The Sabbath, A Protest Against Evolution
Key Thought: "Would you not agree that an ongoing protest against the evolutionary movement, and an ongoing statement regarding your belief in a literal "seven day" creation, would be attained in honoring God by keeping Saturday, the memorial of creation set apart by God from the beginning, as a holy and set apart 24 hour Sabbath period as he intended?"
"Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, 'Go number Israel and Judah.'" 2 Sam. 24:1
"We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts. 5:29
When first reading, "the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them, to say, Go, number Israel and Judah," I could not help but wonder what was going on, especially when I read that 70,000 people finally died at the end of the story.
Reading further I learned about Joab going in spite of his better judgment, because "the king's words prevailed" against him and the captains of the army." They spent the next nine months carefully counting the men of Israel, only stopping—abruptly stopping in fact prior to the men of Jerusalem being counted—when David realized he was sinning against God. Eventually David repented of his evil, tried to make things right, and chose three days of plague over two other alternatives. As a result, 70,000 men died before God relented and spared Jerusalem.
I initially wondered how God could cause David to do something that would eventually result in the death of so many people? I know there are some perspectives on the nature of God that might envision such a thing, but I questioned it as being out of character with God, and studied further
In Exodus 30:12 I learned that Moses had been told, "When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them," and goes on to say that they were to give a half a shekel as an offering to the Lord.
1 Chron. 21:1, speaking of the same experience, reveals that "Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel." A few chapters later, it says Joab did not complete the census because the wrath of God came upon Israel. Though it doesn't say it explicitly, one can't help but wonder if this was referring to Jerusalem not being counted.
I would suggest that assumptions made when reading the account in 2 Sam. 24, need the clarification of 1 Chron. 21, where we learn that Satan caused David to undertake the census in a way different than directed by God! I believe this is what happened: God was upset with Israel, directed David to do a census according to the instructions given in the Exodus that would cause each man to declare his loyalty to God in submitting and paying the shekel to the temple, but Satan influenced David to conduct the census in his own way.
God had warned His people to carefully follow His instructions—which included giving a gift to God—when taking the census: "that there may be no plague among them when you number them."
Joab either sensed that David's motives were wrong, or realized that the census was not being done God's way, or both, and objected. But his objections fell on deaf ears. David was king and Joab therefore obeyed. Everyone else also obeyed. But they were mistaken in obeying, and eventually paid a heavy price for incorrectly obeying God in obeying David. The only ones spared were the people in Jerusalem who had not participated in the census.
Here are some things that strike me...
(1) God gets upset with His children sometimes. Apparently in David's time, God was very upset but David and his people didn't realize it. I suspect we sometimes view ourselves more positively than God does.
(2) God is particular. God did not ignore the way that David was obeying. I don't think He ignores the way we obey in our day.
(3) Our relationships matter to God. For the children of Israel it had to do with Saul's annihilation of the Gibeonites when Joshua's treaty should have protected them. The way we relate to each other matters to God. We may think it doesn't matter, but it does to Him. His "unto the least" is still operant in our day.
(4) Sometimes God will give very specific instructions about how we are to reveal our loyalty and obedience to Him. For David, it had to do with paying a half shekel into the temple. God is just as concerned about how we manifest our loyalty in our day. Our failure to obey suggests He hasn't wisely instructed, it dishonors Him, and greatly diminishes His ability to bless us. In this regard I think of E. M. Bounds who stated that "only those who obey have the right to pray!"
(5) We are slow learners. This was the second time David had failed to either read the "small print," or take the small print seriously, in obeying God. When returning the ark he had failed to follow instructions and a man died; he failed with the census as well and 70,000 men died.
(6) Obedience and salvation are tied together, but our obedience doesn't supersede what Jesus did on the cross. Though the people were to pay the half shekel, they were still to look to the Passover Lamb in OT times for salvation, which of course pointed forward to Jesus. Still in our day, our standing with God and salvation for the longterm is based on what Jesus did on the cross!
(7) But enjoying salvation doesn't negate obedience. David was undoubtedly participating in the sacrifices of his day and looking to the passover Lamb, but that did not negate his need to completely obey God. This reminds me of the "Lord Lord" statements in the sermon on the mount (Matt. 7:21-23) when the future was foretold, when God tells the people who claim to be His followers that He never knew them because they were not doing the will of His Father.
(8) Failure to obey can bring grave consequences. Who would have thought that 70,000 men would have died as a result of not being careful with the details of the census.
(9) Obeying sincere but mistaken leaders, does not shield us from the consequences of disobeying God. David was the King and the people were accustomed to obeying him. But his making the command did not absolve the people's disobedience and many lives were lost. Is the same still happening in our day? Might there still be "blind guides" in our day (Matt. 23:16). As a spiritual leader could I be a blind guide?
(10) We need to think for o urselves, and if necessary disobey men at times, if obeying them would cause us to disobey God. The people of Jerusalem were spared because they never participated in the census. It may be that the vast majority of the people around us will misunderstand how we obey God, but obeying is not a popularity contest, is not found by taking polls, and will often result in the world frowning at us. In reading about John Wesley lately, I have been struck by the many churches he preached in where he was immediately informed that he would not be invited back. It is better to know God's approval than the world's approval—secular or church world!
(11) We have forgotten what wasn't to be forgotten! David had his men forge ahead with the census in his own, ultimately disastrous, way, and eventually reaped horrible consequences. Is it possible the same thing could be going on in our day?
Was God being arbitrary when he required that the census be taken in a particular way? No! The census was designed to remind people that He was the ultimate leader of Israel and to call forth a token of loyalty on their part. Anything different would lesson their connection with Him.
I must share something that has burdened me for quite some time: I think many Christians are dishonoring God in a significant way, not showing their loyalty to Him in the manner He directed, and missing the blessings He intended, by (1) forgetting the Sabbath—at least many people have, (2) not keeping the Sabbath day holy—those that keep the Sabbath for the most part don't keep it the way God designed if at all, and/or (3) keeping a day of their own choosing instead of God's designated "set apart" day. This is one of the "small print"—actually HUGE PRINT—issues that people are either unaware of, or not taking seriously, in my opinion.
Does the Bible say we should keep the Sabbath? Yes, and attested to in many places in the Bible! I will share more reasons below, but you can find a Bible study on the importance of keeping the Sabbath at this link:
Study what the Bible says about the Sabbath
or listen to a sermon on the subject:
God's Special Day
Henry Law said the following on the subject: “Reader, review now its position. It is God’s first command. The Patriarchs kept it. Sinai preached it. The holy tables gave it central place. The holy Ark encased it. The Jewish church revered it. Prophets enforced it. Jesus upheld it. The Apostles sanctioned it. The Christian church throughout all time has prized it. The prophetic finger still points to it as a last-day blessing. Is. lxvi. 23. Eternity waits to be an eternity of Sabbath.”
Whether a person keeps the Sabbath on Saturday, Sunday, or some other day—some would say that it doesn't matter what day (I only say this for discussion purposes because I do believe which day matters), relatively few Christians in our day keep the Sabbath in the manner stipulated in the Bible. For most people their day of rest is more a day to go shopping or attend sporting events, etc.. In the old days it wasn't that way, for they carefully kept the Sabbath as a day of rest from all secular interests and pursuits. If you do keep some day holy as a Sabbath day, Is your manner of keeping that day honoring God and according to what the Scriptures teach? Please don't take my question to imply that keeping a particular day is unimportant—I believe it is—but I am trying to make the point that most people aren't keeping any day holy according to what the Bible teaches! I personally believe a day of rest every week is one of the nicest gifts God granted humankind.
Regarding which day should be kept, for myself personally, I don't have even the slightest doubt that the only day that shows loyalty to God as He intended, is keeping the seventh day—Saturday—as the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11). I know many people feel that the "Seventh-day" Sabbath is a Jewish thing, but I would caution you against jumping to conclusions since the Sabbath was enjoined at the time of creation as a memorial to God's creation (Gen. 2:3), and therefore came long before there was such a thing as a Jewish nation. Not only that, it was being kept before the ten commandments were given at Sinai (Note Ex. 16:23-30). Jesus and the disciples also kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16; Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; . In Revelation 14:7, speaking of the last days, honoring the creator is again brought up when it speaks of the hour of judgment having arrived, when the reminder to honor the One who created the heavens and the earth is given.
I know there are suggestions made relative to the day being changed. I am not sure about that. You can learn more listening to this sermon: The History of the Sabbath
We live at a time when the world is saying that God had nothing to do with the creation of this world, and that we are the result of a big bang somewhere. Satan has certainly been behind this endeavor, and has succeeded quite well—in fact I think he is very happy, particularly because the people who claim to know and obey God are helping forward his ruse by keeping Sunday instead of Saturday as the Sabbath! Knowing what would come in the future, in my opinion, God carefully established an ongoing reminder of his creative role when He set apart the seventh day as the day when all the world would rest and acknowledge that He was the creator. God also went to the trouble to establish his memorial in time, something that could not be changed, so that men and women would never tamper with which day, and would never forget that God created the world in six literal days and rested on the seventh day. To make sure the day wasn't forgotten, God also said, "Remember the Sabbath day" in the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8-11), and went on to explain that it was to remind of the creation of the world and gave specific instruction on how to keep it. Yet the weekly reminder has been forgotten! But is that what God wants? I doubt it! Is that what Satan wants? Yes!
Would you not agree that an ongoing protest against the evolutionary movement, and an ongoing statement regarding your belief in a literal "seven day" creation, would be attained in honoring God by keeping Saturday, the memorial of creation set apart by God from the beginning, as a holy and set apart 24 hour Sabbath as he intended? Of course. I know you say that you keep Sunday, but you keep Sunday to honor the resurrection. I accept that as your reason. But how does honoring the resurrection have anything to do with honoring God as the creator? Does it conform to the original purpose of the Sabbath? Again, I respectfully don't think so! Not that I want to ignore the resurrection. Would you not agree that God provided a memorial for that in giving the sacraments and the "resurrected lives" spoken of in Rom. 6. So I ask, Can you justify supporting the devil's evolutionary agenda in the day you keep as the Sabbath if you keep one at all? Wouldn't it make sense to embrace the Saturday Sabbath and make a continuing statement about what you believe about a literal six day creation?
I am fully aware that Sunday has been the preferred day for hundreds of years. But many years of error doesn't eventually make it right—the people in Jesus' day had been worshipping according to the tenants of the scribes and pharisees for hundreds of years as well and were mistaken (Mark 7:7). Is it possible that just as the people incorrectly obeyed God in obeying David with the census, that the same could be going on in our day? Instead of reacting, please study for yourself and ask God His opinion on the matter!
You can learn more about the Sabbath down through history at The Seventh Day Website
Why do I bring this up?
(1) I don't want to be guilty of being a blind guide! Things are becoming very serious in the world, and it is time to return to God in every way possible. One of those ways will be honoring God, God's way, with the Sabbath!
(2) Revival: I am also often asked, "Why isn't revival being seen in the church? I ask the same question. I believe it may be that God will not honor His people as before when they have forgotten what they were to "remember" (Ex. 20:8; Acts 5:32).
(3) Obtaining Answers to Prayer: I am also often asked why prayers are not answered, I can't help but wonder if for some of the people it may not have to do with their failure to take the Sabbath seriously as God intends it (1 John 3:22). If His day is the seventh day, but we choose to honor the world's substitute, would it not make sense that God would withhold his blessings from us? Please ask God what He thinks about this! I can tell you that by my being more specific in my obedience brought answers to prayer where I was obtaining none previously! The same holds true for how we keep the Sabbath!
(4) We may enjoy better health and better relationships. Would you agree that humankind is rushing too much these days, and too entangled with the things of the secular world? God in love gave us a precious twenty-four hour weekly gift when we can lay aside all of our tasks, all of our cares, and spend them with Him and our families in a special way. Every week you can have a vacation day. Is that such a bad thing? Here you can read about how to make the Sabbath special for your children.
Notice what I didn't say: I didn't say a single word about gaining merit with God by keeping the Sabbath. We are always saved on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross. We keep the Sabbath, and keep it on Saturday, because it is the right thing to do, because we love HIm, because it makes Him happy, and because we want to honor Him as the creator.
I am aware that adopting the Sabbath if you haven't already, or keeping it on Saturday if you are not currently keeping the Sabbath on what I believe is God's day, would be a significant change for you. I understand that. It will make you a peculiar person. It will change your schedule. It may cause complications at work. It may bring differences to your home. You may feel like you would rather die than keep the Sabbath on Saturday. Understood. I believe the Sabbath is a major "dying" point and one that God calls us to. Are you ready to die to self here too? That may be the reason the Sabbath is also referred to as a sign of our sanctification (Ex. 31:13 ). Like I said, obedience has never been about popularity or figuring out what will bring the most favor; it is based on the Bible and the Bible only. I am confident God will greatly bless those people who choose to obey Him! So I hope keeping the Sabbath will also initiate conversations about God you have never had before; that it will bring revival into your life; that it will enable God to answer prayers in your life, that it will bring heretofore unrealized blessings! Do you trust Him enough to obey Him in regard to the Sabbath? I hope so.
Note what God promises if we obey Him regarding the Sabbath:
13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isa. 58:13,14
I hope you will write if I can answer your questions further, and I will be happy to send more resources on the subject as well. I will also be praying for you in this regard and hope you will pray for me.
I share this in love, feeling compelled that I must share the whole truth of God's word. I hope you will ask God what He thinks on the subject. Thank you.
Father in heaven, for some of the people reading this, my suggestion that God is being dishonored in our day may not be welcomed. But You have convicted me to share more on this subject. Father please speak clearlr about this. I hope the desire to honor you is strong, and that a negative reaction will not keep my friend from seriously praying and studying on this subject. Please make it abundantly clear as my friend studies the Bible on this subject. You know the challenges faced today and this week. You know the help that is needed. Please provide every blessing and every needed resource. Thank you for saving through what Jesus did on the cross. Thank you that You are a loving and wise God. Help us to trust You enough. Help us to obey you, not in order to have sufficient merit, but out of a great love for You and a great desire to honor You in every way. Help mr friend and me to faithfully live for You in all that we do, including honoring You in keeping the Your Sabbath day holy. We trust You; we look to You; we thank you in advance! We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.