It has been a founding doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist church that the seventh-day Sabbath is from creation, whereas the “ceremonial Sabbaths,” also known as “festival Sabbaths,” were from the time of Moses, and as such were simply “shadow Sabbaths” that were pointing to Christ’s first Advent. As a result of the cross, when Christ died, types gave way to the antitype, and the shadows gave way to the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the life of the Church. This reasoning worked well for a while, but with the advent of the Computer Age, when rapid searches can be made virtually at the speed of electrons, those arguments are quickly falling apart, leaving the proponents of such erroneous views to seek an enhanced way of explaining away the plain teachings of the Bible, in their effort to teach for doctrines the traditions of the fathers, all on account of their resisting conformity with the Bible’s most treasured precepts. But for Davidians, this is more troubling, for they will have to confront the reality that even Victor Houteff, did not have complete knowledge on the Scriptures on this topic, neither did he part with some of the traditions of the church fathers who preceded him.
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that whereas most Davidians and their Adventist counterparts hold that the weekly Sabbath is in a different and separate category from the “shadow Sabbaths,” on account of the one being established before sin, and the other instituted after, that both these Sabbaths were instituted at the creation of the earth, before sin, and that both, during the reign of sin, were re-purposed by Heaven to accommodate sacrifices to be offered on them, and that this was God’s redemptive effort in leading the lost race of Adam back to Himself.
For many Davidians, nowhere is this view that the weekly Sabbath was made and used purely for “rest,” more plainly seen than in Brother Houteff’s first book—The Shepherd’s Rod, Volume One:
A good minister of God, after being questioned as to the authority in selling our publications on the Sabbath day in the house of God, said, “It is a question just how much of our publications are to be sold on the Sabbath.” The confliction in this minister’s mind was answered in three short words: “None of it.” But this answer did not satisfy the man in the sacred position, and he added, “Ancient Israel killed the lamb and sacrificed it on the Sabbath. Therefore, we can sell our books.” The answer given to this was, “If Israel did sacrifice the lamb on the seventh-day Sabbath they were told to do so, but you are told not to, and that is the difference.” The fact of the matter is that God did not give the seventh-day Sabbath to ancient Israel for sacrifices, but for a day of rest. Monthly Sabbaths were added for the sacrifices. Read Lev. 23.
My citing this reference it not a work of “undermining Brother Houteff’s ministry,” as some have accused me of, but to demonstrate that he was caught in a “commonly understood” doctrine, which holds that the “monthly” or “shadow Sabbaths” were added for carrying out the sacrifices mandated in the so-called ceremonial law. Even today, Brother Houteff’s views on the seventh-day Sabbath are not in disharmony with that of modern Adventist theological scholarship, for even in one of the most recent fundamental beliefs dossier, such a view has been stoutly maintained:
While the weekly Sabbath was ordained at the close of Creation week for all mankind, the annual Sabbaths were an integral part of the Jewish system of rites and ceremonies instituted at Mount Sinai,…which pointed forward to the coming of the Messiah, and the observance of which terminated with His death on the Cross.
This teaching will cause us much theological embarrassment in coming years, as it can easily be shown that the priests were on a sort of double-duty in sacrificing on the Sabbath than on the regular week days!
That Brother Houteff’s view of the Sabbath, in relation to the sacrificial system, is a carry-over from the traditional Seventh-day Adventist position, can be quickly seen from the below extract from an online resource, which espouses the Adventist’s theological position on the “shadow Sabbaths” of the Bible:
As Heb 10:4 states, the animal sacrifices were incapable of taking away sins, and those sacrifices were offered repeatedly year by year (v. 1), according to the ceremonial law. These powerless sacrifices could only remind the sinner of their sin (v. 3). But the body of Christ is introduced in verse 5, which would be offered once to take away sins (v. 10). As verse 9 states, the first (ceremonial animal sacrifices) were taken away by the second, the sacrifice of Christ. So it is the ceremonial system of animal sacrifices and their associated shadow sabbaths that ended at the cross. That is also what Hebrews 9, cited above, is saying, that this reformation happened with the shedding of Christ’s blood, providing the eternal redemption that was not possible by the animal sacrifices of the earthly (first) tabernacle.
The ceremonial law, the ordinances written by the hand of Moses in a book, was clearly distinct from the Ten Commandments, which were written by the finger of God on tables of stone. In Leviticus, Moses makes note of the fact that the yearly ceremonial sabbaths, instituted for the purpose of offerings and sacrifices, were separate and distinct from the weekly Sabbath:…
The yearly sabbaths were all set according to the new moons, which marked the beginning of the month. They were observed in the order and on the dates set by God at Sinai for the purpose of making sacrifices. The weekly seventh day Sabbath commandment is distinctive, in that it does not have any intrinsic requirement for sacrifices or burnt offerings (Exo. 20:8-11, Deut. 5:12-15), and it is not set by the new moon.
Now let’s see what was prescribed by YHWH to be presented on the so-called “shadow Sabbaths,” as well as on the seventh-day or “weekly Sabbath,” in Israel:
- “37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: 38 Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.” Lev. 23: 37, 38.
- “9 And on the Sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: 10 This is the burnt offering of every Sabbath, beside [in addition to] the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.” Num. 28: 9, 10.
To be clear then, both the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths had “sacrifices” offered on them. Therefore, if the argument advanced over the past 170 years by most Adventists of all stripes, be true, that the “ceremonial law” was nailed to the cross on account of the “sacrifices” that were offered for its observance, then this becomes a compelling reason for a wholesale abolition of God’s holy Sabbath day of rest and worship from the Decalogue! Why? Because as we now see, and perhaps this is the first time for some readers, that “every Sabbath” was profaned by sacrifices!
The below table is a presentation of the various sacrifices that were offered on each day of the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles (FOT), as recorded in Numbers 29.
From this display of facts before us, it should be rather clear to all that since there are at most two weekly Sabbaths in eight days, that every year there would occur during Tabernacles at least one seventh-day Sabbath, and no alternate provisions for sacrifices on that day were ever made in the Torah. In other words, the seventh-day Sabbath was not above being “polluted” by sacrifices.
- “3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” Matt. 12: 3-5.
- “4 And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer unto the LORD in the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish. 5 And the meat offering shall be an ephah for a ram, and the meat offering for the lambs as he shall be able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.” (Eze 46:4, 5)
Note: This concept about the weekly Sabbath and the sacrifices offered on it, has never been repudiated by Brother Houteff, and he went to his grave with this belief on record, even though he might have come to a clearer understanding over time. Yet, today there are many Davidians who will at first pass with this question emphatically state that the Sabbath was not a day used for sacrifices, and when shown this statement in 1 SR p. 167 in contrast to Num. 28: 9, 10, they will simply dismiss it by suggest that it was “only the Priests that were allowed to sacrifice on the Sabbath, but not the common people, and that Brother Houteff was talking about the people only, and not the priests!” This they say in ignorance of the fact that all the daily sacrificing was done by the Priests, no matter if it was a work day, a Sabbath day or a holiday! True, the sinner slew the animal, but the offering up of the sacrifice was a work reserved only to the priests, (Lev. 1: 3-5).
Contrary to the Davidian apologetic approach to Brother Houteff’s obvious carry-over of “commonly accepted views” on the Sabbath and Sacrifices, by Seventh-day Adventists, is the Jewish record on this question:
The Sacrifice: The sacrificial animal, which was either a lamb or kid, was necessarily a male, one year old, and without blemish. Each family or society offered one victim together, which did not require the “semikah” (laying on of hands), although it was obligatory to determine who were to take part in the sacrifice that the killing might take place with the proper intentions. Only those who were circumcised and clean before the Law might participate; and they were forbidden to have leavened food in their possession during the act of killing the paschal lamb. The animal was slain on the eve of the Passover, on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, after the Tamid sacrifice had been killed, i.e., at three o’clock, or, in case the eve of the Passover fell on Friday, at two.
The killing took place in the court of the Temple, and might be performed by a layman, although the blood had to be caught by a priest, and rows of priests with gold or silver cups in their hands stood in line from the Temple court to the altar, where the blood was sprinkled. These cups were rounded on the bottom, so that they could not be set down; for in that case the blood might coagulate. The priest who caught the blood as it dropped from the victim then handed the cup to the priest next to him, receiving from him an empty one, and the full cup was passed along the line until it reached the last priest, who sprinkled its contents on the altar. The lamb was then hung upon special hooks or sticks and skinned; but if the eve of the Passover fell on a Sabbath, the skin was removed down to the breast only. The abdomen was then cut open, and the fatty portions intended for the altar were taken out, placed in a vessel, salted, and offered by the priest on the altar, while the remaining entrails likewise were taken out and cleansed.
On Sabbath Eve: Even if the eve of the Passover fell on a Sabbath, the paschal lamb was killed in the manner described above, the blood was sprinkled on the altar, the entrails removed and cleansed, and the fat offered on the altar; for these four ceremonies in the case of the paschal lamb, and these alone, were exempt from the prohibition against working on the Sabbath. This regulation, that the Sabbath yielded the precedence to the Passover, was not definitely determined until the time of Hillel, who established it as a law and was in return elevated to the dignity of nasi by the Bene Bathyra (Pes. 68a).
But how did Brother Houteff come to his anti-Sabbath-sacrificing conclusions? Simple. He was a devout Sabbath School Teacher in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and as such, since said church from her earliest beginnings in the mid-19th Century, taught that the way to differentiate between the weekly Sabbath and the “ceremonial” Sabbaths is on the basis of the “sacrifices” that were done on them, he unquestioningly accepted this “commonly accepted” erroneous teaching, which was invented by Adventists in their defense of the Sabbath against Sunday-keeping theologians. In the Below Table, taken from Jan Marcussen’s book, National Sunday Law, http://www.seventh-day.org/NSL-APP.htm ; APPENDIX 11, I again cite the SDA’s position on the two Sabbaths; column three was added with corrections by me:
|10 Commandments: No animal sacrifices||Ceremonial Law: The one with animal sacrifices was nailed to the cross, the other will stand forever.||Correction: 7th Day Sabbath had double animal sacrifices, Num. 28: 9-10.|
|1) Is called the “royal law” James 2:8.
2) Was spoken by God, Deut. 4:12,13.
3) Was written with the finger of God, Ex. 31:18.
4) Was placed in the ark. Ex. 40:20, Heb. 9:4.
5) ls to “stand forever and ever.” Ps. 111:7,8
6) Was not destroyed by Christ. Matt. 5:17 &18.
|1) Is called “the law contained in ordinances.” Eph. 2:15.
2) Was spoken by Moses. Lev. 1:1-3
3) Was written by Moses in a book, II Chron. 35:12
4) Was placed in the side of the ark. Deut. 31:24-26.
5) Was nailed to the Cross. Col. 2:14.
6) Was abolished by Christ. Eph. 2:15.
|1) Torah (Statutes, Judgments & Commandments)—Lev. 26:15
2) Spoken by YHWH, Ex. 34: 10-27
3) Torah Written by Moses on tables of stone; Ex 34:27-28
4) Placed in The Most Holy Place. Ex. 25: 21, 22; 26: 34
5) Sacrifice and oblations “ceased,” holy days and other rites remained. Dan 9:27, Luke 22:14-16
6) Continued forever! Isa. 66:23, Zech 14: 12-20; Matt. 5:17-18.
I now cite the originator of the artificial divisions of YHWH’s Laws into “moral” and “ceremonial” precepts, that all Christians may see whence these theological terms hail. Now, I do not disparage the statements because of their Roman Catholic origins, but based on their overt trampling to the ground the truth of the Scriptures. Here is Thomas Aquinas:
Consequently, just as it would be a mortal sin now for anyone, in making a profession of faith, to say that Christ is yet to be born, which the fathers of old said devoutly and truthfully; so too it would be a mortal sin now to observe those ceremonies which the fathers of old fulfilled with devotion and fidelity.
It would seem that the Old Law contains others besides the moral, judicial, and ceremonial precepts.
The Davidian position, as you will see below, also divides the Torah in three segments, not dissimilar to the catholicized version. Here is V.T. Houteff in 1948:
Broadly speaking, the law of Moses consists of three parts. The first is the Ceremonial law, the law of the temple — the sacrificial law. This law, of course, we today must not observe, except in antitype, for it foreshadowed things to come, particularly Christ’s first advent. Thus it is that if we had lived in Old Testament times and had failed to comply with the sacrificial law and system of that day, we would thereby have demonstrated unbelief in Christ, Who was to come. But since we are living in the Christian era, if we should now observe the typical sacrificial law and system, we should thereby demonstrate unbelief in Christ, Who has come. And so, as this law was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14), we need not, and must not, observe it now.
The second part of Moses’ law, is the law by which Israel was to rule its people, the civil, or legal law, — the law which defines what penalty the government should impose upon those who are caught stealing, killing, or the like. Now, since we as Christians do not have a government of our own, but are still under the governments of the nations of today, we personally, or as a group are not required to enforce the legal law of Moses either.
The only law of Moses, therefore, that we can possibly be admonished to remember, is the third part of his law: the moral law, which consists of the things that pertain to us as individuals, the things that we as individuals must perform, the things that perfect our character, the things that make us a peculiar people. We therefore need to search out and do the things contained in the moral law of Moses — “The commandments, and the statutes and the judgments.” Deut. 5:31.”
So, whereas Aquinas dissected the Torah into “moral, judicial, and ceremonial precepts,” respectively, the Rod, on the other hand, divides them at first into similar three divisions of “moral,” “civil,” and “ceremonial” law, respectively, then later showed that these three divisions must conform to the Biblical understanding of “statutes, judgments and commandments.” This fact shows that Brother Houteff, over time developed an enhanced understanding of the Torah, and left on record the truth of correct Torah division, based on the Holy Scriptures, which he would also call the Righteousness of Christ:
Your obeying “all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments” of the moral law of Moses, you see, is your evidence that you have been born again, that you have been endowed with power from above, that you are enabled to choose the good and to refuse the evil, that you are the children of God. Keeping the commandments and the statutes in the Lord, then is the light and shield of your life. It is the outward sign that by the life of Christ you have overcome the Enemy of your soul and body. This system of worship, therefore, is truly the Righteousness by faith that brings the righteousness of Christ in the people of God.
This concept was also shared by Sister Ellen White, who, though she saw only “two laws” in the Torah, was clear that the ceremonial law was strictly limited to the “system of sacrifices and offerings.” Of the Torah she would also declare:
That God who reads the hearts of everyone, will bring to light hidden things of darkness where they are often least suspected, that stumbling blocks which have hindered the progress of truth may be removed, and God have a clean and holy people to declare His statutes and judgments.
Those Adventists who hold that the feast days are a part of the “ceremonial law,” appeal to the below description by Ellen White, in complete ignorance to what was actually saying:
There are many who try to blend these two systems, using the texts that speak of the ceremonial law to prove that the moral law has been abolished; but this is a perversion of the Scriptures. The distinction between the two systems is broad and clear. The ceremonial system was made up of symbols pointing to Christ, to His sacrifice and His priesthood. This ritual law, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be performed by the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings were to cease. It is this law that Christ “took . . . out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” Colossians 2:14.
Even though Sister White took pains to say “all the sacrificial offerings were to cease,” there are many within the ranks of our church who read it to saying that “all the sacrificial offerings including the feast days were to cease!” But this is not what Daniel saw. Instead he unambiguously stated that “he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” (Dan. 9: 27). Yet, even here some who are bent on teaching that YHWH has abolished the festivals at the cross, read this verse to be saying “he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation with the feast days, to cease.” The only word for this type of reckless handling of the Scriptures is “wresting,” be it intentional or out of ignorance. My encouragement to all is to restudy the subject of God’s law from a distinctively obedience perspective—leaving out all human maxims and traditions surrounding it, and perhaps you will walk away with a renewed perspective that He did not nail His Law to the Cross, but that Jesus only carried our sins with Him there.
Lastly, for Davidians, it is a commonly held view that the feasts came from the Exodus movement of the Hebrews out of Egypt. To that class, I now share this very eye-opening statement from the pen of V.T. Houteff:
Thus the All-knowing One, He who created the heavenly bodies and knows the very moment He set them in motion to govern the day, the month, and the year, decreed that the holy feasts be observed in the very month and on the very day on which they were first ordained.
Here in plain sight, “the Rod of God” teaches that the “holy feasts” were “first ordained” when YHWH created the heavenly bodies, and that He was merely repeating to Moses that which was from the beginning! There are few Davidians who have ever understood this truth. In fact, Houteff went farther, and also taught that Noah observed Pentecost and Passover in his generation! I will leave this aspect as an assignment to the reader, and if after searching you cannot find it, please contact me through this public portal and it will be presented to the benefit of all.
In conclusion, let me share this very encouraging passage from the pen of Brother Houteff, regarding the Laws of Moses—the statutes, judgments, and commandments—all of which include His solemn feasts:
Nah. 1:15 — “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly CUT OFF.”
Here the prophetic Word of God plainly declares by both Isaiah and Nahum the prophets that when we see these good tidings published by him whose feet are seen upon the mountains (and this is NOW taking place for the first time since the prophets wrote), it is to be a sign that the wicked, the violators of the laws of Moses, are soon to be cut off from among God’s people.
And now, since you are privileged to hear all these things, “happy are ye,” says the Lord, “if ye do them. Job 13:17.
[Nahum 1: 15 quoted] Here you see that the announcement of this long-expected event is to be made by someone’s publications. Moreover, he publishes peace and thus announces the restoration of the Kingdom. This is the only peace that the world can have. There is to be no other. Those who keep God’s solemn “feasts” and perform their vows shall have this peace. None others shall.”
“The main question therefore is not as to whether Sister White’s or Moses’ or this one’s or that one’s writings contain all the messages for this day, but rather simply as to whether they are found in, and supported by, the Bible.”–V.T. Houteff, 1944, The Answerer, Book 2 82.
It is my hope that we will all ask the searching question to our heart’s content: “is it true, in harmony with God’s Word?” rather than quibbling: “by whom is it advocated?” The latter question has been the instrument that has kept the Christian world from advancing with the light of the Bible, and should we be entrapped in that rut, we too will also suffer a similar loss, even as we literally stand on the threshold of the Kingdom of glory. Ω
Author: Garrick Augustus, October 13, 2016
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List of References
 V.T. Houteff, 1930, The Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 1, p. 167; italics and emphases added.
 Seventh-day Adventist Believe…27, pp. 252-253.
 A first Century Jew, who is considered the most influential person in shaping modern Rabbinic Jewish life, theology and culture. Read more here: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/hillel.html
 Summa Theologica, by St. Thomas Aquinas, , at sacred-texts.com; http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/sum241.htm
 Summa Theologica, by St. Thomas Aquinas, , at sacred-texts.com; Question 99, Of The Precepts of the Old Law, http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/sum237.htm
 V.T. Houteff, 1948, Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 37, pp, 14, 15.
 V.T. Houteff, 1948, Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 37, pp, 24.
 E.G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 332.3.
 E.G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 365.1
 V.T. Houteff, 1944, The Answerer, Book 3, p. 10
 V.T. Houteff, Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 37, pp. 24, 25.
 V.T. Houteff, Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 42 p 41