“But look!”—one might still argue—“wasn’t that Sabbath covenant for Israel only? Does it not exclude Gentiles? Was not its purpose to identify Israelites as separate and distinct from Gentiles?”
The answer is absolutely NO!
Let’s understand! Let’s get this straight!
God gave the Sabbath covenant to identify first the true God, as distinct and separate from false gods, and second to identify those who are His people as separate and distinct from those who are NOTGod’speople!
It was not given to distinguish between two kinds of God’speople—that is, for example, two kinds of Christians, such as those who were Jewish-born from those who were Gentile-born. Goddoes not have two kindsofChristians—whether Jew or Gentile-born, whether male or female, we Christians are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
In Old Testament days, the ONLY people on Earth who were God’s people were the Israelites! And the Sabbath was the sign identifying them as God’s people.
Have you not read, in Hosea, how God pictured the house of Israel (the ten-tribed kingdom) as “Lo-ammi,” meaning “NOTmy people”? (Hosea 1:9). This was because they had rejected God’s Sabbath, and followed King Jeroboam’s custom of observing the first day of the week (today called Sunday) as their “sabbath.”
“Therefore,” said God to this idolatrous Sabbath-rejecting house, “behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths” (Hosea 2:6). That is, the house of Israel shall lose her way—as she migrates from Assyrian captivity, to the northwest into Europe, to the Atlantic coastlands, Scandinavia and Britain—she shall lose her identity—become lost—the lost 10 tribes!
Read these first two chapters of Hosea—a prophecy for the 10-tribed house of Israel. It portrays them as having lost all knowledge of who their true God is!
Prophecy for Now
Note it! “For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal” (verse 8).
That pictures Britain and America today! God has given us the unprecedented national wealth He unconditionally promised Abraham—not because of our sins, but because of Abraham’s obedience! But how have we used this wealth? In Baal-worship—the day of Baal the sun-god, called Sunday—in Baal’s Christmas, Easter, and other holidays—in the paganized so-called “Christianity,” much of which is the very antithesis of the true religion of Jesus Christ!
So, notice, verse 9, what God is going to do about it!
“Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof …”—that is, the famine already now beginning in its early years—prophesied by Joel, Ezekiel, by Christ, and in Revelation! Yes, this is a prophecy for now! For ourpeople! It is even now, as you read, beginning!
Continue! Notice what else God is now about to do to us: “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, HER feast days”—those of Baal—Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Lenten season, Halloween! They are NOTGod’s days! Continue: “her new moons, and her sabbaths …” (NOTGod’s, but those of Baalism, which our people call their sabbaths—the pagan Sunday!) (verse 11).
God continues: “And I will punish her for the feast days of the Ba’als when she … forgot me, says the Eternal” (verse 13, Revised Standard Version).
Through the World Tomorrow program, and in the Plain Truth magazine, I have been shouting God’s prophecies to our people—that we are going to have such total drought and disease epidemics that it will take one third of our people! And, unless our people as a nation wake up and repent of these sins, we shall then be invaded, and once more taken captive as slaves. You may scoff. You may ignore. But not for long! In the near future it will strike! You won’t scoff then!
But what is the end of this particular prophecy of Hosea?
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her [Israel], and bring her into the wilderness”—in slavery and captivity—“and speak [unto her heart.] … And it shall be at that day”—the time of the Second Coming of Christ!—“saith the Eternal, that thou shalt call me Ishi [Hebrew meaning my husband]; and shalt call me no more Baali. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day will I make a covenant for them”—theNEW Covenant! “[A]nd I will say to them which were NOTmy people [“lost” 10 tribes], Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:14-23).
Probably you never understood the prophecy of Hosea before! It cannot be really understood unless you first understand the Sabbathcovenant of Exodus 31:12-17!
Now back to the original question of this chapter.
Does not this special Sabbath covenantexclude Gentiles? Was its purpose to identify Israel as separate and distinct from Gentiles?
When Israel rejected this identifying sign, it most assuredly did not identify them—period! It did not distinguish them from Gentiles—they came to believe that they were Gentiles. The Gentile people of the world called them Gentiles. The Jewish people called them Gentiles!
The Jewish people continued to recognize the Sabbath—and the whole world called them “the chosen people”!
A LIGHT to the Gentiles!
Then why did God make this special everlasting Sabbath covenant with Israel—and not with Gentile nations?
Simply because all Gentile nations had cut themselves off, totally, from God. All had gone into idolatry. None knew the true God.
Simply because God had taken a down-trodden slave people—yet a people of superior heredity through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Joseph—who were not inoculated with any religion, and made them His nation.
Simply because God then gave this called-out people that was His nation His right ways—and WHY?
To be a light totheGentiles!
God did it to show other nations what BLESSINGS would follow obedience to His laws! To set an example to other nations!
God gave His right ways—and all His promises—including salvation through Christ—to Israel, so as to make these ways and blessings known and available to the Gentiles!
All other nations had lost knowledge of God—lost knowledgeofHis identity. Their ancestors had once known who God was. But so many fictitious and imaginary gods and demigods had been set up in their minds, originally as intermediaries between humans and the one supreme God, that all knowledge of the one God had been erased.
At the very beginning of humanity, God talked to Adam and Eve personally. He gave them His instruction—preached to them His gospel. They knew that God offered them eternal life as His gift. They knew the wages of sin is death. But they reasoned their way around this truth—just as some of you reading this are reasoning your way around what God would like to give you. Adam and Eve rebelled. They willingly obeyed Satan.
God made mankind with free moral agency. God always has made His truth available. And God has decreed that man must choose! God does not allow man to reason out or to decide what is sin. But God forces every man to decide WHETHER to sin. God has made it sin to break His Sabbath. YOU must decide! And as you sow, you shall reap!
Adam’s children made their decisions. Abel made the right decision. Jesus Christ said Abel was righteous. His reward is assured! Cain made the wrong decision, and sealed his own fate. Almost 2,000 years later, only one man on Earth—Noah—was obedient to God. Later, Shem apparently followed God’s way. But after the Flood the rest of the world followed Nimrod, founder of this world’s civilization.
Mankind made its decision. It rebelled against God’sright ways. It willingly followed Satan’s deceptions, set up established customs and modes of worship hostile to God. Succeeding generations lost the knowledge of the true God.
WHY the Nation ISRAEL?
It was in such a world—cut off from God—that the Eternal called out a despised, humiliated, slave people, descended from Abraham. They had listened to and obeyed God. It seems human nature and human degradation are such that God had to take a debased, beaten-down, slave people as the only ones who were humbled enough to listen to and obey the Creator! But, remember—though reduced to slavery by circumstances, they were a superior people by heredity. Godpurposed now to giveallother nations a chance through this called-outpeople, Israel!
Of this people, God said: “This people have I formed for myself”—that is, to be His instrument, so that Gentile nations would see the desired results and tremendous blessings and national prosperity that would inure to Israel if they obeyed. “[T]hey shall shew forth my praise,” said God (Isaiah 43:21).
Of course, these Israelites had human nature. Even Israel, for whom God performed stupendous and most astounding miracles, never followed God’s ways for long. But through them God has taken away every excuse from all who rebel. Humanity has been given every chance to repent of its way!
Later, during Christ’s earthly human ministry and after, God used His Church. Christ called out the Church as special called-out people, not merely to preach His gospel to the world, but to show the world the desired results reaped from obedience! As ancient Israel was called to be, so the Church, too, was to be a light to the world!
“Ye are the light of the world,” said Jesus to His disciples. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works”! (Matthew 5:14, 16). That is, set theexample! Let the world see the happy results!
The right ways of God, which He created as living, inexorable laws, are not for Jewishpeopleonly. They are for mankind! The Sabbath was made for man—not for the Jewish people only.
The Ephesians were Gentiles. But they heard Christ’s gospel, and they repented, believed—obeyed. They became converted Christians.
To these Gentile-born Christians, Paul wrote: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles … That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. … Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:11-19).
Gentiles NOT Excluded
To become a converted Christian, one must become, spiritually, an Israelite! Salvation, as quoted before, is for “every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
But were not Gentilesexcluded, under theOldTestament?
They were not!
What God gave for Israel was for the Gentiles also. The Sabbath was for Gentiles, as well as Israelites! You want proof? Here it is!
Gentiles always could come into the congregation (church) of Israel—and many did. Even as they were first leaving Egypt, “a mixed multitude went up also with them” (Exodus 12:38). These were Gentiles.
In the instructions for observing the Passover, God said: “And when a stranger [Gentile] shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Eternal, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land …” (Exodus 12:48). Again, verse 49: “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.”
Always Gentiles could come in and become naturalized citizens of Israel. Thousands did.
Now let the Prophet Isaiah, in a prophecy for our time, NOW, tell you whether the Sabbath was for Jews only!
Sabbath for Gentiles TODAY!
Jesus Christ said the Sabbath was made for man! Not Jews only—not Israelites only—butforMAN! It was made for Adam! It was made for man, in the 20th century—and in century 21!
Now read Isaiah’s prophecy! Isaiah 56, beginning in verse 1.
Notice, first, it comes from the Supreme Authority!
“Thus saith the Lord ….” There is your authority!
Continue: “… Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.”
Here is the time to which the prophecy applies. WHEN is God’s salvation near to come? WHEN is His righteousness to be revealed?
That is explained in Hebrews 9:27-28!
Understand this: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Christ brings salvation, when He appears the second time! A better translation of the last part of the above sentence would be: “And unto them without sin that look for Him, shall He appear the second time untosalvation.”
The Revised Standard Version renders it: “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
When does Christ’s salvationappear? That is explained also in Revelation 12:10: “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ ….” That is speaking of the time of Christ’s Second Coming!
Again, Jesus said: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). The time: Christ’s Second Coming!
So thetime of Isaiah’s prophecy is just shortly before the Second Coming of Christ. The time, then, isnow—TODAY!
Now notice what Christ, the SupremeAuthority, says: “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger [Gentile], that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people …” (Isaiah 56:2-3).
Notice that! Let no Gentile, in our time, that has been converted, and joined himself to the LordJesus Christ, say that Christ has separated him from God’speopleIsrael. No, the Sabbath was NOT a sign to separate Gentiles from Israelites! Gentiles were not excluded!
Continue, verses 6-7: “Also the sons of the stranger [Gentile], that join themselves to the Lord”—that become Christians—“to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them [Gentiles] will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer ….”
There is proof positive!
There is an irrefutable “Thus saiththeLord.”
The Sabbath was made for man—for mankind—for Gentile as well as Israelite.
God Himself made His Sabbath binding forever (Exodus 31:12-17). It is binding forever, perpetually, throughout their generations, on Israelites. Their generations have not ended. Forever has not ended.
Israelites become Christians through Christ, the same as Gentiles. Israelite Christians, then, are bound to keep God’s Holy Sabbath.
But what about Gentiles? They, too, must keep it. They become Israelites, spiritually, when they receive God’s Holy Spirit and become truly converted Christians. God does not have one way for Jew, and one for Gentile. He does not have one day for Jew, and another for Gentile. Christis not divided! Godis no respecterofpersons!