Seventh-Day Adventists/Sabbath and Creation

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Question
Dear Brother Sal:

I have read what you wrote concerning the Sabbath and creation. You are very tricky. The Sabbath was part of the original law given to Adam. I know you will say, “Where is that in the Bible?” It does not have to be stated as such. Other things are not stated as Creation Ordinances but are. For example tithing is a Creation Ordinance also. The Bible does not record God saying so to Adam. But we can use our God given intelligence to know it is so. We know Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20). What written law was he obeying? There is none. Yet he still gave a tithe. Why? The only answer is Abraham knew of the Creation Ordinance for all God’s people to tithe. So it is obvious that one does not have to have a law written down for it to be valid. All can agree that God rested on the 7th day of creation (Gen. 2:2-3). No there is no written command for Adam to keep the Sabbath just like there is no written command for Abraham to tithe. Both the Sabbath and tithing are Creation Ordinances. It makes perfect sense that God would tell Adam about the only day he made holy. Then Adam would pass this knowledge along to his children. They would then pass it along to their children and so on. Therefore the Sabbath was kept as a Creation Ordinance from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Moses and beyond. Since Abraham is the father of faith then all must keep the Sabbath as he did if they want to be people of faith as Abraham was.

Dennis

Answer
Dear Brother Dennis:

I certainly do not mean to be “tricky”. I’m not even sure what you mean by that remark. You are correct that I request Bible evidence when one makes Bible claims. I don’t believe this to be unreasonable. For instance, when I claim that the Ten Commandments are the now obsolete covenant or that the 7th day Sabbath is ceremonial I provide Bible evidence for my claims. Whether one agrees with my interpretation of the evidence or not at least I provided Bible evidence in accordance with the principles of sola scriptura.

The belief that the Sabbath is a Creation Ordinance is biblically untenable. Genesis 2:2-3 is proof that God finished creating in six days and “rested” on the 7th in His perfect creation. This is not remotely proof of a Sabbath Creation Ordinance. I have an article on the Sabbath and Creation I can send it to you if you would like to read it.  

I find it interesting that you use tithing (specifically Abraham’s tithing) to give support to the Sabbath Creation Ordinance theory. I say this is interesting because both tithing and Sabbath observance are Old Covenant laws neither of which is valid in the New Covenant. Both may be observed, but neither is a moral obligation. Paul specifically states that the Sabbath may be observed by Christians, but is not a requirement.

“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks” (Romans 14:5-6 NKJV).

Paul also speaks on the importance of Christians supporting the Church financially, but he never mentions tithing as a way to accomplish this. He never teaches that tithing is a New Covenant requirement. For example,

"Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:5-7 NKJV).  

“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3 NIV).

In the above two examples one should note that the concept of tithing is absent. Paul is teaching that Christians are to give as one “purposes in his heart” and “in keeping with your income”. Christian giving is not bound by the Old Covenant tithe law.

Even your example of Abraham giving a tithe does not support the Creation Ordinance theory.
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ He gave him a tenth of all” (Genesis 14:18-20 NASB).

Apparently Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of the recovered property. This is the first mention of tithing in the Bible. Unfortunately, the text does not say exactly why Abraham gave a tenth or if he was obligated by some law to do so. This is unlike the first mention of the Sabbath in Exodus 16 where God does make it clear that the Israelites were obligated to observe the Sabbath (see vs. 22-30).

You claim that the only answer as to why Abraham would tithe to Melchizedek is that he knew tithing to be a Creation Ordinance. This is not the only answer. Another possible answer is that Abraham was complying with a pagan custom prevalent at the time. The custom was for the victor of a war to give 10% of the spoils to the local authority often a priest or priest king, a royal tithe if you like. This was considered a thanksgiving offering to the local deity who supposedly granted the victory. In light of this let’s look at the passage again.  

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ He gave him a tenth of all” (Genesis 14:18-20 NASB).

Note that Abraham tithed to the “king of Salem” who was also “priest of God Most High”. The term “God Most High” (El Elyon in Hebrew) was the common designation for the Canaanite gods El and Baal. Abraham would have been aware of this if he had any knowledge at all of the Canaanite religion. These facts fit well with my proposed alternate explanation for Abraham’s tithe.

Some may complain that Melchizedek could not be a Canaanite priest because in Hebrews he is a type of Christ. It’s beyond the scope of this answer to exegete Hebrews 7, but suffice to say that one must recognize the difference between the historical Melchizedek and the typological Melchizedek.


Others may complain that Abraham was a man devoted to the true God; therefore he would not have given a priest of Baal a tithe. Abraham was indeed a devote worshipper of Yahweh. However, when living under pagan authorities Abraham obeyed the laws and customs of those authorities as his conscience would allow. We as Christians are to do likewise (cf. Romans 13:1-7 & Titus 3:1).   

Your final argument that since Abraham kept the Sabbath so should we is an argument with no foundation, a castle in the clouds. There is no biblical evidence that Abraham kept the Sabbath. He lived prior to the giving of the Sabbath (Exodus 16) and we live after the Sabbath became obsolete (cf. Hebrews 8:13 & Colossians 2:16-17). Therefore, Abraham did not keep the Sabbath and based on the available evidence neither should we.  

The first thing I thought of when I read your final argument was that no doubt the Judaizers used the same argument concerning the necessity of Christians being circumcised (cf. Acts 15:1, 5). Perhaps their argument went something like this: “If Father Abraham the man of faith proved his faith by accepting circumcision then all men of faith should follow this great man’s example”. At least the Judaizers had Bible evidence that Abraham did accept circumcision (Genesis 17: 23-27). You, on the other hand, have no such Bible evidence to offer for your claim that Abraham kept the Sabbath.

One final thought: interestingly your own “prophet” Ellen White also spoke of tithing and the Sabbath together. She admitted that neither one is commanded in the pages of the New Testament. “The New Testament does not re-enact the law of the tithe, as it does not that of the Sabbath; for the validity of both is assumed” (The Faith I Live By, p. 244). It’s a shame that so much time and effort has been wasted by certain Christians trying to prove an assumption. If they would only rely on the Bible alone and not the Bible plus a “prophet” some would have no problem understanding that tithe paying and Sabbath keeping are Old Covenant practices not required in the New Covenant. Mrs. White implied as much when she said, “for the validity of both is assumed”. If one doesn’t assume the validity of both, but seeks Bible evidence for their validity then one will realize what Mrs. White wanted to avoid, i.e. that both are invalid practices in the New Covenant.

Thanks for the question and have a blessed day,
Brother Sal  

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I am privileged to be able to offer an alternative insight into the complicated world of Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) theology. I will rely heavily on the Bible, but will also consider history and use logic in exposing deficiencies in SDA teachings. I would ask anyone who is considering becoming a SDA or if you are already in the SDA church, but are searching for the truth, to please allow me to offer a different explanation for the claims of the SDA. Remember : "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I can answer your questions pertaining to the beliefs and history of the SDA. I am not able to answer questions concerning spirituality or church discipline.

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I have extensively studied the theology of the Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) for a number of years. I have many books and tape sets produced by experts in this field of study. I have debated current members of the SDA church. I have a great desire to help these people see the truth.

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M.S. degree in Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics

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