I am writing this letter after much prayer, Bible study and consideration of what Jehovah requires of us as Christians. I ask that you please consider this letter prayerfully and read the cited and quoted scriptures in their context. This subject has weighed very heavily on me for many years. In confidence, I have spoken to several elders and circuit overseers about this subject only to receive no satisfying answer. I have read every publication on this subject that is on the Watchtower CD ROM. I must tell you that at present I am inactive. However, my love for Jehovah and doing His will is stronger than ever before in my life.
My concern is regarding the 10 Commandments of Jehovah God. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, if we were to unrepentantly break 9 of the 10 Commandments we would rightfully be disfellowshiped. The question I have is, why do we as Jehovah’s Witnesses keep only 9 of the 10 Commandments? Again, please prayerfully consider the following before answering.
First, while I know the organization’s view of the creative days, when we examine the creation account we see that the Bible is very specific that these days were 24 hours because of each day of creation it is said,
“There came to be evening and there came to be morning.” (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31)
Secondly, by the end of this 6 day period of creating the universe Genesis 2:2,3 says,
“And by the seventh day God came to the completion of his work that he had made, and he proceeded to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had made. 3 And God proceeded to bless the seventh day and make it sacred, because on it he has been resting from all his work that God has created for the purpose of making.”
One point that we must keep in mind is, there are two institutions that Jehovah made Holy before sin. They are marriage and the Sabbath. Also, Jehovah Himself kept the Sabbath and He made it Holy. Notice that it wasn’t the rest that He made Holy but it was the day itself. Very specifically, the seventh day, which is the Sabbath day.
I have read the explanation given in the footnotes and appendix 3C of the New World Translation reference Bible about the verb “proceeded” and the reality is, you cannot be dogmatic about the tense of these verses as it says in the appendix this “could be” rendered as incomplete or continuous action, or action in progress. Might I suggest that it also “could be” the other way, that is, completed action? Because, Jehovah rested on the seventh day. According to the Bible Jehovah kept the literal seventh day Sabbath. The Scriptures are very clear on this subject. There is absolutely nothing in these verses that indicates that this period of time is more than a 24 hour day. Yet, the Watchtower teaches that Jehovah’s Sabbath is thousands of years long and that He is still resting and has been resting since creation. (See Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2 Page 833)
However, that is not what the Bible teaches. In fact in John 5:17 Jesus said,
“My Father has kept working until now and I keep working.”
Notice this Scripture says that Jehovah “has kept working”. This also supports completed action on Jehovah’s part regarding the Sabbath. How could Jehovah be keeping the Sabbath, yet be working at the same time? This is impossible! According to the Bible, Jehovah keeps the seventh day Sabbath as He expects us to keep it because He made it Holy. Please keep in mind it was Jehovah that made the day Holy.
Another Bible fact is that the Sabbath was kept before Moses went up to Sinai. (Exodus 16:22-30) We have to remember that the Israelites were held captive as slaves for over 400 years under the Pagan influence of Egypt. During the time they were there, 10 generations in the Jewish system, they had forgotten how to keep Jehovah’s Laws. That is why Jehovah gave them the manna instructions, which included the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath that Jehovah instituted in the garden of Eden. This was to remind them that their Creator and Deliverer was Jehovah, the one who created the Sabbath rest in the beginning. The Sabbath was something they could not keep while enslaved. (See Exodus 5:5 footnote * NWT Reference Bible) Exodus 16:28-30 says:
Consequently Jehovah said to Moses: “How long must YOU people refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 Mark the fact that Jehovah has given YOU the sabbath. That is why he is giving YOU on the sixth day the bread of two days. Keep sitting each one in his own place. Let nobody go out from his locality on the seventh day.” 30 And the people proceeded to observe the sabbath on the seventh day.” (Emphasis added)
Notice that verse 29 says, “Jehovah has given you the Sabbath”. It does NOT say Jehovah is giving you the Sabbath. The word given is past tense, so it’s clear that this commandment was already in effect and had been “given“ in the past. Also, keep in mind that Jehovah God kept the Sabbath day at the end of the creation week. (Genesis 2:2) That’s why when He gave the fourth Commandment He pointed back to the creation week as a reminder. (Exodus 20:11)
Also significant is the fact that the Ten Commandments are the only part of the Bible that Jehovah Himself wrote. He did not write them on parchment or papyrus but He wrote them in stone! If you’ve heard the old adage “Nothing is carved in stone,” Well, it’s NOT true! Jehovah’s Moral Law was carved in stone, “tablets of stone written on by God’s finger.” (Exodus 31:18)
Jehovah did not leave these important Commandments for man to write on paper, but He Himself carved them in stone while vocalizing them! (Exodus 20:1-17, 32:16, Deuteronomy 9:10) That makes them permanent and unchangeable! Not only that, but when Moses shattered the tablets, (Exodus 32:19) Jehovah told Moses to go back up to Mount Sinai. Only this time Jehovah told Moses, “carve out for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones.” Moses did this so that Jehovah could write the Ten Commandments again. (Exodus 34:1, 2, 4)
While all of the Ten Commandments are of vital importance, please take note of the following facts about the fourth Commandment:
- It is the only Commandment that begins with the word “Remember”. (Exodus 20:8)
- It is the longest and most descriptive of all of the Commandments. (Exodus 20:8-11)
- Jehovah Himself kept the Sabbath BEFORE sin. (Genesis 2:2-3) Does He need Rest?
- It’s the only one of the Commandments that points back to creation and that has it’s beginning before sin. (Exodus 20:11)
- It’s the only Commandment that identifies Jehovah as the Creator of all things. (Ex. 20:11)
- It’s the only Commandment which Jehovah made sacred (Holy) and blessed. (Ex. 20:11)
Reasoning from the Scriptures insists that there is no differentiation between the 10 Commandments (The moral Law) and the Mosaic law (The ceremonial law). (Reasoning book Page 347 paragraph 3 through page 349 paragraph 1) How can this be said when Jehovah Himself separates them? Just look at the Bible evidence that follows.
(A) Exodus 40:20,21;
“After that he took the Testimony and put it into the Ark and placed the poles on the Ark and put the cover above upon the Ark. 21 Then he brought the Ark into the tabernacle and put the curtain of the screen in place and shut off approach to the ark of the testimony, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses.”
The Testimony, of course, is the 10 Commandments which were put into the Ark of the Covenant and kept in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle.
(B) 1 Kings 8:9;
“There was nothing in the Ark but the two stone tablets which Moses had deposited there in Ho´reb.”
(C) Deuteronomy 31:24-26;
“And it came about that as soon as Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book until their completion, 25 Moses began to command the Levites, the carriers of the ark of Jehovah’s covenant, saying: 26 “Taking this book of the law, YOU must place it at the side of the ark of the covenant of Jehovah YOUR God, and it must serve as a witness there against you.” (Emphasis added)
So it’s very clear in the Bible that Moses wrote the law or the handwritten document, which he would “Place at the side of the Ark” but Jehovah wrote the 10 Commandments, which were placed IN the Ark. In addition, notice that it was the “handwritten document” which Deuteronomy says; “must serve as a witness there against you.” This is NOT speaking of the 10 Commandments. These laws are clearly separated by Jehovah, so why does the organization insist that they are together and were nailed to the torture stake? Even in Revelation we see the Ark of the Covenant mentioned in John’s Temple vision. Revelation 11:19 says,
“And the temple [sanctuary] of God that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple [sanctuary]. And there occurred lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great hail.” (Emphasis added)
(D) Many Brothers in the organization try to use Hebrews chapter 9 to say we no longer keep the Commandments under the new covenant. However, when reading Hebrews 9:15-22 one must reference Exodus 24:7 and see the footnote in the New World Translation Reference Bible to see that Jesus’ blood does NOT negate the 10 Commandments written by Jehovah but negates ONLY the Mosaic law which was written by Moses. In Exodus 24:7 the footnote says: “Ex 24:7* “Book of the covenant.” This doubtless contained the legislation set out in Exodus 20:22-23:33.”
Now, if you read Exodus 20:22-23:33, you will find that this DOES NOT include the 10 Commandments but it includes ONLY the handwritten document that Moses wrote which is now done away with. So using Hebrews 9:15-22 to teach that the 10 Commandments were destroyed with the old covenant and are no longer valid for Christians is clearly misapplication of Scripture. This reasoning also applies to Colossians 2:13-16 which says,
“Furthermore, though YOU were dead in YOUR trespasses and in the uncircumcised state of YOUR flesh, [God] made YOU alive together with him. He kindly forgave us all our trespasses 14 and blotted out the handwritten document against us, which consisted of decrees and which was in opposition to us; and He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake. 15 Stripping the governments and the authorities bare, he exhibited them in open public as conquered, leading them in a triumphal procession by means of it. 16 Therefore let no man judge YOU in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath; 17 for those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ. (Emphasis added)
Notice verse 14 says,
“and blotted out the handwritten document against us, which consisted of decrees and which was in opposition to us; and He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake.”
The Bible tells us that Jehovah wrote the 10 Commandments with His finger, (Exodus 31:18) but the handwritten document was written by Moses. (Deuteronomy 31:24) The Mosaic law was in opposition to us, not the Commandments. So it was the Mosaic law that was nailed to the torture stake and NOT the 10 Commandments. Notice too that Colossians 2:16 says,
“Therefore let no man judge YOU in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath.”
This verse says a sabbath not THE Sabbath. Noteworthy is the fact that the word Sabbath occurs in the Bible 156 times. 149 times it refers to the seventh day Sabbath, this Scripture in Colossians is NOT one of those times. This verse is speaking of the ceremonial sabbaths related to the Mosaic law and not the seventh day Sabbath found in the 10 Commandments.
It’s very clear when reading the Bible that the 10 Commandments are NOT against us because they show us the very character of Jehovah, which is love. The first 4 Commandments are all about showing love for Jehovah God, the latter 6 Commandments are all about showing love for fellow man. This is exactly what Jesus was saying when He gave the 2 greatest Commandments. (Matthew 22:36, Mark 12:30-31 and Luke 10:27) He was summing up the 10 Commandments in just 2. Jesus did not cancel the Sabbath nor did He even indicate He was doing so when He did this. The Sabbath was included in the 10 Commandments and it is still included in the 2 greatest Commandments which Jesus gave. Also, the 10 are not a shadow of anything, but the Mosaic law is. The Mosaic law and it’s ceremonies were a shadow of what Jesus was to do for mankind.
The Reasoning book refers to Galatians 4:9-11 to try to show that the Sabbath is no longer kept by Christians. However the Sabbath is NOT even mentioned in these verses. If the Sabbath is destroyed then this must mean that the other Commandments are also no longer valid. If this is the case then we can worship other gods, worship idols, steal, commit adultery, etc. In Galatians 4:9 Paul asks,
“But now that YOU have come to know God, or rather now that YOU have come to be known by God, how is it that YOU are turning back again to the weak and beggarly elementary things and want to slave for them over again?
The Greek word for “elementary things” in this passage and in Colossians 2:8, 20 is stoicheion, which literally means, “under the bondage of the elements of the world.”
I ask you, does keeping the 10 Commandments put one under the bondage of the elements of the world? Does keeping the 10 Commandments mean slaving? To put it another way, is it bondage to not commit adultery or to not lie, not steal, not worship other gods or not honor your father and mother? As I asked at the outset of this letter, why does the organization not have a problem keeping 9 of the 10 Commandments yet when it comes to the very Commandment that will give us rest and communion with Jehovah, we are told it’s not necessary nor is it valid?
Another text that the Watchtower seems to take out of context is found in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11. This passage is not saying that the Commandments were done away with but if you read it in context it says that the glory of Moses face was to be done away with, or in other words the glory of Moses’ ministration of the law was to be done away with. Please read 2 Corinthians 3:3-9 carefully. The subject is not the doing away with the law or it’s establishment, but rather, the change of the location of the law from “tablets of stone” to the “tablets, on hearts.” Under Moses’ ministration the law was on stones. Under the Holy Spirit’s ministration through Christ, the law is written upon the heart. (Hebrews 8:10) To illustrate, a rule posted on a school bulletin board becomes effective only when it enters a student’s heart. Likewise, Christ’s ministration of the law is effective because He transfers the law to the heart of the Christian. Then, keeping the law becomes a delight and a joyful way of living because the Christian has true love for both Jehovah and fellow man.
Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 12:13,
“The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the [true] God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole [obligation] of man.”
The Apostle John in Revelation 14:12 said,
“Here is where it means endurance for the holy ones, those who observe the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
Notice the following texts from the Bible contrasting Moses Law to Jehovah‘s Law:
- Called “the law of Moses” (Luke 2:22
- Called “law…consisting in decrees” (Ephesians 2:15)
- Was “written in the book of Moses” (2 Chronicles 35:12)
- Placed “at the side of the ark” (Deuteronomy 31:26)
- Nailed “to the torture stake” (Colossians 2:14)
- Added “to make transgression manifest” (Galatians 3:19)
- Was “in opposition to us” Colossians 2:14)
- Judges no one (Colossians 2:14-16)
- Fleshly (Hebrews 7:16)
- “Made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19)
- Called “the Law of Jehovah” (Isaiah 5:24)
- Called “the Kingly Law” (James 2:8)
- Was written by Jehovah on stone (Exodus 31:18; 32:16)
- Placed in the ark (Exodus 40:20)
- Stands forever (Luke 16:17)
- Points out sin (Romans 7:7; 3:20)
- Is “not burdensome” (1 John 5:3)
- Judges everyone (James 2:10-12)
- Is spiritual (Romans 7:14)
- Is perfect (Psalm 19:7)
Very significant is the fact that when Jesus died on Nisan 14, it was a Friday and He died before sundown, which was before the Sabbath would begin. (Luke 23:54) We know from the Bible that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week which we now call Sunday. (Luke 24:7) So we learn from this passage that Jesus was asleep in death resting in the grave on the Sabbath day. This means that the Sabbath day was the ONLY 24-hour day in which Jesus was in the tomb. Add to that the fact that this was called a “Great Sabbath”. (John 19:31) Why is this significant? Nisan 14 was a Passover day. Any day that follows the Passover is a Sabbath day, no matter which day of the week it may fall on. However, when the Passover occurs on a Friday as it did when Jesus was killed, the next day becomes what the Apostle John called a Great Sabbath or some may call it a dual Sabbath, or an high Sabbath. This is because not only is it the Sabbath after the Passover, but it is also the seventh day Sabbath that Jehovah set aside for rest and made Holy. Thus it is called The Great Sabbath. (See Insight book Volume 2 Page 831)
I ask you to consider, was this by accident or by design? Does Jehovah do anything by accident or without reason? Absolutely NOT! Jehovah is not a God of disorder. (1Corinthians 14:33) Just as Jehovah rested on the Sabbath from His work of creating the world, Jesus rested in the grave on the Sabbath from His work of saving the world!
When Jesus was speaking of the coming destruction of Jerusalem which we know is a dual prophecy (For 70 C.E. and for our day) notice what He says in Matthew 24:20,
“Keep praying that YOUR flight may not occur in wintertime, nor on the Sabbath day.”
I have read what the Watchtower says about this passage and the truth of the matter is, it appears that the Watchtower is over complicating this point and not letting the Bible speak for itself. Jesus was speaking to His disciples. If in fact the Sabbath was to be done away with, why would Jesus say,
“Keep praying that YOUR flight may not occur in wintertime, nor on the Sabbath day”
when He knew this would be in the future after his death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven and after the new Covenant was in full effect? Jesus never minced words. This would have been the perfect time for Him to tell the people that after His death and resurrection they should stop wasting their time by keeping an unnecessary seventh day Sabbath. This would have been the time to let them know that the Sabbath would be done away with. This would have been the time for Jesus to tell us that “even though My Father in Heaven kept the Sabbath after creation week in a perfect universe and I have kept it all of My human life on earth, you won’t have to, even though I am your exemplar.
Consider this, according to Genesis the Sabbath was part of Jehovah’s perfect plan. The Bible clearly teaches this because as I mentioned at the outset, the Sabbath existed BEFORE sin. I know that as a Jehovah’s Witness I have always taught that Jehovah’s plan is to restore the universe to it’s original perfect state. Would this not include the Holy Sabbath that Jehovah created?
When considering the 10 Commandments, how can we justify not keeping any one of them? We can’t! But that is what has been done. Many consider it legalism to keep the Sabbath as a Holy day but they do not consider it legalism to keep the other 9 Commandments. That is exactly what Satan wants you to think. He has distorted the one day that Jehovah has made Holy much the same as he as distorted the Holiness of the marriage arrangement. Remember, Jehovah made these things Holy BEFORE sin. Satan loves the fact that many people have justified trampling on Jehovah’s Holy day. The prophet Daniel even prophesied that this would happen!
“And he will speak even words against the Most High, and he will harass continually the holy ones themselves of the Supreme One. And he will intend to change times and law, and they will be given into his hand for a time, and times and half a time.” (Daniel 7:25)
The interesting thing about this is the fact that the Sabbath Commandment is the only Commandment that is both a time and a Law.
The Watchtower shows through the Reasoning book that the day of worship was changed from Sabbath to Sunday by Constantine in 321 C.E. and shows that this was done to harmonize the Christians and the Pagans under on common union. The Watchtower also recognizes the Pagan holidays brought into Christianity as a result of Constantine. I appreciate that the organization recognizes these things. The comment is also made that there is no scriptural reason for Jehovah’s day of worship to be changed. This being the case why are we following this structure?
This brings me to a vital question. Since we are to be no part of the world, (John 17:14) and giving all of the above evidence, why does the Watchtower say we need not keep the Sabbath even though Christians kept it until the fourth century C.E and beyond? Also, since the vast majority of the world’s Christian religions keep Sunday and do not rest on the Sabbath according to the Commandment, Why would we not want to be separate ourselves from these, especially when you consider how the day of worship changed?
One last point is the fact that one was to be killed for breaking the Sabbath Commandment. (Exodus 31:14-15, 35:2) Do we really believe that Jehovah has changed his Commandments? Would He have killed people in the past for breaking the Sabbath only to tell people later that it’s okay and this is no longer valid? NO! Jehovah does NOT change nor does Jesus! (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8) The Watchtower says we keep the Sabbath every day. When you read the fourth Commandment you will find that this is impossible. If we were to keep Sabbath every day we could never work. That would be laziness. As Christians we should strive to be Holy every day. However, only one day is called Holy, which Jehovah created for our rest, both spiritual and physical. We are told in His Commandments that it is the seventh day, the Sabbath day to Jehovah your God. (Exodus 20:10)
While there are many, many more scriptural points to support what I am saying I will sum this letter up at this time. Again, I ask that you prayerfully consider the things I have said. Please know that I love Jehovah with all my heart and I want to serve Him on His terms not my own selfish terms. I believe in my heart of hearts that the Sabbath is a requirement for all Christians. Jesus said,
“The Sabbath came into existence for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
Jesus did not say the Sabbath was for the Jews but for man, which literally means mankind. If you can show me from the Bible where this has changed I will be more than happy to change my position. Please help me. I write this letter in love and patiently wait for your response.
Your Christian Brother,