A ccording to Mr. Pack, going to a restaurant on the Sabbath is permissible in God’s eyes because it does not go contrary to the fourth commandment’s prohibition against compelling servants to work. He reasons that those who work in restaurants are technically not his servants—therefore, no trespass has taken place. At this point it is interesting to note that he employs a letter written in 1988 by the Worldwide Church of God under the leadership of Mr. Joseph Tkach Sr. as a proof source. Here is what the letter states.
“Those waiters, waitresses, chefs, and the like, who may serve in a restaurant, are not our ‘servants’ in the way described in the Fourth Commandment. They are the employees of the owner of the restaurant. They would be working regardless of whether or not we ate there. God does not hold us responsible for their working on the Sabbath just because we use their services—unless we were the only ones who ever ate in that restaurant on the Sabbath. Obviously, we make up a very small portion of the customers served in restaurants on the Sabbath or Holy Days.”
The crux of this contrary argument cited by Mr. Pack is driven by his belief that God doesn’t care if someone else’s servant labors on your behalf on the Sabbath—even if you personally solicit and direct that labor. He reasons that God is only interested in “your” servant, not the servants of others. In other words, here is how Mr. Pack renders the meaning of the fourth commandment.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant. However, you may seek out unbelievers who profane my Sabbath and compel their manservant and maidservant to labor on your behalf.”
Surprisingly, there are many in God’s Church today who, like Mr. Pack, believe the fourth commandment is limited in scope. In other words, although it prohibits God’s people, or those who work directly for them, from engaging in labor, it does not prohibit His people from orchestrating the labor of an unbeliever’s servant for their benefit. As a result of this thinking, many contend that when God gave His law regarding the Sabbath, He actually made provisions for His people to be the beneficiary of the labor of Sabbath-breakers.
Although many may write the amended command differently with respect to style, those like Mr. Pack who go to restaurants on the Sabbath concur with the substance of this modified rendering of God’s law. The question is: do you? Ask yourself: do these words really sound like they express the wisdom of the Holy One of Israel? Was it God’s intent to simply shield His people from profaning the Sabbath by their labor? Or was He expressing a greater eternal truth about His Kingdom? The authors of A Sabbath Test see God's Sabbath law much differently. Notice their words.
A Sabbath Test
It is true that the decision to work on the Sabbath rests solely in the hands of restaurant personnel. But it is equally true that the decision to support that labor rests solely in the hands of those who purchase their goods and services. With this in mind, ask yourself one question: would Jesus ever compel them to work on His day even if He knew they would do it for someone else? The bottom line regarding this argument is really quite simple: You may not be able to prevent restaurant personnel from working on the Sabbath. But you most certainly can prevent them from working for you on that day! (A Sabbath Test)
Returning to Egypt
Consider for a moment what dining out on the Sabbath requires of God's people. First, they must consciously go out into the world (spiritual Egypt) and seek out unbelievers who are profaning holy time. They must then orchestrate the Sabbath labor of these unbelievers by placing orders. Finally they must be willing to pay these Sabbath-breakers for their WORK. Tragically, some, like Dave Pack, actually rationalize that the restaurant personnel are performing a service that is worthy of their patronage. How do you think God views this service?
Today, Mr. Pack and all too many in God’s Church advance an endless stream of technical arguments in an attempt to circumvent the enduring moral principle contained in God’s law. In this case, he has built his argument around the word “your.” However, can you imagine him applying the same logic on the ninth or tenth commandment? Those commands only refer to “your” neighbor, not someone else’s neighbor. Think of the implications of this.
A Critical Omission
Furthermore, what this COG leader failed to mention in his article is that when God gave the Ten Commandments, including the one pertaining to His Sabbath, He had already made provisions that would have made it unlawful for Israelites to avail themselves of the service of those outside their community of faith. He did this immediately after delivering them through the Red Sea. At that time God specifically prohibited them from going out on the Sabbath to any place His law was not in force (Ex. 16:29). In other words, the Israelites were only permitted to be with God’s people on this day—a place where Sabbath labor would soon constitute a capital crime (Ex. 31:14). When God made reference to “your servant” in the fourth commandment He was doing so because he had already prohibited them from being with the servants of those outside the community where His Sabbath would be kept. Regrettably, outside the camp is right where Mr. Pack wants to lead his people.
In the final analysis, God’s word is clear. When He told His people they were not to work on the Sabbath, He was declaring that labor profanes the day He made HOLY! Even God Himself ceased from working on this day. Does anyone sincerely believe He would seek out those who profane His Sabbath and solicit their labor for His benefit?
The point God was making when He uttered His great Sabbath law was that Israel was not to be a party to profane labor in any way, shape, or form on this day unless it specifically related to a levitical duty (Mt. 12:1-5) or it was driven by circumstances beyond a person’s control (a genuine emergency). Contrary to what Mr. Pack may argue, working in a restaurant on the Sabbath is not a levitical function and patronizing a restaurant is not beyond a believer’s control. Furthermore, he knows it. Certainly there can arise genuine emergencies when it becomes necessary to do what the law did not normally permit. But this is not what Mr. Pack is advocating. Make no mistake about it, this church leader contends that it is perfectly acceptable with God when he makes reservations to dine at a fine restaurant on the Sabbath three weeks in advance. After all, those who work there are not his concern.
While Dave Pack passionately argues that it doesn’t matter if God’s people solicit labor that is performed in clear violation of God’s great moral law, the authors of A Sabbath Test have a different view. It is one driven by reverence for God and compassion for those who do not yet know Him. Here are their words:
A Sabbath Test
Consider what lies ahead for those who work at restaurants on the Sabbath. The day will come when they will know about God and His Great Kingdom. At that time, they will understand God’s purpose for the Sabbath and they, too, will honor this great commandment.
Additionally, when God’s Kingdom is established on earth, its citizens will understand why God’s people today did certain things and refrained from doing others – including purchasing goods and services on His Sabbath. They will know that by refraining from buying and selling on the Sabbath, God’s people were not only honoring the Great Creator, they were also expressing a genuine hope for all mankind – a hope that all people would one day enter into God’s Sabbath rest. This is the true witness God’s people must proclaim. It is one that will be affirmed by the very government of God when His Kingdom returns. The gospel is NOT proclaimed by your presence at a restaurant on the Sabbath. It is, in fact, proclaimed by your absence. (A Sabbath Test)
A Final Thought
While Mr. Pack's arguments are laced with distortions and misrepresentations, they are also self-centered and consumed with anger. Meanwhile, the authors of A Sabbath Test reveal not only great respect for God's law, but a genuine concern for all mankind, including those who do not yet know the true Lord of the Sabbath. Which argument do you think God respects?
"Jesus Condoned It"
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