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Interpreting the Sabbath

Interpreting the Sabbath
In a short article titled, “How to Correctly Interpret the Bible,” author Jack Wellman properly encourages us to carefully follow certain basics in order to accurately understand the Word of God. His first suggestion is that we consider the context of a specific passage. He quotes Peter who wrote, “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). We should not push our own ideas onto the Bible but always strive to understand the Spirit-inspired meaning of a passage.

Wellman then addresses the “proof-text” method and warns against taking one verse out of context and creating a pretext—that is, twisting a Bible verse to say something it was never intended to say. He shares: “Many a cult are formed by proof-texting and then using that verse to create a set of beliefs, however the problem is it may be a false set of beliefs because we can easily rip out a verse from the proper context and make it mean something that is not really accurate.”

One way he believes this can happen is by applying Bible verses that were intended for a specific group of people—the Jews—to a different group of people. Wellman uses the word “prescriptive” to indicate specific laws intended for only certain people (such as the Jewish feasts being only for the Jews). He then says, “The Ten Commandments are prescriptive for all mankind” but states that the Saturday Sabbath was prescriptive for Israel. He writes: “To say the Sabbath is commanded of all people is to take prescriptive commands that were written “to Israel” and try to make them be applied to Christians today, whom they were never intended for.”

While Wellman uses good logic, in this case he doesn’t apply it to his own argument. If the Ten Commandments are “for all mankind,” then the fourth commandment about the seventh-day Sabbath would apply to all people, not just the Jews. Furthermore, the Sabbath command preceded the Jewish people and was established at Creation by God for everyone (see Genesis 2:1–3).

Let’s all strive to follow Paul’s advice: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)—especially when it comes to interpreting God’s direct commands.

Also in the News …

Sunday’s not sacred according to my Bible. A letter to the editor that questions the designation of Sunday as God’s true day of rest.

Sudbury faith: Personal power outages good for soul. When your electric power goes out, it is a good reminder to slow down and keep the Sabbath holy.

Keeping the Sabbath holy: How we can rest in a way that honors God. Here are some good tips on honoring the Sabbath, though the author is unclear about which day of the week is God’s rest day.