The Book of Hebrews and the Sabbath Rest

The Book of Hebrews and the Sabbath Rest

Heb 3:7-4;11

 

Because the section of scripture we about to study is so larger you should get your Bibles out and follow our study along in your own Bible. This section of scripture if not written by the apostle Paul can  surely be traced to his thinking  and is therefore, like many of his writings can be hard to understand and is subject to misunderstand. One of the things that will help us to avoid an erroneous interpretation is to keep the immediate context of this section in view, which is the book in which is found and the overall context of the Bible.

The book of Hebrew was a lengthy letter sent to a group of Hebrew Christians who were contemplating going back to Judaism or at the very least bring Judaism into the Christian Faith. In the letter, the writer warns them that to do so would mean the loss of their salvation which salvation he refers to in chapters 3 and 4  as the Sabbath-rest. This problem of bring the law or Judaism into the church was no new problem. The apostle Paul addresses it in many of  his writings. For example, we see it in the book of Galatians when he says to that church “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4-5). In the book of Ephesians, he calls the law the dividing wall of hostility, which separates believers. ” For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations (Eph 2:14-15).  From this, we can gather that the overall context of the book is a warning against apostasy and arguments demonstrating that Christ and the gospel are superior to Judaism and the law. Keep this in mind as we study together.

First let me point out that this section of Scripture is not talking about the Sabbath day per say[i]. Its focus is on the consequence of  disobedience and reward of obedience. It is about what the writer calls “Today.”  The expression “Today is used in 3:7, 3:13, 3:15, and twice in 4:7. It seems to be an expression that the writer uses to denote the Christian dispensation, i.e. the time between the resurrection and the second coming of Christ. He refers to this dispensation in verse 3: 8 as a time of testing and compares it to the 40 years that the Israelites were tested in the wilderness. He continuously admonishes these Hebrew Christians not to follow the example of their forefathers in unbelief  and disobedience.

His line of thought runs like this, the Israelites were tested for 40 years on their journey from the land of Egypt to the promise land, which was the land of rest from their trials and temptations. However, the major did not enter the land of rest[ii], because their faith failed the test and they were found to be unbelievers, who did not trust God. Christian are to take heed to their example and persist in faith, or they too will miss the eternal rest of God.

In this section of Scripture, the writer uses the Old Testament story of the wilderness wanderings of the Jews as an allegory that points to the last day or the Christian dispensation and lays down a basic rule for interpreting the Old Testament. He says in 10:1 “The law[iii] is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves.”  We can gather from this that much of the Old Testament is a preview of what is going to happen in “Today” or the Christian dispensation. To take the old as the reality is to miss the wholly point of the narrative in the Old Testament.

With this rule of interpretation, we can look at text and see how the writer speaks of two separate rest and uses them both to point to the eternal salvation that we have in Christ. He speaks of the rest that God entered into at the end of creating the earth 4: 4.  He also talks about the Canaan land rest, which was promised to the Hebrews that obeyed God in the wilderness; that number was two Caleb and Joshua. All the rest fell in the wilderness and never entered the land of rest.

In verse 4:8, we find a key verse, which confirms our interpretation. “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day” Here the writer is saying that Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land did not fulfill the promise of a rest for the people of God. It would take a different leader, Jesus the Christ, and would have to be a different rest, which he calls the Sabbath-rest. The expression Sabbath-rest is the author’s way and the Holy Spirit way of pointing out that the new rest is the ultimate and final rest. In this, we have a better Leader, a better covenant and a better rest. I can hear the writer saying to these Hebrews who were contemplating going back Judaism,  why in the world would you what to go back to Moses and the law, and to observing the shadows when the reality is here in Christ ” Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col 2:16-17). LD

[i] The word Sabbath means rest. The Hebrews were command by God under the Old covenant to rest on the seventh day and to do no work. The Sabbath day was a memorial of God delivering them from the land of Egypt (Deut 5:12-15). It was a day of rest and not worship in the tradition sense of worship. The lack of working was the worship. The Hebrews worshipped in the tradition sense in the tabernacle and Temple, and then later in the synagogue. That is, if they were within a Sabbath day’s journey from these place of worship.

[ii] Deut 12:9 “For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.KJV

[iii] What is the law referred to here? The Jews in the first century view the entire Old Testament scripture as the Law. The law was the covenant made exclusively with the nation of Israel and was never given to the whole world (Deut 5:1-5, Rom 7:4-8, 1Cor 14:21).

Early Christians Fathers on The Sabbath.

Early Christians Fathers on The Sabbath.

  • 90AD DIDACHE: “Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day: 1. But every Lord’s day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. 2. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. 3. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.” (Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Chapter XIV)
  • 100 AD BARNABAS “We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead“ (The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 AD 15:6-8).
  • 100 AD BARNABAS: Moreover God says to the Jews, ‘Your new moons and Sabbaths 1 cannot endure.’ You see how he says, ‘The present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but the Sabbath which I have made in which, when I have rested [heaven: Heb 4] from all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.’ Wherefore we Christians keep the eighth day for joy, on which also Jesus arose from the dead and when he appeared ascended into heaven. (15:8f, The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 147)
  • 110AD Pliny: they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to (do) any wicked deeds, never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of good food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. (About three years after the death of Ignatius in 250, an important official communication was sent from one Pliny to Trajan the Roman emperor. Pliny, the Roman governor of Bithynia, wrote of the Christians who had been congregating there probably from at least A.D. 62 onwards. In this remarkable it is explicitly stated that these early Christians observed the substance of most of the Ten Commandments, and it is implied that they observed all ten as far as they were able to do so. As far as they were able, for as most of the early Christians were of slave stock or from other lower classes’-, and those who had heathen masters or employers—the vast majority—would be forced to work on their day of rest, which was unfortunately an official working day throughout the empires’ until Constantine’s “Sabbath” Edict in 321 A.D. gave them some measure of public protection. Hence one reads that after meeting “on a certain fixed day before it was light”, the first century Bithynian Christians had “to separate”—many of them having to labor for their masters and/or employers from dawn to dusk—”and then reassemble to partake of . . . food”. The “certain fixed day” [stato die”‘] on which the Christians met, is regarded by Seventh-day Adventists as Saturday’-. Certainly the expression would seem to indicate a regular day of meeting, probably each week. But Sunday is far more likely to have been the “certain fixed day” than Saturday. For if Pliny had been referring to the old Saturday Sabbath, as a Roman he would doubtless have referred to the “later” meeting first and only then to the morning meeting on the day alter the “certain fixed day”, seeing that the old Saturday Sabbath was demarcated from the evening of one day to the evening of the following day. But Pliny makes no such reference. Instead, he mentions that the pre-dawn meeting took place first—and only afterwards the later meeting; and that both meetings took place on the same “certain fixed day”. This rather points to the Roman (and—more importantly!—New Testament) midnight to midnight demarcation of modern Sunday-keepers than to the evening to evening demarcation of the Jews and the Seventh-day Adventists. (The covenantial Sabbath, Francis Nigel Lee, Pg 242)
  • 150AD EPISTLE OF THE APOSTLES.- I [Christ] have come into being on the eighth day which is the day of the Lord. (18)
  • 150AD JUSTIN: “He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it]. The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.”. (Justin, Dialogue 41:4)
  • 150AD JUSTIN: …those who have persecuted and do persecute Christ, if they do not repent, shall not inherit anything on the holy mountain. But the Gentiles, who have believed on Him, and have repented of the sins which they have committed, they shall receive the inheritance along with the patriarchs and the prophets, and the just men who are descended from Jacob, even although they neither keep the Sabbath, nor are circumcised, nor observe the feasts. Assuredly they shall receive the holy inheritance of God. (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, page 207)
  • 150AD JUSTIN: But if we do not admit this, we shall be liable to fall into foolish opinion, as if it were not the same God who existed in the times of Enoch and all the rest, who neither were circumcised after the flesh, nor observed Sabbaths, nor any other rites, seeing that Moses enjoined such observances… For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham. (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, page 206)
  • 150AD JUSTIN: “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.” (First apology of Justin, Weekly Worship of the Christians, Ch 68)
  • 150AD JUSTIN: Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned [after mentioning Adam. Abel, Enoch, Lot, Noah, Melchizedek, and Abraham], though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God; and after them Abraham with all his descendants until Moses… And you [fleshly Jews] were commanded to keep Sabbaths, that you might retain the memorial of God. For His word makes this announcement, saying, “That you may know that I am God who redeemed you.” (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, page 204)
  • 150AD JUSTIN: There is no other thing for which you blame us, my friends, is there than this? That we do not live according to the Law, nor, are we circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers, nor do we observe the Sabbath as you do. (Dialogue with Trypho 10:1. In verse 3 the Jew Trypho acknowledges that Christians ‘do not keep the Sabbath.’)
  • 150AD JUSTIN: We are always together with one another. And for all the things with which we are supplied we bless the Maker of all through his Son Jesus Christ and through his Holy Spirit. And on the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a city or a rural district. (There follows an account of a Christian worship service, which is quoted in VII.2.) We all make our assembly in common on the day of the Sun, since it is the first day, on which God changed the darkness and matter and made the world, and Jesus Christ our Savior arose from the dead on the same day. For they crucified him on the day before Saturn’s day, and on the day after (which is the day of the Sun the appeared to his apostles and taught his disciples these things. (Apology, 1, 67:1-3, 7; First Apology, 145 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , Vol. 1, pg. 186)
  • 155 AD Justin Martyr “We too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined [on] you–namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your heart. . . . How is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us–I speak of fleshly circumcision and Sabbaths and feasts? . . . God enjoined you [Jews] to keep the Sabbath, and impose on you other precepts for a sign, as I have already said, on account of your unrighteousness and that of your fathers” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 18, 21).
  • 180AD ACTS OF PETER.- Paul had often contended with the Jewish teachers and had confuted them, saying ‘it is Christ on whom your fathers laid hands. He abolished their Sabbath and fasts and festivals and circumcision.’ (1: I)-2
  • 180AD GOSPEL OF PETER: Early in the morning when (the Sabbath dawned, a multitude from Jerusalem and the surrounding country came to see the scaled sepulchre. In the night in which the Lord’s day dawned, while the soldiers in pairs for each watch were keeping guard, a great voice came from heaven. [There follows an account of the resurrection. Early in the morning of the Lord’s day Mary Magdalene, a disciple of the Lord …. came to the sepulchre. (9:34f.; 12:50f.)
  • 190AD CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: (in commenting on each of the Ten Commandments and their Christian meaning:) The seventh day is proclaimed a day of rest, preparing by abstention from evil for the Primal day, our true rest. (Ibid. VII. xvi. 138.1)
  • 190AD CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: He does the commandment according to the Gospel and keeps the Lord’s day, whenever he puts away an evil mind . . . glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself. (Ibid. Vii.xii.76.4)
  • 190AD CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Plato prophetically speaks of the Lord’s day in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words: ‘And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they must go on.” (Miscellanies V.xiv.106.2)
  • 200AD BARDESANES: Wherever we are, we are all called after the one name of Christ Christians. On one day, the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together(On Fate)
  • 200AD TERTULLIAN: “We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this day their Sabbath” (Tertullian’s Apology, Ch 16)
  • 200AD TERTULLIAN: It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnal circumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary. (An Answer to the Jews 4:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3, page 155)
  • 200AD TERTULLIAN: Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day because of threat of death, teach us that in earliest times righteous men kept Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and so were made friends of God. .. …Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised, and inobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was by Him commended… Noah also, uncircumcised – yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath – God freed from the deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, He translated from this world… Melchizedek also, “the priest of most high God,” uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was chosen to the priesthood of God. (An Answer to the Jews 2:10; 4:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3, page 153)
  • 200AD TERTULLIAN: Others . . . suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians, because it is well-known that we regard Sunday as a day of joy. (To the Nations 1: 133)
  • 200AD TERTULLIAN: To us Sabbaths are foreign. (On Idolatry, 14:6)4
  • 220AD ORIGEN “On Sunday none of the actions of the world should be done. If then, you abstain from all the works of this world and keep yourselves free for spiritual things, go to church, listen to the readings and divine homilies, meditate on heavenly things. (Homil. 23 in Numeros 4, PG 12:749)
  • 220 AD Origen “Hence it is not possible that the [day of] rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh [day] of our God. On the contrary, it is our Savior who, after the pattern of his own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of his death, and hence also of his resurrection” (Commentary on John 2:28).
  • 225 AD The Didascalia “The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation, because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven” (Didascalia 2).
  • 250AD CYPRIAN: The eight day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord’s Day.” (Epistle 58, Sec 4)
  • 250 AD IGNATIUS: “If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death-whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master-how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead. If, then, those who were conversant with the ancient Scriptures came to newness of hope, expecting the coming of Christ, as the Lord teaches us when He says, “If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me; ” and again, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad; for before Abraham was, I am; ” how shall we be able to live without Him? The prophets were His servants, and foresaw Him by the Spirit, and waited for Him as their Teacher, and expected Him as their Lord and Saviour, saying, “He will come and save us.” Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; for “he that does not work, let him not eat.” For say the [holy] oracles, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.” But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ, whom the children of perdition, the enemies of the Savior, deny, “whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things,” who are “lovers of pleasure, and not lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” These make merchandise of Christ, corrupting His word, and giving up Jesus to sale: they are corrupters of women, and covetous of other men’s possessions, swallowing up wealth insatiably; from whom may ye be delivered by the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ! (Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, Chapter IX)
  • 250AD IGNATIUS: “On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried. During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathaea had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection.” (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, chapter 9)
  • 250AD IGNATIUS: If any one fasts on the Lord’s Day or on the Sabbath, except on the paschal Sabbath only, he is a murderer of Christ. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philippians, chapter 8)
  • 250AD IGNATIUS: “This [custom], of not bending the knee upon Sunday, is a symbol of the resurrection, through which we have been set free, by the grace of Christ, from sins, and from death, which has been put to death under Him. Now this custom took its rise from apostolic times, as the blessed Irenaeus, the martyr and bishop of Lyons, declares in his treatise On Easter, in which he makes mention of Pentecost also; upon which [feast] we do not bend the knee, because it is of equal significance with the Lord’s day, for the reason already alleged concerning it.” (Ignatius, Fragments)
  • 300 AD Victorinus “The sixth day [Friday] is called parasceve, that is to say, the preparation of the kingdom. . . . On this day also, on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God or a fast. On the seventh day he rested from all his works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord’s day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews . . . which Sabbath he [Christ] in his body abolished” (The Creation of the World).
  • 300AD EUSEBIUS: “They did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath neither do we; … because such things as these do not belong to Christians” (Ecc. Hist., Book 1, Ch. 4)
  • 300AD EUSEBIUS: [The Ebionites] were accustomed to observe the Sabbath and other Jewish customs but on the Lord’s days to celebrate the same practices as we in remembrance of the resurrection of the Savior. (Church History Ill.xxvii.5)
  • 300 AD Eusebius of Caesarea “They [the pre- Mosaic saints of the Old Testament] did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds of food, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses first delivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christians of the present day do such things” (Church History 1:4:8).
  • 300 AD Eusebius of Caesarea “The day of his [Christ’s] light . . . was the day of his resurrection from the dead, which they say, as being the one and only truly holy day and the Lord’s day, is better than any number of days as we ordinarily understand them, and better than the days set apart by the Mosaic Law for feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths, which the Apostle [Paul] teaches are the shadow of days and not days in reality” (Proof of the Gospel 4:16:186).
  • 345 AD Athanasius “The Sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord’s day was the beginning of the second, in which he renewed and restored the old in the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe the Sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord’s day as being the memorial of the new creation” (On Sabbath and Circumcision 3).
  • 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS: Be not careless of yourselves, neither deprive your Saviour of His own members, neither divide His body nor disperse His members, neither prefer the occasions of this life to the word of God; but assemble yourselves together every day, morning and evening, singing psalms and praying in the Lord’s house: in the morning saying the sixty-second Psalm, and in the evening the hundred and fortieth, but principally on the Sabbath-day. And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day to hear the saving word concerning the resurrection, on which we pray thrice standing in memory of Him who arose in three days, in which is performed the reading of the prophets, the preaching of the Gospel, the oblation of the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food? (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 2)
  • 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS: For if the Gentiles every day, when they arise from sleep, run to their idols to worship them, and before all their work and all their labors do first of all pray to them, and in their feasts and in their solemnities do not keep away, but attend upon them; and not only those upon the place, but those living far distant do the same; and in their public shows all come together, as into a synagogue: in the same manner those which are vainly called Jews, when they have worked six days, on the seventh day rest, and come together in their synagogue, never leaving or neglecting either rest from labor or assembling together… If, therefore, those who are not saved frequently assemble together for such purposes as do not profit them, what apology wilt thou make to the Lord God who forsakes his Church, not imitating so much as the heathen, but by such, thy absence grows slothful, or turns apostate. or acts wickedness? To whom the Lord says to Jeremiah, “Ye have not kept My ordinances; nay, you have not walked according to the ordinance of the heathen and you have in a manner exceeded them… How, therefore, will any one make his apology who has despised or absented himself from the church of God? (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 2)
  • 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS: Do you therefore fast, and ask your petitions of God. We enjoin you to fast every fourth day of the week, and every day of the preparation, and the surplusage of your fast bestow upon the needy; every Sabbath-day excepting one, and every Lord’s day, hold your solemn assemblies, and rejoice: for he will be guilty of sin who fasts on the Lord’s day, being the day of the resurrection, or during the time of Pentecost, or, in general, who is sad on a festival day to the Lord For on them we ought to rejoice, and not to mourn. (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 5)
  • 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS “Which Days of the Week We are to Fast, and Which Not, and for What Reasons: But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; for they fast on the second and fifth days of the week. But do you either fast the entire five days, or on the fourth day of the week, and on the day of the Preparation, because on the fourth day the condemnation went out against the Lord, Judas then promising to betray Him for money; and you must fast on the day of the Preparation, because on that day the Lord suffered the death of the cross under Pontius Pilate. But keep the Sabbath, and the Lord’s day festival; because the former is the memorial of the creation, and the latter of the resurrection. But there is one only Sabbath to be observed by you in the whole year, which is that of our Lord’s burial, on which men ought to keep a fast, but not a festival. For inasmuch as the Creator was then under the earth, the sorrow for Him is more forcible than the joy for the creation; for the Creator is more honourable by nature and dignity than His own creatures.” (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 7)
  • 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS “How We Ought to Assemble Together, and to Celebrate the Festival Day of Our Savior’s Resurrection. On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord’s day, assemble yourselves together, without fail, giving thanks to God, and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ, and has delivered you from ignorance, error, and bondage, that your sacrifice may be unspotted, and acceptable to God, who has said concerning His universal Church: “In every place shall incense and a pure sacrifice be offered unto me; for I am a great King, saith the Lord Almighty, and my name is wonderful among the heathen.” (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 7)
  • 350 AD Cyril of Jerusalem “Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans or into Judaism, for Jesus Christ has henceforth ransomed you. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean” (Catechetical Lectures 4:37).
  • 360 AD Council of Laodicea “Christians should not Judaize and should not be idle on the Sabbath, but should work on that day; they should, however, particularly reverence the Lord’s day and, if possible, not work on it, because they were Christians” (canon 29).
  • 387 AD John Chrysostom “You have put on Christ, you have become a member of the Lord and been enrolled in the heavenly city, and you still grovel in the Law [of Moses]? How is it possible for you to obtain the kingdom? Listen to Paul’s words, that the observance of the Law overthrows the gospel, and learn, if you will, how this comes to pass, and tremble, and shun this pitfall. Why do you keep the Sabbath and fast with the Jews?” (Homilies on Galatians 2:17).
  • 387 AD John Chrysostom “The rite of circumcision was venerable in the Jews’ account, forasmuch as the Law itself gave way thereto, and the Sabbath was less esteemed than circumcision. For that circumcision might be performed, the Sabbath was broken; but that the Sabbath might be kept, circumcision was never broken; and mark, I pray, the dispensation of God. This is found to be even more solemn that the Sabbath, as not being omitted at certain times. When then it is done away, much more is the Sabbath” (Homilies on Philippians 10).
  • 412 AD Augustine “Well, now, I should like to be told what there is in these Ten Commandments, except the observance of the Sabbath, which ought not to be kept by a Christian . . . Which of these commandments would anyone say that the Christian ought not to keep? It is possible to contend that it is not the Law which was written on those two tables that the apostle [Paul] describes as ‘the letter that kills’ [2 Cor. 3:6], but the law of circumcision and the other sacred rites which are now abolished” (The Spirit and the Letter 24).
  • 597 AD Gregory I “It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these [men] but preachers of Antichrist, who when he comes will cause the Sabbath day as well as the Lord’s day to be kept free from all work. For because he [the Antichrist] pretends to die and rise again, he wishes the Lord’s day to be had in reverence; and because he compels the people to Judaize that he may bring back the outward rite of the Law, and subject the perfidy of the Jews to himself, he wishes the Sabbath to be observed. For this which is said by the prophet, ‘You shall bring in no burden through your gates on the Sabbath day’ (Jer. 17:24) could be held to as long as it was lawful for the Law to be observed according to the letter. But after that the grace of almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ, has appeared, the commandments of the Law which were spoken figuratively cannot be kept according to the letter. For if anyone says that this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal sacrifices are to be offered. He must say too that the commandment about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained. But let him hear the apostle Paul saying in opposition to him: ‘If you be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing’ (Gal. 5:2)” (Letters 13:1).

A Letter to a Young atheist (2)

A Letter to a Young atheist

You asked if I had read any books written by atheists.  I’ve read a number of the books written by the four Horsemen and many other atheists.  After reading them, I still think atheism is a mental disorder that shows up at the end of any declining civilization.  Even if every religion throughout the world is wrong that doesn’t make atheism right.

You argument that the division in the religion world is a proof that there is no God demonstrates a shallow understand of the human condition. In fact, if there is an all powerful being you would expect finite creatures like humans to be divided concerning their belief about it.  So, what you point out to be an inconsistency is very much consistent with a belief in an all-knowing God.  Disunity of belief is the very thing you should expect to find when a finite creature believes in an all-powerful God.

Your quibbles about there being no proofs for the existence of God border on the hysterical.  First, there is an enormous difference between evidence and proof.  A huge percentage of human knowledge has little to no proof of its  own accuracy.  The majority of human knowledge believed is based on the authority of a teacher, and to have faith in that teacher.  Very few people ever see the evidence or proof for numerous beliefs.  These beliefs range from Darwinian evolution, to theories of the multi-verse.  If you believe these things, it’s because someone told you to believe it and you accepted it by faith and you accepted it as logical because they framed the evidence in a world view that you had already accepted. When talking about evidence we are using the language of science, when you start talking about proofs you are using the language of philosophy not science. Science cannot possibly prove or disapprove the idea of God[1].  Science recognizes its limitations.  Why can’t you atheists? The truth is that you don’t understand science any better than you do religion.

However, science can offer evidence that seems at least to support the idea of a supreme consciousness that created all things.  The apparent design that we see in the universe is one of these things and the other is the fact that the universe had a beginning. Both scientific theories support the idea of consciousness more than a belief that the world and the universe were just cobbled together by a mindless force. However, it does not proof it be on a shadow of a doubt.

If you’re looking for proofs in philosophy, you can forget it.  Philosophically, it would be hard to prove that you even exist, much more than proving the nonexistence of a god.  Human beings are small ignorant creatures whose existence is based pretty much on faith in many presuppositions, which cannot be proven. Our ambiguous position in the universe tends to cause insecurity so we gravitate towards seeking certitude (proofs) of our beliefs. In this religion is actually more honest than secular people when it says that we walk by faith and not by sight.

The new atheists are small-minded people who have an over-inflated view of themselves and their intelligence.  As a result they are fundamentalist in their thinking and they still live in a world of proofs.  This alone is an unbelievable paradox because of their belief system, or their lack of beliefs.  For in their belief system of materialism there couldn’t be such a thing as truth for truth[2] is a concept that belongs in a religious framework that believes in an Ultimate Authority as a foundation of human knowledge.  The atheist appeal to truth demonstrates that they are still thinking in a religious framework and in essence, for many their lack of belief has become a religion.

[1] The US National Academy of Sciences has gone on record with the following statement: ‘Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to  explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.” Taken from “Who made God?, a searching For a Theory Of Everything” by Fay Weldon.

[2] In a materialistic worldview there cannot be a traditional moralistic truth. Atheism will always lead to relativism where truth is what a person believes.

A Letter to a Christian Science Teacher

A Letter to a Christian Science Teacher

Your Zionist interpretation of the Bible seems to align with those that you dislike; i.e. fundamentalist’s, and your defense of science seems to contradict your statement, that it is not a religion.  However, you defend it as though it was your religion.  Furthermore, the way you defend it seems to be a little over the top.  If you view it simply as a method of finding the truth; i.e. the scientific method, then why the big fuss?  No one disagrees with the scientific method.  The question is do scientists really follow it?  I personal think not.  The scientific method is used pretty much to make the scientific community respectable and they keep it as law about as well as the Jews kept the Law of Moses.

I think it is self-evident that in most people’s minds science has become a metaphysical concept[1], which goes way beyond people in white jackets applying the scientific method to their research.  Science has become the authority that people appeal to in a secular atheistic culture and for many, science has evolved into a new religion.  It used to be that people would appeal to the Bible or the church.  They would say “Because the Bible says so” or “Because the church says so”.  Now it is nothing but “science says”.  For many in our culture the only knowledge that has not been debunked and found useless is called science.  This is nonsense; however it is fostered by many in the scientific community.  To me there is far more truth in a good work of art than in most scientific theories, or more power in a song than in all of the science in the world.  Science has given us many toys and made life easier in some ways, but I think it hasn’t given many people meaning, peace of mind, joy or love.  In fact, many scientists are arrogant jackasses.  “Knowledge puffs up, love builds up”.  Science does not teach this, the Bible does.  The false god (idol) of science has taken us to the very edge of the abyss.  It has given evil men the power to take away our humanity and turn us into machines.  The state is already using it to manipulate the herd in any direction it wishes.  Science is now the handmaid of the state, just as religion was a century ago.  I personally, value my freedom more than comfort, ease and pleasure.  To me science is like religion, it is human and therefore needs to be criticized and critiqued often.  The power that it has attained is equal to that of religion and is one of the powers that the Bible speaks about.  Remember that our battle is not with flesh and blood but rather with the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  Those heavenly powers have their counterpart on this earth.  What do you thinks stands behind the metaphysical concept of science?

Science is the false god of many worldly people.  It promises them salvation if they will give it their money and commitment.  It promises health and wealth to all that follow it.  It claims to be able to predict the future (global warming).  Something the Bible says only God can do.  Not only does it claim to know the future, it also claims it can control it.  It also boasts of its miracles of healing and its signs and wonders.  To me this sounds a little like the antichrist in the book of Thessalonians[2] and surely sounds like religion.  I think science is what you make of it, but for many they have made it their faith and religion.

[1] Science is a concept that does not existence in reality. If it does where is it? Can I see it, smell it, taste it or touch it? I can do all these things to the people that practice it but I cannot do it to it. In this manner, it resembles religion.

[2]  ” The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thess 2:8-12).

 

 

 

God and Einstein

 

God and Einstein

There has been much debate about the religious beliefs and faith of Albert Einstein.  Both the atheist community and the believing community have claimed him as one of their own.  However, I believe it can be demonstrated that Einstein was somewhat of a mystic and would not be overly comfortable in either group.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the source of all true art and science.  He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.  This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion.  To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms — this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness.  In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.”

Rudolf Otto wrote a book entitled, ‘The Ideal Of The Holy’ in which he attempts to explain the spiritual experience that Einstein describes and what Otto goes on to refer to as the numinous which he believes is a sign which points to the deity and could be likened to the voice of God that beckons man to his true center.

The sub-title to Otto’s book, ‘The Idea of the Holy’ is ‘An inquiry into the non-rational factor in the idea of the divine and its relation to the rational’.  In the book Otto points out that numinous is not rational or reasonable but it’s not irrational or unreasonable, it is simply outside of those categories.  You might call it super-rational.

It is this numinous experience that the atheist lacks.  Because he has not experienced it, it is impossible for him to understand someone who has experienced it like Einstein.  Einstein had experienced the Totally Other which lied beyond his explanatory powers to communicate it to those who had not experienced it, those that he referred to as dead or blind.  Otto’s book is the best attempted I have seen to put the experience into words.  You can get a PDF copy at the below address.

http://churchsociety.org/docs/churchman/046/Cman_046_3_Harvey.pdf

What is Atheism? A Metaphysical Answer.

What is Atheism? A Metaphysical Answer.

Is atheism simply the lack of faith in a deity, or is it more?  In reality it is both. For many atheists it is simply a lack of faith in a deity, but for many others it is the foundation of a worldview which shapes the way that they look at the whole of reality.  As a worldview it borrows from ideologies and philosophies to form a hodgepodge foundation of the ‘philosophy of non-belief.’

This philosophy of non-belief has as its center the denial and dislike of authority, which in the end can only lead to anarchy of the worst kind.  In fact, all anarchists are atheists however all atheists are not anarchists.  We could also say of atheism that it is the highest degree of human alienation and rebellion against authority and especially the ultimate authority which is God.  We could also say it is the worst distortion of the religious impulse in man, for in the end, it makes the image of God (man) into God, which is the highest form of idolatry.  It promotes man as God, or at the least it makes him think he is God; for only a god could know that there is no God in the universe or outside of it.

Some will retort that atheism has nothing to do with religion or God.  However, at a metaphysical level it is the anti-image of God whose image it needs for its very existence.  It is, therefore, nothing more than a distorted reflection of that which it denies.  This is what Nietzsche meant when he said “If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss with gaze back into you”

It’s distorted reflection of religion is seen in that it possesses a number of the attributes of religion[i].  Most religion has as  its main attribute, a sin message and a salvation message.  And what do we find when we look at the new atheist’s movement, we find a sin message.  The sin is religion and your freedom and salvation will come when you accept the good news of the gospel of atheism.  Like most religion, the new atheist’s movement also has their evangelists; those who spew out a steady diet of doubt and hatred of religion as they preach to their true believers who are mesmerized by their leaders ability to turn words and flaunt their intellect.  You know, kind of like the TV evangelist who promotes their brand of religion every Sunday on the television[ii].

The true source of much, but not all atheism, comes from a hidden rift with authority[iii] which is then easily redirected by clever men towards God.  In other words it comes more from one’s disposition than from their intellect.  This is why we see atheism increasing when people feel oppressed by poverty, authority and social alienation.  I believe that an analysis of the French Revolution and also the Communist Revolution would clearly demonstrate this.  Atheism, for those with the right disposition is nothing more than a hidden rebellion against authority which they feel is oppressive[iv].  However, for it to be organized, as it was in the French Revolution and the Communist Revolution, you need a group of sophists and opportunists who can promote and direct its anger.  Of course, the new atheists have these opportunists in the three horsemen of their movement; Hutchinson, Harris and Dawkins.  All of which have become millionaires selling their books to the herd that follows them.

So we could say that the source of much atheism begins with the seeds of the things that form one’s disposition.  These things can range from genetics to early child development[v].  Of course, we cannot totally dismiss the intellect.  However, the intellect has much less to do with it than most atheists would like to admit to. In this I am not saying that disposition pre-determines one’s beliefs or behavior.  But it does predispose us towards certain behavior and beliefs

[i] In Russia the atheist communist even had a church that they called the church of scientific atheism.

[ii] It is important to notice that the old atheist type lacks these attributes of religion. Making it something different from the new atheist movement.

[iii] The mass man is angry about his place in life and holds the authority responsible.

[iv] This is why so many of them are angry and militant. They fundamentally believe that all authority is oppressive.

[v] Many of the new atheists seem to have a problem with their fathers, which they tend to project on a deity.  Though I freely admit that I personally have done no scientific study of this.