Sigve Tonstad on Sabbath and Wholeness

Video Sabbath School commentary for discussion on September 4, 2021

This week's Adult Bible Study Guide focuses exclusively on the Sabbath. It briefly reflects on its connections to creation, freedom from the guilt of sin, an act of witnessing, a reminder to consider the plight of others, and a sign of belonging to God. 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11386
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The Adult Study Guide on Sabbath gives a thorough overview on reasons for Sabbath keeping, yet it dismisses what I have come to believe is the main reason for celebrating it. EGW noted righteousness by faith was the three angels message in verity. Yet it doesn’t appear like that in our evangelistic meetings.
Other Christians are right in saying Jesus is the Sabbath, but wrong in saying it doesn’t need to be kept (through the abiding of the Holy Spirit) as are all the other commandments. (They don’t say not worshiping idols is legalistic.) Yet in declaring Jesus as the Sabbath they reveal an understanding of righteousness by faith that Adventists miss. Yet the lesson says later that Sabbath frees us from “all things that keep us in bondage” which means the same thing but is not made uppermost nor is it said in a manner other Christians would understand.

By not exalting Jesus as our Sabbath rest the foundation of all Sabbath teaching, I believe we have turned away Bible scholars and members of other churches, making us subject to the accusation of legalism. Instead the Sabbath continues to be taught as a sign of our arrogance and specialness. Does it really make sense that we are saved by a day? That is what has been taught in the SDA church for decades as seen from the outside and believed by many in the church.
It is in Christ only we find our rest. We rest from works to be saved. We can do nothing, for He has done it all. We are released from the burden to prove ourselves worthy of salvation. We obey because He obeyed, and it is the Holy Spirit working in us. That is worth celebrating and worshiping and praising God for. That is worth resting on the Sabbath as did God the Creator.

It was a woman from another denomination (Rachel Oakes) that brought the Sabbath to Adventism. We cannot think ourselves the only church with truth. Jesus as the Sabbath rest cannot be ignored because others are saying it without following through and recognizing the Ten commandments as equal. Yet they continue to write about the value of the Ten. Are we any better talking about freedom from slavery yet not recognizing Jesus’ perfect life as our salvation rest and freedom from the slavery of believing in our own works?
Sabbath without Jesus is meaningless. He is our Substitute. Every doctrine not centered around Jesus is meaningless.

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Funny thing about sabbath. Adventist choose to make a big deal about the when of sabbath, but we haven’t got a clue as to when and where it begins and ends. We believe that at there’s an imaginary north-south line that separates sabbath from non-sabbath for as much 48 hours, but God didn’t tell anyone where the line is.

Just think. We champion a sabbath that we always profane at the beginning or the end. Well, should we ask ourselves if it rally bothers God more when Catholics sabbatize too late (on Sunday morning) than it matters when we sabbatize too early (on Friday night)? :interrobang: The Jews used to celebrate sabbaths (all but one) from dawn to dawn!

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Thank you so very much for these wonderful insights illuminating how the Sabbath is not just a past test of loyalty to be kept by a specific race which failed to accept or keep up their end of the bargain, but rather a universal revelation of the will of God for all humanity, an all-inclusive gospel of salvation we can all enter into by choice.

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How do we NOT do that? by not joining Evangelicals who teach the Sabbath does not need to be kept? On the other hand, is teaching that reserving the 7th day to commune with Jesus, whom we do teach is the foundation of our faith, legalism?

As it’s mandated to be kept - yes.

“Communing with Jesus” is not reserved for a specific place or time. The Jewish Sabbath had a specific purpose for the Jews. The Jews kept it as a national symbol bound to its history. If Jesus is our Sabbath, it’s of course, symbolic as well but the symbolism is about Christ, not a symbol of identity. As Hebrews 4 explains, the Jews kept the Sabbath but they missed the focal point of the symbolism -until Jesus came.

We can certainly worship on Sabbath but the manner will be nothing like what it was for the Jews. We have made our own Sabbath stipulations but they’re not based on the Bible. The Sabbath is a state of mind, without boundaries.

As for keeping the Sabbath like the other 9 commandments - who actually keeps the other nine?

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I think people worry too much about how the Sabbath School Lessons are written or what the GC says – we don’t have a pope and I don’t take marching orders from either.

True, many of us commune daily early in the morning to get our spirits ready for work on the right track, others in the evening, and also throughout the day in our constant thoughts; and although I would call this keeping “the spirit of the law” it is not what Jesus specifically requested, that we remember to set His day apart for this purpose – and yes, it does have a boundary, sundown to sundown. I am not proposing that we become legalistic about it, nor do I personally keep it that way to the minute or even the hour, but it does provide for a delineation of time from our weekly routine, and the opportunity to begin unloading mental and physical stress and re-align our runaway-train-like focus

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Yes, I understand what you mean, but that comes from tradition. It makes no sense globally - either there is holy time or it’s arbitrary based on latitude and longitude. Whatever it is, it’s not a test for eternal life - however that works out to be. The sundown thing works only for a speific place and people.

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look at it this way, sirje: to the best of our knowledge, the planet earth has always been a globe…this means that when adam and eve kept that first seventh-day sabbath from evening to evening from their perspective, it wouldn’t have been the seventh-day sabbath on the other side of the uninhabited world…in other words, there has always been disparities in the sabbath in terms of the 24hr time clock we use now from one global region to the next, and that didn’t stop god from blessing the sabbath day as a day of rest…

do you think god didn’t know that when he blessed the seventh day that corresponded to the seventh day from adam and eve’s perspective, that it wasn’t the seventh day in other parts of the world that he’d made… obviously the sabbath is the sabbath when it is the seventh-day in one’s global region, whenever that might be…

keep in mind, as well, that that first seventh day sabbath was also the second day of human life, which means it was the second day, and not the seventh day, from adam and eve’s perspective…adam and eve would have needed to exercise faith in order to keep that first sabbath as the seventh day…the knowable precision you seem to be seeking as a precondition for keeping the sabbath has never existed - it’s completely unreasonable…there has always been an unknowable element of faith in sabbath keeping…

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The Sabbath in OT is very precise, to the point that if it’s laws a broken people were put to death.

The Sabbath only makes sense if given to a people of a specific place, given its parameters. So must we go through the necessity that those days of creation are not literal days since days are designated by sunrise and sundown which can only happen with a sun already in place (a la Sabbath, calculated by the sunlight and the lack there of) - The sun and moon having been created on day four we’re talking about some other definition of “day”.

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Why does that matter? God could have made that happen in ways we could never even imagine, being limited to our solar system. God could have have provided the light himself, He is brighter than our sun, which is just a toy in his hands (The Heavens can not contain thee).
The important understanding is that God removed the darkness and created light with just one command to nature. Did God also create the Earht’s obliquity? I believe He did (seasons) so I am sure He knew the time for Adam and Eve would be different for humans living in Antartica. The only important take I get (in this regard) from the Genesis account is that He expressly divided time into seven cycles for a reason, and He reserved the last one for Himself for entering our dimension of time and communing with us. The rest is lawyer talk

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i think the fact that four days had passed before the creation of the sun and moon (and possibly the stars, as well, although this isn’t as clear) is clear evidence that creation, from beginning to end, was a supernatural event…that is, natural law was not part of the substance or sequence of the creation of things, even though creation week obviously set and initiated those natural laws, at least after the seventh day…if we see creation as supernatural, we don’t need to think that god was limited from creating light on the first day, just because the source of that light, that we see and understand now, wasn’t created until the fourth day, and we don’t need to think he was limited from creating plants on the third day, just because the sun was created on the fourth day, and pollinators were created on the fifth and sixth days (in any event, if these days weren’t literal, the things created couldn’t have been literal, and dependent on the laws and processes we see now)…

as for the sabbath, adventism has been around for close to 160yrs, and the sabbath has been kept world wide, in a variety of countries and cultures, for much of that time, without its parameters causing problems…the sabbath is obviously a universal command to be obeyed in localized circumstances…

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@gdavidovic

We go through these arguments every time this subject comes up, and I apologize for getting caught up in it yet again.

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Sirje,
You were the first respondent to my first post in Spectrum back in 2009 (EGW and faith discussion) . I have appreciated your thoughts and perspective ever since and I know you are a very special soul in God’s eyes, let’s keep taking.

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Has it been that long! It’s just that we go around and around on these same issues, and we know what different ones will say.

When it comes to the creation story, to say God can do anything - put light in the sky to take the place of the actual sun and the moon before they were created just to preserve the seven day cycle of days we have today, destroys all credibility of the Bible. It becomes a magician’s tale rather than God reaching out to us.

God created the natural laws upon which the universe operates - and that includes laws that prove the science that God has permitted us to discover and use. It also includes laws we don’t like because they go against our preconceived opinions, stridently held, because we need to preserve the narratives. Change is scary, but necessary if we are to keep growing.

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i think the miracles of christ, especially his resurrection, not to mention the 2nd coming and eternal life, can also be seen to be a magician’s tale unless we accept that god is above natural law, and can act outside that natural law when he chooses…

and i don’t think this thing about the sabbath is a fear of growth…all of us, just because we’re getting older, and gaining in life experience, are growing…we don’t need to throw out what we believe in order to grow…and it isn’t necessarily the people who are throwing out their adventist faith who are growing…maybe they’re receding…

It isn’t me or the SDAC trying to preserve the seven day cycle, that has existed from the beginning of history without a human explanation. You are an extremely rational person, and a good one at that, we all need more objectivity sometimes, but there is also the other side, the one we don’t understand, and I always need to remind myself that just because I don’t understand something it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is not true.

The Bible is not a book of science – how can it possibly describe all there is to know about God’s nature laws? How many libraries of encyclopedias would we need? As a small example about human science limitations of our own solar system I will just use this little analysis on the retrograde rotation of Venus. Scientific explanations for the backwards rotations of the remaining planets in our solar system and their satellites are still in the theoretical realm of our science, Uranus not only has a retrograde rotation but it rotates on it’s side!.

Could there be a natural science explanation for the first four days of Creation that we don’t yet understand or better, that we are asked to believe in faith? There are several Creationist Science explanations out there for the events of the first few days that appeal to logic and rational thought (e.g. 2nd day = earth’s water canopy)

The fact that Genesis 1:1 says that in the beginning God created “the heavens and the earth” tells me that all the working elements of our solar system (including the Sun) were created in form, but not in their final observable (edited) order, which raises another question for me. Why did God take six days to put it all together into the right order. Could He not have created it instantly with a single command? I have asked this question a few times here in different ways without an answer.

The other part of your comment regarding the credibility of the Bible could easily be applied to Jesus’ miracles:, why are you only focusing on the creation story?

“I t becomes a magician’s tale rather than God reaching out to us.

Imagine living in earth’s early history. You step out of your tent in pitch black darkness. The best place to experience this is in the middle of the ocean, minus the lights on the boat. The middle of the desert will do as well, but I have never experienced the desert. What are your eyes drawn to - they look up provided it’s a clear night. There are pin-pricks of light, and there’s the moon - the only meaningful light in the sky, or anywhere, as your eyes scan the horizon.

If you live in this environment, this will be your experience night after night. Over time, you begin to notice the moon changing shape and sometimes, not appearing at all. The angle of the moon in the sky also changes; and you begin to detect a pattern of these changes. You start keeping time by these changes (also counting sunrises during the same timeframe).

You notice that when the moon disappears, to when the moon is full and bright, you count 15 sunrises - and from the fulness the moon to when it disappears again, you count another 15 sunrises. You begin to count the passing of time. Gen 1:14 sets up the sun and the moon to be “for signs and for seasons and for days and years”. In other words, for the telling of time. Within that 30 day period the ancients were able to pretty accurately divide the moon’s phases into four sevens before the cycle began again - with the full moon, unmistakable, showing up right in the middle of the four sevens. This was all set up on the fourth day of creation and is based on the actual sun and moon, “to give light on the earth” (no other light before this, being mentioned). This set up the seven day cycle, which also became how they later identified the Sabbath.

Further to your post - Yes, God created the universe along with the laws by which it functions. Some of these laws we have discovered and are even able to travel in space but most of those laws are a mystery for science even today. That has nothing to do with the creation’s first three days being calculated by some other light.

When it comes to Jesus and the miracles, they are recorded for a different purpose. They are not there to make Jesus some magical person. It was how Jesus inaugurated (in real time and in person) the dawning of the new age for those who would follow Him. Mankind has tried to bring it about through ritual and behaviour; but Jesus declared its dawning through healing. Those miracles identified his mission.

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Your explanation is not bad, it sounds very similar to the UR III document period, which is argued to be the first calendar ever invented. These Sumerian archaeology records tell a different story however. Since the Sumerian civilization was primarily agricultural based, the immediate objective was to track months to help them know when to plant and harvest, plan river flows, forecast warm and cold weather, Etc.

The calendar was luni-solar however with two primary cycles, year and month. The year starting from the when the Sun rose due East (Equinox), and their “itis” (months) when the New Moon was first visible. Their months had either 29 or 30 days to account for the extra ½ day (29.53 day cycle) and also an intercalary month (diri or min) every two or three years to account for the extra days in each solar year.

Although there is some evidence that they further subdivided the monthly cycles into smaller cycles (either two halves (14 or 15 days), and even four periods each of either seven or eight days, there is no archeological evidence that they had a formal “week cycle” of seven days each in either the Sumerian Calendar or Umma Calendar, much less assign religious significance.

Ok, so that was a little long winded, and while it is a subject of historical interest I don’t think it is worth pursuing as a source of where the 7-day cycle came from. The most likely source was Noah, whose father Lamech lived while Adam was still alive, and he (Noah) may have possibly known or have met Enosh, Adam’s grandson.

[quote=“Sirje, post:18, topic:21949”]
When it comes to Jesus and the miracles, they are recorded for a different purpose. They are not there to make Jesus some magical person
[/quote]

Without accepting or dismissing this statement I must say that you still are not acknowledging that the people of Jesus’ time did accuse Him of performing evil magic as recorded in Scriptures and history, or the fact that His miracles are nothing short of evidence of complete supernatural powers.

Jesus is the Word, word=sound=vibration=… “Everything in Life is Vibration” – Albert Einstein

Have we pushed too hard?

The 7-day cycle has been traced back to 700 BCE and Babylon. Saturn’sday was the first day of the week for about a millenium–until Constantine dropped a day to give the prime day to the sun.


It’s impressive how hard we’re willing to struggle to envision sabbaths beginning when the earth was 7 days old despite the absence of the word “sabbath”.

AND the Bible’s declaration that the first sabbath did not occur until THEN

2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.
15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm…
therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
7: 11 Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them. (Deuteronomy 5)

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