Herbert W. Armstrong

Do we not define a covenant as a mutual agreement between two parties?
Is that not the description by which we recognize a covenant in the Bible?

Now let us consider Exodus 31:12-18, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, [the children of Israel here have the meaning of the blood descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve tribes, literally], "saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: FOR IT IS A SIGN BETWEEN ME AND YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS...." Between God and whom? The twelve tribes, or descendants of Jacob-Israel, God's chosen earthly race. Now Why? "That ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you." Sanctify - set apart. The Sabbath, then is their national sign, setting them apart from other nations and peoples, identifying them as God's chosen race. Now does Sabbath-keeping set one apart? You and I know that it does. The rest of the world sets us apart mighty quick when we begin to keep it. "Ye shall keep the Sabbath, therefore; for it is holy unto you; everyone that defileth it shall surely be put to death." Now death ordinarily means "cut off", generally from God. Note, however, that the following words seem to define the meaning here. "For whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off FROM AMONG HIS PEOPLE." Cut off from God? No, it says cut off from his people - Israel. Cut off from being considered one of God's chosen earthly race of people. So, then, consider an Israelite. And, as you know, there is ample scriptural evidence that an outsider can be GRAFTED IN, and considered an ADOPTED child of Israel. And this passage I am discussing tells what cuts one off, and what the national sign is. Why does violation of the Sabbath cut one off from Israel? "To observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, FOR A PERPETUAL COVENANT." Get that word COVENANT. The Sabbath, then, is a covenant, all by itself. And THIS covenant is given as a PERPETUAL covenant. A WHOLLY SEPARATE AND DISTINCT COVENANT IN ITSELF. Entirely apart from the Ten Commandments. That is, God here takes ONE of those Ten Commandments, and makes a separate and distinct and perpetual covenant out of it. God, the party of the first part, agrees to be their God that doth set them apart as His chosen people, provided the children of Israel, party of the second part, keep His Sabbath command. Failure on the part of the party of the second part to perform their side of the covenant agreement annuls God's promise to keep His part of the agreement of setting them apart as His chosen people. Thus, failure to keep the Sabbath breaks the covenant and cuts one off from being of Israel. The passage continues, "It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel FOREVER."

The Sabbath, here is presented as the SIGN which God gave to Israel between Him and them. It formed a new and separate covenant. THIS covenant is a perpetual covenant, to be a sign FOREVER.

I am fully aware of the fact that this passage has been used time and again by both the Church of God and the Adventists. But has it been used as a SEPARATE COVENANT by itself? Has it been considered in the light here analyzed?

Let us analyze it further. It is a SIGN between them - pointing to Him as their God, and to them as His chosen people. So such a sign should point to Him AS GOD, and to them AS HIS PEOPLE. Does this Sabbath sign do that? Yes, in a way nothing else could. The proof that He is God is the fact of Creation. By pointing to Creation - by being a memorial of Creation, it points to Him as the true God. Now how does it point to them as His people? If you will notice whenever God has chosen anyone for special office, He has put them to the test of OBEDIENCE. The test is always one of obedience, and if one can pass that test, they qualify for the office of being an Israelite, one of God's chosen.

Now consider Isaiah 56:3-7, and see, that by keeping the Sabbath, the national sign of Israel, an outsider May become grafted in. I know Paul in the new Testament has quite a little to say about Gentiles becoming adopted Israelites, but Paul gives other qualifications. Suppose now, the whole law, the Ten Commandments and all, were abolished, as the vast majority of churches contend. Will any contend that this separate Sabbath covenant, this everlasting, perpetual covenant, was PART OF THE LAW OF MOSES? I think they cannot. It is distinctly separate, here. A separate covenant by itself. The national sign of Israel. This covenant, surely, was not abolished at the Cross. This covenant, surely, is still binding today.

Of course that involves the question of who, today is Israel? Just the Jews? The Jews who are the remnatn of the house of Judah, plus the Ten Lost Tribes, who were a separate nation called the House of Israel. Shall we say that Israel today is the saved people who keep the Sabbath, the national sign? Paul appears to specify salvation and acceptance of Jesus Christ and His teachings as the requisite to becoming one of Israel. According to this: Jewish Sabbath-keepers who do not accept Jesus are cut off. Further, according to Exodus 31:12-18, "converted" people who are not Jews, and who keep Sunday and not Sabbath, are not of Israel, because they have been cut off from Israel by rejecting Israel's national sign. According to this, then, the body of Israel, today, becomes those who accept Jesus, observe His teachings and keep the Sabbath. When we consider Israel in this light, ONLY Israel can be saved.

The following are the scriptures quoted in this article:

Exodus 31:12-18, And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, {13} Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. {14} Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. {15} Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. {16} Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. {17} It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. {18} And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Isaiah 56:3-7 Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. {4} For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; {5} Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. {6} Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; {7} Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

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