Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.
Throughout his message in defense of dining out on the Sabbath, Mr. Ritenbaugh worked tirelessly to prove that God didn't really mean what He originally said in the scriptures, or, at the very least He doesn't mean it anymore. At every turn, this COG leader parades out a steady stream of "Yeah buts" and "What ifs?" in an attempt to prove that the Holy One of Israel now accepts his people actively seeking out unbelievers, who profane the Sabbath, and paying them for the fruit of their sin. Why? Because according to John Ritenbaugh, we now live in a society where God's law cannot be administered the way it was when it was originally given on Mt. Sinai. Here is how his point was described on the Church of the Great God's website. These are lofty sounding words, so take your time reading them. However, as you do, ask yourself what is meant by the words "slightly different ramifications."
"The complicated libertine Babylonish system in which we live (in contrast with the closed society of the camp of Israel) has made discernment exceedingly difficult. The application of God's Law may have slightly different ramifications in secular modern Israel, but spiritual principles guide each individual decision, providing a common-sense balance, neutralizing the pharisaical or morbidly exacting extremes."
Although Mr. Ritenbaugh cloaks his point in scholarly words, these "slightly different ramifications" are anything but "slight." Consider what he is advocating. Mind you that this is from a man who claims to worship the Lord of the Sabbath.
"Slight Ramification" Chart
Mr. Ritenbaugh continued:
"Regarding the Sabbath and the worship of God, everybody was doing the same thing, and when the Sabbath arrived, theoretically, brethren, nothing moved, because every Israelite and the strangers in Israel was already a "called-out" one. There should have been nothing working in Israel—no restaurants, no policemen, no electricity, no, no, no! Do you get the point? That same situation does not fit us today."
The argument Mr. Ritenbaugh is trying to sell is that because we live in a different society, God now permits His people to be partakers of the very sin He once prohibited. It is interesting that the apostle Paul lived in a society infested with unbelievers as well. However, he drew a much different conclusion. This faithful servant admonished the church at Ephesus to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness..." (Eph. 5:11). Mr. Ritenbaugh on the other hand, teaches that we may now go out into that darkness, with God's blessing, no less.
Furthermore, God's servant Nehemiah also lived at a time when Sabbath breakers were a part of life in Jerusalem. And although he drove them out, he acknowledged that they still posed a real threat to God's people. His remedy was radically different than that offered by John Ritenbaugh. Notice his exhortation.
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... (Neh.10:31)
What Mr. Ritenbaugh somehow fails to realize is that the restaurant that serves his Sabbath meals, does so because it is part of a culture that is totally antithetical to God's way. Furthermore, because of this fact, God didn't decide to capitulate with it.On the contrary, He demanded that His people COME OUT OF IT!
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Rev. 18:4)
The point we need to draw from this is that just because God's people are "IN" the world does NOT mean they are "OF" the world. The authors of A Sabbath Test understand this fact in a way that Mt. Ritenbaugh refuses to see. Here is how they put it.
A Sabbath Test
The scriptures reveal that just as the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt until God miraculously delivered them, those whom He has called in this present age were also once enslaved in spiritual Egypt. God’s people today were once in bondage. We once believed the things the world believed, taught the things the world taught, and practiced the things the world practiced. We even profaned God’s Sabbath and holy days. We did so because we did not know better.
However, our calling reveals that a Great Deliverer has again rescued His people from a world that does not know Him or His way. For this reason, God’s people today should never compel the unbeliever to work on their behalf on the Sabbath. They must refrain from this practice because they were miraculously delivered from this very practice themselves.
With this in mind, God’s people must understand that the Great Deliverer would no more permit His people today to return to this world and its sin than He would permit the Israelites of yesterday to return to Egypt and their sin. As much as some may want to go back to Egypt, God forbids it...
When God commanded His people to cease from working on the Sabbath and to not compel others to work on their behalf, He was making a powerful statement. He was commanding His people to COME OUT OF EGYPT, to COME OUT OF BABYLON! In other words, God’s people are not to be a part of the very sin that once gripped their lives. (A Sabbath Test pp 12-13)
A Final Thought
Today the physical descendents of Israel have forgotten the true God and have forsaken His law. They have trampled all over His Sabbath and holy days. Tragically, Mr. Ritenbaugh has adopted the attitude of "When in Rome, do as the Romans."
Down through the ages God's people have paid, with their own blood, the price of honoring the fourth commandment. We doubt that these champions of faith ever once thought that because they couldn't compel unbelievers to obey the Almighty, they were now free to go back into spiritual Egypt and mingle with them for an hour or two on holy time
Sadly, in an attempt to preserve his own blindness, John Ritenbaugh refuses to see the clear injunction in God's word. Here is what the Almighty does say with respect to His Sabbath and how His people are to honor this day.
Six days you shall 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, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor the stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.
And remember that you were once a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day. (Deut 5:13-15)
The real tragedy here is that Mr. Ritenbaugh does not appear to truly appreciate the fact that he was once a slave in spiritual Egypt. If he did, he would NEVER teach that God's people may avail themselves of the same bondage they were once in.
The Pilgrimage Sabbath
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