An answer to a Sermon by Vance Stinson of the Church of God International
April 5, 1991, Vance Stinson of the Church of God, International gave a sermon entitled "Sunday Or Sivan 6," in which he attempted to refute the Sivan 6 date for this holy day of God. In this article, Nick Wood in England answers Stinson's arguments and draws attention to the REAL issues, as opposed to "smokescreen" arguments!
The incredible revelation in the sermon of Vance Stinson entitled "Sunday Or Sivan 6" is the almost complete acknowledgement that the vast majority of the Jews at the time of Christ, were keeping Pentecost on Sivan 6 according to the Pharisees reckoning. This is at least a step in the direction of TRUTH. The whole issue then hinges on the question -- "Where the Pharisees correct in their reckoning?"
Vance makes much in his sermon of the following point: -- "If all there was to go on in determining Pentecost was Leviticus 23, then we would all be forced to conclude that Pentecost was on a Sunday."
Very well, let us try and be fair and reasonable as well as open-minded and acknowledge that this may be so with one important qualification. If all there was to go on in determining Pentecost was Leviticus 23 in the KING JAMES version, then yes, I can see how Sunday is arrived at, and of course I myself accepted this teaching without question for many years, I freely admit.
To make the statement, as Vance does, that the Hebrew word "SHABBAT" can only ever be translated "Sabbath" and never "Week," is entirely a matter of opinion which many eminent Hebrew scholars have argued for generations. The fact is of course that besides the King James version we have many other translations of the Bible into English. Some of these in Leviticus 23:15-16 translate "SHABBAT" as "Sabbaths" (ie., New King James), while others translate "SHABBAT" as "Weeks" (ie., NIV, RSV, GNB as well as the Jewish Tanakh). To simply say that all these modern translations are wrong and leave it at that WITHOUT CONCLUSIVE PROOF is just not good enough. Of course Vance is perfectly entitled to HIS OWN OPINION just like anyone else, but with all due respect to him, I for one am just not prepared to take another man's opinion on such an important issue.
What does all this haggling and disputing over the Hebrew word "SHABBAT" really prove anyway? Absolutely nothing, except that there is a continuing dispute and always has been over the exact meaning of this Hebrew word. Let us all calm down and step back a moment and remember Paul's warning in II Timothy 2:14 (New International Version): --
"Warn them before God against quarrelling about WORDS; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen."
Sound advice, so let us all pay heed to it and get away from this useless dispute. Besides, why do we just have to concentrate on Leviticus 23? The first rule of Bible study is to get together ALL the Scriptures bearing on a particular subject.
". . . Here a little, there a little" (Isaiah 28:10, NKJV). By applying this rule fairly and consistently we can come to a definite conclusion and a full understanding of the TRUE day of Pentecost.
Opponents of a Sivan 6 Pentecost find the inspired words of Scripture in Matthew 23:3 difficult to handle. They seek, as Vance does, to place their own human interpretation upon it, simply because it is so powerful and decisive a Scripture regarding this whole issue. They level the charge at Sivan 6 observers, of "following the Pharisees," seemingly oblivious of the fact that it was Our Lord And Saviour JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF who uttered these words: --
"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. ALL therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works, for they say and do not" (Matt.23:3).
Instead of trying to bend and distort this verse and PRETEND that it doesn't really mean what it plainly says, let us all be honest with the Word of God and accept and believe it, even if we sometimes don't like to admit that maybe, JUST MAYBE, our preconceived ideas may be wrong. A very plain and simple expounding of this verse can be found in the Jamieson, Fausett and Brown Commentary: --
"THE SCRIBES AND THE PARISEES SIT" -- The Jewish teachers stood to read, but sat to expound the Scriptures, as will be seen by comparing Luke 4:16 with v.20.
"IN MOSES' SEAT" -- ie. as interpreters of the law given by Moses.
"ALL THEREFORE" -- ie. all which, as sitting in that seat and teaching out of that law.
"THEY BID YOU OBSERVE, THAT OBSERVE AND DO" -- The word 'therefore' is thus, it will be seen, of great importance, as limiting those injunctions which He would have them obey to what they fetched FROM THE LAW ITSELF (emphasis mine) . . . . but He who denounced the TRADITIONS (emphasis mine) of such teachers cannot have meant here to throw His shield over these."
In other words, as long as the Pharisees were teaching and expounding from the LAW OF MOSES, which included the Holy Days (ie. PENTECOST), the people were to "OBSERVE AND DO" what the Pharisees taught.
SO SAYS THE UNBREAKABLE WORD OF GOD.
Of course anything above and beyond the LAW OF MOSES, was a teaching or tradition of men and OBVIOUSLY not covered by this COMMAND of JESUS CHRIST. Notice very carefully to whom this DIRECT COMMAND was given in Matthew 23:1 --
"THEN JESUS SPOKE TO THE MULTITUDES AND TO HIS DISCIPLES" (New King James Version).
Vance winds up his sermon with an ingenious interpretation of Acts 2:1 -- "When the day of Pentecost had FULLY COME . . ." He postulates that as there were TWO Pentecosts, one Sadducean and the other Pharisaic, then the phrase FULLY COME must mean -- "When the day of the True Pentecost had come a few days AFTER the False Pentecost." In the crucifixion year of 31 A.D. he correctly states that the Sadducean Pentecost would be on a Sunday (as it always was), and the Pharisaic Pentecost would come 2 days earlier on the Friday. Vance then takes a quantum leap and suggests that Pentecost had only FULLY COME on the Sunday. There is however a much better and clearer definition of that phrase's TRUE meaning, without resorting to speculation.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance gives the Greek word -- SUMPLEROO rendered "FULLY COME" in the King James version as meaning: --
"To Implenish Completely,"
"To Be Complete."
A marginal note in the New American Standard version gives the literal meaning of the phrase as -- "Was Being Fulfilled."
This is surely the TRUE meaning of Acts 2:1 -- "When the day of Pentecost had FULLY COME (or HAD COME TO BE FULFILLED)."
Vance concludes by saying that he needs much more proof before he is willing to 'repent and change.' I am puzzled by this statement because the 37 page article which he continually referred to, [must have] contained just what he was asking for, MUCH MORE PROOF, most of which he never addressed or even referred to in his sermon. [Aside from that article, whatever it was, I would be happy to send Vance, or anyone else who is interested, my own articles on this subject. They are: "Pentecost -- The Final Answer!", "How Should We Count Pentecost?", "Pentecost -- The Untold Story," "Pentecost -- the Plain Truth!", "The Incredible Truth about Pentecost," and "Pentecost -- The Bottom Line!" -- Editor.] To be absolutely fair to Vance though, he was constrained in his sermon by the time factor. The Scriptures which were never addressed or referred to, actually provide the clinching proof of a Sivan 6 Pentecost.
Paul addressing the Sanhedrin: --
"Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, 'My brothers, I AM A PHARISEE, the son of a Pharisee'"
(Acts 23:6, NIV).
Notice the use of the PRESENT tense "I AM A PHARISEE." Paul DID NOT say I WAS A PHARISEE, because although a Christian, he still considered himself to be a TRUE Pharisee.
Just prior to this, Paul had been proclaiming to the mob in Jerusalem which was baying for his blood: --
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, UNDER GAMALIEL I was THOROUGHLY TRAINED in the LAW of our fathers . . ." (Acts 22:3, NIV).
Gamaliel was a PHARISEE, a teacher of the LAW held in respect by all the people -- Acts 5:34. Most commentators believe that he was a grandson of the great Rabbi Hillel, who gave his name to one of the two main "Houses" of Phariseeism, the House of Hillel; the other being the House of Shammai. Eventually Gamaliel himself became the "Elder" of the House of Hillel. Although there were certain differences between these two "Houses" -- the House of Hillel being, in most cases, more moderate and compassionate than the House of Shammai -- they were totally united on the issue of counting Pentecost from the day on which the "Wave Sheaf" was offered, the day after THE ANNUAL SABBATH. Although like anyone else I stand open to correction, I challenge the opponents of a Sivan 6 Pentecost to produce any SOLID evidence to the contrary. While searching for it my hope and prayer would be that they themselves would become convicted by the PLAIN, SIMPLE, PROVABLE TRUTH.
Paul before King Agrippa: --
"THE JEWS ALL KNOW THE WAY I HAVE LIVED ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They (ie. ALL THE JEWS) have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I LIVED AS A
PHARISEE" (Acts 26:4-5, NIV).
This is all so very plain and clear that Paul was extremely well known to ALL THE JEWS, and that he had lived as a STRICT PHARISEE ALL HIS LIFE, one very distinct hallmark of this being a SIVAN 6 PENTECOST. Vance was honest enough to acknowledge that the vast majority of Jews at the time of Christ, were keeping Pentecost on Sivan 6 according to the Pharisees' reckoning. The Scriptures leave us in no doubt that the Apostle Paul had lived as a STRICT PHARISEE all his life, and apart from those who do not wish to see, everyone must acknowledge that Paul also kept Pentecost on Sivan 6, at least up until the time of his conversion.
COULD PAUL HAVE BEEN IN ERROR ALONG WITH THE PHARISEES, IN KEEPING PENTECOST ON SIVAN 6? ON THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION HINGES THE WHOLE CONTROVERSY. LET THE INSPIRED AND PERFECT WORD OF GOD GIVE US THE TRUE AND ONLY ANSWER.
Paul's Letter to the Philippians: --
"If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; IN REGARD TO THE LAW A PHARISEE ; as for zeal, persecuting the church; AS FOR LEGALISTIC RIGHTEOUSNESS, F A U L T L E S S"
(Philippians 3:4-5, NIV).
This is so important here is the same Scripture in the NEW KING JAMES VERSION.
"If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Ben-
jamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; CONCERNING THE LAW, A PHARISEE; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; CONCERNING THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS IN THE LAW, B L A M EL E S S."
Dare anyone refute the inspired words of the Apostle Paul in which he claimed to have observed THE LAW WITHOUT FAULT? If the Sadducees were correct in reckoning Pentecost and the Pharisees WERE IN ERROR, then this Scripture could never have been inspired.
I call upon my brothers and sisters in the Church of God International [and Worldwide Church of God, and other splinter groups! -- Editor] to NOW SERIOUSLY ADDRESS THIS QUESTION, PLEASE.
I would like to end on a conciliatory note and reveal that I have just recently read an article by Vance Stinson, refuting the abominable doctrine taught by some, that the Jews are actually the offspring of Satan. Vance does an excellent job of demolishing this "Doctrine of Demons" and I thank him for it. But stop one moment and consider. Why is it that of all peoples on the earth the Jews have been singled out time and time again for the most horrific persecution and suffering that demoniacally influenced minds can devise? Simply because they and they alone have preserved the LAW OF GOD, including the Holy Days and the sacred calendar, to this very day. Satan hates them terribly for this. The Jews today keep Pentecost on Sivan 6.
"What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because TO THEM WERE COMMITTED THE ORACLES OF
GOD" (Romans 3:1-2, NKJV).