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    April 12, 1883

    “The Sabbath-School. Acts 1:11-26; 2:1-21. Pentecost” The Signs of the Times, 9, 15.

    E. J. Waggoner


    This was one of the three feasts of the Jews, at which all the males were required to appear before the Lord, at the place of the sanctuary. Exodus 23:14, 17; Deuteronomy 16:16. The name is the English form of the Greek word pentekostos, meaning fiftieth. The feast received this name because it was celebrated on the fiftieth day from the second day of the Passover. It was also called “the feast of weeks.” Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10. The particulars in regard to the time and object of this feast, and the ceremonies connected with it, are given in Leviticus 23:15-21; but in order to understand it thoroughly it must be studied in connection with the Passover, the time from which the fifty days are reckoned. And since some have a difficulty in tracing this connection, from a misunderstanding of the use of the word “Sabbath” in this chapter, we will refer to the points in regard to these two feasts.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.1

    1. The Passover commenced at the close of the fourteenth day of the first month. Leviticus 23:5; at this time the paschal lamb was slain. Exodus 12:6.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.2

    2. The feast of unleavened bread commenced the next morning, the fifteenth day of the first month, and continued seven days. Leviticus 23:6; Exodus 12:15, 18, 19.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.3

    3. This first day of unleavened bread was to be a holy convocation, and which no servile work was to be done. Leviticus 23:6, 7; Exodus 12:15, 16. It was a sabbath (a rest) because they did no work in it; but it was entirely distinct from the weekly “Sabbath of Lord” (Leviticus 23:38), for it came only once a year, and on a fixed day of the month, and consequently would not fall on the same day of the week for two years in succession. The people were also allowed to prepare food upon this annual sabbath, a thing which they were forbidden to do on the weekly Sabbath. Compare Exodus 12:16 with Exodus 16:23, etc.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.4

    4. On the second day of unleavened bread, the day following the “holy convocation,” the priest waved a sheaf of the first-fruits of the harmless, before the Lord. Leviticus 23:10, 11.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.5

    5. It was from this second day of the feast-“the morrow after the Sabbath”-that the fifty days were counted.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.6

    From these points will be readily seen that the feast of Pentecost was a movable feast, being celebrated each year on a different day of the week from what was the year before. It will also be seen that Pentecost fell on the same day of the week as the second day of unleavened bread, but fifty days later. So when the fourteenth day of the first month fell on Monday, the Passover sabbath would come on Tuesday. Wednesday would be the second day of the feast-“the morrow after the Sabbath”-and Pentecost would come on Wednesday, fifty days later. Thus, knowing what day of the week the Passover began in any given year, any one can tell on what day of the week Pentecost came up that same year.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.7

    To avoid all confusion, it should be remembered that the word “sabbath,” in Leviticus 23:15, 16, is used with two different significations. In the first instance, where we read, “the morrow after the Sabbath,” the Passover sabbath is referred to-the first day of unleavened bread. In the second instance, where it says, “seven sabbaths shall be complete,” the word means “week,” viz., “seven weeks shall be complete.” On this passage, Gesenius, in his Hebrew Lexicon, says: “Sometimes a sabbath is nearly equivalent to a week.” Then he quotes verse 16, and says: “Here the seven complete sabbaths are parallel to the seven weeks of Deuteronomy 16:9.”SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.8

    First-day writers give as one of their chief reasons for Sunday observance the supposed fact that the Pentecost of our lesson came on the first day of the week. Whether it did or not is a matter of no special importance, and we will not take space to discuss the question. There is, and doubtless always will be, a difference of opinion in regard to it, because there is a disagreement as to the time when the Passover commenced that year. Some claim that the lamb was slain on Thursday night, thus making Friday the first day of the feast, in which case Pentecost would have occurred on Sabbath. Others claim that Friday was the fourteenth day of the month, the proper time for slaying the lamb, in which case Pentecost would have fallen on Sunday. If any one is curious to form an opinion for himself, let him decide from the Bible account, on what day the Passover began, and count forward. If it could be prove that it fell on Saturday, it would not add one whit to the sacredness of that day. The Sabbath depends on no such inference for its sacredness, but on the direct commandment of God. If it fell on Sunday, that day gains nothing by it, in the utter absence of any Scripture testimony for Sunday sacredness. After giving different opinions as to when this Pentecost came, Dr. Barnes says: “It is impossible to determine the truth on this subject. Nor is it of much importance.” And this is the truth. Rev. C. H. Parkhurst, commenting on this point, artlessly says: “There is not an agreement of opinion as to whether the Pentecost of our chapter fell on Saturday for on Sunday. There is in the church an old tradition that it fell on Sunday. It certainly would be pleasant to suppose that such was the case.” Before any argument for Sunday observance can be reasonably based on the Pentecost, if must first be proved beyond a doubt that Pentecost fell on Sunday, and then it must be shown from the Bible that the descent of the Holy Ghost made the day on which it occurred a holy day. As neither of these can be shown, the sacredness of Sunday exists only in the imagination of its devotees.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.9

    Among the multitude that assemble on the day of Pentecost there were two classes of hearers placed in strong contrast. First, there were “devout men;” men who were not merely pious, but were thoughtful, cautious, and circumspect. They were full of reverence toward God, and desirous of serving him; yet they would not jump at conclusions. When they served the Lord they did it understandingly. So when they saw the wonderful manifestations of the Holy Spirit, they inquired, “What meaneth this?” there was in this question nothing of ridicule or of obstinate doubt; but there was a spirit of earnest seeking for truth. There can be no question but that they were among the three thousand converts, for the Saviour said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.”SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.10

    But “others mocking said, these men are full of new wine.” These persons are fairly represented by the seed sown by the wayside. Matthew 13:4, 19. Satan caught away the seed almost before it fell on the hard ground of their hearts. They were unthinking persons, whose strongest argument was a coarse jest. Their representatives are very numerous to-day. They oftener frequent barrooms than churches. Sometimes like Ingersoll, they are found in high positions, but they rarely lose the characteristics of their class. They have little influence over sober, thoughtful, intelligent people; yet they are active agents for Satan, for there is a large class who are deceived by them, thinking that their light, flippant way of treating things is a mark of superior wisdom. They themselves imagine that they have a logical mind, too great to stoop to entertain for a moment so foolish a thing as religion.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.11

    To carefully and candidly weigh a matter is a mark of a truly great mind. When a man stoops to ridicule and cast slurs upon that which he does not understand, he stamps himself at once as a man of feeble intellect.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.12

    There are some points in the portion of the prophecy of Joel quoted by Peter, that are worthy of note. It proves conclusively that we are living in the last days, for if it was in the last days when Peter was preaching, how much more applicable must the term be now? The “last days” may include many days before the last day; that we are now in the very last days may be learned from other Scriptures.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.13

    It proves also that the gifts of the Spirit will be manifested, to a greater or less degree, even until the end of time; for the “last days” must include the last day. If it is true, as some claim, these peculiar manifestations of the Spirit ceased at the death of the apostles, then the Scripture has failed; but “the Scripture cannot be broken,” we may still look for the out-pouring of the Spirit.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.14

    We must then expect prophesying and visions even until the end; and this is just what Paul brings to view in Ephesians 4:8-13. It is not said that everyone shall prophesy, or see visions, or dream dreams, but the Spirit will operate this way upon some, “till we all come into the unity of the faith.” There will always be many, as there were then, who will jeer and ridicule; but the “devout,” candid persons will search to know what these things mean.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.15

    Others mocking said, “These men are full of new wine.” There is a difference of opinion among authorities as to whether or not this “new wine” was intoxicating. Those who claim that it was, seem to derive their argument from Peter’s defense-that they were not drunk. If it were true that the wine mentioned was of an intoxicating nature, the charge of drunkennes was most successfully refuted by Peter; for (1) it was not customary to be drunk in the daytime. See 1 Thessalonians 5:7; and (2) it was a regular practice with the Jews not to eat or drink anything until after the third hour of the day, on the Sabbath, and on all festival occasions. Sometimes they abstained from food and drink even till noon. So then it was impossible that they were drunk.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.16

    But the weight of evidence favors the idea that the wine of which they spoke was the unfermented juice of the grape. See article on page 177.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.17

    But if the “new wine” was not intoxicating wherein lay the force of the charge? Bear in mind that no formal charge of drunkennes was made against the disciples. “Others mocking said,” etc. The original word occurs but in one other place in the New Testament, Acts 17:32. It means, to jest, to joke, to jeer, to ridicule, to laugh at. In this case the ridicule consisted, as Prof. Isaac Hall says, in the implication that the new wine would be too much for the weak heads that were turned with the new doctrine. The Syriac version favors this view, rendering the passage thus: “Others however ridiculed them, saying: They have drunken new wine, and are intoxicated.” This would indeed be ridicule; but if we understand that they really charged the disciples with being drunk, then it ceases to be ridicule, and becomes a serious matter, especially as this was a solemn feast-day. But there is no reason to suppose that these persons meant to make any charge against the disciples; they were merely light-headed fellows who were unable to resist the temptation to a joke, in order that they might laugh at their own cheap wit.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.18

    Why, then, did Peter proceed to gravely refute the implied charge? Why did he not pass it by, or treat it as a joke? Because he was “filled with the Holy Ghost,” and it did not become him to answer a fool according to his folly. The time was too solemn for jesting. Besides, the merest jest is often taken in earnest, and repeated as a fact. Their words might reach some who were not present, and seriously prejudice them against the apostles’ work. So with becoming dignity, Peter settles the matter beyond dispute, and then goes on with his discourse. Preachers in modern times, who are handling sacred themes, may safely follow Peter’s example on this occasion. E. J. W.SITI April 12, 1883, page 173.19

    “Establishment of the Sabbath” The Signs of the Times, 9, 15.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.1

    If there were no other facts given concerning the Sabbath than those contained in the above commandment, we would still have everything that is needed to guide us to its proper observance. Indeed, since it is the law on the subject, we should expect as much, even without reading it, for a law concerning anything must contain within itself all the affirmation necessary to enable one to obey it understandingly. This is the case with the other precepts of the decalogue. They are explicit, allowing no chance for differences of opinion. The only difference between the fourth commandment and the rest is that it is more full and explicit than any of them.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.2

    But the wise man has truly said, “God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions;” and for no purpose have “inventions” been more persistently sought out than for the purpose of the evading the plain import of this fourth commandment. Many are not satisfied with the simple reading of the law, vainly thinking that somewhere in the record of God’s dealings with men, they will find that which will warrant them in disregarding his spoken word. It therefore is necessary to consider everything that has a bearing on the subject.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.3

    It is evident that a law can never mean anything more or less than it did when first pronounced. If the conditions on which the law is based change, or the will of the law-giver changes concerning these conditions, then the law itself may be changed; but such change must be clearly indicated. The terms of the law must be changed, for another law enacted with the express declaration that it is to supersede the first. Until this is done, the original law remains in full force, even though the will of the law-making power should change; for how can the people know the will of the power having authority, unless that will is plainly expressed?SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.4

    Again, if any change in a law is made, the new law must not only be expressed in as clear language as the old, but it must be as widely circulated. All who are subject to the law and are expected to keep it, must be informed of the change, or else they cannot keep it. To punish a person for the violation of a law with which he had been allowed to become familiar, would be an act of injustice. God does not so deal with his creatures. In every instance when the execution of his judgments is recorded, we are plainly informed as to the command which was violated; and a penalty is never threatened in the Bible without an explicit statement being made of what course of action will make one liable to that penalty. With these statements, we proceed to dissect, as it were, the Sabbath law, to see if it really means what it appears to; and we will also see if it has in any way been modified, or been superseded by another law.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.5

    It is evident from the reading of the fourth commandment that the Sabbath did not originated at Sinai, for we are referred to the creation of the earth, and told that at the conclusion of that work God “blessed” and “hallowed” the Sabbath day. It must, therefore, have been in existence at that time; a thing that has no existence cannot be blessed, neither can it be hallowed.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.6

    This will be still more evident when we consider the meaning of the word “hallow.” Webster defines it thus: “To make holy; to set apart for holy or religious use; to consecrate.” The word in the original is defined similarly. It is the same word that is rendered “sanctified” in Genesis 2:3, and “appoint” in Joshua 20:7. The fourth commandment, then, tells us plainly that God commanded the Sabbath to be kept holy in the beginning.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.7

    Turning to the first chapter of Genesis we read the record of the first six days of time, in which the heavens and the earth, and all that they contain, were created, the work of each day being specified. At the close of the sixth day God looked over the whole of his creation “and behold, it was a very good.” He was satisfied with his work, because it was perfect. The record continues:-SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.8

    “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.9

    We have here the record of the first Sabbath commandment. That in Exodus 20:8-11 is the same in every respect, being simply a renewal of the commandment as given at creation. In the institution of the Sabbath there was a three-fold act on the part of God. First, he rested on the seventh day. This made that day Sabbath, for Sabbath means rest. Because the Lord rested, it is called the Sabbath, or rest, of the Lord. But this act did not place man under any obligation to rest on that day. If the record stopped here, we would have no interest in it except as a matter of history. Second, God pronounced a blessing upon the day. It was thus exalted above other days in that it was a Sabbath, and blessed; still these two acts were not sufficient to make its observance obligatory on man. Third, he sanctified the day, that is, set it apart for holy or religious use: he appointed that it should be regarded holy. This was the crowning act which placed man under obligation to keep it.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.10

    Let it be remembered that it required these three acts to institute the Sabbath in the beginning. It certainly can take nothing less to institute a new Sabbath, should there be such a thing; and therefore whenever we find men claiming that some other day is entitled to recognition as the true Sabbath, we have only to apply these tests: Did God ever rest upon it? Did he ever pronounce a blessing upon it? Did he ever pronounce it holy, and set it apart for sacred observance? If these three questions in regard to any other day cannot be truthfully answered by a simple affirmation, then that day does not approach in honor and sacredness to the original Sabbath of the Lord. Man may rest upon any other day, and that day will thus become his rest, or sabbath; but man cannot pronounce a blessing upon the day, thus elevating it above other days, neither can he sanctify the day; he cannot make it holy, and he has no right to command anybody else to rest upon it. And since there is no record that God ever did these three things for any other day than the seventh, that day stands alone, distinguished above all other days as being the Sabbath of the Lord. E. J. W.SITI April 12, 1883, page 175.11

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