The Review and Herald

923/1902

March 8, 1898

Tradition

EGW

“Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” Expecting to see Jesus at the Passover, the Pharisees 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.” As he did not go to them, they came to him. RH March 8, 1898, par. 1

This deputation was sent from Jerusalem for the express purpose of watching Jesus, that something might be found with which to accuse him. The Pharisees saw that the disciples did not observe diligently the traditions of the elders. They did not practise the custom of “washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.” 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?” They thought to draw from Christ words of which they could make capital. But he answered them with authority, while divinity was revealed 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. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.” RH March 8, 1898, par. 2

Christ gave them an example of what they were repeatedly doing, and had done just before coming in search of him. “Full well ye reject the commandment of God,” he said, “that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy 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 Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do aught for his father or his mother.” They set aside the fifth commandment as of no consequence, but were very exact in carrying out the tradition of the elders. The sayings 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,” said Christ; “and many other such like things ye do.” RH March 8, 1898, par. 3

“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.” These words, spoken in the hearing of the multitude, infuriated the ecclesiastical powers. The cavilers were seeking to destroy Christ's influence over the people, but he flashed forth such divine truth that they dared not ask him further questions. Christ knew that if he could speak directly to the people, opening to them the Scriptures, he would be heard; for they were in a far more receptive frame of mind than were the leaders. The punishment would fall upon those who were leading them from the path of rectitude. The people listened eagerly to all that Christ said; for never before had they heard such words. They were plain, direct, forcible, and brief, and clearly defined the true meaning of sin and pollution. RH March 8, 1898, par. 4

The Pharisees had given expression to their hatred, but they dared not then carry out their full purpose. They slunk away, repulsed. They would not receive the light shining on their pathway. When the light shines forth, those who are unwilling to receive it begin to cultivate in the heart the seeds of bitterness. These they also plant in other hearts. This evil seed prepares a place for itself, and the unconverted heart sees everything in a perverted light. So it was with the Pharisees. RH March 8, 1898, par. 5

“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. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” “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.” RH March 8, 1898, par. 6

“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draft? 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 witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” RH March 8, 1898, par. 7

In this our day we meet the same false religious requirements upheld by the Pharisees. The fourth precept of the decalogue is set aside, as the Jews set aside the fifth commandment, while traditions are eagerly grasped and enforced. The Lord did not give the Jews their multitudinous traditions and ceremonies. He did not require them to occupy precious time in doing that which was of no benefit to any one, while they disregarded his commands; neither has he commanded men to observe the first day of the week. RH March 8, 1898, par. 8

To a large degree the religious world is following in the path of the Jews. The Pharisees taught for doctrine the commandments of men, making the word of God void by their traditions, and this the teachers of today are doing by upholding the first day of the week,—a day that bears not the divine credentials. They clothe their false Sabbath with a garb of sanctity, and many would compel its observance by imprisonment and fine. 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 on those who have the moral courage to keep his commandments. RH March 8, 1898, par. 9

Those who do this venture to make of none effect a commandment instituted in Eden; for there, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, the foundation of the Sabbath was laid, and the seventh day was set apart to be observed as sacred. The Lord blessed this day as the day of his rest, and sanctified it, commanding man to “remember.” Do not forget it; keep it holy. RH March 8, 1898, par. 10

Man has no permission from God to nullify one precept of the decalogue. He has no permission to lead the minds of others to bow to an idol, or to make laws compelling God's heritage to worship that which is false. Of those who do this, God says, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” They place the commandments of men on a level with the divine requirements; yea more, 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. RH March 8, 1898, par. 11

The worship of a common working-day, and the multitudinous ceremonies connected with this false sabbath, are of the same nature as the wrongs pointedly exposed by Christ when he said, “And many other such like things ye do.” The plain evidence of truth is not discerned. Laying aside the commandments of God as altogether unimportant, men follow tradition. They reject God's law, in order that they may keep their tradition. Common things are exalted above those things that are sacred and heavenly. RH March 8, 1898, par. 12

Satan has taken the world captive. He has introduced an idol sabbath, apparently giving to it great importance. He has stolen the homage of the Christian world away from the Sabbath of the Lord for this idol sabbath. The world bows to a tradition, a man-made commandment. As Nebuchadnezzar set up his golden image on the plain of Dura, and so exalted himself, so Satan exalts himself in this false sabbath, for which he has stolen the livery of heaven. RH March 8, 1898, par. 13

In this work the principles of the enemy are deep and deceiving, and Christ's words are appropriate, “Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men.” The heavenly universe is amazed that, in their credulity, men 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 command he places the word of warning, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” “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 this 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.” Thus it was with the Jewish nation, and thus it will be with all who, laying aside the commandments of God, teach for doctrine the commandments of men. RH March 8, 1898, par. 14