The Sabbath, Part II

Now, passing from that [the idea of the Sabbath], why is it that this message, calling the attention of the world—for it is a world-wide message—to God as the Creator, through Christ, and turning men’s minds to worship him—why is it that it has come just at this time, and just at the close of the great controversy? From the very first, the purpose of Satan was to put himself in the place of Christ, and that was what started the rebellion in heaven, because Christ alone was exalted to an equality with the Father, though Satan stood in the next place; although he stood in the presence of God, so that the light and the glory of God shone upon him continually; although there enveloped him such a panoply of light as enveloped none others of the angels of God, yet he was not satisfied. He must needs be put in the place of Christ himself. So that feeling in his heart rankled till open rebellion came, and after every effort was made to save him, with forgiveness and restoration, just the same as we have to-day, everything being refused and the most persistent rebellion indulged in, he with his sympathizers was cast out of heaven, just as you and I will be shut out of heaven if we persist in rebelling against God.

And since that time, Satan has lost none of his purpose to put himself in the place of Christ, and as the only hope of salvation for a lost world was in Jesus Christ, it has been Satan’s effort from that time,—and is to-day,—to turn men’s minds away from Christ, to cover up the true character of Christ, to keep men from trusting in Christ, and to conceal his power to save. But there is no institution in all the world that so turns men’s minds toward Christ as the Sabbath, when the Sabbath is rightly understood. So Satan is ever at work to destroy and tear down that institution which above all others reminds the world of Jesus Christ, the Creator and the Redeemer. But, when he tried that, what consideration, do you suppose, led him to choose the first day of the week as the rival day?

Let me read two or three scriptures. The first scripture, Isaiah 14:12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground which didst weaken the nations?” The marginal reading is “day-star.” Lucifer means “light-bearer.” What was the first thing that was created? God said, “Let there be light, and there was light!” We read in John’s epistle, the first chapter and the fifth verse: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” So Christ said, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Satan’s position was that of the first angel next to Christ: upon him as upon none other except Christ, did the light show itself as he moved about clothed in a very panoply of light.

Well, can you not see that the nearest thing that Satan can get to be like God, is light? The very idea of light? God created the sun to be a light-bearer. He placed light in the sun to let it rule the day. The sun as being to us the source of light is the one created object that attracts every eye. Now, does it seem to you that Satan connected those ideas, and out of that idea of light and the glory of God manifested in light has made a counterfeit? He who fashioneth himself as an angel of light, turns men’s minds away from God, the source and the Creator of this light, to the light itself, and to himself—Satan—in that light. And that, really, when you get to it, is the very essence of the change,—that Satan might be exalted as the lightbearer, as the light of the world, instead of Christ.

Trace that idea all through heathendom. The sun has been worshiped in every nation and in every phase of worship, and it has always been of a degrading character. The worship of God is uplifting and elevating; the worship of Satan or of self or of anything except God, degrades, and when man is left to himself in the worship of anything else except God, he gets down to the very lowest depths of heathendom, no matter if intellectual light shines like the sun. You only have to read the first chapter of Romans to see that. Right at the time when intellectual light was at its height—at the time to which people look back now as a time of boasted civilization,—right then was heathen worship at its height, and men changed the image of God, the Creator, and worshiped the creature and they were degraded to the very depths by it.

It is evident that all these years there has been one deep laid plan, and that is the same as of old. Just as Satan made the effort to secure a following among the angels and did secure it, so his effort has been, and is, to secure a following among men, that they should turn to him and worship him instead of turning to God in Jesus Christ. Now the close of the great controversy is coming, and therefore we read: “The Sabbath question is the great testing question for this time.” Why? Because in the Sabbath question—in the Sabbath idea, is involved the whole question of whether we will turn to God and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, or whether we will give ourselves to Satan and yield to his control. The whole thing is right there.

So, therefore, there is but one test today, and that test is the Sabbath,—and no man in whom Jesus Christ does not dwell as a living Saviour can keep the Sabbath. Understand when I say that the Sabbath is the test, I do not mean that if a man drops his work at the beginning of that time and does not work any more until it is past, that that is keeping the Sabbath. No man who does not know Jesus Christ and has not had the experience of the new birth with Christ formed within, can keep the Sabbath. So the whole idea of the worship of God, of trust in God as our Creator, with his power pledged for our redemption, and of exalting Jesus Christ, is in the Sabbath question. The whole idea of whether now we turn to God for salvation, and for redemption, and for power, or whether we prefer to trust ourselves in the hands of Satan, lies in the Sabbath question. And he who truly keeps the Sabbath exalts Christ as it is impossible to do in any other way. Talk about the idea that Seventh-day Adventists do not believe in Christ! Talk about the idea that Seventh-day Adventists have left Christ and have gone back to some Jewish custom! Who is it that has left Jesus Christ? Everyone who turns his back on the Sabbath of God leaves Jesus Christ. It is impossible to exalt Jesus Christ to the place where he belongs as Creator, as Redeemer, as Saviour, and trample on him in violating the Sabbath. The two do not go together.

So now, at the time when men are to decide for eternity—because now is the time for decisions for eternity—comes this test. In whom are you trusting? In the power of God in Jesus Christ? or in the power of Satan manifested through his agents? . . . We have heard for years the statement, “Christ must be king” in our courts, in our cloisters, everywhere, Christ must he king; and he must come in by the gateway of politics. I want to tell you that in trying to exalt Jesus Christ in that way, Christ has been set aside and Satan put in his place. That is the simple fact of it. . . . Who has turned his back upon Jesus Christ? Who has dishonored God? . . .

Now let me read:—

“No greater contempt can be shown to the Creator than the contempt manifested for the day which he has sanctified and blessed.”

What follows? That is the greatest contempt that can be put upon God. We have been for years working up to this climax. . . . When that is done, what next? “It is time for thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law.” “Arise, O arm of the Lord! Put on strength.” It is time. . . . It is time for everyone who believes in God to exalt his day as never before. It is time for everyone who believes in God to find out what the Sabbath is,—to find out how the Sabbath can be kept, that he may truly honor God. Again I read:—

“And as Satan with his human agents pushes the warfare against God by leading man to trample on the Sabbath, the few who do honor God should be aroused to greater zeal and earnestness in his defense.”

There is just one more thought in connection with this subject that I would like to leave with you. We have taught in a certain way for years that the Sabbath is the seal of God. I have not time to go into the whole subject. When a seal is put upon anything, it leaves an imprint; it may be a monogram; it may be a figure; it makes no difference. We take a seal and drop the wax on the spot, and then while it is warm—notice that, while it is warm—the wax can be impressed while it is warm; but when it is cold, if you attempt to do it, you will smash it all to pieces—then while it is warm and yielding, ready to receive the imprint, the pressure is brought to bear upon it with the seal, and the seal being removed, there is the image which you wished to impress.

The Sabbath is the seal of God. What is the image that God wants to impress upon us? Why, the very purpose of all this time of probation has been that the image of God, as manifested in Jesus Christ when he was here, shall be received by us. And just as when Christ was here and walked the earth he was to the world an interpretation of the character of God, so everyone of his followers is to be a living epistle, known and read of all men, and is to show forth the excellencies, the praises, of him who has called him out of darkness into his marvelous light; and the Christian walking the earth now is to show forth the character of God as Christ did of old when on the earth. That is the image of God restored, and that image is to be restored in humanity, just as that image was in Christ when he was here in humanity; for what Christ was in his perfect humanity, that we must be.

But have we not found by this study that the Sabbath from every point of view brings out Christ? And the Sabbath being kept in its perfection must be because Christ is formed within. Then do you not see that the Sabbath is simply a sign, a mark, a measure of what Christ is to the soul? that Christ is the one that makes us holy, that sanctifies us, that blesses us, that refreshes us; that as he said: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” so our Sabbath is a Sabbath of rest in him? And then every step of the way;—at every turn you give to it, Christ stands out in the Sabbath everywhere. Then the Sabbath is the seal of God, because, when the Sabbath is accepted as the Sabbath of the true God, in the meaning that God intended it to be for us, and we really keep it that way, the image of God is being, and is, restored in the soul; so that when God looks upon his Sabbath-keeping children, who are indeed Sabbath-keepers, he sees in them the image of his own Son. Then he is ready to close the work, and say: “Let him that is holy, be holy still.”

We read in Matthew 3:17, when Christ was baptized, “Lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Let me read Dr. Young’s translation of that verse: “And lo a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I did delight.” Now keep that thought in mind—“In whom I did delight,” and let me read with it from Isaiah 42:1: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth.” That was a prophecy of Christ. When he came, the voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, my beloved, in whom my soul did delight.” Why did God delight in Christ? Because of his perfect harmony with him; because it was God in Christ, and Christ in God;—“As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.” This is the union he wants between us as brethren, and between us and him, and then God delights in us. Christ delighted to do the will of God, and God delighted in him, and when he came he gave him that evidence with that voice that spoke, “This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I did delight.”

Let me now read a very familiar scripture from Dr. Young’s translation. Isaiah 58:13:—

“If thou dost turn from the Sabbath thy foot, doing thine own pleasure on my holy day, and hast cried to the Sabbath, ‘A delight.’ ” When the Sabbath comes, just call to it, “A delight!” Why? Because he in whom the Father’s soul did delight is there. When the Sabbath comes, we say, “Welcome it! A delight! Glad it is here!” Why? Because the One in whom the Father delighted is there,—Christ in the Sabbath;—Christ the delight of the soul. “And has cried to the Sabbath, ‘A delight,’ to the Holy of Jehovah, ‘Honored.’ ” Notice, the Sabbath is the Holy of Jehovah, and he is the Holy One himself, and his Son, that Holy Child Jesus, and you cannot separate them.

When you really take the Sabbath as the Holy of Jehovah, you find God in Christ there, the Holy Saviour. And to the Holy of Jehovah we cry, “Honor, honor!” “Blessing and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne.” It is the same idea. It is to exalt Christ to the place where he belongs, and recognize him in the Sabbath as the “Delight,” as the “Holy One,” as the “Honored One.” Now we read that he received honor. 11 Peter 1:17: “For he received from God the Father honor and glory.” When this voice came, saying: “This is my Son, my beloved, in whom my soul did delight.” What are we to receive? 1 Peter 2:7: “Unto you, therefore, which believe, he is precious.” The margin says, “an honor,” which is the literal translation, making it read: “Unto you which believe, he is an honor.” We say to the holy of the Lord, “Honored!” When we say to the Holy of the Lord, “Honored,” he turns about to us and confers honor upon us, and he says to us, “Honored!” Why? Because we acknowledge the honor due to Jesus Christ in the Sabbath.

Remember that all exaltation to us comes through humility. Remember that the only genuine life that is worth having comes through death. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted; and because he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name.” Now we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt us in due time. As he raised him up to sit in heavenly places, so by the same power working in us, he is to raise us up to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. And all this comes from a knowledge of what the true Sabbath is, and by the proper keeping of the Sabbath. Exalt Jesus Christ. Lift him up. Exalt his day. Trust in him and his power as against every power, and all the power that the world knows. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” [Hebrews 13:5.]

Reprinted from Review and Herald Extra, Daily Bulletin of the General Conference, vol. 5, No. 9, February 11, 12, 1893, 219–225.

W. Prescott (1855–1944) served as president of four Seventh-day Adventist colleges as well as administrator and editor of the Review and Herald for seven years.