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Manner of Observing the Sabbath


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?


“But the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God.” 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 during 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 itself can be kept, or observed, only upon the seventh day, for “the seventh day is the Sabbath.”


Who made the Sabbath day holy?


“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” 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 sanctification 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.” (See Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31.) ‘From evening to evening, you will celebrate the Sabbath.” Leviticus 23:32. 


Note – The reference in Leviticus is the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 23:27); however, a comparison with mark 1:32 shows that the same regulation was followed for the seventh-day Sabbath.

One advantage of keeping the Sabbath according to the Bible method of reckoning the day from sunset to sunset, rather than the Romans 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 marking the division of time into days.


Physical and Spiritual Rest


What labor is to be done through the week?  


“Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” Exodus 20:9.


Is any of this kind of work to be done on the Sabbath?


“On it you shall 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 Sabbath keeping?


If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing what you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going our own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” Isaiah 58: 13,14.


Note – As the Jews departed from God, and failed to make the righteousness 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 was a 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 that 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 hardhearted and cruel. It was the work of Christ to clear away these misconceptions. Although the rabbis followed him with merciless hostility, He did not appear to conform to their requirements, but went straight forward, keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God.


What is the character of God, and how only can He be truly worshiped?


God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24.


Note – This is one reason why the attempt to produce Sabbath keeping by human laws is altogether out of place. Such laws can never produce true Sabbath keeping, 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 it is God who sanctifies His people, or makes them holy. (See Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12.)


What does the psalm for “the Sabbath day” suggest as proper themes for Sabbath thought and action?


“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. For you made me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts!” Psalm 92:1-5.  


What do the works of God declare?


“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” Psalm 19:1-3.


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 was designed to keep the Creator constantly in mind. The proper keeping of it, therefore, must naturally tend to prevent idolatry, atheism, agnosticism, infidelity, irreligion, 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.


What evidence is there that the Sabbath was designed to be a day for public worship?  


“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:3.

What was Christ’s custom on the Sabbath day?


“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.” Luke 4:16.


What else did Jesus do on the Sabbath?


“Now the day on which Jesus had made mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.”

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. 


In what words did He justify acts of mercy on the Sabbath?


“He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:11,12.


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?


“It was Preparation Day [the sixth day or Friday] and the Sabbath was about to begin.”

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 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.

Don’t forget the Sabbath


Don’t forget the Sabbath,

The Lord our God hath blest,

Of all the week the brightest,

Of all the week the best;

It bring repose from labor,

It tells of joy divine,

It beams of light descending

With heavenly beauty shine.


Keep the Sabbath holy,

And worship Him today,

Who said to His disciples,

“I am the living way,”

And if we meekly follow

Our Savior here below,

He’ll give us of the fountain,

Whose streams eternal flow.


Day of sacred pleasure!

Its golden hours we’ll spend,

In thankful hymns to Jesus,

The children’s dearest Friend;

O gentle, loving Savior,

How good and kind Thou art,

How precious is Thy promise,

To dwell in every heart!

                      -Fanny J. Crosby.


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