Lou: We’ve been dealing with questions that have come up in a general way. I’d like to move now to several specific questions: “Growing up as an Adventist, I always thought the Sabbath would be one of the big issues at the end of time. Is the Sabbath something we should hold onto as a belief? Is it strong enough to die for, or is it a temporary emergency measure just for the present?”
Graham: That is a very good question. Certainly the Great Controversy is not over which day we worship. It’s over a commitment; it’s over a great truth. And the meaning of the Sabbath speaks of that truth, and that makes it an important issue. Those who meaningfully observe the Sabbath in the last days will be publicly declaring that they worship Christ as their God, and that the Father is just as gracious as the Son. Apart from the meaning of the Sabbath, there’s not a very good answer to that question. But in the light of its meaning, the Sabbath could be a central issue of enormous consequence. And because of its meaning, the Sabbath could be continued through eternity, because of all there would be to remember in the hereafter. It is a monument to freedom.
Lou: The next question is a sample out of many similar questions: “If God’s purpose is to restore a love relationship with His children, how could asking them to kill an animal do this? In my opinion, this would only tend to make people cruel and harden their hearts, rather than create a loving, sympathetic spirit. It would seem to me that it would reflect the cruel spirit of Satan rather than a loving, gracious God.” This question has to do with God’s emergency measures in Old Testament times. What about that?
Graham: Unfortunately, the sacrifices have had that effect. Many people offered a sacrifice in hopes that God would love the smell, forgive them, and bless them. And it became a rather satanic thing. God must have hated this emergency measure and hated that it had to be that dramatic. It was certainly dramatic for Adam when he killed the first lamb in order to be convinced that sin is serious; that it leads to death. I wonder how hard he hit that lamb, and what did he hit it with? Not hard enough to kill it, perhaps, just to hurt it. And he hit it harder. Then blood appeared. He had never seen that before. And Adam turns to God and says, “God, I’m not sure I can go on with this. It’s making me sick.” And God says, “I hope it always makes you sick, every time.”
But people became so accustomed to doing it that the historian Josephus described it as almost like a circus, cutting the animals up and brandishing them as they placed them on the altar to be burned. They were serious about the ritual, but had forgotten the meaning. God chose something that was rather awesome, and sometimes rather horrible, in order to sufficiently impress His people.
Lou: But with all of these risks, why would God go ahead, recognizing that this could happen? Wasn’t there a better way?
Graham: Sometimes we wish the whole Bible would have been written differently and had been a littler clearer. I would say the all wise One used the very best approach possible, and there were always some who did not misunderstand. Some have said, “If you’re the One who sees the little sparrow fall, and you asked us to kill these animals, it must have been necessary to impress us sufficiently.” And the sacrifices were also a foretaste of the Innocent One who would come and die later on.