Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 65, 1897

Jewish Tradition


June 6, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5MR 81. +Note

The scribes and Pharisees, expecting to see Jesus at the Passover, had laid a trap for Him. But Jesus, knowing their purpose, had absented Himself from this gathering. “Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes.” [Mark 7:1.] As He did not go to them, they came to Him. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 1

This deputation was sent for the express purpose of watching Jesus, that they might find something with which to accuse Him. They saw that the disciples did not observe diligently the Word of God? No;—the traditions of the elders. They did not practice the custom of “washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.” [Verse 4.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 2

Hoping to provoke a controversy the Pharisees said to Christ, “Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” [Verse 5.] They thought to draw from Christ words of which they could make capital. But He answered them with authority, while divinity expressed itself with startling power, “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you, hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” [Verse 6.] See Isaiah 29:13-16. “Howbeit, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the traditions of men, as the washing of pots and cups; and many other such like things ye do.” [Mark 7:7, 8.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 3

Christ gave them an example of what they were repeatedly doing, and had done just before coming in search of him. “Full well do ye reject the commandment of God,” He said, “that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honor thy father and mother; and Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or mother.” They set aside the fifth commandment as of no consequence, but were very exact in carrying out the traditions of the elders. The saying of supposed great men had been handed down from rabbi to rabbi, nullifying the plain requirements of God. “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition,” said Christ, “and many such like things ye do.” [Verses 9-13.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 4

In this our day we meet the very same false religious requirements. The sanctity of the fourth precept of the Decalogue is set aside, as the Jews set aside the fifth commandment, while traditions are eagerly grasped, and enforced upon the people. The Lord did not give the Jews their multitudinous traditions and ceremonies. He did not require them to occupy sacred time by doing that which was of no benefit to any one, while they disregarded His commands; and neither has He commanded men to observe the first day of the week. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 5

The religious world is, to a large degree, following in the track of the Jews. The Pharisees taught for doctrine the commandments of men, making the Word of God void by their traditions, and this the religious teachers of today are doing by upholding the first day of the week, a day which bears not the divine credentials. They clothe their false sabbath with a garb of sanctity, and many would compel its observance by imprisonment and fines. Under the enemy’s training, their zeal will grow until, like the Jews, they will think they are doing God a service by heaping reproach upon those who keep His commandments. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 6

Those who do this make of none effect the commandments instituted in Eden, for here, when the foundation of the world was laid, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, the foundation for the Sabbath was set apart to be observed as sacred. The Lord blessed the seventh day as the day of His rest, and sanctified it, commanding man to “remember.” [Exodus 20:8.] Do not forget it; keep it holy. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 7

Satan has taken the world captive. He has introduced an idol sabbath, giving to it great piety and importance. He has stolen the homage of the Christian world for this idol. They do homage to a tradition, a man-made commandment. As Nebuchadnezzar set up his golden image in the plains of Dura, and so exalted himself, so Satan exalts himself in the false sabbath, for which he has stolen the livery of heaven. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 8

Man has no permission from God to nullify one precept of the Decalogue, and make it of none effect. He has no permission to lead the mind of others to bow to an idol, or to make laws compelling them to worship it. Of those who do this, God says, “This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” [Mark 7:6.] They place the commandments of men on a level with the divine requirements; yes, they exalt a spurious sabbath above the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Their obedience to man-made requirements makes their worship null and void. But God bears with their ignorance till light comes to them. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 9

In this work Satan’s principles are deep and deceiving, and Christ’s words are appropriate, “Laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the traditions of men.” [Verse 8.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 10

The worship of the common working day, and the multitudinous ceremonies in connection with this false sabbath are of the same nature as the wrongs pointedly exposed by Christ when He said, “And many such things ye do.” [Verse 13.] The plain evidence of truth is not discerned. Laying aside the commandments of God, that they may keep their own traditions. Common things are exalted above those that are sacred and heavenly. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 11

The heavenly universe is amazed that in their credulity people transfer the benediction given to the seventh day to the first day of the week. The Sabbath is God’s memorial of creation and rest, and at the beginning of the Sabbath commandment, He gives the word of warning, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” [Exodus 20:8.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 12

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men; therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work, among the people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” [Isaiah 29:13, 14.] Thus it was with the Jewish nation; thus will it be with all who, laying aside the commandments of God, teach for doctrine the commandments of men. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 13

“And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear and understand.” He spoke with no hesitation, but with authority, as one who would flash light upon all around Him. “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” [Matthew 15:10, 11.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 14

The words that Christ spoke infuriated the ecclesiastical powers. They were spoken in the hearing of the multitude. The cavillers were seeking to destroy Christ’s influence over the people, but Christ flashed forth such rays of divine truth that they dared not ask Him further questions. Christ then turned to the multitude, who were eager to catch every word He said, for never before had they heard such words. They were plain, direct, forcible, and brief, laying down the true meaning of sin and pollution. Christ knew that if He could speak directly to the people, and open to them the Scriptures, He would be heard, for they were in a far more receptive state of mind than were the leaders. The punishment would fall upon those that were leading the people from the path of rectitude. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 15

The Pharisees had given expression to their hatred of Christ, but they dared not then carry out their full purposes. They slunk away, repulsed. When light shines forth, [he] who is unwilling to receive it begins to cultivate in the garden of his heart the seed root of bitterness, which he will also plant in other hearts. The evil seed prepares a place for itself, and the unconverted heart sees everything in a perverted light. 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 16

“Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying?” Christ knows the hearts of all men. Nothing is hid from Him. “He answered, and said, Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.” [Verses 12, 13.] “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” [John 15:2.] “Let them alone, they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” [Matthew 15:14.] “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows; for every one is an hypocrite and an evil doer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” [Isaiah 9:16, 17.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 17

“Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye yet without understanding? Do ye not yet understand that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast into the draught. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” [Matthew 15:15-20.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 18

After this Jesus went up to the borders of Tyre and Sidon. “And again departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers in his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said unto him, Ephphatha, that is Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man; but the more he charged them, so much the more they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well; he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” [Mark 7:31-37.] 12LtMs, Ms 65, 1897, par. 19