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The Sabbath - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know



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Chapter 13

The Sabbath Blessing

Our Lord Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27). It is clear from God's word that He intended the seventh day to be a blessing. Our Maker knew very well that we needed a special time set apart on which to contemplate His love, holiness, and power as revealed in all His created works. In Eden, before sin, there was little need for physical rest.

Since man had been made in the image of God, with a high degree of intelligence, we can see that human beings were created to be social creatures. God intended that there should be joyful fellowship among these new humans.

The Scriptures show that God Himself planned to enjoy a special fellowship with the new magnificent creatures which He had made in His own image. We can also see that God made the Sabbath to be a high point in carrying out this purpose. And even after the fall of Adam and Eve, and the consequent loss of man's face to face communion with His Maker, the Sabbath was still to be the one great sign of a continuing fellowship between man and God.

The Sabbath was a sign of God's creative power before sin came; it became a sign also of God's saving power after sin came. This is made clear in Exodus 31:13,17 and in Ezekiel 20:12, 20. The power that created man in the first place is the same power that re-creates him. It is God's power that brings about the "new birth" of the Christian.

In this chapter we are concerned with getting the blessing that God has provided for those who "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." He has given specific principles to guide us as we try to observe His holy day properly. They are summarized in Isaiah 58:13,14:

If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure, on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord: And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

This passage makes it clear that on God's holy day He expects us to lay aside our ordinary secular pursuits, such as earning a living, doing business, enjoying sports, and the secular portions of our papers, radio, TV and even the similar parts of our conversation. Reading Exodus 34:21 we learn that Sabbath keeping should not depend on convenience or good weather: Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and harvest you shall rest.

It is interesting to notice that in the Bible any one day is held to consist of the night time and then the day time, with the dark part coming before the light part. At the close of each day during the week of creation the record says, "the evening and the morning were the ____ day" (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). And the Lord directed that the holy hours of the day of Atonement, which was one of the yearly sabbaths, should begin in the evening: It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your Sabbath (Leviticus 23:32).

Another evidence as to when the day begins and ends, according to the Bible reckoning, is found in Mark 1:32,33, where the reference is to the closing of the weekly Sabbath day. The people of Capernaum waited until the Sabbath was past before bringing their sick folk to be healed. They did not yet realize that it was lawful to do good by healing on the Sabbath: At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed, And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many.

Since we learn from these Bible references that the holy hours of the Sabbath really begin at sunset, we keep the Sabbath from sunset Friday night to sunset Saturday night. It is reassuring to know that the Jews of today who still observe the Sabbath do keep it from sunset to sunset. Some may ask, "But what is there to do on the Sabbath?" Be assured, there is an abundance of activities which we can enjoy doing on the Sabbath which will certainly carry the Lord's blessing. First, we can attend church. And we have Christ's own custom as an example for this in Luke 4:16: So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

We can enjoy fellowship with other Christians. A few thoughtful moments will convince you that fellowship is one of the greatest blessings that our salvation brings.

Notice John's words on this point:

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:6,7).

Just imagine what fellowship we will enjoy for eternity in the new earth with our Lord, and all the redeemed host. Let's enjoy this fellowship now, and especially on each Sabbath, as we attend worship services and other church functions. And in this way we will be obeying the Bible admonition:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

On the Sabbath day it is most appropriate to spend some of the holy time in prayer and the study of the Bible. We can never exhaust the blessings that come to us as we pray for help to represent Jesus to those around us. Nor can we ever exhaust the riches to be found as we dig for treasure in the mines of God's word. We can visit the sick, read to them and pray for them. Jesus gave us an example by healing the sick on the Sabbath. We can take them a special treat to eat, book to read, or scrap book to enjoy. Such a visit will give us an even greater blessing than it brings to the one we try to help. And this is an excellent day on which to give special attention to the older folk and shut-ins. People need the Lord. What better way to spend the Sabbath than to represent the Lord to those around us who need Him? It is very important, of course, that we remember that the seventh day is the memorial of God's great power in creating the world and all its creatures. It is fitting therefore, that we spend some of the holy hours contemplating the wonders of the natural world around us. The animals and birds, the trees and flowers, the fields and streams, the sun and moon, the clouds and rain, the grass and dew--all nature invites our close study. Such study brings a deeper assurance that God is love.

We can see that true Sabbath keeping will give us not only rest from the labor of the past week, but a spiritual knowledge and comfort to help us enjoy the week to follow. God will surely bless you as you "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy".

 McDonald Road SDA Church


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