God's Sabbath - the Badge of Loyalty

Chapter 8
THE BADGE OF LOYALTY

From the beginning the Creator planned to have a memorial of His method of creating. It would be for the good and lasting happiness of mankind for them to remember His creatorship, His power, His sovereignty. He could have accomplished the making of the earth and its plants and animals in one day, or even instantaneously. But He did not. He might have prolonged this creative act for ten days, or thirty. But He did not. He deliberately planned to do it by stages, spread out over six days, with a special extra day at the close as an official memorial of what He had done and how He had done it. Then He put a perpetual blessing upon every succeeding seventh day as a holy rest day, in memory of the Creator's resting, or ceasing from the divine activity of the work of creation. The mere fact of creation is important, but God thought that the method was also important and should be remembered.

During the centuries this divine memorial accomplished its design for all who remembered it to keep it holy. But in the time of the prophet Daniel God foretold that in times then future a world power would arise that would attempt to change this divine memorial. (Daniel 7:25.) The Smith-Goodspeed Translation reads, "He shall plan to change the sacred seasons and the law." James A. Montgomery, in his Commentary, says that the "times" or "seasons" as here used "are the calendar feasts of the church." Obviously it refers to the Sabbath of the Decalogue.

That was a prophecy of what would take place. In due course of time the Catholic Church did attempt to do this very thing, to change the Sabbath to Sunday. She boasts about having made this change and points to the change as proof of her power and authority in such matters. For more than a thousand years this attempt at high-handed religious vandalism has seemed to succeed. The world in general has adopted the change. Today even non-Christian peoples and nations keep holiday on the day appointed by the Bishop of Rome.

But the Creator foresaw all this and made provision to meet it. He foresaw also that in the time of the end a strange godless philosophy would capture the attention of mankind, teaching that the things of nature have in themselves the potency of their own development, thus abolishing the idea of any definite beginning or creation of anything and substituting for it the doctrine of continuous, gradual change. The Lord forewarned that the perverse race would contend that "all things continue as they were from the beginning" (2 Peter 3:4), and that the same will continue indefinitely into the future—"To morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant" (Isaiah 56:12). And so in His divine wisdom He planned to use this situation for the last test to be brought before the human race—the final, life-and-death choice for all mankind just before the second coming of Christ.

Connected with this triumph of the evolution philosophy, the Creator also foresaw another subtle form of denying any genuine creation at the beginning of this world, for it is being charged that God would be deceiving mankind by creating mature plants and animals, with countless indications of their having grown by natural processes. Did God create trees with rings in their wood, which would seem to tell of growth which never took place, spiral snail shells with whorls indicating growth which never occurred, or full-blown roses which seemed to have grown from buds, but did not? In short, would not God have been deceiving Adam and Eve in their study of plants and animals, by the countless indications of growth and slow development, if He really created a mature, well-balanced world by a fiat creation?

This is the modern form of the old, old poser, whether Adam was created with his second set of teeth and a fully ossified skeleton. Or to put it more bluntly and vividly, Did Adam have a navel? If he did not, his descendants would not resemble their parents; but if he had an umbilicus, or the scar on the abdomen, and this was never attached by a cord to the uterus of a mother, would not such a scar be a living lie, seeming to tell of events which never took place?

It would seem impossible for a complete world of animals and plants to be started off as a going concern by a hat creation in only a few days, without there being countless appearances of previous growth and development which never took place. Many birds, insects, and other animals, for instance, require seeds or mature fruit for food, and could not wait for this food to develop. The first man also needed ripe fruits and nuts, and such food would necessarily involve many appearances of age which would be misleading if examined critically then and there. In short, everywhere throughout the world there would be evidences of apparent age which would be completely misleading unless explained to our first parents. Accordingly, something like the Sabbath would be essential to remind all subsequent generations that the beginnings of our world were radically different from the "natural" processes now going on.

In other words, anything like a fiat creation demands also something like the Sabbath to prevent subsequent generations from misreading the present acting laws of nature, for these that we call natural processes can never tell us how the world originated.

The same general principle is involved when we in modern times find two or more isotopes of lead in -association with uranium in the rocks. The creationist would say that the ages of transformation thus indicated may never have taken place, for when God made the world by a hat creation, necessarily He made it complete, a balanced, going concern, in which the mineralogical and chemical processes would be in various stages of completeness, many of them looking as if they had been preceded by long ages of change. And thus their appearance would be unreliable.

The attempt to date objects or strata by the carbon-14 method is somewhat different; and if we assume uniformity backward to the time of the Deluge, this method, when properly carried on, may be reasonably accurate back that far. But many believe that the present conditions of bombardment from outer space did not prevail before that time, because of radically different atmospheric conditions in prediluvian times. And obviously, no believer in a fiat creation will admit that the carbon-14 method is trustworthy farther back than the date of the creation. Hence this method of dating the past has no value for the creationist back more than a very few millenniums.

From all this it is evident that the entire problem of the reliability of natural science is involved. Is nature trustworthy? Can we trust the evidence of our senses?

Modern scientists are loud in declaring that God would be deceiving us if He created mature trees with rings, roses which did not develop from buds, horses or cows with fully ossified bones, or human beings and other mammals with umbilical scars, implying a former attachment to a mother, when such was not the case.

The answer to all this is profoundly important for our day and generation. The Creator gave our first parents the Sabbath as the key to all these puzzles. In the light of the meaning of the Sabbath, neither the first pair nor any of their descendants ought to misunderstand the rings in the trees or any other indications of gradual growth when dealing with any plant or animal of the original creation. The knowledge that God had created a fully balanced world of mature plants and animals in six solar days would save our first parents and all their offspring from believing the falsehood of evolution by slow development during long ages. The latter method would necessarily involve long periods of suffering and death on the part of millions of the lower animals, and this would plainly be contrary to the methods of a wise and kindly Creator. By creating the world a well-balanced going concern, with many plants and animals mature from the start, God could have a painless, deathless, sinless world to begin with, which He could truthfully pronounce "very good" (Genesis l:3l);whereas, by the process of develop- ment or evolution the opposite would be the case. And the Sabbath was given to save the world from any mistaken theories about the origin of the plants and animals, or of man himself.

Not only in the early days of the world was the Sabbath an answer to any misunder- standing of nature which might arise, it is equally so today. Nobody who remembers the Sabbath to keep it holy as commanded can possibly be led astray by the noisy claims of modern uniformitarian science. The Sabbath and evolution cannot be entertained by the same mind.

But why such amazing scientific discoveries and inventions in recent years?

The first part of the answer is that if they were due to natural development, they would have come about gradually, not all crowded into the last century or so of human history.

No; there is a reason for these modern scientific discoveries. God's plan for closing out this long drama of sin and suffering in a kindly and dignified way, a way that would justify before the intelligent onlooking universe His method of handling the situation caused by the entrance of sin, would necessarily call for a worldwide enlightenment beyond anything previously seen. It would also involve speedy travel and quick communication, so that all men everywhere may know the moral issues involved in the final crisis. "This gospel of the [coming] kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Matthew 24: 14. But airplane travel, newspapers, and radio cannot exist alone. Thousands of other interrelated lines of scientific knowledge would necessarily be involved, for intelligent and effective command of nature has to be more or less a balanced unity. All this was foreseen and planned for, as proved by the prediction of twenty-five centuries ago, "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Daniel 12:4. This prophecy was expressly stated to apply at "the time of the end."

But increased dangers and risks would be involved. In a world made up predominantly of sinners, that is, of mutineers and rebels, any greatly increased knowledge of and command over nature would not be an unmixed blessing. Knowledge means power; and power is never good unless those who possess it are good. As the Creator looked down the tear-misted vistas of the future centuries, He saw how the last generation of mankind would abuse the two freedoms which they would be enjoying in this time of the end, the freedom to think and to do. The vastly greater knowledge of nature thus permitted would be perverted, human pride and Luciferian ambition would invent a theory about inevitable world progress from crude beginnings, and men would try to make themselves believe that soon they would be well able to solve all the problems of life and enjoy a peaceful world without any dependence upon God for anything. Having long ago discarded the divine memorial of a real, literal creation, they would explain away the other basic ideas of God's system of salvation and would finally plan to liquidate the troublesome few who are determined to remain loyal to their Creator and His official memorial. (Revelation 12:17.)

Accordingly, when God's last gospel message is preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, in preparation for the end of human history (Matthew 24:14), it must of necessity be adapted to the situation then existing. It must tell of the judgment hour, the court week in heaven then going on; and it must also call upon this generation of evolutionists and university-trained pagans to "worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Revelation 14:7.)

Necessarily also in this crisis hour God would make a test case of the Sabbath, His official memorial and the badge of loyalty to Himself, in diametric contrast to the counterfeit hallmark invented by the rebels. Those who were determined to obey their Creator would of course remember the Sabbath to keep it holy, and would do so because they believed in the real fiat creation it commemorated. All others would keep the rival institution, "the wild solar holiday of all pagan times."

How could the basic issues of the last crisis hour be made more simple or more plain? "If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." 1 Kings 18:21. "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15.

Adventists believe that this Sabbath issue will become more and more prominent and vital down to the last hours of time. They do not look for any mitigation of the growing apostasy in the direction of evolutionism and the denial of the Genesis record of creation. On the contrary, they are confident that their Sabbath reform movement has been planned for just such a situation as now prevails. The late editor of the official denominational journal said this:

"It is when we see the Sabbath in the setting of the modern apostasy that we can best understand the unique status of Adventists in the religious world. This Advent movement is the only religious body with a message that directly meets the key heresy of our age, the evolution theory, and calls on all who wish to come out of Babylon, out of apostasy, to accept the true sign of allegiance to the living God, the Creator. We stand revealed today as calling on men to join with us not simply in a technical dispute over the seventh or the first day of the week or to keep another day just to be different. We call on men to keep the Sabbath as a sign of allegiance to the Creator of the heavens and the earth, as a badge of loyalty to the great truths of revelation, all of which rest on the opening chapters of the Bible."—Francis D. Nichol, Answers to Objections, 1952 ed., p. 709.

In another connection this writer tells of a conversation he once had with a Baptist minister at about the time of the Scopes trial in Tennessee. This Baptist deplored the split then developing over evolution and remarked to Nichol that he supposed the Adventists were experiencing a similar cleavage.

"I assured him that so far from our having a split we had not even the beginnings of it. He looked amazed and asked whether I could possibly explain it. I replied, 'How is it possible for Adventists to give any credence to the evolution theory, when every week they set aside a whole day as a memorial to Him who created the heavens and the earth, as the book of Genesis describes?' He gazed at me a moment and then exclaimed, 'I'd never thought of the Sabbath in that way before.' "—Our Firm Foundation, Vol. I, p. 621.

One more point needs to be understood in this connection, namely, the way in which the present religioscientific situation tends to strengthen the Church of Rome. By the Council of Trent and in its catechisms and authoritative publications the Roman Catholic Church has claimed Sunday (the rival of the Sabbath) as the official sign of its power and authority to appoint holy days and to command the obedience of mankind.

Everywhere today men have become confused and unsettled. They anxiously look for something or some institution to which they can appeal as a source of confidence, some authority in moral and religious matters. This is why we see such a steady procession of well-known people to the Catholic Church. A writer in a Protestant journal explained it thus:

"I hold no brief for the Roman Catholic Church. It would be impossible for me intellectually to accept its teachings. But, if Roman Catholicism wins ultimately, it will be because men and women, tired in soul, stand ready to forget its many archaic remnants of the past, and kneel before the altar, where for them an avenue may lead to the presence of their God." Long ago we Adventists were warned that just such a state of affairs would surely come.

"A day of great intellectual darkness has been shown to be favorable to the success of the papacy. It will yet be demonstrated that a day of great intellectual light is equally favorable for its success. In past ages, when men were without God's word, and without the knowledge of the truth, their eyes were blindfolded, and thousands were ensnared, not seeing the net spread for their feet. In this generation there are many whose eyes become dazzled by the glare of human speculations, 'science falsely so called'; they discern not the net, and walk into it as readily as if blindfolded. God designed that man's intellectual powers should be held as a gift from his Maker, and should be employed in the service of truth and righteousness; but when pride and ambition are cherished, and men exalt their own theories above the word of God, then intelligence can accomplish greater harm than ignorance. Thus the false science of the present day, which undermines faith in the Bible, will prove as successful in preparing the way for the acceptance of the papacy, with its pleasing forms, as did the withholding of knowledge in opening the way for its aggrandizement in the Dark Ages."—The Great Controversy, pp. 572, 573.

The profound importance of the statement of this paragraph calls for the careful attention of every lover of truth. It was first written about three quarters of a century ago, when the significance of the then-rising evolution philosophy was not understood by the world in general, and was overlooked by many Adventists. During the passing decades, however, these scientific speculations have captured the minds of the entire civilized world. The moral and intellectual climate of the world has changed. This paragraph shows how this change is going to be favorable to the ultimate rejuvenation of the Roman Church and her resumption of authority over the lives and consciences of men—which is exactly what is meant by the healing of the deadly wound.

May God have pity on those individuals who have looked upon the discussion of Deluge geology and the refutation of organic evolution as a mere tempest in a teapot, a distraction away from the really important truths for this time.

When we see the Sabbath in its timely importance as the final test for all the world, then a true understanding of the proofs for a literal creation will be seen as vitally important for everybody. And we also see that these false scientific theories have been and still are a major cause in preparing for the healing of the deadly wound and the worldwide worship of the beast and its image.

Read Chapter 9 — The Gospel of the Kingdom

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