KEEPING HOLY WHAT GOD MADE HOLY
WHAT is first commanded in the Sabbath commandment?
"Remember the sabbath day." Exodus 20:8.
Which day is the Sabbath?
"The seventh day is the sabbath." Verse 10.
For what purpose are we to remember the Sabbath day?
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." Verse 8.
NOTE.—All through the week we are to "remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." This means that all our plans are to be laid and all our business adjusted with reference to the Sabbath, the object of which is to remind us that God is the creator of all things. This is just as essential to spiritual growth dur- ing the six working days as upon the Sabbath itself. We are to remember that day, also, that when it comes we may not be tempted by circumstances of our own creating to treat it, or any part of it, as secular, or common, time. Thus the Sabbath commandment is to be obeyed every day, though the Sabbath it- self can be kept, or observed, only upon the seventh day, for "the seventh day is the sabbath."
Who made the Sabbath day holy?
"Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Verse 11.
NOTE.—God made the Sabbath day holy; we are to keep it holy. What is it that makes a thing holy? God's presence in it. (See Exodus 3:5; 29:43-46; Joshua 5:13-15.)
To keep the Sabbath day holy, what must we recognize?
God's presence in the day, His blessing upon it, and His sanctifi- cation of it. When, according to the Bible, does the Sabbath begin? "And the evening and the morning were the first day." "And the evening and the morning were the second day," etc. (See Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31.) "From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath." Leviticus 23:32.
NOTE.—The evening begins "at the going down of the sun." (See Deu- teronomy 16:6; Mark 1:32; Deuteronomy 23:11; 1 Kings 22:35, 36; 2 Chron- icles 18:34.)
One advantage of keeping the Sabbath according to the Bible method of reckoning the day from sunset to sunset, rather than The Roman reckoning, from midnight to midnight, is that by the former, one is awake to welcome and to bid adieu to the day when it comes and goes, whereas by the latter, he is asleep when the day begins and ends. Sunset is a great natural sign for mark- ing the division of time into days.
PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL REST
What kind of labor is to be done through the week?
"Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work." Exodus 20:9.
Is any of this kind of work to be done on the Sabbath?
"In it thou shalt not do any work." Verse 10.
NOTE.—If the Sabbath is to be kept "holy," mere physical rest one day in seven cannot be the great object of the Sabbath institution.
How does the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, indicate what is true Sabbathkeeping?
"If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing Mine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Isaiah 58:13, 14.
Note.—"As the Jews departed from God, and failed to make the righteous- ness of Christ their own by faith, the Sabbath lost its significance to them. Satan was seeking to exalt himself and to draw men away from Christ, and he worked to pervert the Sabbath, because it is the sign of the power of Christ. The Jewish leaders accomplished the will of Satan by surrounding God's rest-day with burdensome requirements. In the days of Christ the Sabbath had become so perverted that its observance reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary men, rather than the character of the loving Heavenly Father. The rabbis virtually represented God as giving laws which it was impossible for men to obey. They led the people to look upon God as a tyrant, and to think that the observance of the Sabbath, as He required it, made men hard- hearted and cruel. It was the work of Christ to clear away these misconcep- tions. Although the rabbis followed Him with merciless hostility, He did not even appear to conform to their requirements, but went straight forward, keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God."—E. G. WHITE, The Desire of Ages, pp. 283, 284.
What is the character of God, and how only can He be truly worshiped?
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." John 4:24.
NOTE.—This is one reason why the attempt to produce Sabbathkeeping by human Sabbath laws is altogether out of place. Such laws can never produce true Sabbathkeeping, for that is spiritual, and must be of the mind and from the heart, and not perfunctory, mechanical, or of force. What is one thing of which the Sabbath is a sign? That He sanctifies His people, or makes them holy. (See' Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12; and page 413.)
What does the "psalm for the Sabbath day" suggest as proper themes for Sabbath thought and action?
"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, 0 most High: to shew forth Thy loving- kindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work: I will triumph in the works of Thy hands. 0 Lord, how great are Thy works! and Thy thoughts are very deep." Psalms 92:1-5.
What do the works of God declare?
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shew- eth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." Psalms 19:1-3. (See margin.)
NOTE.—God designed that the Sabbath should direct the minds of men to His created works, and through these to Him, the Creator. Nature itself speaks to our senses, telling us that there is a God, the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the universe. The Sabbath, ever pointing to God through nature, was designed to keep the Creator constantly in mind. The proper keeping of it, therefore, must naturally tend to prevent idolatry, atheism, agnosticism, infidelity, ir- religion, and irreverence; and, being promotive of the knowledge and fear of God, must of necessity be a deterrent to sin. In this may its value and importance be seen.
Was the Sabbath designed to be a day for public worship?
"Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation." Leviticus 23:3.
NOTE.—Convocation means "a calling together," a meeting. What example did Christ set in Sabbath observance? "And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read." Luke 4:16.
What else did Jesus do on the Sabbath?
"And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes." John 9:14.
NoTE.—A large share of Christ's ministry consisted of miracles and acts of mercy performed for the relief of suffering humanity; and not a few of these were done on the Sabbath. On this day, as on other days, He "went about doing good." See next reading.
In what words did He justify acts of mercy on the Sabbath?
"Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days." Matthew 12:12.
NOTE.—Not a little of Christ's earthly ministry was devoted to uplifting the Sabbath, and showing the beneficent character of the Sabbath institution. It was not meant to be a day of sorrow, austerity, or gloom. Disinterested works of love and mercy toward man or beast are always in place on the Sabbath. Lawful means "according to law."
PREPARING FOR THE SABBATH
What is the day on which to prepare for the Sabbath?
"And that day [the sixth day] was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on." Luke 23:54. (See also Exodus 16:22, 23.)
NoTE.—In order to keep the Sabbath day holy, it must be remembered all through the week; and on the sixth day, or the day just before the Sabbath, special preparation should be made to be ready to welcome and observe the day when it comes.
How did the Israelites in the wilderness on the sixth day prepare for the Sabbath?
"On the sixth day they gathered twice as much." Exodus 16:22.
NOTE.—The Sabbath should be the happiest day of all the week. "The Sabbath is not intended to be a period of useless inactivity. The law forbids secular labor on the rest-day of the Lord; the toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labor for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon that day; but as God ceased His labor of creating, and rested upon the Sabbath and blessed it, so man is to leave the occupations of his daily life, and devote those sacred hours to healthful rest, to worship, and to holy deeds."—E. G. WHITE, The Desire of Ages, p. 207.
The children can be taught the stories of creation and redemption, and taken out amid the handiworks of God to commune with Him through nature. Preparation for the Sabbath, therefore, is essential to its proper observance.
In making the Sabbath, God rested upon, blessed, and sanctified the day. (Exodus 20:11.) Whoever, then, keeps the Sabbath aright, may expect that there will come into his life God's rest, blessing, and sanctification.
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