TO USE THE MICROWAVE, OR NOT TO USE THE MICROWAVE ON THE SABBATH DAY
THAT IS THE QUESTION
Throughout my years of learning about God and upholding his laws pertaining to the Sabbath day, there have been ongoing conflict about using the microwave on the Sabbath day. For most camps, some teachers have condoned it's us others have forbade the use of microwaves declaring that using it transgresses God’s law about the Sabbath day according to the following reasons:
1. No kindling fire on the Sabbath Exo 35:3 “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day”
2. No work on the Sabbath Exo 20:8-9 “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work.”
3. Seethe (boil) what you will boil today for tomorrow is the Sabbath day Exo 16: “To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe…”
The posing question is this, which of the three reasons supports the claim to discontinue the use of microwaves with the premise of transgressing God’s commandment? Are we prohibited to use microwaves because it emits fire?
Is operating the microwave (using the handle to open the microwave, pressing buttons, and retrieving the food) considered work on the Sabbath?
Lastly, what makes seething formidable in the microwave? Is it the steam that emit from the food? Is it the actual boiling of the water? If you’re heating solid foods in the microwave, is it considered “seething” boiling?
NO KINDLING FIRE ON THE SABBATH DAY: READING, TO UNDERSTAND SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT
Identifying and establishing the who, what, when, where, how, and why of the scriptures incites a complete and thorough understanding of the text. Even in literary works besides the bible, the reader initiates with the beginning, proceeds with the middle, and then there’s the end. Just think of how perturb your understanding would be if you initiated your reading at the middle of a passage. Starting at the middle strips you of any foreknowledge, historical background, characters, and important themes. Reading the context with a thorough understanding is very important to Jesus: Jesus asked a certain lawyer in Luke 10:25 "What is written in the law? how readest thou?"
Let’s look at an example of reading information in its proper context with Rom 3:10. Most Christians quote, “There is none righteous, no, not one". If you just read verse 10, you’d think that no one is righteous. And most Christians use this scripture to justify transgressing the law, or they’ll say, “We don’t have to keep the law because no one is righteous and the law has nothing to do with righteousness.” We must read the scripture in context so that we do not misinterpret the message.
The first part of Rom 3:10 states, “As it is written….” Paul made a reference to the old testament regarding those that are not righteous. The reader must go back in the old testament to understand Paul’s reference. Psa 53:1 reads, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” Verse 2 denotes that God looked down from heaven to see if any understood or sought him. Verse 3 states “Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
We clearly understand Paul’s message to the Romans when read into its proper context. Paul reiterates to the Romans the importance of the Jew (they possess the oracles of God) signifying that all are under sin, both Jews and Gentiles have been proved (Rom 3:9). Paul further explains none righteous with verses 12-18: "With a mouth full of cursing, feet swift to shed innocent blood, and destruction, misery are in their ways, we clearly understand why Paul referenced Psa 53:1-3. Furthermore, we understand in context that God is far from you if you’re entangled with those deeds.
NO KINDLING FIRE ON THE SABBATH DAY: READING THE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT
Just like Rom 3:10, we have to read God’s commands to Israel in its context. How should we understand Exodus 35:1-3? This verse about not lighting a fire is inserted in the middle of an extensive 14-chapter section in Exodus of instructions regarding the building of the tabernacle, its furnishings, utensils, etc.Chapters 25–34 of Exodus relate how Moses received these instructions from God while he was upon the mountain for 40 days. Then, once he had received the instructions, Moses came down from the mountain and brought the instructions to the people. Chapters 36-40 follow with an account of how the people proceeded to build the tabernacle and its furnishings according to the instructions Moses had received.
Constructing the tabernacle was going to be an enormous project. It would require a tremendous amount of work. There would be sewing, embroidery, carpentry and especially metal work, or blacksmithing. When you read the instructions Israel was given, you’ll note that a lot of gold, silver and bronze was going to have to be melted down and fashioned into all kinds of utensils, structures and plating.
Here are a few verses from God’s instructions that specifically refer to casting by pouring molten metal into molds: Exodus 25:12, Exodus 26:37.
Here are a few verses describing the people casting the molten metal while working on the project: Exodus 36:36, Exodus 37:3, Exodus 38:5, Exodus 38:27.
Exodus 38:28-29 tell us there were 3.4 metric tons used. Melting and working a lot of metal means a lot of blacksmithing fires.
MOSES REMINDS ISRAEL ABOUT THE SABBATH DAY
Chapter 35:1-3 records an event that happens after Moses brings God’s instructions down from the mountain and before they get started doing the work. First, Moses reminds them of the ground rules: you have six days of the week to do this work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath rest to the Lord.
And then he adds an additional warning: “Do not light your fires in your dwellings on the Sabbath,” which when viewed in context is an admonition not to do any of this construction work on the Sabbath.
The rest of chapter 35 is an account of the people joyfully contributing precious metals, gems, hides, cloth, oil, incense and all the other necessary materials for the project (Exo 35:22). It also describes the selection of the master craftsmen Bazalel and Oholiab who were inspired by the Spirit of God with skill in artistic designs for gold, silver and bronze (Exo 35:32).
The people were excited about the tabernacle project. In fact, they were bringing forth so many offerings of materials Moses had to ask them to stop! Their excitement was a good thing, and surely God was pleased to see it. But it was not to become an excuse to work on the Sabbath, even for constructing the tabernacle.
God is not the author of confusion (I Cor 14:33) and we that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth (St John 4:24). In addition, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it…..?”
If kindling fire was actually prohibited on the Sabbath day:
1) Why did God command the priest to administer daily sacrifices-which included the Sabbath day Num 28:24 “After this manner ye shall offer daily, throughout the seven days, the meat of the sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord: it shall be offered beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.”
2). Why was there a burnt offering on every Sabbath? Num 28:9-10 “And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: This is the burnt offering of every sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.”
3). Why did the priest burn sweet incense using the candlestick with the lamp to burn every evening II Chron 13:11 “And they burn unto the Lord every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep charge of the Lord our God; but ye have forsaken him.” Furthermore, the concept of the candlestick and the lamps can be seen with the parable about the wise and foolish virgins (Matt 25:1-13). The candlestick was always maintained by the Levites and preserved in the tabernacle. Now our bodies are the tabernacle (II Pet 1:14) and our light is to shine before men that they will see our good works (Matt 5:16). We know that there’s no actual fire within us, but a spiritual application of zeal that we possess when we aware and knowledgeable about God’s truth and share it with others.
So in truth according to the Law fire is permitted on the Sabbath day.
DOES THE MICROWAVE EMIT FIRE?
Excerpt and diagram from https://www.explainthatstuff.com/microwaveovens.html
No fire is kindled in the microwave, electromagnetic energy from the microwave penetrates inside the food. This energy passes onto the molecules in the food, rapidly heating it up. Thanks to Percy Spencer, this modern invention, the microwave, allows food to be heated without the use of fire.
The heating process of the microwave and heating process of your vehicle are similar in that both rely on the energy from within to produce heat. This is done without the presence of fire. If we rely on heat for warmth in our vehicles, what’s the difference between using the microwave to heat food? In both cases, both are modern inventions that advance us from the primitive way of living.
heating Process in Our Vehicles Excerpt and diagram from https://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/heat_pump_cabin_heater.html
The heater fan blows air through the heater core and into the passenger compartment of your car. A heater core looks like a small radiator. The heater core draws its hot coolant from the cylinder head and returns it to the pump -- so the heater works regardless of whether the thermostat is open or closed.
The use of the microwave and the heat in vehicles are absent of fire; However, heating your home via the traditional way definitely uses fire. Gas furnaces have burners which ignites and combines fresh air, fuel, and spark to create controlled flames. “The flames heat a metal heat exchanger which transfer the heat to passing air and contains combustion fumes.” Gas furnaces are used all across the country for warmth during the cold, harsh brutal winters. Despite the presence of fire, Sabbath day keepers turn their furnaces on for warmth in the cold weather months. Again, the furnace is a modern invention similar to the microwave that allows heat to be transferred in a convenient way. Another modern invention is the electric furnace; it produces heat with electric heating elements instead of the gas burners. The electric burner works like a hair dryer (some Sabbath keepers may forbid use of the hairdryer for similar reasons to that of the microwave). It has a blower that draws air into the cabinet through a cold-air return and then pushes the air through the heat exchanger.
HEATING FURNACES IN THE HOMES
This is a far cry from ancient times when fire was used for lighting purposes as well as warmth. I hardly doubt that Israel sat in the dark sundown Friday evening for fear of kindling a fire on the Sabbath day. I’m pretty certain that Israel kindled a fire to stay warm during cool winter nights.
IS USING THE MICROWAVE ON THE SABBATH DAY CONSIDERED WORK?
Let’s define the word “work.” According to Dictionary.com work means
1.“exertion or effort to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
2. Productive or operative activity.”
I’ve been trying to figure out what work is involved in operating the microwave. Is it opening the microwave handle, pushing the buttons, retrieving your food from the microwave? The movements that you use to operate a microwave are the same movements “work” used to switch or push a button for lights, pull a handle to open a door, or twist a knob handle.
Is the preparation of food prior to using the microwave considered work? Is taking chicken out of the refrigerator to warm up considered work? Is there any exertion, labor, or work in heating food? It’s no different from opening a cereal box, pouring cereal, retrieving milk from the refrigerator, and pouring the milk into the bowl of cereal. Look at all the steps “work” it takes just to eat cereal on the Sabbath day. We must be careful not to be deceived; God is not mocked (Gal 6:7) nor should we be over righteous destroying ourselves (Ecc 7:16).
We are supposed to be different from Pharisees that Jesus in conflict with while he was here in the flesh; they’ve made a whole mountain out of a hill regarding the Sabbath day conduct. The Jewish people of today have created devices to prevent them from “working” on the Sabbath. Most of these inventions are self-made to prevent the use of electricity on the Sabbath day. Bill Maher’s Religulous (2008) documented the Jewish preservation of the Sabbath day. We are not straining at gnats, and swallowing whole camels (Matt 23:24) about the Sabbath day. We are different from the Phariseedic Jewish people and we should know better not to make a mockery of the Lord’s commands. Check out a snippet of Bill Maher’s interview with the Jewish people and their perspective about the Sabbath day.
It is written like unto the regular Sabbath day about the day of Atonement that his day is a delight (Isa 58:13); enforcing petty rules regarding the Sabbath(s) creates burdens on the Sabbath (Jer 17:21), thus making the Sabbath undelightful.
Is Seething (Boiling) on the Sabbath Day Permissible?
Exo 16:23 states, “And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” According to Dictionary.com seethe means to surge or foam as if boiling.
We have six days to gather (shop) for food, bake or boil food (Exo 16:26) because on the seventh day, we are to rest (Exo 16:30). Thanks to modern inventions such as the refrigerator we can store and preserve food; the food doesn’t have to sit out and waste away. The microwave, another modern technology allows us to warm up food preserved from the refrigerator. All the work and preparation to cook the food was done prior to the Sabbath. Simply reheating the food in the microwave isn’t work, kindling fire, or seething (boiling). Most foods that needs reheating has already been through the boiling process. Reheating chicken, pasta, vegetables or any kind of food precooked from the previous day does not require any form of boiling. Even if you’re heating water in the microwave for tea, coffee, or babies’ bottle, the temperature has to be significantly high in order for the water to boil water.
Remember electromagnetic energy penetrates through food, or in this case water. The energy passes onto the molecules in the water, rapidly heating it up. The microwave passes enough energy into the water on low temperature such as 1-2 min to heat the water for tea, coffee, and soup. Heating the liquids on higher temperatures such as 4-5 min is overheating where water will run over and in addition you run the risk of scalding incident on the Sabbath day.
So, the question is: Is it the bubbles or steam in the liquid or foods heated in microwave, that makes using the microwave restricted? If the answer is yes, again, we have to be careful not to appear over righteous and like the Pharisees who were against the Lord of the Sabbath day Jesus. And if we’re using this logic, then baby bottle warmers should be restricted on the Sabbath day as well thus making the commandment of God to keep the Sabbath day holy grievous.
?Is The Use of Bottle Warmers Breaking The Sabbath Day
Bottle warmers are another modern invention which heats up the milk in the bottle. It operates similar to the microwave, it is absent of fire, but yet water “seethes” boils to heat the bottle. This is especially useful for nursing mothers who can only store their breastmilk for certain days in the refrigerator or store their breast milk in the freezer. The bottle warmer safely heats the breastmilk. It would be unhealthy and unsafe to give a newborn baby unheated milk. The bottle warmer was actually invented as a convenience for parents as well as to prevent horrid accidents with warming bottles in pots over the stove and placing whole bottles in the microwave, thus causing overheating. There are some who still heat water over the stove (using fire) to warm babies’ bottles. Or perhaps there are some who heat water in the microwave to warm bottles. Either way, we are sensible in providing necessary provisions for our babies.
Are We to be Vegetarian on the Sabbath?
There are people that strictly eat salads, fruits, raw vegetables on the Sabbath day for fear of using warming devices. Eating salads and fruits are healthy indeed; however, it is not a commandment from God for us to solely eat these foods on the Sabbath. In fact,Levi conducted daily sacrifices to include the Sabbath days And burnt offerings. I’m pretty sure Israel didn’t eat raw meat on the Sabbath because we know that raw meat contains the blood of the animal, which is the life of the animal forbidden to be eaten by God (Lev 7:26) We cannot enforce a Vegetarian lifestyle on people who need full meals so as to take their medication. Eating light foods such as fruits and salads aren’t fulfilling for them. Even adding protein such as meat (with all its sodium) causes greater health problems-espectially those suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure), and high cholesterol.
Are We Eat Processed Meat Only on the Sabbath Day
Some people propose that only sandwiches should be eaten every Sabbath, as it reduces the use of microwave use. However, healthy eating people refrain from eating sandwiches as lunch meat is processed food. Processed meat and other processed foods such as breakfast cereals, cookies, chips, and donuts are all consumed on the Sabbath as meal replacements. The overconsumption of processed foods isn’t a healthy choice and certainly shouldn’t be forced upon other Sabbath day keepers as an alternative to avoid using microwaves.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER IS THIS
God does not forbid use a fire to warm your homes on a cold Sabbath night, nor a heating device to warm food, nor the lighting of a lamp in the dark.
The statement about lighting fires on the Sabbath was not an addition to the basic principles of Sabbath observance. It was a reminder of the command to rest from our work on the seventh day in a context specifically related to doing the hard work of building the stuff for the tabernacle.
Fire was used in both daily sacrifices and burnt offerings on every Sabbath. Modern inventions such as microwaves, furnaces, bottle warmers, etc assist Sabbath day keepers in these modern times.
Without these inventions, life would be most difficult, thus causing “real” burdens and “real” labor on the Sabbath day and further gives place to the devil and his ministers campaign in renouncing the Lord’s Sabbath day. So instead of straining at gnats and swallowing the whole camel about the use of the microwave, and being hypocrites on the Sabbath acting like Pharisees (Sadducee), we ought to be appreciating the invention as it keeps us from really transgressing God’s laws on the Sabbath. The use of the microwave takes away the physical labor it would take to preserve food and warm it in this day and age. Remember we ought to obey God rather men (Acts 5:29) and God’s commandments is not grievous (I John 5:3).