Chapter 2 - part 1

IT WAS Monday night, and Mrs. Frank Richards was putting supper on the table. She was not a little anxious as she anticipated the homecoming of her husband that evening. His job was hanging in the balance, and he might appear at any moment and announce that it was all up and they were to have the miseries of unemployment again. With her hatred of debt, that unpaid and unpayable account at the grocery made her shudder; and the grocer was hinting that he would have to have some money or he could not let them have any more stuff.
          The children at play on the floor only served to remind her that Helen’s little dresses were few and threadbare, and Junior’s suits were just about worn out. In spite of all her clever fingers could do in patching, making over, and turning the insides out, she was ashamed to go out on the street because of her shabby appearance. And to see how Frank looked when he was supposed to be dressed would have been laughable if it had not been so pitiable. It was a good thing he was a mechanic, and a clean pair of overalls would recommend him to a job as far as clothes were concerned. The rent would soon be due again, and there was the winter coal. My, if he could only keep this job for a while anyway, till they could get on their feet again, how thankful they would be. But small hopes, with such a boss. It looked like asking God to set a table in the wilderness.
          A footfall and a hurried opening of the door, and there stood Frank in the room. Much couldn’t be told from his looks, for he was always good humored when he came home, no matter what had happened during the day. How she admired this in him. What a husband to have! It made her ashamed of her own misgivings. His greeting kiss tasted and smelled of auto-oil, but wasn’t that infinitely better than the smell of liquor and tobacco that he used to bring home? He romped with the welcoming kiddies a minute, and was soon taking off another layer of grime at the sink, as they exchanged the usual domestic and shop news.
          When supper was well under way, he was ready to tell the weightier matters that she was eager to hear. How had he come out in his argument with Sam Brown!
          "You know, Grace," he said, "when we prayed over the matter this morning we decided not to let my needing a job be the incentive toward winning a Sabbath argument with my employer. ‘Win an argument, and lose a friend,’ they say. I had to be mighty careful not to keep my job uppermost in my mind, much as I need it. I wanted to let the truth be known, and let the job take care of itself; or better, let the Lord take care of it. Well, I think He is doing it; but nothing is very definite yet. I’ll have this week yet, I think, for he is loaded up with work."
          "But what did he have to say? That’s what I want to know."
          "Well, he brought the concordance back, and said he was sorry but it wasn’t much of a help to them. Then he brought out ten statements for Sunday keeping, all carefully written on a piece of paper. Here they are. We talked about some of them as we worked. I could see that he had gotten them from somewhere, and was not very sure of his ground himself. But say, he knows a lot more about the subject than he did last week."

Chapter 2 - part 2

          Mrs. Richards read the first of the ten. "What did you answer him about this?" she asked.
          "Well, I told him the name Jew was not applied to any people till centuries after the law was given on Sinai, and then it was given to the descendants of only two of the twelve tribes of Israel who did receive the law at Sinai. Of course, he meant Israel, not Jew, and that matters little. But I did put in that the whole Bible was given to the Jews, and Christ was a Jew. Would we therefore repudiate these? Then, since his statement admits that the Sabbath given at Sinai was the Saturday Sabbath, I had only to prove that it was a law, known and kept before Sinai, and that it was not a memorial of deliverance from Egypt.
          "Then I turned to Mark 2:27, and read, ‘The Sabbath was made for man,’ the very words of Christ; and emphasized that it was not made for any one nation but for all mankind. Then I turned to Genesis 2:1-3 and showed him that God made the Sabbath on the definite seventh day of creation; made it of a section of time, the most enduring thing known; and gave it to Adam, the father of mankind. God would not be likely to rest till He had finished His work, so Me made it on the last day of creation week; and above all days He could not have made it on the first day, because He had not then done any work at all to require rest. Exodus 20:8-11 gives the fourth commandment as saying that they should remember to keep the seventh day, for in six days the Lord made the earth, and rested the seventh day, and He blessed the seventh day in remembrance of, or as a memorial of, creation. God sanctified and hallowed the Sabbath; that is, set it apart for a holy use, ‘made for man.’ Mark 2:27. And naturally, such holy men as Enoch, Noah, and Abraham must have kept it. I asked him if he thought the other nine commands were kept before Sinai and are binding on us today, and of course he said yes. Then why not the fourth? And when he said there was no record of the Sabbath’s being observed before the law was given to Israel, I remarked that there was no record either of the Day of Atonement being kept after the law commanding it was given, but it must have been. Silences in history usually prove normal law-keeping rather than abnormal law-breaking.
          "But I read to him from Exodus 5:5 that Pharaoh, before the exodus, accused Moses of making Israel rest (keep Sabbath) from their burdens; proving that Moses must have urged them to keep it as a matter of course, or God could not give them the blessing of deliverance. And in Exodus 16, it is recorded that before they got to Sinai, God gave them a test on Sabbath keeping, without letting the people know it was a test; and when some failed, the Lord asked significantly ‘How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?’ (Verse 28), indicating that the Sabbath command had been common knowledge among them for a long time. And all this was before the law was given on Sinai. Then I quoted, ‘Sin is the transgression of the law’ (1 John 3:4), ‘Death reigned from Adam to Moses’ (Romans 5:14), and ‘Where no law is, there is no transgression’ (Romans 4:15).
          "As to the Sabbath being a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt, I turned to Deuteronomy 5:15, which he gave to prove this, and read that they were to remember that they were servants in Egypt, and that God had delivered them, and ‘therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.’ But I reviewed to him that in the first place God gave the Sabbath as a memorial of creation and of nothing else, then showed that this deliverance was an additional reason why they, the Israelites alone, should keep the Sabbath. And more than that, I showed him that this same remembrance of Egyptian deliverance was applied to other commands besides the Sabbath command. In Deuteronomy 24:17-22 they were told not to pervert judgment, nor take a widow’s garment for security, nor deprive the poor of the gleaner’s portion in the harvest. Why? ‘Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.’ Are we to conclude from this that before they were bondmen in Egypt it was perfectly all right for them to pervert judgment, and oppress the weak? So Deuteronomy 5:15 does not prove that the Sabbath was not a memorial and binding on man before the Exodus; for the Sabbath does not date from the Exodus, but from creation."
          "And what did Sam Brown have to say to all this?" asked Mrs. Richards.
          "He said he hadn’t counted much on that argument anyway; but that number two was unanswerable. So off and on as we worked together during the day I proceeded to answer it. He was fair, but I don’t know that I convinced him.

Chapter 2 - part 3

          "Perhaps I was pretty blunt with him at the start of our consideration of the second proposition; for I challenged him to produce even one text to prove that Christ abolished the seventh-day Sabbath at the cross, or that He and His followers kept Sunday after that in honor of the resurrection. In answer he read Colossians 2:14-17 about the new moon, a holy day, and sabbath days being a shadow of things to come, and we should let no man judge us concerning them; and about blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, nailing it to His cross; and also in Ephesians 2:14, 15 where it says He abolished in His flesh the law of commandments contained in ordinances. But I showed him that on the face of them these commandments referred to were not the Ten Commandments containing the Sabbath law, but that they were ordinances, that is, ceremonies, special sabbath days, ‘beside the sabbaths of the Lord’ (Leviticus 23:37, 38) and not the weekly Sabbaths of the fourth commandment; that these ceremonies were types of Christ and pointed forward to the cross, where the ‘law of Moses’ which after the cross was a ‘yoke of bondage’ (Galatians 5:1-3), because they had served their purpose. But the Ten Commandments were statements of great principles always true, and did not deal with shadows of things to come, but the fourth commandment pointed rather to creation in the past. So it was the laws concerning circumcision, feasts, and ceremonies that were nailed to the cross, not the Decalogue. The Ten Commandments form the constitution upon which God’s government is founded.
          "Then I told him that there was not one text with even a hint of any change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week in honor of the resurrection. There are only six texts that speak of the first day in connection with the resurrection (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, l9) and all these are glaringly plain that Christ was crucified and buried on the preparation day before the Sabbath, which all Christians now recognize as being Friday, that He lay in the grave over the next day Sabbath, and rose the next day, Sunday; that the first day begins after the Sabbath ends and that the Sabbath is between Friday and Sunday. And these gospel records were written from six to sixty-three years after the resurrection, and not a semblance in them of any change or any honor being placed on the first day of the week. They emphasized Sunday only because it was the third day after His death, and He had prophesied that He would rise the third day; and they wanted to show that that prophecy was fulfilled.
          "Sam said that Christ always met with His disciples on Sunday after the resurrection. I pointed out that He met with them only three times when we are told which day of the week it was. The first was the day of His rising and of course He would meet with them then to announce and prove His return, and it had no significance as to a Sabbath; the next time was ‘after eight days,’ which very evidently could not have been the next Sunday, when the week has only seven days; and the next time was the ascension day forty days after the resurrection, which a little arithmetic will show could not have been Sunday.
          "As to the example of the disciples themselves, one time after the resurrection they went fishing on the day they met with Christ, which could not therefore have been a rest day recognized by them (John 21:1-9). They met in an upper room on the very day of the resurrection, but ‘for fear of the Jews’ and because they all lived there (John 20:19; Acts 1:13); not to celebrate the resurrection, because at that time they did not believe that He had risen (Mark 16:9-14).
          "Then Sam turned to Acts 20:7 as his strong text. You remember it says that when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them; and this was the first day of the week. I argued that the breaking of bread meant nothing special, for it was the custom then to break bread daily (Acts 2:46), and whether this was communion or not, it was not always done on the first day. And nothing is said about this first day being holy. Paul met then with them because it happened to be his last day with them, as he was on a journey. If simply meeting with people for a religious service makes the day a sabbath, then Paul must have made some of the other week days sabbaths, for a reading of the account of his journeys shows that he preached whenever it was convenient (Acts 20:13-18).

Chapter 2 - part 4

          "Well, after this he was ready with 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, about taking up a collection on the first day of the week. At least that’s what they say it says. But I told him that that was just what it was not, a collection. Paul was writing that he was coming by that way to get donations from them to take up to Jerusalem for the poor, and he told them that on each first day each one was to ‘lay by him in store’ as God had prospered him. Other translations bear the thought, and the best commentators agree, that this does not mean a public meeting and offering on the first day. It means that, after the previous week—ending with the Sabbath—as past, each was to review his accounts for the past week to see how God had prospered him, then lay by himself at home an offering in proportion to his profits. No public meeting there. But even if it meant a public meeting, it would not make the first day a sabbath.
          "Still not content to give in, Sam brought up Revelation 1:10, which says that John was in the spirit on the Lord’s day. He said ‘Lord’s day’ was the name for the new sabbath, Sunday. I asked him how he knew, and he said ‘What else could it mean?’ I told him it was incredible that a man of his common sense should conclude that this text referred to the first day of the week when the text and context do not say so at all, nor infer it.
          "Then I read to him Mark 2:28, Christ is Lord of the Sabbath, making the seventh-day Sabbath the Lord’s day, for the only Sabbath they knew then was the seventh-day Sabbath. Also Isaiah 58:13, where the Sabbath of the Old Testament is called God’s holy day. So John must have been in the Spirit on Saturday.
          "Then I added that, rather than the early church keeping the first day of the week, and always meeting on that day, all the records plainly indicate that they met customarily, both Jews and Gentile believers, on the seventh-day Sabbath for many years after the cross. This may be read in such texts as Acts 13:14, 42-44; 16:13; 17:2-4; 18:3, 4."
          "It seems to me," observed Mrs. Richards, looking admiringly into her husband’s face, "that you gave him some powerful Biblical and logical arguments on his first two unanswerable proofs for Sunday keeping. How did he take them?"
          "He said the others were just as strong, and that he could depend on them to convince me. Then I asked him how he could honestly admit that I was right about these first two, but not think that I would be about the others. If the other eight proved to be right and these two wrong, would we not be making the Bible contradict itself, and thus not be worthy of either of us basing our doctrinal belief on it? I maintained that what I had given him so far was enough to prove the seventh-day Sabbath, according to his own admission, and that all other points he had against it would prove just as weak. But he replied that the only reason I had won was because I am sharper than he on the use of the Bible; and that the next time he would turn his preacher on me, and then I would be settled sure.
          "I laughed, and told him to bring along the preacher, and I would be happy to go into the matter with him also. He glared at me as he walked away, and looked as if he would like to fire me right then and there."
          "I’m afraid you will get fired when this is over, Frank," said his wife apprehensively.
          "God help me to give them all the truth first, then," he added earnestly.


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