Seventh-Day Adventists/Lev. 23 and the 7th day Sabbath

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Question
Sal-You say that Lev. 23 shows the 7th day Sabbath to be part of the ceremonial law like the other sabbaths mentioned in Lev. 23. You missed that in verse 4 it says the 7th day Sabbath is separate from the other sabbaths listed in verse 5 and following. Also you missed in verses 37 and 38 it says the 7th day Sabbath is different (moral) from the other sabbaths (ceremonial) because of the word "beside". So Lev. 23 does not show the 7th day Sabbath to be part of the ceremonial law if one understands verses 1-4 and 37-38.

Tina

Answer
Dear Sister Tina:

Let's look at the passage in question without bringing in preconceived notions. I invite you, for the moment, to put aside what your church has to say about this passage. I'm not saying to throw out what your church teaches, but to simply put it aside just for moment.   

Now let's, with an open mind, read Leviticus 23 beginning with the first four verses. I will use in this answer the New King James Version of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.

"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. 3 ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. 4 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times."

We read that God wants Moses to tell the children of Israel about "the feasts of the Lord", the "holy convocations" which God says, "are My feasts."  The first of these "feasts of the Lord" is the 7th day Sabbath, "a holy convocation" (v. 3). The very next verse states that what is to follow are also "feasts of the Lord, holy convocations". Does v. 4 indicate that there is any difference between the 7th day Sabbath a feast of the Lord, a holy convocation and those that follow? Yes, it does. What is this difference? The difference is in when they are to be observed. The 7th day Sabbath is observed every 7th day, Saturday in our calendar setting, but the feasts of the Lord listed after v. 4 are to be observed "at their appointed times". Each one of these feasts or Sabbaths has a particular time of a particular month to be observed during the year. That is the difference as stated in these verses.  3 "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest... 4 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times." This is very clear if one simply accepts what the Bible says here without attempting to filter it through church teachings. Perhaps other translations will help you see this. The English Standard Version has "at the times appointed for them" and the Complete Jewish Bible has "at their designated times." The timing is the difference-one is every week at the same time and the others occur at different times throughout the year, i.e. "at their appointed times".

In between verses 3 & 4 the SDA Church has inserted an artificial separation which you have mentioned in your question. This separation is not endorsed by Scripture. The 7th day Sabbath is routinely grouped with the other feasts of Israel.

"Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual showbread, for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, on the New Moons, and on the set feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel" (2 Chronicles 2:4). "The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD" (2 Chronicles 31:3).  "And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD" (Isaiah 66:23). "Then it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel..." (Ezekiel 45:17).  "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths" (Colossians 2:16).

So the 7th day Sabbath is indeed mentioned with the other feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations as well as the New Moon festivals without any contextual reason to believe that the Sabbath is not considered to belong with the other feasts or Sabbaths. I know that this is not what your Church teaches, but just looking at the first four verses of Leviticus 23 and the supporting verses quoted can you honestly come to a different conclusion? Again, laying aside your Church's teaching just for now, isn't that what these verses indicate?

Next all the yearly feasts of the Lord are are announced. Then we read,

"These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day— besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD" (vs. 37-38).

All these sacrifices must be offered as the Lord has just commanded "everything on its day". This phrase brings to mind v. 4's "at their appointed times". The word "besides" in v. 38 does not mean as you have been taught that the 7th day Sabbath is different (moral) from the other Sabbaths (ceremonial). What it does mean in context is that these sacrifices are not to replace the sacrifices to be offered on the Sabbath (cf. Numbers 28:9-10), nor to replace the gifts, vows, and freewill offerings of the people. Perhaps another translation will help you see this. "These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD" (NIV). This version makes it very clear that "besides" has the meaning of "in addition to". Some other versions that also have "in addition to" are AMP, CEB, GNT, HCSB, and NCV.    

At this time I would like to renew my request to you to put aside preconceived notions and church teachings and let's just read the verses that you mentioned.

"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. 3 ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. 4 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times...37 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day— 38 besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD."

Now I ask you do these verses support your belief that the 7th day Sabbath is moral and the other Sabbaths are ceremonial or my belief that the 7th day Sabbath is here one of the feasts of Israel, a holy convocation? I realize that in order to do a complete study of any one topic one must review all of the biblical data.  However, the focus of your question, and consequently my answer, is Leviticus 23.

In v. 2 God proclaims, "these are My feasts." What feasts is He referring to? Those that He is about to list through Moses to the Children of Israel. In v. 3 is the first of these feasts, a holy convocation, the 7th day Sabbath. To further confirm that the 7th day Sabbath is one of God's feasts, a holy convocation, let's reread the last part of v. 2 and the first part of v. 3. "...The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation...". It should be clear from an unbias reading of the above that the 7th day Sabbath is one of the feasts of the LORD that Moses was to proclaim to be a holy convocation.

In v. 4 God repeats that these are His feasts, holy convocations. But now He adds, "which you shall proclaim at their appointed times". Then follows the yearly feasts of Israel. Unlike the 7th day Sabbath these feasts of the Lord have an appointed time during the year when they are to be observed. That is the difference between the 7th day Sabbath and the other feasts or Sabbaths. Again, there is nothing inherent in these verses that gives support to the belief that the 7th day Sabbath is moral and the other Sabbaths are ceremonial. There is nothing there at all.     

Have a Blessed Mother's Day!

Brother Sal

Seventh-Day Adventists

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Sal

Expertise

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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