In the Jan-Feb 2005 edition of Tomorrow's World magazine, a reader, critical of the Sabbath doctrine wrote, "God does not really care what day and what time we should gather together to worship Him. Worship Him on Sabbath days (Saturdays) or Sundays does not need to be so strongly emphasized. Let me ask you how many people can go to church on Saturdays? Most of the people in other countries and even many people in the U.S. need to go to work on Saturdays. Our God is not an unreasonable God."
Apparently the reader feels that the Protestant God (the overall letter suggests, but does not state, that this person is some type of Protestant) would not expect people to go to church on Saturday and that a God that would should be considered unreasonable.
God Does Not Think Quite the Same Way Humans
God made it clear that He does not think quite the same as humans when He stated, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV throughout except where noted).
The Apostle Paul made it clear that those who think in a fleshly, carnal manner are not truly called of God, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be (Romans 8:5-7).Do God's Ways Always Seem Reasonable to Humans?
Perhaps looking at some examples of biblical personalities will be helpful here to better understand God and what He expects.
Hebrews 11:4 states, "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks". But recall that God allowed Abel, the first human in the Bible to be referred to as 'righteous' to be murdered. Was the reasonable?
Hebrews 11:7 states, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."
Look at what happened to Noah. God told him to build an ark, the biggest sailing vessel of all time then. During his life, Noah was a 'preacher of righteous' (I Peter 2:5), yet no one outside of his family listened to him. Was that reasonable?
Hebrews 11:8 states, "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going".
In Abram's case, here we have a wealthy man living perhaps the most modern life possible at the time. And what did God tell him to do? God told him to leave most of his family and wander in the wilderness and live in tents (Genesis 12:1; Hebrews 11:8). Was that reasonable? God also told Abraham that he would have a child, but did not provide Isaac until Abraham was about 100 years old. Was that reasonable?
Hebrews 11:22 states, "By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones".
What about Joseph? Here is a boy who after God revealed a message to him in a dream was hated more by his brothers (Genesis 37:5). Here is an apparent teenager who while doing what his father told him to do (vs. 12) was captured and thrown in a pit by his brothers (vs. 24) and then sold into slavery (vs. 28). He then did an outstanding job as a slave (39:2-4), resisted the advances of an aduterous spouse (vss. 7-12)--his reward? Jail (vs. 20)! Was that reasonable?
Hebrews 11:24-25 states, "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin".
Because the Hebrews refused to support Moses (Acts 7:25), he apparently concluded that God was not going to use him. Forty years later God drafted Moses against his will (Exodus 4:10-17). God repeatedly made Moses do things and be responsible for things that Moses did not want to do nor be responsible for. And because he (Moses) got more upset one time than God thought he should when the Israelites rebelled, God would not even let him enter the promised land (Deuteronomy 1:37) that he was seeking for 40 additional years. Was that reasonable?
Hebrews 11:32-39 states, "And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented-- of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise". Do all those trials seem reasonable?
Interestingly, Paul wrote about the wandering Israelites, " Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (I Corinthians 10:11-13).
Note that Paul also stated that God is faithful to allow His people to make it through temptations, even very difficult ones.
Of course Paul himself went through a lot, "I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness-- besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches" (II Corinthians 11:23-28).
Was God reasonable with Paul?
And for those that may wish to argue that this Paul was and he was so strong need to look at what Paul wrote immediately after he went through his 'labors', as II Corinthians 11:29-31 continues with, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying."
Notice something else that the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Christians are to be living sacrifices, giving up their carnal desires for what God wants, and to serve Him--and that Christians should not just go along with how the world wants them to be. And God, Himself, says that this is a reasonable service.
What Does This Have to do With the Sabbath?
God has expected His people to do or endure things that humans may think are unreasonable.
Thus the real question is whether or not people will do what God says, even if they may not necessarily feel that God is reasonable.
If God did distinguish between days which one did He decide on? Both Jesus (Matthew 4:4) and Paul (II Timothy 3:16) taught the the Bible should be the source of Christian life and doctrine, so it is to the Bible where one should find the answer to this question.
Which day did God bless? The Bible, beginning with Genesis 2:3 states, "God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made."
What does God expect then? Exodus 20:8-11 states, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 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 do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
What day did God set aside for holy convocations such as church attendance? Leviticus 23:3 shows us, "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings."
Is this still binding on Christians? Hebrews 4:4-7,9 teaches, "For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day...There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God" (NIV).
Christians, we are told, "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). Thus, even if employment or other matters seem pressing, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
Remember Jesus also taught, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:24-27). Paul put it a similar way, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:6).
It would appear to be more focused on employment than what God teaches is to be carnally, as opposed to spiritually, minded.
It May Be Difficult
Jesus made it clear that those following His teachings may have difficulty, "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Throughout the entire Bible it is clear that God expected His people to do or endure things that humanly speaking do not appear to have been reasonable.
Humanly speaking it may seem that obeying God may not seem to be reasonable.
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6-7).
And those that do have that type of faith also "know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Thiel B. An Unreasonable God? http://www.cogwriter.com/unreason.htm 2005/2012 1103
Some articles of possibly related interst may include:
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord? Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord's Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
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