The Sabbath in the New Testament

Christian Character (3)

June 25 – July 1, 2023

Key Text

“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’ ” Mark 2:27, 28

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 281–289


“Jesus had come to ‘magnify the law, and make it honorable.’ He was not to lessen its dignity, but to exalt it. … He had come to free the Sabbath from those burdensome requirements that had made it a curse instead of a blessing.” The Desire of Ages, 206



1.a. How did Christ define His mission regarding God’s law? Matthew 5:17–20

Note: “It is the Creator of men, the Giver of the law, who declares that it is not His purpose to set aside its precepts. Everything in nature, from the mote in the sunbeam to the worlds on high, is under law. And upon obedience to these laws the order and harmony of the natural world depend. So there are great principles of righteousness to control the life of all intelligent beings, and upon conformity to these principles the well-being of the universe depends. Before this earth was called into being, God’s law existed. Angels are governed by its principles, and in order for earth to be in harmony with heaven, man also must obey the divine statutes. To man in Eden Christ made known the precepts of the law. … The mission of Christ on earth was not to destroy the law, but by His grace to bring man back to obedience to its precepts.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 48

1.b.        How did John, the beloved disciple, define sin? 1 John 3:4

Note: “The beloved disciple, who listened to the words of Jesus on the mount, writing long afterward under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, speaks of the law as of perpetual obligation. … He makes it plain that the law to which he refers is ‘an old commandment which ye had from the beginning.’ 1 John 2:7. He is speaking of the law that existed at the creation and was reiterated upon Mount Sinai.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 48



2.a. How did Christ identify Himself regarding the Sabbath? Luke 6:1–5

Note: “Upon one Sabbath day, as the Saviour and His disciples returned from the place of worship, they passed through a field of ripening grain. Jesus had continued His work to a late hour, and while passing through the fields, the disciples began to gather the heads of grain, and to eat the kernels after rubbing them in their hands. On any other day this act would have excited no comment, for one passing through a field of grain, an orchard, or a vineyard, was at liberty to gather what he desired to eat. See Deuteronomy 23:24, 25. But to do this on the Sabbath was held to be an act of desecration. Not only was the gathering of the grain a kind of reaping, but the rubbing of it in the hands was a kind of threshing. Thus, in the opinion of the rabbis, there was a double offense. …

“The Jewish teachers prided themselves on their knowledge of the Scriptures, and in the Saviour’s answer there was an implied rebuke for their ignorance of the Sacred Writings. ‘Have ye not read so much as this,’ He said, ‘what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?’ ‘And He said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ ‘Have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.’ ‘The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.’ Luke 6:3, 4; Mark 2:27, 28; Matthew 12:5, 6.” The Desire of Ages, 284, 285

2.b.        What was Jesus’ custom on the Sabbath? Luke 4:16

Note: “During His childhood and youth, Jesus had worshiped among His brethren in the synagogue at Nazareth. Since the opening of His ministry He had been absent from them, but they had not been ignorant of what had befallen Him. As He again appeared among them, their interest and expectation were excited to the highest pitch. Here were the familiar forms and faces of those whom He had known from infancy. Here were His mother, His brothers and sisters, and all eyes were turned upon Him as He entered the synagogue upon the Sabbath day, and took His place among the worshipers.” The Desire of Ages, 236



3.a. Besides worshiping on the Sabbath, what else did Christ do on that day? Luke 6:6–10

Note: “Upon another Sabbath, as Jesus entered a synagogue, He saw there a man who had a withered hand. The Pharisees watched Him, eager to see what He would do. The Saviour well knew that in healing on the Sabbath He would be regarded as a transgressor, but He did not hesitate to break down the wall of traditional requirements that barricaded the Sabbath. Jesus bade the afflicted man stand forth, and then asked, ‘Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?’ It was a maxim among the Jews that a failure to do good, when one had opportunity, was to do evil; to neglect to save life was to kill. Thus Jesus met the rabbis on their own ground. ‘But they held their peace. And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.’ Mark 3:4, 5.” The Desire of Ages, 286

3.b.        What purpose did Christ have in mind by healing on the Sabbath? Luke 14:1–5

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 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 misconceptions. 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.” The Desire of Ages, 283, 284



4.a. How did Christ spend the Sabbath after the crucifixion? Luke 23:44–47. What did the disciples do on that Sabbath? Luke 23:53–56

Note: “At last Jesus was at rest. The long day of shame and torture was ended. As the last rays of the setting sun ushered in the Sabbath, the Son of God lay in quietude in Joseph’s tomb. His work completed, His hands folded in peace, He rested through the sacred hours of the Sabbath day.

“In the beginning, the Father and the Son had rested upon the Sabbath after Their work of creation. When ‘the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them’ (Genesis 2:1), the Creator and all heavenly beings rejoiced in contemplation of the glorious scene. ‘The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’ Job 38:7. Now Jesus rested from the work of redemption; and though there was grief among those who loved Him on earth, yet there was joy in heaven. Glorious to the eyes of heavenly beings was the promise of the future. A restored creation, a redeemed race, that having conquered sin could never fall—this, the result to flow from Christ’s completed work, God and angels saw. With this scene the day upon which Jesus rested is forever linked. For ‘His work is perfect;’ and ‘whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever.’ Deuteronomy 32:4; Ecclesiastes 3:14. When there shall be a ‘restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began’ (Acts 3:21), the creation Sabbath, the day on which Jesus lay at rest in Joseph’s tomb, will still be a day of rest and rejoicing. Heaven and earth will unite in praise, as ‘from one Sabbath to another’ (Isaiah 66:23) the nations of the saved shall bow in joyful worship to God and the Lamb.” The Desire of Ages, 769, 770

4.b.        What is the meaning of the Sabbath for God’s people? Matthew 11:28–30; Hebrews 4:1–4, 9–11

Note: “To all who receive the Sabbath as a sign of Christ’s creative and redeeming power, it will be a delight. Seeing Christ in it, they delight themselves in Him. The Sabbath points them to the works of creation as an evidence of His mighty power in redemption.” The Desire of Ages, 289



5.a. How can we receive the promised rest? John 16:13; Hebrews 3:7, 8; Jeremiah 6:16

Note: “ ‘There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. … Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.’ Hebrews 4:9, 11. The rest here spoken of is the rest of grace, obtained by following the prescription, Labor diligently. Those who learn of Jesus His meekness and lowliness find rest in the experience of practicing His lessons. It is not in indolence, in selfish ease and pleasure-seeking, that rest is obtained. Those who are unwilling to give the Lord faithful, earnest, loving service will not find spiritual rest in this life or in the life to come. Only from earnest labor comes peace and joy in the Holy Spirit—happiness on earth and glory hereafter.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, 928

5.b.        How will the redeemed spend the Sabbath in the earth made new? Isaiah 66:23

Note: “The Sabbath was not for Israel merely, but for the world. It had been made known to man in Eden, and, like the other precepts of the Decalogue, it is of imperishable obligation. Of that law of which the fourth commandment forms a part, Christ declares, ‘Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law.’ So long as the heavens and the earth endure, the Sabbath will continue as a sign of the Creator’s power. And when Eden shall bloom on earth again, God’s holy rest day will be honored by all beneath the sun. ‘From one Sabbath to another’ the inhabitants of the glorified new earth shall go up ‘to worship before Me, saith the Lord.’ Matthew 5:18; Isaiah 66:23.” The Desire of Ages, 283



1    How did Christ exalt God’s law?

2    What works, performed by Christ, were in full harmony with Sabbathkeeping?

3    Why did the Pharisees strongly oppose Christ’s humanitarian works on the Sabbath?

4    Describe Christ’s rest on the Sabbath.

5    How can I best prepare to worship the Lord in the new earth?

Copyright 2005, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study – The Sabbath

June 18 – 24, 2023

Key Text

“Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. … Hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:12, 20

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 201–213


“Like the Sabbath, the week originated at creation, and it has been preserved and brought down to us through Bible history. God Himself measured off the first week as a sample for successive weeks to the close of time. Like every other, it consisted of seven literal days. Six days were employed in the work of creation; upon the seventh, God rested, and He then blessed this day, and set it apart as a day of rest for man.” Christian Education, 190



1.a. What did the Creator do on the seventh day? Genesis 2:2

Note: “The weekly cycle of seven literal days, six for labor, and the seventh for rest, which has been preserved and brought down through Bible history, originated in the great facts of the first seven days.” Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 3, 90

“He rested, not as one weary, but as well pleased with the fruits of His wisdom and goodness and the manifestations of His glory.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 47

1.b.        Besides resting on the seventh day, what else did the Lord do? Genesis 2:3

Note: “After resting upon the seventh day, God sanctified it, or set it apart, as a day of rest for man. Following the example of the Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that as he should look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God’s great work of creation.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 47



2.a. Before giving the ten commandments at Sinai, what specific instructions did the Lord give to His people? Exodus 16:22–30

Note: “God requires that His holy day be as sacredly observed now as in the time of Israel. The command given to the Hebrews should be regarded by all Christians as an injunction from Jehovah to them. The day before the Sabbath should be made a day of preparation, that everything may be in readiness for its sacred hours. In no case should our own business be allowed to encroach upon holy time. God has directed that the sick and suffering be cared for; the labor required to make them comfortable is a work of mercy, and no violation of the Sabbath; but all unnecessary work should be avoided. Many carelessly put off till the beginning of the Sabbath little things that might have been done on the day of preparation. This should not be. Work that is neglected until the beginning of the Sabbath should remain undone until it is past. This course might help the memory of these thoughtless ones, and make them careful to do their own work on the six working days.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 296

2.b. What miracles did the Lord perform in connection with Sabbath observance? Exodus 16:16–27

Note: “Every week during their long sojourn in the wilderness the Israelites witnessed a threefold miracle, designed to impress their minds with the sacredness of the Sabbath: a double quantity of manna fell on the sixth day, none on the seventh, and the portion needed for the Sabbath was preserved sweet and pure, when if any were kept over at any other time it became unfit for use.

“In the circumstances connected with the giving of the manna, we have conclusive evidence that the Sabbath was not instituted, as many claim, when the law was given at Sinai. Before the Israelites came to Sinai they understood the Sabbath to be obligatory upon them. In being obliged to gather every Friday a double portion of manna in preparation for the Sabbath, when none would fall, the sacred nature of the day of rest was continually impressed upon them. And when some of the people went out on the Sabbath to gather manna, the Lord asked, ‘How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 296, 297 [Author’s emphasis.]



3.a. In reference to God’s example at the end of creation, what does He require of His people? Exodus 20:8–11

Note: “God saw that a Sabbath was essential for man, even in Paradise. He needed to lay aside his own interests and pursuits for one day of the seven, that he might more fully contemplate the works of God and meditate upon His power and goodness. He needed a Sabbath to remind him more vividly of God and to awaken gratitude because all that he enjoyed and possessed came from the beneficent hand of the Creator.

“God designs that the Sabbath shall direct the minds of men to the contemplation of His created works. Nature speaks to their senses, declaring that there is a living God, the Creator, the Supreme Ruler of all. … The beauty that clothes the earth is a token of God’s love. We may behold it in the everlasting hills, in the lofty trees, in the opening buds and the delicate flowers. All speak to us of God. The Sabbath, ever pointing to Him who made them all, bids men open the great book of nature and trace therein the wisdom, the power, and the love of the Creator.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 48

3.b.        What is included in the fourth commandment? Isaiah 58:13, 14

Note: “All who keep the seventh day signify by this act that they are worshipers of Jehovah. Thus the Sabbath is the sign of man’s allegiance to God as long as there are any upon the earth to serve Him. The fourth commandment is the only one of all the ten in which are found both the name and the title of the Lawgiver. It is the only one that shows by whose authority the law is given. Thus it contains the seal of God, affixed to His law as evidence of its authenticity and binding force.

“God has given men six days wherein to labor, and He requires that their own work be done in the six working days. Acts of necessity and mercy are permitted on the Sabbath, the sick and suffering are at all times to be cared for; but unnecessary labor is to be strictly avoided. … Those who discuss business matters or lay plans on the Sabbath are regarded by God as though engaged in the actual transaction of business. To keep the Sabbath holy, we should not even allow our minds to dwell upon things of a worldly character.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 307



4.a. What is the relation between creation and the Sabbath? Exodus 31:13–17

Note: “God’s memorial, the seventh-day Sabbath, the sign of His work in creating the world, has been displaced by the man of sin. God’s people have a special work to do in repairing the breach that has been made in His law; and the nearer we approach the end, the more urgent this work becomes. All who love God will show that they bear His sign by keeping His commandments. They are the restorers of paths to dwell in. … Genuine medical missionary work is bound up inseparably with the keeping of God’s commandments, of which the Sabbath is especially mentioned, since it is the great memorial of God’s creative work. Its observance is bound up with the work of restoring the moral image of God in man. This is the ministry which God’s people are to carry forward at this time. This ministry, rightly performed, will bring rich blessings to the church.” Testimonies, Vol. 6, 265, 266

4.b. How does sanctification relate to the Sabbath? Ezekiel 20:12, 20

Note: “The Sabbath given to the world as the sign of God as the Creator is also the sign of Him as the Sanctifier. The power that created all things is the power that re-creates the soul in His own likeness. To those who keep holy the Sabbath day it is the sign of sanctification. True sanctification is harmony with God, oneness with Him in character. It is received through obedience to those principles that are the transcript of His character. And the Sabbath is the sign of obedience. He who from the heart obeys the fourth commandment will obey the whole law. He is sanctified through obedience.

“To us as to Israel the Sabbath is given ‘for a perpetual covenant.’ To those who reverence His holy day the Sabbath is a sign that God recognizes them as His chosen people. It is a pledge that He will fulfill to them His covenant. Every soul who accepts the sign of God’s government places himself under the divine, everlasting covenant. He fastens himself to the golden chain of obedience, every link of which is a promise.

“The fourth commandment alone of all the ten contains the seal of the great Lawgiver, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Those who obey this commandment take upon themselves His name, and all the blessings it involves are theirs. ” Testimonies, Vol. 6, 350



5.a. What reforms were needed before and after the captivity of Israel and Judah? Jeremiah 17:19–27; Nehemiah 13:15–22

5.b. What reformation is needed today? Isaiah 56:1–8

Note: “Far more sacredness is attached to the Sabbath than is given it by many professed Sabbathkeepers. 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.

“At the very beginning of the fourth commandment the Lord said: ‘Remember.’ He knew that amid the multitude of cares and perplexities man would be tempted to excuse himself from meeting the full requirement of the law, or would forget its sacred importance. Therefore He said: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ Exodus 20:8.

“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



1    What did the Lord do on the first Sabbath?

2    Describe the miracles related to the Sabbath in the wilderness.

3    What is the main purpose of the Sabbath?

4    How can we sanctify the Sabbath?

5    What must be included in our preparation for the Sabbath?

Copyright 2005, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Testimony – Ignorant? Not So Fast.

If you are over 20 years old, you know the dynamics of the twenties. You’re young, curious, full of energy, ready to discover and travel the world. I was no different. I grew up in a certain cultural and religious environment, teaching me certain truths, morals, and values. As most 20-year-olds, I questioned them and was eager to find out better for myself and come to my own conclusions. I wanted to discover the whole world, travel to Asia, Africa, etc. I made sure my travel dreams came true. When traveling to the eastern hemisphere, I quickly discovered that not all the values I was taught are universal. At the same time, I noticed hints of biblical stories that proved to be universal in countries such as Thailand, Laos, Malaysia—such as the depiction of the Flood on a Buddhist temple, stories of Jesus in the far non-Christian world, and traces of the pre-Christian Sabbath.

The Sabbath/Sunday issue was of particular interest to me. I was on a quest to get to the bottom of the origins of the Sabbath, and I dived deeply into the stories of the Bible. A fascinating ancient world unfolded in front of me. The more I read—whether the Bible, historical documents, or secular materials—the clearer the confirmation of the Sabbath history became. The Sabbath has been here since the beginning of time as a memorial of creation. Moreover, it has never been changed by any divine authority.

The evidence, whether biblical or recorded by secular historians, was overwhelming. If this is the case, why then is it that only a tiny fraction of Christianity observes it? How do Christians today explain it away if their own literature confirms the seventh day of the week as the eternal day of worship? I made friends with clergy from various denominations and asked. I took Bible studies in a Lutheran youth group, then studied the entire pre-baptismal courses with Jehovah Witnesses and the Church of Latter-day Saints. Those were easy to access. Other denominations didn’t even have any structured courses. When I asked about the fourth commandment, it was always swept under the carpet.

No Protestant denomination had clear-cut answers. The reality of the true Sabbath can’t be denied, so the next step would be to explain it away. Or outright declare that it’s not important. We are talking about the decalogue here, one of the Biblical ten commandments. Not important? I was hoping for better answers.

Perhaps the most honest Christians on this issue are the Roman Catholics. They do not try to hide the truth. One well-educated clergyman explained to me that while I am reading the Sabbath truth from the Bible correctly, the Roman Catholic Church has the power—given by heaven itself—to alter any Biblical doctrine. In addition to the Bible, the Catholic Church has one more pillar of faith—church tradition. This church tradition, sanctioned by God Himself, has the power to overwrite the Bible. So claims the Roman Church. Flabbergasting!

As a young person, full of ideals and a strong sense of justice, I was disappointed with the answers given by both Catholic and Protestant clergy. The inevitable conclusion was that the clergy members will have to answer to God’s court of justice at the final day of our earth’s history.

I felt sorry for the regular church members who will never do the research themselves. Or even if they do, will accept their clergy’s word as final. While people in all denominations revere the Bible, by and large, they don’t read it. Most people just don’t know, and it’s not up to me to decide how God will judge ignorance.

Soon thereafter, I was about to pass through a fire—one of the most profound experiences of my life that challenged some of my assumptions about the people in the pews. I signed up for a summer colporteur program, which helped me work my way through school. This job is a door-to-door sale of Christian books. The student will learn sales techniques, but also will talk to people about spiritual subjects. Some of the conversations stayed hammered in my mind forever. People asked me for prayers, we prayed on their front porches. The most powerful experiences are portrayed in the following stories. I have lived through this same experience several times:

The Baptist Couple

In a middle-class neighborhood of a suburban town in the midwestern United States, I knocked on the door of a beautiful home with a nicely manicured lawn. A man opened the door, greeting me with a smile. I explained the reason for my visit and shared with him the books I had to offer. He called his wife and together they chose several books. They shared with me that they attended their local Baptist church. A wealthy church, they proudly added. They were quite knowledgeable about the Bible and we had a very nice conversation. Since they knew so much, I added a bonus to their order and gifted them the book The National Sunday Law by Jan Marcussen.

I didn’t share this book with every household. But here, I just felt impressed to give them one. Moreover, we connected very quickly and became friends. They thanked and invited me for lunch the next Sunday.

I knocked on the door next Sunday. The man opened the door. He didn’t say hello or any other greeting. Instead, he exclaimed: “I know we go to church on the wrong day,” and invited me in. I didn’t expect this statement to come out of his mouth. So I asked: “Really? What does your wife think about it?” She stood right behind him and also exclaimed: “I always knew the Adventists are right on this one.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

We shared a lunch together and briefly touched on their Sabbath knowledge again. They explained it in these words: “While we know that we go to church on the wrong day, it doesn’t mean we’ll switch denominations. We’re comfortable in our church, we have lots of friends and family there. At the end, it doesn’t really matter on which day we worship.” This time I didn’t say anything. They know the truth, but think it’s not important. I’m not the judge.

I have gone through similar experiences and conversations many times. Bible students acknowledge the facts, yet they choose to do otherwise.

I had talked to people from various denominations, thinking their lack of knowledge is to blame for not keeping God’s law, but I stood corrected. There are many people who are not ignorant. They know the truth, they just choose to ignore it.

I state again that the above experience with the lovely Baptist couple wasn’t an isolated one. I recall many more. The following one was one of the first ones in my teenage years:

The Lutheran Lady

I lived in a small town with my family. One of our neighbors was a lovely, retired lady. Her husband had already passed away and gradually her health didn’t allow her to do her own grocery shopping. I offered to help. She’d give me her list of items to purchase and I gladly did the shopping and delivered it to her house.

She always invited me in. I unloaded the bags on the table, she paid the bill, and each time offered some homemade goodies. As I entered her kitchen, I noticed on several occasions that she listened to audio recordings of Christian sermons. In those recordings, I quickly recognized the voice of a famous Adventist evangelist. I asked the lady where she got the audio tapes. It was in the days before CDs and internet downloads.

She proudly shared the story that she attended evangelistic meetings with her husband some years prior and this evangelist was the presenter. Back in those days, such meetings didn’t last a weekend. They lasted several weeks! She and her husband made sure that they purchased the recordings of every single night, so they could listen to them later at home. It was quite a library, over 30 tapes!

She related to me that her husband believed everything that was presented on those audio tapes. I checked the tapes and naturally, several of them covered the Sabbath subject. I also knew that her husband died as a good Lutheran.

This lady herself would never set her foot in the Adventist church. She lived in a staunch Lutheran area and her Lutheran family and neighbors would have disapproved. Some years later, this lady also passed away as a good Lutheran.

The above stories beg the question: If I learned a truth of which I am absolutely convicted, would I leave my own denomination and follow my conscience? The reality is that most people would not, which portrays the following experience:

The Exception

I was sitting in an Adventist church, listening to the testimony of a young couple who had left their Sunday-keeping denomination because they no longer could ignore the voice of their conscience on the Sabbath. They had searched for a Sabbath-keeping congregation and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

They shared that this step was very hard. Their prior church was so much better in all aspects. There was more fun, all their family and friends were there, the music was better, so many activities to choose from, etc. Their newly found Adventist congregation was half dead, but they made the transition anyway and slowly found new friends.

After sharing their story, an open forum for questions followed. At that point, one Adventist church member stood up and expressed his admiration for the couple. He furthermore stated: “I’d never do what you did. You left your family and friends behind. You should have stayed in your prior church. Here we can’t offer as much.” Many others in the congregation nodded in agreement.

Really? We can’t offer as much? No other denomination has such deep wells of knowledge. The reality that we are viewed as non-inclusive and overly proud of our exceptionalism is only our problem. When thousands will knock on our door one day, will we turn them away? May God have mercy on us. I tremble when I think of that day. Get ready now!

Blessed and Sanctified Sabbath

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it … .” Genesis 2:1–3, first part

“God looked with satisfaction upon the work of His hands. All was perfect, worthy of its divine Author, and He rested … .

“After resting upon the seventh day, God sanctified it, or set it apart, as a day of rest for humankind. …

“God designs that the Sabbath shall direct the minds of all people to the contemplation of His created works. Nature speaks to their senses, declaring that there is a living God, the Creator, the Supreme Ruler of all. … The beauty that clothes the earth is a token of God’s love. We may behold it in the everlasting hills, in the lofty trees, in the opening buds and the delicate flowers. All speak to us of God. The Sabbath, ever pointing to Him who made them all, bids men and women open the great book of nature and trace therein the wisdom, the power, and the love of the Creator.” To Be Like Jesus, 134

“Following the example of the Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that as he should look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God’s great work of creation; and that as he should behold the evidences of God’s wisdom and goodness, his heart might be filled with love and reverence for his Maker. …

“God saw that a Sabbath was essential for man … that he might more fully contemplate the works of God, and meditate upon His power and goodness. He needed a Sabbath, to remind him more vividly of God, and to awaken gratitude because all that he enjoyed and possessed came from the beneficent hand of the Creator.

“When the foundations of the earth were laid … then was laid the foundation of the Sabbath. Well may this institution demand our reverence: it was ordained by no human authority, and rests upon no human traditions; it was established by the Ancient of days, and commanded by His eternal word.” The Faith I Live By, 31

Our relationship with God must be a 24/7/365 relationship, but on the Sabbath, above the other six days, God means for us to empty our hearts and minds of the needs and cares of our worldly life to spend this 24 hours with Him alone. The Sabbath is a continual sign of His love and mercy, and as we rest from our labors, we give evidence of our obedience to His law.

It is during the Sabbath hours, that we are spiritually refreshed and invigorated. It is on this day that we are told to gather in His house and join with our brothers and sisters in Christ in praise and thankfulness, glorifying Him who in the beginning created us and now preserves us until His coming. The Sabbath is God’s sign and pledge that He can and will sanctify all who surrender themselves to Him as His chosen and peculiar people. And as we keep the Sabbath holy, we display to all the earth that we are His people. (See The Review and Herald, October 28, 1902)

Catholic & Protestant Confessions about the Sabbath

“The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word ‘remember’, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?”

D.L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting (Fleming H. Revell Co.: New York), 47, 48


“There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week. … Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament—absolutely not.

To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years’ intercourse with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the Sabbath question … never alluded to any transference of the day; also, that during forty days of His resurrection life, no such thing was intimated.

Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history … . But what a pity it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!

Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, a paper read before a New York ministers’ conference, November 13, 1893, reported in the New York Examiner, November 16, 1893


“But,’ say some, ‘it was changed from the seventh to the first day.’ Where? When? And by whom? No man can tell. No; it never was changed, nor could it be, unless creation was to be gone through again: for the reason assigned must be changed before the observance, or respect to the reason, can it be changed! It is all old wives’ fables to talk of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day. If it be changed, it was that august personage changed it who changes times and laws ex officio—I think his name is Doctor Antichrist.

Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, February 2, 1824, Vol. 1, No. 7, 164


“But, the moral law contained in the ten commandments, and enforced by the prophets, He (Christ) did not take away. It was not the design of His coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken. … Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind, and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of God and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other.

John Wesley, The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, AM., ed. (New York: Eaton & Mains), Sermon 25, Vol. 1, 221


“The Sabbath is a part of the Decalogue—the ten commandments. This alone forever settles the question as to the perpetuity of the institution. … Until, therefore, it can be shown that the whole moral law has been repealed, the Sabbath will stand. … The teaching of Christ confirms the perpetuity of the Sabbath.

T.C. Blake. D.D., Theology Condensed, 474, 475


“For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the [Roman Catholic] church outside the Bible.”

Catholic Virginian, October 3, 1947, 9, article “To Tell You the Truth.”


“Q: Which is the Sabbath day?

A: Saturday is the Sabbath day?

Q: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?

A: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”

The Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (1957), 50


“The Christian Sabbath [Sunday] is not in the Scriptures, and was not by the primitive Church called the Sabbath.”

Timothy Dwight, Theology: Explained and Defended (1823), Sermon 107, Vol. 3, 258


“Reason and sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday, or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible.”

John Cardinal Gibbons, The Catholic Mirror, December 23, 1893


“Sunday is a Catholic institution, and… can be defended only on Catholic principles… From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.

Catholic Press, August 25, 1900


These quotations come from the pamphlet entitled Roman Catholic and Protestant Confessions about Sunday. This pamphlet and other materials regarding the Sabbath can be purchased from:

The Bible Sabbath Association
HC 60 Box 8
Fairview, OK 73737

Also available from the Steps to Life bookstore is the booklet Remember the Sabbath Day, written by Marshall Grosboll, which provides a thorough history of the Sabbath.

Question – How can I tell my family and friends about the Sabbath?


How can I tell my family and friends about the Sabbath, if they don’t want to hear?


“At this time a living testimony is to be borne in the lives of God’s professed people, so that the world may see that in this age, when evil reigns on every side, there is yet a people who are laying aside their will and are seeking to do God’s will—a people in whose hearts and lives God’s law is written.

“God expects those who bear the name of Christ to represent Him. Their thoughts are to be pure, their words noble and uplifting. The religion of Christ is to be interwoven with all that they do and say. They are to be a sanctified, purified, holy people, communicating light to all with whom they come in contact. It is His purpose that by exemplifying the truth in their lives they shall be a praise in the earth. The grace of Christ is sufficient to bring this about. But let God’s people remember that only as they believe and work out the principles of the gospel can they fulfill His purpose. Only as they yield their God-given capabilities to His service will they enjoy the fullness and the power of the promise whereon the church has been called to stand. …

“God desires His people to show by their lives the advantage of Christianity over worldliness; to show that they are working on a high, holy plane. … He longs to make them channels through which He can pour His boundless love and mercy.” Lift Him Up, 189

“Those who study the word of God, and day by day receive instruction from Christ, bear the stamp of heaven’s principles. A high, holy influence goes forth from them. A helpful atmosphere surrounds their souls. The pure, holy, elevated principles that they follow enable them to bear a living testimony to the power of divine grace. …

“… By seeing their good works, others are led to glorify the Father who is above; for it is made manifest that there is a God on the throne of the universe whose character is worthy of praise and imitation. …

“The world watches to see what fruit is borne by professed Christians.” The Review and Herald, July 27, 1905

“God enjoins upon all His followers to bear a living testimony in unmistakable language by their conduct, their dress and conversation, in all the pursuits of life, that the power of true godliness is profitable to all in this life and in the life to come.” The Faith I Live By, 235 [Emphasis supplied.]

Health – Sabbath Activities

The object of the Sabbath was that all mankind might be benefited. Man was not made to fit the Sabbath; for the Sabbath was made after the creation of man, to meet his necessities. … He [God] set apart that special day for man to rest from his labor, that, as he should look upon the earth beneath and the heavens above, he might reflect that God made all these in six days and rested upon the seventh; and that, as he should behold the tangible proofs of God’s infinite wisdom, his heart might be filled with love and reverence for his Maker.” Testimonies, Vol. 2, 582

Have you wondered what you can do with your children on Sabbath afternoon, activities that follow Bible and Spirit of Prophecy counsel?

When I was a child, my mother would play Sabbath Bible games with me, we read together the Little Friend I brought home from Sabbath School, and we played piano duets. At the close of Sabbath, we would kneel together and thank the Lord for His Sabbath day and the blessings He had given us during its hours.

Child Guidance suggests reading to and with your children or creating a home reading circle where the family can come together and every member shares in the reading of a spiritual story or Bible study.

Acts of service such as visiting the sick, shut-ins, and those in care facilities, bringing food, flowers, smiles, and songs give children and youth the opportunity to do what Jesus did in His personal ministry.

“The pleasure of doing good to others imparts a glow to the feelings which flashes through the nerves, quickens the circulation of the blood, and induces mental and physical health.” My Life Today, 246

Next to the Bible, nature is to be our great lesson book. It is full of the knowledge of God, teeming with divine instruction. It has a voice that sings of the majesty and love of God. On every leaf and stone, in the earth, sea, and sky God’s name is written. The glory of God can be seen in every flower and tree, and every living creature. And though marred by sin, the earth and all that lives on it and dwells in it, still rings with a beauty that man can hardly fathom.

Children should be encouraged to search out in nature the objects that illustrate Bible teachings. Nature walks are a good way to commune with God, and spend time in the sunshine and fresh air.

The following table lists suggestions that can be used as clues for a Sabbath scavenger hunt during a nature walk or as a Bible game around the table at home.

“Oh, there is health and peace in doing the will of our Heavenly Father. …

“Pure and undefiled religion is not a sentiment, but the doing of works of mercy and love. This religion is necessary to health and happiness. It enters the polluted soul temple, and with a scourge drives out the sinful intruders. Taking the throne, it consecrates all by its presence, illuminating the heart. … It opens the windows of the soul heavenward, letting in the sunshine of God’s love. With it comes serenity and composure. Physical, mental, and moral strength increase, because the atmosphere of heaven, as a living, active agency, fills the soul.” My Life Today, 246

“Our heavenly Father desires through the observance of the Sabbath to preserve among men a knowledge of Himself. He desires that the Sabbath shall direct our minds to Him as the true and living God, and that through knowing Him we may have life and peace.” Testimonies, Vol. 6, 349

“And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me.” Isaiah 66:23


1 These clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12
2 What does the Bible say about this flower? Luke 12:27
3 This fades, but the word of God does not. Isaiah 40:8
4 Even the smallest seed can grow and become what? Matthew 13:32
5 These shall break forth with song. Isaiah 55:12
6 This passes and is gone. Psalm 103:16
7 These do not sow or reap, but the Father still feeds them. Matthew 6:26
8 Evildoers shall be cut down like what? Psalm 37:2
9 Jesus gave His life for His what? John 10:11
10 God has what upon a thousand hills? Psalm 50:10
11 False prophets are described as wearing sheep’s clothing, but what are they really? Matthew 7:15
12 If we look up, what do we see? Job 35:5
13 This rises and sets every day. Ecclesiastes 1:5
14 This falls on both righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:45
15 Jesus knows the number of stars that we see in the night sky (Psalm 147:4); and He knows what else? Matthew 10:30
16 Jonah was swallowed by and was three days in the belly of a great what? Jonah 1:17
17 Jesus performed a great miracle with five loaves and what else? Matthew 14:17
18 Jesus says that if we will follow Him, He will make us what? Matthew 4:19
19 Those who hope in the Lord will soar like what? Isaiah 40:31
20 If God cares so much for all His creations and creatures in nature, how much does the Bible say He cares for us? John 3:16


Story – Remember the Sabbath Day

The church bell was ringing. Nine o’clock, it tolled. Johnny liked to dress up in his best suit. He was ready to go to church, for today was the Sabbath.

Soon Mother and Daddy, Don, Alice, and Ted were ready to go. So they left home and walked toward the church several blocks away. On the corner Johnny met a friend, Joan.

“We are going to church,” Johnny chirped happily.

“We don’t go to church today; we go tomorrow!” Joan answered saucily.

“Tomorrow is Sunday!” Johnny promptly informed her.

“I know. That’s the day to go to church,” she replied, and skipped down the street.

Johnny was puzzled. “Daddy, why do we go to church today instead of Sunday?” asked Johnny, as they walked along the sidewalk.

“Well, son, the Bible says: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.’ We go to church today because it is the seventh day, the Sabbath. It is one of God’s commandments.”

Johnny found his class at Sabbath School, and sat down quietly. He was happy.

First the leader had the children sing several songs, and then everyone knelt down, and the teacher prayed to God. She asked the heavenly Father to care for the boys and girls and help them to do what is right.

After Sabbath School, the family sat together in their usual place and listened to the sermon. When the service was over, they went home and had their lunch. Then Johnny and his dog Spotty went out in the back garden. The day was warm and lovely and Johnny lay down on the soft grass to watch the fleecy clouds in the blue sky.

While he was lying on the grass, he saw two bluebirds flying back and forth to the apple tree. Each bird carried a straw or string in its beak as it flew to the tree.

Johnny kept quiet and watched, and soon spied the branch where the bluebirds were working. His feathered friends were building a nest. It was such fun to watch!

After a while he saw Mother and Daddy walking in the yard among the flowers. He called softly to them, for he didn’t want to disturb the birds. They came over, and Mother exclaimed, “Isn’t this a lovely Sabbath day!”

“Oh, yes, Mother. I’ve been watching the bluebirds building their nest. Do you want to see them?” He showed them the nest in the apple tree. They watched until the birds flew away.

“Let’s go for a walk, Johnny, and see how many kinds of birds we can find,” suggested Daddy.

In a little while, Mother, Daddy, and Johnny were walking through the field on their way to the creek. They sat down on the rocks near the rippling water and watched for birds. They saw sparrows, blue jays, hawks, blackbirds, robins, and a red-throated hummingbird, its wings whirring as it sipped nectar from the wild flowers.

Daddy suggested that Johnny learn the fourth commandment while they sat there by the creek.

Johnny kept repeating the words after his father until he knew God’s fourth rule. It is a long commandment, so he had to work hard to learn it all.

“How can we remember the Sabbath?”

“First, we can remember the Sabbath by going to church and worshiping God there,” suggested Mother. “Our heavenly Father is pleased when He sees us come into His house, just as we are happy to see a friend come to our house to visit.”

“We remember the holy Sabbath when we go outdoors and look at the beautiful things God created,” Daddy added.

“I know another way,” spoke up Johnny. “We can read the Bible, and learn the commandments, as we’re doing now.”

Johnny sat quietly looking at the rippling water. Then he said thoughtfully: “Is that why you clean the house and cook so many good things on Friday, so you won’t have to work on Sabbath?”

“That’s right,” Mother nodded.

“Daddy never goes to his office on the Sabbath, either.”

“Yes,” Daddy added, “and you know the men who work for me never work on the Sabbath. Some of the men do not believe in God, but everyone who works for me has the Sabbath day for rest anyway. The commandment says: ‘In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.’

“One time,” continued Daddy, “when we lived on the farm, my neighbor wanted to borrow one of my teams of horses and the driver on Sabbath morning. He knew I did not have the men or the horses work on that day, so he thought he would not be bothering me in my work to ask for them on a day when I did not use them. I had to explain to him that God’s rule said the cattle and the workmen were not to work on the Sabbath either. I told him I would let him use them on another day of the week.

“The man could not understand, but he said to me: ‘If that’s what your God says, you’d better obey. I’ll not ask you to disobey Him.’

“Months later this neighbor came to us for help when he and his family were in trouble. He told me he knew he could trust us, for we were so careful to keep God’s commandments. Finally, the man and his family decided to study the Bible with us, and they are now keeping the Sabbath, too.”

“That’s a wonderful story, Daddy!” exclaimed Johnny.

“Well, it’s time for us to start home,” Daddy reminded Mother and Johnny.

The sun had almost set when they reached the front porch of their home. Alice and Ted were back from the afternoon meeting of the young folk, and the family sat down and read from the Bible. Then they knelt in prayer as the sun sank behind the hills.

“It’s been a good Sabbath,” Mother said.

Taken from God’s Ten Rules, Ethyl M. Neff, ©1948, 35–43

Inspiration – God’s Test of Loyalty

“The Lord hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments.”

Deuteronomy 26:18

God has a test for us, and if we come up to the standard, we shall be a peculiar people. The Sabbath draws a separating line between us and the world, not faintly but in plain, distinct colors. To those who have received the light of this truth the Sabbath is a test; it is not a human requirement, but God’s test. It is what will distinguish between those who serve God and those who serve Him not, and upon this point will come the last great conflict between truth and error. All who profess to keep God’s law should stand united in the sacred observance of His holy Sabbath. …

When the destroying angel was about to pass through the land of Egypt and smite the firstborn of both man and beast, the Israelites were directed to bring their children into the house with them and to strike the doorpost with blood; and none were to go out of the house, for all that were found among the Egyptians would be destroyed with them.

We should take this lesson to ourselves. Again the destroying angel is to pass through the land. There is to be a mark placed upon God’s people, and that mark is the keeping of His holy Sabbath. We are not to follow our own will and judgment and flatter ourselves that God will come to our terms. … That which looks unimportant to you may be of the highest consequence in God’s special plans for the preservation of your life or the salvation of your soul. God tests our faith by giving us some part to act in connection with His interposition in our behalf. To those who comply with the conditions His promise will be fulfilled. …

We are faithfully to teach our children God’s commandments; we should bring them into subjection to parental authority; and then by faith and prayer to commit them to God, and He will work with our efforts, for He has promised it. And when the overflowing scourge shall pass through the land, they, with us, may be hidden in the secret of the Lord’s pavilion.

“Remember the Sabbath Day”

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8–11

The fourth commandment is explicit. We are not to do our own work upon the Sabbath. God has given man six days for labor, but He has reserved the seventh to Himself, and He has pronounced a blessing upon those who keep it holy. On the sixth day, all needful preparation for the Sabbath is to be made. … All purchases should be made and all our cooking should be done on Friday. Let baths be taken, shoes be blacked, and clothing be put in readiness. The sick require care upon the Sabbath, and whatever it may be necessary to do for their comfort is an act of mercy, and not a violation of the commandment. … But nothing of our own work should be permitted to encroach upon holy time.

Sunday is generally made a day of feasting and pleasure seeking, but the Lord would have His people give the world a higher, holier example. Upon the Sabbath there should be a solemn dedication of the family to God. … Let all unite to honor God upon His holy day. …

If you go forward toward heaven, the world will rub hard against you. … Earthly authorities will interpose. You will meet tribulations, bruising of the spirit, hard speeches, ridicule, persecutions. Men will require your conformity to laws and customs that would render you disloyal to God. Here is where God’s people find the cross in the way to life. But if the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is sacred, if it is indeed, as brought to view in the third angel’s message, the sign between God and His people, we must be careful in every word and in every act to show God honor. …

The strong force of the downward current will sweep you off your feet unless you are united to Christ as the limpet to the rock.

Day of Delight and Blessing

“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, honorable; and shalt honor 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.” Isaiah 58:13, 14

The Sabbath … is God’s time, not ours; when we trespass upon it we are stealing from God. … God has given us the whole of six days in which to do our work, and has reserved only one to Himself. This should be a day of blessing to us—a day when we should lay aside all our secular matters and center our thoughts upon God and heaven.

But while we worship God, we are not to consider this a drudgery. The Sabbath of the Lord is to be made a blessing to us and to our children. They are to look upon the Sabbath as a day of delight, a day which God has sanctified; and they will so consider it if they are properly instructed. … They can be pointed to the blooming flowers and the opening buds, the lofty trees and beautiful spires of grass, and taught that God made all these in six days and rested on the seventh day and hallowed it. Thus the parents may bind up their lessons of instruction to their children so that when these children look upon the things of nature they will call to mind the great Creator of them all. …

We are not to teach our children that they must not be happy on the Sabbath, that it is wrong to walk out of doors. Oh, no. Christ led His disciples out by the lakeside on the Sabbath day and taught them. His sermons on the Sabbath were not always preached within enclosed walls. …

Many say they would keep the Sabbath if it were convenient to do so. But this day is not yours; it is God’s day, and you have no more right to take it than you have to steal my purse. God has reserved it, sanctified and blessed it; and it is your duty to devote this time to His service, to make it honorable, to call it a delight. In Heavenly Places, 150–152

Sabbath – Story of Liberty

To understand why the Sabbath as an institution of God’s legal order has survived even in times of complete apostasy of Christianity, we need to understand its essence—the idea of ​​the Sabbath, which is universal, inspiring, and determines the identity of the follower of Jesus.

Why Is the Sabbath So Special?

The Sabbath is the seventh day on which God completed the work of creating the world. “And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.” Genesis 2:2, 3 (ESV)

Therefore, if we understand that the Sabbath comes directly from God, it means that by its very nature it must be unique, different in every respect from what comes from a man with a sinful nature. The Sabbath is the crowning achievement of creation, not an ordinary weekday. By the Sabbath we mean the difference between the Creator and the created. The Sabbath is a memorial of God’s creation and at the same time a memorial of God’s deliverance: “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:15 (ESV)

Rest in Christ

The eternal God in the person of Jesus Christ, through His saving mission completed on Friday, rested on Saturday to become, for us who believe in His merits, the One who freed us from the slavery of sin. So, if we celebrate the Sabbath in accordance with the fourth commandment, that celebration is a joyful weekly update of our experience of salvation in Jesus. Salvation is God’s gift, grace offered to us, therefore on the Sabbath we rest in the merits of Jesus. God blesses and sanctifies those who rest in Jesus.

Work-Life Balance

The modern world emphasizes and appreciates, above all, activity, creativity in action and work. The dizzying pace of life, an avalanche of information, and high expectations as to professional effectiveness can easily lead to a situation in which private life is overshadowed by work. This, in turn, often results in the destruction of relationships with loved ones, chronic fatigue, reduced involvement in the relationship with Jesus, and even neurotic disorders. More and more people realize that it is necessary to maintain a balance between their work and personal life, the so-called work-life balance. In the description of the creation of the world, we see God who is active, creative, and involved. At the same time, we can see God resting, blessing, and sanctifying. It is a God who celebrates and rejoices in His creation. The Lord of the Sabbath invites us to celebrate together, to enjoy existence, and to marvel at the beauty of God and His creation.

However, the Sabbath is not, nor can be, servile to the other days of the week, as if by resting we are later to increase our efficiency at work! It is not the Sabbath for the weekdays; the weekdays are for Sabbath. It is not a break, but a culmination of life!i Thus, all other days of the week are to be a gradual preparation for the celebration of that day.

The Peace of the Sabbath

As humans, we live in time and are subject to death, and as with all creation, from the time of Adam’s sin until now, are troubled and in pain, and long to be freed from this handicapped state (Romans 8:22). The Sabbath, on the other hand, is eternity in time. The presence of the eternal God is revealed to us in the Sabbath. Peace and solace, happiness and freedom from the fear of non-existence are found on the Sabbath in God’s presence. The peace of the Sabbath applies to all of creation, not just humans. For along with man, the animals (Exodus 20:10) and the earth (Leviticus 25:11) are also to rest. The joy and holiness of the Sabbath cannot be lived apart from another human being. Have you ever tried to celebrate your own birthday alone? It would be the saddest birthday ever. For the more we share love and joy with others, the more joy and love there is.

Freedom Celebration

The Sabbath is a holiday of freedom. It frees us from economic and material tyranny, from the pursuit of success, from the fear of losing, from anxiety about our existence. It frees us from the gray, monotonous everyday life, from all the roar and chaos of the world. It frees us from the compulsion to prove anything to ourselves and others. It is freedom from civilization, from the novelty of technology, from the dirt of politics. In this sense, the Sabbath is a profound experience of freedom, an experience of a better world to come. At the same time, the Sabbath is freedom to joyfully celebrate, to be blessed through words of praise, recognition and love—for God and neighbors. It is freedom to relax, to rest, freedom to enjoy the physical and mental closeness of our loved ones, a delicious meal, the beauty of music, the smell of the forest, or the sound of sea waves.

The Jewish people in the time of Jesus and later did not enjoy the freedom of the Sabbath because they did not understand its principle. The Jews kept the Sabbath legalistically, making a caricature of it. Apart from the command to refrain from work and a few guidelines, we will not find in the Bible a list of prohibitions and commandments regarding the Sabbath.

Ecological Sabbath

The seventh-day Sabbath has no analogy with the other days of the week. However, the one-week Sabbath corresponds to the Sabbath year, when every seventh year the land had to be left unsown. At the same time, man and animals rested because no agricultural work was done. The Sabbath year coincided with the year of cancellation of debts. God promised a special harvest blessing in every sixth year, if only the Israelites would obey the command not to sow the land during the Sabbath year. Just imagine the level of faith and trust in God’s promises if all U.S. farmers decided not to farm during the Sabbath year.

The Year of Jubilee–The Year of Liberty

The Sabbath year corresponds to the Jubilee year, celebrated every 50 years after the seventh-Sabbath year. The Jubilee year was a special time of the Lord’s grace. With the sound of the ram’s horn beginning the Jubilee year, freedom was proclaimed for all. All slaves had to be freed and allowed to return to their homes. All debts were to be cancelled. The land was to be returned to the previous owners. All wealth was to be redistributed and returned to the original owners. Just imagine a society that lives according to the principles of the Jubilee year! Imagine that every 50 years our bank loans are cancelled, rich countries cancel the debts of countries that can never repay them. These principles are so perfect that, when confronted with our nature, they have remained only an ideal in history. In principle, the Jubilee year equalizes social inequalities. Everyone gets a chance to start all over again. We see how God cares for His people in a special way. Reading the principles written in Leviticus 25, one might think that God gives man “the best and at the same time the most humane social system that has ever appeared in the world.”i

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

We find in Luke 4:16–21 that Jesus begins His public ministry by observing the seventh-day Sabbath in the synagogue in Nazareth where He reads aloud Isaiah’s prophecy regarding the coming Messiah, and clearly states that He is the Messiah. In His Messianic program, Jesus declares the liberation of all the poor, captives, and prisoners, and through His death and resurrection gives the opportunity to all those who lived in bondage to sin and the devil to start a new life. If Today we heard what Jesus says to us and accept these words with faith, Today the words of Jesus are fulfilled for you. The year of the Lord’s favor includes the blessing of the Sabbath, but does not invalidate the weekly Sabbath as an institution or idea. Since Jesus proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor, we live in the eschatological Sabbath, in the Messianic era, and at the same time, we are still waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Man, Ecology, Society

The comprehensive idea of ​​the Sabbath has a strong influence on our thinking about God, man, ecology, and society. When there was no just social system, no human rights, including the right to happiness, dignity, and rest, when there was no thinking about the land as a gift of the Creator to His human family, not only for their sustenance and common good, but also as a treasure given by God to be cared for and not abused (Leviticus 25:1–7), God made a covenant with Israel creating a constitution for man, as an individual, but also as part of the community of saints, in the center of which is His seal—the Sabbath.

Sabbath–An Idea from another World

The Sabbath is a powerful idea that comes from another dimension, from a better world, because its Creator is the eternal God Himself. God’s ideas are eternal. The idea of ​​the Sabbath could not be eradicated from Christianity, because Jesus Christ Himself is the Lord of the Sabbath, therefore, there have always been people in the history of Christianity who wanted to imitate their Lord in everything, guarding the Sabbath as a memorial of creation and salvation.

The Sabbath in History

Over the centuries, the Sabbath has been an inspiration for people who want to follow Jesus with all their hearts. Even when it meant opposition to most of the Christian world, even when it meant to be anti-establishment. In every epoch since the apostolic times, there have been Christians keeping the Sabbath, which is confirmed by historical sources. In every age, there has been the church of Jesus Christ—the church that the book of Revelation 12 describes as the woman in the wilderness. According to the Bible, almost from the beginning of Christianity there are two global churches. One church is a powerful political-religious power. The other church is the one that has never formed a majority, that recognizes the Bible as the only authority on matters of faith and practice, that keeps the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This does not mean, of course, that there are only two denominations on earth, but rather that there are two types of religion represented by these two global churches.

The Sabbath in Language

The word Sabbath remains to this day in the name of the seventh day of the week in many languages ​​of the world. In Polish and Czech, it is Sobota and in Russian, subbota. In Italian it is Sabato and in Portuguese and Spanish, sábado. In Armenian, Shabat, and in Arabic Sabt.iii It is also interesting that despite the fact that the Hebrew text of the fourth commandment can be translated into English, there is one word for which we do not find an English equivalent, and that is the word Sabbath.iv However, the name of Sunday in different languages ​​indicates the roots of this day in pagan sun worship. This can be seen in English—Sunday (day of sun) and in German—Sonntag (day of sun).

Sabbath in Underground

Thinking about the Sabbath in the history of Christianity, one can clearly see that the truth about the Sabbath has been alive for centuries, despite the fact that the bishops of Rome tried to completely eradicate it as an institution of the divine law. The Christian world has been deceived by Rome to celebrate Sunday. Sunday as a holy day was established by imperial and papal Rome.v

We know from history that where the power of the Roman popes did not reach, the church of God developed in freedom, but even in those countries that were subject to papal Rome, there was a church that “going underground” preserved the institution of the Sabbath and nurtured its idea. The case of the Oriental churches is interesting. As K. Kościelniak, a Catholic priest, admits: “Due to centuries of isolation from Greek and Western Christianity, the Coptic Church has many separate, extremely original traditions. Some Jewish rites are practiced, such as the circumcision of boys and the observance of the Sabbath.”vi The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church also observes the Sabbath.vii Faithfulness to the institution and idea of ​​the Sabbath among the churches of Africa was aptly summed up by Keith A. Burton: “The church in Africa [recognized] that the resurrection of Christ in no way nullified the fact that ‘in six days the Lord made heaven and earth.’ … Even though the power of the Western papal legacy has made some indelible indentations on the churches of Africa, to this day they have refused to fully succumb.”viii It is also worth mentioning the Celtic Christians who from the 2nd century, when the gospel reached the British Isles, kept the Sabbath in the times of Patrick, Columba, and Dinooth until the Norman conquest of the British Isles in the 11th century.ix Shabbat was celebrated by many Waldenses and Anabaptists, and through them many Christians in Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and Silesia.x

Papal Imperialism

The system of the Roman Catholic Church is an escape from freedom to totalitarian power over every aspect of an individual’s life. The papacy, by its nature, as a political and religious power, implements its policy through imperialism—political and cultural. The papacy has always sought to subjugate individuals, communities, nations, and churches. By establishing Sunday by its own authority in place of the biblical Sabbath, it made Sunday the hallmark of its system. Therefore, anyone who accepts the papal Sunday accepts, consciously or unconsciously, the authority of Papal Rome over himself. This is confirmed by Monsignor Louis Segur: “Observance of Sunday by the Protestants is a homage they pay in spite of themselves to the authority of the Catholic Church.”xi Thus, Sunday became the opposite of the biblical Sabbath, replacing the freedom of the individual against God with the slavery of man against the power of a man—the pope.

i   A. J. Heschel, Szabat, p. 41.

ii   D. Juster, Powrót do korzeni, p. 31.

iii  J. Dunkel, Apokalipsa, p. 172.

iv  A. J. Heschel, Bóg szukający człowieka, p. 516.

v   J. Dunkel, Apokalipsa, p. 181, 182.

vi  K. Kościelniak, Piękno pluralizmu przedchalcedońskich Kościołów orientalnych, p. 67.

vii  Ibidem, p. 69.

viii, accessibility: 28.11. 2022 cited work: K. Burton, Western European Imperialism and the Literary Suppression of the African Fidelity to the Biblical Sabbath.

ix  J. Dunkel, Apokalipsa, p. 182.

x   Ibiden, p. 183, cited work: G.F. Hasel, Sabbatarian Anabaptist in Andrews University Seminary Studies, 5, (1967): 106–115; 6, (1968): 19–21.

xi  L. Segur, Plain Talk about the Protestantism of Today, p. 213.

Marcin Watras lives in Katowice, Poland. He is interested in the philosophy of religion and trends in society. He works in the funds distribution of the European Union.