Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Imagine for a moment that a deacon in the Church of the Great God approached Mr. John Ritenbaugh and informed him that he was going to have to work one Saturday each month. He didn't want to do this but his employer made it abundantly clear that he would lose his job if he refused. The good news was that he would still be able to attend Sabbath services because he would only be required to work Saturday mornings.
At this point Mr. Ritenbaugh decides to pursue the matter. The conversation proceeds as follows:
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "How can you reconcile your decision with the fourth commandment?"
Deacon: I don't think the command really addresses my situation."
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "Really? What about You shall do no work?"
Deacon: "Work was different then. People had to sweat and toil in those days. I'm a systems manager. I wear a suit to work. I have my own office, The work environment is very comfortable, almost luxurious. But even if what you say is true I still think the Sabbath command is different now."
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "How so?"
Deacon: "Sir, when God gave Israel His Sabbath law, they were a "closed society" where everyone honored His commandments. However, that isn't the case today. Our world and its culture is radically different from what it was during the days of Moses. It is just not suited for strict Sabbath observance. And because of that I think we need to apply God's law to fit our unique circumstances."
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "But what about Jesus? He kept the Sabbath and He didn't live in a 'closed society.' He didn't do His business on the Sabbath."
Deacon: "Actually, we can't know that for sure because the Bible doesn't describe every minute detail of His life. However, we do know that Jesus did permit work to be done under certain circumstances. Remember, He healed on the Sabbath. He even permitted His disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath. And God permits Levites to work every Sabbath. You work on the Sabbath."
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "But the Levites perform work related to the service of God's people."
Deacon: "That's true. But don't you see? So do I! My family are God's people and by keeping my job I serve them. And God wants me to provide for my family. Anyway, I am only going to have to work occasionally. I would never do it to excess, only in moderation and balance."
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "How do you think other people in the congregation will react when they discover you are working on the Sabbath?"
Deacon: "Well, if they judge me for this decision, they are no different than the Pharisees who condemned Jesus for His Sabbath practices. I don't think God's people should judge others regarding how they honor the commandments. It's divisive and accomplishes nothing. Anyway, how about Mr. Armstrong?"
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "Mr. Armstrong? What about him?"
Deacon: "Mr. Armstrong worked on the Sabbath. He often did World Tomorrow programs before services. He would occasionally mention that in his sermons. I think his own behavior set the standard in this area. Anyway, Mr. Armstrong even permitted construction workers to work on the Ambassador College campus on the Sabbath."
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "What about your employer? Do you think it is right to dedicate part of your Sabbath to his business? Isn't he breaking the fourth commandment?"
Deacon: "Yes, but I am powerless to prevent that. Whether I work or not he will be open for business anyway. I can't force Sabbath observance on him. God has to call him. However, there is another reason I am convinced God approves of this."
Mr. Ritenbaugh: "Oh. What's that?"
Deacon: "My salary has made it possible for me to do good for God's people. Not only do I faithfully tithe but I also help people less fortunate to go to the feast. Last year I paid for Mrs. Johnson as well as the Baxters. This would be impossible without my job. God must understand."
Although the scenario above is fictional it illustrates an important point regarding the lengths people will go to when justifying their behavior. Furthermore, these were just some of the arguments actually employed by John Ritenbaugh when defending the practice of God's people dining out in restaurants on the Sabbath.
This now brings us to the questions of the day.
What would the Lord of the Sabbath think of these arguments? Would He be impressed? Or, would He be disappointed? We think the answer should be obvious.
A Final Thought
For the past four years, Blow the Trumpet has attempted to honestly address one of the most significant issues facing God's end-time Church—the way it keeps the Sabbath. Today, our approach to the fourth commandment has changed radically and scarcely resembles what it was just a few decades ago. It is now commonplace for God's people to engage in a variety of Sabbath activities that have nothing whatsoever to do with holy time. These activities include such things as going to movies, participating in sporting events, doing family errands and the most popular one, dining out at restaurants on the Sabbath and holy days. The latter activity is arguably the catalyst for all the others, but even if it stood alone, God's word makes it abundantly clear that it has no place in respectful Sabbath observance.
Despite this truth, many of God's servants defend their endorsement of this practice by using the flimsiest of arguments. Throughout this wing of our web site we have addressed every one of them offered by Mr. John Ritenbaugh, and have exposed them as nothing more than human reasoning disguised as Biblical scholarship. These words may sound severe, but any objective examination of his points, and our response, will make this truth abundantly clear. We challenge all of God's people to honestly compare both sides of this issue and judge them on their own merits. If they would genuinely weigh each point and counter point in the context of scripture, we don't think their verdict would be close.
Contradicting the Kingdom
Whether Mr. Ritenbaugh realizes it or not, his advocacy of dining out on the Sabbath is promoting a practice that contradicts every part of God’s Kingdom—a Kingdom where nothing close to such a sin will exist. When that great government is established on earth, this debate will finally come to an end, and a practice that insults God's law will be rightfully terminated forever.
Furthermore, whether Mr. Ritenbaugh wants to accept it or not, God HATES what takes place in restaurants on His Sabbath and holy days. This time is sacred and there is NOTHING a restaurant can do that will aid His people in honoring it. Those who labor on holy time do so in defiance of God Almighty Himself. To think that He has no qualm with His people patronizing this sacrilege is simply not true. It is borne out of a desire to justify a behavior that trivializes God's law.
This is NOT to suggest that we think John Ritenbaugh doesn't sincerely want to obey his Creator, for indeed he does. It is just that he, like all of us, has gaps in understanding. Tragically, this particular gap comes with enormous consequences. This is why we engage in this fight. Simply put, we at Blow the Trumpet love all of God's servants and desire with all our heart for them to turn from this sin.
Something to Think About
When God first introduced the children of Israel to His Sabbath, He gave them very specific instructions concerning food on this day. In short, God commanded them to not acquire or prepare their Sabbath meals on the seventh day. He indicated that this was done to prove whether they would walk in His law or not (Ex. 16:4-5). Those words should cause all believers today to seriously consider what is being suggested by Mr. Ritenbaugh, whose position promotes going back into spiritual Egypt where God's law is being trampled on by slaves to sin and actually paying them to do so. We realize he would not characterize his position this way, but this is exactly what dining out on the Sabbath requires.
Additionally, God’s Sabbath and holy days represent the blueprint of a plan that was inspired by the greatest Being in existence. The All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Loving and HOLY God wants His people to trust His wisdom regarding this day and how it is to be honored. He is NOT the slightest bit interested in man's wisdom on this issue (Pro. 3:5). Furthermore, He has provided His moral guidance in this area. With that said, His people should reject anything that does not reflect that guidance.
Will You Pass the Test?
The Sabbath is a sign from God directing man toward Him and His Kingdom (Heb. 4:4-9). However, that sign points both ways. While it is a sign to us identifying who the Creator is, it is also a sign to God that identifies who His people are. Through it, the Great Architect of heaven and earth not only sees WHO keeps His Sabbath, He sees the WAY and deference in which it is kept. Our conduct on holy time is a sign to Him. It reveals the degree of our love and dedication to His way. To see it as anything else is a great mistake.
The Sabbath is a sign—a test, if you will. It is God’s indicator of whether we will walk under His authority or not (Ex. 16:4). For any COG group to think that a Holy God can be worshipped by patronizing labor that defies Him, is making a mistake of immense proportions. It is one borne out of arrogance, and those who teach such things are guilty of promoting an act that is just as defiant as the one engaged in by those who labor in restaurants on holy time.
The bottom line is this. The way we honor the Sabbath is our declaration to God of how we will yield to His authority. God said as much when He prohibited His people from acquiring their food on the Sabbath, preparing their food on the Sabbath, and going outside their place (spiritual camp) on the Sabbath (Ex. 16). He likened these instructions to a GREAT TEST. The question is:
Will We Pass It?
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