The Signs of the Times, vol. 11


August 13, 1885

“The Sabbath of the Decalogue” The Signs of the Times, 11, 31.

E. J. Waggoner

In the third article by Dr. Dobbs, on the Sabbath question, we find the following:- SITI August 13, 1885, page 488.1

“The Sabbath of the Sinaitic decalogue was essentially and designedly a ceremonial institution of the Mosaic law, and as such was given and confined to that people whom the Lord their God had brought out of the land of Egypt. It was a sign between God and Israel only.” SITI August 13, 1885, page 488.2

In the next paragraph, he says:- SITI August 13, 1885, page 488.3

“Some good brethren, while assenting in the main to my proposition, have thought the use of the word “ceremonial” unfortunate and misleading. I class the Sabbath institution with the other positive rites of Judaism. To my mind, the Sabbath is no more spiritual or moral than are the Passover and the new moon festival observances, commanded in the law of Moses. It, as well as they, was but a part of the ‘shadows’ which were to ‘pass away’ when the ‘body’ should come.” SITI August 13, 1885, page 488.4

In answer to the Doctor’s statement that to his mind there is nothing spiritual or moral about the Sabbath, we would quote the words of Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” This Scripture has direct application in this case, for the apostle plainly declares that the one who refuses submission to the law of God, is not spiritual, but carnal. Romans 8:7. The same apostle plainly declares that “the law is spiritual;” that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good.” Romans 7:12, 14. If the law is spiritual, then the fourth precept of the law is spiritual. SITI August 13, 1885, page 488.5

It is impossible to separate the fourth commandment from the rest of the decalogue. It is, as a whole, the moral law. The psalmist was speaking of the law as it was pronounced from Sinai, when he declared that it “is perfect” (Psalm 19:7), and he certainly referred to the words which were spoken amid the thunders of Sinai, when he said, “Thy word is true from the beginning; and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.” Psalm 119:160. SITI August 13, 1885, page 488.6

Is the decalogue ceremonial and shadowy? If the fourth commandment is, the whole must be. When God said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” what did that typify? When God said, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” what portion of the work of Christ was shadowed forth? Can any one tell? The truth is, there is not a single one of the ten commandments which has in it anything whatever of a ceremonial nature. Think a moment, reader. Did you ever hear anybody mention anything in the life, sufferings, or death of Christ, of which the Sabbath was typical? No one ever attempted to show in Christ’s work the antitype of the Sabbath. The antitype of every portion of the ceremonial law may be traced in the work of Christ, but not so with the moral law. That is not a shadow, but the substance which, when trampled upon, made it necessary for Christ’s work to be performed. The apostle says, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” 1 Corinthians 7:19. SITI August 13, 1885, page 488.7

Some men claim that the Sabbath was given as a type of the saint’s eternal rest. We have never seen any proof of such a thing, and we do not accept the statement as true; but if it were true, it would show that the Sabbath is still binding upon mankind, for the saints have not yet received their eternal rest, and the shadow can never stop until it reaches the substance. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.1

The declaration of our Saviour, in Matthew 5:17, 18, is of itself sufficient to show that the law of God is not typical or shadowy: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Till all what be fulfilled? Till all the prophets be fulfilled. Christ’s coming to earth was, as he said, in fulfillment of prophecy, for unto him all the prophets gave witness. Acts 10:43. But Christ did not at his first coming fulfill all that the prophets had spoken, for David, prophesying of him, said: “My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make [to endure] for ever, and his throne as the days of Heaven.” Psalm 89:28, 29. Here is a prophecy that cannot be completely fulfilled as long as the days of Heaven exist-in other words, it reaches to eternity;-and therefore since not a jot nor a tittle can pass from the law until all be fulfilled, it is evident that the ten commandments will exist in full force, without the slightest change, as long as eternity endures. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.2

Now what about the statement that the Sabbath was given because God brought the Jews out of Egypt? The falsity of that assertion has already been shown, by the fact that the Sabbath was given to man in Eden. If it was given in Eden, and was kept centuries before the Egyptian bondage, as we have already shown, then it was not given to commemorate the deliverance from that bondage. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.3

There was something given which, while it served as a shadow of something good to be done for the race, commemorated the deliverance from bondage. This was the passover, described in Exodus 12. But the passover was eaten in the night, and therefore Moses said: “It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt; this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.” Exodus 12:42. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.4

The objector, as he reads this, will think of Deuteronomy 5:15, which reads thus: “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.” That passage can afford no help to the opposers of Sabbath observance. Mark it well. It does not say that the Lord gave them the Sabbath day because he brought them out of Egypt, but that for that reason he commanded them to keep. There is quite a difference. The Sabbath was given to men at creation. When the children of Israel were in hard and cruel bondage in Egypt, they had grievous tasks placed upon them, and their taskmasters would not allow them any respite. They were not allowed to keep the Sabbath. Moses demanded of Pharaoh that he should let the people go, so that they might serve the Lord. Pharaoh refused, and the Lord compelled him to let them go. When God, with a wonderful exhibition of his power, have brought them out of bondage, that they might serve him, what could be expected but that he would command them to do so. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.5

The fact that God at that time commanded them to keep the Sabbath is no evidence that a previous command had not been given to do the same thing. If it were, then it would appear that it was never wrong to steal, nor do any other thing forbidden in the ten commandments, until the deliverance from Egypt, for we read in Leviticus 19:36, 37, as follows:- SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.6

“Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have; I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt. Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them.” SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.7

Even Dr. Dobbs would scarcely claim that there was anything shadowy or ceremonial in dealing justly, or that the obligation to do so has passed away. Then why should he make that assertion in the case of the Sabbath? The Sabbath was in no sense a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt; but the fact that God had miraculously delivered his people so that they might serve him, made it eminently proper that he should renew his command to them to keep an already existing institution. E. J. W. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.8

“‘Who Was Melchizedek?’” The Signs of the Times, 11, 31.

E. J. Waggoner

How many times this question has been asked, and how many quires of paper have been used up in vain attempts to answer it! The number almost equals the number of those who have ever thought about the matter. Some, in answer to the question, will have that he was Shem, and others insist that he must have been our Lord in disguise. And, strange to say, when a person has one of these ideas in his mind, it is almost impossible for anyone to rid him of it. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.9

Now to us the discussion over this question has always seemed something strange. We cannot yet conceive how it is possible for anybody with even a slight knowledge of the Scriptures, to be bothered over the matter, for the Bible tells us who Melchizedek was, in just as plain terms as could be desired. For the benefit of all who are troubled over the question, “Who was Melchizedek?” we will give a direct answer from the Bible. Turn, if you please, to Genesis 14:18-20. There you will read:- SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.10

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the Most High God. And he blessed him [Abram], and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.11

Here we are told, not only who he was but an incident in his life. He was both king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, and in that capacity he blessed the patriarch Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the five kings. He also received from Abraham a tenth part of all the spoil. See also Hebrews 7:1-4. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.12

If this does not satisfactorily answer the question, we do not know what would. Take other instances! Who was David? Answer, He was king over Israel, and a prophet of God. Who was Moses? He was a prophet, and the leader and commander of the children of Israel. In the wilderness of Sinai, he went up into the mount; and God spoke to him face to face. Who was Paul? He was an apostle, called of God to carry the gospel to the heathen. All must admit that these answers tell plainly who David and Moses and Paul were. And in like manner, to say that now Melchizedek was king of Salem, and priest of God, fully answers the question, “Who was Melchizedek?” SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.13

Suppose that in answer to the question, “Who was Moses?” I should say, “He was John the Baptist;” or that if some one should ask, “Who was David?” the answer should be given, “He was Hezekiah;” or that if when speaking of my neighbor Mr. Jones, I should be asked who he is, and should answer, “He is Mr. Brown;” what would be thought? People would think that my mind was wandering. To us it seems just as absurd to say that Melchizedek was Shem, or that he was Christ, as it would be to say that David was Paul, or that Mr. Jones is Mr. Brown. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.14

To be sure, we have a more full record of Moses and David and Paul, than we have of Melchizedek, but what of that? We have by no means a complete record even of their lives. It is not necessary that we should know all of a man’s history, in order to know who he was. Of Enoch we only know that he walked with God and was translated; yet no Bible student ever raises the question, “Who was Enoch?” SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.15

“But,” some one will say, “we the parents and descent of these men, and of Melchizedek’s parentage we know nothing.” How many are there who can tell who Elijah’s parents were? or who were his descendants, and how old he was when he was translated? No one knows. We are told only his office and some of the incidents of his life, just as in the case of Melchizedek. The schoolboy, in his reading, chances to find references to a man by the name of Paulding. He will ask, “Who was Paulding?” His teacher, or the Biographical Dictionary, will answer, “He was one of the American soldiers who, in 1780, captured Major Andre.” We know nothing of his parentage, and are told only one incident of his life, yet we do not straightway conclude that he must have been Anthony Wayne. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.16

“Yes,” says the objector, “but the Bible says that Melchizedek had no parents.” If that were so, it ought to put a stop to the folly of calling him either Shem or Christ, for we know who Shem’s father was, and we know the age of Shem when he died. Likewise, of Christ, we know that as to his earthly life he was born of the Virgin Mary, and that before he came to earth he was known, as he still is, as the “only begotten of God.” But the Bible does not say that Melchizedek had no parents. King James’ version reads, “Without father, without mother,” but this, in the Revised Version is correctly rendered, “without genealogy,” thus agreeing with the margin of the old version, “without pedigree.” His ancestry is not given, and in this he differs from the Levitical priests, in that their descent must be traced to Aaron. This was that which made his priesthood a type of Christ’s. Christ has no predecessor nor successor in his priestly office, and therefore he is set forth as the antitype of Melchizedek, who stands as the sole representative of his order. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.17

The type and the antitype, the shadow and the substance, cannot be identical. Christ is a priest “after the order of Melchizedek,” and therefore it is impossible that they two should be one. Every attempt to go beyond the record and show the origin, descent, etc., of Melchizedek, is in reality an attempt to show that his priesthood was not a type of the priesthood of Christ. Let us give ourselves wholly to “those things which are revealed,” and not waste time in vain attempts to be wise above that which is written. E. J. W. SITI August 13, 1885, page 489.18