The Sabbath in Revelation 11:19

Exploring an important Sabbath argument often overlooked.

By W. M. R. SCRAGG, Evangelist, West Australian Conference

The apostle Peter lamented the fact that many wrested the writings of the apostle Paul to their own destruction. And as for Paul's writings, has there ever been a care­ful Bible student who has not been more or less puzzled over his letters on the law? His presentation of the great doctrine of justifica­tion by faith struck tellingly against justifica­tion by works, by keeping the law—moral, ceremonial, and civil. To the lay mind, such texts as Romans 3 :31; 7 :12, 13, 22 ; 8:6, 7 ; - Corinthians 7:19, are neutralized by Romans 6 :14 ; 10 :4 ; 14 :1-5 ; Colossians 2 :14-17, etc. And with the easy path of Sunday observance in contrast with the difficulty encountered in keeping God's holy Sabbath, the choice is too often made for Sunday.

This choice is also confirmed, some say, by the fact that Paul gives no instruction, rebuke, or command concerning the Sabbath, only as it is included in the law of God. Many a discussion with antinomians leaves even honest seekers bewildered. Therefore, we as Sev­enth-day Adventist workers should leave no doubt in the minds of people as to their obliga­tion to keep the ten commandments. To do this, we must leave the writings of Paul and turn to other New Testament writers for greater clarity on the subject. The founda­tion of our message is outlined in the reform messages of the books of Daniel and the Revelation ; and these two books give a clear understanding of the exalted nature of the commandments of God.

It is left to the seer of Patmos to emphasize the perpetuity of the Sabbath. He wrote that he was "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day," and wrote this about thirty years after Paul's martyrdom. Therefore, since John, the be­loved disciple, was preserved for some thirty years after Paul's day, it is evident that his writings are of greater value in point of time. 'He sets out, under the guidance of the Spirit, to correct current error. There can be no question that John strikes heavily against anti­nomianism.

It was while John was in the Spirit on the "Lord's day," that he saw the ark of God's testament in heaven. (See Revelation II :19 ; 15:5.) Thus the commandments of God are exalted before the apostle's vision. These Scriptures refute the teaching that the deca­logue was abolished at the cross sixty years before. They do more than this, they show which day is the Lord's day—it is the seventh day, commanded in the law deposited in the ark. After the vision of the ark of the testa­ment, John was shown that God's remnant people would keep the commandments of God. (See Revelation 12 :17; 14:12; 22 :14.) But this is not all, for in his epistles he writes much more on commandment keeping. 'One old Christian, who accepted the Sabbath after fifty years of Sunday observance in nominal Protestant churches, once remarked, "The epistles of John are full of love and command­ment keeping."

It was Mrs. E. G. White's vision of the law of God exalted in heaven, which attracted her attention to the Sabbath and dispelled her doubts on Sabbathkeeping. I have read prac­tically everything ever written by our writers on the law and the Sabbath, and I have scarcely seen a word on Sabbathkeeping taken from this great text, Revelation 11:19, in which John says he saw the ark of God's testament in heaven. But it appears to be, from the following standpoints, a strong argu­ment for Sabbath observance.

1. It proves that the cross did not abolish the ten commandments.

2. It proves that the "Lord's Day" is the day defined in the fourth commandment as the "Sabbath of the Lord."

3. It proves that the commandments ob­served by the remnant are the ten command­ments.

4. It proves that sin, which is the transgres­sion of the law, is the transgression of the law John saw in heaven. (See I John 3:4.)

5. It supplements and enhances the Sabbath arguments of Daniel 7:25.

The many references to commandment keep­ing in John's writings indicate that there were in his day controversies regarding the neces­sity for obedience to God's law. Then, as now, Paul's writings were wrested (2 Peter 3:16) to justify violation of God's law. It is evident that John was directed by the Spirit to, bear a firm testimony on commandment keeping.

By the rule of arrangement of strong argu­ments, the conclusion should set forth in em­phasis the things most important. Hence it is manifest that the great object of the gospel is to empower men to keep and to obey God's commandments—His unchangeable law.

I have witnessed good results produced by emphasizing Revelation 11:19. There is no doubt that this text greatly influenced Mrs. E. G. White and helped her to see the im­portance of Sabbath observance.


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By W. M. R. SCRAGG, Evangelist, West Australian Conference

December 1938

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