Notice: This is only a section of an upcoming study called “Why you need to do your own research.” Please read the introduction first.
In 2001, Adventist Pastor A. Jan Marcussen resurrected a reward offer of $1 Million to anyone who can produce just one bible verse where God commands Christians to keep holy the first day of the week. Since then, Marcussen has meet with a lot of challengers, but not one has been successful. However, we have found what seems to be a response to this challenge by an ex-Adventist Pastor named J. Mark Martin. Now this doesn’t seem to have been written in response to Marcussen’s challenge, but you will see how it certainly seems like an attempt to prove that the bible does, some where, command Sunday observance. We will first begin by sharing with you what Pastor Martin says. Below is a screen copy from his website, and following are his own words in quotation marks:
“SABBATARIANS ASK FOR ONE TEXT IN THE BIBLE THAT COMMANDS SUNDAY WORSHIP, HERE IT IS:
LEVITICUS 23:5-11 – Look at verse 11: “‘And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.'” The day after the Sabbath is Sunday.
Read on specifically looking at Leviticus 23:15 – “‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the DAY AFTER THE SEVENTH SABBATH; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.'” This is the Feast of Pentecost. It was one of the compulsory feasts of Israel.
Note on the day of Pentecost, a Sunday God’s people were commanded to worship. God says, “On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.” Leviticus 23:21.
If you think this is only applying to “ceremonial” days, Leviticus 23 starts out talking about the weekly Sabbath (see Lev. 23:1-4). It is called an appointed time and a holy convocation, along with all the other feast days of Israel. No distinction is made by God between these holy days and the weekly Sabbath. He includes them as being equally holy. This would mean that under the Old Covenant the First Fruits Sunday and the Pentecost Sunday were as holy and sanctified as Saturday.
If you think this only applies to Israel, that’s our point. The Ten Commandment Covenant, –the Old Covenant was made with Israel, and NOT with the Gentiles.
Look at Exodus 31:13, 16 and 17: “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you….So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever;…”
Pretty convincing at first, yet, a simple reading of the entire chapter of Leviticus 23, plus a little investigation on the feast days, will prove this to be a faulty assertion.
His bases for this is in the fact that both the weekly seventh day Sabbath (verse 1-4) and the feast sabbaths are found in the same chapter. We agree they are found in the same chapter… in fact, we agree both were commanded by the same law giver, God. We can not agree however, that there is no distinction made within this chapter between the weekly sabbath and the feast days. Notice with us the following few verses:
(37) These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:
(38) Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.
There are three things mentioned within these verses, two are plural, and one is singular:
-The feasts – (plural) includes the Feast of Tabernacles, Booths, Day of Atonement, etc.
-Offerings – (plural) includes, vows, freewill offerings and gifts.
-The weekly Sabbath – (singular) The seventh day Sabbath of which there is only one.
Within the context of the feast days, God himself sets a difference between those same feasts, offerings, and the weekly Sabbath. The above quote by Pastor Mark says that that no distinction is made between the feast days and the weekly Sabbath; that both are equally holy. We agree both were equally holy, but this does not mean they were not set apart for different use and meanings. That they are set apart is further proven by the Hebrew word God used in verse 38.
Strong’s tells us that this Hebrew word comes from another Hebrew word, number H909. That Hebrew word is “badad.” Here is the Hebrew definition for this word:
“A primitive root; to divide, that is, (reflexively) be solitary: – alone.”
We notice first that the Hebrew “bad” used in Leviticus 23:38 comes from a word that specifically means “to divide, be solitary.” Now the use of this word in Leviticus 23:28 as “bad” gives it an even more special meaning. Notice first that the very first word given to describe its meaning is the word “separation.” Then by implication it means a “part,” as in a “part” of a tree, or a “part” of a body. As part of your body, you have your hand, right? But to what is that hand attached to? To your body, the main cause for the hand. Likewise a branch is a part of the tree, yet it is set apart from the other branches. It is a proven fact that your two hands are NOT identical. One arm will always be longer then the other. One hand will have slightly diffirent finger print designs. Branches are much the same… none will never be exactly alike. There will always be a diffirence between them!
-Was instituted before sin, along with Marriage (Genesis 2:1-3).
-Before sin, the Sabbath did not require a sacrificed lamb every week.
-Is a memorial of creation.
-Will be kept far into the future after sin is eliminated (Isaiah 66:23).
-Was instituted along with the sacrificial system after sin (Leviticus 23).
-Some of the feasts are also memorial of past events, but not of creation.
-Required quite a number of animal sacrificial services upon each observance.
-No indication that the feasts will be kept after sin is eliminated.
As we can see, the reasons are very clear. God had different plans with the seventh day Sabbath. And as one branch is is never equally as long as the other, and one arm is always a tad longer then the other, the Sabbath will stand as that longest branch, for it came into the picture before the sabbath feasts, and it will continue in this picture forever!
-Upon both it was commanded to rest from worldly labor.
-Upon both it was commanded to consider them as holy convocations.
By mentioning the weekly Sabbath rest first, God was paving the way for showing the Israelites that the feast days were also days upon which to rest, for they too are called sabbaths (Feast of Trumpets for example – verse 24). However, the reason for observing them were different. One was as a memorial of creation (the weekly Sabbath) the others were memorials of certain past events and of events yet to take place.
So we find that God, the giver of both laws as in a tree giving off two branches, sets a “separation” between those two branches by using the Hebrew word “bad” who’s root word specifically means to “divide.” Now if God himself sets a separation between the ceremonial law of feast days and the weekly Sabbath day, why can’t we do the same?
If it does, it would ruin the fact that Pentecost was always to occur three days later. It would go from three days to four days to five days, etc. Yet Jesus was raised to life the third day! If the Jewish calendar was reckoned the way Mark Martin reckons it, how could it prefigure the Messiah who would die and rise the third day?
The following is a deeper analysis of this by Michael Scheifler:
By claiming that the bible does indeed command Sunday observance through Leviticus 23, two errors were committed:
Error #1: Verse 38 was completely ignored, and both groups of laws were lumped together as one while God himself says different.
We pray ex-Adventist Pastor J. Mark Martin revises his web page to rather reflect the truth about Leviticus 23. Our critics go so far with trying to prove us wrong that they end up grossly misinterpreting scripture and effecting some of Christianity’s most vidal beliefs.
For look at another discrepency in Pastor Martin’s writings, see our page Stone the Sabbath keeper?