Ritual vs. Relationship
Lorraine Day, M.D.
As the time for His crucifixion was approaching, Jesus prayed for His disciples and all subsequent believers. He prayed the following to His Father:
“As thou has sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. . .
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word
“That they all may be one: as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. . .
“I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that Thou has sent Me, and has loved them, as thou hast loved Me. . .
“And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
Jesus had a Father-Son relationship with God. He wants a Father-Son relationship with us. Unfortunately, the “Church” a device of “man” has intervened, instituting church rituals in place of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
What are these rituals and how did they come about?
Baptism: Ritual or Relationship?
In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us:
“Go ye therefore, and teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them. . .” Matthew 28:19
And Jesus, Himself, was baptized by John the Baptist.
“Thus cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
“But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?
“And Jesus answering said unto him, Allow it to be so now; for this it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then He allowed him.
“And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water. . .”Matthew 3:13-16
The Greek word baptism is baptizo (#907 in Strong’s Concordance). It means to whelm or to cover wholly with a fluid. In other words, to immerse fully in the water.
The word baptism means to immerse fully in water. It does NOT mean “to sprinkle.”
When Jesus was baptized, He was immersed fully in the water, from which “He came out of.” (Matthew 3:16)
The Bible says nothing about “sprinkling” associated with Baptism. Most “Christian” churches have chosen to ignore the Great Commission of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 by doing God’s work our OWN way.
Jesus tells us to “baptize” to fully immerse in water. Jesus, Himself, was baptized fully immersed in water. But apparently that is too inconvenient for those in the “church” who have chosen to “sprinkle” for their own convenience. They have chosen to do it their way, rather than God’s way.
In addition, Jesus was 30 years old when He was baptized. He was considered a mature man, certainly old enough to understand why He was being baptized. The Bible does not endorse the baptism of a baby or anyone too young to understand the Plan of Salvation.
Infant baptism is a pagan ritual, embraced by the Catholic church, then carried on by the Protestants.
Parents can rightfully dedicate their children to God, to bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, as did Mary and Joseph with Jesus in the temple soon after He was born.
The Parents are certainly old enough to know what they are doing. Infant dedication by the parents is very different from Infant Baptism.
Who can Baptize?
Many churches say that an ordained pastor, credentialed by the state government, must perform the baptism. But the Bible makes no such designation. John the Baptist had no government credentials, nor did the disciples, yet they baptized many in local rivers.
What does Baptism mean? Is it a ritual or a relationship?
Baptism is an individual’s public declaration that he or she has now chosen to follow Jesus Christ. It is a symbolic washing of the outside of one’s body. But it is the “fire” that cleanses the inside - the heart and mind.
“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved: yet so as by fire. 1 Cor. 3:15
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. “ 1 Cor 3:13
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7
Just as the earth was washed first with literal water during the flood, so it will be cleansed with fire right before Jesus comes.
“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” 2 Peter 3:12
“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:7
Of what is Baptism a memorial?
Baptism NOT Sunday-keeping - is the memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection.
“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
“Therefore, we were buried with Him by baptism into death that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be united in the likeness of His resurrection.
“Knowing this, that our old man (of sin) is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed (rendered inoperative), that henceforth we should not be slaves of sin.” Romans 6:3-6
Easter is a pagan holiday a festival to reproduction (bunnies and eggs) a festival to nature (creation the pagan god Gaia) rather than to God the Creator!
In addition, Jesus was NOT resurrected on Sunday. He was resurrected on His day the Seventh day Sabbath Saturday.
“For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath Day.” Matthew 12:8
(Please see, “Was Jesus Really Resurrected on Sunday?”) at the website www.goodnewsaboutgod.com
Baptism in whose name?
“. . . baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 28:19
First, the word “Ghost” is always inaccurate when linked to “Holy.” The Greek word used here is pneuma (pneuma, as in pneumonia - #4151 meaning breath). The Greek word for “ghost” is phantasma (#5326 in Strong’s Concordance).
“And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a ghost (phantasma); and they cried out for fear.” Matthew 14:26
Every time the word “Holy Spirit” is used in the Bible it is a mistranslation of the words “God’s breath of Holiness.”
God breathed physical breath into Adam and Adam became alive (a living soul, a living human being who had the five senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste).
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7
God breathes physical breath into us to give us physical life.
God also breathes “spiritual” breath into us give us spiritual life.
After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples.
“Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her.
“Then the same day at evening, being the Sabbath (sabbaton) in the Greek - NOT the “first day of the week”) when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, “Peace be unto you.
“And when he had so said, He showed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you; as My Father has sent Me, even so send I you.
“And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them, “Receive ye the Breath of Holiness” (NOT - “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”) John 20:18-22
When Jesus Breathed on His disciples, they obviously “received” the “Breath. He did not breathe a “Ghost” on them! They received God’s Breath of Holiness.
Jesus gives us HIS life, by putting His “Breath of Holiness” in us His character - so we can exhibit the life of Christ.
"I will put My Breath (not “spirit”) in you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.” Ezekiel 36:27
We are told to baptize in the name (character) of the Father, the Son (God in human form Jesus Christ our Savior) and God’s Breath of Holiness, which is His life (His spiritual breath) manifested in our life.
Baptism: Ritual or Relationship?
Infant baptism in any form, and sprinkling “baptism” of a child or an adult is nothing but a ritual and NOT endorsed by God’s word.
Baptism by immersion is commanded by Jesus Christ, and is a public confirmation by the individual of a beginning relationship with Him.
The Lord’s Prayer: Ritual or Relationship?
The Lord’s Prayer can be repeated from memory by most Christians. Indeed, many churches ask the congregation to join in saying the Lord’s Prayer regularly.
But is it anymore than a ritual to the average Christian? Christians mouth the words but they have little knowledge of what it really means.
Jesus hates vain repetitions.
“But when ye pray, use not vain (useless) repetitions, as the heathen (Unbelievers) do; for they think they shall be heard by their much speaking (loquacity literal translation).” Matthew 6:7
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, but a prayer must mean a great deal to the one who prays it. It cannot be a ritual!
“And it came to pass that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
Jesus responded in Matthew 6:5-15.
“And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites (pretenders) are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues (churches) and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men, Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (They have chosen the adoration of men. They get nothing from God.)
“But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret: and your Father which sees you in secret, shall reward you.
“But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the Unbelievers (heathen) do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking (loquacity).
“Do not, therefore, be like them; for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him.
“After this manner therefore pray.
What was Jesus trying to teach us through the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)?
“Our Father. . .
God is our Father. He wants a personal Father/son or Father/daughter relationship with us not church buildings, and church rituals, nor human intermediaries such as pastors, elders or deacons.
He wants a relationship with us as we have with our earthly father, only better because God is better.
God is our real Father. He created us by forming us in our mother’s womb. God has only temporarily given us to an earthly father to raise and nurture us.
“. . . Who art in heaven. . .”
God presently resides in heaven. But He came to this earth in the form of Jesus Christ to reveal His character to us. After He has finished the “restitution of ALL” He will move His headquarters from heaven to earth.
“And He (God) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution (restoration) of ALL, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began (“His holy prophets who are from the eon” - literal translation).
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea.
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
“And He that sat upon the throne said: ‘Behold, I make ALL NEW.’ And He said unto me: ‘Write: for these words are true and faithful.’ ” Revelation 21:1-5
“Hallowed be Thy name” (“Holy is your name - character.”)
In the Bible, names denote character. Jacob’s name meant supplanter/usurper one who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another. Jacob was a liar. He lied to his father and his brother. He illegally and deceptively seized his brother Esau’s birthright.
When Jacob finally had reaped what he had sown (his father-in-law deceived Jacob by giving him the wrong daughter (Leah) for his wife, rather than Rachel whom he loved), when Jacob had decided to repent and make peace with his brother Esau, when Jacob finally gave His life to God, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel which means upright with God. Jacob’s new name, Israel, was a spiritual name change, denoting the change in Jacob’s character.
Jacob’s genes didn’t change when his name changed. Jacob did not “become a Jew.” Jacob was an Israelite he was NOT a Jew. His name was changed to the spiritual name Israel when Jacob’s heart was spiritually changed.
The name Israel was a spiritual name. It meant that Jacob now worshiped God and gave his allegiance to God. All those who followed after the same God of Jacob/Israel were called Israel-ites.
The name “Israel” did not denote a race. The name had nothing to do with a genetic change. The new name, Israel, denoted a spiritual change in Jacob a change in his heart.
God’s name is HOLY, yet the Christian world profanes His name regularly in many ways.
1. By outright cursing, saying “Oh my God” or “Gosh” or “Gee-whiz.” According to the dictionary, “Gosh” is a euphemism for “God” and “Gee-Whiz” is a euphemism for “Jesus Christ.”
2. By calling oneself a Christian but not exhibiting the character of Jesus Christ by endorsing war, self-defense, pre-emptive strikes against our enemies, profaning God’s Seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), lying, cheating, not loving our enemies, being unforgiving, etc.
3. By wearing the name of God or Jesus Christ on our clothing as we would the name of a rock star. If God’s name is HOLY which the Lord’s Prayer says it is it should be treated with great respect.
4. By singing or playing so-called “Christian” music which is basically secular rock or swing music, but God’s name has been blasphemously added to the lyrics.
5. By claiming we believe in God, when we really believe in “man” (doctors for our health, pastors and churches for our salvation, government for our safety).
6. By believing what “men” (pastors, theologians) say about God rather than studying God’s word directly for ourselves, allowing God to “lead us into ALL truth.” (John 16:13)
7. We tend to treat Jesus Christ like our “surfing buddy” rather than the great, omnipotent God that He is.
“Thy kingdom come. . .”
God’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, it is in our hearts. It is “not of this world” (John 18:36).
“Thy will be done. . .”
God “works ALL after the counsel of HIS own will” NOT our will. (Ephesians 1:11)
“. . . on earth, as it is in heaven.”
“God locks all up in stubbornness (disobedience) that He may be merciful to ALL.” Romans 11:32
It is God who locks us up in disobedience, and He who locks can also unlock, so we can eventually see and do His will.
“Give us this day our daily bread. . .”
We ask for and receive only one day’s ration of physical and spiritual food. We must eat of the “Bread from Heaven” God’s word every day in order to stay alive and healthy spiritually, just as we must eat physical food daily to stay alive physically.
God only gives us enough bread for one day so we learn to trust Him.
“Take no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34
“And forgive us our debts (trespasses), as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us).”
It is impossible to be well unless we forgive everyone who has ever wronged us. God will only forgive US if we forgive others.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
“But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14,15
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Literal: “And mayest Thou not be bringing us into trial, but rescue us from the wicked one.)
God promises trials in this life because they build character, and they are the best way for us to learn to do right.
“In this world, you WILL have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation produces patience (literal - perseverance): and perseverance produces experience (literal: character), and character produces hope (literal: expectation the certainty of knowing that God WILL do what He has already promised to do).” Romans 5:2-4
God promises to deliver us.
“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for the eons of the eons. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment for chastening.” 2 Peter 2:9
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, Amen.”
God runs the world and everything in it. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. He can and will save everyone He has created.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14
“Ah, Lord God! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee: Jeremiah 32:17
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27
The Lord’s Prayer: Ritual or Relationship?
If one understands the Lord’s Prayer it will become part of our relationship with Him rather than just a monotone, repetitive ritual.
Communion: Ritual or Relationship?
Ordinance of Humility
Before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. In Jesus’ time, the men wore sandals and the roads and walking paths were dusty. A gracious host provided a servant to wash the feet of his guests. But the washing the feet of the guests was performed by the lowest servant in the household. Jesus chose to put Himself in that role.
“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.
And supper being ended, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him;
Jesus knowing that the Father had given ALL into His hands, and that He was come from God and was going to God;
He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments: and took a towel, and girded Himself.
After that He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel, wherewith He was girded.
Then He comes to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto Him, Lord, are you washing my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do you do not now understand; but you shall know hereafter.
Peter said unto Him, Thou shalt not wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.
Simon Peter then said unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus said to him, He that is bathed needs nothing except to wash his feet, but he is completely clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, Ye are not all clean.” John 13:1-10
Is Jesus speaking literally or figuratively in this passage?
Certainly Jesus literally washed the feet of His disciples, but what was He trying to teach them? Was he telling them to literally wash one another’s feet regularly, or was he teaching them humility?
The Bible frequently uses literal occurrences to teach spiritual lessons. In the Old Testament sanctuary the sacrificial slain lamb represented Christ. The sanctuary/temple where God dwelt represented our body. “Your body is the temple of God’s spirit.”
Jesus gives us the answer as to whether he was teaching them a literal ritual or a spiritual lesson - right in this passage. When Peter asked Jesus, “Are you washing my feet?
“What I am doing, you don’t understand now. But you shall understand hereafter (later).” John 13:7
At that time, Peter only understood in sense knowledge terms in literal terms. He was not able to understand spiritual things until after the terrible ordeal of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and after the fifty days of Bible study and prayer in the Upper Room as a prologue to God’s Spirit (breath of holiness) being given to them. That is what finally gave Peter Spiritual understanding.
Up until then, Peter was still in the category of the “natural” (soulish) man the man who can only understand things through his five senses.
The disciples were constantly concerned about “who would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom” (Matthew 18:1). Jesus rebuked them for their prideful ambition.
“The natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit of God (spiritual things): for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because spiritual things are spiritually understood.” 1 Cor. 2:14
In addition, Jesus told Peter that Peter could be “completely clean” after Jesus washed only his feet. (John 13:10) Jesus is clearly not speaking literally in this instance.
Also, Jesus said,
“. . . and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew who would betray Him (Judas); therefore He said, “Ye are not ALL clean.” John 13:10,11
Jesus was referring to “unclean” Judas who would betray Him. Again, we see that Jesus is speaking spiritually, not literally.
Jesus’ rebuked the Pharisees and the scribes who were the epitome of hypocrisy, always wanting to be seen of men.
“Woe unto you, Pharisees, for you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.” Luke 11:43
“He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.” Luke 1:52
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you make the outside of the cup and platter clean, but inside is full of extortion and self-righteousness. You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew 23:25,26
But true humility makes a person great in God’s eyes.
“. . . for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” Luke 9:48
“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.” Luke 16:10
“Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Matthew 25:40
Washing someone else’s feet in a ritual particularly when that person’s feet don’t need washing does not contribute to a person’s holiness. It is religiosity not spirituality. It is an empty ritual and nothing more.
Jesus wants to put His Spirit and His life in us, so we will exhibit His character to the world. We will exhibit the humility of Jesus.
The only way that can happen is through regular, daily, fervent Bible study and prayer. Rituals are useless exercises.
Communion: bread and “wine.”
Is Communion nothing more than a ritual? If not, how does it change one’s character to that of Christ’s?
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.”
“Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for (the) many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28
“And He took bred, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:19,20
Please notice that “they were eating.” This was a regular meal of Jesus and His disciples. It was not a ritual. They were eating a meal of food to nourish their physical body, as one does every day.
What is it Jesus wants us to do “in remembrance of Him”? Drink a thimble full of grape juice and eat a cracker? Or devour His Word, the Bible - which He says is represented by His flesh and blood?
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14
Which will help us become more like Christ?
Jesus was illustrating to His disciples His friends - that a person need’s physical food to maintain physical life (Greek word psuche - #5590 in Strong’s Concordance), just as we need Spiritual food (diligent, personal, study of the Bible) to maintain Spiritual life (Greek word zoe - #2222 in Strong’s Concordance).
There are numerous times during Jesus’ ministry that He used physical food and drink to represent the need for Spiritual food and drink. In the following passage Jesus clearly states His message.
Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, hath eonian life (the life of Christ in us).
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna (physical food) in the wilderness and died.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die (He will have eonian life the life and character of Christ that will, eventually, allow him to live forever.)
I am the living (zoe spiritual life) bread that came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for the eons: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life (zoe spiritual life) of the world.
The Jews (Judahites) therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? (They could only understand with their five senses literally. They could NOT understand spiritual things.)
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life (zoe eonian life) in you.
Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, has eonian life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
As the living (eonian life) Father hath sent Me, and I live (eonian life) by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live (eonian life) through Me.
This (Jesus) is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live (zoe) to the eon (have eonian life.)
Many of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a difficult saying: who can understand it?
It is the Spirit (breath) that makes alive (zoe): the (physical) flesh profiteth nothing: the WORDS that I speak unto you, they are spirit (breath) and they are (eonian) life (zoe).” John 6:47-63
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:1,14
Jesus is the “Word” the Scriptures. The WORD was made “flesh” and we must “eat that flesh” as Spiritual food and “drink His blood” as Spiritual drink through daily study of His Word, diligently and fervently. That is the way Jesus speaks to us. That is the way Jesus changes us into His image. That is the way Jesus fills us with His life eonian life the life of Christ in us, so we can exhibit His character.
“But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (little by little) even as by the Spirit (breath) of the Lord.” 2 Cor 3:18
By beholding Christ, we become changed into His image!
When God breathes His (Spiritual) breath of holiness into us (mistranslated Holy Spirit) by our diligent study of His Word, He gives us eonian life (routinely mistranslated “eternal” life) the life of Christ in us.
Conclusion on Communion:
It is nothing more than a ritual to eat a tiny cracker and drink a thimble-full of wine. It does nothing to change one’s character or make one closer to Jesus Christ. It is nothing but a ritual.
God became angry with Israel when they made the sacrificial system into nothing more than a ritual and had no understanding of what the system symbolized the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, to die on the cross and “take away the sin of the world.”
Here is God’s response to Israel’s continuing sacrificial rituals that had taken the place of obedience to God. This is what always happens when believers become obsessed with rituals because rituals are much easier, and more convenient, than obeying God’s Word.
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken. I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.
The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s trough: but Israel does not know, My people do not consider.
Ah sinful nation, a people weighed down with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are turned backward. . .
“Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. . .
“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
“Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
“To what purpose is this multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I do NOT delight in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
“When you come to appear before Me, who has required this at your hand to trample My courts?
“Bring no more futile sacrifices: incense is an abomination to Me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure them: it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
“Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates: they are a trouble to Me: I am weary to bear them.
“And when you pray, I will hide My eyes from you: yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of bloodshed.
“Wash yourselves, and make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil;
“Learn to do well; seek justice, reprove the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:2-17
It is clear that God wants obedience, NOT rituals whether they were Old Testament sacrificial rituals that had become meaningless by their repetition or whether they are New Testament rituals, such as Communion, something easy, that the people love, rather than the hard work of obeying God’s command to study (devour) the Scriptures fervently and diligently and daily alone with God!
“In addition, most churches serve fermented wine. Fermentation of anything always signifies sin. That is why during certain Feasts, the Israelites were told to put all leaven out of their houses. Leaven refers to yeast the fermentation process which, in the Bible, always symbolizes sin. They were to eat only unleavened bread.
So when a church uses fermented wine as a symbol of Christ’s blood, they are guilty of blasphemy. In essence, they are saying that Christ’s blood was sinful that Jesus Christ was a sinner!
Only pure, unfermented grape juice (the fruit of the vine in its pure form) can represent the blood of Christ.
Unfortunately, the entire Christian church has embraced the physical interpretation of Communion eating a cracker and a few drops of alcoholic wine - which certainly cannot make anyone holy. Yet the pastors and church members are totally oblivious to what Christ is trying to teach us the Spiritual interpretation of Communion: to be committed to daily, in-depth, personal, diligent Bible study and prayer so Christ can put His Spiritual life in us.
Is the Seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath a Ritual or a Relationship?
Most of the “Christian” world has abandoned the Sabbath. In fact, they never even embraced it. They think it’s “Jewish.” They have chosen Sunday, the pagan day of worship of the Sun god, yet the Bible says:
“Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy. Six days thou shalt labor and do all thy work, but the Seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”
But it was God, Himself, who instituted the Seventh-day Saturday Sabbath, at Creation. He made the day holy as a memorial of His creation of the world. If God makes a day holy, no human being has the power or the right to change it.
The Saturday Sabbath was given to Adam and Eve for the whole human race. And Adam and Eve were NOT “Jewish.”
God did not “rest” on the Sabbath. According to the Hebrew word, He “stopped” on the Sabbath. He “stopped” He ceased - from what He was doing: creating the world and everything in it. He “stopped” because it was finished, and it was perfect. There was nothing more that needed to be done.
We too are to “stop” not “rest.” The Sabbath is a day to spend with the Lord, a day to “stop” all the routine things we do during the week, to put away the secular things that we must or like to do, and develop a closer relationship with the Lord by concentrating on Him and His creation.
God knew that if He did not pick one specific day during the week for us to spend with Him, no human being would ever get around to it. “The cares of this world” would always take precedence.
Some people say, “God doesn’t care which day we keep.”
But God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger in stone and the Seventh-day Sabbath is the Fourth Commandment. What more could God have done to make it clear that the Ten Commandments are very important to God. The rest of the Bible was written through God’s inspiration by human beings.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, KEEP My Commandments.” John 14:15
Some people say, “Well I worship God on every day.” But if that’s the case, you can’t ever work, because God says:
“Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the Seventh day is the Sabbath. 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.
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested (stopped) the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it HOLY.” Exodus 20:8-11
We are not to work on the Sabbath, nor are we to employ others to work for us on God’s holy day.
Is the Sabbath a Ritual?
Jesus strongly rebuked the Pharisees for keeping their “traditions which made the Scriptures of none effect.” The “traditions” Jesus spoke of were later written down, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and became the Talmud. That was the beginning of Judaism.
Again, Judaism did NOT begin until after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and even after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. The religion of the Old Testament was Christianity. The Israelites (who were NOT “Jews” but just people) were looking forward to Christ, the Messiah. So they were actually Christians even though they were referred to as Israelites.
The apostasy that later became “Judaism” began with the pagan worship of the golden calf in the wilderness that God referred to as the “rebellion.” The “rebels” who participated in that pagan worship became the seed of rebellion that first promoted mutiny against Moses. Once the Israelites came into the Promised Land, they against the direct command of God intermarried with the pagan Canaanites and the drift into apostasy occurred repeatedly.
It was this seed of rebellion that grew into the occult false doctrines of the Pharisees, later written down as the Talmud that became the “holiest” book of Judaism. Jesus called the Pharisees vipers, the synagogue of Satan, liars, “of your father the Devil” and hypocrites, because these false doctrines (traditions) turned upside down everything that God’s Holy Scriptures revealed and commanded.
It was a religion of “man” NOT of God!
The Pharisees had hundreds of silly, irrelevant laws for keeping the Sabbath that made it a huge burden. They were full of self-righteousness and pettiness.
Even now, the orthodox Jews, the spiritual (NOT physical) offspring of the Pharisees, have thirty-nine categories of activity prohibited on the Sabbath. The Talmud designates the following:
Making two loops
Weaving at least two threads
Separating two threads
Sewing at least two stitches
Tearing for the purpose of sewing
Cutting hide into pieces
Writing two or more letters
Tearing something down
Extinguishing a fire
Igniting a fire
Applying the finishing touch
Transferring between domains
Explanations of prohibited activities
Here are a few of the explanations of these prohibited activities. It is easy to see why Jesus strongly rebuked this silliness.
The prohibition of “Selecting” includes the filtering of undrinkable water to make it drinkable, as does picking small bones from fish.
Peeling fruits: Peeling fruits is permissible with the understanding that the fruit will be eaten right away.
Sorting silverware: Sorting silverware is permitted when the sorter intends to eat the Sabbath meal immediately. Alternatively, if the sorter intends to set up the meal for a later time, it is prohibited.
Baking is different from “preparing”. For example, one can make a salad because the form of the vegetables doesn’t change, only the size. However, one cannot cook the vegetables to soften them for eating.
Building: Some authorities say that it is prohibited to use electricity since, by turning on a switch, a circuit is completed and thus “built.”
On the Sabbath, present day orthodox Jews are not allowed to use electrical appliances, including all elevators, call bells in a hospital, electrical hospital beds, cars, doors that open electronically, etc. They are not allowed to turn out lights, use or touch money, nor can they be discharged from a hospital to their home because it would require “travel.”
This is the burdening down of the Sabbath Jesus strongly rebuked. All these hideous “laws” promote self-righteousness, as though by refraining from doing all these petty little things, we can somehow make points with God.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ time as well as the Jews of today, have lost the entire meaning of the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is a time to spend learning to know God. There are no hard and fast rules except that we must put away all the routine things of our work or “play” week, and concentrate on the Lord.
Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
The Sabbath is to be a delight, a wonderful day to spend with the Lord, a day for doing good.
Jesus said, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Luke 6:9
Jesus did not come to earth to do away with the Sabbath, but to show us how to keep it His way not the way of the Pharisees.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets, I came not to destroy but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17
Jesus also said that the Seventh-day Sabbath is HIS day NOT the first day of the week, Sunday.
“The Son of man is LORD of the Sabbath-day.” March 2:28
The Sabbath is NOT to be burdened down with numerous irrelevant rules as the Pharisees did during the time of Jesus, nor as the Orthodox Jews do today. It is meant to be a wonderful day of communion with the Lord.
“Jesus said, The scribes and the Pharisees . . . bind heavy burdens hard to bear and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. All their works they do to be seen of men. . . “ Matthew 23:2-
God set aside a particular, specific, special day to spend with us. If we don’t spend that day every week, learning about Him, studying His Word, and learning to trust Him completely with our very life, we will NEVER be able to stand for Christ in the soon-coming time of trouble.
“Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Matthew 24:42
The Sabbath is the Fourth Commandment. If we keep God’s commandments, God promises that it will be well with us and our children.
“Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear (reverence) Me, and keep ALL My commandments always (including the 4th Commandment the Sabbath commandment) that it might be well with them, and with their children forever! Deuteronomy 5:29
Suggestions on what to do on the Sabbath
Study God’s Word and Study God’s Creation
1. Have friends over for lunch. Do the major part of preparing the meal on Friday so you can focus on Spiritual things on the Sabbath. Make the meal Special for a Special day. Spend the afternoon studying God’s Word with friends.
2. Plan a Picnic and/or Hike appreciate God’s wonderful creation.
3. Take appropriate books along on your outing. Learn to identify different flowers, plants, trees, fish, and birds by name.
4. Study about fish and birds, learning their names, their habitat and their life cycles. Studying each of these groups (in No. 3) thoroughly will keep you busy for years.
5. Study different types of rocks, or if you live on the coast, find and identify different types of shells.
6. Identify edible plants.
7. Study the sky and different types of clouds and how they form.
8. Plan a trip to a Planetarium. Study books about the sun, moon and stars.
9. Study about different animals, learning their behavior and how they care for their young.
DVDs/Videos appropriate for Sabbath viewing.
1. Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution by Dr. Jobe Martin - a series of four or five videos/DVDs.
Try www.aofl.org The Art of Family Living in Dallas, TX. or Amazon.com
2. Mt. St. Helens: Explosive Evidence for Catastrophe
Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA
3. Creation Seminars: A whole series of videos/DVDs (including some on dinosaurs) by Dr. Kent Hovind www.drdino.com
4. Creation vs. Evolution. A DVD by Ralph O. Muncaster www.harvesthousepublishers.com
5. Gods of the New Age. A DVD/video at www.jeremiahfilms.com
6. Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged.
A video at www.jeremiahfilms.com
7. Fingerprints of Creation
Search the internet. Try Amazon.com
Then of course, there are my nine DVDs on Health available on my website www.drday.com On www.goodnewsaboutgod.com - my other website - I have two additional DVDs (plus the books that go along with them), "What Happens at the Judgment?" and "Was Jesus Really Resurrected on Sunday?" as well as several other books on important spiritual matters.
All of these can be watched or read more than once in order to understand them fully.
Plus, of course, there are well over 100 in-depth Bible studies on my website at www.goodnewsaboutgod.com and more are being added every month. Click on “Spiritual Truth” on the home page.
Is the Sabbath a Ritual or a Relationship?
The Sabbath was designed by God as a perfect way to further our Relationship with Jesus Christ.
It should not, in any way, become a Ritual as the Pharisees of Jesus’ time and present-day Jews keep it.
It is meant by God to be a Delight and not a burden, a day to become closer to our Creator God Jesus Christ.