And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell,

that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day...

Nehemiah 10:31



    Throughout his sermon, Mr. Ritenbaugh continually asserts that his message reflects God's perspective. However, not once does he accept the scriptures as meaning what they say. NOT ONCE! In every one of his examples, this long standing minister resorts to deception, distortion, and misrepresentation when citing God's word. If you doubt our claim consider what he presents as evidence to support his position.

     Mr. Ritenbaugh claims that God's people today don't need to comply with His command to not acquire food on the Sabbath because that command was given to a "closed society." Never mind that the entire law was given to a closed society as well.

     Mr. Ritenbaugh argues that God's command for His people to prepare their Sabbath meals on the sixth day is no longer applicable in our modern world either. He also claims that the prohibition against compelling unbelievers to labor on the Sabbath is irrelevant because they would be working anyway.

Making Up the Rules

     So committed is Mr. Ritenbaugh to defending the practice of dining out on holy time that he actually pronounced the Sabbath to be a modern day pilgrimage feast, much the same as the high days were in ancient times. What he doesn't acknowledge is that God's instructions concerning these annual festivals still prohibited His people from soliciting the labor of unbelievers (Ex. 12:16) as well as prohibited the purchase of ANY food or other wares these Sabbath-breakers may attempt to sell (Neh. 10:31). In essense, this COG leader has manufactured a type of SUPER pilgrimage feast with its own set of special rulesrules made up by John Ritenbaugh.


Note from Blow the Trumpet


     Under Mr. Ritenbaugh's new pilgrimage feast rules food may not only be prepared on the weekly Sabbath, it may actually be purchased from Sabbath-breakers, with the Almighty’s full blessing, no less. And through all of this, he proclaims that he is using God's word to prove his point.

     When presenting this phase of his case, this distinguished COG leader had the audacity to suggest that God had "RELAXED" the rules governing His annual Sabbaths, and because of this, His people today may now relax them even more. As you read his words remember what he is advocating. Mr. Ritenbaugh contends that God's people are free to go back into spiritual Egypt on holy time, seek out unbelievers who profane the Sabbath, and pay them for their Sabbath labor. Why? Because the principle reflected in His pilgrimage feasts teach him this. Sadly it teaches no such thing. Mr. Ritenbaugh begins by quoting Exodus 12, after which he offers his "proof."



Mr. John Ritenbaugh:

Exodus 12:15-16

Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save [except] that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

"Notice this, that even in a closed society God relaxed the rules when the situation changed, as it did during the festivals. They were away from their home areas and were in Jerusalem. So this relaxing of the normal Sabbath restriction allowed them to prepare food on the Sabbath during that different circumstance, something expressly forbidden in a normal home-setting situation."


"Are you beginning to see that when the situation changed, in order to establish a principle by which we could judge whenever the situation radically changed, such as in this church era, He showed us the principle that He is willing to bend and not require of us what He would require of us were we in Israel in Exodus 16. Do you get the point? The principle is shown by which we can use to judge.


Do you understand then, that in this Christian era when only specific ones are called out, we are not in the same situation as Israel was in then, and in addition to that, we are scattered all over the earth? We do not walk three blocks and go to the synagogue, so thus the application of God's law has to be interpreted to our circumstances."


Our Response:

     Here is where we at Blow the Trumpet stopped taking Mr. Ritenbaugh seriously. According to his Biblical wisdom, traveling to Sabbath services in a modern vehicle on paved roads, for as much as a few hours at most, is just like what the ancients did when they gathered their families and traveled for several days, if not weeks, to honor God’s annual festivals. We're just curious: but how many members of Mr. Ritenbaugh's church require residing at a place other than their "normal home setting" on the weekly Sabbath?

     By making no distinction between these very different practices, Mr. Ritenbaugh then claims that the rules that apply to one (holy days) must now apply to the other (the Sabbath). However, he even takes it further than that. Why? Because God's law regarding His annual festivals still prohibits the purchasing of goods and services (Neh. 10:31).


      At this point, it is important for God’s people to understand the specific provision the Lord of the Sabbath made for labor on His Holy days. Notice He says that this labor (preparing food) may only be performed by HIS people (“may be done of you”).  In other words, God’s people may prepare food for God’s people on the High day. It does not say God’s people may go out into the world and contract that labor from non-believers. Notice His exact words.


And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. (Ex. 12:16)


     Despite this clear provision in God’s law, Mr. Ritenbaugh sets up a premise designed to achieve one purpose. His goal is to find a way for the scriptures to allow him to go out into a world that contaminates God's Sabbath and purchase that contamination. This is how he crafts virtually all of his arguments. At every turn he twists the clear meaning of God's law to make it accommodate his SIN.


    To suggest that God would craft His Holy day laws in such a way as to accommodate Mr. Ritenbaugh's behavior is not only arrogant, it is an insult to the scores of true Sabbath–keepers who gave their lives because they rightly honored this day. They never employed "Their Circumstances" as a standard for what is appropriate Sabbath behavior.


    Furthermore, God is perfectly capable of making such provisions Himself. He actually did so with respect to Levitical service. When it comes to seeking out people who desecrate the Sabbath and paying for their sacrilege, God's word needs no help from Mr. Ritenbaugh. It only requires his obedience.



A Special Covenant

      So important is the Sabbath to God that He actually established a separate covenant regarding this day. When doing so the great Creator of all that exists, declared that it was a perpetual covenant. He then laid out its terms--including the one that prohibited labor as well as the consequences for defiance. We at Blow the Trumpet strongly caution Mr. Ritenbaugh to think long and hard about God's words before declaring that he may craft new terms concerning this immensely profound commandment. Here are the words of God's Sabbath covenant.


Exodus 31:12-18

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Speak you also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.
You shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

A Final Thought


     For Mr. Ritenbaugh to manipulate God's word to prove an indefensible point is a perversion of HOLY WRIT. It is the distortion of the very scriptures that declare with great force, that God who created the Sabbath at the very beginning made it holy. That word also declares that work profanes this day. The Almighty’s instructions then and now is that “in it you shall do NO WORK." To suggest that today the Lord of the Sabbath somehow condones what He once condemned is total nonsense. Mr. Ritenbaugh does not have God's word to support his claim. The ALMIGHTY never spoke such a thing. Nor did He empower John Ritenbaugh to refashion His command so that it may be "interpreted to [his] circumstances."


Rehabilitating Evil

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