Lonely Port

Chapter 13

Opening the Archives

  One of the czars of Russia, while walking in his park, came across a sentry standing guard over a little patch of weeds.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

The sentry replied, "I don't know. All I know is that the captain of the guard ordered me to stand over this spot."

The czar sent for the captain.

"Captain, what is this man guarding?"

The captain answered, "All I know is that the regulations call for a sentry to be posted here. "

Then the ruler ordered a major investigation, but no one in the government of Russia could discover why that spot needed guarding.

Then they opened the royal archives—containing accurate records of the past—and the mystery was solved.

The chronicles showed that a hundred years before, in the late Eighteenth Century, Catherine the Great, queen of the Russians, had planted a rosebush on that plot of ground. So satisfied was the watching Queen when the gardeners had completed their work, that she ordered a sentry to be posted there to keep people from trampling on it.

Eventually the rosebush died, but nobody thought to cancel the order, especially since it had been issued by such an important person.

And for a hundred years men stood guard over a spot where a rosebush once had grown—and didn't know what they were guarding.

Year after year. At first, no one knew how long. Guarding something that wasn't there.

Men today are carefully guarding Sunday. They rest on that day; they attend weekly church services on that day. Many do it because they think that God commanded it.

But it is not until we open the archives of God's Word that we can see the truth of the matter. There is no Sunday sacredness in the Bible. There is no command there to keep it holy. There was no changing of Sabbath to Sunday by Heaven in those hallowed pages.

Then we open the archives of history, and we learn that Sunday keeping, like a little rosebush, was indeed planted in the Christian Church. But it happened after the Bible was finished and the Bible writers were all dead.

God has a beautiful plan for your life. He is part of that plan, and you are in it too. He asks us to come apart and rest with Him on His holy day, that we may deepen our hold on Him. "Abide in Me, and I in you," He tells us (John 15:4). Our greatest need is to be linked with Christ. And it is the Sabbath rest that can give us the blessings we crave. "He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5).

That first Sabbath must have been a sweet experience. All the earth was brand new, and the first sunset that Adam saw—began a Sabbath. On this first Seventh day the Creator rested, and Adam rested with Him.

The Sabbath is something special that has come down to us—all the way from Paradise. It is worth finding. It is worth keeping. .for the remainder of our lives.

And ever since Eden, God has planned for the Seventh-day Sabbath to be a holy meeting-time between Himself and His people. You see, the Sabbath is a cord of love that binds the created to his Creator by providing a closer fellowship than could be obtained on the six working days.

God intended that the Sabbath would be something that He and His earthly children would keep together through all time to come. And so the Lord declared the Sabbath to be a "perpetual covenant." (Exodus 31:16-17) How thankful we can be for this, for because of God's everlasting purpose, His faithful ones will honor the Sabbath for eternity in the new earth:

"For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that I from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord." lsaiah 66:22-23.

How long is eternity? It will have to be experienced to be realized. And the Sabbath will be part of that experience. As one begins to see the Sabbath as a token of God's love—both in creation and redemption that day becomes very precious. Again, let me say it: In a very special sense, the Bible Sabbath is an important link, uniting you with God. Don't run from this beautiful truth, but accept it. For it will draw you nearer to your Creator. The more we pattern our lives after Scripture, the happier we shall become.

We have already seen that God calls the Sabbath a "sign" by which to recognize our connection with Him (Exodus 31:13,17; Ezekiel 20:12,20). True Sabbath keeping is a link that will hold men true to their God—if, by faith in Christ, they will always sincerely keep it. Worshiping God on His holy day will draw us nearer to Him all through the week.

Jesus Christ was born into this world just before the beginning of the Christian Era. He grew up and was baptized in A.D. 27, and then began His three-and-a-half year ministry. There had been no prophets or Bible writers for four centuries. Then John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner, to proclaim that the time had come for the Messiah to appear.

While here on earth, Jesus gave us a careful example of obedience to the Sabbath day He had earlier given to mankind. "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read." Luke 4:16.

His custom should be ours, for He is our Example. He gave us an example of obedience that we should follow.

"He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked." 1 John 2:6. "Leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps." 1 Peter 2:21. "I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love” John 15: 10. "For this is the love of God: that we keep His commandments." 1 John 5:3.

During His earthly life, Jesus had continually given an example of obedience to the Moral Law of Ten Commandments. And He told His disciples to obey it also.

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-19.

Just as Jesus has not changed, neither has His law changed. There has been no restructuring by our heavenly Father of the moral principles that govern mankind since the Creation of this world. Morality has not changed, as far as God is concerned, even though some would wish that it had.

Not only did Christ give us a careful example of obedience while here on earth—but He also rebuked man-made attempts to change His laws.

"But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:9. "Thus have ye made the commandments of God of none effect by your tradition." Matthew 15:6. "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" Matthew 15:3.

Throughout His life, He did as Scripture predicted He would do: He magnified the Law and made it honorable.

"The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will magnify the Law, and make it honorable." Isaiah 42:21. "Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me: I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart" Psalm 40:7-8 (compare Hebrews 10:5,7).

And He did this in the sight of a generation like all the others in history—crooked and perverse and stubbornly rebellious at the thought of obeying God.

He also taught that others should obey the Law of God, as He was doing: "Not every one that saith unto Me, lord, lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21.

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:19.

"Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:16-17.

And yet we fully realize that we are incapable of rendering this obedience to God apart from the enabling grace of Christ.

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.

In an earlier chapter ("The Forgotten Prayer") we have seen how concerned Jesus was that His followers continue to observe the only Bible Sabbath to be found anywhere in holy Scripture—and to cling to it decades and centuries after His crucifixion. (Matthew 24:20) And this is very significant. There are so many people today who will tell you solemnly that the Sabbath ended at Calvary, and God did not want anyone to keep it afterward. If you then mention that the Sabbath is the Fourth of the Ten Commandments, they will reply that that is all well—for God got rid of all ten of the commandments at the cross!

Astounded, you then inquire, "Is there then no moral standard to govern the conduct of a Christian today?" And yet some reply: "No moral standard whatever. Jesus fulfilled the law and we no longer need obey it. Love has taken the place of obedience to the Moral law."

One wonders how such a view can be called "Christian" According to this theory, people before the crucifixion had to obey the Ten Commandments and not live in sin; but God sent His Son to earth so that men could henceforth live in sin and be saved in sin. Such an error is not to be found in Scripture.

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people FROM their sins." Matthew 1:21.

Here are some of the things that God said about His Moral Law and the importance of our obeying it:

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4.

"For by the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20. "For the wages of sin is death:" Romans 6:23. "What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." Romans 7:7. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31.

"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also. Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law." James 2:10-11.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments."-Psalm 111:10.

"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." Isaiah 1:19.

"Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Psalm 119:165. "0 that thou hadst hearkened to My commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48:18.

"For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." Romans 2: 13. "But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth, but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing." James 1:25 R.V.

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments." 1 John 5:2. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14: 12.

It is the Ten Commandment law of God that the saints will keep. When asked "which law?” Jesus replied by naming several of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:17-19). And the Apostle James did likewise (James 2:10-12).

Men today claim that there is no law since the death of Christ. But the Bible teaches that where there is no law, there is no sin! Indeed, without the law to identify sin, we cannot know what sin is. Apart from the presence of the law, sin does not exist.

“Where no law is, there is no transgression." Romans 4:15. "Sin is not imputed when there is no law." Romans 5:13. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:30. I had not known sin, but by the law." Romans 7:7.

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin IS the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4.

The only thing abolished at the cross was the ceremonial law, contained in ordinances. These were the sacrificial laws. After Christ’s death, it was no longer necessary to sacrifice lambs at the temple, for Christ our Lamb had died. But after the death of Christ we were still obligated to keep the Moral Law.

Daniel 9:26-27 predicted that at His death, Christ would "cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” And the Apostle Paul tells us that this is exactly what happened. When Christ died, the ceremonial ordinances were blotted out. The sacrificial services in the Temple no longer had meaning in the eyes of God.

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross." Colossians 2:14. "Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." Ephesians 2:15-16.

A leading Protestant writer, Dr. Albert Barnes, in commenting on Colossians 2:16, said this: "But the use of the term ["sabbaths"] in the plural number, and the connection, show that he [Paul] had his eye on a great number of days which were observed by the Hebrews as festivals, as a part of their ceremonial and typical law—and not on the Moral law, or the Ten Commandments. No part of the moral law—no one of the Ten Commandments—could be spoken of as 'a shadow of things to come.' "-Dr. Albert Barnes, Commentary, on Colossians 2:16.

The "shadow laws" were the ones that foreshadowed the coming of Christ: the slaying of lambs and goats, the keeping of the yearly Passover, etc. All these ceremonial laws were taken away by the death of Christ.

"For the [sacrificial] law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered?—But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Hebrews 10:1-4.

And these sacrificial laws included yearly holy days, or yearly "sabbaths." The weekly Sabbath was given to man- kind at the foundation of the world and is Fourth of the Ten Commandments. But the yearly sabbaths were gatherings for special sacrificial services, and foreshadowed the death of Christ. At these services there were special "meat offerings" and "drink offerings." A list of these yearly sabbaths will be found in Leviticus 23:4-44. The weekly Seventh-day Sabbath is called "the sabbath" in the Bible, but the yearly sabbaths are easily identified: When mentioned together, an "s" is added: they were the "sabbaths" or "sabbath days." All these yearly gatherings were also abolished at the cross. Paul calls them (and their meat and drink offerings) a "shadow."

"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Colossians 2:16-17. "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect." Hebrews 10:1.

This is because the meaning of the Temple services ended when Christ died. At that moment a hand reached from heaven and tore the veil of the temple in two, thus desecrating it and destroying its significance:

"Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [died] .And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." Matthew 27:50,51.

"Then said I [Christ], Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God. .[and] said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein: which are offered by the law; then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, 0 God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second." Hebrews 10:7-9.

The first—the shadow laws and ceremonies—were taken away by the death of Christ, that He might solidly establish by His death the principle that man must obey God—and through the merits of Christ can be empowered to do it! 

As we come to Jesus just now and accept His life and death for us, we can receive "the righteousness which is of God" (Philippians 3:9), for we are beholding "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29. If we will cling to Him, He will enable us to stop sinning and live clean, godly lives. He will take away our sins.

We come to Him in repentance for our sinful past, and we are "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus". (Romans 3:24) And then we are to begin a walk with Christ and a life in Christ. We choose Him in place of our former sinful ways.

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Romans 6: 1,2.

"If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love," Jesus tells us (John 15:10).

The case is clear. We are opening the archives of Scripture and the archives of history—and both reveal the truth about the Bible Sabbath and Sunday.

The Seventh-day Sabbath is the only weekly holy day that the God of heaven ever gave to mankind. And Sunday is not that day.

Here are the facts about the first day of the week-facts from the Bible: