By David C. Read
4. There is a repeated argument unless one believes in six recent literal 24-hour days of creation the validity of Scripture is undermined. Is this really true? We do lots of interpretation of stories in the Bible that are very literal and very concrete. No Adventist really literally believes Luke 16:19-31, where conversation goes on between heaven and hell. We call this a metaphor because it does not fit our theology. No one really takes Paul seriously that women should not be heard in church at all. It may not seem logical, but in truth, there are many Adventists who completely trust Scripture, are faithful to the Adventist message and do not accept six recent literal 24-hour days.
5. Creation is the first place we see Sabbath and there is a argument made that if the Creation story is not strictly literal the seventh day Sabbath is undermined. Some would even say destroyed. Fine. . . except that when non-Adventists argue against the seventh day Sabbath it is not on the basis of a non-literal reading of the creation account. As noted in number four above, there are many faithful Sabbath-keeping Adventists who question the traditional interpretation. You will find these people in almost every Adventist Church at least in North America. –Steve Moran
The Bible states that the earth was created in six days (Gen. 1:1 – 2:3). God hallowed the seventh day, the Sabbath, as a memorial to His creation: â€œBy the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating he had doneâ€ (Gen. 2:2, 3 NIV). (It is interesting that, whereas a day is the earth revolving on its own axis, a month is the moon passing through its phases, and a year is the earth circling the sun, the week has no natural reason for existence; it exists because God established it at the creation. Atheistic regimes, such as the French and Soviet revolutionaries, tried to substitute different cycles, but these all failed, and the seven day week remains a universal fixed cycle of time.)
After the Exodus from Egypt, when God was teaching the Israelites His laws, He used the manna to teach Sabbath observance. One dayâ€™s worth of manna was collected each morning, but it would not keep overnight (Ex. 16:15-20). On the sixth day, however, the Israelites were to collect two dayâ€™s worth of manna, and it would keep overnight and throughout the Sabbath day. Thus, they did not need to collect manna on Sabbath morning, and those who went out to collect it found none (Ex. 16:5, 6, 22-30).
In the fourth of the Ten Commandments, God commands us to observe the Sabbath: â€œRemember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holyâ€ (Ex. 20: 8-11).
Accompanied by thunder and lightning, God descended to Mount Sinai and audibly spoke the Ten Commandments within the hearing of the entire congregation of Israel (Ex. 20:1-21; Deut. 4:10-13). God Himself inscribed the Ten Commandments on stone tablets (Deut. 4:13; Ex. 31:18). God did not take these extraordinary measures with any other of the laws and regulations He gave to the Israelites. Although Moses, in indignation at Israelâ€™s idolatry, smashed the original stone tablets, God commanded him to chisel out two more tablets, upon which God re-inscribed the Ten Commandments, again with His own finger (Ex. 34:1, 28; Deut. 10:1-4).
The new tablets, called the tablets of the Testimony, were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant, a wooden box overlain with gold, with a solid gold lid, called the mercy seat or atonement cover, affixed to which were two golden sculptures of cherubim with their wings overshadowing the middle (Ex. 34:29; 40:20; Deut. 10:5; Ex. 25:10-22). The ark was the most sacred article of furniture in the sanctuary. Only the Levites were allowed to carry it, one man was struck dead for touching it without authority, and seventy men of Beth-Shemesh were slain for looking inside it (Deut. 10:8; 2 Sam. 6:6, 7; 1 Sam. 6:19).
The ark was placed in the most sacred compartment of the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. Ex. 26:33, 34. The visible manifestation of Godâ€™s presence, the glory of God sometimes called the â€œShekinah Glory,â€ was just above the ark, between the cherubim (Ex. 25:22; Lev. 16:2; 2 Sam. 6:2; Psalms 99:1; Ezek. 9:3). Only the high priest was allowed to look upon the ark, once a year on the Day of Atonement, and even on that day he could not enter without incense and the blood of a sacrifice (Lev. 16).
To summarize, the most sacred compartment of the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place, contained the most sacred article of furniture, the Ark of the Testimony. Above the Ark dwelt the visible glory of God, and within the Ark were the tablets of the Testimony. The tablets contained the Ten Commandments, in the middle of which is the Fourth Commandment, which contains Godâ€™s statement, written by His own finger, that He created the world and all its creatures in six days.
When we hold these facts in mind, a viable compromise between evolution and biblical Christianity is unimaginable. The Sabbath, with its rationale of a six-day creation and holy rest on the seventh day, is at the very center of the religion God prescribed for the Hebrews, and it is just this scriptural fact that evolution denies. The evolutionistâ€”theistic or atheisticâ€”denies Godâ€™s claim of having created the world in six days. The theistic evolutionist is forced to believe that God is playing some sort of practical joke. The integrity of Scripture is fatally undermined if we do not believe what God tells us about how He created the world.
But the Sabbath is undermined in a special way. It is true that those non-Adventist Christians who argue with Adventists about the continuing obligation to honor the Sabbath typically do not challenge the historicity of the creation week. But this is because non-Adventists likely to engage with Adventists on this issue are overwhelmingly likely to be conservative Christians with a high view Scripture; they think highly enough of Scripture to argue over exegesis and doctrine. By contrast, liberal Christians who doubt the historicity of the creation week have long since dismissed Scripture as a human document of largely historical relevance; they attend church, if at all, for cultural reasons. They increasingly have their counterparts in the Adventist Church.
But the undermining of the biblical worldview is not limited to the Sabbath doctrine. The evolutionistâ€”theistic or atheisticâ€”subscribes to conventional geological notions, interpreting the geologic column as the residue of hundreds of millions of years. He does not believe in a universal flood capable of depositing much of the column. He discounts Genesis chapters six through nine, which tell us that all humanity, all the land animals, and all the birds, with the exception of those on Noahâ€™s ark, were destroyed in a world wide flood that covered the tops of all the mountains on earth (Gen. 7:21-23).
The evolutionistâ€”theistic or atheisticâ€”places himself in opposition to Jesus Christ, who attests to the historical reality of the Flood:
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the Flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the Flood came and took them all away (Mat. 24:37-39; Luke 17: 26, 27).
Peter attests to the reality of the Flood, as does the author of Hebrews (2 Peter 2:5; 3:5, 7; Hebrews 11:7).
After the Flood, God made a covenant with Noah and the animals that He would never again destroy the world with water. The rainbow is the symbol of this covenant (Gen. 9:8-17). But the evolutionistâ€”theistic or atheisticâ€”denies that a worldwide flood ever occurred. For him, the Flood story, Noah, his ark, and Godâ€™s covenant sealed and symbolized by the rainbow, were all invented out of whole cloth.
In my previous article, I discussed how theistic evolution seriously erodes the doctrine of the Fall. Here, it is worth emphasizing that the biblical teaching that death entered the world because of sin (Rom. 5:12; Rom. 8:18-22) must bow before the belief system of the evolutionist. The geologic column shows the entombed remains of a large variety of animals, and, if interpreted according to evolutionary assumptions, shows that death reigned for hundreds of millions of years before man ever appeared on the scene. Thus, death, as a general phenomenon, cannot have been caused by sin and the Fall, and must be part of Godâ€™s planâ€”part of the creation that God declared â€œvery good.â€ Likewise, the Bible teaches that the animals were created to eat grass and other vegetation, not each other (Gen. 1:30). But for the evolutionistâ€”theistic or atheisticâ€”nature was â€œred in tooth and clawâ€ long before Adam sinned.
But we are not done yet. Evolutionismâ€”theistic or atheisticâ€”causes problems in the interpretation of biblical prophecy. â€œThe mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to proclaim to all peoples the everlasting gospel of Godâ€™s love in the context of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-12 . . .” The first angel’s message is: “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Adventists have always believed that this message speaks to our Adventist movement, with (1) our warning to the world that the investigative judgment in heaven has begun and (2) our call for the restoration of true worship on the Bible Sabbath, the Seventh-day Sabbath, which is Godâ€™s sign and seal as our Creator. Evolutionismâ€”theistic or atheisticâ€”causes problems with prophetic interpretation.
The doctrine of the six-day creation is not comparable to a single parable. The six-day creation forms the basis for the Sabbath, which is at the center of Godâ€™s moral law, written by Godâ€™s own finger. The Sabbath in turn forms the basis for the Adventist interpretation of the prophecies of Revelation. The literal Adam and his fall into sin create the need for a savior, and give meaning to Christâ€™s role as the second Adam, who redeemed what the first Adam lost. The literal worldwide flood, endorsed by the New Testament writers, provides the means of interpreting the geologic column as something other than hundreds of millions of years of suffering and death, all preceding Adamâ€™s sin.
By now it should be obvious how untrue is the claim that â€œthere are many Adventists who completely trust Scripture, are faithful to the Adventist message and do not accept six recent literal 24-hour days.â€ In fact, these Adventists do not completely trust Scripture. To the contrary, they trust human speculations about origins more than they trust the plain word of God, despite understanding, better than Christians of any other denomination, how crucial and integral are the Bibleâ€™s teachings on origins.
In the parable of â€œthe rich man and Lazarus,â€ Jesus is not attempting to describe the actual conditions in which people exist after their deaths but before the resurrection morning. But Jesusâ€™ parable has a point, and it is this: â€œIf they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the deadâ€ (Luke 16:31). If a person refuses to believe what Moses wrote about our origins, nothing is beyond the corrupting reach of their unbelief, which will ultimately prove fatal. â€œIf you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me,â€ said Jesus, â€œBut since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?â€ (John 5:46-47).