In this phase of his advocacy of dining out on the Sabbath, Mr. Pack provides a genuine exception regarding God's prohibition against buying and selling on holy time (Neh. 10:31). He then asserts that the authors of A Sabbath Test don’t believe in any exceptions. Furthermore, he claims they are totally indifferent to the needs of the poor. This of course is not true and he knows it.
Mr. Pack offers this exploitation of the less fortunate in an attempt to convince you that because God permits spending money on the Sabbath under certain circumstances, He must permit it when it comes to his circumstance. Here is how this COG leader expresses his point. As you read it remember that the issue at hand is whether God now approves of His people paying unbelievers to prepare their Sabbath meals when He actually prohibited them from being prepared by anyone (See: Ex. 16).
David C. Pack:
In the Philippines, some brethren in Manila must take taxis get to services—which requires exchanging money for services rendered. These “taxis” are more like short buses, and hold well beyond the maximum number of passengers allowed. Riding in them can involve a considerable amount of risk, not to mention the discomfort brethren must endure during long rides through the city.
"It is always convenient for critics, who live in the modern nations of Israel and benefit financially from the birthright blessings, to proclaim the “errors” of brethren who live in less affluent regions. Apparently, these detractors are unaware that the world actually extends beyond the borders of North America—they do not comprehend the kind of sacrifices that so many brethren around the world make week after week in order to attend Sabbath services.
In all due respect to Dave Pack, there is a huge difference between having to take public transportation to Sabbath services because there is no alternative, and him making Friday evening dinner reservations at a nice restaurant for the pure joy of it. To suggest that these two behaviors are morally equivalent is not only untrue, it's insulting, and mocks the very Savior he claims to worships. Sadly, this is typical of Mr. Pack's approach concerning this issue.
Jesus Himself taught that there are times when genuine emergencies may require us to alter our Sabbath behavior. Furthermore, the authors of A Sabbath Test dedicate an entire chapter to that very thing. However, when advocates of dining out on the Sabbath attempt to blur the lines between those emergencies and what they simply want to do on Holy time, God's purpose is never served. Sadly, this is exactly what Mr. Pack does--HE BLURS THE LINES. This servant of the ALMIGHTY wants you to believe that if one may pay for the right to sit among non-believers on a bus, because they have no choice, then he (Dave Pack) may pay for the right to have non-believers serve him in the comfort of a Five Star restaurant. Personally, we would not want to present this argument before God Almighty.
At this point it is interesting to note that this specific issue was addressed by Dennis Fischer (Co-author of A Sabbath Test) when responding to a letter written to him regarding this very situation. Although Dave Pack claims Mr. Fischer desires to “proclaim the “errors” of brethren who live in less affluent regions,” this is simply not true. But don’t believe us, here are his words. They were written in response to the following question.
If you believe it is wrong to dine out on the Sabbath why do you permit taking a bus to services. You have said that Nehemiah would shut down all restaurants on the Sabbath and holy days. Why wouldn’t he shut down transportation services as well?
Response from Dennis Fischer
"Personally, I believe that if Nehemiah was in charge of Sabbath observance today he may very well see a legitimate need for public transportation in larger metropolitan areas. If such was the case, local governments could facilitate a solution. For example: they could arrange for shuttles to be operated by part time volunteers and offered without charge. These shuttles would be used exclusively to convey God’s people to their places of assembly. The point here is that it can be reasonably concluded that transportation, in some parts of today’s world, represents an essential service—even in a Sabbath keeping society. This would also be the case with respect to security, fire and rescue, emergency care and other functions operating for the public good. Certainly, the ancient Israelites must have applied this principle. It is virtually inconceivable that they didn’t have security forces guarding the camp—including on the Sabbath. Even Nehemiah dispatched sentries to protect Jerusalem from Sabbath breaking merchants (Neh. 13:19). Certainly these services would function differently on holy time but I am confident that they could operate without compromising God’s Sabbath law.
However, the same argument cannot be made for restaurants. Nehemiah would have closed them down in a heartbeat. Not only does God’s law prohibit what they do on the Sabbath (see: Ex 16), but their services are not designed to cater to need, but rather to pleasure. This is not to suggest that if there was a natural disaster impacting the people’s access to food, Nehemiah would still keep restaurants closed, for indeed he wouldn’t. This would constitute a genuine emergency and would require unique action to ensure the public good. However, this is NOT what this debate is about. The discussion at hand is whether God’s people may engage the services of a commercial business on holy time simply because it’s an enjoyable activity. If God's people are truly honest with the scriptures they would have to conclude that the practice of seeking out Sabbath breakers at restaurants is absolutely excoriated in God's word."
- Dennis Fischer
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