FINDING THE ANCIENT PATHS
By Pastor Dan Gayman
On a clear night, walk outside and count the stars. They should remind you of the covenant Jehovah made as an enduring promise with our father Abraham, and his seed after him, that Jehovah would be their God forever—throughout all generations. Reflect for a moment on the anguish of our Eternal Father in Heaven as He looks down upon earth and surveys the lives of His covenant people. What does He find? He observes a people who are spiritually lost, morally depraved, living amid chaos and confusion, and without any moral compass to guide them. Essentially, they have lost their way and are led by hireling preachers who themselves are just as lost as the sheep they are trying to lead.
Our people have no North Star to guide them out of the moral and spiritual darkness of the 21st Century. They have no clear voice, no moral compass to guide them. What are we left with but an urgent and compelling need to find the ancient paths that can lead lost souls out of the darkness into the light of His truth. Will you join with me as we seek to rediscover the ancient paths that can return God’s covenant people to the divine favor of our King and spare our children from the anguish and suffering upon those who have tried to live apart from God and the light of His Word?
With a fervent prayer that God will send His Holy Spirit to guide us, turn to the book of Genesis as we continue to find the ancient paths that our sovereign God set in His unchanging Word of truth. With as much zeal as we can muster, we must heed these words from the Prophet Jeremiah when he called Israel to accountability: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths where is the good way, and walk there, and ye shall find rest for your souls…” (Jeremiah 6:16). Join me in humbling yourselves and rediscover the ancient paths in this fallen, broken, and chaotic world.
Having already reviewed several of the laws that preceded the codified law delivered from heaven to Moses, let us turn our hearts and minds to the pages of Genesis. With jubilation, let us revisit the timeless ancient paths that are as true today as they were when the Holy Spirit delivered them through Jeremiah. Return to Genesis, the beginning of God’s revelation. God’s Word is the compass, the North Star, our Divine GPS (God’s Promise of Salvation) to guide us through the darkness of this evil and wicked world. As we travel through Genesis, we shall do what Jesus often did. He called His children back to God’s original design for everything. If we want to build a relationship with Jesus Christ, we must not only claim the blood of Jesus as our own only justification from sin, but also acknowledge that our lives must be patterned after His model.
Now, friend, it is one thing to profess a belief in Christ. It is another test to model our lives after Jesus. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) demands that we find the straight gate and the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). The Holy Spirit will be our guide as we find the ancient paths that Jesus walked and desires that we His children also walk.
The Law of the Sabbath
One of the most significant laws our sovereign God established predates Moses and the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. The pattern of a seven-day week is established in Genesis 1:3-31. After completing six twenty-four hour days, Jehovah ended His work of creation: “And God saw everything tht he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (verse 31). At the end of day six, all the work of God was finished. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them” (Genesis 2:1). No new matter or energy were created after this point in time. Following His creative work of six days, Jehovah marked the boundaries of the seventh day of the week and gave it special significance: “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3).
The seventh day of the week was set aside and sanctified unto Jehovah by His own sovereign decree. The English word blessed is from a Hebrew root word baw’rak’ and means to praise, salute, a primary root to knell, to bless and praise God. Jehovah ordained that His children pause on the Holy Sabbath to praise and worship God and rest from the labors of the six previous days of work. The Sabbath was made for worshiping and glorifying God. It is a day in which His children can recalibrate their spiritual walk with God and find rest for their physical bodies.
No other day of the seven-day week was especially sanctified (set apart as holy) and blessed (a time for man to praise and celebrate His Creator). The Sabbath signified man’s freedom from slavery. While many changes have come in man’s attempt to mark and measure time, one facet of time has remained unchanged throughout all the calendar calibrations: the seven-day week. The days we now call Saturday (the seventh day) and Sunday (the first day of the week) have remained unchanged from the beginning of time.
Moreover, not once did God ever alter the Sabbath day. The seven-day week is the oldest increment of time known to man. The words seven and week are closely connected in Hebrew. When God reaffirmed the Sabbath for ancient Israel, He demonstrated that it fell on the seventh day of the week, for He clearly sent no manna on the seventh day: “And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a Sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it: but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none” (Ex. 16:25-26). Noah measured time in increments of seven days (one week—Genesis 8). In Genesis 29, the words week and seven are used interchangeably in regards to Jacob and his pledge to serve one week (seven years) in return for Rachel, the daughter of Laban.
The weekly Sabbath has an enduring place in God’s plan for His covenant people and became an undeniable pillar in Israel’s history: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 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” (Ex. 31:16-17). The weekly Sabbath became a perpetual covenant between Jehovah and Israel. Furthermore, God incorporated the weekly Sabbath of the seventh day in the top ten laws (Commandments), which govern man’s relationship with His Creator as well as his neighbor. The fourth commandment is a covenant within the covenant of the Ten Commandments.
It is significant to note that the Sabbath was to mark two significant events in salvation history. Firstly, the Sabbath celebrated the six-day creation work of Jehovah (Exodus 20:8-11). Secondly, the Sabbath marks the deliverance of His people from slavery into freedom (Deut. 5:12-15). Israel was admonished repeatedly to remain faithful to the law of the Sabbath: “I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments and do them; And hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:19-20).
To the everlasting praise of Jehovah, there has always been a faithful remnant of Sabbath believers. Jesus made His dramatic entry into His earthly ministry during a weekly Sabbath convocation (Luke 4:16-30). Along with other Israelites, Jesus had a custom of observing the weekly Sabbath on the seventh day (Luke 4:16, 31). His apostles and disciples followed His model, continuing to celebrate the Sabbath following Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. The Acts of the Apostles carefully marks the apostles’ and disciples’ history of Sabbath observance following Christ’s ascension.
The New Testament records the weekly Sabbath of the seventh day of the week as the Lord’s Day. Consider these words of Jesus Himself: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” This is further confirmed in Matthew 12:8 and Luke 6:5. The Lord’s Day is the holy Sabbath, the same day John the Apostle referenced in Revelation 1:10: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” Neither Jesus, His apostles after Him, nor their disciples ever celebrated any other day but the seventh day of the week as the holy Sabbath.
The tension that continued between Christians and the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees after the Jesus’ death and resurrection ultimately caused some of the early Christians to worship on Sunday, the first day of the week, while continuing to observe the Holy Sabbath. In an effort to distance themselves from the Judeans who opposed Jesus Christ as the Messiah, some early Christians gradually transitioned to Sunday as their day of worship. The fact that Jesus rose on the first day of the week and the Feast of Pentecost fell on that day reinforced this transition. However, there is not a shred of evidence from Jesus, His apostles, or any other biblical authority that ever changed the Sabbath day from the seventh day to the first day. (For a more complete analysis of this history, please send for our booklet on the Sabbath, available from the Missionary and Literature Room).
Faithful observance of the Sabbath is perhaps the most authoritative measure we have to evaluate the spiritual and moral pulse of God’s people. Weekly observance of the biblical Sabbath keeps Christians connected to God and His Word, providing us a weekly time of rest, worship, and repose where we can recalibrate our lives and renew our spiritual and moral connections to God. Untold blessings accompany Sabbath keeping, including a vibrant spiritual life, better health, longevity, fulfillment, restoration of the body, renewed mental and psychological health, and a time for building family relationships. Jesus reminded us that the Sabbath was made for man. We can never have the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10) apart from faithful observance of the biblical Sabbath.
The biblical Sabbath of the seventh day marks the covenant people of God and is a perpetual sign between Israel and Jehovah. Christians in every age have a clear choice: they can follow the ancient path of the weekly Sabbath, or they can follow the tradition of man as established by the Roman Catholic Church and observe Sunday. Sunday observance connects people to the Roman Catholic Church, for they are the confirmed authors of Sunday. History affirms and documents this fact. A Biblicist has but one option: become a follower of Jesus Christ, Who worshipped and rested on the seventh day of the week.
No one seeking to walk the ancient pathways established by God will want to bypass the sacrament of marriage. The marriage covenant is the most foundational and enduring institution ordained of God. Marriage is essential for the growth and preservation of a civilized people; it is the foundation for the family, which then forms the bedrock upon which the church and the nation are built. Jehovah’s call to dominion and the law of multiplication necessitated the institution of marriage. Marriage is the one and only institution that can provide for the procreation, training, and education of children. God ordained that property, inheritance, and wealth be preserved and passed from generation to generation through the family.
God expressly defined marriage when He set forth the union of Adam and Eve: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). One man, one woman, of the same genetics (DNA) in covenantal union with God constitutes the only means by which marriage can be defined. The call to dominion (Genesis 1:28) requires the multiplication of children. God ordained that only in the covenant of marriage should children be procreated and properly nurtured.
God created men and women with unique body parts that complement the other. As for their relationship, man was created to rule and lead, to protect, provide for, and defend the woman and any children born to this union. Secondly, the man was ordained to love his wife, become a model father for his children, and be the spiritual head of His family. Conversely, the woman was created foremost to be a helpmeet to her husband. Forming the power of two, they become a formidable team in exercising dominion of God’s earth. Secondly, the woman is to become the mother of children and keeper of the home. She is called to nurture and enhance the husband’s life vision and acts of dominion. As the spiritual and moral leader, the husband should provide love and security for his wife. She in turn gives up her name (personal identity) and takes on his name and life vision. She should complement his work, or help complete it.
The love between husbands and wives is the most intimate human relationship on earth and can be understood only by careful examination of the relationship between Christ and His church. The man, first as the spiritual leader of and provider for his family, is the role model for his children. His life is the most important factor in the character development of his sons and daughters.
The husband and the wife become “one flesh,” intimately joined in the power of two. The two are one flesh. In Jesus Christ, they become a powerhouse for the glory of God. Once joined, the breaking of the hymen in conjugal relations seals the marriage as a blood covenant with God. The marriage was ordained to be an enduring relationship in which children are nurtured, trained, disciplined, and educated to become responsible citizens for the glory of God and the dominion of His earth.
Marriage cannot be redefined to include any other definition than what God ordained. Marriage must be one man and one woman sharing the same genetics and heritage. Any attempt to alter this definition renders the concept of marriage null and void. Marriage can exist only within the definition our Creator established. It is He Who ordained this union. Therefore, it is He alone Who should define this union. No one, not even God Himself, can alter the definition of marriage. Why? Because God is unchanging. He endures as unchangeable reality, absolute truth, throughout all eternity. “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). God keeps His truth forever (Psalm 146:6). “His truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).
Jesus confirmed the covenant of marriage by performing His first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee (John 2). When questioned by the Scribes and Pharisees about marriage and divorce (Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12), Jesus took them back to the Creator’s original design for marriage. The Pharisees had asked Jesus this question: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Jesus responded by saying, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6).
Jehovah considered marriage so important that He ordained the seventh commandment as a hedge of protection around marriage: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” While the word adultery can mean the adulteration of anything from its original nature, including racial heritage, money, food, clothing, etc., it has as its primary intent the prevention of a third party from breaking the union between a husband and a wife. Neither the man nor the woman can step outside the covenant marriage to entertain a relationship with another person. In ancient Israel, breaking this covenant resulted in the deaths of the guilty parties: “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10).
Divorce: The Enemy of Marriage
Today, culture in America has been brutal in its assault against biblical marriage. No-fault divorce became a State-sponsored sin in 1971 and has become a universally accepted pattern. Prior to this 1071, it was difficult to obtain a divorce in most states. Before the culture revolution of the 1960s, divorce was unacceptable in the prevailing culture. Divorce has now become the enemy of more than 50% of all marriages in the U. S.
Both men and women suffer untold damage in divorce, and that does not even begin to consider the effects of divorce on children. Men suffer immediate consequences in the separation from their children: child support payments and potential loss of property and assets. Mothers frequently gain custody of the children and collect child support and other benefits. But in the long run, the family’s worth decreases dramatically, and the unforeseen consequences on children in the absence of the father takes a tremendous toll on the mental and emotional state of the women and the children in the absence of the father suffer more than anyone can ever measure or fathom.
The pathway to divorce has been made so easy in America that growing numbers of people are using just about any excuse to end the marriage. Women file more than 75% of all divorces. The collateral damage done to children is beyond human calculation. In the U. S., the mother is awarded custody in 84% of divorce suits. Consider the following stats regarding the emotional, mental, and psychological damages children suffer in divorce: *40% of White children are born out of wedlock.
*43% of U.S. children live without their father (U.S. Bureau of the Census).
*63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Bureau of the Census).
*90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (U.S. Bureau of the Census).
*85% of children who show behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control).
*80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes (Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, p. 403-26).
*71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, March 26, 1999).
*71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Assoc. Report on the State of High Schools).
*75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Rainbows for All God’s Children).
*70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988).
*85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992).
*61% of all child abuse is committed by biological mothers
The collateral damage inflicted upon children and society in general is horrific. Moreover, the suicide rate among divorced men is four times higher than women. The carnage that follows the dissolution of the marriage is so great that one could wonder how it happens that adults who bring children into the world find it so difficult to resolve their marital differences and for the sake of their children make the necessary changes to keep the marriage in tact. One can only pray that those who enter the state of marriage will do so with full understanding of the commitment they are making to one another and all children born to this union.
Divorce has another serious but perhaps unintended consequence: that is the growing trend of young men to refrain from marriage for fear of divorce and the evisceration that often follows for a divorced man when the custody of children and the division of property are involved. Men tend to believe that women hold the trump card in marriage because the deck seems to be stacked against them in the court system. Men are left without any leverage at all. For these and other reasons, young men are avoiding marriage altogether.
Cohabitation outside of marriage has become the new mantra for the millennial generation. Young people want to test-drive their relationship by moving in together. Growing numbers of women are willing to enter conjugal relations outside of marriage; young men are more than eager to oblige. If young men can satisfy their desires without marriage, why bother to get married and suffer potential divorce?
Cohabitation is an almost exploding occurrence today. Studies show that there are powerful negatives to living together outside of a committed marriage. Few young people are aware of these negatives and move in together without regard to any potential side effects. But rest assured that tragic consequences accompany cohabitation. Suffice it to say that God’s moral law prohibits cohabitation outside of marriage. “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrew 13:4). Moreover, under God’s law, any young man who robs a girl of her virginity must marry the girl unless the father objects. In this case, the young man must pay a dowry to the father of the girl (Exodus 22:16-17; Deut. 22:28-29). Cohabitation is an assault against God-ordained marriage. Parents must properly instruct youth on the human carnage that is part of the cohabitation mentality. God’s Word allows absolutely no sexual relations outside of marriage: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (I Thess. 4:3-4).
There you have it: two markers on the ancient pathways ordained by our most holy God. We dare not stray from this pathway without suffering enormous personal problems as well as societal ills. Some six thousand years ago, our sovereign God ordained the Sabbath and the institution of marriage. Jehovah created them, defined them, and gave no liberty to anyone to change them. Both must continue to bear the original design of our Creator. All Christians who keep the Sabbath day holy will be blessed. And, no Christian can allow marriage to be redefined in the image of biblically illiterate people. May God give us courage and inspiration to remain faithful to the definitions of these ancient pathways! Let us purpose to heed the words of Jeremiah: “Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16).