There must be a reform among God’s people in the observance of Sabbath-keeping.
The Holy Spirit must be allowed to convict us individually of our duty to God, not to man, in keeping His Sabbath. We must raise the standard of God high, exalting the Sabbath to its rightful position.
Ellen White wrote: “The Sabbath is a golden clasp that unites God and His people. But the Sabbath command has been broken. God’s holy day has been desecrated. The Sabbath has been torn from its place by the man of sin, and a common working day has been exalted in its stead. A breach has been made in the law, and this breach is to be repaired. The true Sabbath is to be exalted to its rightful position as God’s rest day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 351, 352.
“And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12.
We must, as a church, restore the waste places—restudy the things once taught us—making sure that we, and what we have been taught, are grounded in the faith once delivered to the saints.
Uplift the Standard
“The Sabbath question is to be the issue in the great final conflict in which all the world will act a part. Men have honored Satan’s principles above the principles that rule in the heavens. They have accepted the spurious sabbath, which Satan has exalted as the sign of his authority. But God has set His seal upon His royal requirement. Each sabbath institution bears the name of its author, an ineffaceable mark that shows the authority of each. It is our work to lead the people to understand this. We are to show them that it is of vital consequence whether they bear the mark of God’s kingdom or the mark of the kingdom of rebellion, for they acknowledge themselves subjects of the kingdom whose mark they bear. God has called us to uplift the standard of His downtrodden Sabbath. How important, then, that our example in Sabbath-keeping should be right.
“In establishing new churches, ministers should give careful instruction as to the proper observance of the Sabbath. We must be guarded, lest the lax practices that prevail among Sunday-keepers shall be followed by those who profess to observe God’s holy rest day. The line of demarcation is to be made clear and distinct between those who bear the mark of God’s kingdom and those who bear the sign of the kingdom of rebellion.
“Far more sacredness is attached to the Sabbath than is given it by many professed Sabbath-keepers. The Lord has been greatly dishonored by those who have not kept the Sabbath according to the commandment, either in the letter or in the spirit. He calls for a reform in the observance of the Sabbath.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 352, 353.
There must be a reform; we must begin it today! It is of vital importance that we, as God’s professed people, understand the true meaning of the Sabbath. Character perfection must be a steady movement toward reflecting Christ more fully and completely. If we stand still in faith, if we neglect the needful study—especially in this day and age—we will lose the light that has been given to us. But if we move forward, from victory on to victory, by faith, prayer, study and patience, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. (See John 16:13.) But a word of warning, let us not make the Sabbath a burden, as did the Pharisees.
“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 thine 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.
This is why it is important that we, as true and faithful Seventh-day Adventists, learn the necessity of Sabbath preparation—physically and spiritually.
“All through the week we are to have the Sabbath in mind and be making preparation to keep it according to the commandment. We are not merely to observe the Sabbath as a legal matter. We are to understand its spiritual bearing upon all the transactions of life. All who regard the Sabbath as a sign between them and God, showing that He is the God who sanctifies them, will represent the principles of His government. They will bring into daily practice the laws of His kingdom. Daily it will be their prayer that the sanctification of the Sabbath may rest upon them. Every day they will have the companionship of Christ and will exemplify the perfection of His character. Every day their light will shine forth to others in good works.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 353, 354. The Sabbath is not merely to be kept by the letter but by the spirit, willfully wanting to observe the Sabbath—a Sabbath that is not a burden.
“When the Sabbath is thus remembered, the temporal will not be allowed to encroach upon the spiritual. No duty pertaining to the six working days will be left for the Sabbath. During the week our energies will not be so exhausted in temporal labor that on the day when the Lord rested and was refreshed we shall be too weary to engage in His service.” Ibid., 354.
This is an important key point of which many of us have been guilty. How many times have we rushed throughout the week, working 10 to 15 hours a day, then when Sabbath comes we cannot stay awake for the Sabbath school and church service?
Preparation Begins at Home
“In all that pertains to the success of God’s work, the very first victories are to be won in the home life. Here the preparation for the Sabbath must begin. Throughout the week let parents remember that their home is to be a school in which their children shall be prepared for the courts above. Let their words be right words. No words which their children should not hear are to escape their lips. Let the spirit be kept free from irritation. Parents, during the week live as in the sight of a holy God, who has given you children to train for Him. Train for Him the little church in your home, that on the Sabbath all may be prepared to worship in the Lord’s sanctuary. Each morning and evening present your children to God as His blood-bought heritage. Teach them that it is their highest duty and privilege to love and serve God.
“Parents should be particular to make the worship of God an object lesson for their children. Passages of Scripture should be more often on their lips, especially those passages that prepare the heart for religious service. The precious words might well be often repeated: ‘My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.’ Psalm 62:5.” Ibid.
“Explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them help themselves and their parents in their preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment. Lead your children to consider the Sabbath a delight, the day of days, the holy of the Lord, honorable.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 293.
Daily morning and evening worship is very, very important for not only spending time with God, but for teaching our children the importance of reverence, not just in family worship but also in the Sabbath school and church services.
“While preparation for the Sabbath is to be made all through the week, Friday is to be the special preparation day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 354.
Let us look at an example from the Bible as to how we must prepare for the Sabbath. “And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which [is] between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, [and] when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare [that] which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:1–5. God instructed them to pick up and prepare their food daily, but on the sixth they were to pick up a double portion and prepare it also for the Sabbath.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord your God. And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness [there lay] a small round thing, [as] small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw [it], they said one to another, It [is] manna: for they wist not what it [was]. And Moses said unto them, This [is] the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This [is] the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, [according to] the number of your persons; take ye every man for [them] which [are] in his tents.” Verses 11–16.
“And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. And it came to pass, [that] on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one [man]: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 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. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day [is] a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, [which is] the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, [that] there went out [some] of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.” Verses 19–27.
“[And] the people went about, and gathered [it], and ground [it] in mills, or beat [it] in a mortar, and baked [it] in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” Numbers 11:8.
Preparation Includes . . .
“There was something to be done in preparing the heaven-sent bread for the children of Israel. The Lord told them that this work must be done on Friday, the preparation day. This was a test to them. God desired to see whether or not they would keep the Sabbath holy.
“This direction from the lips of Jehovah is for our instruction. The Bible is a perfect guide, and if its pages are prayerfully studied by hearts willing to understand, none need err upon this question.
“Many need instruction as to how they should appear in the assembly for worship on the Sabbath. They are not to enter the presence of God in the common clothing worn during the week. All should have a special Sabbath suit, to be worn when attending service in God’s house. While we should not conform to worldly fashions, we are not to be indifferent in regard to our outward appearance. We are to be neat and trim, though without adornment. The children of God should be pure within and without.
“On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment.
“We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.
Do not miss the Blessing
“The Sabbath should be as sacredly observed on the campground as it is in our homes. We should not let the bustle and excitement around us detract from its sacred dignity. No cooking should be done on that day. The instruction which God gave to Israel should not be disregarded: ‘Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe’: ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord’ [Exodus 16:23]. God meant what He said when He gave these directions, and shall we, who are presenting to the people the claims of the divine law, break that law ourselves, merely to please the appetite? God forbid. There has sometimes been almost as much cooking done on the Sabbath as on other days; and the blessing of God has been shut out by our failure to honor Him in keeping the Sabbath according to the commandment.—Undated Manuscript 88.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 293, 294.
“Speak not lightly of the restrictions placed upon Israel in Sinai regarding the cooking of manna. The Lord has placed barriers around His Sabbath, that it may not be regarded with the least carelessness or irreverence. When the Lord said, ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that which ye will seethe,’ He means that Friday shall be our preparation day, in which we are to do all our cooking.
“The Sabbath is not to be a day when tidbits shall be prepared or cooked. If it is really essential to have beans on the Sabbath, let them be cooked on Friday, and kept warm in the oven. They need not be eaten cold unless preferred. But let no remarks be made as though it is a very light thing whether we regard the special requirements of God in regard to the Sabbath or not. It is not left for any man or woman to venture to disregard any commandment of God—Manuscript 21, 1897.” Ibid., 294, 295.
The preparation of food on the Sabbath is breaking God’s precepts, and this is not to be lightly regarded by commandment-keepers.
“All needful preparation should be made beforehand. On Sabbath morning, if the weather is cool, let hot gruel, or something equally simple, be provided, and for dinner some kind of food may be warmed. Further than this, all cooking should be avoided as a violation of the Sabbath command.” The Gospel of Health, April 1, 1898.
Do we eat more on the Sabbath day than we normally do on the other days? Is this not wrong of us?
“We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. Overeating befogs the brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is confused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many have done more than they think to dishonor God.
“While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 357.
“I see no question in this matter as to what we shall have on the Sabbath day. The food which we have provided on the preparation day can be placed on the table warm, especially in cold weather. In traveling, persons eat cold lunches for days together, and realize no inconvenience or harm. We want palatable, healthful food every day of the week; but upon the Sabbath, let your cook have her day of rest, in the place of cooking for a family. Let every provision be made on Friday. But do not let the Sabbath be regarded as a day in which to get something especially gratifying to eat. Educate your children and every member of the family to enjoy plain, simple food, and to be ready to receive the blessing which the Lord of the Sabbath is waiting to bestow upon all who are in an attitude to receive it. He has this for every one who shows his love for God in keeping holy the Sabbath day, God’s great memorial of creation. Speak softly, walk softly. Let not a word of lightness or trifling come from your lips. This is God’s day. He has blessed the seventh day, as His Sabbath, to be sacredly observed.” Review and Herald, June 8, 1897.
Put Away Differences
Another special instruction has been given to us. All difference between brothers and sisters in the church of Christ, and even those not of our faith, should be put away. There should be a close examination of the heart of the past week, a confessing of sin before the Sabbath begins.
“There needs to be much more close investigation of the week past. Review it and see if, as a branch of the living Vine, you have drawn nourishment from the parent Vine to bear much fruit to the glory of God. If there has been feverish excitement, if hasty words have been spoken, if passion has been revealed, these have surely been the working on Satan’s side of the question. Clear the heart by confession. Sincerely make everything right before the Sabbath. Examine your own selves, whether ye be in the faith. We need to guard our own souls constantly, lest we make a great profession but, like the flourishing fig tree spreading its branches in pretentious foliage, reveal no precious fruit. Christ is hungering to see and receive fruit. Leaves of profession without fruit are to Christ just as worthless as those of the fig tree which He cursed. . . .” That I May Know Him, 147.
“There is another work that should receive attention on the preparation day. On this day all differences between brethren, whether in the family or in the church, should be put away. Let all bitterness and wrath and malice be expelled from the soul. In a humble spirit, ‘confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’ James 5:16.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.
“When difficulties arise among church-members, let them be cleared away before the Sabbath comes. This should be regarded as a Christian duty by every church-member. ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, and be ye thankful.’ Are you troubled and perplexed? Sweep away the rubbish that has been accumulating before the door of the heart, and open the door, inviting Jesus to come in and abide as an honored Guest. Bring peace and comfort into your own hearts and the hearts of others.” Australasian Union Conference Record, April 15, 1903.