Circumcision & Feast Days Should We Do It Today?
August 27, 2010 Bible Answers That Make Sense, Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

“As Adventists, our principle is that we base our doctrine on God’s Word and not human opinion or human authority – right? Some would say we keep the Sabbath because God commanded it and never withdrew that command. That is only reasonable if we are consistent in applying the criterion. Yet we have dropped many others of God’s statutes without His say-so!

1) I fully understand the Jewish (Galatian) view point that that the early Christians should have themselves circumcised – God never told anyone otherwise did he? So who told us otherwise? Well, Paul told us, and we’re going on his authority. Paul didn’t even claim that God told him directly circumcision is obsolete so we don’t have all that much to go on do we? Aren’t we pointing the finger at ourselves when we condemn the Popes “authority”? Is Paul not our Pope? God almost killed Abraham because of neglected circumcision – and now we drop it because Paul said so. Will “Paul told me” be a valid excuse at judgment?

2) We also apply the “type fulfilled in antitype” criterion to some ceremonies and traditions. In other words – Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial lamb type therefore we don’t sacrifice lambs anymore since Jesus makes full provision forever. That makes sense; but then we drop the unfulfilled stuff as well! Jesus hasn’t returned yet, but we dropped the feast of trumpets anyway!

3) And yet, we still keep tithing, why? It’s because the church needs money – not because “this is a tradition that started with Jacob that was never rescinded” .

Thanks for sending in this question for it serves as a great example of what might appear on the surface to be a reasoned lined of thinking, but in fact, this entire argument is based on a false premise regarding God’s law – namely that it is imposed, enacted, dictated and the like. Such an attitude is expressed in the following,

“Some would say we keep the Sabbath because God commanded it and never withdrew that command. That is only reasonable of course”

God’s law is not based on a “command” but on His character of love and is an expression of that character. Further the law of God is the design template for life. The idea that God “commands” and thus creates laws makes God out to be arbitrary and suggests the Sabbath is holy only because God declared it so. Such a position would support Satan’s allegations against God:

Satan sought to intercept every ray of light from the throne of God. He sought to cast his shadow across the earth, that men might lose the true views of God’s character, and that the knowledge of God might become extinct in the earth. He had caused truth of vital importance to be so mingled with error that it had lost its significance. The law of Jehovah was burdened with needless exactions and traditions, and God was represented as severe, exacting, revengeful, and arbitrary. He was pictured as one who could take pleasure in the sufferings of his creatures. The very attributes that belonged to the character of Satan, the evil one represented as belonging to the character of God. Jesus came to teach men of the Father, to correctly represent him before the fallen children of earth. Angels could not fully portray the character of God, but Christ, who was a living impersonation of God, could not fail to accomplish the work. The only way in which he could set and keep men right was to make himself visible and familiar to their eyes. That men might have salvation he came directly to man, and became a partaker of his nature.  –  Signs of the Times, January 20, 1890.

The Sabbath is holy because of its purpose, creation and investment, not because of an arbitrary decree by God. The position stated above would allow for God to change the holiness from one day to another if He so declared it, but this cannot be done. God’s law is based on His character and the Sabbath has its holiness in its connection to God’s character and its context in its creation. It cannot be changed, just as history itself cannot be changed. Thus the Sabbath is not holy because God commanded it but is holy because of the historical facts surrounding its creation. Further the Sabbath is not holy merely because God commanded it any more than it is wrong to murder merely because God commanded it. The reason it is wrong to murder is it violates the law of love and God “commanded it” to be wrong because humans were so depraved they no longer knew this. The Sabbath is holy because it is a perfect expression of God’s character of truth and love providing freedom to choose, given in the context of Satan’s war of lies against God.

All the other “laws” referred to – circumcision, feast of trumpets etc. – were mere teaching tools to help open minds to the reality of God’s character, government and the issues in the Great Controversy. See Isaiah 1 where God berates Israel for keeping all their feasts and Sabbaths, why? Because they didn’t reason and understand but observed them without “meaning”.

The entire purpose of the ceremonial laws, including circumcision, was to enlighten the mind to the higher truths of God’s kingdom, bring a person back to God so the law of love could be written on the heart (Heb 8:10). Once this happened all the teaching tools (circumcision, feast days etc) to enlighten would no longer be necessary. This is why Paul, referring even of the 10 Commandments, says it was not given for the righteous but for sinners (1Tim 1:8-10). Once the law of love is written on the heart their purpose on stone is obsolete.

The problem with the argument above, and with Galatia is that it leads people backward into a ritualistic religion without enlightenment with some false notion that our works in keeping ceremonies somehow benefit us in salvation. Instead we are to be moving forward in understanding and away from symbolic rituals to the reality of a genuine experience in which we are the Temples of the Holy Spirit and in which God’s law of love is written in the sacred chambers of our hearts. Then we become living testaments to God’s kingdom. This requires understanding and an elimination of the old dark symbols.

We keep tithing not primarily because the church needs money, but because we need all the help we can get in participating in God’s government of love. And the government of love is based upon giving. Therefore, tithes and offerings are prescriptions given by God to assist in opening our selfish hearts to the practice of giving freely. Remember the Lord loves a “cheerful” giver. What God wants is freewill, intelligent participation. What is being suggested in the questions asked appears to be a subtle attempt to enslave people into symbols without meaning and promote a non thinking ritualistic approach to one’s relationship with God.

But God calls us to “come and reason” with Him then “our sins though as scarlet will be white as snow” (Isa 1:18-20). It is intelligent, enlightened friendship with God that He wants from us. So let’s not move backward but ever press forward in our relationship with God!

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.
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