52:  Serpent Handlers; PART 2

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Apostolic House of Prayer In Lord Jesus Name

Apostolic House of Prayer In Lord Jesus Name

As we passed several run down trailers on our way down the dirt driveway, we questioned whether or not we had taken the wrong path.  After waiving down a local man in a white pick-up truck to inquire, he confirmed that we were headed in the right direction. 

Are those chickens in cages?”  Kip questioned curiously while gazing out of the back window.  I knew by his comment we were close.  Soon after, we pulled up to a tiny dark blue building with a sign out front that read, “Apostolic House of Prayer In Lord Jesus Name.  Pastor:  Tommy Addair.  “This is it!  I can’t wait to see if they have snakes!” I said while hurrying to find a place to park. We all got out of the car and with the snow still falling, made our way toward the building.  PB instinctively offered Bee his hand to help her get on the porch. With a firm grip, she carefully placed her foot on the large slippery cinder block that doubled as a step.  She stood there for a moment waiting for the rest of us to catch up, clearly a bit reluctant to be the first to go inside.  Kip bravely took the lead and went in, PB confidently followed. 

We were immediately greeted by Pastor Tommy, a short, mild mannered fellow in his early 60’s with a fairly neat appearance. I suspected from my first impression that Pastor Tommy had been in the military.  He was well groomed and wore a pressed green collared shirt and a pair of grey slacks.  “Welcome, welcome” he said kindly greeting us.  “Where are you all coming from?”  PB, taking the initiative to be our group’s representative, thanked him for having us and informed Pastor Tommy that we were traveling from Richmond, VA.  “Wow.  You’re all the way from Richmond.  That’s great!  Thanks for coming to our church home” he said.  He and Pastor Banks made a bit of small talk as we all found a seat in an empty pew. 

I was overly sensitive to how the congregation might have felt having us there since from my research, “outsiders” weren’t always welcomed. I looked over to gauge the mood of Kip and Bee to make sure we were all comfortable.  I felt somewhat responsible for their experience since I had asked them both to come.  PB walked up front to use the restroom as I started to analyze their body language.  I suspected Bee was nervous, and Kip was fairly skeptical.  I hoped Kip’s face wouldn’t reflect his cynicism.  I then silently said a prayer, asking God to give them peace and allow each of us to gain a sense of His Spirit, regardless of how different this church service may have been from everything we had ever known.  PB then made his way out of the rest room and stopped to talk to Pastor Tommy again as the congregation trickled in.  The two men stood up front for about 10 minutes conversing.  “I really hope PB isn’t silly enough to tell him about my project. I don’t think they’re going to like me coming here reviewing them.” I said to Bee while leaning in to whisper in her ear.  She gently reassured me that PB would certainly know better.  We then revealed how disappointed we both were because it didn’t look like there was going to be any serpent handling at this church.

Just then, each person who was sitting in the pews stood up and started to make their way up front.  PB came and took a seat beside us as the rest of the congregation formed a circle in the open area in front of the pastor’s pulpit.  Lively blue grass music began to play and our authentic West Virginian experience began. 

Inside the church

Inside the church

Two talented men played the keyboard and guitar as the pastor started singing the Lord’s praises quite loudly over the microphone.  I absolutely adored the music.  I pictured myself listening to it while driving in the country with the windows down on a hot summer’s day.  The people then raised their hands, danced around in circles and offered up their songs to Jesus.  While they were busy jamming, I leaned over to PB to ask a question.  “So, what were you guys talking about up there?”  Well, I told him about your project and….”  A warm heat blanketed my body.  I was partly embarrassed, and partly livid that he revealed why we were there.  “If they didn’t already think we were mocking them, they certainly do now!” I thought.  Just as I was about to tell him how foolish such an act was, he said, “and they usually have snakes here, but they don’t today because it’s too cold out.”  Not only was I mad now but after getting the official word that there were no serpents, I was also gravely disappointedPB continued.  “He said we could follow him to his house after the service and see him handle the serpents if we wanted to though.”  Like magic, my anger disappeared into thin air and I began smiling from ear to ear.  “We’re going to the pastor’s house!!!??”  I was absolutely thrilled.  This was my kind of adventure!

The service was almost 3 hours long and just exhausting to watch.  Pastor Tommy slapped people on the forehead after anointing them with oil, they smacked their hands together while yelling about the Holy Ghost, moved about like they were trying out for Dancing with the Stars, screamed at the top of their lungs about the power of God, and stomped their feet demanding that the people have faith.  And of course, they didn’t fail to speak some tongues in the process.

The pastor’s son was responsible for giving the sermon.  He touched upon several topics in the Bible and with a beat red face, he howled over the microphone about each one.  “IF YOU KNOW THE LOVE OF JESUS, HA, SAY PRAISE THE LORD, HA!”  Everyone hollered “PRAISE THE LORD!”  He continued.  “IF YOU, HA, ARE HAPPY, HA HE’S SAVED YOU, HA, BY THE POWER OF HIS BLOOD, HA, SAY HA, PRAISE THE LORD, HA!”  I couldn’t help but get into it.  “Praise the Lord!” I said with a smile that seemed permanently plastered on my face.  “IF YOU ARE, HA, FREE FROM SIN, HA, BECAUSE OF THE SAME POWER, HA THAT RESURRECTED, HA, OUR SAVIOR, HA, SAY, HA, PRAISE THE LORD, HA!”  I yelled out, fighting the urge to jump up and applaud “PRAISE THE LORD, HA!”

At one point, the incredibly energized man stomped over toward Kip and got right in his face and screamed.  I watched Kip, without expression; just boldly watch this man charge in his direction.  I giggled, knowing he had to be beside himself.  I couldn’t blame him either for being a bit taken aback.  I mean, this young man did just run across the sanctuary, screech right in his face, and in his enthusiasm, I even saw a little spit fly out of his mouth.

After the keyed up entertainment, each member of the congregation stood up and said something they were thankful for.  “I’m grateful for the food on my table.  I’m just grateful for the heat in my home when it’s cold outside.  I’m grateful for my shoes when I’m walkin’.”  Every single member of the church stood up and recognized how God was working in their lives.  The simplicity of it all warmed my heart.  I asked myself when the last time I truly thanked God for the food on my plate was?  And not in a obligatory redundant prayer before eating, but with a meek, gracious and humble spirit? Admittedly, I take my food for granted; and my shoes for that matter.  There was certainly a lesson to be learned here.  When it came time for me to share, I knew I couldn’t allow my social anxiety to keep me from expressing how God had worked in my life, especially after these people just poured their hearts out with gratitude to Him.  So, with sweaty palms and a nervous expression on my face, I said the one thing I praise God for continually;  I’m grateful that my husband has started coming to church and studying the Bible with me.”  “Wonderful!” “Amen!” “Praise God!” Several different affirming words reached my ears and for the first time that day, I felt at home in this small church in Appalachia.

After the service came to a close, many members of the congregation came forward and shook our hands and welcomed us for coming.  “Drive home safely and ya’ll come back now ya hear!” they said thoughtfully.  We had to put fuel in our car so we told Pastor Tommy we’d meet him at the gas station on the corner and we all eagerly piled in the car.  

As we were pumping gas at the small auto shop beside the town’s post office, Pastor Tommy’s son drove up and told us a bit about the Signs Following church.  He said, “If you have true faith in God, the Bible says you won’t get harmed if you drink deadly drinks or get bit by poisonous snakes.”  He then quoted the Scripture to back up his claim.  “And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:17-18

After PB inquired more, he also shared with us a bit about the coal mining industry where most West Virginian men find their employment.  

Soon after, Pastor Tommy guided us back to his home which was about 30 miles away but fortunately in the direction of Richmond.  It was almost dusk; a couple of inches of snow blanketed the ground as it rapidly continued to fall out of the cold dark sky.  When we got out of the car, Tommy turned to us while smiling, “You guys may not be able to drive home in this snow.  May have to get you some hotel rooms.  It’s dangerous on these roads.” PB, carefully making his way toward Pastor Tommy’s front door joked, “Oh.  Don’t worry.  We’ll be fine.  We have faith.”  We all laughed.

When we got inside his modest living quarters Pastor Tommy introduced us to his wife Diane and we piled on his couch and discussed some of the identifying characteristics of the Signs Following churches such as the act of drinking strychnine, speaking in tongues and handling poisonous snakes.  Pastor Tommy seemed to know his stuff, quoting from several areas of the Bible.  He revealed to us that he used to be a member of the Jolo congregation but felt they only focused on the verses that made their church different from many Christian denominations.  Pastor Tommy felt it was important to expound upon the entire Bible not just the snake handling parts.  “The Bible ‘aint just this thick” he said while crafting a tiny gesture of an open pinch with his thumb and index finger.  “You can’t just take some of the Bible, leavin’ out the parts you don’t like.  You have to take the whole Bible if you want to really follow Christ.” He warned.  We all smiled while nodding in a somewhat agreeable manner.  This is something us Adventists are big on.  We don’t throw out the Old because we have the New, the Bible has to be read by comparing Scripture with Scripture so while we certainly didn’t interpret some verses in the same way that serpent handlers do, we could empathize with where Pastor Tommy was coming from.  “Yes.  The whole Bible is important, not just some of it.”  PB said. “You know, we agree the whole Bible has to be followed.  Through our studies we’ve found that there is a true richness that comes with observing the Sabbath, the incredibly neglected 4th commandment of God’s holy law.”  Pastor Tommy began nodding his head like he knew exactly where PB was coming from.  “Yep. Yep.”  Pastor Tommy said.  “I try and preach the Sabbath at my church, but people get real angry about it.  They don’t want to hear it ‘cause you know these coal miners all work on the Sabbath and they don’t want to hear they need to keep a day off.  But you right.  You right.  I mean, it’s in the 10 Commandments for Pete’s sake.  And you know, the Biblical Sabbath isn’t even Sunday.  That’s not even the right day according to God’s Word.  But I keep Sunday holy because ya know, that day works better for me.  So I keep a day.”  I wanted to launch into, “hold on, let me get this straight PT—you take literally to handle poisonous snakes, and drink strychnine but you can tamper with the 4th commandment and see no issue with it?”  But instead, I said nothing and just listened to the conversation, smiling blissfully about the opportunity we had to talk theology with an Appalachian snake handler.

After we had gotten religious beliefs all out on the table, Pastor Tommy nonchalantly slipped into his basement to retrieve a serpent.  “He’s sick so I hope he don’t handle that snake.”  Diane seemed concerned.  Tommy had throat cancer and he was currently undergoing radiation treatment.  As I inquired a bit more about Tommy’s illness I could hear a faint sound coming from outside.  It sounded like muffled maracas or something.  It got louder with each second that passed.  "Get in your room, Jimmy.  Right now you close that door...  Now!"  Diane summoned her grandson to quickly get into the bedroom and shut the door behind him.

What the heck is that?”  I asked naively.  It never dawned on me that a snake would be a noisy animal.  The closer it got, the more clearly it was buzzing.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…… 

Is that the snake!!!!”?  I asked in a panicky tone.  The sound was getting louder and louder.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…... 

Pastor Tommy walked into the living room with the serpent in a box and boy, was that little sucker mad.  I took a few steps back, somewhat hiding behind PB. 

eeks!

eeks!

Can’t hurtcha.  It’s in a box.”  Pastor Tommy said. 

Can I take a picture of Jessica with the snake”?  Kip asked. 

Sure!”  he said.

I made my way toward Pastor Tommy, my heart beating out of my chest. “Here ya go.”  He said holding the small, loud wooden box out toward me.  I was scared out of my wits.

double eeks!

double eeks!

 “It can’t getcha, Jessica.  It’s in a box” he said again trying to force the box into my hands. 

I know, I know.  I just….”  I tried to hold the box tight enough where I wouldn’t drop it, but not enough where any part of my flesh would get anywhere near the head of the snake. 

In an attempt to get a handle on it, my finger touched the top area of the box where a thin metal screen was all that lay between me and the serpent.  “Well, no.  Watch out there!” Tommy warned while reaching out his arms.  “You can’t go touchin’ that part.  Hold the wooden part only.” 

I stopped breathing for a moment until I managed to get my fingers as far away from the screen area as possible.  “Okay, like this?”  I said, confirming I was holding it well enough to take a good picture, but not in a manner that would get me bitten.

 “Yep.  Just like that” Tommy said while smiling. 

triple eeks!

triple eeks!

After we all took turns taking pictures with the mean green biting machine, Pastor Tommy took the snake out of the box and played with it a little.  “See, it won’t hurt ya if you have faith.  I’ve been bit 24 times from poisonous snakes, and I’m fine.”  He said proudly.  I stood behind PB, just in case the snake flew out of Pastor Tommy’s hands, I reasoned that PB would get eaten first while I had time to plan my escape.

He's got more faith than me

He's got more faith than me

After the snake handling show we all sat down for a few more minutes discussing the Bible and our church experiences and then we said our good-bye’s.  Before leaving, a friendly Pastor Tommy said to us, “You know, you coulda told me you were Adventists when we first met.  I know an Adventist, and I like ‘em a whole lot.  Good folks those Adventist.” 

Pastor Banks turned to him and said, “Didn’t think it was important.  We’re all God’s children, right? I doubt on judgment day He’ll be asking us what denomination we were.”

Some things I found fascinating about the snake handing church...

  • Woman in the SH congregations only wear dresses, not just to church, but always.  They are also forbidden to wear jewelery and many are encouraged to never cut their hair.
  • They believe the KING JAMES version of the Bible is the only valid version
  • Snake Handlers believe they are CALLED to handle snakes, however, they are called to have faith FIRST, otherwise it is unsafe.  They believe drinking poision isn't a "necessity" in the same way.  It is optional.
  • West Virginia is the only state where snake handling is legal
  • Speaking in tongues is a sign of faith, without speaking in tongues, they believe you aren't a true believer in Christ.
  • Church of God congregation within holiness are Trinitarian, church of Lord Jesus (such as this one) are Non-Trinitarian
  • Only poisionous snakes are used.  Most common are Rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads, but even cobras have been used in some services
  • Churches who practice snake handling claim their scriptural mandate from the gospel of Mark 16:9-20  I find it fascinating that this Scripture is not included in almost all well known translations of the Bible
  • A member of a congregation is NOT encouraged to handle serpents UNLESS they live a moral and holy life in total obedience to the will of God

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24 Comments

  • Kim

    Kim December 30, 2010

    I have been coming to 52 prayers since the beginning as a silent observer, reading, learning and really enjoying the different perspectives, ie. Dave and Scott.  But after this one I feel compelled to say something…YOU ARE CRAZY!:)XOXOXO

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT December 30, 2010

    Who takes it out of the bible?  It’s in mine.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett December 30, 2010

    jess, this read was so much fun.  i really did enjoy it.  my favorite part was you wondering about how they can take handling snakes literally, but don’t mind skimping on the sabbath.

    great post.  thanks.

    and, dave, is that really you in that photo?

  • jessica gavin

    jessica gavin December 31, 2010

    I looked more into that Dave… mine doesn’t have it NKJV. But I I think most have a footnote about it being a highly questionable Scripture. What version do you have? Maybe most do and just have a footnote? Does yours mention its possible exclusion from the original Greek manuscripts?

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT December 31, 2010

    I have a New American Bible - Cathholic edition and I refer to the Revised Standard Version - Catholic edition on line.  The RSV online I use does not have footnotes.  My NAB has a break seperating the Longer Ending out and 3 footnotes referencing its history. It was cited to early church fathers in the second century.  It says the earliest actual manuscript is from the fourth - fifth century (preserved at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC).

  • Gavin

    Gavin December 31, 2010

    Is it just me or does that snake look like Kaa from The Jungle Book?

  • Scott

    Scott January 01, 2011

    Jessica stated: “We don’t throw out the Old because we have the New, the Bible has to be read by comparing Scripture with Scripture…”

    The problem is that the SDA is built upon the foundation of Ellen White. Her writings are to be included in sermon preparation, church planning and schools, etc. http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/other-documents/spirit-of-prophecy.html

    “Seventh-day Adventists believe that God inspired Ellen G. White. Therefore, her expositions on any given Bible passage offer an inspired guide to the meaning of texts without exhausting their meaning or preempting the task of exegesis (for example, see Evangelism, 256; The Great Controversy, 193, 595; Testi­monies, vol. 5, pp. 665, 682, 707-708; Counsels to Writers and Editors, 33-35).” Source: http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/other-documents/other-doc4.html

    “Ministry Magazine of October, 1981 contained many startling statements, not the least of which was this one on page 8,
    “We believe the revelation and inspiration of both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings to be of equal quality. The superintendence of the Holy Spirit was just as careful and thorough in one case as in the other.”” Source: http://www.culthelp.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=673&itemid=8

    So it would seem that it is Scripture upon Scripture with Ellen White mixed in.

    She is considered a prophet of God by the SDA even though Ellen White made several predictions that did not come true. Source: http://www.inplainsite.org/html/ellen_white_false_prophecy.html  ttp://www.bible.ca/7-prophecy-blunders.htm

    Mrs. White claimed that future events were revealed to her. “As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths of His word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been bidden to make known to others that which has thus been revealed…” The Great Controversy, p. xi.
        “The Lord has given me a view of other worlds. Wings were given me, and an angel attended me from the city to a place that was bright and glorious. THE GRASS OF THE PLACE WAS LIVING GREEN, AND THE BIRDS THERE WARBLED A SWEET SONG. THE INHABITANTS OF THE PLACE WERE OF ALL SIZES; THEY WERE NOBLE, MAJESTIC, AND LOVELY….I asked on of them why they were so much more lovely than those on earth….Then I WAS TAKEN TO A WORLD WHICH HAD SEVEN MOONS. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated”. Early Writings, pp. 39-40 (emphasis added)

    Ellen’s husband, James White verified her vision. He wrote, “At our conference in Topsham, Maine, last Nov., Ellen has a vision of the handy works of God. SHE WAS GUIDED TO THE PLANETS JUPITER, SATURN, AND I THINK ONE MORE. After she came out of vision, she could give a clear description of their Moons, etc… It is well known that she knew nothing of astronomy, and could not answer one question in relation to the planets, before she had this vision.” A Word to the “Little Flock”, p. 22 (emphasis added).

    Excellent satellite pictures of Jupiter and Saturn have not revealed any life forms.  Source: http://members.tripod.com/~Help_for_SDAs/egwindex1.htm

    Deuteronomy 18 is very clear about false prophets.
    Deu 18:21-22 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?  (22)  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

    Matthew 7:26-27 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:  (27)  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

  • Jessica

    Jessica January 02, 2011

    Hi Scott! 

    I hope you had a Happy New Year.  Just from a quick read of the comment you posted, I can see several areas where you have misapplied texts to make them sound the way you’d like for them to.  With that being said, I don’t feel the need to defend Ellen White because I don’t follow her.  I was baptized into the church following the Bible and the Bible only.  If you’d like to dissect some topic in Scripture that you feel Adventists are incorrect on, I’d be more than happy to look at that with you.

  • Scott

    Scott January 03, 2011

    Instead of accusing me of misapplication, show me where I misappplied. The point I am making is that Ellen White cannot be separated from the SDA and even the SDA admits that. The best you could give is a “quick read” before posting?

    The 2nd and 3rd paragraphs are straight from Adventist.org which bills itself as the “official site of the SDA World church.” Maybe I misunderstood that.

    Paragraph 4. The Ministry Magazine quote is accurate and in context. http://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1981/October/  They do state they the Bible is their final standard, BUT her writings are important for forming church doctrine. She is considered on a level with writers of the Bible.

    As for the paragraphs on Ellen White and false prophecy, I think they stand up pretty well. She is also credited for predicting NYC skyscrapers coming down according to another site.

    You can declare independence from Ellen White, but the SDA is irrevocably linked with her. This is fact as stated by the SDA.

  • Dabney

    Dabney January 03, 2011

    Hooray Jessica!  Happy New Year!  May 2011 bring you more wonderful adventures:)

  • Jessica

    Jessica January 03, 2011

    I don’t mean to offend you by saying that I didn’t extensively read your comment, it’s just that I have exhausted myself with so much false information online about E.W. it’s kinda old news to me at this point.  Here’s a quote from E.W. about how people should view her writings.

    “Do not quote my words again as long as you live until you can obey the Bible. When you make the Bible your food, your meat, and your drink, when you make its principles the elements of your character, you will know better how to receive counsel from God. I exalt the precious Word before you today. Do not repeat what I have said, saying, “Sister White said this,” and “Sister White said that.” Find out what the Lord God of Israel says, and then do what He commands”.—Manuscript 43, 1901.

    So, that’s certainly one place where I know I agree with her.  Any information whether it be from Ellen White, church councils, professors of religion, or any source must be in harmony with the testimony of Scripture in order to have a secure foundation.  One thing I know for sure is that the Bible is ultimately the only safe foundation to build my faith in God.

  • Jessica

    Jessica January 03, 2011

    Dabnerelli,

    I think you read my mind or something!  I was just thinking about your sweet face.  I was away over the entire holiday at a Christian conference.  I’m sorry I missed you!  We will definitely get together soon.  Hope you have a great new year too, love!

  • Scott

    Scott January 05, 2011

    Actually, Jessica, you offended me by accusing me of misapplied texts and then did not show where the mistakes are. How can I learn, if you will not teach?

  • Scott

    Scott January 05, 2011

    Moving on…
    Scripture with Scripture.

    1) Can you tell me where in the Scriptures that the Sabbath day was ordered by God to be set aside for going to the Tabernacle, Temple, synagogue, church, etc? Please do not include the Sabbath days that are part of the Feasts such as Passover, Tabernacles, Day of Atonement, Trumpets, etc.
    2) What was the Sabbath day set aside for?

  • Jessica

    Jessica January 05, 2011

    It seems that the Sabbath was all about meeting together. In Lev. 23:3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.” 

    The definition of a “convocation” is a group of people formally assembled for a special purpose.  So I believe a “holy convocation” is assembling together for holy purposes which would be worship, whether in the synagogue, church, or homes like many of us do today.

    I think the safest way to understand how the Sabbath should be observed is to look at the example of Jesus.

    Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

    The apostle Paul, followed the example of Jesus as was the practice of the Jews for centuries and entered the synagogue to worship. Acts 17:1 ¶ Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: Acts 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,…

    Again Jesus said in John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” so the Sabbath was set aside for fellowship with God and fellowship with other Christians.

  • Scott

    Scott January 06, 2011

    In context, Leviticus 23 is about the Feast celebrations in Israel. So what you wrote is true, but only applies to the Feast days. What about the regular Sabbath days? What was the commandment for the regular Sabbath days?

    As for Acts 17, the Bible does not state that Paul worshiped with the Jews, but instead talked to them about what the Old Testament said. Jesus Christ went to the synagogue as well, but was He going there for worship or for teaching? If Paul or Jesus Christ wished to reach Jews, they would naturally go to where the Jews were.
    The ISBE (it is a Bible encyclopedia—see e-sword.net) says:  “Though at first it was meant only for the exposition of the Law, it was natural that in the course of time prayers and preaching should be added to the service. Thus these meetings, which at first were only held on Sabbaths and feast days, came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours with the services in the temple. The essential aim, however, of the synagogue was not prayer, but instruction in the Law for all classes of the people. Philo calls the synagogues “houses of instruction, where the philosophy of the fathers and all manner of virtues were taught” (compare Mat_4:23; Mar_1:21; Mar_6:2; Luk_4:15, Luk_4:33; Luk_6:6; Luk_13:10; Joh_6:59; Joh_18:20;)”

    Then there is the issue of Acts 20:7.
    Act 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

    Were these disciples (including Paul) guilty of breaking the Sabbath then? 

    As an SDA, you follow the Ten Commandments, but how much of the rest of the instructions given in the Pentateuch are followed as well? How about Leviticus 19:31, for example?

  • Jessica

    Jessica January 07, 2011

    Hey Scott,

    You said Lev. 23:3 is referring to Feasts, but can you tell me why you’re so sure of that? I ask because directly following that passage, all the feasts are spelled out so that would be slightly redundant, it seems.  It’s also the same language as the 4th Commandment.

    I find your argument interesting and here’s why…

    You start by saying that the Sabbath wasn’t meant for worship but for rest. Even if that’s the case(which I’m not sure is based on Lev 23), so what? I never said that you must go to church on Sabbath, I said its meant to keep holy. I don’t care where you go, the blessing is in communing with God and I believe fellowship with others adds to that blessing. 

    You then allude to a new day of worship (Sunday) from your Acts passage, and then ask why the SDA’s keep the 10 Commandments but not all the OT laws.  What’s your argument?  Is it that Sabbath wasn’t meant to keep holy?  Is it that it’s now Sunday instead?  Or is it that you don’t think we should obey the 10 Commandments?

  • Scott

    Scott January 08, 2011

    Exo 20:8-11 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  (9)  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  (10)  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:  (11)  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    Deuteronomy 5:12-15 is very similar wording.

    Lev 23:1-4 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  (2)  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.  (3)  Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.  (4)  These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
    Leviticus 23 is referring to the Feasts and the Sabbath that is to be celebrated during the Feasts. Verse 2 points to the Feasts and verse 4. As you read through the Bible, Jessica, you will see plenty of areas of “redundancy,” God repeats Himself because man learns through repetition and because of the time frame between repetitions. Deuteronomy 5 repeating of the commandments may seem redundant, but the Law was being given a second time because of the roughly 38 year difference in time between Exodus 20 and Deut. 5 and the new set of Israelites. The Reader’s Digest came out with a condensed Bible in the Seventies because of the redundancies—it was much smaller a Bible.

    Furthermore, the word “convocation” is used in about 15 verses in the Pentateuch—each time in reference to the Feasts.

  • Scott

    Scott January 08, 2011

    Jessica, I repeat the non-rhetorical questions, please do not read more into them than what they ask.

    Then there is the issue of Acts 20:7.
    Act 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

    Were these disciples (including Paul) guilty of breaking the Sabbath then?

    Please note that I did not ask a “why” question here (you had said: and then ask why the SDA’s keep the 10 Commandments but not all the OT laws):
    As an SDA, you follow the Ten Commandments, but how much of the rest of the instructions given in the Pentateuch are followed as well? How about Leviticus 19:31, for example?
    I asked this question because Adventist.org states: The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html see “#19 Law of God.”
    So do the SDAs keep all of the instructions given or do they just follow the 10 Commandments?  Is Leviticus 19:31 one of the ones that should be kept?

  • Jessica

    Jessica January 10, 2011

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you about Leviticus 23:3 being a ceremonial sabbath.

    If you study it further (which I suggest you do obviously) I think you’ll see that there are certain linguistic markers which indicate that this is the case.  When referring to ceremonial sabbaths in the Old Testament there are some obvious identifiers which show that the OT text is referring to ceremonial sabbaths such as the words, “weeks”, “afflict”, “her sabbaths” “your sabbaths” “of the land” etc. and when referring to the seventh-day Sabbath, there are other linguistic markers.  For instance, God in the Bible refers to the seventh day as “MY Sabbath” “MY holy day”, “THE sabbath” “seventh DAY of the week” It’s cyclical week by week. 

    Here are some texts to look at to show what I’m talking about.

    Lev. 16:31 (afflict, her/it/she)
    Leb 23:15 (weeks)
    Lev 23:32 (afflict) (your)
    Lev 25:2 (of the land, her/its/she)
    2 Chron. 36:21 (of the land, her/its/she)
    Hosea 2:11 (her, its, she)
    Isaiah 1:13 (your)

    Then for the seventh day Sabbath:

    Exodus 31:16 (keep, the)
    Lev 19:3 (keep, my)
    Lev. 23:11 (the, day)
    Numbers 15:32 (the day)
    Deut. (keep, the, day, holy)
    Deut. 5:15 (the, day)
    2 Kings 4:23 (the, day)
    2 Chron 2:4 (the)
    Neh 10:31 (the day)

    Lev 23:38 differentiates between the ceremonial and seventh day above by saying that the offerings for the festivals are in addition to the seventh day Sabbath of the Lord.

    (“‘These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the LORD—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38 These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and[e] in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)

    Not to mention they were told to keep the Sabbath even in their dwellings while all other feasts were to be kept in the tabernacle, temple, etc. 

    So I believe the above evidence proves otherwise.

    And if my “proof” isn’t enough, check out every single solitary commentator (Clarke’s Gills Exposition, Barnes,etc.) in reference to this verse who agrees with me that this is referring to the seventh day Sabbath.  I admit, the Keil and Delitzsch commentary is a bit over my head—I don’t know who they agree with!)

    http://bible.cc/leviticus/23-3.htm

  • Jessica

    Jessica January 10, 2011

    To answer your other questions very specifically and not reading into them: 

    QUESTION:  Were these disciples (including Paul) guilty of breaking the Sabbath then (acts 20:7)? 

    ANSWER: No.  They were not.

    QUESTION:  As an SDA, you follow the Ten Commandments, but how much of the rest of the instructions given in the Pentateuch are followed as well?

    ANSWER:  Many, but none that were “shadows of what is to come.” (ex. feast days)

    QUESTION:  How about Leviticus 19:31, for example?

    ANSWER:  Yes.  We keep that law.

    QUESTION:  So do the SDAs keep all of the instructions given or do they just follow the 10 Commandments? 

    ANSWER:  Not all, but many.

    Hope that answered your questions.  You were very specific that you didn’t want more than what you asked so I hope I answered them very directly the way you requested.

  • Scott

    Scott January 12, 2011

    Jessica,
    Thank you for the first post, I will do some investigating. There are some things there that I had not caught before and will look further.

    With your second post—how do the SDAs determine which instructions to keep and which to ignore or disregard? Again, the adventist.org site was not very specific.
    But, for example, Leviticus (and Genesis 9:3)is specific about which animals can be eaten, but the SDA promotes vegetarianism.
    How do you reconcile Leviticus 19:31 with your 46th visit?

  • Brian D. Cloyd

    Brian D. Cloyd March 21, 2011

    I am a Serpent handling believer and a minister and believe also in keeping the 7th day sabbath! There are many groups of “pentecostals” who literally believe Mark 16:18. Some trinitarian, some oneness, some sort of in between. I happen to be oneness, or non-trinitarian. We simply teach that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are not three seperate “persons” but rather three “manifestations” of one God who is Eternal Spirit. Take care and be blessed in Jesus name and remember, things arent always what they appear to be!

  • Brandon Faris

    Brandon Faris August 28, 2011

    Jessica,

    What a great adventure.  I too am intrigued by their beliefs.  Where there any younger generation that are continuing the tradition?  I’m interested in doing a documentary on how the Facebook generation can sustain these beliefs….

    Brandon

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