Servants' News

Mar/Apr 2000

The Creation Origin of the Festivals

As brethren and leaders in the various Church of God groups pray and seek unity in the Body of Christ, we often fail to think outside of our own familiar surroundings. Is Christ interested in unity only among former-WCG members? Or is he interested in unity among all those who have His spirit and obey Him? The following article was written by Sydney Davis, a former Seventh Day Adventist—who now keeps the holy days as well as the Sabbath, clean meats, and most other “Church of God” doctrines. This article is interesting both from the teaching it provides, and as a way to look at how WCG members look to other Sabbatarians. — NSE

The teaching of what is known as “New Covenant Theology” championed by Protestant evangelical theologians represents a very real and serious threat to Sabbatarian Christians regardless of denominational affiliation. In recent years the New Covenant Theology teachings of two former Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) theologians have shaken the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) from center to circumference, resulting in that denomination’s giving up the Sabbath truth. Next to the SDA church, the WCG founded by Herbert W. Armstrong was the second largest Christian denomination that observed the Bible Sabbath. The doctrinal considerations brought to view by these former SDA theologians have had a devastating effect upon the WCG Sabbatarian theology which has caused that great body to splinter into many factions with the exodus of many of its membership into various independent Sabbatarian splinter groups and organizations.

Now it seems that “the chickens are coming home to roost” in the SDA denomination. In my home church a fourth generation SDA family (a lifelong product of SDA traditional theology, educational and religious institutions through the college level) gave up the Bible Sabbath and left the SDA church to fellowship with a Sunday-keeping Baptist church. This experience is not unique. It is being repeated in the religious experience of individuals, families and SDA churches throughout the North American Division. Some churches have become divided resulting in split memberships forming independent congregational churches and in some cases whole churches have left the SDA denomination over this Sabbath question. There is even a web-site for former SDAs (formeradventist.com) who have embraced the New Covenant Theology.

Meanwhile SDA church tele-evangelists are advancing the gospel message with the advanced technology of Internet and satellite evangelism, filling the church coffers and pews, the success of which leave her with little concern as to the threats against the Sabbath represented by the New Covenant Theology. Church heresies have come and gone, and leaders think that this, like the others, will just have to run its course. I beg to differ. The very same proof texts presently being used to bring new Sabbatarians into the church will be the very same texts that will take them out, unless we properly address and teach our members how to answer the claims of the New Covenant Theology.

The apostasy from the Sabbath truth we see taking place in the WCG, the SDA church and other Sabbatarian organizations is not a rumor. It is real. Many who embrace the New Covenant Theology are highly intelligent and spiritually mature Christians who have instead of entrusting their soul’s salvation into the care and keeping of church pastors and ministers have rather decided to take personal responsibility for it themselves. These are thinking and thoughtful individuals who treasure their Christian experience as extremely valuable. They are not content to rest their spiritual laurels on church creeds, dogmas and fundamental beliefs, but on the assurance of their salvation in Christ as revealed in the Scripture. They have abandoned Sabbath observance not because of emotional despondency or disillusionment with the Sabbath or their church, but to become better Christians. Or, as they might say, Christians freed from the Judaizing legalism represented by the Sabbath of the Sinaitic covenant that has been abolished and “nailed to the cross”.

The Sabbath once again is being attacked from within but the nature of this inside attack is unlike the blatant anti-Semitism within the early church as seen in the matter concerning the Quartodeciman Passover (14 Abib) controversy in 325 AD.

At that time Constantine denounced the Jewish calendar and substituted Easter (Sunday) for the Passover(Abib 14). This resulted in the institutionalizing of the yearly observance of the traditional “Lord’s Day”—the resurrection of “Christ the firstfruits” (1Cor 15:23) long typified by the day on which the firstfruit offering occurred “on the morrow after the Sabbath” during the Passover (Lev 23:11, 15), to a weekly observance of that event—from an annual “Lord’s day” to a “weekly” Sunday. The first attack was clearly for reasons having to do with hatred for anything “Jewish”, particularly the Jewish calendar (on which the calculation of the Passover was based) and the Jewish Sabbath.

Today the anti-Judaic position has a more acceptable face because it wears the make-up of a sophisticated theology and hermeneutic that can justify its fundamental anti-Judaism calling it a “politically correct” New Covenant Theology.

The New Covenant Theology regarding the Sabbath simply put is this. It teaches that the Sabbath is a part of the Sinaitic covenant given to Israel that was “nailed to the cross” along with its festivals (see Col 2:14-17). It is alleged that since the command to observe the Sabbath originated at Sinai as part of the covenant law, it was done away with the covenant law. The proof text for this teaching is, “But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones…, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:” (2Cor 3:7. KJV). Since this text clearly refers to the Ten Commandments “engraven in stones” of which the Sabbath is a part, it is interpreted to mean that the Sabbath is now “done away” with.

One thing about the New Covenant Theology. It exposes the inherent contradictions and inconsistencies of the traditional Sabbatarian understanding of the law of God upon which our Sabbatarian theology is based. It exposes the faulty traditional usage of proof texts to support the doctrine of Sabbath observance. It exposes the weakness of the traditional arguments that Sabbatarians have been using upon which an entire Sabbatarian theology has developed.

Creation Origin of the Holy Days

Fundamental to our theology of the Sabbath is our theology of the law of God. This particular article will bring that clearly into focus as we discover the creation origin of the holy days—the festivals of the Lord.

I recently had the privilege of sitting with two Sabbatarian university professors where a informal meeting for the purpose of discussing the festival issue was held. During this frank and candid discussion one professor cited Acts chapter 15 to point out that the festivals were not one of the stipulations put upon the Gentiles in the Christian church which he said proves that they have no relevance for the Christian church today. I suggested to the professor that based upon that reasoning neither was the Sabbath among the specific stipulations given to Gentile Christians to observe. This is one of the cardinal points of the New Covenant Theology against Sabbath observance for Christians.

The other professor stated that though the Sabbath was not one of the specific stipulations laid upon the Gentile Christians that the Sabbath was mentioned in Acts 15:21. But to buttress his point proving the continuing obligation for Christians to keep the Sabbath he cited the creation ordinance of the Sabbath that shows the universality of the Sabbath for all mankind. I suggested to the professor that the holy days themselves originated as a divine ordinance founded in the creation narrative just as the Sabbath. He challenged me to show him where. I pointed him to Genesis 1:14:

“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.”

I carefully and respectfully pointed out to my esteemed and learned colleague that the Hebrew word for
seasons” is “mo’ed” which is a direct reference to the festivals. The same word is translated “feast” in Leviticus 23. The professor replied that what I stated regarding the Hebrew word for “seasons” (“moed” meaning “feasts” or “festivals”) in the context of Genesis 1:14 was inaccurate and false. He further stated that one should not try to build a doctrine from one verse or one word in the Bible. Well it is certainly agreed that we not make a new doctrine on the strength of only one word or one verse, but I strongly disagreed with his conclusion regarding the meaning of the word “mo’ed” in that text. I believe that the Scripture, as well as other sources—both ancient and modern, Jewish and Christian—conclusively show that the word “seasons” as translated from the Hebrew word “mo’ed” in the KJV Genesis 1:14 means just what the Strong’s Concordance says it means:

MOW’ED [4150]

1. appointed place, appointed time, meeting

a. appointed time

1. appointed time (general)

2. sacred season, set feast, appointed season

b. appointed meeting

c. appointed place

d. appointed sign or signal

e. tent of meeting

The 35 references presented below all go to prove the same thing. [The original longer version of this article contained 48 references.] They are not presented to be repetitious or redundant, but rather to emphasize to the reader that the conclusions that we have reached on this point is not an invention or a fanciful view. The proofs and evidences presented herein represent the consensus of a universal scholarship transcending denominational barriers and dispensations whether Jew, Gentile, Sabbath-keeper or Sunday-keeper, ancient or contemporary. These facts therefore recommend themselves to ones intelligent faith.

Bible Translations

[1] “Then God commanded, let lights appear in the sky to separate day and night and to show the time when days, years, and religious festivals begin.” Good News Bible

[2] “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days, and years.” Jerusalem Bible

[3] “God said, let there be lights in the vault of heaven to separate day from night, and let them serve as signs both for festivals and for seasons and years.” The New English Bible

[4] “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night. They will be signs and will mark religious festivals, days, and years.” God’s Word

[5] “God said, “Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the heaven to separate between the day and the night; and they shall serve as signs, and for
festivals, and for days and years.” Artscroll TaNaKh, Stone Edition

[6] “God said, ‘There shall be lights in the heavenly sky to divide between day and night. They shall serve as omens [and define] festivals, days and years.’ The Living Torah by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

[7] “God spake: Let there be a system of light bearers in the vault of the heaven to distinguish between the day and the night, and they shall also serve for signs and for festival times and for cycles of days and years.” The Pentateuch—Samson R. Hirsch New York: Bloch (1963)

[8] “God said, ‘Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the heaven to separate between the day and the night; and they shall serve as signs, and for festivals, and for days and years.’” Bereishis [Genesis] — Meir Zlotowitz Brooklyn, N.Y.: Mesorah (1977)

[9] “God said, let there be lights in the vault of the heavens to separate day from night, and let them serve as signs both for festivals and for seasons and years.” The Revised English Bible, Oxford University Press, 1989

[10] “Then God said, Let there be lights in the Vault of heaven to separate day from night, to mark out the sacred seasons, the days and the years.” The Bible, A New Translation by James Moffatt

 

An important rule of Bible interpretation is that one must take into account the meaning of the words, in the languages of the authors at the time when they were written, and not necessarily the English translation of them today. Even though the KJV translators translated the word “mo’ed” as “seasons” it has no reference to how the word “seasons” is used today (summer, winter, spring and fall.) This is why Bible concordances and lexicons are invaluable Bible study tools. You don’t need to read Hebrew or be a “scholar” to use them. Moses, the author of Leviticus 23:2 was also the author of Genesis 1:14.

Bible Commentaries

We begin this section to show the testimony of various Bible commentaries beginning with the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (SDABC). The SDABC is presented here first as leading a consensus of commentators showing that “moed” translated “seasons” in the KJV in Genesis 1:14 refers to the holy days.

 

[11] “Yearly returning festival periods and other definite times were to be regulated by the movement of the celestial bodies.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.1, p. 213 under “seasons”

[12] “And God said: Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them serve as signs for the festivals, the days and the years. And they shall serve as signs. Contrary to the usual conception, the Torah teaches that the sun and the moon were created to serve as signs; for example, to set terrestrial time and the calendar…” Call Of The Torah Commentaries, Rabbi Elie Munk, Bereishis, p. 11

[13] “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;’”

“For seasons. a. “Seasons” was an anticipation of the future: the festivals (also called “seasons”) were fixed by lunar calculation. (Idem) b. To regulate the calendar. The “seasons” are spring, summer, autumn, and winter; also seed-time and harvest. The Heb. word for “seasons” later acquired the meaning of “festivals,” since these were fixed by the year’s seasons. (Hertz, J. H.) c. “Signs” means minutes and “seasons” hours. (Ibn Ezra)” Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation. Menahem M. Kasher. vol. 1, p. 47

[14] “Meaning and related words OO’LE MOAADIM means and for festivals… The root is MOED — noun meaning — ‘appointed time, festival’ as well as ‘appointed place, place of meeting, appointed sign, signal’…(p. 84-85)” Mila Yomit; The Torah, Word by Word OO’LE MOAADIM “and for Fest-ivals” Bereishit 1:14 by Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein (from milayomit@shamash.org)

[15] “The Targum of Jonathan is, and let them be for signs and the times of the feasts, and to reckon with them the number of days, and, sanctify the beginnings of the months, and the beginnings of the years, and the intercalations of months and years, the revolutions of the sun, and the new moons, and cycles.

“And so Jarchi interprets ‘seasons’ of the solemn festivals, that would hereafter be commanded the children of Israel; but those uses were not for a certain people, and for a certain time, but for all mankind, as long as the world should stand.” Gill’s Commentary

[16] “[For seasons] moadim; For the determination of the times on which the sacred festivals should be held. In this sense the word frequently occurs; and it was right that at the very opening of his revelation God should inform man that there were certain festivals which should be annually celebrated to his glory. Some think we should understand the original word as signifying months, for which purpose we know the moon essentially serves through all the revolutions of time.” Adam Clarke’s Commentary

[17] “The word ‘moadim’ which they translate ‘certain times’, is variously understood among the Hebrews: for it signifies both time and place, and also assemblies of persons. The Rabbis commonly explain the passage as referring to their festivals.” John Calvin’s Commentary

[18] “Seasons — not merely time naturally marked, or days and years would also not be also specified, but Festal Times.” The Book of Genesis, Henry Alford, D.D.

[19] “And for seasons. Heb. Moed-set or appointed times…signifying to fix by previous appointment. The phrase points not only to the seasons of the year, which are regulated by the course of the sun, and to the computation of months and years, but also to fasts, feasts, and other religious solemnities, such as were appointed to be observed by the people of Israel.” Notes on Genesis Vol.1, George Bush

[20] “And for festivals. This translation follows Rashi who interprets moed here as a reference to the ‘Festivals’: ‘This is in anticipation of the future when Israel would be commanded to regulate the festivals by calculation.’

“[The translation also agrees with Targum Yonasan and with the Midrash which specifically renders]: ‘This refers to the three pilgrimage festivals.’” Bereishis-Genesis/A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.

[21] “The heavenly lights are created to divide day and night, to give (additional) light, and to serve as signs (i.e. time markers) for days, years, and fixed seasons (the word for ‘seasons’ is also the word for religious festival).” The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol.1 (paren. Belongs).

[22] “…their (the luminaries) influence here (creation) is restricted to that which obviously depends on them, viz. The alternation of day and night, the festivals, etc… It is noteworthy that this is the only work of creation of which the purposes is elaborately specified.

“for signs and for seasons, etc. Mo’ed (seasons) appears never to be used of the natural seasons of the year…but always of a time conventionally agreed upon… or fixed by some circumstance. The commonest application is to the sacred seasons if the ecclesiastical year, which are fixed by the moon (cf. Ps 104:19).” The International Critical Commentary, John Skinner, 1976 (3rd Edition) pp 25 & 26.

[23] “God is described as calling into existence the heavenly bodies for three distinct purposes: (1) to divide between day and night; (2) to determine periods of time, days, months, years, seasons, festivals, &c.; (3) to give light upon earth…

“for signs, and for seasons — Literally, ‘for signs and for fixed times.’…The ‘fixed times’ probably denote the periods of the year for agricultural and rural occupations, together with their festivals. Days of festivals were determined by particular moons, or by the rising of particular stars.” Herbert E. Ryle, D.D., The Book of Genesis, 1921

[24] “There are several Hebrew words which refer to a long period of time. These include qedem which is the main one-word term for ‘ancient’ and is sometimes translated ‘of old’; olam means ‘everlasting’ or ‘eternity’ and is translated ‘perpetual’, ‘of old’ or ‘for ever’; dor means ‘a revolution of time’ or ‘an age’ and is sometimes translated ‘generations’; tamid means ‘continually’ or ‘for ever’; ad means ‘unlimited time’ or ‘for ever’; orek when used with yom is translated ‘length of days’; shanah means ‘a year’ or ‘a revolution of time’ (from the change of seasons); netsach means ‘for ever’. Words for a shorter time span include eth (a general term for time); and moed, meaning ‘seasons’ or ‘festivals’.”

How Long Were The Days Of Genesis 1? Some Hebrew ‘Time’ Words from Answers in Genesis Ministries Intl http://www.answersingenesis.org

Hebrew / English Lexicons

[25] MOED (time of) feast pl. Gen 1:14. “A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament” based on the lexical work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner by William L. Holladay Lowry Professor of Old Testament Andover Newton Theological School — William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company Grand Rapids Michigan. p. 186

[26] MOED — Notes. It is most probable that in Gen 1:14… the reference is to the sacred seasons as fixed by the moon’s appearance; and so also he made the moon for sacred seasons Ps 104:19.” A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Francis Brown, D.D. D. Litt—Oxford at the Clarendon Press 1907, p 418

Reference Works of Biblical Scholarship

This category helps to establish how various scholarly reference works make references to Gen.1:14, although their primary emphasis is not to exegete the text. The casual “matter of fact” reference to the text shows how widespread the common understanding of the text and the word in question was.

[27] “The word ‘seasons’ does not denote the four seasons of the year that resulted from Noachan flood, but to the ‘set times’ or the ‘appointed times’ of the sacred calendar.

“When God created them and set them in the firmament of heaven, He said, in Gen. 1:14, ‘Let them be for signs and for seasons.’… The word ‘seasons’ does not denote merely what we call the four seasons of the year, but cycles of time. It is (mo’ed) appointed time (from the verb to point out, appoint). It occurs three more times in Genesis, each time in connection with the promised Seed — Gen. xvii. 21, ‘At this set time in the next year’; and for cycles (appointed times).”

“Here, then, we have a distinct declaration from God, that the heavens contain not only a Revelation concerning things to come in the “Signs,” but also concerning appointed times in the wondrous movements of the sun, and moon, and stars. Gen. xviii. 14, “At the time appointed I will return”; and Gen. xxi. 2, “At the set time of which God had spoken.” Gen. 1:14 is therefore, ‘They (the sun, moon, and stars) shall be for signs (things to come).’” E. W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars, Kregel Publications.

[28] “The Lord appointed the sun as a great sign above the earth for days, sabbaths, months, festivals, years, sabbaths of years, jubilees, and all times of the years.” 4Qjuba 6:7 quoted by James C. Vanderkam, Dead Sea Discoveries Vol.1 No.3, November 1994

Vanderkam notes that this particular section of the Dead Sea scrolls is thought to be addressing certain renegade Hellenists priests who had asserted it was the distinctiveness of the Mosaic law that resulted in separatism between Jew and Gentile that had not been a part of God’s original purpose. The article elaborating on this says:

[29] “This may be the theological or philosophical background toward which the author of Jubilees directs his book, including the creation material. Whereas some of his contemporaries thought (or hoped) that Mosaic legislation (or surviving corruptions of it) spoiled an earlier, purer form of religion, he asserted forthrightly and with sufficient exegetical warrant that the distinctive practices of Judaism, other than those which were necessarily tied to a later historical event (e.g., Passover), had not begun with Moses nor had the forefathers practiced a freer, more cosmopolitan religion. Rituals such as Sabbath celebration, circumcision, sacrifices, and festivals (at their correct, solarly determined times) had been practiced from the beginning… from the time of creation.” Ibid.

Whether or not the author of Jubilees from the Qumran Scrolls dated “circumcision and sacrifices” from the beginning along with the “Sabbath and festivals” is circumstantial to the understanding that was held by the Jewish people in the second temple period concerning the meaning of “seasons” in Gen 1:14. This evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Jewish people have always understood Gen 1:14 as a reference to the origin of the festivals and the creational mandate of their observance.

[30] “In Christianity and the Calendar, James B. Jordan takes the argument a step further by arguing on the basis of Genesis 1:14 that the annual festivals, like the Sabbath, are a creation ordinance. He interprets the term “season” (mo’ed) in Hebrew in Genesis 1:14 as referring to the special appointed times of the annual festivals and concludes that the “annual festivals regulated by the sun and the moon are a creation ordinance, every bit as much as the weekly Sabbath day.” God’s Festivals in Scripture and History” Part 1, Samuele Bacchiocchi 1996, p 46.

Samuel Bacchiocchi supplies in his footnotes of “God’s Festivals in Scripture and History — Part 1” supporting documentation to the conclusion that the word “mo’ed” translated as festivals indicates a creation origin for these ordinances just as for the Sabbath.

[31] “The term ‘season’ (mo’ed) is interpreted as referring to religious festivals by Solomon Gandz, ‘The Calendar of Ancient Israel’, in Homenaje a Millas-Valligrosa (Barecelona 1954), I:645; Paul Beauchamp, Creation et separation: Etude exegetique du chapitre premier de la Genese, Bibliotheque de Sciences religieuses (Aubier Montaigne 1969), p. 114; Robert Davidson, Genesis 1-11 (Cambridge, 1973), p.21; and Gordon Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, Texas, 1987), vol. I, p.23.” Ibid, p. 52 fn

 

Can the Hebrew word mo’ed (sing.) or mo’edim (pl.) translated seasons in Genesis 1:14 be translated “appointed times” or ‘festivals”? We have presented overwhelming evidence in support of the concept that mo’edim here does in fact refer to the appointed times or festivals.

“And God said… Let them be for signs, and for seasons”. As stated before even though the Hebrew word mo’edim is translated “seasons”, one cannot apply the term to mean “the four seasons” of the year, i.e. Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. In the beginning after the creation week there were no “four seasons”. It was due to the condition of the earth after the flood that God said;

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” Genesis 8:22, KJV.

 

[32] “‘Let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.’ A little reflection on these words will help us to understand some remarkable truths… ‘Days and years’ clearly denotes the use of astronomical bodies for measuring time. God ordained that years, months, and days should be determined by astronomical means.

“But of more interest to us is the other use of the stellar heavens: ‘for signs and for seasons’. According to Keil and Delitzsch the Hebrew root for ‘signs’ is avah (a mark)… The sign was a mark of something other than itself. In the same way the signs in the sky are marks of God’s message to man.

“The word seasons (Hebrew moed) means something fixed or appointed. This word is never used in Scripture of a season of the year such as summer (a different word is always used). Moed indicates an appointed or fixed time, such as the time God had appeared for Abraham and Sara to have a son (Genesis 17:21; 18:14). The feasts of Jehovah in Leviticus are moedim, the plural of moed, and were appointed times when Israel would honor God in specific ways.

“‘Signs and seasons’ were therefore ordained by God to indicate happenings and the periods of time pertaining to them. God designed the stars with the purpose of using them to prophetically signify historical incidents at chosen times which would come to pass as the plan of salvation was unfolded.” God’s Voice In The Stars, K. C. Fleming, p. 14 & 15

The Hebrew word mo’ed [4150] and its derivatives are most often translated into terms connected with appointed times of worship and the holy feast days. In fact it is difficult to find an example of its translation in connection with the climactical seasons of the year.

[33] “He appointed the moon for seasons [moed — 4150]: the sun knoweth his going down.” (Psalm 104:19 KJV)

The Apocrypha

[34] “He made the moon also to serve in her season for a declaration of times, and a sign of the world. From the moon is the sign of feasts, a light that decreaseth in her perfection”. Sirach 43:6&7

And one may well ask what part the moon (the lesser light Gen 1:17) plays in determining the four climactical seasons. It is clear then that “seasons” here refers to something other than the four seasons of the year.

In Gen 1:14 the phrase, “for seasons, and for days and years” omits reference to months. This is not surprising as it is clear from even a basic study of language that “months” are “moons” and thus cannot be determined by any other method except by the cycle of the moon.

If it is accepted that the Hebrew calendar is determined in part by the moon (the new moon marking the first day of the first and subsequent months) then, by association, the determination of holy days — God’s seasons or appointed times (Lev 23) are included in the purpose of the creation of the lesser light.

The Book of Jubilees

[35] Jubilees 2:8-10: “And on the fourth day He created the sun and the moon and the stars, and set them in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon all the earth, and to rule over the day and the night, and divide the light from the darkness. And God appointed the sun to be a great sign on the earth for days and for sabbaths and for months and for feasts and for years and for sabbaths of years and for jubilees and for all seasons of the years. And it divideth the light from the darkness [and] for prosperity, that all things may prosper which shoot and grow on the earth. These three kinds He made on the fourth day.”

The Book of Jubilees was written in the second century B.C.E. during the time of second temple in the inter-testament period. [In some places, the book of Jubilees appears to be in conflict with the Bible, but it certainly reflects how some people thought when it was written. — NSE] It is one of the earliest documentation of an authentic theology and midrash of the Jewish people. It proves that the ancients understood the festivals as a creation ordinance having its origin in the creation week. This reference to Genesis 1:14 in the Jubilees is the earliest known midrash on the text showing the festivals as a creation ordinance. This ancient midrash is reflected in subsequent midrashim on Genesis 1:14 that supports the same. It is also witnessed by the Christian commentators. Any attempt to deny this can only be seen as an anti-Semitic attempt to maintain a medieval (Gentile Christian) view of the law that this understanding of the text overthrows.

Summary

Any view of the law that denies the creation ordinance of the Sabbath as well as the festivals is anti-Semitic at its root just as the interpretation that says that the law (or some portion of it) is “nailed to the cross” that attempts to justify such a view. The understanding of the creational ordinance of the holy days presented herein represents a major blow to both the New Covenant Theology that attempts to link the Sabbath and the festivals together as originating in a Sinaitic covenant. This is because, the SMF links the Sabbath to its attendant holydays (which even the New Covenant Theology proves beyond doubt are an inseparable unit), and it destroys one of it’s major assumptions; that because the Sabbath and the holy days are Sinaitic in origin that they are subsequently done away with.

This also represents a major blow to the Sabbatarian theology that denies the holy days for the same reason that the New Covenant Theology denies the Sabbath. For if the Sabbatarian answer to the New Covenant Theology is the creation origin of the Sabbath, then what are Sabbatarians going to do with the holy days which have been clearly proven herein to be a creation ordinance as well? This necessitates a change in our view of the law and brings into question why we have the view we presently hold. From whence is it? For if the observance of the Sabbath means that we should observe the holy days as the New Covenant Theology rightly implies, then what are we going to do with the Sabbath and the holy days, and what are we going to do with the law?

The New Covenant Theology has struck at the Achilles heel of Sabbatarian theology of the law that puts the Sabbath In Crisis. If the Sabbath is inseparably linked to the holy days, then we must accept the Sabbath with the holy days or we must give up the Sabbath with its holy days just as the Worldwide Church of God did when they were faced with the same vexing dilemma. Whatever argument is made for or against the Sabbath is also made for or against the festivals. At issue is the Law of God.

“The Ordinances of Heaven and Earth” and “The Everlasting Covenant”

“Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances <02708> of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name” (Jer 31:35, KJV).

“Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances <02708> of heaven and earth” (Jer 33:25, KJV).

Jeremiah calls the fixed movements of the celestial bodies “the fixed ordinances” (Goodspeed) or “statutes” (chuqqah < 02708>). This can only be a reference to the “mo’ed” (the appointed or fixed times). The Psalmist says, “He appointed the moon for seasons <04150> “mo’ed” (Psalm 104:19). Just as the Sabbath is called the “sign” of the covenant (Ex 31:16-17), God links his eternal covenant with the festivals as well. His covenant of redemption is as unmovable, irrevocable, permanent, sure and eternal as “the ordinances (statutes) of the moon and of the stars”—the “appointed times”.

In Jeremiah God refers to the surety and the permanence of “the fixed ordinances” (statutes) of the moon and stars as the guarantee of the surety and permanence of the “new covenant” that he will make with His people.

“Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance <02708> (statutes — “chuqqah”) in his season <04150> (appointed time — “mo’ed”)” (Exodus 13:10, KJV).

“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws (torah) <08451>, changed the ordinance (02706 choq) <02706>, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isa 24:5, KJV).

Transgressing the laws, changing the ordinances and breaking the everlasting covenant are all equivalents. This text in Isaiah 24:5 parallels Daniel’s prophecy of a world power that “shall think” to accomplish this.

“And he shall speak great words against the Most High [God], and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times [of sacred feasts and holy days] and the law” (Dan 7:25 AMP [brackets belong]).

This translation from the Amplified Bible reveals more of the sense of what is understood from the original Hebrew (or Aramaic) text which is hidden in the traditional “word for word” translation of the KJV. That which Sabbatarians have claimed for the abrogation of the Sabbath is in actuality a reference to the change of the festivals of which the Sabbath is the first (see Lev 23:2, 3).

And so says the Roman Catholic church through one of her prelates: “The Catholic Church abolished, not only the Sabbath, but all the other Jewish festivals”, T. Enright, CSSR (see M. Abbott, Paul the Sabbath Keeper? Publisher Peaceful Meadows, Rt.8, Bx. 123-A, Mena, AR 71953).

We proclaim the Sabbath more fully in showing how the festivals testify to the veracity of the Sabbath truth and are a part of the Sabbath truth that proclaims the plan of salvation. The plan of salvation is not understood by observation. It is understood by experience. Truth is not understood by just the learning of it or by the intellectual assent many call “faith”. Truth is understood by the doing of it. The testimony of Jesus is, “For I do always those things that please him. (John 8:29).

 

Proclaiming the Sabbath More Fully is a quarterly publication. It is also an independent research ministry supportive of the Seventh-day Adventist Church promoting intra-denominational dialog addressing mutual interests relevant to all Sabbath-keepers.

Editor: Dr. Sidney L. Davis, Jr.; Associate Editors: Marsha Clark-Basner & Anthony Gerace (Web Servant); Editorial Secretary Olga Schwingel. Address comments and questions to the Editor: P.O. Box 1213; North Chicago, IL 60064; Telephone: 847-785-0315; Fax: 208-330-6908; Web-site: http://www.sabbathmorefully.org

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