How to Keep the Sabbath Properly

We need to understand and formulate a right approach to this day. It cannot be just like any other day of the week.

A day of testing (Exodus 16:4; Exodus 31:13, 17; Ezekiel 20:12, 20) whether we will keep the Sabbath holy in the way God has prescribed?

A day of ceasing from:

  • Our work (Leviticus 23:7; Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15)
  • Our ways (Isaiah 58:13)
  • Our pleasures (Isaiah 58:13)
  • Our words (Isaiah 58:13)
  • Our burdens (Exodus 6:6-7; Nehemiah 13:15-22)

A day for engaging in:

  • God’s work ( John 6:29, Mark 16:16, Philippians 2:12)
  • God’s ways (Jeremiah 6:16)
  • God’s pleasures (Philippians 2:13; Luke 12:32; Ephesians 1:5)
  • God’s words (Luke 4:4, 16-21; Acts 17:2-3)
  • Worshiping and honoring God (Exodus 20:8-10; Isaiah 58:13)
  • Fellowship (Hebrews 10:24-25; Leviticus 23:3; Nehemiah 8:8; Acts 18:4, 11; Acts 2:1, 42)
  • Coming before God (Leviticus 19:30; Leviticus 16:1-4; Exodus 28:1-3; 1 Peter 2:5, 9)
  • Doing good within the other guidelines (Matthew 12:9-14)
  • Healing and rejuvenation (Mark 3:4; Luke 13:16)
  • Freedom and liberation (Deuteronomy 5:15, 1 John 5:3)

God has given us general rules by which we can answer the specific questions we may have on how to keep the Sabbath properly. He has given us guiding principles that allow us to make the right decision on how to observe the Sabbath.

This is why we prepare (Exodus 16:5, 29-30) to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Categories Q&A

Did Jesus Baptize?

Is there a conflict between John 3:22 and 4:1-2? It seems to show that Jesus baptized in one case and yet in the other that He baptized no one.

The intent of this section in chapters 3-4 of the Gospel of John was to show that Jesus taught baptism (by full immersion).

Since we are dealing with only one writer in these verses, it is safe to say that John knew what he meant to say in each case. This is made easier when we look at John 4:1 and then at John 4:2.

John 4:1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John

Here he says that “Jesus…baptized” which is similar to the statements made in John 3:22 as well as John 3:26. But in the next verse John clarifies what he meant by the terminology in all three verses:

John 4:2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),

In this verse it is made clear that although Jesus did not physically baptize any one, He was there teaching and empowering his disciples to do so – and in this respect this is what He is continuing to do even today.

Categories Q&A

Why We Do Not Serve on Jury Duty

Our Citizenship

As a Christian our citizenship is first and foremost in heaven (Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:13). In that respect we are to be acting as an Ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) from that foreign country serving as an appointed (John 6:44) representative (Romans 8:29; Galatians 3:27) of God who is the Head of State for His Kingdom.

We are not to be involved in the matters of the this world which is ruled by Satan (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 2:13), but rather we are to come out it and not be a part of it (John 15:19; 17:16,18; 18:36-37) in much the same way that diplomatic visitors cannot participate in this and similar activities.

During our temporary stay here on Earth we are to act commensurate to our commission (1 Peter 2:11-12; Hebrews11:13) and demonstrate conduct becoming of God (Matthew 5:16-18; 1 Peter 1:17).

Letter vs Spirit of the Law

In the court of this land it is mandated that only the letter of the law be considered when adjudicating a case. As a keeper of God’s law, we are to judge righteously (John 7:24) as outlined in the Bible (Matthew 4:4). A significant part of His Way also allows for repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19), forgiveness (Luke 17:3; Matthew 6:14), mercy (Matthew 23:23) and conscience (Romans 14:23) which the modern judicial system rarely allows for or takes into account.

Judicial Processes

There is often a conflict in how the Bible states that we are to go about judging a matter versus how we would be expected to assess it in court. For instance, God says that two or more witnesses are needed to convict someone and if they perjure themselves they are subject to the penalty of the crime at hand (Deuteronomy 19:15-20; Matthew 18:16). In the court system one witness may be acceptable and the consequences of perjury may be tantamount to a slap on the wrist, if anything at all.

There are still a broad spectrum of other issues such as: the omitting of evidence, acceptance of laws that are against the clear Word of God, working on a Sabbath, sentencing that does not fit the crime, instructions contrary to the Bible, acting against one’s conscience, etc. that would put the Christian in an ungodly predicament in the court room.

Christ’s Example

We are to pattern our behavior after Christ (1 Peter 2:21) and when asked to judge a civil matter (Luke 12:13-14) He opted out. Also Paul who admonished us to follow him as he follows Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) stated he had no business judging those outside of the church (1 Corinthians 5:12).

God’s Law Before Man’s

Although we are to pray for the leaders of the nation (Titus 3:1–2; 1 Timothy 2:1–2) and “give to Caesar the things of Caesar” we can not be remiss in giving “to God the things of God” (Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7).

So the summation of the matter is that we can not participate in jury duty as we must put God’s ways before man’s (Acts 5:29) even if there are consequences to go with it (Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 4:12-13).

In accordance with all the above, the Greater Church of God, has stated on its web site from its inception that we “do not participate…in jury duty” as a matter of our faith. It should be noted that this belief has been held sincerely through previous organizations dating back more than 40 years.

Categories Q&A

Q&A What occurred between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2?

Q:  Can you explain the timeline that eventuated between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?

A:  Let’s have a look at these two verses first:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

A better translation for Genesis 1:2 is “The earth became without form, and void…” We find the same exact word, hâyâh, translated appropriately in Genesis 2:7 as became.  The translator  had certain leeway based on the context of the sentence in terms of whether they would translate it was or became. In the case, it really should be the latter.

Back to verse two, the earth, in other words, was not this way to begin, but became this way over the course of time.  The words depicting this state are tohu and bohu.  According to Strong, tohu means:  to lie waste; a desolation, that is, desert; figuratively a worthless thing; confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, (thing of) nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness.  Similarly bohu is defined in this manner:  meaning to be empty; a vacuity, that is, (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin: – emptiness, void.

As was mentioned in the Q&A on what happened before Genesis 1:1, the angels predated the creation of the earth and notice what their reaction was in Job 38:4-7 when the earth was originally created:

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth… when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

It stands to reason that the angels would not have shouted for joy if the earth had been an empty morass of confusion or a wasteland devoid of beauty as it was to become later.  In addition to this, it fits in perfectly with what we know of God’s character.  He does everything decently and in order and not in a confused manner (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40).

The question then is how did the earth become this way between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1?  To answer this we need to go back to the ultimate creation of the angelic realm – Lucifer.  His name means “light bringer” and he was the “seal of perfection” and “perfect in [his] ways” (Ezekiel 28:12, 15).

Being the epitome of angelic creation though would prove to be his undoing.  In Isaiah 14:14, Lucifer’s ego got the best of him and he said, “…I will be like the Most High.”  The thoughts of his heart were that he could and should be above God since there can only be one who is the “highest” (Isaiah 14:13).

When this thought became action, Lucifer said he would rise above the clouds (Isaiah 14:13).  This puts his location at that time as being on earth.  Presumably his assignment was to tend the earth and prepare for the coming of man.  But this was not good enough for Lucifer so he left his domain, the position that he occupied here on earth in an attempt to take God’s office.

It was then at this time that the transition from Lucifer to Satan happened. God calls things as they are and when Lucifer committed himself to acting another way, one that was contrary to Him, Lucifer became Satan.  Satan means enemy or adversary and that is exactly what he had become to God and would be to man.  Satan was able to persuade one-third of the angels (the ones that are now demons; Revelation 12:4) to join him in his assault on the throne.  His plans were derailed when he was met in heaven by Michael and his angels and a war ensued (Revelation 12:7).

It was during this momentous conflict that we presume that the earth, as well as other celestial bodies received their pockmarks, some of which can still be seen today throughout our solar system.  It was because of this war that the earth became tohu and bohu and thus needed to be renewed (Psalm 104:30; Isaiah 45:18, the word tohu is translated “vain” here).  As a side note this battle also goes a long ways towards explaining what happened to dinosaurs and how the Earth can be billions of years old while the re-creation week was a literal week.

Satan and his minions lost the war and he was no longer welcome in the heaven where God resides.  Because of these iniquities Satan and the demons were cast back down to the earth, where he had previously been (Revelation 12:8-9; 1 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Luke 10:18; Ezekiel 28:16).   This, of course, supersedes the renewal of the earth and the placement of man here.  In Genesis 3 we read that the serpent, Satan the devil, wasted no time getting into his new role as deceiver which places him back on earth before the creation of Adam and Eve.

To summarize the chain of events that have to be taken a little from here and a little from there, we can conclude that much transpired in the indeterminable amount of time between first two verses of the Bible.  That being said, it is evident that God did not create the earth and universe in disarray, but rather it became that way through the prideful and belligerent acts of Satan who had been Lucifer.  Subsequently, he and the demons were cast back to earth where they had originally become discontent with their assignment from God.

 

 

 

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