Symbolic Acts: Helpful, but Potentially Deadly

Lesson #6, for discussion on Sabbath, November 7, 2015

The prophet Jeremiah was fond of symbols and that spells trouble for a believing community that wants to keep the whole tribe together. That’s because symbols, whether enacted or visual, split the crowd right down the middle. Concrete thinkers often treat them too rigidly whereas abstract thinkers are too easily inclined to shrug and not take them seriously enough.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Was Jeremiah’s encouraging parts of his ministry to JUST Judah? or did it boil over to the already dispersed 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom as well?
They had been swallowed up by Assyria-- Nineveh.

To understand Jerimiah in our day we really need to understand Christ’s messages to the seven churches of Revelation. The Church is like the camel, a horse designed by a committee. The evangelical world is complacent internally and militantly hostile to all others. broken cisterns for sure. tom z

The symbols used by the Hebrew Bible do not necessarily apply to the Christian church. But some of the church’s doctrines have been completely fashioned from the OT, as if it were always relevant regardless of the context.’

The major and unique Adventist doctrines do not come from the NT, which is written to by and for Christians, but from the OT. The major and unique doctrines of the Adventist church came directly from the Torah: Sabbath of the OT (never given to Christians); tithe, also never given to Christians; the sanctuary cleansing of 1844 is a questionable date, originating in the OT and forward to long after the NT; and Revelation is applied to the Adventist church today as the Remnant which keeps (all) the Commandments.

Read the OT as the Jewish people recorded their history of themselves as God’s “Chosen People”. For Christians, Christ, who is not revealed in the NT, is our guide and the letters to Christians, the earliest NT writings, are our instructions for living the Christian life.

You never miss an opportunity to denigrate the Holy Scriptures, especially the OT, or the SDA Church, do you? It was not the Jews who made the determination that they were God’s chosen people. It was Jesus who chose them, and He didn’t revoke that status until they rejected Him (Matt. 21:43). Paul (who must not be very reliable, since he was a Jew) said the the OT was written by inspiration of God. Jesus (also apparently unreliable, since He was a Jew) commended the Jewish leaders for giving tithe. His issue was with the fact that they omitted other aspects of the law. I can’t imagine why any professed Christian should be against tithing, unless it be for selfish reasons. Paul (that nasty Jew) said that those who preach the gospel, should be paid by the church, and tithing is the only system what was in place for doing so, and it is fair and equitable. Abraham paid tithe, and He wasn’t a Jew. You accuse us of cherry picking, yet you do the same. Jesus and Paul got their theology from the OT. Nothing Jesus said was contrary to what He had given His people in the OT. Jesus was the God of the OT, and Scripture says that He is the same today, yesterday, and forever–but that was written by a Jew, of course. The NT makes no sense without the OT, and the OT presupposes the NT.


I have seen this non-stop trend as well.

99% of Christianity is already deceived on this issue. This occurs because of shallow cut & paste teaching from pulpits and the natural human propensity found in Jer 17:9 & Rom 8:7.
The Holy Spirit inspired all 4 gospel authors to record ( 20+ to 50+ years into the NT, early church era) where Jesus countered & clarified warped Pharisee teaching on Sabbath observance.
Matt 12, Mark 2 & 3, Luke 6, 13, 14, JN 5, 7 & 9

Evidently Jesus, Holy Spirit , and gospel authors didn’t get with Paul on his supposed Sabbath abrogation . And Paul didn’t do a very good job of segregating Jew from gentile on that great opportunity in ACTS 13:42. Just think Paul got almost a whole city (ACTS 13:44) to hang around Jews on the OT Jewish Sabbath of all days…especially since Paul and the disciples were, supposedly, already transitioned to the SUNday/Lord’s day…according to the pastor pundits and scholars in Christianity. Now that makes sense ! Makes perfect sense to Jer 17:9 and Rom 8:7 victims.
Paul must have felt real uncomfortable in ACTS 16:13, 17:2 and 18:4 as well. Spending time with gentiles and Greeks with no success on weaning them off the OT, Jewish , shadow Sabbath.


Dr. Thompson writes another great commentary on the Sabbath School lesson.
We interpret the Bible literally, but this this does not mean we ignore symbols and metaphorical language. God’s written communication to the world is a richly textured literary masterpiece and makes full use of the tools of language, including symbolism, metaphor, simile, and motif. A literal interpretation of the Bible allows for figurative language. Symbols are quite common in the poetic and prophetic portions of the Bible. By its very nature, poetry relies heavily on figurative language.

In his conclusion, Brother Thompson, correctly reminds us that “ …we simply need to recognize that symbolic acts recorded in Scripture offer the believing community rich opportunities for careful pondering and prayerful discussion. Jeremiah’s situation was incredibly grim. Yet the Lord gave glimmers of hope – for him and for us.”

Jeremiah’s life interprets his message. He is a metaphor for God’s word. Through him we see into God’s purpose and into the destiny of the people. Jeremiah becomes the “app” on God’s life “computer” helping us to better understand the themes of judgment and salvation.

Jesus’ teaching was full of symbolism. He presented Himself as a Shepherd, a Sower, a Bridegroom, a Door, a Cornerstone, a Vine, Light, Bread, and Water. He likened the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast, a seed, a tree, a field, a net, a pearl, and yeast.


Good try; however, you neglect to include the other OT feasts that Christians attended in the NT. Let’s look at the most obvious - Pentecost. Acts 2 describes the apostles (assumed) gathered together “with one accord”, celebrating the feast of Pentecost - this after Jesus had presumably cancelled the OT feasts.

Jumping ahead to Acts 18, Paul states, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem…” - (which one we don’t know )- but an OT feast it must have been - IN JERUSALEM.

Acts 20:6 describes Paul setting sail from Philippi (IN GENTILE MACEDONIA), saying, "We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread,… (Paul was still keeping the feast of Unleavened Bread).

Fast forward to I Cor. 5, where Paul is calling for the Christians to “…celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

You can argue that we need to see some of these, especially ICor 5 as symbolically keeping the feast; but you can’t get away with that since I know you are adamant about taking the Bible literally. If the feast in ICor. is symbolic, so can Genesis - and you wouldn’t want to go down that path.

The point - Both Jesus and Paul lived and taught among Jews, especially Jesus. He, too, kept ALL the Jewish feasts.
The Sabbath was when the Jews came together, and was the most opportune time to give them a message. Paul, while he was out and about the gentile world, had to preach somewhere - certainly not at the temple of Zeus.

Adventists have a problem of picking certain pet parts of the OT that support the pre-determined scenario, while ignoring the ones they know could not be enforced. “How to keep the Sabbath” would be one of them. The commandment doesn’t say to “KEEP THE SABBATH”; it says to KEEP IT HOLY. What, pray tell, do you do to “keep it holy”? The rules for Sabbath keeping are in the Bible - the OT. Why aren’t we following them? Why do we waffle about “doing work” on the Sabbath (bathing; washing dishes; even cooking)? Why can we depend on others working on our behalf on the Sabbath?

The NT was not written to legitimize the OT. The NT stands on its own. It’s a testament to God’s redemptive power through Christ; not a call to celebrate the feasts of the OT.


Paul’s letters were written much earlier than then Gospels. He was writing mostly to the new gentile believers while the Gospels were written in a Jewish context to explain Jesus and his life.

Of course, Jesus observed not only the Sabbath but all the many Jewish feast days as a good Jew his entire life–although he was berated for breaking Jewish laws. Paul was also a Jew and observed its laws; but in teaching the Gentiles what it meant to be a Christian, he never taught them to observe any Jewish holy days. They met in the synagogue to hear him and the apostles to preach on Sabbath, but in no way did that mean they became Sabbatarians as the synagogue was the town’s main meeting place. If Adventists rent another church (as often happened) it does not mean that they have become believers of that denomination. There is much more in observing Sabbath as any good Jew knows.

But the corner was turned FROM Judaism at Christ’s death to the inauguration of the New Covenant, making the old one obsolete. when the Jews rejected Jesus. The Old Covenant with its laws was but a shadow, the reality is Christ who is our guide and example, not the laws contained in the Torah.