Do you believe there will be restaurants operating on God’s Sabbath during the Millennium? Apparently, some of God’s leaders do. Oh, they won’t come right out and admit it, but this idea has subtly emerged in arguments presented by certain COG leader’s in defense of dining out on the Sabbath. One such leader is David C. Pack of the Restored Church of God.
In an article commissioned by Mr. Pack entitled Dining out on the Sabbath; a very interesting stream of logic is presented. He claims that because great numbers of God’s people will be fed at the temple when His Millennial Kingdom is established on earth, true Christians may now dine out at restaurants on the Sabbath and holy days. Mr. Pack even likens the labor performed by restaurant employees to that performed by Levites serving in the temple. Therefore, according to him, because Levites engage in profane labor on this day and are held blameless (Mt. 12:5), restaurant personnel serving God’s people today should also be held blameless for their labor.
At the conclusion of his point, Mr. Pack employs what can only be described as standard operating procedure for the RCG—he smears and belittles anyone and everyone who believes contrary to him. With that said, let us examine this Church leader's argument and ask some very important questions concerning the "Biblical facts" he claims authorizes him to seek out Sabbath breakers and purchase their good and services. Here is how this he begins his point.
David C. Pack:
“During the Millennium, throngs of people will come to the temple complex on Mount Zion and offer sacrifices, especially on the weekly Sabbaths and annual Holy Days. Yet, the writers of the previously quoted book [A Sabbath Test] make this blanket statement: “In the millennium there will be no restaurants [implying dining facilities in general] operating on the Sabbath” (p. 10).”
Here, Mr. Pack distorts the clear meaning of A Sabbath Test by redefining the term “restaurants” to mean all "dining facilities." He then suggests that this is what the authors were "implying." However, the authors meant no such thing and anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty knows it.
When the authors of A Sabbath Test refer to the term “restaurants”, in their book, they mean it in a traditional sense. In other words, there will be no commercial restaurants open for BUSINESS on the Sabbath during the Millennium—the same restaurants Mr. Pack patronizes today. What is clearly being conveyed by Messrs. Braidic and Fischer is that in the Millennium Mr. Pack will not be able to go out to dinner at a fine bistro on a Friday evening. This is because that type of "dining facility" will be closed in accordance with God’s commandment.
Mr. Pack's Obvious Motivation
By making no distinction between a “restaurant” and a “dining facility” such as a Church “social room” or even a set of picnic tables in a park, Mr. Pack intentionally blurs the line between what is an appropriate Sabbath dining practice and what is not. In other words, according to Him there is no distinction between the Church hosting a “pot luck” after services and him (Dave Pack) seeking out unbelievers at a restaurant and paying them to prepare his meals. Furthermore, he doesn’t want you to make that distinction either. This is because he wants you to believe that because you may do one without compromising God’s law, you may also do the other. What he never admits is that the “other” will NEVER take place in God’s kingdom. That's right! Although Mr. Pack attempts to hide it, the fact is that there will be NO commercial restaurants operating on the Sabbath during the millennium. By resorting to his semantical trickery, this Church leader demonstrates the lengths he is prepared to go to in defense of his sin.
A HUGE Distortion
Furthermore, although Mr. Pack argues that great meals will be prepared and served in the Millennial Temple on the weekly Sabbath, this is NOT true. Although such meals will be prepared on designated annual holy days, they will NEVER be prepared on the weekly assembly (See: “Millennial Sacrifices”). Both the scriptures as well as thoroughly documented history reveal that even work by the Levites was kept to a minimum on this day. Despite this fact, Mr. Pack argues his point by incorrectly merging temple activities that took place on the annual festivals with those performed on the seventh day. Notice how he does this.
David C. Pack continued:
“This [the statement in A Sabbath Test that says there will be no restaurants open on the Sabbath in the Millennium] contradicts what is described in the book of Ezekiel. In the huge temple complex, four large kitchens in the outer court (Ezek. 46:21-24) will be in operation, providing food for many thousands who will dine in 30 separate dining rooms, each about 6,400 square feet. The kitchens provide a place to cook the sacrifices that people will bring to the temple. They will be allowed to have a portion of the offerings they present; a portion will also be reserved for the priests.”
“Just as this was done in ancient times, it will also be done in the world tomorrow. The future temple will be a huge complex that will accommodate the many thousands—and later, millions—who will come to worship there each year. This complex will need to accommodate far larger numbers than Solomon’s temple or the temple that was renovated in the days of King Herod. In the future, certain types of service will be done on the Sabbath—and this will be done with God’s full knowledge and blessings!”
“While privately owned restaurants are different from Church-operated dining facilities, both require labor. The millennial temple complex will involve specialized workers who will serve in distinct capacities, meaning they will be compensated.”
First, let us repeat that Mr. Pack's claim that God's people will be fed at the millennial temple on the weekly Sabbath is TOTALLY FALSE. Such a practice has never happened in the past, nor will it ever happen in the future. This is because although offerings were brought on certain annual festivals they were forbidden on the WEEKLY Sabbath (See: “Millennial Sacrifices”). Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, the Church under the leadership of Mr. Armstrong never taught otherwise.
Additionally, while Mr. Pack acknowledges that there is a difference between a retail restaurant and what is being described in Ezekiel, he seems to dismiss the difference. As a matter of fact he never mentions any differences at all. However, he does expound on the similarities. For example: according to him, both require specialized labor and that like restaurant personnel, Levites serving in the temple are compensated. Therefore, according to this COG leader, restaurant employees have more in common with Levites than one may think.
While this COG leader argues the similarities between restaurant personnel and Levites working on the Sabbath, we would like to present the differences—and they are significant. Consider just a few.
- Those who serve in the temple are committed to assisting God’s people in honoring His Sabbath and holy days. Those who work in restaurants have no idea what those days are let alone what they mean. They will however, wish you a “Merry Christmas” or a “Happy Easter.”
- Any compensation extended to Levites is provided by God Almighty from tithes and offerings given to Him. By the way, the same is true today. Meanwhile, those who work in restaurants are compensated by patrons in the form of tips as well as a salary paid by their employer who generates revenue by selling products.
- Those who perform Levitical duties on the Sabbath are held blameless before God. However, those who work in restaurants on the Sabbath are commanded to REPENT!
The idea that anyone would characterize serving God’s people a meal on holy time, from His temple no less, as tantamount to what is done at a commercial restaurant is reckless, and a huge distortion of the scriptures. But that is exactly what David C. Pack is doing. Once again, remember that his entire reason for this article is to argue that God approves of His people proactively seeking out Sabbath breakers and paying them to prepare their meals. He does this despite the fact that God specifically and emphatically prohibited them from acquiring or preparing these meals when they were wandering in the desert (Ex. 16).
A Matter of W-O-R-K
Mr. Pack then explains how those serving in the temple on the Sabbath are engaged in profane labor through their service to God’s people—often very strenuous labor. The implication here is that if God’s people can cause Levites to W-O-R-K on the Sabbath, why can’t they cause restaurant employees to do the same? As you read this section of Mr. Pack's argument it is important to understand that it is based on a false premise—one that claims great food preparation takes place on the weekly Sabbath. Once again, this is NOT true (See: “Millennial Sacrifices”).
David C. Pack continued:
"The food menus at the millennial temple will not solely consist of meat (beef, lamb or goat). Ezekiel 46 also mentions meal (grain) offerings and baked bread. Certainly, God will allow vegetables, fruits and various trimmings to make the dishes attractive, as well as nourishing. Again, all these things spell W-O-R-K. Much of it will be pre-assembled on the preparation day, but also much will be done on the Sabbath. During the Millennium, as the world’s population escalates into the billions, only a tiny fraction of the people will be present at the temple at any given time. There will be hundreds of other locations in which Sabbath services will be held. Provisions will be allowed for people to eat. This means that there will be dining facilities to accommodate larger groups numbering into the thousands. Perhaps on many occasions, the people might bring potluck meals prepared the day before. But there will be times when potlucks for such large gatherings will not be practical.”
“Ezekiel’s vision of the future temple gives us a glimpse into how God will conduct things in the world to come. From this, we can readily discern that feeding large congregations on the Sabbath will entail a degree of real labor. If God can make—and always has made—allowances for His priests when they worked on the Sabbath, is it not possible for Him to make allowances for others who serve God’s people? Those who condemn brethren for dining out on the Sabbath do not think so. Nevertheless, the glimpse that God inspired Ezekiel to record, along with many other scriptures, shows us a more realistic picture."
Here, Mr. Pack offers an interesting, but very humanly contrived argument. Notice again what he offers as a Biblical fact:
“If God can make—and always has made—allowances for His priests when they worked on the Sabbath, is it not possible for Him to make allowances for others who serve God’s people?”
When Mr. Pack rhetorically asks "is it not possible for God to make allowances for others who serve His people in the same way He makes allowances for His priests?," he is attempting to put words into God's mouth. But they are not God's words, they are Dave Pack's. He knows that Jesus explained that profane labor performed by the priests on His Sabbath is exempt from God’s judgment, therefore he attempts to take it further. What his argument is saying in effect is:
“If God will allow His priests to work for His people on the Sabbath and not be held accountable for it, why wouldn’t He extend the same consideration to others who serve them as well—you know, like waiters and waitresses who profane the Sabbath every week? God could surely give them a pass when they wait on His people, can't He? Perhaps not when they serve others, but certainly us. Furthermore, if God will forgive them for their Sabbath labor, then what they are doing must be a good work, and if it is a good work then employing their services must be a good work as well.”
This argument reeks with self-justification. Furthermore, it is designed to extend a form of amnesty to those who profane God’s Sabbath with impunity. At this point it is important to understand that what takes place in restaurants every Sabbath is a CAPITAL CRIME in God’s eyes (Ex. 31: 14-15), not a levitical function as Dave Pack claims.
Additionally, it is interesting that in this argument Mr. Pack acknowledges that restaurant personnel are serving God’s people. However, elsewhere he asserts that they are only serving their masters—the restaurant owners, NOT GOD'S PEOPLE!
David C. Pack continued:
"Let’s understand: There are circumstances under which God says that work on the Sabbath is wrong and other times He makes plain that it is not. Thus, it comes down to: What are the circumstances involving the work?—who is doing the work?—why, for what purpose, is it being done?—who is being burdened and who is being unburdened?”
“God always answers these questions in principle, but does it through His faithful leaders (Tit. 1:9), not through any “Tom, Dick or Harry” who gets a notion in his head about the who, what, why, when and where of that work according to his personal opinion or feeling.”
“Here is why following personal opinions of misguided, unqualified, self-appointed teachers becomes a truly serious issue."
Mr. Pack is actually correct here. There are circumstances under which labor on the Sabbath is wrong and other times when it is permissible. Working in a restaurant on the Sabbath falls into the former category regardless of how hard this Church leader tries to rehabilitate it. Mr. Pack, You can claim restaurant personnel are Levites if you want, but in truth they are slaves to sin (Ro. 6:16) and the great slave master (2 Cor. 4:4).
Perhaps the biggest error in Mr. Pack’s argument is that he believes it is up to him, as a minister, to decide what is appropriate behavior on God’s Sabbath. However, we couldn’t disagree more. We believe it is God’s decision. Furthermore, we are absolutely convicted by His word that He has spoken loudly here. The Lord God Almighty declares that we are not to compel the servant or the stranger to labor on our behalf on the Sabbath. He even provided the reason for this when he reminded His people that they were once slaves (Dt. 5:14-15).
A Final Thought:
Dear Mr. Pack,
We appreciate the fact that you believe you are eminently qualified to render such wisdom and that any “Tom, Dick or Harry” who claims you are in error should just butt out. However, we don’t agree.
In our view, the authors of A Sabbath Test have seen what you apparently have chosen to ignore—a steady erosion in the honoring of God’s Sabbath. Furthermore, it sickens them, and us, to watch this wonderful day being contaminated by those seeking out a place where God’s Sabbath is being trampled on by slaves to sin and asking these slaves to trample on it for them. As a leader you should know that such behavior dishonors God’s law. If you can’t see that then God will work through Tom, Dick and Harry, and anyone else for that matter, to proclaim this vital truth to His people—and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Furthermore, in all due respect, your argument doesn’t inspire much confidence in us, and we are definitely not prepared to offer it before the Holy One of Israel in defense of any behavior endorsing God’s people proactively seeking out the Sabbath breaking services of unbelievers. Quite frankly we can’t believe you offer it now. God’s judgment in this matter is crystal clear. His people are not to acquire food on His Sabbath, they are not to prepare it on His Sabbath and they are not to go outside their place on His Sabbath (Ex. 16). You may dismiss this injunction given by the Almighty through His servant Moses, but we will not.
Blow the Trumpet
PS If God’s people brought their offerings to the temple on the weekly Sabbath as you claim, why doesn’t the RCG take up an offering every Sabbath as well?
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