|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #476, 477 and 478|
7 January, 2001
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
On our last programme we diverged from the usual course of study in Deuteronomy 5 to look at the first part of this two-part study under the heading " Divinity in Time" as we have now moved into a New Year and at such breaks in the calendar, we generally tend to allow ourselves to consider matters of longer perspective in the concourse of history.
In the first part, we saw how The Almighty has inserted within His Creation a design pattern such that certain time periods of great significance, but outside the control of mere man, set the stage for acceptance of God's supremacy. Today we will continue our study by picking up some Scripture passages which mention or exemplify the patterns of which we speak.
The Prophet Daniel is given a message in Daniel 8:14 and 17 which speaks of a period of treading down of the sanctuary, being "two thousand and three hundred days", and the timing of this occurrence is added in the words "at the time of the end shall be the vision."
Isaiah 7:8 prophesies "within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people."
In Jeremiah 25:11 and 12, and also 29:10, that Prophet affirms that Judah shall serve in Babylonian captivity for exactly seventy years. It was from this Scripture that Daniel later discerned that the time had expired, as recorded in Daniel 9:2. As Daniel then proceeded to confess the sins of his people, the angel Gabriel appeared to him, and gave him more most remarkable time periods which eventuated down the centuries in the time of Jesus Christ.
Let us step back, so to speak, and take in the broad picture of what is involved. The Laws of Nature, of themselves, are rigid and unyielding, and therefore can only permit one specific and completely detailed unfolding of the entire history of Creation. Even the thoughts which govern decisions by man and beast, if all the contributing and influencing details were known, could be presented as entirely pre-determined. In other words, Predestination is implicit in the very Laws of Nature themselves. Where God intervenes in history, that also both was and is, from the first, a pre-determined event, so we can say that Almighty God has planned from the very first instant of Creation for a single very definite outworking of all the almost infinite details of history.
He has inserted in the whole tapestry of time and space marvellous patterns whereby certain spans of time operate to stamp His mark of design patterns, like a trade mark, upon His workmanship. Thus, as the Psalmist puts it, in Psalm 19:1-4:
1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy-work.
2. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
3. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
4. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world... .
When considered in light of this philosophical observation which we have just outlined, we can see that truly, the works of God in constructing all of history to a pattern laced with these intricate and meaning-filled time measures, ought to form a blazing warning to the atheistic humanist, of the sort described in Psalm 14:1 as a fool, who states "There is no God."
That specific meaningful timespans have been designed into history is, to those who have examined the details of these patterns, unquestioned. These timespan patterns have often a prophetic intent, and they are thus given in advance by revelation from The Almighty to, and through, the Prophets, so that honour and glory might later be yielded to God Who has thus proved that He is the Creator of all things.
It is not only desirable, but in most cases quite essential, that every plan or map should display a scale, usually near the words of the title, by which the reader can measure out and tabulate the various portions of the design laid before him. The Plan of Creation is provided with the units for a number of inter-related scales of grand proportion. Back in the Creation story, in Genesis 1:14, we read "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". Here we find the marks by which to measure time. Days and years are our units.
Sometimes, indeed, the scale is one in which a day represents a year or vice versa. We find in Numbers 14:34, that because the children of Israel balked at entering into their inheritance in The Promised Land, they were destined to wander in the wilderness: "After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise."
In Ezekiel 4:4-6 that Prophet is instructed by God: "Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year." As an incidental aside, note that Israel and Judah are not the same entity by this time. The Ten-and-a-half Tribes of Northern Israel had parted from the Two-and-a-half Tribes of Judah and are hence treated separately in respect of prophecies.
Sometimes a thousand years may be summed up and encapsulated in a single day. Describing the conditions which would prevail in the final years before Christ's glorious Second Advent, the Apostle Peter stated in II Peter 3:8 "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
Therefore, in projecting the scale of a prophecy, we must be prepared to read the designated time measure by more than one scale to determine which scale is appropriate, for the projection. In cases of multiple fulfilment, more than one scale may be valid for varied projections of the same prophetic theme.
In Revelation 11:2-3 two events are described. One is the treading down of the holy city by Gentiles which endures "forty and two months." The other is the prophesying of God's two witnesses clothed in sackcloth during that time period, which is re-stated as "a thousand two hundred and threescore days, that is, 1260 days. There is consistency. Each of these forty-two prophetic months is seen to represent a prophetic month of 30 days, and the whole forty-two month period covers three and a half years of 360 days each, which we call "prophetic years." This arrangement is also found in the ancient division of a circle into 360 degrees.
In certain scriptures, we find a set amount of history which is called a "time", in the form "time, times and a half", and "seven times", and we can also suggest the scale of these time periods. Nebuchadnezzar the king had personally undergone a judgment period of insanity called "seven times" in Daniel 4:20-36, and this was, it seems, also prophetic of a "seven times" judgment upon his entire system of government which we find described in Daniel 2:36-45 as the great image of gold, silver, brass (that is, bronze or copper), iron and clay, which is to be destroyed by the stone cut out of the mountain without hands; that is, the Kingdom of God.
Years later, in the banquet hall in which the Babylonian king Belshazzar held his great Babylonian feast, a hand wrote the words "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN" upon the wall (Daniel 5:25), and the Prophet Daniel was brought in to interpret the matter. It too was a judgment upon that king, but also upon the whole Babylonian economic and governmental system, of which the time of existence was being numbered to judgment. Appropriately, the economic expression Daniel used to interpret those words which were written upon the wall was "weighed in the balances." The actual written words "mena", "tekel" or "shekel" and "upharsin" or "division", generally taken to mean "half a mena", were the weights used in Babylonian trade, a number of samples of which have since been discovered and studied. The mena was one thousand gerahs and the shekel 20 gerahs. Thus the two and a half mina equalled 2500 gerahs and the shekel an additional 20 gerahs, making a total of 2520 gerahs. This number, 2520, is thus a number significant of a period of time following which judgment would fall upon the whole succession of Babylonian empires.
As this judgment number is prophetically linked to the experience of Nebuchadnezzar's "seven times" experience of personal judgment, his period of insanity must have lasted for 2520 days, or seven years. But more significant for our study, the equivalent judgment upon the entire succession of Babylonian empires described in Daniel 2:36-45 could not be accomplished in only seven actual years, and must, therefore, be on the larger scale of seven prophetic years of years, at the ratio of each day for a year, or, in other words, 2520 years. Thus, one "time" would reasonably fit to one prophetic year and the "time, times and a half" most reasonably fits to the measure of "one year, two years and half a year" or three and a half such years, or 1260 days, or, on the longer scale, 1260 years. Daniel was given the numbers 1260, 1290 and 1335 days in Daniel 12:12, as significant time measures, but, as we have seen, this would also be the same numbers of years rather than literal days on the larger scale.
We know from history that these calculations are evidently correct. For example, when, on 9th, 10th and 11th of December, in the year 1917, General Allenby's British Empire forces entered Jerusalem, releasing it from the grip of the Turkish forces, which used a banner displaying a sword, it was the termination date of 2520 years from the date in 604 B.C. when Jerusalem had fallen under the sword of the Babylonian forces. The same date was also 1335 lunar years from the start of the Mohammedan (lunar) calendar which commenced on 15th July, in 622 A.D. with the Hegira marking the flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina. As Christ stated to His disciples in Luke 21:24, "...and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
The same length of timespan, 2520 years, separates the years when Israelitish tribes living on the east of the Jordan River were deported by Assyria and the later establishment of the United States of America. Likewise, the span of 2520 years separates the year 721 B.C. when the main body of the Northern Tribes of Israel was deported by the Assyrians, and the year 1800 which marks the completion of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Incidentally, when checking these calculations, do keep in mind that there was no year zero between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D..
As a parting after-thought, we know that Solomon, in his old age was diverted from worship of The God of Israel by his many wives who were devoted to false religions, and about 2520 years later another king, in Israel-Britain, noted for the number of his wives found in these a cause of separation from the Roman Church of his day! These things do not just happen by chance.
With this we conclude the short examination of these time periods, and on the next programme we plan to return to our sequence of studies in the Book of Deuteronomy. As a meditation, you might wish to consider how often the timing aspect of various miraculous events augments and indeed frequently is essential to, their special significance. Thus it will also be with the timing of Christ's Second Advent, for which the wise will make preparation.
14 January, 2001
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
In this present series of Bible Studies, we have been examining, from the Books of Genesis and Exodus, the unfolding story of God's Great Plan to rectify the nature of His Creation.
On our last programme, we were looking at the Second Commandment, and I had only time to begin one aspect of that study which related to the concept of "Trinity". This is a most important aspect for if we do not see Jesus Christ in His true context as God, we miss a full understanding and instead, run into the confusion of thinking that Jesus is a second god, a sort of false-claimant to the honour of deity. Let us conclude the examination of that Second Commandment, and then move to the Third.
The concept of the Trinitarian unity of The LORD is, I believe expressed in several areas of the Bible. All three aspects were participants at The Creation (Elohim in Gen. 1:1, Ruach in Gen. 1:2, and logos i.e. The Word, Jesus Christ in John 1:1) and all three are present in the circumstances of Christ's Baptism, as reported in Matthew 3:16-17; Jesus emerging from Jordan, the Spirit of God descending like a Dove, and the Voice heard from heaven.
Speaking of Christ in Colossians 2:8-9, St. Paul assures his readers that "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
I believe that only unity in the concept of "Trinity" can adequately explain Isaiah 9:6-7 which names the child which is to be miraculously born by "The zeal of the LORD of hosts", as the same which is to sit "upon the throne of David... from henceforth even for ever." Only such unity in "Trinity" can encompass the names Wonderful, Counsellor (Holy Spirit), The mighty God (El), The everlasting Father (Ab), The Prince of Peace (Jesus), for those words tally with the angelic prophecy of Luke 1:32-33 which refers to Jesus.
Let us take the statements of Isaiah 48:16-17 and see how the linkages of the "persons" of The Trinity are inter-connected. First, that scripture reports of the LORD: "I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it (presumably the beginning; the Creation) was, there am I..." In order to verify this everlasting continuity, compare Exodus 3:14, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." with John 8:58 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."
Isaiah 48:16 continues "...and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me..." Compare this with Luke 1:35 "...The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
Isaiah 48:17 continues: "...Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God..." That word "LORD" is, "Yahweh", or "Jehovah", the God of Sinai. The reference to "Redeemer" again indicates Jesus Christ on the Cross, Who was "sent." Thus the references integrate the three persons as One God.
I have, in the past, made the statement that I not only view the Trinitarian nature of God as a possibility, but, indeed, from human viewpoint as a logical essential. How else can the Deity Who created all energy, matter, time and space, contact for His purposes that which was created except by means of an aspect which can interact with it, (in one sense independently in the nature of a distinct person, walking down the corridor of time, so to speak, along-side and in company with that creation), and specifically to inter-act with humanity within humanity's time-regimented terms.
There must likewise be an essence of deity capable of "piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow..." (Hebrews 4:12) Who may know the inner being in each person, being thus also an aspect of that Deity.
Although perhaps in a somewhat inadequate fashion, we can interpret every claim of Jesus in relation to "The Father" by considering the relationship of our own right arm to the totality of ourselves. Consider Mark 14:62: "ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power..." and John 14:10-11 "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works..."
If someone touches our arm, they touch US because our arm IS ourself. Consider John 10:30, "I and my Father are one", and John 14:7 "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also...". However we, the totality of our person, are each greater than just our arm alone. Thus John 14:28 says "...for my Father is greater than I." When hurt, our arm sends messages through nerves to our mind for assistance. Likewise Matthew 27:46 says "...My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Yet our arm responds to our requirement, even if great hurt ensues. Even so with Christ in Luke 22:42, saying "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" and John 6:38, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me", and again in John 12:27, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour."
Thus the concept of Trinity unites the devotion of the Christian in The One God. Further, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit reach through all time and space into Creation to impart knowledge of God's love to mankind.
We now move on to the Third commandment, found in Deuteronomy 5:11, which is the re-statement of Exodus 20:7.
11. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
On a previous programme, I spoke of the ceremony underway between the people of Israel and The Almighty God on Mount Sinai as a form of marriage contract between the people and their God. When we fully register the ramifications of this fact that a marriage is taking place at Sinai with Moses as officiating intermediary between God and the people of Israel it may give a whole new meaning to the words of one of the Ten Commandments which God is about to write; the Third, which forbids the committing of adultery. As it is the racial, tribal and national unit of Israel collectively to whom The Almighty is making this offer of marriage, and to whom also, that Third Law will be given, the words must apply every bit as much to the nation of Israel taken in its totality as they do to the conjugal arrangement which is to exist between a husband and wife in an individual family.
We may learn more of the true meaning embodied in that word "adultery" when we consult Partridge's Etymological Dictionary. That reference sequences the concepts of "alter", meaning "other", hence "different", hence "corrupt", hence "to seduce a woman", hence "to commit adultery." Thus the root idea behind adultery is to adulterate or mix or contaminate. When applied to a national group, it may contain a greater depth of meaning than that which is generally understood by that word "adultery" in our own generation!
The marriage relationship of individuals should reflect that of God with His people of Israel collectively, who corporately formed the national assembly. Under the item "Congregation", The New Bible Dictionary explains that where all Israel is assembled to hear the words of God, in other words, for a religious purpose, the Hebrew word "qahal" is used to describe the national assembly. Earlier, other Hebrew words, "moed", and "eda" were used, but more with the idea of designation of an appointed time or place or meeting. However, as the years of wilderness wandering proceed, the preferred Hebrew word used to designate a time of national assembly, particularly for a religious purpose, is qahal. The Dictionary says "It is apparent that 'eda', the older word, is in frequent use in Exodus and Numbers, and bears an almost technical sense of 'those gathered together' (for a specific purpose), but that qahal, preferred by Deuteronomy and later writers, came to mean 'all Israel gathered together by God as a theocratic state'."
That reference adds that the LXX translates that Hebrew word by the Greek word "ekklesia", which our AV New Testament usually translates using the word "synagogue" or, with the Christian community in mind, "assembly" or "church." Thus the modern word "church" has behind it the idea of the nation as a single church assembly, the wife of Almighty God. Thus any attempts to separate "church" from "state" are totally counter to the Israelite origins of the concept wherein government was subject to the Law of Almighty God. Historically. it was State meddling in appointments of Church Leaders which brought the demand to make a separation of the two. Never was it contemplated that the State should run its affairs independently from, and in effect dismissing and over-ruling, God's Words of Scripture! Insofar as we, the nations of modern day descendants of Israel in Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred lands, have allowed false teaching to persuade us from this nation-church structure, we have broken the Third Commandment as a national entity, and are subject to judgment under the penalty provisions of that Law.
In our own Israel nations today, the clearest expression of the term qahal might be expressed in the calling of a national day of prayer. The late King George VI broadcast a call to such a time of national prayer on the evening of D-Day. Also, Remembrance Day, or as it is sometimes called, Armistice Day, forms such an assembly for our modern Israel nations in our own time.
A national group committed to The Almighty by such a national agreement or marriage as we witness at Sinai, takes, in national marriage to Him, God's own name, "El", as when it is called "Israel", and such a nation is not to make other liaisons or marriages for itself of a category which would be termed adulterous. That is to say, they must not identify with, or mix themselves with, an inappropriate partner or false god. However, Israel later did play the harlot and lost knowledge of her identity under that Israel name for the stipulated "seven times", or in other words, two thousand five hundred and twenty years.
Now, once again, through the preparatory preaching and acceptance of the Christian Gospel, the "Israel bride" (Revelation 21:12) will have "made herself ready" (Revelation 19:7) and the marriage supper of "The Lamb" is to re-organize the relationship nationally as we find presented in Revelation 21:2.
Many who think this to be a marriage of Christ and His Church miss the whole point that the "church" is here the nation formed of Israel's descendants, now Christian, that makes a new agreement to be faithful to her Lord! The concept of a sort of committed minority, within but withdrawn from the nation, doing this is mis-leading. The community which is already committed to Christ forms the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18). The marriage makes "one flesh" of the union, and it includes the whole governmental unity of the people in this ekklesia of our present study.
Adultery, where a husband or wife adulterates the marriage union by unfaithfulness reflects on the personal level the concepts we have examined between the Israel Nation and Yahweh, their Almighty God and Husband.
We shall continue this study on our next programme.
21 January, 2001
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our Bible Studies have followed, through Genesis and Exodus, the unfolding story of God's Great Plan of regeneration. Today, we have come to a study of the Fourth Commandment, which is set forth in Deuteronomy 5:12-15, as it is likewise in Exodus 20:8-11, which pertains to the setting aside of a cyclic period of rest, re-generation, and greater attention to our relationship with Our God. In Deuteronomy 5:12-15 this Law appears in a slightly variant form as presented to the next generation of Israelites, preparing to enter the Promised Land, and although we shall meet it in a later study, we may benefit by reviewing that particular Scripture now. That passage uses these words:
12. Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
13. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
14. 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, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
15. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
The Exodus rendering states:
8. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
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:
11. For 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.
As we review this Fourth Commandment, in both Exodus 20, and Deuteronomy 5, and other related laws pertaining to longer periods of time, we see that this concept of periodic rest days at measured intervals must hold a very great importance to the nation of Israel, now as then.
These Laws, of course, are intended to amplify the summary given by Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:37-40:
37. 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.
38. This is the first and great commandment.
39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
It may be noted that, while the Exodus version stresses God's work in the days of Creation, the Deuteronomy account stresses God's release of His people, Israel. Thus, the principle enjoined is love for God and for our neighbour. It is for this reason of love that we are to follow these Ten Commandments.
The New Bible Dictionary, item "Sabbath" states: "the example for the sabbath rest had been set by God Himself in the creation. The sabbath therefore is a creation ordinance... The work of creation had occupied six days; on the seventh God rested (lit. 'ceased') from His labour. Thus there appears the distinction between the six days of labour and the one of rest. This is true, even if the six days of labour be construed as periods of time longer than twenty-four hours."
The Babylonian sabbath, is mentioned, but "the Babylonians had a five-day week. Examination of contract tablets reveals that the days designated sabbatum were not days of cessation from labour." The older Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, mentions evidence that Babylonians had both a five and a seven day cycle. Some scholars see the sabbath cycle as connecting to that source. However, The Companion Bible note says that the Babylonians doubtless had their seven day sabbath from Genesis 2:2-3, and not Genesis from the Babylonians.
Young's Concordance gives the meaning of "sabbath" or "shabbath" as "Cessation." The New Bible Dictionary explains that the sabbath was mentioned at the time when manna was given to the Israelites, in chapter 16, and was thus known to Israel in old time. The Deuteronomy passage reviews the Sabbath Law which had been given at Sinai, and it states that this day belongs to the Lord, adding an additional reason for observance, in that the sabbath was made for man. Israel had been a slave in Egypt and had been delivered; so Israel must show the mercy of the sabbath towards those in her own midst who were slaves."
In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, we find several pages under "Sabbath" and about five under "Sunday". The Sabbath item makes reference to "The rules of the Scribes which listed thirty-nine main kinds of work forbidden on the Sabbath." At least two of these were broken; by Jesus in healing, and His disciples in the preparation of food. The Encyclopaeda states "In fact, as our Lord puts it, the Rabbinical theory seemed to be that the Sabbath was not made for man but man for the Sabbath... The precepts of the law were valuable in the eyes of the Scribes because they were the seal of Jewish particularism, the barrier erected between the world at large and the exclusive community of Yahweh's grace." In a later section, that reference explains "the Sabbath in old Israel must have been entirely different from the Sabbath of the Scribes."
The New Bible Dictionary, after mentioning the blessings prophetically promised to follow proper observance of the sabbath (Isaiah 58:13-14 being cited) states that "God, not man, must determine how the sabbath is to be observed." Mentioning that "Gradually oral tradition made its growth among the Jews", that reference points out that Jesus inveighed against this additional burden, not the sabbath institution itself. Although Christ identified Himself as Lord of the sabbath (Mark 2:28), He went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was His custom (Luke 4:16).
Having commented upon its observance and importance, we could not leave this study without mentioning a contentious issue; the choice of day set apart for observance as a day of rest. As stated on page 198 of "A History of Christianity" by Kenneth Scott Latourette: "Already in the second century the chief day of worship and of the celebration of the Eucharist was Sunday, and the reason given was that it was on this first day of the week, "the Lord's Day," that Christ had been raised from the dead. In choosing that day instead of the Jewish Sabbath (although for centuries even many Gentile Christians also observed the seventh day, or Sabbath) or of Friday, the day of their Lord's crucifixion, Christians were giving further evidence that their faith was primarily in the risen Christ."
The New Bible Dictionary states "On the first day of the week the Lord rose from the dead, and the Christians began to assemble on that day for worship of the risen Christ. This day is the Lord's Day, and as such is the sabbath which God had instituted at creation. The commands regarding it have never been abrogated. It belongs to God, not to the pleasure of man; it is for the benefit and blessing of man, and that blessing is obtained by a resting on the sabbath from all one's regular secular toil."
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, mentions of the Early Christian Church: "...the Jewish Christians continued to keep the Sabbath, like other points of the old law. Eusebius ... remarks that the Ebionites observed both the Sabbath and the Lord's day; and this practice obtained to some extent in much wider circles, for the Apostolical Constitutions recommend that the Sabbath shall be kept as a memorial feast of the creation as well as the Lord's day as a memorial of the resurrection."
The Encyclopaedia adds: "On the other hand, Paul had quite distinctly laid down from the first days of Gentile Christianity that the Jewish Sabbath was not binding on Christians (Rom. xiv. 5 seq.: Gal. iv. 10; Col. ii. 16), and controversy with Judaizers led in process of time to direct condemnation of those who still kept the Jewish day..."
In the same reference, under the topic "Sunday", we read: "There is no evidence that in the earliest years of Christianity there was any formal observance of Sunday as a day of rest or any general cessation of work. But it seems to have from the first been set apart for worship. Thus, according to Acts xx. 7, the disciples in Troas met weekly on the first day of the week for exhortation and the breaking of bread..." Revelation 1:10 contains the first mention of "the Lord's day'."
Ignatius speaks of those whom he addresses as "no longer Sabbatizing, but living in the observance of the Lord's day... on which also our life sprang up again." The reference says that Justin Martyr was the first to use the word Sunday. Justin, it states, describes how "'on the day called Sunday' town and country Christians alike gathered together in one place for instruction and prayer and charitable offerings and the distribution of bread and wine; they thus meet together on that day, he says, because it is the first day in which God made the world, and because Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead."
We may cull further information scattered through the same entry in these quotes: "As long as the Jewish Christian element continued to have any influence in the Church, a tendency to observe Sabbath as well as Sunday naturally persisted. Eusebius... mentions that the Ebionites continued to keep both days, and there is abundant evidence from Tertullian onwards that so far as public worship and abstention from fasting are concerned the practice was widely spread among the Gentile churches. Thus we learn from Socrates... that in his time public worship was held in the churches of Constantinople on both days... and the injunction of the Apostolic Constitutions... is to 'hold your solemn assemblies and rejoice every Sabbath day (excepting one), and every Lord's day.'... The view that the Christian Lord's day or Sunday is but the Christian Sabbath transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week does not find categorical expression till a much later period... The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday as a legal duty is a constitution of Constantine in 321 A.D."
Knowing the Israelitish but non-Jewish identity of the many Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the present time, I consider that those described as members of Gentile churches, who yet persisted in Sabbath observance to be descendants of the Northern Israelite Tribes, whose descendants later migrated to their new homes in the north-west of Europe and overseas.
As this Sabbath Law is laid upon the whole national assembly, it is interesting that many government offices close on both Saturdays and Sundays. To this extent at least, we nationally observe the Sabbath!
We cannot leave this matter without adding that many commercial outlets compete seven days a week, in distinct contravention of the Fourth Commandment. Perhaps the commercial mandarins hope to evade economic disaster, the consequence of their refusal to honour The Almighty God upon His Day.
One last thought: the law specifically applies, not only to the whole national body of Israelites, both individually and corporately, but it also applies to "thy stranger that is within thy gates." Multicult has no right to claim a different set of rules within the land, at variance from God's Law. The civic responsibility to observe God's Laws applies to everyone within our borders, without excuse or exception. Our tolerance of alien "rights" and the accompanying cultural baggage does not honour The Almighty Yahweh, God of Israel, and in the end, it cannot but bring disaster upon the nation if it is not corrected. We shall continue our study of The Ten Commandments on our next programme.
RETURN TO BIBLE STUDY
RETURN TO B.I.W.F. HOME PAGE