To Eat Out or Not on the Sabbath
Fred R. Coulter—November 8, 1999
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Should a person eat out in a restaurant on the Sabbath or not? That's basically the bottom-line question for today. So let's review some the Scriptures we know concerning the Sabbath and then we will look at ones Nehemiah and then we will go into the New Testament, and then we will see what is an example for us that Christ gave that will give some understanding in it.
What I'm doing, I'm covering the Scriptures and questions which people have—should we eat out on the Sabbath, which several have sent in and even written papers on.
Exodus 31:12: "And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 'Speak also to the children of Israel, saying, "Truly you shall keep My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations to know that I am the LORD Who sanctifies you"'" (vs 12-13).
Verse 16: "Therefore, the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant."
The key thing to remember here is this: the Sabbath Covenant is a separate covenant within the Old Covenant. And so that cannot be set aside when the Old Covenant was set aside, because it's a separate perpetual covenant. That's the key thing to remember here. I did a sermon concerning the Sabbath and Holy Days, and I showed that the rituals were added to the day—the day came first. The Sabbath and the Holy Days were created first, then the rituals of the Old Covenant were then part of the worship that the children of Israel had at the temple. If you were in your own home, obviously you wouldn't go through any of those rituals. A perpetual covenant all the way through!
We also know with the story of the manna: that God showed clearly which day was the Sabbath, and they knew which day was the Sabbath all the way through the time they were in the wilderness, because it was manna for six days—they would have gathered twice as much on the sixth day and then there would be no manna on the seventh day. We also have the account of the man who went out to gather sticks on the Sabbath Day (Num. 15)—which actually shows us that on the Sabbath Day it was perfectly proper to have a fire going and you would have wood there so you could keep it going.
How many here have started a fire with just knocking flint rocks together? or Rubbing wood together like the American Indians? That's why God says you shall not kindle a fire on the Sabbath, because it was a lot of work to do so. But if you had the coals and you had the wood and you could keep it going, obviously God would not want you to be cold in the middle of winter. So therefore, the incident of the man going out to pick up sticks actually shows that what? That he should have gathered them before so they would have been there, so he wouldn't have to go out on the Sabbath Day to do that. And he was stoned for it. And I would assume, that it was probably a behavior that he had done more than just the once.
Let's look at some other Scriptures here that we need to go through concerning the Sabbath Day. Deuteronomy is a very interesting book—means the second giving of the Law. 'Deutero-nomos' or 'nomi'—Deutero-nomy means second laws, plural. You can find an awful lot of New Testament doctrine if you sift through and study through the whole book of Deuteronomy you can find quite a bit of New Testament doctrine there.
The prophecy of Christ as well as the prophecy of circumcision of heart, 'loving God with all your heart, and mind, and soul and being.' If you want an interesting study just go through and pick out all of those things you can clearly identify as New Testament or New Covenant doctrine, because this was the prophetic foundation for the New Covenant keeping of the Law, when you fully understand it.
Deuteronomy 5:1: "And Moses called all Israel and said to them, 'Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day so that you may learn them and keep and do them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, all of us here, alive today'" (vs 1-3). In other words, the children were recipient of that Covenant. Though, how many of them died who were over 20-years-old because they rebelled? A great many of them did! Not all of them did, because later on some were commended who were faithful.
Verse 4: "The LORD talked with you face to face in the mountain out of the midst of the fire; (I stood between the v and you at that time to show you the word of the LORD, for you were afraid because of the fire, and did not go up into the mountain,) saying… [Here's what He said. This is the whole first commandment here] …'I am the LORD your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt from the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me'" (vs 4-7).
When we examine these commandments we're going to see that the 1st commandment, the 4th commandment and the 5th commandment give absolutely no wiggle-room at all as far as you making a decision.
First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me" (v 7). That is an absolute positive statement.
Second Commandment: "You shall not make a graven image for yourself of any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters beneath the earth. You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments" (vs 8-10).
John 14:15: "If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely, My commandments." In Deut. 5 and Exo. 20 there is love and keeping commandments going together, in both places.
Let's look at the 2nd commandment here for just a minute. Is it wrong to make a picture of someone? It says you shall not make an image and bow down to it. It's not wrong to have a picture of someone—is it? It is not wrong to have a figurine of a man or a woman or even a bust of man—the head of a man or the head of a woman. Nothing wrong with that. But if you bow down to it, then it becomes wrong—it's an idol. In this, the parameter is you shall not. Well, within that not you have a lot of choices which you can do before you get to the boundary line of transgressing. Whereas, with the 1st commandment there's no boundary line, none whatsoever. It is God and God alone!
Let's come to the 2nd commandment here: Deuteronomy 5:11: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain… [That is the extreme boundary and you have choices leading up to that point before you transgress it.] …for the LORD will not hold the one guiltless who takes His name in vain."
You can rightly use the name of Jesus Christ any number of times, or the Lord God. How many times was it written here in the Old Testament? The Lord your God! None of those were in vain—were they? You can't say that they were in vain! If you read the Scriptures, and read it and preach it, you're not taking God's name in vain—are you? No! What you're doing, you're reading what God inspired. God didn't inspire anything in vain, did He? No! But if you swear and curse, are you taking God's name in vain? Yes! If you preach false doctrine in the name of God, are you taking His name in vain? Yes! So, there you have all of this room, but you transgress the line, then you have broken the Law. But up to that point, you have not.
Fourth Commandment: "Keep the Sabbath Day…" (v 12). It says in Exo. 20: 'Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy.' Both of them are very positive commands.
Verse 12: "Keep the Sabbath Day to sanctify it… [to make it Holy] …as the LORD your God has commanded you. 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…" (v 12-14). That clarifies it. That doesn't mean you have no activity. That doesn't mean you must stay in bed all day. 'George, why don't you get out of bed!' I'm keeping the Sabbath, I'm not doing any work. You're not keeping it, you're avoiding it! How can you keep the Sabbath if you sleep all day? You can't! If you're sick, that's a different case. You have to use some judgment in some of these things as we go along. That's why God created our minds. And He expects us to use it properly by applying the Laws and commandments of God correctly.
"…you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your livestock, nor your stranger within your gates, so that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. And remember… [Here's a whole aspect of the Sabbath that is not mentioned in Exo. 20. That's why I wanted to use Deut. 5. In Exo. 20 it says: 'For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and all things that are therein.'] (This one says): …remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt…" (vs 14-15)
This is also New Testament doctrine. Were we slaves to the world? Slaves to sin? What has God likened the world today in Rev. 11? What has He called Jerusalem, where our Lord was crucified? Sodom and Egypt!
Verse 15: "And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand… [New Testament doctrine we are called—correct? Yes! Does God literally pull us out? Yes!]…and with an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath Day."
No wiggle-room—right? You have to keep it. It's not that you can decide it's from midnight to midnight. God has already defined it from sunset to sunset. It's not that you can work the night before and go to church in the morning on Saturday. It's not that you can go to temple, as a lot of the Jews do, on Friday night and work on Saturday. A lot of the Jews do that—especially the reformed Jews, and they even eat ham, too, a lot of them, 'because we have refrigerators today.'
Verse 14: "Honor your father and your mother…" You have no choice in it—right? You must honor your father and mother—correct? Yes! He doesn't say you shall not dishonor your father and mother—does He? That would make the commandment entirely different—wouldn't it? Then you would have the not—which then is the parameter and anything which is not dishonoring your mother and father would be acceptable.
He says, v 16: "Honor your father and mother … [it's a positive thing that you need to do, active, ongoing thing] …as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you in the land which the LORD your God gives you. You shall not murder" (vs 16-17). Which means if there's an accident. There are various statutes and judgments: if you're not lying in the way or if your out with axe and the axe-head falls off and cuts a limb off or kills the person, well then you're not held liable for murder. But if you're lurking and waiting for him and you kill him, then you, that's murder. That's why it's phrased you shall not.
Verse 18: "And you shall not commit adultery." Christ clarified that in the New Testament. If you think of it, you've already done it. But under the Old Covenant, technically, in the letter of the Law, as long as you do not physically commit adultery you have not done it. So, there was a lot of latitude in coming up to that line where you would cross over it.
Verse 19: "And you shall not steal." Meaning, you can borrow something from someone, you have to return it. And then there's also another one that if you loan it out to your neighbor and you don't go with it and it breaks down, while you have it loaned out to your neighbor, and he brings it back broken down, then he doesn't necessarily have to fix it. But if you are with it and it breaks down, then he must fix it. So, you can go back and look at the statutes, that's why you have so many statutes clarifying these things.
Verse 20: "And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. And you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor shall you covet your neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his donkey, or any thing that is your neighbor's" (vs 20-21).
While we're covering the Sabbath commandment, I thought I would bring this out so you could see that the 1st commandment, the 4th commandment and the 5th commandment are directly phrased in a positive thing that you must be doing.
Isaiah 56 is another place that you can use if anyone wants to know about whether we should keep the Sabbath or Gentiles should keep the Sabbath in the day in which we're living today. Isaiah 56:1: "Thus says the LORD, 'Keep justice and do righteousness; for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.'"
- Is that not New Testament doctrine?
- Wasn't salvation started with the New Testament Church?
- Does it not continue right on down from that time?
We also have a second application of this with His second return. 'My salvation for the world has come' and 'My righteousness to the world is to be revealed' when He returns. When you go through some of these things you can see that there are two applications to it.
Protestants who say that 'if you keep the Law you're cursed.' I mean if you're talking to a Protestant, just ask him: Is it really true that you think that if you would keep the Sabbath that you'd be cursed? They'd probably say yeah!
End-time prophecy, v 2: "Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on it; who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it; and keeps his hand from doing any evil." (v 2). Which means keeping the rest of the Ten Commandments—right? When you go through and really read the Bible and read what it says, it tells you an awful lot in just a few words—doesn't it? There we have it!
Verse 3: "And do not let the son of the stranger, who has joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, 'The LORD has utterly separated me from His people.' And do not let the eunuch say, 'Behold, I am a dry tree.'"
What did Judaism do? Judaism separated the Gentiles from God—didn't they? That was one of their great sins. God did not want them to do that. Or in the case of someone who could not have children, like a eunuch, say 'I'm a dry tree.'
Verse 4: "For thus says the LORD, 'To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths… [That's interesting—isn't it? Notice it's plural. Meaning the Holy Days as well as the weekly Sabbath.] …and choose things that please Me…'" That's also New Testament doctrine—isn't it? Why are our prayers answered? We keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His eyes (1-John 5). There's New Testament doctrine. Can a eunuch or a Gentile please God? No question about it!
"'…and take hold of My covenant; even to them will I give within My house and within My walls a place…'" (vs 4-5). What did Jesus say: 'If I go I will come again. I go and prepare a place for you so that I can receive you unto Myself.' This is a prophecy of it right here. Actually a prophecy of New Jerusalem.
"'…and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name…'" (v 5). If that is not eternal salvation I don't know what is. And doesn't God say that He's going to give 'a new name written in the stone that no one knows but he that receives it'? And then, 'I'll write upon him My new name, the name of My Father, the name of New Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven from My Father'? So there it is. Here's New Testament prophecy right here.
"'…that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, who join themselves to the LORD to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, everyone who keeps from profaning the Sabbath, and takes hold of My covenant'" (vs 5-6).
Isaiah 58:13 talks about the Sabbath Day. What we are to do. "If you turn your foot away from the Sabbath, from doing your own desires on My Holy Day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the Holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor pursuing your own desires, nor speaking your own words."
That means that you're to focus in on the words of God on the Sabbath—to learn them, to talk about God's way, fellowship with one another, and things like that. That's why we are to fellowship together, brethren. What God wants from everyone is this: God calls everyone individually, gives you His Holy Spirit. He wants you to have a relationship directly with God the Father and Jesus Christ. No man or woman is ever to come between that relationship between you and God!
Then when we come together to fellowship as brethren, we will be in one mind because we have the connection with God. We have that first. When you put fellowship or socializing ahead of the fellowship with God you've got it all backwards—and that's what happens too many times, church becomes a social club. And then you belong to the group rather than belonging to God.
Verse 14: "Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD… [proper keeping of the Sabbath, you'll be delighting in the Lord] …and I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth… [which shall be when Christ returns and the resurrection takes place and you receive your reward to serve as a priest or king with God and Christ] …and feed you with the inheritance of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it."
Now let's look at some other Scriptures here so we can see what we need to do in keeping the Sabbath. Let's come to Nehemiah 10; we compare what we do with what they did; what their circumstances were with our circumstances and see if we can do exactly what they did, or are we in different circumstances or not.
Nehemiah 10:29: "They have joined with their brethren, their nobles, and have entered into a curse and into an oath to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe to do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes… [this is a complete thing; this not just related to the Sabbath alone] …and that we would not give our daughters to the people of the land nor take their daughters for our sons. And if the people of the land should bring goods or any food on the Sabbath Day to sell it, that we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath or on a Holy Day, and that we would forego the seventh year's produce and the exacting of every debt. Also we put commands upon ourselves to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God, for the showbread, and for the continual grain offering and for the continual burnt offering, for the Sabbaths, for the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the Holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. And we cast lots among the priests, and the Levites, and the people for the wood offering to bring it into the house of our God, according to the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the Law" (vs 29–34).
Now let's see what they were doing concerning the Sabbath, here in the book of Nehemiah. This really becomes the heart-and-core of the question that we're going to answer today.
Nehemiah 13:15: "In those days I saw in Judah some treading winepresses on the Sabbath…" Have you ever tread grapes with your feet? That's a lot of work. Or working the machinery to squeeze out the juice so you can make wine—either one. This was regular labor on the Sabbath Day.
"…and bringing in sacks of grain… [that's going out in the field and harvesting—it was against the Laws of God to harvest] …and loading donkeys and also wine, grapes, and figs, and all kinds of burdens which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath Day…." (v 15). They were not breaking the Sabbath in an incidental way, they were deliberately laboring on the Sabbath, doing their own business on the Sabbath, and were totally ignoring the Sabbath—weren't they?
"…And I admonished them on the day in which they sold food. And men of Tyre dwelt therein, who brought fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah and in Jerusalem. And I contended with the nobles of Judah and said to them, 'What evil thing is this that you do and defile the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do this, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us and upon this city? Yet, you bring more wrath upon Israel by defiling the Sabbath.' And it came to pass when the evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut and that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I set some of my servants at the gates, so that there should be no burden brought in on the Sabbath Day" (vs 15-19).
Right here we have an exception for work on the Sabbath—don't we? If he set some to guard it, what were they doing on the Sabbath Day? Guard duty—correct? That was not breaking the Sabbath, though they were working—correct? Yes! We need to understand that.
"…so that there should be no burden brought in on the Sabbath Day. And the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods stayed the night outside Jerusalem once or twice. And I warned them and said to them, 'Why do you stay around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.'…. [Nehemiah would do that. He's known to grab them by the beard and put a fist in their face—you know, to get them to stop what they were doing.] …From that time on they did not come any more on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath Day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy" (vs 19-22).
Let's talk about Jerusalem, the circumstances of Jerusalem. We're going to see that none of us are in those circumstances today. Jerusalem was a closed community. Everybody kept the Sabbath, and they had to do it by force, by the way, they weren't doing it willingly. If you went to Sabbath services you just walked to the closest synagogue. All businesses were closed! The closest thing I know of a closed community, If you lived in a closed community where everything was shut down today—which you can't find that—the closest thing to that was a community in Southern California called Loma Vista. Seventh Day Adventists owned the town and they had the university, Loma Lynda University down there. That town was so closed-down on the Sabbath that the Post Office actually closed on Sabbath and opened on Sunday.
In a town like that, how far do you travel for Sabbath services? Well, everybody probably got up and took a short drive at the most, or just walked to the closest SDA church on the corner.
- What do you do when you are scattered?
- What do we do today?
Let's look at some of the things that are different today, before we get into a scattered situation:
- You don't have to kindle any fire
You just move a little thermostat to turn the furnace on, or turn on the switch—correct?
- You don't have to worry about lights
One of the things the older Jewish law showed was that on the Sabbath Day you could not 'tip' a lamp. The lamps they had were these little shell things with the wick coming out of the side. And they had olive oil in it. One of the Laws they had was that if you were reading Scriptures alone on the Sabbath Day you could not tip the little lamps so the oil would come up into the wick and keep the flame going on the Sabbath Day.
However, if two of you were studying one could read the Scriptures and one could hold up the lamp. And many, many such laws they had. They had another law that went like this: on the Sabbath Day if a bushel of apples spilled over, you could not gather them up because that would be harvesting—if they were scattered too far. If they were scattered close you could put them back in and set the basket up. But if they were scattered too far you couldn't put them back in because that was harvesting.
However, you could eat them one at a time. The Jews really got carried away. And there are many, many other laws that they have concerning the Sabbath Day. We can all conclude, from the circumstances here in the book of Nehemiah—and that's not to put anybody down—we are not living in Jerusalem. We are not living in a closed city either, such as Loma Vista—correct?
Let's look at something which was not lawful. Jesus did not challenge what the Pharisees said about it being unlawful to do what they were doing.
Mark 2:23: "Now, it came to pass that He went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; and as His disciples made their way through the fields, they were picking and eating the grain." That is harvesting, even according to God's Word. They didn't have to do much preparing because they were just eating them raw.
Verse 24: "Then the Pharisees said to Him, 'Look at them! Why are they doing that which is not lawful on the Sabbath?'… [Jesus did not say it was not unlawful. It was unlawful to do so.] …And He said to them, 'Have you never read what David did when he was hungry and in need of food, he and those with him? How in the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered into the house of God and he ate the showbread, which it is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?'" (vs 24-26).
It wasn't lawful! You can go back and read in the book of 2-Chron.—the account Uzziah. Uzziah was king and he was good king up to the point where he decided to take things into his own hands and offer incense in the temple. Which was unlawful to do and the priest tried to restrain him. When they couldn't restrain him, God struck him with leprosy. Also, there was a great earthquake at the temple and the temple was not used for some 50-years after that.
However, David goes into the temple and the priest gives him the bread, which is unlawful to do. He eats it and those with him eat it. You could say it's all right for David to eat it because he was a prophet of God—correct? But it doesn't say that here. It says it was unlawful to do. What were the circumstances they were doing here on the Sabbath? They were traveling—correct? Obviously, they had no food with them—correct? Because if they had food with them then they would have eaten the food that they had. We're dealing with a situation that they were traveling on the Sabbath and they had need to eat, so they did that which, according to the Old Covenant, was unlawful. They harvested it, plucked it and ate it.
So now we have it narrowed down to a very small thing. And this is why, when we are scattered we can make the judgment this way: For example: I have to drive every other Sabbath 250 miles round trip—I don't know what that would be in kilometers—there are times when I eat out. Now, when I eat out I don't make a big deal about it. The restaurant is there. The person that I buy it from is not my servant. And let's also understand this: food you eat on the Sabbath, you have to pay for it—don't you? Even if you buy it before the Sabbath, you pay for it. At the Feast of Tabernacles, when you rent the place that you are staying, do you not pay for the first day and the last day? I mean, granted, you don't pay on the Holy Day, do you? But you still pay for it.
The hall where we meet is a rented hall and many times we can have a potluck there, but not every time. What if you come to services and it's a rented hall, and you have traveled a long way. Your contract says—and you pay in advance for the hall—that you can have the building from one to four or from twelve to three, or from ten in the morning to two in the afternoon, you have to vacate. Many times when you rent, what is also part of the contract that you have is, it will require that a janitor there be on duty—correct? Yes! Did you hire the janitor to be on duty, or was that the requirement of the one you rented it from and he hired him to have him there?
It's the same way in a restaurant. If you go in to eat, that restaurant is there, it's already running whether you pass by it, or you go in and have a meal. I think, based upon Mark the second chapter, that is very acceptable with God. The only exception, if you are traveling.
What if you are not traveling? What if you keep the Sabbath in your home? You have no need to go out and eat in a restaurant—do you? Why? You're not traveling—are you? No! If you do want to eat in a restaurant, the very simple solution is this: in the summer time, go out on Friday night before sundown takes place and have a meal in a restaurant. In the winter time, go out and have a meal after the Sabbath is over. If you're not traveling, you have no need for it.
What if a lot of brethren come in from a long way and you can't possibly feed them, and possibly prepare for them, and you can't, furthermore, you couldn't afford it. If you all went out to eat on that occasion, that would be perfectly all right. And one of things you would do in a case like that, would be fellowshipping. Some of the very best fellowshipping that we have had has been eating a meal after we have traveled on the Sabbath and then we get together on the way home and we have a meal.
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What I'm talking about does not give you license to go buy in a grocery store. Does not give you license to go shopping and buy clothes. We're not talking about. We're talking about the one thing of eating a meal because you're traveling. You don't travel, there's no need to eat a meal.
Some people, in conscience, they don't even want to do that. If a person does not want to do that, in conscience before God they feel they cannot do it, that's perfectly fine that they should not. Because God does not want anything done that is not of faith. He doesn't want you to have a guilty conscience over something that maybe allowable.
In the New Testament we also had this: We had where the church members went into a pagan temple restaurant and ate food that was sacrificed to an idol. That's a greater problem than what we're talking about here, and presented a great problem for many of the brethren. Paul talks about that in 1-Cor. 8.
I'm trying to use the example of what Jesus did—this certainly was an allowance because of traveling, and to do something which was not lawful. But God, in the person of Christ, for the sake of necessity, did not condemn it.
Now, let's take it one step further. What if the only thing that you look forward to on the Sabbath Day is going out and eating, then you have missed the whole thing! You should not eat out. I mean, if you just get in the habit, and you're not traveling, and you go out every Sabbath to eat, and the thing you look forward to is going out on the Sabbath and eating in a restaurant, then you better stop. You better come back and get your priorities right with the Sabbath, of worshipping God and studying His Word.
Let's look at some other situations concerning the Sabbath. What if you have to travel. They have toll-roads around here-- don't they? Are you buying entrance to the toll-road because you go by and throw the coin in so the arm will come up so you can drive? No! The need to go fellowship and travel supercedes throwing a coin in that slot or giving a $5 bill to the tollgate person and he gives you $3 back.
Every other Sabbath when I go up north, I go across a toll-bridge so I can go up there for Sabbath and teach the brethren. I have to pay $2 to get across the bridge. Have I broken the Sabbath or is that an allowance that God would allow for the sake of fellowship, for the sake of keeping the Sabbath, for the sake of being with the brethren? Obviously, that's an allowance!
- What happens if you have a flat tire when you're traveling on the Sabbath? Well, that's called "a flat tire in the ditch."
- Can you change the tire? Yes!
- What if you don't have a spare? Can you call a road service company to come and fix it, so you can go on? Yes!
- Is it going to cost you some money so you can do it? Yes! You either have the cash or you have a road service card that you put it on, or you have a credit card. But, he's not going to come for nothing—is he—just because it's Sabbath for you? No!
That's an emergency!
Remember what we talked about where Nehemiah set guards at the gates.
- What about if you have an accident on the Sabbath?
- What happens if it's a serious accident and somebody is injured?
- Are you just going to lay there until the sun goes down?
- Are the police going to allow the car to be in the middle of the road for hours? NO!
- In that case, are you not thankful that there are policemen who work on the Sabbath?
Who God calls the servants of God who have the higher authority (Rom. 13)? Yes!
- If you're injured, aren't you glad that emergency vehicles are there?
- And emergency attendants are there so they can take you for emergency service? Maybe you're bleeding; maybe you have a broken leg; maybe your head is smashed in. Well, you're certainly thankful that those services are there—aren't you?
- Do you have to pay for the ambulance service? You or your insurance company does!
And if your insurance company does, then you still have your deductible you have to pay. These are practical things that we are confronted with.
Now, let's take it one step further: What if you're having Sabbath services in your home, and you're not going to eat out. You're going to have all the brethren there and they bring the food and you can have a meal after services. What if someone comes down with a heart attack or stroke? Sometime during the service or after the service or while you're eating?
- Are you not going to call emergency and have someone come out to assist them? Certainly you are!
- Are you breaking the Sabbath because you do so? No!
All of those things need to be considered. But the only thing that I really can get out of Mark the second chapter, is that if you are traveling, it is all right to eat out. What if you want to pack your meal and take it? That's perfectly all right, too. That's within the realm of what you want to choose. What if it's impracticable to do so? Well, then you have to make the decision yourself.
Let's see what He said concerning this. Let's see that He put His authority on the fact that they were eating while they were traveling:
Verse 27: "And He said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man… [that is so that you can worship God and serve God, come to be taught on the Sabbath Day and so forth] …and not man for the Sabbath…[In other words, man is not going to make the laws concerning the Sabbath—and that's what the Jews did. This is what He was telling them.] …therefore, the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath'" (vs 27-28). So therefore, He gave an allowance for them to eat while they were traveling. To do something which was not lawful to do previously.
When the Millennium comes, that won't happen—will it? The whole world is going to keep the Sabbath. Every town, every city, every village, every home is going to be in a closed community. Everyone will have an assembly place they can go to, which is real handy to go to. They can walk there. All the restaurants will be closed. All the stores will be closed. That's different than what we are living in this world today.
I understand that a lot of you are really scattered—aren't you? I know some out there they had to drive an hour-and-a-half just to meet out there where we were the other day. With what I've presented here, I hope you can see that is one allowance is what God allows in the person of Christ, and He said He was Lord of the Sabbath and He allowed it with His disciples, did not condemn them. If we eat out when we are traveling, God does not condemn us. But don't take that and stretch it into then doing your own pleasure and all of that sort of thing on the Sabbath.
Let me just reiterate again: that if a person, in their heart, before God feels that they cannot eat out in a restaurant, then by all means, do not do so. And if someone feels that way, don't come after them and say, 'Well, you don't understand.' Or if a person does feel that they should not eat out on the Sabbath, even if they are traveling, don't condemn people who do.
I know it's a very narrow, little thing there. And it has to be, it has to be use of judgment and use of understanding in a correct way. And if you do eat out, and you're fellowshipping—well, like I said, some of the best fellowship we've had, when we had to get out of the hall. Where are we going to go? Are you immediately going to drive 300 miles this way, or a 150 miles this way? And someone says, 'Well, let's go down and have lunch and let's continue fellowshipping.' And I think fellowshipping is very important for us who are scattered because we're out there all alone otherwise.
I remember one thing that took me about three years to get to it, because so many things kept crowding up, and I finally did get to it. If someone writes, and I don't answer back right away, or it takes a long time, that doesn't mean I've forgotten or I've thrown it away. That just means I haven't gotten around to it. Or if I will answer it, maybe I won't answer it as fully as I did today, but I did in some other sermon some years back.
I felt the need to do so here, since this is where the questions came from and I'm sure it affects everyone here, and I know it affected everyone out there where I was last night, too. I think that may help the situation here quite a bit.
What about unconverted families inviting you out, say for a Friday night, or something. Well, what I would do is this: I would let them know ahead of time that Friday night to Saturday night is the Sabbath. However, if they have traveled 400 miles to come and see you, then you're coming into a situation where they have been traveling. But, I would not make a regular practice of going out with unconverted people on Friday night. If the sun has not set, well that's fine. Or, you know, if in some cases with your family who are not converted I would just suggest to them, if you could work out to have an earlier dinner, go ahead and do that so you're done by the Sabbath.
That way you're keeping it in the same range of traveling and eating. Whereas if they live right in town and they call up and say, 'Hey, let's go out to dinner, Friday night.' Just set the time earlier. If they know you keep the Sabbath, you can work around that.
Here's another example I just want to bring out to you: I don't wear a watch or jewelry because my wrist swells up when I wear a watch and my finger swells up when I wear a ring. So I just don't wear it. Now, when I'm home my inner clock is pretty much within ten or fifteen minutes of the actual time. In my office, I have a clock up on the wall, and we have many clocks throughout the house so I can keep track of time. The point was this: Some people would condemn me because I don't wear any jewelry.
Same way with makeup. God says nowhere 'thou shalt not wear makeup.' Granted, Jezebel made herself up. But you can have someone who is a young woman who is a virgin, never sinned, never committed adultery, nothing. She can put on all kinds of makeup—is she an adulteress? No, because she hasn't sinned!
- Is it silly? Yes!
- Is it vain? Yes!
- Is it a sin? No!
It's in bad taste! What if a person then learns a lesson and sees that it's in bad taste and then moderates it? That's fine!
Makeup does not make women sinful. Lack of makeup does not make women righteous. You can have a woman who has never had any makeup on who could be as loose a woman, or as adulteress as you would ever want to see. The lack of makeup did not make her righteous. Righteousness comes from within. I know these things have been used in the Church over years, going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth over it. What they really were, they were control mechanisms that the ministry used over the people, which they should not have used in that way. So, makeup is another case like that. Jewelry is another case like that.
What would you do if someone came along and said, 'You shall not wear jewelry.' Ahhhhh, your glasses are jewelry, you better take them off. Now you can't see. How you gonna drive to Sabbath services? So, here again, that's another case of carrying something to an extreme.
And also with makeup you need to be careful because there are a lot of chemicals in there too; and food, as well. Here's a test of Ellen G. White: she prophesied that in the end-time all meat would be contaminated, but she forgot the vegetables.
Let's go to 1-Corinthians 11 about covering with the woman's hair. I'm going to go ahead and read out of Berry's Interlinear so I can have the Greek in front of me.
I will have to say, there is an absolute, complete epidemic of women who are going around with, with extremely short hair, or bald heads. I remember, I got on a plane one time and here's this stewardess—you know they can't get rid of them when they're aging anymore. It made her completely ugly; she had a crew-cut! I was just aghast. And then I started noticing as I'm going through the airport here all these women with the short, short hair. I saw one over here today when I was doing my water therapy, cut just like a man. Couldn't believe it! T then men with long hair, yes! Both are wrong!
1-Corinthians 11:1 (Interlinear): "Imitators of me be, according as I also [am] of Christ." Today we can go one step further and say that you have all the New Testament, which gives the words of Christ. That's why I don't say, as some people say, 'Follow me as I follow Christ.' What I'm going to do is say, 'I'm trying to follow Christ and here's what the Bible says how you should follow Him.'
"Now, I praise you, brethren, that in all things Me ye have remembered; and according as I delivered to you, the traditions ye keep. But I wish you to know… [or desire for you to know—or as it is there in the King James, I want you to know] …that of every man the head the Christ is, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ, God" (vs 2-3).
This shows everybody is under authority. Let me just stop and mention here: All women who are single and are not married are not under the authority of a husband or a man. When you marry, then you are under the authority of your husband, not until.
Verse 4: "Every man praying or prophesying… [having his head covered] … anything on his head having, puts to shame his head"—who is Christ (v 4). Isn't it interesting that the Orthodox Jews have these wide-brim hats. They have the long curls coming down on the side, and they won't pray unless they have a prayer-shawl on, or in some cases, cover their head with a prayer-shawl. He says it's a shame if they do so.
Verse 5: "But every woman that praying or prophesying uncovered with thehead, puts to shame her head…" That is if she's married. Let's look at the first part of this: When do women pray or prophesy? They're told in another place, 'I do not allow women to teach, to speak in church or to usurp authority over a man.'
How can a woman pray or prophesy? This has to do with public praying and prophesying.
How do women in the Church today pray and prophesy? How did they do it back then?
You can do a study of all the women recorded in the Bible. All the women that prayed and prophesied did so by singing. Miriam did, Deborah did, the mother of Samuel did—she prophesied, but it was in the form of singing. Do we have special music where women sing today? Yes, we do! What do they sing? They sing things that praise God. They sing things that could come out of prophecies of the Scripture. That's when a woman is praying or prophesying in church—when she is singing, not when she's speaking or praying. You find no account anywhere that a woman is teaching or that she is speaking, but she is for singing. So this could only mean when she is singing and praying and prophesying.
Verse 5: "But every woman that praying or prophesying uncovered with thehead, puts to shame her head… [Does this mean that you have to wear a hat? or Do you have to put a scarf on? No! We'll see where her long hair is given to her for a covering.] …for one and the same with having been shaven."
This is what is called in English an oxymoron. I prefer to call it a moryoxon! It's almost incongruous what he's saying here. If it's a shame for her to have short hair and it's a shame for her to be praying or prophesying. If her head is not covered, if her long hair is given to her for her covering, what on earth is he talking about here? The only thing I can think of, because she certainly has not had her head shaven, but it is as the same as if her head is shaven. It's not saying her head is shaven.
Verse 6: "For if be not covered a woman, also let her be shorn…, [and I couldn't figure that out] …But if it be a shameful to a woman to be shorn or to be shaven, let her be covered." Here you have a real play on words. The only thing I can figure out is this: Even if a woman has long hair, if she gets up before the congregation to sing in praying or prophesying, and she has her hair stacked up, her head is not covered because her long hair is given for a covering. Should, in that case, be down. But if it's up here, it's the same as if she's shaven or shorn. If it's a shame, let her be covered, let her hair be put down.
If she does have short hair or if it is shaven, then—until it grows out—maybe she ought to wear something. But that's the beauty of hair. It grows. Like I mentioned one time in a sermon, your hairdressers have deceived you. You said take off just a little bit and you came out with a butch. It'll grow.
Verse 7: "For a man indeed not ought to have coveredthehead, image and glory of God being; but woman glory of the man is. For not is man of woman, but woman of the man." Going clear back to Adam. A lot of women have that turned around. They said the man was made for them. Not so.
I think there needs to be a whole lot more in understanding about husbands loving their wives and women submitting to their husbands as unto the Lord. You really need to think about that, husbands. Do you love your wives as Christ loves the Church? And you wives, do you submit to your husbands as unto the Lord? Everyone's going to say, 'Yeah, but all these males chauvinists beat up and….' We're not talking about that. We're talking about love in both cases. If you attend the Church of God and you beat up your wife, or if you're not submissive to your husband, could it be that you are deceiving yourself? God does not expect men to brow-beat their wives and, you know, put them down. He doesn't expect wives to nag at their husbands. We need a whole new perspective in what we're doing with these things.
That doesn't take away any of your, your person to do what God says. It actually helps you become a greater person—man or woman—if you really do what God says. Well, that will be pleasing in God's sight.
Verse 8: "For not is man of woman, but woman of man." Because God created the man and said, "There is no help meet for him. So I will make an help suitable for him."
Verse 10: "Because of this…" The fact of creation. Why should women have long hair? To distinguish between the sexes, because God made it that way! It's not a doctrine of the Church to put women down, or to keep you from having freedom. It's because God has made it that way. We're not going to argue with God are we?
Verse 10: "Because of this ought the woman authority to have on thehead, on account of the angels." Now that gives and implication then that if you have your hair shaven or shorn then the angels are not going to watch over you. Now, it doesn't say this concerning men.
Verse 11: "However neither is the man apart the woman, nor the woman apart from the man, in the Lord… [because they two are to be one flesh.] …For as the woman of the man is, so also the man by the woman is… [All men were born after that creation—correct?] …but all things of God. In yourselves judge; becoming is it for a woman uncovered to God to pray? Or not even itself nature does teach you, that a man if have long hair a dishonor to him it is?…. [men are not to have long hair] … A woman but if have long hair, glory to her it is; for the long hair instead of a covering is given to her" (vs 11-15). Meaning that you don't have to wear a scarf or a hat, the hair is instead of a covering.
Besides, it's awfully hard to sit in church with some of these hats that women wear in the Protestant churches. You know, they stick way out and everybody's big feather sticking up, or flower—I've seen that. We've had some women attend our church for the first time and they come all decked out in these big ole hats, because that's all they know. They think that's what it means. The Amish have it that women must wear these little white bonnets because a woman is to have a covering on her head. But her long hair is given to her for a covering.
- How long is long hair for men when it becomes too long? When it begins to look like women's hair!
- How short is short hair for a woman? When it does not cover her and it begins to look like a man's haircut!
I gave it that way because you must make the judgment. Paul says, 'Do you not judge in yourselves?' In other words, it is the individual's responsibility to take care of the hair. Short for men, long for women. That way there is no confusion of the sexes.
Today, what do we have spread all over television, starting with cartoons for kids? We have transvestitism—don't we? That is, where male characters dress up like women. Didn't we have the movie, what was it, Pricilla, Queen of the Desert, and Mrs. Gadfire, yes! But you have that starting on cartoons—don't you? Even Bugs Bunny dressing up as a woman, right? God does not want the mixing of the sexes. He wants males to know they are men; females to know they are women. God created both for a magnificent purpose. God created you for each other. God made the man first. He made the man the head. That's just the way that it is.
Now, unfortunately, some women marry and they haven't taken the time to find out if they are more aggressive or more intelligent than the man that they marry—before they marry. And then when they marry them they find out, 'Well, this guy can hardly think' and he's 'Joe Milktoast.' Sorry Joes, if any of you are Joes here. There are some women who have a stronger personality than some men. There are women who are smarter than some men. In those cases, if you get a miss-match, are you going to have lots of problems in your marriage? Yes! But, are you still bound before God? Yes!
Before you marry, be very careful. And another thing, too, that becomes a problem as the family grows up and the children leave: the women have no one to mother. So they begin mothering their husbands, and this can become very annoying. It's just automatic. God did not create you as a wife to mother your husband. Quit mothering, the children are gone!
What about the man who's been mothered by his mother and expects you to be the same? You got problems! What should you do? Stop dating him if you haven't been married yet. Or if you are married, what you both need to do is sit down and really be honest with each other, in a nice way. You don't have to put him down and say, 'Well, you know, you stupid oaf, don't you know that your mother mothered you and you are a mother's boy and all you want me to do is mother you—and I'm not going to mother you!'
No, what you need to do is honestly say, 'Look, I'm not your mother. Don't expect me to treat you like your mother. I'm your wife. I love you. Submit to you. But you need to take care of yourself. You need to make decisions. Don't come to me to make them for you. If you want some council, I'll be very happy to give you some council. But, I am not going to mother you.'
It all goes to show that before you marry, make sure. Don't let the passions and the chemistry take you down. Ask the question: Do I want to spend the rest of my natural life with this man or with this woman? Get to know them before you tie the knot.
Scriptures from The Holy Bible in Its Original Order, A Faithful Version by Fred R. Coulter (except where noted)
- Exodus 31:12-13, 16
- Deuteronomy 5:1-10
- John 14:15
- Deuteronomy 5:11-21
- Isaiah 56:1-6
- Isaiah 58:13-14
- Nehemiah 10:29-34
- Nehemiah 13:15-22
- Mark 2:23-28
- 1 Corinthians 11:1-8; 10-15
Scriptures referenced, not quoted:
- Numbers 15
- Exodus 20
- Revelation 11
- 1 John 5
- 2 Chronicles (account of Uzziah)
- 1 Corinthians 8
- Romans 13
Also referenced: Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by George Ricker Berry