NEW LIGHT FOR ADVENTISTS
The one God sent as a special messenger to the end-time remnant said repeatedly that God had not given all truth to those living in her generation. She said that God had more truth--new light--to share with His people as circumstances made it necessary and as His people opened their hearts to the Holy Spirit.
In the last twenty years I have received many compilations, with page after page about new light coming and the necessity of studying new ideas carefully.
Some Adventists have taken these statements very seriously and have come up with ideas new to Adventism. These individuals are not those who have borrowed old error from from the churches of Babylon and are trying to persuade us that the gospel which allows us to live with some degree of inevitable sin in our lives is acceptable with God and is the everlasting gospel of the apostles and reformers. They are not those who are trying to persuade us that our church standards are just Victorian traditions that must be discarded if we want to be relevant and have growing churches. These are very faithful Adventists, holding to the absolute authority of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. They believe fully in our landmark doctrines. They are living up to all the light they have, and are faithful in lifestyle to the high standards revealed to the end-time remnant.
There is only one thing wrong with Adventism. We have overstayed our appointed time by one hundred years, and thus we are coming up with a number of reasons why we are not in heaven. Some teach that we have been in error on crucial issues, and only when they are corrected do we have any hope of going home.
There is one inspired statement that I have never seen in the aforementioned compilations. "From that which the Lord has been pleased to show me there will arise just such ones all along and many more of them claiming to have new light, which is a side issue, an entering wedge. The widening will increase until there is a breach made between those who accept these views and those who believe the third angel's message. Just as soon as these new ideas are accepted, then there will be drawing away from those whom God has used in the work, for the minds begin to doubt and withdraw from the leaders because God has laid them aside and chosen more humble men to do His work. This is the only interpretation they can give to this matter, as the leaders do not see this important light." (Arthur White, The Ellen G. White Biography, vol. 3, p. 259)
Notice that the acceptance of this "new light" leads to drawing apart from the body of believers in small enclaves of those who have been enlightened. It leads to a loss of fellowship and trust with those who previously have been friends and counselors.
In this paper I will examine four areas of "new light." They seem to be closely related, because the acceptance of one generally leads to the acceptance of other areas. This will not be an exhaustive analysis of all the texts and reasons raised, but it will be enough to make informed decisions about the merits of the issues capturing the loyalty of many faithful Adventists, whose only motive is preparing to meet Jesus in spotless robes.
The Sacred Name
This teaching says that the names for God and Jesus have been deliberately altered by satanic influences, so that we unknowingly worship pagan gods by using pagan names.
The only proper names are Yahweh, Yah, Yeshua, Yashua, or some variation of these names. It is true that YHWH is the personal name of the Creator. No heathen god is known by that name.
Now all error is associated with truth and is based on truth, or it would have no credible foundation. The truth is that YHWH is the personal name of God. He is the self-existing One. No other being possesses self-existence. This is the essential difference between the Creator and the creature. Thus it is perfectly proper to use this name today.
The error here is that YHWH is the only name we can use for God. All other names are pagan and blasphemous. Only those who use this name only can be sealed.
We will examine ten issues relating to this belief.
1. One who believes this theory says, "It
is true that there is no direct command as such to transliterate the holy
name sound for sound, into other languages of the world." Now we do
have commands from God to keep the
Sabbath, to tithe, to observe communion, to turn the other cheek, to not take God's name in vain, etc. Why then do we have no command from God to use the name YHWH if it is a life and death issue?
2. Early church fathers like Clement of Alexandria knew about the name YHWH, and they wrote it in Greek as IAOUE. The Bible writers of the New Testament could have used this transliteration (sound for sound), but they never used it once. They always translated (meaning for meaning) YHWH as theos (God), or kurios (Lord). It is true that the New Testament writers did try to tranliterate Yeshua into Greek, and it came out Iesous, which is the name they used consistently to refer to the Saviour.
3. In Matthew 27:46 Jesus on the cross cried
out, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani." Eli is the Aramaic word for
the Hebrew El. It is translated in this verse by theos (God). It
is true that both El and theos can refer to the true God or to heathen
gods. It is very significant that Jesus used El, the generic name for God
in the Old
Testament, in crying out the YHWH on the cross, and that Matthew translated this name as theos (God).
In Exodus 6:2,3 God identifies Himself to
Moses with these words, "I am the Lord: and I appeared unto
Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them." God actually says in these verses, "I am YHWH, and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by El Shaddai, but by my name YHWH was I not known unto them." It is significant that the patriarchs knew Him as El, not YHWH. YHWH became the covenant name between Israel and God through Moses. Now YHWH had been used from the time of Adam, but it was not the most important name until Moses.
4. One who believes the Sacred Name theory says, "The sacred name...will be used as a mark to distinguish the true believers...from the false at the end of this age. The controversy in the last days will be over His name and the name of the beast." "The controversy during the days of Elijah was over the correct name; it will be so again." "Can I be sealed in my forehead with His holy name YHWH and at the same time never call on Him in prayer or sing praises to Him by that name that seals and protects?" "It will be just as fatal to continue to use the wrong name as to continue to use the wrong day."
This is where truth turns into error. Nowhere in inspiration is the final controversy over the name of God. It is always about the worship of God, as seen in Revelation 14:7,9,11. "Fear God...and worship him." "If any man worship the beast." "Who worship the beast and his image." It is the same issue with Elijah, in 1 Kings 18:21,37. "If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." "That this people may know that thou art the Lord God." In Acts 4:12 we are told that "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The name referred to in this verse is "Jesus Christ of Nazareth," according to verse 10.
5. To establish the Sacred Name theory, some unprovable assumptions must be made. It is asserted that the New Testament was written in Aramaic, and later translated into Greek by corrupt translators, who substituted the pagan names God, Lord, Jesus, and Christ so that Christians would be worshipping pagan gods. There is absolutely no evidence that the New Testament was written in Aramaic. There is no hint of this in the earliest church fathers, who lived less than one hundred years from the writing of the New Testament. The only book that is even speculated about as being written in Aramaic is Matthew. Paul is writing to Jewish-Gentile churches in the Gentile world who would never have understood Aramaic. Luke was a Gentile physician who probably never spoke one word in Aramaic. In Luke 1:3 Luke says that he is writing this book to Theophilus, which is a Greek name. The corrupt Christian translators theory has simply no basis in fact. If it were true, then how much more of the New Testament did they corrupt, and how can we know which parts are uncorrupted? This is a wild theory which is necessary to support an erroneous theory about the name of God.
Acts 26:14 and 22:2 show us how unusual it was to use Hebrew in the New Testament. "I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue." "They heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them." In spite of this special mention of the Hebrew language, the words spoken in Hebrew are still translated into Greek words by Luke so the readers would understand them.
It is claimed that Jesus, Elias, Jeremias, Esaias, and Ezekias in Greek are all forms of the Greek god Zeus. There is no linguistic evidence of this at all, only a resemblance of sounds. Jesus does not mean "Zeus is Saviour." One who believes the Sacred Name theory says, "Every time we use the pagan translated name Jesus we are blaspheming that name." He translates 1 Kings 18:21
"If Yah be the mighty one, follow Him,
but if Jesus
Christ, then follow Him." He is thus making the name Jesus equivalent to Baal.
6. Exodus 33:19 and 34:5-7 are classic references to the name of YHWH. "I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious...and will show mercy." "The Lord...proclaimed the name of the Lord...merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy,...forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." The name of Yahweh is about His character. The emphasis is on what Yahweh means and who He is.
The claim is name that there is only one name, YHWH, while all the others are titles and are not to be substituted for His name. But we find a different claim in inspiration. "He whose name is called 'The mighty One, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace." (DA 363) "In order to strengthen our confidence in God, Christ teaches us to address Him by a new name....He gives us the privilege of calling the infinite God our Father. This name, spoken to Him and of Him...is as music in His ears." (COL 41) In Present Truth, Aug. 1, 1849 an angel explained to Ellen White what she had just seen in a vision and the angel used the names God and Jesus several times. "His name, Christ Jesus, is to be our watchword." (IHP 349) In Revelation 3:12 Christ refers to "the name of my God" and "my new name." "The name of God, the great Jehovah. Angels mention that sacred name with the greatest awe....The name of Christ is so sacred to them that they speak it with the greatest reverence." (1T 410) (All emphasis supplied)
7. When Hebrew scholars translated the Old Testament into Greek in the second century B.C., they saw no problem in translating YHWH with theos, just as the inspired writers of the New Testament did two centuries later. This Greek translation was the Bible of the Jews outside Palestine, and was used by Paul in writing his epistles.
8. Ellen White consistently uses the Biblical names for God. The CD-Rom lists 1958 places where she used the name Jehovah, but not one using the name Yahweh. It has been suggested that in her day no version of the Bible was available that used the name Yahweh, so she had no way of knowing that Jehovah was a false name. If it really were a life and death issue, especially if Jesus wanted to come in her lifetime, might not the Holy Spirit or an angel have enlightened her? Who told her that tobacco was a poison, that meat contained cancerous germs, and that milk and eggs would become unusable? Is God unable to correct a serious error involving our salvation?
In PP 307 she said that the fourth commandment was the only one with the name and title of the Lawgiver, and it contains the seal of God. Wouldn't this be the perfect place to explain the truth about the real name of God by which we will be sealed? Nowhere in the Spirit of Prophecy is there a hint that the name of God is the real issue at the end of time. The controversy is always about obedience to the law and the Sabbath.
9. The Sacred Name theory must reword the
Bible, substituting Yahweh and Yeshua for every instance of the other names
that are used. This is essentially rewriting the Bible, and the same must
be done with the
Spirit of Prophecy, rewriting what the Holy Spirit inspired to prove a personal theory. How is this different than what higher criticism has done to the Bible?
10. One who believes the Sacred Name theory says, "Our attitude regarding this solemn issue will determine whether we are saved or lost." "The Christian pastor...who knowingly continues to perpetuate this unscriptural Jewish tradition will be held accountable in the judgment." "Do you think it will be safe for you to continue fellowshipping with those who call not upon the name of Yahweh?"
Perhaps it would be well for us to remember the inspired statement quoted in the introduction to this study. "The widening will increase until there is a breach made between those who accept these views and those who believe the third angel's message. Just as soon as these new ideas are accepted, then there will be drawing away from those whom God has used in the work, for the minds begin to doubt and withdraw from the leaders because God has laid them aside." (Arthur White, The Ellen G. White Biography, vol. 3, p. 259)
The contemporary anti-Trinity movement teaches that there is no third Person of the Godhead. They believe that the Holy Spirit is a force or energy of holy influence from the Father and the Son. One representative of this movement says, "The Bible teaches that there are only two who are worthy of worship."
A corollary of this teaching is that Jesus is literally the Son of the Father, having a beginning in time when the Father brought Him into existence. One has stated, "The Father and Son are both divine but not absolutely equal." They believe that only in this way could Christ die, since the Father is immortal and cannot die. In support of this teaching, they point to some Adventist pioneers who clearly taught this, from the 1840's to the 1890's.
As with all errors, there is a truth at the foundation of this teaching. After the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. the papal party took the title of Trinitarians. They said that the Godhead consists of three personalities and one essence or substance, using very philosophical and metaphysical terms.
Following is a sample of Catholic instruction for confirmation. "The Son proceeds from the Father by an act of the intellect and this is termed 'Eternal Generation,' by which we mean not only that there never was a time when the Father existed without generating the Son, but also that the act of Generation is a continuous act." The manual teaches that there could be no separation between the Father and the Son on earth, since this would interrupt the act of generation. Thus the Son would not exist, which would mean that the Father would not exist. Since they are of one essence, neither the Father nor the Son could exist separately from the other. (Alfred Mortimer, Catholic Faith and Practice) Is there any wonder that the pioneers rejected this doctrine of the Trinity? J. N. Andrews said, "This doctrine destroys the personality of God, and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (Review and Herald, March 6, 1855)
If we want to defend the truth that there are three persons with the family name of God, it might be better to use the Biblical name Godhead, as Ellen White consistently did.
Matthew 28:19 tells us to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." "Name" is singular here, and all three that follow are on the same level, with one name. The definite article is used for all three beings. The Three are God and yet they are one God.
In John 14:16 Jesus promises to send "another Comforter." The word "another" means of the same kind as Christ, with equal rank.
In 2 Corinthians 13:14, we read of "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost." These are three gifts from three individual beings.
1 Peter 1:2 tells of "the foreknowledge of God the Father,...sanctification of the Spirit,...and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Here we find three functions of three individual beings.
The Spirit of Prophecy has many references to the three beings. "Three great powers of heaven." (8T 254) "There are three living persons of the heavenly trio." (Ev 615) "The eternal heavenly dignitaries--God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit." (Ev 616) "The three highest powers in heaven--the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." (Ev 617)
There are indications in Scripture that the Holy Spirit possesses personality traits that only a individual Being could have.
In Ephesians 4:30 He can be grieved. In 1 Corinthians 12:11 He divides "to every man severally as he will." In Acts 16:6,7 He forbids Paul to preach in Asia and Bithynia. In Acts 15:28 "it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us" to hand down a vital decision. Notice that the Holy Spirit has a personality similar to the personality of the apostles. In Acts 5:3,4 Ananias lied "to the Holy Ghost," which is lying "unto God."
"The Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds." "The Holy Spirit is a person." "The Holy Spirit has a personality." (Ev 616-617)
However, we must exercise caution here.
Spirit's purpose is to reveal the Father and the Son, not Himself, so we know very little about Him from inspiration.
Brethren should not feel that it is a virtue to stand apart because they do not see all minor points in exactly the same light. If on fundamental truths they are at an agreement, they should not differ and dispute about matters of little real importance. To dwell on perplexing questions that, after all, are of no vital importance, has a direct tendency to call the mind away from truths which are vital to the saving of the soul. Brethren should be very modest in urging these side issues which often they do not themselves understand, points that they do not know to be truth and that it is not essential to their salvation to know....Where these differences exist among us, those who stand outside will say, "It will be time enough for us to believe as you do when you can agree among yourselves as to what constitutes truth. "The ungodly take advantage of the divisions and controversies among Christians...
Some are ever seeking to be original, to bring out something new and startling, and they do not realize as they should the importance of preserving the unity of the faith in the bonds of love....We are to pray for divine enlightenment, but at the same time we should be careful how we receive everything termed new light. We must beware lest, under cover of searching for new truth, Satan shall divert out minds from Christ and the special truths for this time. I have been shown that it is the device of the enemy to lead minds to dwell upon some obscure or unimportant point, something that is not fully revealed or is not essential to our salvation. This is made the absorbing theme, the "present truth," when all their investigations and suppositions only serve to make matters more obscure than before, and to confuse the minds of some who ought to be seeking for oneness through sanctification of the truth....
[What is one of these side issues, not essential to salvation?] The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery not clearly revealed, and you will never be able to explain it to others because the Lord has not revealed it to you. You may gather together scriptures and put your construction upon them, but the application is not correct....It is not essential for you to know and be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is....There are many mysteries which I do not seek to understand or to explain; they are too high for me, and too high for you. On some of these points, silence is golden...
Your mind is restless, and...you would make the mistake that many others have made, of thinking that you have new light, when it is only a new phase of error....You make take certain views of Scripture and, searching the Bible in the light of your ideas, may gather together a large number of texts and claim that they mean this and that, and call for anyone to prove to you that your views are incorrect....Here is your danger, of diverting minds from the real issues for this time....Now, my brother, it is truth that we want and must have, but do not introduce error as new truth. (14MR 175-180)
I believe that this counsel applies to all the "new light" issues that we are considering in this paper.
What is the evidence that Jesus did not have a beginning at some point in time or before time?
In John 1:1-4 we find that Jesus was not only "with God," He "was God." He was not a God, but He was the Creator of everything. The life-principle was in Him, and He did not receive life from anyone.
In John 8:58 Jesus claimed the name "I am" as His own. Exodus 3:14 tells us that God's chosen name is "I am." "The name of God, given to Moses to express the idea of the eternal presence, had been claimed as His own....He had announced Himself to be the self-existent one,...whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity." (DA 469-470)
"All through the pages of sacred history, where the dealings of God with His chosen people are recorded, there are burning traces of the great I AM....All the communion between heaven and the fallen race has been through Christ....Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last." (GAG 43) Whatever we read about Yahweh in the Old Testament we are reading about Christ. In Isaiah 40:28 Yahweh is "the everlasting God," "the Creator of the ends of the earth."
"In Christ is life, original, unborrowed,
underived." (DA 530) "Christ is the pre-existent, self-existent
Son of God....He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in
close fellowship with the eternal God....He is the eternal, self-existent
Son." (Ev 615) "From all eternity Christ was united with the Father."
(5BC 1115) "Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He
was with God from all eternity." (RH
April 5, 1906)
PP 63-64 tells us that only one equal with God could make the atonement; that only the Creator could redeem man. If Christ had received life from the Father at some point in eternity; if His life was borrowed or derived from the Father; if He was dependent on the Father for His existence; if the Father appointed Him to the Godhead, then Christ was not self-existent; He was not God in the highest sense; He is not eternal; and He could not make atonement for the fallen race and redeem mankind.
The phrase "only-begotten" is a faulty translation. Hebrews 11:17 tells us that Isaac was Abraham's "only begotten son." Clearly this means uniquely begotten, one-of-a-kind, unique. Acts 13:33 tells us that Christ was "begotten" from the dead.
It is of passing interest that Mary of Agreda, a visionary Catholic nun in the 1600's, said that the Word was conceived by eternal generation from the Father. In other words, Christ was born before time existed. (The Venerable Mary of Agreda) Perhaps the belief that Christ had a beginning and was given life from the Father is really a Catholic position.
Nature and Function
Here is a suggestion for keeping this issue in balance and resolving some apparent contradictions. The nature of the Godhead is not a central theme in Scripture. Where it is discussed it reveals three equal beings, all existing from eternity, one in purpose and mind in ways impossible for created beings.
The central issue in Scripture is the function of the Godhead. This is always described in descending rank from the Father to the Son to the Spirit. This is the way the Godhead wants all created beings to approach them. The Father is the ultimate authority; the Son is the visible representative to created beings; the Spirit is the invisible presence with all created beings.
The Father even had to explain to angels the difference between Christ and Lucifer, since both had similar functions. If this could be misunderstood in heaven, it is easy to see why we have problems understanding the Godhead.
Christ always directs attention to the Father. He takes a secondary role. The Spirit always directs attention to the Father and the Son. He is almost invisible most of the time.
The members of the Godhead are equal in nature and attributes, but are unequal in function and rank as they relate to created beings.
The Godhead has chosen to reveal itself gradually to the human race. This was apparently not one of the crucial issues for the redemption of mankind.
In the Old Testament Yahweh was the personal name for God. The name was interchangeable for the Father and the Son. The Spirit was unknown. There were indications of plurality in the Godhead, but the emphasis was on one God--Yahweh.
In the New Testament Christ was revealed as the Word of God, the Son of God. The Holy Spirit was revealed as the Comforter, the Advocate. The emphasis was on three Beings in one Godhead, descending in rank and function from the Father to the Son to the Spirit.
Early Adventists were concerned with the sanctuary and the 2300 days, the Bible over tradition, the seventh-day Sabbath, and there was not much study or revelation about the Trinity.
The Trinity in the early 1800's was a mixture of Bible, medieval philosophy, and early church councils. The Christian Connection, a Protestant organization, concluded that the Trinity was Catholic and unscriptural. Joseph Bates and James White were associated with the Christian Connection. Because the Trinity doctrine apparently made the Father and the Son identical, it was rejected by our pioneers.
God was apparently satisfied to leave things this way until the 1890's, the time when the final generation was to be formed.
Ellen White was in Australia, when W.W. Prescott visited there. He developed a new style of evangelism based on righteousness by faith and the character of God (the 1888 message). He spent time working with Ellen White, and he began to question the pioneeer's teaching on the deity of Christ and the Godhead. A.G.Daniells supported his new direction. At the same time Ellen White was putting Desire of Ages together, in which she differed sharply with the pioneers on the preexistence of Christ.
M.L. Andreasen had just become an Adventist four years earlier. He said later that some leaders doubted that Ellen White had really written "original, unborrowed, underived." In 1902 he made a special trip to California to investigate this for himself, and he found these statements in her own handwriting. Because of her influence and the new studies on the Godhead, Adventist theology on the Godhead took a different direction from some of the pioneers.
Why did this happen so late in Adventist history? Apparently God had an order of priority for introducing truth to the new church. He introduced publishing work in the 1840's, church organization in the 1850's, health reform in the 1860's, and righteousness by faith in the 1880's. God paced the introduction of new truth to preserve the unity of the church. Knowing the character of God was a higher priority than knowing the nature of God.
Now some are advocating a return to the pioneer's anti-Trinity position. The most dangerous aspect of this is the question raised by its chief advocate. Did Ellen White really write all that has been published under her name? Whenever we find something in her writings which contradicts our beliefs we find some acceptable reason to set her aside. This is the heart of higher criticism. It makes her writings of none effect, since our beliefs take priority over inspiration. This is the essence of the churches of Babylon. One person commented, "Ellen G. White was inspired by God in almost all her writings, but either she or someone messed with her writings." In this case everyone is free to pick and choose whatever agrees his or her opinions.
Perhaps even conservative Adventists will have to decide between the authority of God and the authority of men.
Dual Application of Prophecy
Time has tarried over one hundred years beyond the time when the Lord clearly wanted to take His people home, which was during the lifetime of those who had personally experienced the revivals of the 1840's. They knew well the foundations and landmarks of Adventism. But now they are all gone, including the prophetic voice, and we are constantly looking for some reasons for such a painful and embarrassing delay.
Since the foundation of this movement was found in the books of Daniel and Revelation, we have gone back to those books to find some explanation for the delay. Some believe that we have been using a wrong method of interpreting those books; that a better method will enable us to prepare the way for Christ's return.
One writer suggests that we must "know the time," by which he does not mean the date of Christ's coming, but the series of events leading up to His coming. He believes that COL 127 ("In every age there is a new development of truth") refers to special light for God's people as they near the closing scenes of earth's history.
It has become popular to advocate a dual application of prophecy in Daniel and Revelation, since Matthew 24 gives a clear example of dual fulfillment relating to Jerusalem and the end of the world. The suggestion is made that the day=year principle applied up to 1844, but the day=day principle applies after 1844. Since the historical approach has failed to produce the latter rain revival, we need a new method of interpreting the prophecies.
Once again truth is at the bottom of these attempts to reinterpret prophecy. History will be repeated at the end of time. The events of the Middle Ages which took centuries to develop will be compressed into a short period at the end of time. Also, there are some chapters in Daniel and Revelation which have not received much inspired illumination through the Spirit of Prophecy. We have done our best to understand the seals and trumpets without much inspired help, and perhaps we have not plumbed the depths of their fulfillment.
My concern is with those prophecies of Daniel and Revelation which have had clear fulfillments in history, but are now being given a second, more important, application in the future, reapplying the day=year prophecies to a day=day time in the future.
Daniel 2:36 says that "we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king." In Daniel 7:16 one who stood by "made me know the interpretation of the things," and in verse 28 is the comment, "Hitherto is the end of the matter." In Daniel 8:16 is the command, "Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision." In Daniel 9:23 Daniel is told to "understand the matter." In these chapters God gave both the vision and the interpretation to Daniel, so that there would be no misunderstanding. Nowhere in Daniel or Revelation is there a hint that this was only a preliminary fulfillment, with the real fulfillment to come in our time. Nowhere in the many visions given to Ellen White did she suggest a dual fulfillment. She says nothing about Iraq, Iran, the United States, or Russia as the real fulfillments of Daniel's beasts.
While there are a few dual fulfillments in the classic prophecies (Joel, Isaiah, Matthew, etc.), there are no such indications in the apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. It is an important principle that dual fulfillment needs later inspired corroboration for us to be sure.
It is important to note that the loud cry could have begun after 1888 if the message of Christ's righteousness had been accepted. Ellen White says nothing about needing or accepting a new method or interpreting Daniel and Revelation. She has many endorsements of Uriah Smith's book, saying that it contained light and truth. This does not mean that every detail is correct, but it does mean that a sound method was used. The fact that history will be repeated does not mean that prophecy will be repeated.
The time prophecies most often applied to the future are the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days. It is claimed that Revelation 13:3,5 proves that the 1260 days must start after the deadly wound is healed, since the wound is healed in verse 3 and the beast has power for 42 months after that. This is based on the false assumption that Revelation 13 is in chronological order. In verse 11, the second beast arises after the deadly wound is healed and after the 42 months. In this case, the second beast could not be the United States, which is a contradiction of very clear Spirit of Prophecy statements.
Ellen White's position is clear. "Our position has been one of waiting and watching, with no time-proclamation to intervene between the close of the prophetic periods in 1844 and the time of our Lord's coming." (10MR 269-270) All the prophetic periods closed in 1844, with no more time-proclamation between 1844 and Christ's coming.
One Adventist futurist commented, "The historical approach has served us well in the past, but like the horse and buggy, no longer fits our needs....It is, like the horse and buggy, no longer relevant." This means that Uriah Smith's book, which Ellen White told young men to do all they could to sell it, and which she said should be studied carefully by the students in our schools, is no longer relevant when compared with our superior wisdom.
There has been much discussion of the 1290 and 1335 days in Daniel 12. Ellen White made an enigmatic statement to an individual in 1850. "We told him of some of his errors in the past, that the 1335 days were ended, and numerous errors of his." (5MR 203) Did she mean that one of his errors was that the 1335 days had ended, or did she tell him that the 1335 days had ended? The key to unlocking this grammatical question is her statement that "we," meaning James and Ellen, told him. What did James believe on this subject? "Evidences are conclusive that the 1335 days ended with the 2300, with the Midnight Cry of 1844." (RH Jan 29, 1857) There is no way that James would have said that it was error to believe that the 1335 days had ended.
In Daniel 12 the key words in the chapter are "daily, taken away, abomination, desolate, set up." In Daniel 11:31 the same key words occur. "Take away, daily, place (same as set up), abomination, desolate." Daniel 11:32-35 describes the papal reign of 538-1798. Thus the linguistic evidence is that the 1290 days of Daniel 12 describes the same time period as in Daniel 11:31-35. The 1260 and 1290 days tell us that God's truth will be overcome by the papacy for a time. The 1335 and 2300 days tell us when the abomination of desolation will begin to be reversed.
"The people will not have another message upon definite time. After this period of time, reaching from 1842-1844, there can be no definite tracing of the prophetic time. The longest reckoning reaches to the autumn of 1844." (7BC 971) Here "prophetic time" does not mean just year-for-day time, but "definite time," with starting and ending points. There is to be no time-reckoning after 1844.
In 1896, Ellen White wrote two messages to John Bell, which are very instructive for us today.
I have not been able to sleep until half past one o'clock. I was bearing to Brother John Bell a message which the Lord had given me for him. The peculiar views he holds are a mixture of truth and error....There have been one and another who in studying their Bibles thought they discovered great light, and new theories, but these have not been correct....Some will take the truth applicable to their time, and place it in the future. Events in the train of prophecy that had their fulfillment away in the past are made future....
[John Bell was placing the real fulfillment of the three angels' messages in the future.] From the light that the Lord has been pleased to give me, you are in danger of doing the same work, presenting before others truths which have had their place and done their specific work for the time, in the history of the faith of the people of God. You recognize these facts in Bible history as true, but apply them to the future. They have their force still in their proper place, in the chain of events that have made us as a people what we are today, and as such they are to be presented to those who are in the darkness of error....
You and other of our brethren must accept the truth as God has given it to His students of prophecy.... From their voices and pens the truth in bright, warm rays has gone to all parts of the world, and that which was to them testing truth,...is testing truth to all to whom this message is proclaimed....But those who have set themselves to study out new theories, have a mixture of truth and error combined....According to the light God has given me, you are on the same track. That which appears to you to be a chain of truth is, in some lines, misplacing the prophecies and counterworking that which God has revealed as truth...."There should be time no longer." Revelation 10:6. This message announces the end of the prophetic periods....The Lord will not lead minds now to set aside the truth that the Holy Spirit has moved upon His servants in the past to proclaim.
The result of this testimony was described by A.G. Daniels. "John has taken a splendid position on the testimony concerning his book. He has set aside his erroneous views altogether, and stands in the best position I have known him at all." (Arthur White, The Australian Years, p. 274-275) How encouraging it would be if present-day futurists would accept the same counsel.
We have seen some results of modern attempts to reinterpret Daniel and Revelation. There is much speculation. Hardly any two interpreters agree about the meaning of symbols. The focus is on events and dates and popes rather than heart-searching and receiving the latter rain. There is a subtle form of time-setting for Christ's return. (If the time-clocks begin with the Sunday laws and end at the special resurrection, which is shortly before the second coming, then at the Sunday law we will know the approximate time of Christ's return.)
Perhaps we need to go back to the historical method of interpreting prophecy which served our pioneers so well.
Over the past decade, I have been receiving a large number of papers, open letters, and booklets on one theme--the necessity of observing the national festivals or feasts given to the Hebrews, along with the sabbath days connected with those feasts. Within the last three years this movement has been gathering momentum among those seriously preparing for final events.
Much has been written and spoken on this subject, and it will be impossible to cover everything in a short paper. There is a fair amount of technical material, based on language usage and historical practices. In this paper I will address the major issues, so that informed decisions can be made.
As in our previous subjects, there is truth at the basis of the claims for the feast days. God gave Israel a marvelous sequence of observances throughout the year to teach major lessons about the plan of salvation, especially about how God was handling the great controversy. Every year Israel was to repeat these lessons, so that every new generation would understand the issues in the great controversy, and the torch of truth would be passed on. It was an outstanding teaching tool for God's people. But because of apostasy in the Christian church and an animosity to everything Jewish, these observances were completely forgotten, and were replaced with Christmas, Easter, and even Halloween. If Christians would have remembered the Hebrew feasts, it would have been easy for them to understand the dual aspects of the atonement, the reasons for a final judgment, and Christ's new work since 1844. If Seventh-day Adventists would have studied the feasts more carefully, we would not be in such confusion today about righteousness by faith, the judgment, and the purpose of the last generation. The feasts were and are a tremendous teaching tool for God's people, and they can be very useful today.
But make no mistake, those promoting the feasts today are saying much more than this, and it is these new claims that I am addressing here. Following are some comments on the feasts. "Those who go through the end, and are translated, will be teaching the statutes and judgments." "The law is the the Ten Commandments and the statutes....It is also the fundamental teaching which the 144,000 must embrace if they are to give the loud cry." "The antediluvians were destroyed for not keeping the statutes and this will be the ultimate factor which brings the end destruction upon mankind." "The 144,000 will teach the statutes in the last days....The statute message is...the very heart of the message carried in the loud cry to the world."
Since the feasts are part of the statutes, we are being told that only feast-keepers will be translated; that keeping the feasts are necessary to be part of the 144,000; that the feast days are the heart of the final message to the world. This is much more than a teaching tool. It has become the final test issue by which the 144,000 will receive the seal of God.
We will examine twelve issues relating to the feasts and statutes of the Old Testament period.
1. The claim is made that the feasts were part of the heavenly sanctuary before Lucifer fell, and that they were part of the creation of this earth before sin. This claim is based on the Hebrew word mo'ed. This word can have a number of meanings, such as "appointment, festival, assembly, congregation, appointed time." It is completely improper to assume that wherever mo'ed is used, it refers to the feasts. The meaning varies according to the context and the subject discussed.
The claim is made that since the plan of redemption was laid at the foundation of the world, and the feasts are an unfolding of the plan of redemption, therefore the feasts were established at creation. This is an interesting logical deduction, but there is one problem. There is no inspired evidence that the feasts existed before Sinai. The word mo'ed cannot be used to prove their existence. The Passover began with the tenth plague in Egypt and its purpose was to commemorate their deliverance from slavery. The Day of Atonement began with the yearly cycle connected with the tabernacle and the high priest. The Feast of Tabernacles pointed to their rest in Canaan after their enemies were destroyed. All the feasts were connected with the Hebrew chosen people after Sinai, and there is no evidence of their existence before Moses.
2. Many statements are quoted from Ellen White to prove feast-keeping. "In these last days there is a call from heaven inviting you to keep the statutes and ordinances of the Lord." (2ST 184) "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes." (5RH 83) The most famous statement is found in the Review and Herald, May 6, 1875.
In consequence of continual transgression, the moral law was repeated in awful grandeur from Sinai. Christ gave to Moses religious precepts which were to govern the everyday life. These statutes were explicitly given to guard the Ten Commandments. They were not shadowy types to pass away with the death of Christ. They were to be binding upon men in every age as long as time should last. These commands were enforced by the power of the moral law, and they clearly and definitely explained that law....[Please note that the moral law was repeated from Sinai, and the statutes were given to Moses at that time]
The statutes and judgments specifying the duty of man to his fellow men, were full of important instruction, defining and simplifying the principles of the moral law, for the purpose of increasing religious knowledge, and of preserving God's chosen people distinct and separate from idolatrous nations. The statutes concerning marriage, inheritance, and strict justice in dealing with one another, were peculiar and contrary to the customs and manners of other nations, and were designed of God to keep His people separate from other nations. The necessity of this to preserve the people of God from becoming like the nations who had not the love and fear of God, is the same in this corrupt age, when the transgression of God's law prevails and idolatry exists to a fearful extent. If ancient Israel needed such security, we need it more, to keep us from being utterly confounded with the transgressors of God's law. The hearts of men are so prone to depart from God that there is a necessity for restraint and discipline.
In the complete article from which this excerpt is taken, Ellen White introduces the moral law in the first two paragraphs. Next she introduces the ceremonial law and points out that it is distinct from the moral law. Then she describes a third category of laws--the statutes and judgments. She tells us that they are not part of the moral law nor part of the ceremonial law. They have an explaining, applying, and enforcing relationship to the moral law. They were to govern the everyday life. They were for the purpose of protecting life. They specify the duty of man to God and to his fellowman. They define and simplify the principles of the moral law. They applied to marriage, inheritances, and justice in business affairs. They were to keep the people from following the customs of other nations. They were to be binding upon all men in all ages as long as time should last. Ellen White is very specific about the content of these statutes, and it is important to note that she said nothing at all about the three feasts in which all Hebrew males were to come to the tabernacle. Nowhere does Ellen White make the connection between the statutes and the feasts. This is an interpretive deduction made by some today.
Let us take a quick look at some other statutes and commandments. In Leviticus 7:34 the priests were to receive parts of the animal sacrifices for their sustenance. In Exodus 30:19-21 the priests were to wash their hands and feet when they went into the tabernacle. In Leviticus 19:27,37 the people were not to cut the corners of their beards. In Numbers 15:38,39 the people were to wear a ribbon of blue on the borders of their garments. These were all statutes of the Lord. It has been suggested that we are not to follow the specific commands here but to look for the principles behind the commands. This seems like a reasonable conclusion and should be applied equally to the feasts. We should look for the principles behind the specific feast day commands, and learn the lessons of the feasts and practice those principles.
3. Ellen White stated,"Well would it be for us to have a feast of tabernacles." (RH 11-17-1885) "Shall we not gather our forces together, and come up to the feast of tabernacles?...Therefore come to the camp-meeting, even though you have to make a sacrifice to do so." (Bible Echo, Dec. 8, 1893) She was referring to a camp meeting in December (not in the fall), and called it a feast of tabernacles. It was not a commemorative event, but an evangelistic thrust. On another occasion she said, "Then shall your life henceforth be a continual Feast of Tabernacles, a continual thank offering." (18MR 270) James White wrote about a particular camp meeting, "These annual feasts of tabernacles are gatherings of the greatest importance." (ST June 8, 1876) Clearly, for James and Ellen White, the Feast of Tabernacles found its meaning in present-day camp meetings, held at various times during the year.
4. Since it is very clear that Ellen White did not observe the feasts and the annual sabbaths, some explanation is necessary as to why God's end-time prophet did not understand something necessary for translation. One has suggested, "The Holy Spirit did not allow Daniel to fully understand what he wrote....The same happened to Mrs. White with God's festivals." Now Daniel was dealing with sealed prophecies to be understood 2300 years later, while Ellen White was explaining those prophecies and writing much about the statutes and ceremonies. For Ellen White the feasts were the same as holy convocations and camp meetings (6T 70). She said nothing about appointed times for these convocations. Another suggests, "Like Luther was not given the Sabbath, Ellen White was not given all the light on God's feasts." Here we have a clear admission that evidence is lacking for the feasts in the Spirit of Prophecy. Now Luther was in great darkness and did not have the light on many subjects. Is Ellen White, a prophet of God for the final generation, as blind as uninspired Luther regarding tests for the seal of God? As in our previous subjects (Name of God, Trinity, prophecy), the claim is made that Ellen White just did not understand; that we have more light than she; that we must go farther than the inspired mouthpiece for God to learn God's will for us today; that we know more than the prophet.
5. The claim is made that Jesus kept the annual feasts. "Jesus traveled up and down the breadth of the land, giving his invitation to the feast." (RH July 7, 1896) This is clearly the gospel feast, the gospel invitation. In fact, we are told just the opposite. "Since the healing at Bethesda, He had not attended the national gatherings....His apparent neglect of the great religious assemblies....He Himself seemed to be indifferent to the service which had been divinely established." (DA 450)
We are told about the last Passover supper, "The national festival of the Jews was to pass away forever." (DA 652) It is suggested this refers only to the sacrifices on Passover day, not to the feast of unleavened bread following. But we find that "Paul tarried to keep the Passover....during the eight days of the feast." (AA 390,391) Luke 22:1 tells us that "the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover." The entire feast was called the Passover, although the Passover meal was only on the first day. In common usage Passover means the feast of unleavened bread, and it covered eight days. This was the national festival which was to pass away.
6. The claim is made that only the sacrifices ended, while the feast days are to continue. "After the crucifixion, it was a denial of Christ for the Jews to continue to offer the burnt offerings and sacrifices which were typical of his death." (ST July 29, 1886) Clearly, no sacrifices were acceptable after Christ's death. Commenting on the Jerusalem council, we are told, "The council had...decided that the converts from the Jewish church might observe the ordinances of the Jewish law if they chose, while those ordinances should not be made obligatory upon converts from the Gentiles." (Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 121). This could not refer to the sacrifices, which were not allowable for Jewish or Gentile Christians, but only to the other ordinances of the Mosaic law (especially circumcision, but also other Jewish ordinances). The Jewish converts could continue those if they chose, but they were not necessary. At this council surely something would have been said about the feasts if they were still binding upon Christians.
7. Paul did keep the Passover with his converts at Philippi (Acts 20:6), and he mentions Pentecost also. Why did he do this? For the same reason he took the purification vow in the temple, that "all may know...that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law." (Acts 21:24) He did it to reach the hearts of faithful Jews. Remember that the council had decided that Jewish converts could keep the Mosaic law if they chose, so Paul kept the Passover with Jewish and Gentile converts as a sign of unity. The years 34-70 A.D. were a transition period between Jewish laws and customs and Christian observances, and Paul kept some Jewish laws which were not mandatory after Christ's death. "Paul did not bind himself nor his converts to the ceremonies and customs of the Jews, with their varied forms, types, and sacrifices." (Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 105) Paul explained his rationale very well in 1 Corinthians 9:19,20. "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law."
8. Our Adventist pioneers were clear on this subject. "When that city...was destroyed...the complete cessation of their feasts, and, as a consequence, of the annual sabbaths, which were specified days in those feasts, must occur....The Jewish feasts were utterly extinguished with the final destruction of Jerusalem." (J.N. Andrews, The History of the Sabbath, p. 90) "When their feasts ceased to be binding on them, these Sabbaths must also." (Joseph Bates, The Seventh-day Sabbath, p. 14) "The feast days, new moons, and ceremonial sabbaths...were to cease at the cross." (Uriah Smith, The Biblical Institute, p. 139) "New-moons, feast days, and Sabbaths of the Jewish law ceased." (James White, RH March 7, 1854)
9. The three primary feasts were required to be observed at the temple, so they could not be observed in captivity. They were closely tied to the Israelite agricultural calendar, with a thirteenth month added when needed, which again meant that they could not be kept in captivity. (Hosea 9:3-5) How then can we keep them in the United States?
10. There is a distinction between the sabbaths and the Sabbath in Leviticus 23. Verse 2 refers to the mo'ed, the appointed times, and verse 3 includes the Sabbath as a holy convocation. But on the Sabbath "no work" is to be done, while on the feast sabbaths "no servile work" is to be done. In verses 37-38 the mo'ed are separate from "the sabbaths of the Lord," which phrase is never used to refer to the feast sabbaths.
11. The claim is made that the feasts can be separated from the sacrifices. The Hebrew word chaq is one of the words by which all the feasts are called, and it literally refers to the sacrificial victim. (Exodus 23:18) This implies that the feasts were extensions of the sacrificial animals, and could not exist without the sacrifices.
12. There have been some interesting conclusions drawn by one feast-keeping book regarding our preparation for the close of probation. "Our old natures are taken away and our new natures are given to us....during the Great Tribulation." "Our new nature is given to us when our sins are blotted out...during the Latter Rain," referring to the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived. (p. 26) "Our very nature and being is still sin....Even when we are not wilfully sinning we are in a state of sin." (p. 39) "Our sinful nature has to be changed before...probation closes forever." "Our sinful natures have to be changed or we will not be able to stand for one moment after the close of probation without sinning." (p. 42) "We must reach Adam's pre-fall nature before the Second Coming." (p. 43) "The only way they can be holy if if He has given them their new nature." (p. 44) "As long as we have a sinful nature, we are defiled; therefore, when God's people are sealed the sinful nature must be removed from them." (p. 46) "They are no longer tempted by evil." (p. 48) (Melody and Richard Drake, God's Holidays)
These are the clear teachings of original sin and holy flesh. Although they deny that they teach holy flesh, compare the above teachings with Ellen White's warnings. "All may now obtain holy hearts, but it is not correct to claim in this life to have holy flesh...No human being on the earth has holy flesh. It is an impossibility." (2SM 32) "When human beings receive holy flesh, they will not remain on the earth, but will be taken to heaven." (2SM 33) "Let this phase of doctrine be carried a little further, and it will lead to the claim that its advocates cannot sin." (2SM 32)
The phrase "holy flesh" refers to the removal of the sinful nature with which we are born, and Ellen White is clear that this will not happen until we go to heaven. A result of this teaching is that those with holy flesh cannot sin, but the holy flesh teaching itself means that we will no longer have to live with our sinful natures. It looks like we are seeing a revival of the early Brinsmead teachings of the 1960's, which led him directly to the Ford apostasy of the 1970's.
In conclusion, while a study of the feasts will teach valuable lessons about the plan of salvation, and our time would be well spent in studying them in depth, to make them a test of obedience on the same level as the seventh-day Sabbath is placing man-made rules above the law of God in the same way that the Sunday tradition usurps the authority of the Lawgiver. Any human rule which is not clearly stated in inspiration is stealing glory from God and exalting human reason. Life or death issues do not need inferences drawn from words and possible meanings. God always makes these issues crystal clear. Ellen White warns, "They were pressed beyond measure to receive the message of error; it was represented to them that unless they did this they would be lost." (2SM 34-35)
It is not coincidence that several unrelated issues are coming together in the belief system of some Adventists.
1. Only the Hebrew names for God and Christ may be used.
2. The Holy Spirit is not a person and Christ was generated or born from the Father.
3. Future applications of prophecies which have been fulfilled in the past.
4. Keeping of the feasts and the sabbaths connected with them.
Faithful Adventists are very frustrated with the long delay in final events and with the continuing decline in the visible remnant church. There must be some new light which will hold the key to revival and reformation and will begin the final countdown to the second coming.
But just like with all the things that are happening around us these days, God foresaw and warned us about this tendency. "Very many will get us some test that is not given in the word of God. We have our test in the Bible,--the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 'Here are they that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.' This is the true test, but many other tests will arise among the people. They will come in in multitudes, springing up from this one and that one. There will be a continual rising up of some foreign thing to call attention from the true test of God." (The Ellen White 1888 Materials, p. 1752)
"Erroneous ideas will be brought into the work, and presented as a part of the truth to the people, but everything that God has not connected with the truth will only serve to weaken the message and lessen the force of its claims....They choose to follow their own course, until the third angel's message becomes a thing of minor importance, and finally it loses all its value....The doctrine of truth will be mingled with error, and the result will be that those who are taught will cherish error as they do the truth....It will be more difficult to reach and correct their errors, than to bring a company into the truth from the darkness of complete ignorance of the truth. It would have been better if they had not heard this mingling of the truth with falsehood....More harm can be done by one who has a mixture of truth and error, than many who teach the whole truth can undo and correct....There were those in Paul's day who were constantly dwelling upon circumcision, and they could bring plenty of proof from the Bible to show its obligation on the Jews....Instead of catching up every new and fanciful interpretation of the Bible, cling to the message....It is the third angel's message that bears the true test to the people. Satan will lead men to manufacture false tests, and thus seek to obscure the value of, and make of none effect, the message of truth. The commandment of God that has been almost universally made void, is the testing truth for this time. The Sabbath of Jehovah is to be brought to the attention of the world....But all man-made tests will divert the mind from the great and important doctrines that constitute the present truth." (RH May 29, 1888)
Satan doesn't care how he traps God's people, whether in worldliness, Laodiceanism, or foreign things to take our attention away from the real test for the remnant. There is only one test in the Bible--obedience to the commandments and the faith of Jesus--in other words, righteousness by faith. This may not be as glamorous or exciting as researching names, or the Trinity, or prophecies, or Hebrew observances. Being part of the 144,000 is about surrender of the heart, victory over all sin, and daily walking with God as Enoch did.
The 144,000 is more about character than knowledge. God will continue to teach us where we have made mistakes. Let us keep our focus clear and not be sidetracked with new light which isn't new and isn't light.
There are a number of significant reasons for differentiating the Sabbath from the festivals.
7th day Sabbath
|Sabbath was created at creation in a perfect and sin-free environment. Gen 2:2-3||The Passover was created at the time of the Exodus and was a memorial of the passing over of the death angel. How could the Passover exist before this Ex 12? Without sin there is no need for a Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement could not possibly exist in a sin-free environment.|
The authority and reason given for keeping the Sabbath is because
|The authority of Passover is for the exodus
|God Blessed the Sabbath day Gen 2:3||God never blessed any other day|
|God hallowed the Sabbath day Gen 2:3||God never hallowed any other day|
|The Sabbath day is at the heart of the 10 commandments||No other days are mentioned in the 10 commandments|
|The 4th commandment God wrote himself
|Moses wrote the laws for festivals|
|The 4th commandment was written in stone. Signifying its permanence.||The festival laws were written on papyrus.|
|The 7th day Sabbath is a "sign" between God and his people that is the sanctifier and creator Exodus 31:12-17||There is no proof that the festivals or anything else for that matter were a sign of sanctification and creatorship.|
|The 7thday Sabbath will be kept in heaven. Isaiah 66:23||There is no proof that the festivals will be kept in heaven.|
|The frequency of observance says a lot about how important a day is. The weekly observance of the Sabbath does more for the spiritual, physical, and mental rejuvenation of humans than any other time.||Festivals were observed once a year|
|All work was forbidden on the Sabbath||Only the day of atonement had these same stipulations. Naturally. It was the day of judgment.|
|The Sabbath was given to refresh man and animal. Exodus 31:17||The festivals were not given to refresh man or animal. In fact lambs probably were not refreshed by the Passover.|
|God himself was refreshed by the Sabbath Exodus 31:17||No such statement is made about any other day.|
In conclusion we must reject the idea that the seventh day Sabbath is in anyway equal to the festival days.