AN EXAMINATION AND REFUTATION OF 16 PROPOSITIONS AGAINST SABBATH KEEPING, PART 7
RESPONSE TO CHAPTER 7 OF “THE SABBATH: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.”
by Edwin M. Cotto
Advent Defense League
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This is a response to chapter 7 of the antisabbatarian book, “The Sabbath: What you need to know: 16 Propositions Against Mandatory and Salvational Sabbath-Keeping.” Please keep in mind that as we publish responses to chapters, changes may take place without notice to anyone. Please revisit this page often for updates as the goal is to reply to all 16 propositions. Responses to each chapter will continue to be published as time goes by. Visit chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Response to Chapter 7:
Why weren’t non-Israelite nations destroyed for breaking the Sabbath?
This is one of Elce’s smallest chapters in his book and the claim is fairly straightforward. God never punished in any way other nations for Sabbath breaking, but did punish them for other sins. The thrust of his argument here is that the Sabbath was never given to them, and therefore must not be universal or moral.(1)
First, Elce admits that at least portions of God’s law were mandatory for them. He wrote on page 21, “They were denounced, rebuked or destroyed for immorality, idolatry, injustice, corruption, etc., but never for anything Sabbath-related.” But there is a reason for this. We learned in chapter 6 that the Bible reveals mankind can learn God’s will in three ways, either through the messages of His prophets and their writings (Revelation),(2) or by the natural thoughts of right and wrong (Conscience)(3) or by nature (Creation). Note this text about how Creation leaves the Gentiles without excuse when it comes to the knowledge of God:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse… knowing the judgment of God...” (Rom. 1:18-20, 32)
This is where Elce is confusing the matter. God was revealed to the Gentile nations through nature, not through the verbal or written Word sent via the prophets. Since no one will ever be judged by knowledge they don’t have (John 9:39-41, 15:22-24, James 4:17), we expect Gentiles not to be judged for Sabbath breaking because that is knowledge received, not by nature, but by divine revelation. Take the third commandment for example. Where in nature can we determine God’s name, so that we do not take it in vain? No where. And yet, all agree it is a universally moral duty to respect it. In fact, Gentiles found so little evidence of God’s name in nature that at one point they simply addressed Him as the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23). Typically, without a clear revelation from God, man will have a limited and thwarted understanding of right and wrong. God ultimately has to reveal His will to humans by His servants the prophets. He tried to do that with the Sabbath actually, when through Isaiah 56 He pronounces a blessing upon the Gentiles who take hold of His “covenant” and “keeps from defiling the Sabbath.” And yet, Elce wrote that “it would have been absurd” for God to condemn the Gentiles “because they were not under His covenant nor had the Sabbath as that special covenant sign.” You mean to tell me that God will call upon Gentiles to enter the covenant and keep the Sabbath, but will not condemn them if they refuse? Since when does rejection of God’s will go unpunished?
We don’t “read” of an instance when Gentiles were punished for breaking the Sabbath just like we do not read of an instance when they were punished for not respecting God’s sacred name. So what was Elce’s point? God would never condemn anyone, neither Jew or Gentile, without clearly revealing to them the sin. So to answer the question of this chapter’s title, God never destroyed Gentile nations for breaking the Sabbath because, for the most part, they were not aware of the Sabbath command!
CHAPTER 7 FOOTNOTES
1) Incidentally, critics claim the other commandments are universal. Often critics say that God’s ten commandments apply only towards Israel but then find themselves inadvertently admitting that some portions are universal just to make their case that the Sabbath is not. If God rebuked the Amorites for their idolatry and sexual immorality, doesn’t that mean that he expected them to keep those laws?
2) Heb. 1:1-2.
3) Rom. 2:15.