Seventh-Day Adventists/Isaiah 66:23
Thank you for you clear and concise answers. I have been introduced to SDA by my friend that is SDA pastor now. We had many discussions about SDA doctrines, but no matter how much biblical evidence I present to him about SDA fallacies,the more he gets entrenched in SDA "truth".
Would you please comment on Isaiah 66:23 that SDA is using as one of their prooftext.
Also do you have any numbers as far how many people are leaving SDA?
SDA is are always bragging about their growing numbers.
Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and, of course, for your questions.
It continues to befuddle me as to why SDAs insist on using Isaiah 66:23 to prove that Sabbath will be observed in heaven. Someone wisely said, "When the text is taken out of context you are left with a con." They have conveniently ignored the entire context of Isaiah's vision. Following are some of the reasons I disagree with their position:
The book begins by stating the reason for the vision:
Isaiah 1:1 (NIV)
The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem
that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
I don't pretend to know all of the prophetic meanings and/or interpretations but Isaiah's vision seems to be specific to Judah and Jerusalem. Judah is being addressed because of its rebellion and Jerusalem because of her unfaithfulness.
Isaiah's vision of Jerusalem is not the New Jerusalem that will descend from the loftiest heaven where God dwells.
Revelation 21:1-4 (NIV)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Isaiah's vision of heaven have days and nights because it speaks of Sabbaths and New Moons BUT the new heaven and new earth referenced in Revelation have no night because Jesus is the light.
Revelation 22:5 (ASV)
5 And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
So the question is, how will one calculate every seventh day or every New Moon if there is no night? According to Scripture the evening and the morning make a day.
Isaiah 66:18-24 speaks of survivors being messengers to the nations to declare God's glory and to bring the remnant of God's people back from every nation as an offering unto the Lord. They will come on horses, in chariots, wagons, mules, etc. However, according to the New Covenant, we will meet Jesus in the air.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV)
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Isaiah also mentions the appointment of priests and Levites in this new heaven and new earth. How can this be? One of the responsibilities of the priests was to offer daily sacrifices even on the Sabbath. According to Scripture, Jesus is now our High Priest and He comes from the Tribe of Judah. Jesus was the Lamb of God and after His death no more sacrifices are needed to point to Him.
Hebrews 7:26-28 (NIV)
26 Such a high priest (Jesus) meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Isaiah 65:17-25 continues to detail the new heavens and the new earth. Isaiah speaks of babies being born, people dying, etc. but we know in the New Jerusalem spoken of in Revelation, we shall be as the angels. We shall not marry and there will be no death or crying there.
Matthew 22:30 (NIV)
30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:26 (KJV)
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Revelation 21:4 (KJV)
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
As you can see, Isaiah 66:23 cannot be referring to keeping the Sabbath in the New Jerusalem. SDAs insist on living under the law and the Old Covenant made with Israel exclusively. They will not be persuaded otherwise. They believe they MUST succeed where Israel failed by being perfectly obedient to the law. The 7th day Sabbath defines who they are as a people (7th day Adventists) so it probably shouldn't be a surprise if they try to defend their name at all cost. Unfortunately the price entails misinterpreting and adding to Scripture.
It seems that they have not paid particular attention to the words "from" and "to" as quoted from their proof text in Isaiah 66:23 because if they did they would see that the text could be pointing to daily worship instead of weekly Sabbath observance.
Isaiah 66:23 (NIV)
From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD.
FROM one New Moon TO another and FROM one Sabbath TO another means all the moons and days in between. From one Sabbath to another would mean all the days from Sunday to the next Sabbath. It did not say every seventh day all mankind will come and bow down but FROM one Sabbath TO another. It's like saying from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. That would include all the minutes in between. Just a thought! ;-) This interpretation would be in harmony with New Covenant worship as stated in Hebrews. God wants daily worship, TODAY!
If SDAs understood and believed the New Covenant, trying to validate the Sabbath for eternity would be unnecessary.
Regarding the SDA church growth:
The church does boast rapid growth but people are leaving out of the back door as quickly as others are coming through the front. The leadership is suggesting about 18 million members worldwide. About 1.2 million of these comprise the North American Division. The vast majority of its members live outside of North America.
I would respectfully suggest that whatever is reported is considerably less in reality. As a former employee, I know first hand that the numbers are inflated. The conferences frown on pastors dropping names from their church roster. Why? Because their goals are based on church membership. The more people on the church roster, the higher the financial goals to be raised. It doesn't matter that 700 names might be on the membership roster but only 300 attend on a regular basis. Following are a couple of articles regarding its membership:
I hope this has been somewhat helpful. God bless!