a question that brought to mind a couple of thoughts about the structure and knowledge of the “week,” and I thought they might make for a nice blog post.

As one who has encountered a number of weird, private calendar ideas, I would say that one of the most novel is the idea that the week should restart or “reboot” with each month. For example: In one formulation, the first day of the month is always the first day of the week, the second day of the month is the second day of the week, etc. In such a formulation, the seventh-day “Sabbath” (I use “scare quotes” around the word Sabbath there because it would not really be the true seventh-day “Sabbath”) would always be the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th days of the month. In varying months, then, there would be variously eight or nine days from the beginning of the last Sabbath of one month (the 28th) to the beginning of the first Sabbath of the next (the 7th). That is, the seven-day cycle is broken at the end of each month, since there are variously 29 or 30 days in a month and each of those numbers is not divisible by 7.

In another formulation, the 1st day of the month is named the “weekly Sabbath” thus making the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of each month “Sabbaths.” In this instance, there are variously zero or only one day between the last Sabbath of one month (the 29th) and the first Sabbath of the next month (the 1st).

Both of these, however, fail when compared to Scripture. There are a number of ways to demonstrate that, but two are quick-and-easy clinchers for me.

(1) The Sabbath command clearly defines a seven-day week, and not just because it calls the Sabbath the “seventh day” (Ex. 20:10). It also clearly says, “six days you shall labor” (Ex. 20:9), tying them to God’s own acts of creation (Ex. 20:11). You can’t work for exactly six days if there are 8, 7, 1, or even zero days between Sabbaths. God defines the Sabbath in the commandment very clearly, and it is not as particular days of the month, but as the seventh in a sequence of seven days.

(2) The example of the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus Christ, Himself, demonstrates these “week” formulations to be false. He was crucified on a Wednesday Passover on the 14th of the first month of the year. This is impossible to reconcile with these “monthly reboot” ideas. Each of those other formulations would require Him to be sacrificed on the Sabbath, itself, or on a Friday, neither of which fits the “three days and three nights” requirement He set forth for His time in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40).

Actually, on a second point, looking at Jesus’ own practice is also my favorite way of answering the “Has time been lost?” question concerning the seventh day – that is, the question some have about whether or not our seven-day week, today, still matches the seven days of Creation or whether some time over the last 6,000 years some mistake has been made, shifting it an unknown number of days and leaving the “true” seventh day a mystery.

There is no mystery. While it is possible to trace back a line of people from Creation to today who could ensure that knowledge of the correct seventh day of the week has been passed on accurately and faithfully to our own times, as far as I am concerned we don’t actually have to go back the full 6,000 years — we only have to go back 2,000 years to the life of Jesus Christ. And if anyone in the world knew when the Sabbath was, I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ did! After all, He created the week to begin with (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16). Plus, we know that Jesus Christ’s own obedience to God’s law, including His Sabbath-keeping, was perfect (1 Peter 2:21-22; Hebrews 4:15). And the record of the last 2,000 years is clear and well documented.

I’ve known some who consider themselves “Christian” who say that they would keep the Sabbath if they could only be sure that today’s “seventh day” of the week was the right one. When demonstrated that today’s “seventh day” is exactly the same as Jesus’ “seventh day,” though, they have always seemed to find new reasons not to keep the Sabbath. (Which seems all the more contradictory, to me, since the answer to their question is being rooted in the actions of the very Savior they claim to follow.) Sometimes our reasons are only our excuses, it seems.

We can be thankful that some things really are as simple as they seem — like counting to seven. 🙂

Fellow on Lifehacker discovers the Sabbath

Very brief post, today! I just noted that an article on Lifehacker today was written by a fellow who was experimenting in his life with creating a full 7-day workweek. He came to the conclusion–even with large break periods–that it was unworkable and, in the process, discovers Genesis 2:2-3 and the seventh-day Sabbath!

Interesting that even this nice fellow recognizes the obvious truth that the Sabbath is established in Genesis 2 and not in Exodus 20 (as the Bible attests, itself: Exodus 20:11, cf. Mark 2:27).

The article is here: “My 7-Day Workweek Experiment (and Why I Won’t Stick With It)”–not the deepest theological read you will encounter all day, but an brief, interesting note about one young man’s experiment with an approach to work other than the Bible’s. Of course, most school kids in generations past would have already known what he had to discover about Genesis 2, but, as is apparent around us, biblical literacy has long gone the way of the dinosaur in America.

So, for those of you who already live the command this young man has discovered, have a wonderful Sabbath tonight and tomorrow!

Randomly Collected News Potpourri

Three items that caught my attention, today, on the UK’s MailOnline and NYTimes.com:

  • Concerning the New Zealand Quake: How happy we can all be that this 7.1-er killed no one!  The pictures in this article are fascinating, and the idea that one quake has moved part of the earth’s crust by 11 feet causes one to ponder a bit.  As Trumpets comes closer and closer, the verse about the last seal being opened before the trumpet blasts begin and “every mountain and island was moved out of its place” (Rev. 6:14) comes to mind.  The earth ruled for 1,000 years will in many ways be geographically different than the one we know, today.
  • Concerning Facebook and Studying: Bad news for parents of Facebooking teens, in that their fears about multitasking kiddos may be proven accurate.  The study cited claims that those who have Facebook running while they study — even if it is in the “background” — earn 20% lower scores on their exams, even though three-quarters of them state that Facebook has no impact.  I couldn’t tell from the article if the study considered the pre-Facebook performance of the teens and whether or not the result is a filtering versus an actual impact.  Hopefully, they would have controlled for that.
  • Concerning Happiness vs. Shopping on the “Sabbath”:  Well, the article is not about shopping on the actual Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11) — rather, it is about shopping on Sunday (Constantine 20:8-11) in places that formerly had “blue laws” preventing the practice.  Apparently, a study has shown that females who go shopping on Sundays instead of to church are measurably less happy.  More specifically, the study noted that, among white women, dropping the “blue laws” was correlated with an increase in shopping, a decrease in church attendance, and a decrease in happiness.  The study reported that no similar effect was found on men.  No effect was found among black women, as well, although the sample size was small, which may have affected the results.

    I remember reading a Discover magazine article (more an info-bite, if I recall correctly) about a study that said man seemed inherently designed (not their word, I’m sure) to need one day in seven for rest.  (Of course, I would stress a particular day among those seven!)  Perhaps these ladies are experiencing the natural consequences of ignoring God’s Laws — even a faulty version of those laws that stresses the wrong day.

Modern illustration of Mark 3 & 7

As sundown approaches, let me offer this Sabbath-related item for some light reading…

Those of us who keep the biblical seventh day Sabbath are often accused of being like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day — as if striving to obey one of God’s commandments is somehow a spiritual crime.  The passages in Mark 3:1-6 & Mark 7:1-23 (and their parallel passages) in which Jesus confronts the Pharisees and the scribes on their misunderstanding and misapplication of the Sabbath are often cited, though our critics rarely seem to understand or, at least, explain those passages properly.  (E.g., Mark 7 may speak powerfully against Easter, Christmas, and Sunday-keeping, but not against the Sabbath — but that’s a post for another day.)

However, that does not mean that a burden-making approach to the Sabbath does not still exist.  Exhibit A: “Dial up with teeth, no Sabbath desecration” — a June 10, 2009 UPI article out of Jerusalem that seems as though it was crafted to illustrate those very passages.

Feel free to check it out by clicking on the link, and have a wonderful Sabbath.  (And for those who will be traveling Sunday to our Living Church of God pre-teen camp, be careful!)

Sunday Laws vs. the Recession?

Saw on Yahoo! News today that some states are considering giving up some of their lingering Blue Laws — that is, laws that prohibit the sale of some items on Sunday — due to the current economic distress.  Read all about it here: “Will Recession Doom the Last Sunday Blue Laws?”

It really is an interesting question.  The same circumstance — the global economic downturn — is motivating others in the realm of religion to press even harder for an increase in such forced-rest Sunday laws.  As I mentioned in my unnecessarily wordy post “2008 in Prophetic Review” the European Episcopal Commission, or COMECE, is pressing for Sunday-protection laws, both as a human rights issue in an age in which temptation to take advantage of workers will grow due to economic pressures, and as a “European values” issue in an age when the culture of Europe is under threat from a variety of external forces.  (More can be read in the articles “Church representatives meet the French EU-presidency” and “The financial crisis is a test for the values of European society”.)  Recently, President Sarkozy ran into such culture issues in his attempt to get France working more — discussed briefly in a cutely titled Time article: “Sunday Shopping? France Says Non.”

Regardless of how the economic tensions of the day pull things for a time, ultimately there will be forced Sunday rest for Western civilization in the much-discussed but little-understood mark of the Beast described in Revelation.  For anyone interested in this or related topics, I recommend some of our free booklets available on our website (click on the “Tomorrow’s World” or “Booklets” links):

Me?  I keep the Biblical, seventh-day Sabbath.  We have a booklet on that, too:

(Regardless of what you think on the matter, it won’t be long before you’ll have to take a side in the Sunday/Sabbath debate.  I suggest that you consider what side God is on and pick that one.)

Thankfulness and Peace

Here before I hit the sack for the night this beautiful Sabbath evening, I’ve just been just meditating on the past week.  One of the things that hit me was that I had gotten away from being as thankful as I should be.

The thought that our woes outweigh our blessings is an easy one to entertain, but rarely is it an accurate one.  In my life when I slow down and begin to look for those things that I should be thankful for, it really is amazing how endless the list becomes.  And when I do take the time to stop and thank God for those things, it is just as amazing how small my concerns become — how a sense of perspective begins to emerge.

The passage of Scripture that came to mind concerning this was Philippians 4:6-7 —

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

That connection between peace and being thankful is easy to miss.  Most of us are familiar with the concepts of praying to God and “casting all your care upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7), and this passage in Philippians mentions those things.  Yet Paul purposefully includes the condition that we are to pray to God “with thanksgiving.”  How often do we miss that?

If we are praying to God and seeking His peace but not finding it, could it be — at least sometimes — because we are missing that vital ingredient?  Could it be because we are not praying with thanksgiving?

In the past I have encouraged those in my congregations to try, every once and a while, to spend time with God in prayer doing nothing but expressing thanks — not asking for anything but merely thanking Him.  I have often been told that it is harder than it seems it should be, and I agree!  And yet I have so much to be thankful about.

The Apostle Paul prophesied long ago that the end of the age would be a time of unthankfulness (2 Timothy 3:2).  We have to remember that while we strive not to be of the world, we do live in it, and we are exposed to its influence daily.  And I don’t want a lack of gratitude — an attitude of unthankfulness — to become a part of me.  I imagine that you feel the same way.

I really do have so much to thank God for.  Don’t you?  May we all strive to be a truly thankful people, and in doing so may we experience that peace of God that surpasses all understanding even more fully.

Have a wonderful Sabbath.

Statements from other churches about Sunday-keeping

I mentioned to those who attended the recent Bible studies in our area on our Sabbath booklet that I really wanted to post on the blog about the section of the booklet that contained quotes from various churches about Sunday-keeping.  Well, I’m finally making good!  Here it is…

Saturday vs. Sunday
Statements from Other Churches

Jesus Christ said of the Pharisees, “‘In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’  For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men….  All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:7-9).  Yet notice what other churches admit regarding their observance of Sunday instead of Saturday.

ROMAN CATHOLIC

Stephen Keenan, A Doctinal Catechism, p. 174:
“Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
“Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her—she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority….
“Question: When Protestants do profane work upon Saturday… do they follow the Scripture as their only rule of faith…?
“Answer: On the contrary, they have only the authority of tradition for this practice.  In profaning Saturday, they violate one of God’s commandments, which He has never clearly abrogated, ‘Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath.'”

The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 3rd ed., p. 50:
“Question: Which is the Sabbath day?
“Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
“Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
“Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea [c. 363] transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”

Catholic Press, Aug. 25, 1900
“Sunday is a Catholic institution, and… can be defended only on Catholic principles….  From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.”

METHODIST

Charles Buck, A Theological Dictionary, “Sabbath”:
“Sabbath in the Hebrew language signifies rest, and is the seventh day of the week… and it must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day.”

Clovis Chappell, Ten Rules for Living, p. 61:
“The reason we observe the first day instead of the seventh is based on no positive command.  One will search the Scriptures in vain for authority for changing from the seventh day to the first.”

PRESBYTERIAN

The Christian at Work”, April 19, 1883, and Jan. 1884:
“Some have tried to build the observance of Sunday upon Apostolic command, whereas the Apostles gave no command on the matter at all….  The truth is, so soon as we appeal to the litera scripta [literal writing] of the Bible, the Sabbatarians have the best of the argument.

ANGLICAN

Isaac William, D.D., Plain Sermons on the Catechism, vol. 1:
“Where are we told in Scripture 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.

EPISCOPAL

Philip Carrington, Toronto Daily Star, Oct. 26, 1949:
“The Bible commandment says on the seventh day thou shalt rest.  That is Saturday.  Nowhere in the Bible is it laid down that worship should be done on Sunday.”

BAPTIST

Harold Lindsell (editor), Christianity Today, Nov. 5, 1976:
“There is nothing in Scripture that requires us to keep Sunday rather than Saturday as a holy day.”

Finally, here is one more from earlier in the booklet.  A well worn (and for good reason) quote from the 1876  text, Faith of Our Fathers, by famous American Catholic James Cardinal Gibbons:

THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS

Third—A rule of faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths necessary for salvation.  Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice.  Not to mention other examples, is not, every Christian obliged to scantify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work?  Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties?  But 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.

The Catholic Church correctly teaches that our Lord and His Apostles inculcated certain important duties of religion which are not recorded by the inspired writers.¹  For instance, most Christians pray to the Holy Ghost, a practice which is nowhere found in the Bible.

We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith because they cannot, at any time, be within the reach of every inquirer; because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance, and because they do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation.

¹See John xxi.25; II.Thess.Ii.14.

For those interested in reading the booklet, here it is: Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?


Truth in Advertising

I had forgotten I had this picture in my camera phone, taken of the marque of a church I passed in Illinois on a recent trip.  (I have edited out the name of the church.)

truthinadvertising_mod

As a seventh-day Sabbath keeping Christian, I must say that I appreciate their commitment to truth in advertising.  Amazing how significant a little thing like a dropped period can be… 🙂

Did… Did you REALLY just ask that? SWEET!!!

“So, Dad — what’s your favorite equation?”

Wow! Has ever a father received a more inviting or wonderfulicious question during dinner on a Friday night!?! 🙂

Seriously, I cannot explain how excited I was to hear that question. My kids and I have talked about that subject before, and I have discussed it here on this blog, as well (right here and here). For those who did not read that post a couple of years ago, my favorite equation is…

e^{i\pi}+1=0

[As I added last time, in the event that your browser cannot display the equation above, it should say e ^ (i π) + 1 = 0, where “π” is pi and “^” indicates “raised to the power of”.]

I know it is not very original for a mathematician to claim that particular equation as his favorite, but it is and I have to be honest (there is a commandment about that, you know). Besides, it’s hard to beat Euler’s little gem. (Again, you can read my previous ranting and raving here and here).

Anyway, this led to all sorts of great follow up questions and discussions, including walking around on the floor discussing what it could mean to take “i steps”. (The kids and I have discussed this before, but it has been a while.) What a great Sabbath start, at least according to our tastes. 🙂 Discussing the creation is always a pleasant and appropriate Sabbath activity, and I do think mathematics is a beautiful part of that creation — one of my favorite parts, in fact.

All of this leads me to my question for you… A common question to ask for Tabletopics at Spokesman Club meetings is, “What do you do in your family to make the Sabbath special?” I must frankly admit that my family currently has no special routine or frequent Sabbath activity, and tonight’s mathematical adventure was a wonderfully pleasant but entirely random occurrence.

But what about you? If you have a family — especially if you have children, but also if you do not — do you have any special Friday night or Sabbath morning tradition? If you’re single, feel free to jump in, as well.

Not looking for anyone to seize an opportunity to “out-righteous” everyone else (“Why, I recite the Psalms from memory to orphaned children while cuddling the foster kittens I am voluntarily rearing to serve as comfort for lonely seniors…”) — just curious to know what folks out there are doing! Feel free and comment below.

Regardless of your answer, have a wonderful Sabbath!