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Making the Sabbath a Delight Making the Sabbath a Delight

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Making the Sabbath a Delight

Posted by: Michael Stevenson on Sun, Apr 25, 2010

Like most all of the biblical teachings, proper Sabbath observance has become a very controversial issue—even within the Church among the brethren. Is this what God intended for the Sabbath—a day for which He commanded? Did Christ say that it was acceptable to have a list of “dos” and “dont’s” and to avoid this or that? Christ specifically said that the Sabbath was “made for man” and yet, do we find that this is the case today? Now you can know how to keep and enjoy the true Sabbath of God—as God had intended!

Making the Sabbath a Delight

Like most all of the biblical teachings, proper Sabbath observance has become a very controversial issue—even within the Church among the brethren. Is this what God intended for the Sabbath—a day for which He commanded? Did Christ say that it was acceptable to have a list of “dos” and “dont’s” and to avoid this or that? Christ specifically said that the Sabbath was “made for man” and yet, do we find that this is the case today? Now you can know how to keep and enjoy the true Sabbath of God—as God had intended!

By Michael W. Stevenson


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HERE is a list of laws and commandments that God has given to each person alive. This list reveals how to live our lives—how to conform to living the way that God intended for us—yet, some of these very laws have become shrouded by controversy—subjects by which some say no longer apply, others say still apply, but which must have other things added to them and thus, becoming a burden (1 John 5:3). Others yet say that we are not to add our own laws to those which God has already given to us—making them a burden. But, those that say that also say that God’s laws are to be a “delight” and not a burden—something that are not to be used a way to “control.” Those many laws were all given as a way to have a good and proper relationship with God—in a way in which we can also have a good relationship with man.

 Most professing Christians all “agree” that with nine of the Ten Commandments, they are still applicable. But, they take the fourth commandment and claim that it no longer applies. The other nine, they vaguely understand and teach. Most would say that it is wrong to take and have idols, taking God’s name in vain, disrespecting our parents, killing, stealing, lying, adultery and covetousness are all wrong.

 Few actually make any attempts to even practice those nine commandments as a way of life. Yet, there are some who say that those nine are also done away with—thus, opening the door to killing, theft, adultery and many other things. After all, they say that these were all “nailed to the cross” and that therefore they are no longer binding upon man.

 When it comes to the Fourth Commandment, God’s literal to command to “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy”—Ex. 20:8; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:12, almost all church-goers find a way to relegate the Sabbath to “something only the Jews do” or “something that is no longer applicable” or “only for ancient Israel.” They claim that “it no longer matters what day you keep as long as you keep a day.” They concoct arguments as to why the Sabbath command does not apply to today. But, God’s Word reveals to us that the Sabbath has been made for all people—for all time! Further, man should not seek to do away with God has established!

The Sabbath Was Established At Creation

 

After the creation of earth and all those physical and awesome wonders we have around us—God created the Sabbath by resting on the “seventh day” with Sabbath literally meaning “rest” (Gen. 2:2-3). He further did not rest because He was tired (Ps. 121:3-4). By resting, He was establishing a pattern that He wants His people to follow—a pattern that shows to us how we should live by. Remember that all that God does and establishes is an example for us. He wants us to do all of our work, take care of our business needs and to enjoy our normal daily pursuits six days a week and then just one day, we are to “rest” or to “Sabbath” from all those normal activities. The Sabbath is not our time—but is God’s time! It is created to bring us to true remembrance of Him.

 God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). He does things in proper order (v.40) and thus, He did not create Adam first, before everything else, and then say, "Okay, now let’s find something for you to do.” Rather, He created man and placed him in the garden on that sixth day with the instructions to “dress it and keep to it”—Gen. 2:15. Verse 19 then shows to us that God sent Adam all the animals to be named.

 If the Sabbath had been created first, before Adam, then Christ could not rightfully have said that the Sabbath was made for man, but rather, he would have had to say that man was then made for the Sabbath—but, because man was made before the Sabbath, the Sabbath thus becomes clearly a day made for man—a day with great significance, showing to us some important things within it. Also, further notice that Christ mentioned that He was the “Lord” or the “Creator” of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27) and thus, it would be Jesus Christ who would determine the purpose of the Sabbath—not any human!

 Likewise, God never created the Sabbath on the first day of the week—as many now believe, so that He could rest from the work with which He made during the six days of creation. Why would God make the Sabbath on the first day of the week—before creating everything else—if He had not yet worked?

 God would not have rested before creating anything because there would have been obviously no need to rest from creating anything—thus, when we get people saying that God placed the Sabbath on the first day of the week—they then forget that God could not have rested on the first day, before anything had ever yet been created.

 Further, God would not have placed the Sabbath on the seventh day to only later change it to the first day of the week (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8), thus, showing that He would not change—and since the Bible tells us that God doesn’t change, then it would not make since for the Sabbath to be changed!

 

Once we have done so, then we must keep it above all the others.

 The Bible further gives evidence of seven being God’s number of completeness and perfection. With this, we find that aside from the seven days of creation, God tells us through His servant David that His Word is purified “seven times” (Ps. 12:6). We are to forgive everyone “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). God then commands us to observe seven annual holy days—festivals—which reveal to us the seven thousand year plan of redemption (Lev. 23; Deut. 16). There are seven seals and seven trumpets which usher in the Day of the Lord, the time of which God pours out His wrath upon man for their rebellion (Rev. 6-9). Thus, we find throughout the Bible that seven is very important to God and since that is the case, it makes perfect sense that therefore, the seventh day would be the day on which God would have rested.

 

 The Sabbath is a time of holiness, something that we cannot detect with any of our five senses, but rather, we keep it spiritually. We cannot have the right therefore to determine what is holy and what is not—for it is God that determines what is holy and therefore, God reveals to us that this day is different than all the others.

 Let’s thus consider that there are seven books placed in front of us. Each of these books are the same on the covers, each one with similar stories. We cannot tell what is on the inside by looking simply at the cover. But, there is one that is different—it has been set aside as a more special book—separate from all the rest. But, we cannot taste it, see it, smell it, feel it, or hear it. But, we can know that it is special through something else—but, we must be willing to look into it and see what the Author has put in it that makes it more special than all the others. Once we have done so, then we must keep it above all the others.

 God’s way is that of love (2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Thess. 4:9) and it is He who would not give us the command “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” then not tell us what day it would be upon. For if God is love, then it would make obvious and absolute sense that He would tell us upon what day the Sabbath is to be observed.

 

The Sabbath Is A Clear Sign Between God and His People!

 

Another clear point that most people miss is that the Sabbath is a sign that has been established between God and His chosen people—for it is this sign which denotes whom His people are.

 After two and a half centuries in bondage in Egypt, Israel had lost all knowledge of God’s laws and commandments and therefore, God had to again teach them those things—showing to them what His commandments are. After He freed them from their bondage, the first  great law that He gave them was the command to observe the Sabbath—for if this was the first command that He was giving to them, then it would have become evident that it would be a very special command—a command that no one else would even have.

 We have to further remember that this command was given before the Old Covenant was given by Moses. They had been kept in bondage and had no knowledge of what God had required—so He had to teach them somehow the importance of His Word.

 We find in Exodus 16:4-30 where God first provided the Israelites with manna. In verse 19, Moses told them to “…Let no man leave of it till the morning.” Some had ignored this instruction and they kept some of it until the next morning. It grew worms and stank something awful (v.20). We cannot actually imagine the stinking of it, but it is obvious that it probably smelled worse than anything we can imagine today.

 Then, we read in v.5 that God said that “…on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” They were to take and use the sixth day to prepare themselves for the Sabbath and not to work therefore on the Sabbath for cooking and gathering and any other type of work. “Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none”—v.26. Thus, God had clear instructions that we are to lay aside all other concerns and cares and keep the Sabbath a day of holiness. Yet, how many of us today even consider this to be the truth?

 Again, some ignored God’s command and instead of keeping God’s command, they went and they gathered on the Sabbath and yet, they found none—there was no manna for them on the seventh day—thus showing to us that God’s commands are given and are to be taken serious (v.27).

 Further, we find in Exodus 31:13 that God instructed Moses to “Speak you also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the Lord that does sanctify you.” Further, we read that “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.”—Ezekiel 20:12 (12-13). God gave Israel His Sabbaths and they rebelled—they thought that they knew better, but yet God shows us that they did not know better than God and thus, He punished them—just as He is going to punish all the world in the near future!

 Speak to the Jews, Christ had said that “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat therefore, and not die”—John 6:49-50.

 Paul had been inspired to write “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly…”—Romans 2:29. He further wrote “Now all these things happened unto them for [examples]: and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come”—1 Cor. 10:11. The Old Testament was written so that we can learn from them of how we are to live our lives as true Christians. Yet, how many people who claim to be “Christian” desire to learn from the Old Testament?

 

The Sabbath Is Not To Be A Burden!

 

God’s commandments are so important that John wrote that “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous”—1 John 5:3. This is one of God’s descriptions about those commandments which He has given—something which shows to us that God’s law is really love—for like any father, God has loved us to the point that He has given us His laws and commandments to keep us in harmony with Him. God then calls those laws “holy, and just, and good”—Romans 7:12. It is not therefore, up to us to make the decision of which commands God intends for us o keep and which are not to be kept. For the commandments are “not grievous” and then we are not to think that God has done away with them when they are given to us in love and if then they are done away with, then why did the apostle John write about them?

 Most people would rather take the easy road out of things (Prov. 14:12; 16:25) and try to go about their own ways which are actually ways of death. For sin is that which brings upon us spiritual death and damnation. Therefore, we should remember that God expects us to follow His ways if we want to avoid spiritual death and destruction.

 God has further promised that He will not be putting upon any of us more than we are able to handle (1 Cor. 10:13). Men do, with their own customs and traditions (Luke 11:46) put more upon us than is needed—thus, making God’s laws more than they should be. Christ has said that “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light”—Matt. 11:30. Yet, most of us rather look and say “well, here I need to add more to keep in with what God has said.” God has not given us the Sabbath to be a burden, but rather, to be a delight—a blessing. It is the time of the week that He has given us to slow down from our pace of our daily living and to reflect upon His ways. The Sabbath is a weekly reminder that we are God’s people and that He is truly our God—the Creator of the universe.

 Those who seek to truly please God and do God’s will for us, will seek to work only those six days and then on the Sabbath, rest from those works, doing as God has instructed us.

 Let’s now consider then some awesome principles that will answer some basic questions regarding the Sabbath observance. These will help us to see further the awesome insight into the true Sabbath!

 

Dining Out On the Sabbath

 

Of some of the many questions that we get, one in particular keeps popping up from time to time. Are we permitted to dine out on the Sabbath?

 We need to consider that this is fine—but, needs to be done in balance. Just do not go overboard. Most restaurants are open for business on the Sabbath, whether we choose for them to be or not. By dining out, we are not creating any more work for them than they are already accustomed to.

 This question further comes up concerning the Holy Days. The same applies for God’s feast days. God does not expect us to go without food on His annual feast days. The only day of course of the year that has the exception—the time in which we fast—is the Day of Atonement.

 It is find to have a meal at a restaurant with other brethren so that we might continue our fellowship. But, if it were to last several hours (due to extenuating circumstances or certain traditions), you could be in danger of breaking the Sabbath. Thus, we need to use our judgment.

 Christ has shown us that it is not wrong to satisfy our hunger on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-5). He also cited David’s example of eating the showbread from the Temple (1 Sam. 21:6).

 

 

 

 

Watching Movies and Television

 

 

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It is not a sin to watch programming which would offer to us insight into God’s laws and commandments.

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From time to time, we also get the question asked of us “should I watch a move or television on the Sabbath?” We want to remind people that we need to use again here our own judgment—see what it is that we are doing and see if it is going to uplift us spiritually.

 

 Dr. Edward T. Johnson has observed: “We must set aside a time that is special to God aside and that is the importance of the Sabbath.” We need to be in reflection of His purpose for the day—reflecting upon His ways and His laws. As Christians, we need to determine if this helps us in properly keeping the Sabbath, or is something done in place of keeping the Sabbath. We must not keep those things which would be taking the place of the Sabbath.

 It is not a sin to watch programming which would offer to us insight into God’s laws and commandments. For example, if we have access to the old World Tomorrow television programs, we might pull one out and watch it. But, we also have to remember that Hollywood and other film entities have also went and have placed in films and movies and television shows false information. Most film produces seek to uplift their own ideas and greatly exaggerate things which they film. They know that people want to pay more to watch fiction than truth (especially when it comes to the Bible).

 Most films show great men of God with long hair and yet, when we look into the Bible, it tells us that long hair on men is a shame (1 Cor. 11:14). Yet, these film makers do not care—they teach this because of what “tradition” says. God’s people from the Bible are portrayed to be week if they have short hair. They rather use their own understanding rather than to use what the Bible really does teach.

 Hollywood places upon those of God’s Word, their own false notions and seek to portray them as men who look like hippies and who are not in harmony with God’s real Word. They further seek to show them speaking English rather than using that of the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek languages since English did not yet exist.

 It is more proper for us to watch the news on the Sabbath rather than movies which are not supportive of the Bible.

 Christ teaches us that we are to “Watch you therefore: for you know not when the master of the house comes”—Mark 13:35. We should be watchful, not just on six days a week, but all the week long—watching because the news events tell us signs that are important to when Christ is returning. However, at the same time, we should avoid making it an all day affair too—for we need to limit what we do so that we do not break the Sabbath.

 Remember, let’s not focus on television to the point that we forget the real purpose of the Sabbath—doing our own pleasures.

 

Building Fires and Cooking On the Sabbath

 

We also get asked if it is appropriate to build a fire or to even cook on the Sabbath. Again, one needs to consider if they are doing it to ignore the Sabbath, or to satisfy their hunger.

 Some people have used Exodus 35:3 to say that we are not to cook or build a fire on the Sabbath. But, they do not take the whole context of the scripture to see what it is really talking of. We need to look at the scripture in proper perspective and see what is really being taught.

 The Israelites were being extra zealous in their desire to build the tabernacle and in this, they later brought an over-abundance of raw materials to build the tabernacle. Many had to be turned away (36:5-6).

 What God was not allowing was the burning of industrial fires (35:3) on the Sabbath. In the course of the building of the tabernacle, the Israelites had been engaged in metal-works and God did not want them to do this labor on the Sabbath.

 This command therefore has nothing to do with cooking on the Sabbath. However, if at all possible, the main cooking and meal preparations should be done on the day before so that we do not engage in actually the breaking of the Sabbath.

 

Education on the Sabbath

 

Another question often asked of us is “does God allow us to educate ourselves on the Sabbath?” The answer here is another yes—with respect to proper education. We have to remember again, God has said that we may engage in proper activities and on the Sabbath, true education is educating ourselves on the Word of God.

 We have to remember that the true knowledge is centered within the Word of God—God’s true source for knowledge. If we engage in education that does not uplift us, does not draw our attention toward God, then we perhaps are breaking the Sabbath command.

 

Attendance at Weddings and Funerals

 

One minister at one point refused to do a funeral on the Sabbath because he considered it a sin to engage in this type of ministerial duty on the Sabbath—but, what is the truth here—is it breaking the Sabbath?

 As long as it does not conflict with our normal Sabbath assembly, then there is nothing wrong with attending funerals and weddings on the Sabbath. Again, however, we ask that certain judgment be taken. If attending such services, then it would be well to ask if it will be keeping us from Sabbath services. If you can attend both (with proper emphasis placed upon the Sabbath), then it would not be a sin.

 

What About Doing Good on the Sabbath?

 

Some people have asked us if we should do good deeds on the Sabbath.

 Some have even thought that it is wrong to visit someone in the hospital, fix a flat tire, stop if they see a wreck on their way to services. Some have even asked us what about going out of our way on the Sabbath to go and pick up another brethren? The answer to these is no.

 However, in this day and age, when it is dangerous to stop and help strangers, we need to therefore rely upon God for the proper judgment.

 Christ showed to us the example of doing good on the Sabbath as situations do arise (Matt. 12:1-9, 12; Mark 3:4; Luke 6:7-9; John 5:7-9). He did not go out of His way to search for them, but when the situation arose, He took the opportunity to do good.

 What would God want of us—an opportunity to render assistance—or the opportunity to serve? We need to remember that through our service, others will see Christ living in us and they will be more willing to learn of God’s Word if they are being called into God’s Church.

 But, we still need to use the proper judgment in this nonetheless. If someone we know is in need of assistance, then yes, we need to help them and “glorify your Father which is in heaven”—Matt. 5:16.

 We need to remember that we should not be more concerned about getting to services than “Let your light so shine before men” so that we miss out on the opportunity for service because through our service, we will show 1) that we keep the Sabbath and 2) It is appropriate to do good on the Sabbath.

 But, remember, all that we do in life requires of us to use good judgment and when we do good, we need to do it with judgment that is from God. We need to therefore listen to the Spirit and if there is an emergency, assist until personnel arrive. In such cases, it is equally wrong to be callously driving by (Gal. 6:10; James 4:17).

 

Having A Right Attitude Toward the Sabbath

 

Do we view the Sabbath in the way that God had intended or do we view it with some attitude that says either the Sabbath is a bondage or that the Sabbath is only another day? Whatever way that we view the Sabbath, we will be showing how we feel toward God. Do we anticipate it each week, as time to put aside our daily concerns of this world and to focus rather upon our relationship with the Creator and with fellow mankind? Do we view it as a burden, as a time that is taken away from us? When we go to services, are we always watching he clock and wishing that the services would go by fast?

 The Sabbath is God’s weekly gift to His people and it is a time that allows us to be spiritually refreshed. We should further consider it much like His command to tithing—something which brings to us a test—a test to see if we are truly His people—a test to see if we are going to live God’s ways. God gives us six-sevenths of the week to as we want, but within the confines of His law. He only requires of us to return to Him the seventh day—keeping it in the manner that He has intended of us.

 He wants us to use the six days He has allotted for us to prepare for the Sabbath and to do those things which will benefit our lives and bring us our livelihood. He further wants us to use the six days to properly make sure that all is in place so that we do not have to do anything on the Sabbath that is not in harmony with God’s Word. Just as we receive blessings from tithing, we also receive blessings from keeping the Sabbath holy. God tells us that “I will…open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be enough room to receive it”—Mal. 3:10.

 Unlike tithing, God gives us our six days of the week to be “up front.” Only at the end of the week does He then test us—seeing if we are going to do the walk that we say we do and to obey His laws (Ex. 16:4).

 There should be activities planned ahead of time for the children to help them appreciate the day as well. For we read that we are to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”—Proverbs 22:6.

 We should always sit down with the children and teach them of the Sabbath, teaching them why we have the Sabbath and just what the Sabbath is for. Remember that the Sabbath is more than just some sort of blessing only intended for adults—but that all of us are to benefit. We need to sit down and give them activities which will teach them and help them to see God’s ways and instructions.

 

Our Sabbath Appearance Is Important

 

How should we dress on the Sabbath? Just what is the appropriate dress? We need to remember that the way we groom and dress on the Sabbath also shows a lot about our attitude toward the Sabbath.

 This is another aspect of Sabbath-keeping which has been liberalized over the years and watered down among God’s people. Many have forgotten that they are coming before God’s presence when we come to services. While we may not have a huge congregation to meet with or are keeping the Sabbath within our own homes, or the home of a fellow brethren, we are still assembling in God’s presence on the Sabbath. Even if no one else sees how we are dressing, God still does.

 Remember that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong always set for us an example when he travelled. He visited with world leaders and he always had two shirts—one to which he wore on Fridays at meetings with a king or a leader, and another for the Sabbath—he would always reserve the best of the two for the Sabbath. He knew that he was coming before God and that the way he dressed for God was of more importance than the way he dressed for meeting with a world leader.

 Remember that our dress on the Sabbath should not call attention to ourselves, but rather, should be a focus on God and how we can serve others.

 Men should wear a suit and a tie while women should wear dresses or a skirt-and-blouse ensembles that are appropriate. Modesty is the key rule in determining the proper way that we dress. We should always remember the standards set for us by God’s Word.

 

Never Complaining—But Seeking to Honor God

 

The Sabbath is the time in which we come together with those of like-mind and to set aside all other things and other people so that we can come and fellowship with others—but most of all, fellowshipping with God. It is the time that God has given for us to assemble and be with those who believe as we do (Phil. 2:5). We should always encourage each other (Heb. 10:25).

 It is not to be spent simply “downloading” all our problems and difficulties on other brethren, but we should be encouraging and enduring. We should remember that our conversation should be appropriate and in a way that says that we are here for God—not for ourselves.

 The Sabbath is a weekly reminder further of the awesome thousand years of rest which lay ahead—the awesome world tomorrow (Heb. 3:11; 1 Peter 3:8). Therefore, we should be remembering that Christ is returning to usher in the millennial rest.

 We need to remember that we are on holy ground (Ex. 3:5) when it comes to the Sabbath and doing what God has required of us.

 We should not do our ways on the Sabbath, but call it a delight, setting aside all of our own pleasures and doing what God wants—remembering that we should not speak our own words, but delight in the Lord and then God will give us great blessings (Isaiah 58:13-14).

 The Sabbath is a time of holiness that points us toward God; thus, we must not profane it, but we must find all opportunity to keep God in our minds all the Sabbath long—for in the 1,000 year Sabbath rest, we will all learn God’s ways. By keeping and doing God’s ways on the Sabbath, we then express our desires to have His “kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

 Therefore, remember that as Christians, we do not look to do our own will, but we rather do what God has desired of us for the Sabbath.


 

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