Isaiah 66 – Sabbath keeping in heaven?

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Isa 66:23

(Isa 66:1) Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
(Isa 66:2) For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
(Isa 66:3) He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
(Isa 66:4) I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spoke, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.
(Isa 66:5) Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.
(Isa 66:6) A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompense to his enemies.
(Isa 66:7) Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.
(Isa 66:8) Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
(Isa 66:9) Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.
(Isa 66:10) Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
(Isa 66:11) That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
(Isa 66:12) For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
(Isa 66:13) As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
(Isa 66:14) And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies.
(Isa 66:15) For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.
(Isa 66:16) For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
(Isa 66:17) They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.
(Isa 66:18) For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.
(Isa 66:19) And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.
(Isa 66:20) And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.
(Isa 66:21) And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.
(Isa 66:22) For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
(Isa 66:23) And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
(Isa 66:24) And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

Adventists will tell you that this passage, particularly verse 23, shows that in the Kingdom of God, we will be keeping the Sabbath. That is a typical Sabbatarian twisting of that text. The text says that people worshipped FROM one Sabbath TO the next. It does NOT say that people worshipped ON one sabbath AND the next. If you understood Hebrew and/or English grammar, you would realise that this refers to continuous worship on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and again the next Saturday … from the one given point in time until the next given point in time. This verse is talking about perpetual worship, not worship on Saturdays only. And why is the Sabbath used as a delineation of the unit of perpetual worship ? Well, the book was written by Isaiah, a Sabbath keeper writing to Sabbath keepers. It is only natural that he would use imagery that they would understand. But it is dishonest to interpret this text as claiming that the Sabbath will be kept in the Kingdom of God, because that is NOT what the text says at all. Go back and read it for yourself.

Please also go and re-read Isaiah 66:23 above – it says “from one Sabbath to the next.”

If I said the following, how would you interpret it? “X-Files shows on TV every Friday night, and from one Friday to the next I wait in anticipation.”

Would you say that I am waiting ONLY on the Friday in question, or do you think I am waiting ALL the time between one Friday and the next? Using basic English, we know that I am not just waiting ON the Fridays, I am waiting continuously – from one Friday all the time right until the next.

So why do Adventists change the basic meaning of this phrase when it comes to this particular verse? Why does “from one Sabbath to the next” have to be interpreted “ON one Sabbath AND the next” here, in spite of it meaning something different in actual English?

Also, the text mentioned “from one new moon until the next” as well.

If the text proves that Christians should keep the Sabbath, then surely the same text also proves that Christians should keep the new moon. There were three groups of festivals in the Old Testament – annual festivals (Passover, Day of Atonement, etc) and there were monthly festivals – the observance of the new moon on the first day of the lunar month cycle, and then there were weekly festivals – the 7th day Sabbath. Did you know that?

So, if Passover and those other annual festivals are done away with in Col 2:14-17, then Isaiah 66:23 must be showing us that we must STILL keep the other TWO festivals – the weekly Sabbath and the monthly New Moon. Do Adventists keep the New Moon every month? No! So why is there a difference between the New Moon and the Sabbath here, when the text says we will be keeping both?

Looking closer, Isaiah 66 never actually states that we will KEEP the Sabbath, OBSERVE the Sabbath. The text simply uses the Sabbath as a point in time by which to reference the fact that our worship of God is CONTINUOUS … like Hebrews tells us about the New Sabbath which replaces the Old 7th day Sabbath – TODAY when you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. We live TODAY, we worship TODAY – continuously, not weekly.

The only reason Isaiah uses the term Sabbath is because he is writing to Sabbath keepers to whom this particular moment in time is important. It is a reference point with which they can identify. But the grammar prevents us from interpreting the text as a prophecy of the Sabbath being kept in the future.

Going further, proving that this does not literally apply to the Christian context: verse 21 mentions priests and Levites … show me where we have Old Covenant priests and Levites in ANY Christian context – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, even Adventist … they are not there. This priesthood mentioned does not exist any more – it is written using Old Covenant symbolism. It is essential to accept that the symbolism used is that which the author and his readers knew personally, and cannot (like the Levitical priest bit) be taken literally in our context.

Then, we see in verse 22 that there are new heavens and a new earth. Because it is convenient for their theology, Adventists – without looking further – assume that this means that the world will have ended, and since it has not, the law is still intact. Yet there is sufficient evidence in the New Testament to prove quite reasonably that the new heavens and new earth HAVE already come! That I’ve discussed in a different section.

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