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The Sabbath in the Time of Trouble. Lessons from Exodus 5

Posted Aug 13, 2016 by Adrian Ebens in The Sabbath
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To many of us the request that Moses made to Pharaoh in regard to start the process of being released from bondage seems strange.

Exo 5:1  And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.

Moses asked Pharaoh if they could go three days journey into the desert to keep a feast. Yet what is even more interesting is the reason Moses gives why they need to do this.

Exo 5:3  And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.

In what way was the Israelites keeping this feast related to avoiding pestilence or sword? When speaking to Israel later God warns them if they should refuse to walk in His statutes and judgements.

Lev 26:25  And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

The keeping of this feast was connected to the covenant that God had made from the very beginning.

The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. PP 370

It was this covenant that was renewed to Abraham.

This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Genesis 22:18. PP 370

And it was this same covenant that God was seeking to renew with Israel at the time of Moses. After Moses spoke to Pharaoh about the desire to keep the feast, God tells Moses that this whole process is part of the everlasting covenant that was renewed with Abraham.

Exo 6:2-5  And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:  (3)  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 to them.  (4)  And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.  (5)  And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.

This feast therefore was the catalyst for God’s people to come back into the covenant. It is important to note that the sacrifices and feasts were always done together. Indeed the complete system of sacrifices with their corresponding feasts were given to Adam.

The Lord gave Moses definite instructions in regard to the ceremonial offerings which were to cease at the death of Christ. This system, [the one given to Moses was] first established with Adam after his fall, and taught by him to his descendants, was corrupted before the flood, ST June 17 1880.

Jesus brought his gospel to Adam in the promise of a Redeemer which should bruise the serpent's head. His gospel was preached to Abraham, to Jacob, and to Moses. The very system of sacrifices was devised by Christ, and given to Adam as typifying a Saviour to come, who would bear the sins of the world, and die for its redemption. Through Moses, Christ gave definite directions to the children of Israel in regard to the sacrificial offerings. ST, July 15, 1880

The practice of offering a sacrifice at a specific time is revealed in Genesis 4:3 when Cain and Abel came before the Lord to worship.

Gen 4:3,4  And it cometh to pass at the end of days that Cain bringeth from the fruit of the ground a present to Jehovah; and Abel, he hath brought, he also, from the female firstlings of his flock, even from their fat ones; and Jehovah looketh unto Abel and unto his present. – Young Literal Translation

Gen 4:3-4  And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.  (4)  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: – KJV

The phrase in Process of time literally means at the end of days at the end of the year and this is translated into one of the early German translations. Adam Clarke offers the following commentary on this phrase.

Some think the anniversary of the creation to be here intended; it is more probable that it means the Sabbath, on which Adam and his family undoubtedly offered oblations to God, as the Divine worship was certainly instituted, and no doubt the Sabbath properly observed in that family. – Adam Clarke Commentary on Genesis 4:3.

Clarke suggests that while some believe it to be an anniversary or once in a year event, he suggests it to be the Sabbath. When we include the words of the Spirit of prophecy that the very system of sacrifices devised by Christ was given to Adam and then later to Moses, then we can appreciate that Cain and Abel were coming together for a feast. This feast was understood to be at the end of the year. There are many who agree that you can’t have a feast without a sacrifice and yet it is also true that most sacrifices took place during a feast. Since time is mentioned in Genesis 4:3, it gives the strong suggestion that this indeed was a feast.

As we read the book of Genesis carefully we can see evidence of the Patriarchs erecting altars and offering burnt offerings and drink offerings and were keeping statutes and judgements.

Gen 8:20  And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Gen 22:13  And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Gen 26:5  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Gen 35:14  And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.

This worship system given to Adam with sacrifices and offerings during the Sabbaths, new moons and feasts was almost completely lost while in Egypt. We see some evidence that Jacob knew this and also Joseph taught the people about the new moon while in Egypt.

Psa 81:3-5  Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.  (4)  For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.  (5)  This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.

There are many who seek to suggest that the use of the name Jacob and Joseph only refer to Israel in the time of Moses but this denies the literal rule of interpretation first and also Joseph is not used to represent all of the children of Israel, but rather the house of Joseph only.

Just as there is no explicit evidence of the Ten Commandments in Genesis, there is also no explicit evidence of the Statutes and Judgments in Genesis. Yet the story gives you clear evidence of an understanding of these things. When we understand that the war in heaven was related to statutes and judgements we can better appreciate Satan’s efforts to nail them to the cross.

The controversy begun in heaven over the law of God, has been kept up upon the earth ever since Satan's expulsion from heaven…. The great statute book is truth, and truth only; for it delineates with unerring accuracy the history of Satan's deception, and the ruin of his followers. Satan claimed to be able to present laws which were better than God's statutes and judgments, and he was expelled from heaven. He has made a similar attempt upon earth. Ever since his fall he has put forth efforts to deceive the world, to lead men to ruin, that he might be revenged upon God because he was overcome and thrust down from heaven. His efforts to put himself and his devices where God should be, are most persevering and persistent. He has taken the world captive in his snare, and many even of the people of God are ignorant of his devices, and they give him all the opportunity he asks to work the ruin of souls. 1SM 316

Satan has been warring against the statutes and judgements of God from the beginning always seeking to change the times and laws of our God.

Isa 14:13  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, [moédim] in the sides of the north:  

Satan has wanted to control the timing of when God’s children would worship from the beginning. We see the manifestation of this hatred in the war of the Papacy against the Sabbath and the feasts.

So we see in the time of Moses that God was seeking to encourage his children to keep a feast in order for them to receive the wonderful Spirit of Christ that comes at these times. This was a call to a season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Note carefully that Moses did not say they were leaving but rather only that they wished to keep a feast.

If Pharaoh had let them keep this feast and they had returned to Egypt then Egypt would have been blessed with the Spirit of Christ in their midst through the feast held by Israel and this would have allowed Egypt more time to repent. God wanted to save the Egyptians, He was seeking every possible way to bless them. If the Israelites could have kept a feast and returned it would bring blessing to all people. It is also important to note that when Moses said that sword and pestilence would fall upon them there is no indication that the us only meant Israel. Pharaoh had the opportunity to come into contact with the Spirit of God through the Israelites keeping the feast and then choosing to send Israel to the promised land in the same way that the Pharaoh that was over Joseph had done.

Gen 50:6  And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.

Joseph had told his children to take his bones back to Canaan and the Pharaoh of the time of Moses might have sent them in peace and received a blessing in return.  The famine that came to Canaan and Egypt during the time of Joseph was a result of the violation of the covenant that God made with Adam and all the Patriarchs. God sent Joseph to Egypt to save the Egyptians from the famine. Through Joseph Egypt not only survived but thrived through the Spirit in Joseph which Pharaoh recognised in calling him the treasury of the glorious rest.

Gen 41:45  And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah;

Brown, Driver and Briggs Definition: Zaphnath-paaneah = “treasury of the glorious rest”

In the submission of Joseph to Pharaoh, God was able to bless Pharaoh and the land of Egypt through him. But Egypt refused to give up its false gods and the cup of iniquity was once again nearly full 400 years later when the destroyer would be allowed to bring harm and devastation to the land of Egypt. When Moses approached Pharaoh he did so with a request meaning that he came in a submissive spirit which if accepted would have allowed Moses to bless Pharaoh and the land of Egypt and save them from destruction.  

Exodus five reveals that Moses had already brought a reformation concerning the weekly Sabbath to the Israelites.

Exo 5:5  And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest [Sabbath] from their burdens.

The Sabbath brings double the amount of the Spirit than the spirit given during the daily burnt offering. This reform prepared the way for the next step of having a feast where a much greater blessing of the Spirit could be given. Numbers 28 and 29 reveal in symbolic detail the varying levels of the Spirit of Christ that comes at the various appointments. This is realised in the measures of oil, flour and wine. The reason that Israel needed to go three days journey was to not cause offense to the worship of the Egyptians who held bullocks and other animals as sacred.

Exo 8:25-26  And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.  (26)  And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

Sadly Pharaoh refused to allow Israel to attend the feast and so the plagues began to fall upon Egypt. Pestilence and disease ruined the land. Yet Israel was preserved from the seven last plagues in Egypt.

Like Moses, the advent people were raised to call the people to the Sabbath.

Isa 58:12-13  And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.  (13)  If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

When Moses went to Pharaoh in regard to the feast, he was proclaiming the Sabbath more fully. It was the next step in bringing blessing to Israel and also Egypt. For us the next step to the Sabbath reform process is to call the people to the feasts in order to receive the Spirit of Christ in greater measure.

It is extremely interesting to note how Ellen White explains the presentation of the Sabbath in the last days.

In the ark was the golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of stone which folded together like a book. Jesus opened them, and I saw the ten commandments written on them with the finger of God. On one table were four, and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth, the [33] Sabbath commandment, shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God's holy name. The holy Sabbath looked glorious--a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to break them all, as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws.  {EW 32.3} 

     And I saw that if God had changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day, He would have changed the writing of the Sabbath commandment, written on the tables of stone, which are now in the ark in the most holy place of the temple in heaven; and it would read thus: The first day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. But I saw that it read the same as when written on the tables of stone by the finger of God, and delivered to Moses on Sinai. "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God's dear, waiting saints.  {EW 33.1} 

     I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath. They have not rejected the light upon it. And at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully. This enraged the churches and nominal Adventists, as they could not refute the Sabbath truth. And at this time God's chosen all saw clearly that we had the truth, and they came out and endured the persecution with us. I saw [34] the sword, famine, pestilence, and great confusion in the land. The wicked thought that we had brought the judgments upon them, and they rose up and took counsel to rid the earth of us, thinking that then the evil would be stayed.  {EW 33.2}

On a Sabbath in 1847 it was revealed to Ellen White about the glorious light in the Sabbath. At the time of trouble God’s people will proclaim the Sabbath more fully. Ellen White uses the term more fully to mean coming out of error into greater light.

The disciples had been with Christ, and could understand Him; to them He need not talk in parables. He corrected their errors, and made plain to them the right way of approaching the people. He opened more fully to them the precious treasures of divine truth. They were vitalized by divine power, and inspired with hope and courage.  {DA 361.3} 

When the children of God embrace the covenant message given in 1888 then errors will be corrected concerning the Sabbath being more fully revealed in the feasts. As Moses was directed to call the people to the feast so in the last days God’s people will be proclaiming the gift of the Spirit through the appointments of God. This will prepare us to gather from one new moon to another and one Sabbath to another. Moses indicated that if they did not keep this feast according to the everlasting covenant then there was danger of sword and pestilence. What is most interesting is that Ellen White mentions exactly these things will come as the fallen churches and nominal Adventists become enraged at the Sabbath being proclaimed more fully as revealed in all the appointments of God.

…at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully. This enraged the churches and nominal Adventists, as they could not refute the Sabbath truth. And at this time God's chosen all saw clearly that we had the truth, and they came out and endured the persecution with us. I saw [34] the sword, famine, pestilence, and great confusion in the land. EW 33,34.

As the Israelites were spared the seven last plagues of Egypt so God’s faithful people will be spared the seven last plagues as they live and preach the Sabbath more fully through the moédim of God.

When the Sunday law question begins to be agitated with great fervour, God’s people will be pointing the spiritual blessings in the Sabbath and the feasts. The blessings received will enrage the churches and the nominal churches and they will blame us for the calamities that are coming upon the earth.

The war in heaven began regarding the statutes and judgements of God and this war will finish on this earth over the same question. The appointments of Christ including the Sabbath, New Moon and Feasts are the channel by which His Spirit flows to His people. In order to stop this Spirit coming to earth Satan seeks to change times and laws and bring the people to his spirit in order to give them his mark of authority.

Let us stand on the moon and be clothed in the Sun that we might be blessed through glorious treasury of rest found in Christ. Those who seek the extra virgin oil through the midnight cry given by Samuel Snow will enrage the churches and the nominal Adventists. In that midnight cry given by Snow was the correct calendar for the people of God to know their God who does sanctify them.

Will you heed the call to come into the Sabbath more fully that the Holy Spirit will fall upon us in greater measure? For those who have ears, I urge you to listen to what the Spirit says unto the churches.