The Sabbath In Light of The Cross
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Copy NE Church“The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption—the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.”- Ellen White, Gospel Workers, 315 (1915).

With this thought in mind, I would like to share a study from the “In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides,” which I prepared so that people can see our sacred truths in the light of God’s love as opposed to the legalistic view we are often accused of.

The Sabbath

Brief overview: The seventh day of the week, Saturday, is God’s holy Sabbath on which we are to rest from all secular work and activity. God sanctified the Sabbath day and made it holy. See Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus, 20:8-11, Exodus 31:13, John 14:15, Revelation 14:12

Why it is important to understand the truth about the Sabbath:

The Sabbath is the only commandment that begins with “remember” while it is also the one commandment man has forgotten. While many agnostics believe that God created us and then left us on our own, the Sabbath tells us that our Creator wants to have a relationship with us. The Sabbath also tells us who our God is. You can keep the other nine commandments and worship any god you choose. You can have no other gods before you besides television and not bow to any other god than television and so forth. The Sabbath commandment is the only commandment that tells us who the Lord is. He is the Creator. This is why Satan wants us to forget this commandment. He wants us to forget God. He wants to be our god instead!

The Sabbath is a sign that we belong to the true God, the one who created us and died for us.

Why it is important to understand the Sabbath in light of the cross:

Satan does not want us to forget the Sabbath in order for us to forget the law. Satan knows we are not saved by the works of the law but by grace. The Sabbath is a sign of God’s grace. We do no work on that day, demonstrating that it is not our works that sustain or save us but rather God’s work, both at creation and the cross, that sustain and save us. We rest on the Sabbath, showing that we are resting our faith in the only One who can save us, Jesus Christ. I can imagine God walking with Adam and Eve through the garden, as He showed them all He had made for them, and the wonders of not their works but His works. Adam and Eve realized that day with God, “it is] He [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalms 100:3) Before and after the cross, the Sabbath is a sign that it is God’s work that creates and sustains us.

The Sabbath commandment reminds us that God is our Creator and we refrain from work and worldly activities on the Sabbath day as we rest our faith in God’s power to save and provide for us, instead of our own works and ability to do business and make money.

The same principle is seen in the story of Cain and Abel. In Genesis 4 we read about Abel worshiping the way God had commanded in bringing a lamb as a sacrifice. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because the lamb God instructed him to bring pointed to Jesus – the Lamb of God who would be sacrificed for our sins. Abel, beyond just worshiping as God had instructed, was saying he trusted in Jesus to save him, rather than his own works. He was looking to the cross. Cain’s sacrifice was refused because he did not worship the way God had instructed, and he brought his own fruit, the work of his own hands. God cannot accept our works and could not accept Cain’s works either. Only the Christ can save us.

Today, many people like Cain, try to be saved by worshiping their own way. Jesus says about them, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Our own works and man-made ways of worship will never save us.

There’s a story of a little boy years ago who had built his own wooden sailboat. After tying it to a string he set the boat out to sail in a nearby creek, and then would use the string to reel it back in. One day the string broke and the little boat fell victim to the rapids and sailed away. Several days later the boy was window shopping downtown when he saw his boat in a toy store window. He went inside told the owner, “That’s my boat in the window.” The owner of the store, not sure if he should believe the young lad, told the boy he would have to purchase the boat if he wants it back.

The boy did chores around the home and neighborhood to earn the few dollars the boat cost. He returned to the store and purchased his own boat. Walking home, holding his boat close to his chest he was overheard saying, “Little boat, you are twice mine. First I made you, and then I bought you.” That is what Jesus is telling us through the Sabbath today. As we rest from our works on the Sabbath and put our faith in Him, He tells us, “You are twice mine. First, at creation I made you, and then at the cross I bought you.”

Further study on the Sabbath:

Which day is the Sabbath?

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 20:10, 11

How can we know which day is the seventh day?

Some reject the seventh-day Sabbath over the belief that we cannot know which day it falls on today, so picking any day should be okay. But this is fallacy.

According to Scripture, Christ died on Friday and rose on Sunday, the first day of the week. Practically all churches acknowledge this by observing Easter Sunday and Good Friday.

“This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. The women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:52–56).

This is clear evidence that Jesus died the day before the Sabbath. The day of His death was a “preparation day” because it was the time to get ready for the Sabbath. Notice, then, that the women rested over the Sabbath “according to the commandment.” The commandment says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath,” so we know they were resting on Saturday. The very next verse says, “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. … And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre” (Luke 24:1, 2).

Hasn’t the calendar been changed since the time of Christ?

The calendar has not been changed so as to confuse the days of the week. Just as we know that Jesus and His followers observed the same day as Moses, we can be positive that our seventh day is the same day Jesus observed.

Pope Gregory XIII did make a calendar change in 1582, but it did not interfere with the weekly cycle. What did Gregory do to the calendar? He changed Friday, October 5, 1582, to be Friday, October 15, 1582. He did not affect the weekly cycle of days.

The Jews have observed the seventh day from the time of Abraham, and they still keep it today. An entire nation of people, all around the world, continue to observe a Sabbath they have known for more than 4,000 years.

Over 100 languages on earth use the word “Sabbath” for Saturday. For example, the Spanish word for Saturday is “Sabado,” meaning Sabbath. What does this prove? It proves that when those languages originated long ago, Saturday was recognized as the Sabbath day and was incorporated into the very name of the day.” -Joe Crews, Seven Facts About the 7th Day.

Who was the Sabbath made for?

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Mark 2:27

Whose day is the Sabbath?

Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. Mark 2:28

What does God call the Sabbath?

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: Isaiah 58:13

When is the Sabbath to be observed?

From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. Leviticus 23:32

What marks the beginning of a day?

And the evening and the morning were the first day. Genesis 1:5

What did Jesus do on the Sabbath?

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

What else should be done on the Sabbath?

And, behold, there was a man which had [his] hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift [it] out?

How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Matthew 12:10-12

What are we to “remember” to do?

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

What are we to refrain from on the Sabbath?

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 20:9-11

Why were the Jews carried into captivity?

In those days saw I in Judah [some] treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all [manner of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified [against them] in the day wherein they sold victuals.

There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing [is] this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?

Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. Nehemiah 13:15-18

What are we to learn from this?

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:9-11

What does God want us to be?

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

How only is this possible?

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: Isaiah 58:13

What is God’s promise?

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 58:14

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The Sabbath In Light of The Cross — 13 Comments

  1. Mateo 12:8-12 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

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  2. This is a great message to everyone, let's not forget our mission as SDA's that is to preach the gospel in all the four corners of the planet earth.

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  3. I find observance of the sabbath a challenge at times with regards to the activities to do in between church services especially for kids.
    Is there anything wrong with letting them play out side.

    We often go out of our way to purchase bible oriented games or programs but the thing is its common to find them playing other non biblical games.
    I know to others this may seem too obvious a question but I will ask anywhere, that is it wrong to let kids be kids let them play (as you pray for them).

    The week can be so hectic such that when sabbath arrives all one wants to do is rest. Often times I realize that rest means different things to different people amongst Adventists.For others is means refraining from daily chores or activities and going about spreading the gospel, touching lives then there are those who attend morning church service and then spend part of the day sleeping (resting their bodies from any physical activity), a large group of Adventists condemn this, can we safely say there is anything wrong with this, if so can it be classified as sin?

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    • Hi Lee,
      We should strive to make the Sabbath a day to which our children look forward. In most homes nowadays, parents don't have enough time to spend with their children, so finding an enjoyable activity to do with your children would really enhance their and your Sabbath observance.

      In our family, we did a lot of hiking (cross-country ski-ing in the winter) on Sabbath, and that has left us many fond memories.

      I feel that, if in doubt, it is better to let children err on the side of enjoying themselves than to make the Sabbath a burden so that they will look forward to getting away from it when they are old enough to make their own decisions.

      The Sabbath is meant as a time to spend with our Creator, and He made many beautiful and enjoyable things on the planet of ours. In the cities, time in the park could be helpful. Many cities have parks with trails, for instance.

      When our children were very small we had special Sabbath toys with which they could play only on Sabbath. They weren't necessarily a lot different from other toys -- just kept special. Of course, for our boys, we avoided dump trucks, tractors, semi-trailers and implements related to adult work -- just as Sabbath-keeping adults don't use those on the Sabbath.

      No one can make rules for you that will constitute Sabbath keeping for you and your children. Take it to the Lord in prayer, and then listen to His voice to you. Relationships are very individual, and Sabbath is all about a relationship. That's why there's no point in making rules for Sabbath keeping.

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      • Inge,

        It is refreshing to hear that someone else raised their children like we did. I agree with you that children should enjoy the day and I always found ways to make it enjoyable. We live in an area with hiking trails and the Appalachian Mountain trail so every Sabbath we would explore a different area. We would stop at streams and enjoy putting our feet in. It was always fun going to the top of trails for the view. By the time we got home, it was time for worship. We did this all year round.
        I agree with the wisdom in your last paragraph,

        "No one can make rules for you that will constitute Sabbath keeping for you and your children. Take it to the Lord in prayer, and then listen to His voice to you. Relationships are very individual, and Sabbath is all about a relationship. That’s why there’s no point in making rules for Sabbath keeping."

        When our son was home and had other children over, we did pray alot about everything we did because we answer to God for how we raise our children. Now that our grandchildren come up sometimes, and they are not Christians, it is still a matter of prayer! Thanks Inge!!

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      • Best reply ever, Inge.

        Furthermore, a positive conception of the Sabbath would guide people into a string of "do"s (as opposed to prohibitions). This has been my experience partially as I try to improve my Sabbath-keeping.

        Children can learn pretty fast to watch the clock on Sabbath afternoons, so we have to be careful what we teach them inadvertently about the day.

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  4. I especially like, "The Sabbath is a sign of God’s grace. We do no work on that day, demonstrating that it is not our works that sustain or save us but rather God’s work, both at creation and the cross, that sustain and save us."
    The Sabbath is a special and wonderful gift. It means just as much to me now as it did when I joined the church. Great picture!

    Lee, I think it is possible for kids to enjoy Sabbath and play Sabbath games and activities. I think one of the keys is that the parents are with them and participate in the activities with the children. That's how I did it with our son and other children we've had in the home. Make it interesting, lively and age appropriate.

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    • This takes work.

      It is easy to fall into adult routines which are familiar, comfortable and (often) do not involve effort.

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  5. Thank you everyone for your comments. Inge, I definitely agree with what you are saying.

    Jane, I thought you would appreciate the picture for this post, coming from your own backyard.

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    • Yes, William,

      I was very happy and surprised to see the beautiful picture of the Congregational church in Litchfield, CT! It warmed my heart and readers may like to know there is interesting history in our area concerning temperance. I am amazed at the number of churches in Connecticut and small towns that have huge churches!

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  6. May God bless you more with knowledge and wisdom from above Pastor William, for He speaks with you for us to learn and know Him more.

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  7. Nobody commented as to why they were particularly concerned about children and the Sabbath. I think a review of chapter 79 is worth going through which I will quote from here and then tell of one thing I did for our children. "Parents, above everything take care of your children upon the Sabbath. Do not suffer them to violate God's holy day by playing in the house or out-of-doors. You may just as well break the Sabbath yourselves as to let your children do it, and when you suffer your children to wander about and suffer them to play upon the Sabbath, God looks upon you as Sabbathbreakers." {CG 533.2}

    I created a card game for my children, (besides going on walks, etc.), called SABMED-coined as such for what we should be meditating upon on the Sabbath to keep our minds on holy things. And as it was required for one participant in the game to give a card to one who called for it, the caller was required to give an experience in practical Christian living from about 5 categories.

    May God grant grace, wisdom and power to our parents as they raise children for Him!

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