Everlasting Kingdom: Unraveling the Bible’s Secrets

Should Christians Eat At Restaurants on the Sabbath?

Do We Have the Mind of God?

Moses Breaking the Tablets

Article Preview: This is a very specific Sabbath article. Many of us have a few friends who refuse to eat at restaurants on the Sabbath. Are they going to extremes or are they simply obeying the Fourth Commandment? Can you be sure? Do you even want to be sure? Following this short article is a list of quotations, particularly found in Martin Luther’s book, endorsing Sabbath observance, and indicating the folly of Sunday!

The Sabbath is often referred to as “God’s Test Commandment”. If there is one of the Ten Commandments that people brush off more than the others, it would be the Sabbath. God tells us that the Sabbath is “perpetual covenant” and “... a sign between Me and the Israelites forever, because in six days Yehovah made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:16-17)

Just as our observance of the Sabbath is a sign to God that we are willing to obey Him, it is also a way for God to know whether or not we truly have His mind.

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Those of us who keep the Seventh Day Sabbath generally know the importance of the Seventh day. We know that God did not simply stumble upon the seventh day because it just so happened that He was done with His work in six days and then it was time to rest. If God so chose, He could have made all of creation in one day and, being the all powerful God that He is, He would not even have needed to take a rest. Why, then, did God spread creation out for six days and then rest on the seventh? Our Father was trying to teach us.

But don’t forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

Prophetically speaking, a day represents a thousand years and, prophetically speaking, the seven day week represents God’s seven thousand year plan. The final thousand year period is a millennial Sabbath Day rest ... a time when God will seize “the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and [bind] him for a thousand years”. (Revelation 20:2) ... a time when God’s chosen people “will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him one thousand years”. (Revelation 20:6) Given this understanding, we know that it is not in the power of any man to change the day of worship to any other day than that which our Heavenly Father established from the beginning of creation ... not a day chosen at random by God with no significance, but a day representative of God’s great plan for mankind.

With the importance of the seventh day established, many of us have also come to understand the Sabbath as being a blessing. Proper observance of God’s Holy Sabbath Day comes with great blessings.

If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of [Yehovah] honorable; and shall honor it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: 14then you shall delight yourself in [Yehovah]; and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: “for the mouth of [Yehovah] has spoken it.” (Isaiah 58:13-14)

In addition to the blessings that God promises for obedience, note that we are also to “call the Sabbath a delight”. Especially in today’s rush, rush society, it is an incredible blessing to simply have a chance to slow down and rest for a while. Speaking personally, with the number of things on my plate during the week, I would likely be pulling my hair out without the opportunity for rest that God has given me through the Sabbath day. The Sabbath is a time of physical and spiritual rest. It’s a time that we can take in more of God’s word, spend time with our brethren, and get closer with our Father in Heaven.

Each week I look so forward to the Sabbath ... a time when I can put the week’s worries aside and spend more time learning God’s ways. I only wish that everyone could have this great blessing of the Sabbath day. I hope that we can all realize what an incredible blessing God has given us through the understanding of His Sabbath. As God teaches us more and more of His word, we are given access to His mind.

For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have Christ’s mind. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

How do we know if we have the mind of Christ? Having the mind of Christ does not mean only doing what He commands, but also thinking the way He thinks. This involves loving the things He loves, wanting the things He wants, and hating the things He hates.

Do we want what Christ wants? As mentioned earlier, the Sabbath can be used as a test commandment in this area. We know that God tells us in various places to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8) Does this commandment merely mean that God wants only His people to keep the Sabbath and no one else?

It shall happen in the latter days, that the mountain of [Yehovah’s] house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.” (Isaiah 2:2)

The plan of our Great God includes all nations. He wants all people to be coming to His house. He wants each and every one of us obeying His laws and living in peace as part of His Holy Kingdom. This is our Heavenly Father’s ultimate goal and, therefore, it should also be ours. Our thoughts and our actions should project our desire for all people to obey God. We know that the majority of this world will not turn to God in this lifetime. This is why God’s plan involves having us teach the rest of the world when His Kingdom comes. However, this does not mean we are not to try and teach them now.

And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation’. (Mark 16:15)

Even if we believe deep down that the majority are not going to listen, we should still want them to listen. We should still want for everyone to obey God, for this is what our Father wants.

Many of God’s people have chosen not to participate in politics and do not believe in “voting”. However, without even realizing it, every one of us votes. We’re voting when we turn on the television to watch a particular show, we’re voting when we go to the movies to watch a particular movie, and we’re voting when we go to the store to purchase a particular item. With our actions, we are saying that we like what a particular show or product has to offer us and we want the company to continue providing us with this product or service in the future. I recall a story about a Starbucks protest, which turned into a riot where a group of protesters were throwing rocks through a Starbucks window. The irony is that, while throwing rocks with one hand, one of the protesters was carrying a Starbucks cup in the other. It’s easy to see the hypocrisy here. This protester must have just joined in for the “fun” while not really believing in what he was fighting for. Do we have similar hypocrisy in our own actions? Do we say that we believe in the Sabbath and look forward to a day when everyone will be observing it, while at the same time enjoying the benefits of a society, which does not obey God? When we go into a restaurant on God’s Sabbath, what are we voting for? Our vote is saying that we like that this restaurant is open on the Sabbath and we want this restaurant to continue being open on the Sabbath because we enjoy the benefits that it offers us. Not only are we not “preach[ing] the Good News” to those people in the restaurant (part of “all the world”) and teaching them to observe God’s Sabbath, but our actions are telling them the exact opposite ... that it is perfectly fine for them to be working on the Sabbath and that we will even support them in doing so with our own money.

I’ve often heard Luke 6 quoted in defense of eating in restaurants on the Sabbath.

Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first, that he was going through the grain fields. His disciples plucked the heads of grain, and ate, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why do you do that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath day?” 3 Jesus, answering them, said, “Haven’t you read what David did when he was hungry, he, and those who were with him; 4 how he entered into the house of God, and took and ate the show bread, and gave also to those who were with him, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests alone?” 5 He said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath’”. (Luke 6:1-5)

When reading this scripture, we must remember that Christ is talking about an exceptional situation. Given their circumstances, Christ, being the Lord of the Sabbath, excused David and his men for what they did, but note that Christ still says that it was “not lawful”. Also note that, while Christ excuses the actions of His hungry disciples, He never says that their actions were lawful and the scripture never tells us that Christ (who never sinned) was plucking grains Himself—only His disciples. Many of us like to believe that if we don’t prepare ahead of time or if we are traveling, then this is one of those exceptional situations and, therefore, it is all right to go to a restaurant on the Sabbath. If we have the chance to prepare ahead and simply do not take the time to do so, this is not an emergency situation. Even if we are traveling, we have the chance to prepare ahead of time. Maybe a cooler full of cold food isn’t your ideal meal, but it’s certainly better than buying our food on the Sabbath and “voting” against God’s will. Once we start thinking that it’s all right to go to a restaurant on the Sabbath in some situations, it becomes easier to start opening that gap wider and wider until we get to the point where it is always all right ... and then we’ve made a law out of the exception. We must be careful to avoid this. Chances are, if we’ve been blessed enough to be able to afford eating in a restaurant, then we’re not going to be starving. Most of us fast at least one day a year anyway, so if we have to go one day without simply because we haven’t prepared ahead of time, its not going to kill us. Perhaps it will teach us to be better prepared next time.

Many of us are closing our eyes to the fact that we are casting “votes” in contradiction to the will of God. I count myself in the numbers as for many years I also had my eyes closed to this hypocrisy in my own life. I used the same arguments that I hear from others today, but now I can see the many holes contained in those arguments. It does not matter whether “they’re going to be doing it anyway”. Correct, they do not understand God’s law, but this is not the issue. We mustnt use the lack of knowledge of those working on God’s Sabbath to justify our own actions. We do understand God’s law and our actions need to be in parallel with the will of God. When our actions depend on others not keeping God’s law, we are voting against the will of God. We need to make the issue about us and not about them. In addition, we need to understand that it is not merely “selling” on the Sabbath that is a sin. We believe that it would be wrong for us personally to work in a restaurant on the Sabbath, but we often see no problem with us going into that same restaurant on the Sabbath to buy. How long will it take for us to realize that there can be no buying without selling? They go hand in hand; therefore, if one is a sin, the other must also be a sin. When the Israelites began returning to God in Nehemiah 10, part of their decision “to observe and do all the commandments of [Yehovah] our Lord, and his ordinances and his statutes ...” included the agreement that is that “if the peoples of the land bring wares or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy of them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day”. (Nehemiah 10:29-31)

Also, through the miracle of manna, God taught the children of Israel that they should not gather food on the Sabbath, but they should already have collected food for the Sabbath ahead of time (Exodus 16, Numbers 11).

They joined with their brothers, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and 30 and that we would not give our daughters to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; 31 and ; and that we would forego the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.

In addition to the argument that “they’re going to be doing it anyway”, I have heard others claim that, if we take on the belief that we should not eat in restaurants on the Sabbath, then we are trying to “out-righteous Christ’s ministers” and we are “judging the ministry”. Therefore, the claim is, if we refuse to eat in restaurants on the Sabbath, we are sinning. To give the point some credit, if we are truly only refusing to eat in restaurants because we want to be better than someone else, then we would be sinning. However, again, this issue should not be about “them”. Whether the “them” is people in the world who do not understand God’s law or the “them” is others of God’s people, our decisions to obey God should never be about them. Our personal decisions should be based on knowing the law of God and striving to fully have the mind of Christ. Christ, being our ultimate example, should also be our ultimate goal. If we continue to reach out and grow toward the level of Christ, while others get tired of stretching and stick with “status quo”, frankly, we are going to “out-righteous” those others in a sense. The goal, however, should never be to “out-righteous” anyone else. If we truly want what God wants, we will not only be striving to reach the level of Christ ourselves, but we will also want our brethren to continue on with us toward reaching the ultimate goal. If we truly want what God wants, we will do all that we can to help each other continue to grow. God did not make us to be solitary creatures. We need each other. Therefore, Paul exhorts us that we should:

Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

One last argument that I would like to address is the one concerning mercy. Some have claimed that because of the mercy we now have, we don’t need to be so strict ... we don’t need to be concerned about little things like eating out on the Sabbath, because God has given us mercy. First, let me point out that mercy is not a new thing. We have always had a merciful God. In fact, the word “mercy” appears in the “Old Testament” 215 times. We must remember that mercy does not mean license to sin, or even license to be less strict in our obedience of God. Throughout His life, Christ taught us to keep the commandments. Throughout His life, Christ also taught us about mercy. If mercy means freedom from obeying the law, then Christ would have been contradicting Himself. Mercy does not invalidate the law, but “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Mercy allows us to be forgiven and not receive the penalties of God’s judgment, but mercy does not give us freedom to be less strict in our obedience of God.

I do not intend to suggest that this one issue of eating in restaurants on the Sabbath is of any greater significance than any other issues of obedience to God’s laws. We need to be certain to obey God in all ways. However, this issue is a good example because it is one of the areas where a large number of God’s people are stumbling. Seeing as how God calls the Sabbath a sign, issues surrounding the Sabbath make good test issues as to whether or not we have the mind of God. The concepts, however, apply to all of God’s commandments and to all the decisions that we make. When we make day to day decisions, we need to consider what the decisions say about us. Is our will in parallel with God’s will when we watch a television show that God would disapprove of? Are our priorities in line with God’s when we skip our morning prayer and rush on with our day? Are we “voting” for the things that God wants, or are we using our time and money in support of something that is against the will of our Father?

The End
Jennifer Mullen
12/22/04
Some Rights Reserved

The following list of quotations are from an email sent to me by truthontheweb.org, I thought I’d pass them along.

Luthers Friend - The Sabbath-Keeper Carlstedt

“Andreas Carlstedt was a leading churchman and friend of Martin Luther. Carlstedt tried to convince the reformers to follow the bible and not the traditions of the Catholic Church. Although Luther is famed for “Sola Scriptura,” that the bible alone should be a Christian’s authoritative word, he deviated from this and clung to Rome’s Sunday observance rather than embrace the biblical 7th day Sabbath advanced by his scholarly friend Carlstadt. Luther faltered between two opinions and his friend’s biblical stance can be shown to have had some effect on him. The Reformation may have succeeded had it dumped Rome’s traditions and returned to the Word of God.”

“Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath—that is to say, Saturday—must be kept holy.” —Martin Luther, Against the Celestial Prophets, quoted in Life of Martin Luther in Pictures, p.147

“God blessed the Sabbath and sanctified it to Himself. It is moreover to be remarked that God did this to no other creature. God did not sanctify to Himself the heaven, nor the earth, nor any other creature. But God did sanctify to Himself the seventh day.... The Sabbath therefore has, from the beginning of the world, been set apart for the worship of God.... God willed that this command concerning the Sabbath should remain. He willed that on the seventh day the word should be preached.” —Martin Luther, Commentary on Genesis, Vol.1, pp.138-140

“Hence you can see that the Sabbath was before the law of Moses came, and has existed from the beginning of the world. Especially have the devout, who have preserved the true faith, met together and called upon God on this day.” (Martin Luther, Comment on Exodus 16:4, 22-30. Translated from Luther’s Old Testament Commentary, in Sammtliche Schriften —Collected Writings, edited by J. G. Walch, vol. 3, cal.950

“When servants have worked six days, they should have the seventh day free. God says without distinction, ‘Remember that you observe the seventh day’.... Concerning Sunday it is known that men have instituted it.... It is clear however, that you should celebrate the seventh day.” (Andres Carlstadt [Andreas Rudolf Karlstadt], Von dem Sabbat und gebotten feyertagen —“Concerning the Sabbath and Commanded Holidays”], 1524, chap.4, pp. 23-24) [Karlstadt (1480-1541) joined Luther at Wittenberg in 1517, and later taught at Bazel from 1534 onward.

“They [Roman Catholics] refer to the Sabbath Day, as having been changed into the Lord’s Day, contrary to the Decalogue, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath Day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!” —Augsburg Confession of Faith art. 28; written by Melanchthon, approved by Martin Luther, 1530; as published in The Book of Concord of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Henry Jacobs, ed. 1911, p.63

Regarding the Ten Commandments, Martin Luther claimed that:

“I wonder exceedingly how it came to be imputed to me that I should reject the law of the Ten Commandments.... Whosoever abrogates the law must of necessity abrogate sin also.” —Martin Luther, Spiritual Antichrist, pp.71,72

“God threatens to punish all who break these commandments.... Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands” —Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.12

“The fruits of this sin are afterward the evil deeds which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments ... we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment, and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit” (Luther Martin. The Smallclad Papers. 1537. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau Published in: _Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. —St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), pp. 453-529

Furthermore the Christian Questions and Their Answers section of that book states (it is unclear he Martin Luther actually wrote that section, though it is ascribed to him): “1. Do you believe that you are a sinner? Yes, I believe it, I am a sinner. 2. How do you know this? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.... The Ten Commandments are the law of God” (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. —Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986. pp.39-40,53

Martin Luther wrote,“... whoever wishes to know and to do good works needs nothing else than to know God’s commandments. Thus Christ says, Matthew xix, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” And when the young man asks Him, Matthew xix, what he shall do that he may inherit eternal life, Christ sets before him naught else but the Ten Commandments” —Luther M. Treatise on Good Works, March 29, 1520

“For even if a Moses had never appeared and Abraham had never been born, the Ten Commandments would have had to rule in all men from the very beginning, as they indeed did and still do” —Luther, M. Against the Sabbatarians: Letter to a Good Friend, Part II, 1538

Sabbath Not Sunday

“The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a Divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic Church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday. Perhaps, at the end of the second century a false application of this kind had begun to take place; for men appear by that time to have considered labouring on Sunday as a sin.” (Augustus Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church.... —Rose’s translation, Vol. 1, p.186

“They [Roman Catholics] refer to the Sabbath Day, as having been changed into the Lord’s Day, contrary to the Decalogue, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath Day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!” —Augsburg Confession of Faith art. 28; written by Melanchthon, approved by Martin Luther, 1530; as published in The Book of Concord of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Henry Jacobs, ed. 1911, p.63

“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

“For when there could not be produced one solitary place in the Holy Scriptures which testified that either the Lord Himself or the apostles had ordained such a transfer of the Sabbath to Sunday, then it was not easy to answer the question: Who has transferred the Sabbath, and who has had the right to do it?” —George Sverdrup, A New Day

“The taking over of Sunday by the early Christians is, to my mind, an exceedingly important symptom that the early church was directly influenced by a spirit which does not originate in the gospel, nor in the Old Testament, but in a religious system foreign to it.” —Dr. H. Gunkel, Zum Religionsgesch. Verstaendnis des NT. p.76

American Congregationalist Lyman Abbott, in Christian Union, June 26, 1890, states: “The current notion that Christ and his Apostles authoritatively substituted the first day of the week for the seventh is absolutely without any authority in the New Testament.”

British Anglican Dean F. W. Farrar, in The Voice From Sinai (1892), page 167, says: “The Christian Church made no formal, but a gradual and almost unconscious, transference of the one day to the other.”

“Sunday is our (Catholic Church) MARK of authority.... the church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact” —Catholic Record of London, Ontario Sept 1,1923.

“Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. “The day of the Lord” was chosen, not from any direction noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church’s sense of its own power.... People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become Seventh-day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.” —Saint Catherine Church Sentinel, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995

[More] Sabbath Quotes [from the 9/6/08 newsletter]

“I honestly believe that this commandment is just as binding today as it ever was. I have talked with men who have said that it has been abrogated, but they have never been able to point to any place in the Bible where God repealed it. When Christ was on earth, He did nothing to set it aside; He freed it from the traces under which the scribes and Pharisees had put it, and gave it its true place. ’The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ It is just as practicable and as necessary for men today as it ever was—in fact, more than ever, because we live in such an intense age…The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word ’remember,’ showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?…’Sabbath’ means rest, and the meaning of the word gives a hint as to the true way to observe the day. God rested after creation, and ordained the Sabbath as a rest for man…Saturday is my day of rest because I generally preach on Sunday, and I look forward to it as a boy does to a holiday. God knows what we need.” ~ (D. L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting, Fleming H. Revell Co.: New York, pp. 46, 47, 48)

“We have abundant evidence both in the New Testament and in the early history of the church to prove that gradually Sunday came to be observed instead of the Jewish Sabbath, apart from any specific commandment.” ~ (Norman C. Deck, Moody Bible Institute Monthly, November, 1936, p.138)

“It is true that there is no positive command for infant baptism. Nor is there any for keeping holy the first day of the week. Many believe that Christ changed the Sabbath. But, from His own words, we see that He came for no such purpose [Matt 5:17-19]. Those who believe that Jesus changed the Sabbath base it only on a supposition.” ~ (Amos Binney, Theological Compendium, 1902 edition, pp. 180-181, 171)

“God instituted the Sabbath at the creation of man, setting apart the seventh day for the purpose, and imposed its observance as a universal and perpetual moral obligation upon the race.” ~ (Dr. Archibald Hodge, American Presbyterian Board of Publication, Tract No. 175, pp.3-4)

“Jesus said, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:27f.). Although many regard this teaching as tantamount to a rejection of the Mosaic law, Christ actually affirmed the Sabbath by saying it was made not just for Jews, but for mankind, and was not for one time but for all time, presumably. He observed the Sabbath, worshiping and teaching in the synagogue. His conflicts with the scribes and Pharisees concerned His doing good on the Sabbath, which He said did not violate the law (3:2; Lk. 13:14).” ~ (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Vol. 3, article: “LAW IN THE NT,” Sect. I. A.4, p.86)

“Since the Sabbath was made for people and not vice versa, people cannot determine or use it as they please. It would then cease to be the Sabbath and become a day that people, not God, define. Christ was alluding to what the scribes and Pharisees made of the Sabbath: a day full of all sorts of regulations, which were very burdensome to conscientious followers of the law. God had not imposed those burdens. He had made the Sabbath pleasant; people had made it otherwise. If people form the Sabbath in their own image, it does not carry the utility and meaning that Christ attributes to the true Sabbath of God. Thus, in this statement that Christians commonly take today as liberating them from Sabbatical law, Christ actually bound His followers more tightly to it. It is to be remembered, of course, that God requires man to love mercy as well as do rightly and walk humbly on the Sabbath—that is the law.” ~ (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Vol. 3, article: “LAW IN THE NT,” Sect. I. A.4, p.86)

Related Links:

 
Should I Be Observing the Biblical Holydays?
Sabbath Commandment Vs Sunday Law
Sabbath/Sunday : Notes & Quotes
New Testament Sabbath (A.N. Dugger)
The Catholic Record: Sabbath Observance

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Minor update February 6, 2012