Tuesday, December 28, 1999

A Look Back at 1999: Field of (Broken) Dreams

In grade school I used to think about how old I would be when the millennium turned and I figured I’d be 28 going on 29. Now that time is here. Where have the years gone? I can now easily remember events that took place two decade—decades—ago. But I am here to focus on this last year, not the last 28. I’m doing this without the benefit of going through my journals from the past year, simply because I don’t feel like going through the trouble. So what is written here represents the things that stick out in my own memory.

In contrast to all my past essays—whose very titles always included the word change—this year had remarkably little change. There was a move, to be sure, but the stability that marked this year was unusual. For example, I held the same job all year, at Family Radio.

Speaking of Family Radio, I can’t be sure exactly when I became aware of how much the Statement of Belief issued by Family Radio in the fall of 1998 would effect me. It was either December of 1998 or January of 1999. The late date of all the changes that occurred caused me to say little about this in my essay last year. But there came that time in one of those months where I knew that I would have to sign to be a producer. And I chose not to. That led to me staying on in Network Control, eventually getting the full time overnight shift in the summer of this year. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the spring I was kicked out of the place I was living with the lesbian woman. Even though I was only looking for places to sublet in San Francisco, I found a place to live in Oakland. This was difficult for me because I wanted to live in the City so bad. So this was in many ways the end of a dream.

Come to think of it, I gave up a lot of dreams this year. I gave up my dream of being a producer, for either shortwave or domestic (this could have been December, but I’ll not nit-pick). I gave up my dream of being in the City. And I gave up the perfect swing shift offered to me.

It happened like this. In the summer I was moved to the swing shift just in time for Don, who worked the overnight shift, to quit. They moved me to his shift until they could permanently fill it. Right at this point, out of the blue, an idea, a question, that had been percolating in the back of my mind for a long time, came to the fore. I had to know what day of rest the Christian was commanded to keep. I knew that Pastor Innes taught rest on Sundays, and many church members tried to do just that. I had, in fact, been keeping a "Sunday Sabbath" for quite a while, and found it a great time management technique for someone overwhelmed with work and school.

Now I began my search in earnest. I read everything I could get my hands on, and asked lots of questions. I talked to Pastor Sneedin. I did Internet searches. And I finally visited the Bay Area Seventh Day Baptist Church, something I had been meaning to do for a long time and just had "never gotten around to." The pastor there, Pastor Steve, gave me Samuele Bacchiocchi’s book From Sabbath To Sunday. I spent many nights at work pouring over that book and contemplating its message.

Time was short. I had to make a decision, at least a preliminary one, before someone was hired or I would have to work Saturdays. (The shift I had been offered was swing, Tuesday-Saturday.) When I was more sure than not sure, I asked first that when I went to the swing shift, that I be given Friday and Saturday as my days off instead of Sunday and Monday. They said they could not accommodate me. I then asked to be kept on the overnight shift. (This shift was Sunday-Thursday night so it gave me the Sabbath off.) They said they had already hired someone and as soon as his training was complete, I would be transferred to swing. I was told this person could not work swing. That ruined the backup plan I had.

I spent many nights at work crying and praying that things would work out so I could keep the Sabbath. I felt God telling me to sit tight and wait for him. Less than a week before I was to start working Sabbaths, the news came: the guy they hired had not worked out and I could keep the overnight shift if I wanted. I was overjoyed! Though I do not like this shift, I feel it is God’s will for me at this time. That makes it a little easier.

Additionally, since the time I started working at Family Radio I have been moved from one department to another. This move to the graveyard shift marked my first permanent full-time shift in one department. I am grateful for that stability. (Last year I worked full time between two departments, three days a week for Karen, and two nights a week in Network Control. That lasted 8-9 months. This year I worked full time day shift in Network Control, but that was always understood to be temporary.)

Between my work schedule (8-9 months of working Friday and Saturday overnights, leaving me exhausted on Sunday), and people getting married, plus a dearth of pastors at Hamilton leading to a dearth of church-based programs, all added up to a big lack of fellowship. While I loved my church, while a part of me felt I should remain loyal, the need in my soul said otherwise. I wanted out.

I left at a time when two new pastors were just coming on staff and getting to know "the ropes." I left at a time, when, if I would have stayed just a little longer, I may have found a reason to stay. But the damage had already been done. I wanted out and the only thing that remained was to find the way.

I left for six weeks, visiting other area churches, looking for one to join. I thought God was calling me back to Hamilton, so in obedience I went back—for two weeks. That was about the time the SDBs entered the picture, and I left (for what turned out to be) for good. I did not leave over the Sabbath issue; I left over fellowship issues. My needs simply weren’t being met anymore. That may seem selfish. I defend it as self-preservation.

Since the time I began attending the SDB church, I have not left. There was a short transition period of about two weeks, but I was looking for a way out of Hamilton, and this provided that out. I dropped membership at Hamilton in August, and joined the SDB church in September. They are a small church and so the fellowship is wonderful.

I guess a wrap-up of this year wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Mike in passing. I really thought I was in love—actually, yes, I was—and I don’t know what fell apart or why. He only said that we had our issues to work on, and they needed to be worked on separately. He naively said he wanted to just be “friends.” I know that never works out and rejected that. That was early December and we have not spoken since. This is the first time I’ve "dated" (even if it was long distance—we met on the Internet) since I was saved. It is hard to have your heart broken. How do you forgive a brother in Christ for something like that? I dreamed of him being my husband. Now that dream, too, is gone.

After that lowlight of the year, perhaps I should mention the highlight: Charles’ visit in September, and his short layover at the airport two weeks later in October. He was here on business in September and spent a few days here. We got to spend real, good quality time together, the first and likely last time that will happen. But it filled a long-standing desire within me, the desire to spend some time with the dear man who led me to Christ. We spent lots of time talking and one day gallivanting around the City. I came away from that feeling satisfied. God has been gracious to me to give me that time with him, something so long desired, so long denied.

So here I stand wondering where the year went. It always seems so short by the time December comes. And I am also at the edge of a new millennium. What will the millennium bring? If the last year of the old millennium was marked by a lack of change, what of the new year, and—where I will spend the rest of my life—the new millennium? I am aware of the blessing of being alive at this time to see this new millennium come. And I know that whatever happens, whether there is much change or little in 2000, God will be with me through it all.

Tuesday, June 15, 1999

"Sabbath" & "week"

My friend Joe T. wrote to Dr. Erwin Gane on my behalf in June of 1999. Here is the letter he sent, giving my question and its background.

Mr. Gane,

My name is Joe (deleted). I am a member of the (church name deleted). We met last time you spoke there. I had asked you some questions in regards to Greek and Hebrew and Bible translations.

I have a friend of mine who works for Family Radio. She is struggling with the Sabbath issue. She seems to be leaning towards the seventh day, but has been given information by her co-workers and Mr. Camping’s theology that the following verses she that God changed the Sabbath. They says the Greek translates the true meaning and modern Bibles do not. What do you think of this? What does the Greek say in those verses? I am going to forward this to her ASAP once you have written back.

I appreciate your time with this. I really enjoy when you come to speak at our church. Below are the verses. I do not believe this to be correct. Can you give us input? Anything to help my friend. I know no Greek or Hebrew.

God’s peace to you and your family,

Joe (last name deleted)

Joe continues:

How can Mr. Camping say these are proof texts to change the Sabbath by God?

Matthew 28:1 – Which they say should correctly be translated, “In the end of the Sabbaths (plural) as it began to dawn toward the first of the Sabbaths (instead of “week”), came Mary Magdalene…” They say the word for “Sabbaths” is the same as the word translated “week.”

The other verse references they cite are Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, and John 20:1, which they also cite as being incorrectly translated in the same way.


I received the following e-mail from Joe with Dr. Gane’s response.

Matthew 28:1, “the first day of the week.”

Sabbaton occurs in the New Testament sixty-eight times, and is translated “Sabbath” fifty-nine times, and “week” nine times. These nine references are Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 18:12, 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2.

All Greek scholars, Jewish and Christian, are in agreement as to the correctness of translating sabbaton by “week.” The following authoritative statements are typical:

“WEEK (Hebrew shabua, plural shabu’im, shabu’ot;…New Testament Greek, sabbaton, sabbata: A division of time comprising seven days, thus explaining the Hebrew name.” --The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 12, p. 481, art. “Week.”

“The expression hebdomas [a Greek word for ‘week’] is not found in the New Testament, but rather sabbaton (e.g. Luke 18:12) or sabbata (e.g. Matthew 28:1), used, however, in the sense of it.” --Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (ed. 1891), vol. 4, p. 2484, art. “Week.”

“Of the two Hebrew names for “week” one is derived from the number seven, and the other is identical with ‘Sabbath,’ the day which completes the Jewish week. The New Testament takes over the latter word, and makes a Greek noun of it.” --Hastings’ Bible Dictionary (ed. 1924), p. 936, art. “Time.”

“The Hebrew shabhua, used in the Old Testament for ‘week,’ is derived from shebha, the word for ‘seven.’ As the seventh day was a day of rest or Sabbath (Hebrew shabbath), this word came to be used for “week,” as appears in the New Testament. (sabbaton, -ta), indicating the period from Sabbath to Sabbath (Matt. 28:1). The same usage is implied in the Old Testament (Lev. 23:15; 25:8).” --The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ed. 1915), vol. 5, p. 2982, art. “Time.”

“The plural sabbata…means a week as well as a Sabbath or Sabbaths. (comp. Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; and Matt. 28:1)…Sabbata in the second clause [of Matthew 28:1] certainly means ‘week’ and not the Sabbath day.” --John Peter Lange, “A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures,” translated by Philip Shaff, comments on Matthew 28:1.

In Luke 18:12 sabbaton must be translated “week” in order to make sense. The Pharisee prayed, “I fast twice in the week [sabbatou].” It would have been foolish for him to say that he fasted twice on the Sabbath. The text makes sense only when sabbatou is translated “week.”

Some have tried to argue that Luke 18:12 should read, “I fast two Sabbaths,” that is, two of the fixed Sabbaths in the year. But the Greek will not permit this. The word dis, translated “twice,” is an adverb, and cannot be properly be translated “two.” In this text, the word sabbatou, translated “week,” is in the singular number, which is never translated by the plural form “Sabbaths” in our English Bible.

Some argue that the Greek word for “day” is not found in the phrase “first day of the week.” The Greek phrase in Matthew 28:1 is mian sabbaton. As far back as 1899 a scholarly Sundaykeeper exploded that argument: “No Greek word for ‘day’ occurs in any of the passages [that is, in Matt. 28:1 and parallel passages]. Made for simple readers of English, that statement lacks candor. Said word is there, latent, to a much greater degree than it is in our phrase, ‘The twenty-fifth of the month.’…The adjectival word mian is in the feminine gender, and an immutable law requires adjective modifiers to agree with their nouns in gender. Sabbaton is of the neuter gender, and out of the question. What feminine Greek word is latent in this phrase, and yet so patent as to reflect upon this adjectival numeral its feminine hue? Plainly the feminine word hemera, ‘day,’ as analogously is found in Mark 14:12, prote hemera ton azumon, ‘the first day of unleavened bread.’ Boldly to aver that ‘no Greek word for “day” occurs in any of these passages,’ is to blind the simple English reader to the fact that an inflected language, by its numerous genders and cases, can indicate the presence and force of latent words to an extent undreamed of in English…

“As a vital or corroboratory part of any argument for the sanctifying of the Lord’s day. This travestied exegesis, instead of being a monumental discovery, is but a monumental blunder. Thereby our foes will have us in derision.” --Dr. Wilbur Fletcher Steele, “Must Syntax Die That the Sabbath May Live?” in the Methodist Review (New York), May-June, 1899.

Prof. A.T. Robertson, D.D., one of the most eminent of modern Greek scholars, completely supports the view that sabbaton is correctly translated “week.” “Now about the case of sabbaton in the New Testament. It is the singular, the transliteration of the Hebrew word Sabbath, which was used for the seventh day of the week, as in John 5:9. The plural sabbata, is a transliteration of the Aramaic sabbatha.

“Curiously enough, the Jews used the plural form in two ways, one way was for a single Sabbath, like the singular sabbaton. So in Josephus…Precisely this usage occurs in the New Testament, as in Luke 4:16, ‘on the Sabbath day,’…

“But the word sabbaton, in the singular, was used also for the week which began [ended: Robertson made this correction in the Expositor, October, 1931.] with the Sabbath. So in Mark 16:9, we have proi prote sabbatou, ‘early on the first day of the week.’ Here proi is an adverb, but prote is a feminine adjective, locative, singular, agreeing with hemera (day) understood, while sabbatou is neuter gender, genitive, singular, so that it is impossible to render this ‘early on the first Sabbath.’ See also Luke 18:12.

“But the plural sabbata is also used for week, as in Luke 24:1. In the preceding verse the singular occurs, to sabbaton, ‘they spent the Sabbath’ the verse next words in verse 1 are te de mia ton sabbaton, ‘on the first day of the week.” There we have mia used as an ordinal like prote, as is common in Koine. The same use of both mia for ‘first’ and the plural sabbaton for ‘week,’ we find in Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7.” --The Expositor, August 1931. [Note: Sabbaton, using an omicron is singular. Sabbaton using an omega is plural.]

The translations of the Bible into the English of the King James Version and the more modern versions have been done by eminent Greek scholars. No reputable Greek scholar will translate Matthew 28:1 by “the first of the Sabbaths,” or “one of the Sabbaths.” For a discussion of the Sabbath question, see my book “You Ask, God Answers.”

Wednesday, March 03, 1999

poem: Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday (that's the day before Easter Sunday for those who don't know)

Camelot evaporates,
Like sun-warmed mist and dew
It disappears.
How am I to understand the pain,
How am I to comprehend it?
How am I to find my place in this world?
I groan, eager for the redemption.
But it is Easter Saturday, and the resurrection has not yet come.
We have only a promise, for
We live out our lives on Saturday.

Thursday, January 21, 1999

poem: Soft Butterfly

{Later note: I work for a Christian employer. I wrote this during a particularly hard time at work last winter, my first real experience of seeing how badly Christians could hurt other Christians, whether or not they meant to. The witch hunt against Catholics, Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others touched everybody in one way or another. It was only by the grace of God my job was spared. This was a time of testing for me as I was confronted with hard choices of God and career and faith. I can see God's hand protecting me every step of the way. Sometimes He allows things to happen that are not His perfect will, but He will walk beside us. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." I praise Him for this promise.}

Soft Butterfly
Darkness flutters down landing
Soft on my shoulders,
Weighing like brick, crushing.
Anger rises to meet the darkness,
Fear swells.
I let it wash over me,
Exulting in merely being.
It covers, smothers, passes.
I cry,
Standing alone in my conviction, alone in my pain.
I thought there were no more tears--
I was wrong.
I thought my own brothers and sisters would not hurt me--
I was a fool.
We pay a price when we trust in circumstances
Instead of in God,
In others
Instead of in Christ,
In ourselves
Instead of in the Spirit.
Heal the pain, oh great Jehovah!
Give me peace
And teach me to forgive
As I have been forgiven, for
Darkness has fluttered down landing
Soft on my shoulders.