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Tuesday: The Sabbath and the Law — 21 Comments

  1. Are we Seventh-day Adventists legalists? The Seventh-day Sabbath is part of our identity and in the most distinguishing feature of our beliefs as perceived by others. We are masters of defending the Seventh-day Sabbath and have a whole series of proof texts to show why we keep Sabbath. Not only that we argue vociferously about when it starts and finishes - I have a ream of papers from the Church conference on the issue of evening and morning in the Arctic region of Norway, and I still remember clearly the arguments about which day to choose when nations change their view of where the date line should be placed.

    Then we have discussions about what activities are acceptable on Sabbath. I won't even mention the specifics of this one because I am sure it would sidetrack the issue.

    These discussions reinforce the perception that Seventh-day Adventists are legalists, tied to an ancient Hebrew law.

    I think we need to think about our language. Once we mention the words Sabbath, law, binding in the same paragraph, we are going to be branded as legalists.

    The Bible has a lot to say about legalistic Sabbath-keeping and some of it is not very pretty. Last week I quoted a passage from Isaiah 1 where God says what he thinks about it. Here is the relevant portion again:

    “Quit your worship charades.
    I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
    Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
    meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!
    Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
    You’ve worn me out!
    I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
    while you go right on sinning.
    When you put on your next prayer-performance,
    I’ll be looking the other way. Isaiah 1:13-15 MSG

    If our Sabbath-keeping is backed up by our love for God and our love for one another then the legalism falls away.

    An analogy that I think fits this: Australian marriage law is quite voluminous. I have hidden away in my files a certificate that says I am married to Carmel. The only time that we have looked at that bit of paper is when we have had to show our legal status. I have never taken that certificate out of that folder and shown it to Carmel and said, "Hey, we are married! You have to do (or not do) this and that!" I have to tell you that if I did, our marriage would be over. The love we have for one another is the basis for our marriage, not the legal document.

    I reiterate: If we get the basis for our Sabbath-keeping right, then the charge of legalism is unfounded.

  2. When I talk about the Sabbath I like to begin with creation. What a wonderful God we have who built into His original creation a weekly mini-vacation for each of us! The rules surrounding Sabbath keeping are meant to ensure we actually get this mini-vacation. Because "God said so," we can, in good conscience leave all our week-day concerns on hold for 24 hours. If he hadn't "said so," we would regularly have all sorts of reasons to continue to work and worry throughout the seventh day of the week.

    But God said to rest and worship! So I get to take the day off from my week-day responsibilities. Hallelujah!!

    The Three Angels' Messages of Rev. 14:6-12 are meant to call the world back to Creator worship, not law worship!
    The Sabbath is a sign of whom we worship - our great Creator God or the "man of sin," who, through the adversary of Christ, promotes selfishness which leads only to misery.

    God wants us to be healthy, happy, and holy, and the Sabbath contributes to each of these three aspects. We need the complete break from the stress of the week for our health more than ever before. And this relaxation also contributes to our happiness, and our time with God contributes to our holiness.

    The Sabbath, rightly understood, is the antidote to legalism. It reminds us every seventh day to rest in Jesus who saved us by His death on Calvary and is even now cleansing our souls to make us pillars in His great temple.

    Yes, there are legitimate reason for contrasting the 7th-day Sabbath with the man-made 1st-day Sabbath, but the emphasis should be on Who we worship, not the day on which we worship. There are now true-hearted believers who still do not understand that the seventh-day Sabbath is the day our Creator created specifically for rest and for worship. God accepts their sincerity, but He is waiting for us to share the Good News of His Sabbath day.

  3. Thanks fam for your comments but can I get a help on how to keep the Sabbath. Are we supposed to stay at church all the day or what I we supposed to do?! Because in our church we stay all day at church and doing sometimes meeting to the extent that my head is paining. My question is how are keeping the Sabbath day?! And is meeting allowed during Sabbath?!.

    Help me I just want to know More about Sabbath and the things required to do during Sabbath day.

    I mean how well can I keep the Sabbath?! How can I enjoy Sabbath blessings?! It is not only for the outsider but for the insiders also. Sometimes we ourselves we don't enjoy the Sabbath. I don't if it is only in our African church!!! Please help

    • That is a hard question to answer with a list of dos and don'ts because what is acceptable in one culture is different in other cultures. So, I will provide some general principles that I apply.

      • Make sure that you spend some time in community worship and study. Sharing with fellow believers is very important
      • If possible spend some time in nature. The link between God, you and his creation provides nourishment for the mind
      • Plan a shareable activity. I sometimes go bird watching with non-church members
      • Include family members. Make Sabbath special at home. We always use to light candles for the Friday night meal. and we had foods that were Sabbath specials.
      • If you are musical, join a singing group especially if you can share with those who cannot make it to church

      I am sure that you can think of other things to do as well. One of the ideas that I like to promote is that we should be creative in our use of Sabbath and it should be more than just a day of liturgy.

      • this answer brings me to this question; Does sabbath keeping supposed to be different because of cultures and countries? since in the answer above you said that dos and don'ts of the respective culture. please expand because I thought we take the 10 commandments and the Bible as a standard for judgement

        • When I was growing up I was taught that you did not run, swim, or take photographs on Sabbath. Now I see a group of Seventh-day Adventists and their non-Adventist friends going for an early morning run before Sabbath School. I cannot run, but I often go out early on Sabbath mornings to take photographs of birds. I should point out that both of these activities are carried out to be out in nature and share with others. Neither are commercial nor competitive activities.

          The rabbis made increasingly restrictive rules about Sabbath keeping that were ultimately condemned by Jesus. This story in Mark's Gospel is informative:

          One Sabbath day he was walking through a field of ripe grain. As his disciples made a path, they pulled off heads of grain. The Pharisees told on them to Jesus: “Look, your disciples are breaking Sabbath rules!”

          Jesus said, “Really? Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching—holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat—and handed it out to his companions?” Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath. The Son of Man is no yes-man to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!” Mark 2: 23-28

        • The Biblical command says to rest and to let others rest. Beyond that it's not too specific, though there are a number of other passages that suggest commercial activity on Sabbath is to be avoided (which makes sense as it is work). Beyond that, each of us has to decide what is in the spirit of Sabbath keeping.

          I don't think having a lot of rules is wise because situations are so different. For example, I like to have a longer devotional time on Sabbath and spend more time studying. But for a Biblical scholar, that is his work, so it may be more appropriate to avoid that on Sabbath. It's not that it's wrong, but it may be better to send time with God in different way.

          To me Sabbath is to connect with God and others. We should do those things that promote that. It will different for each one.

    • Lynn Mecky may the good Lord be with you in your journey. We can use Jesus's example in how He kept the Sabbath when He was on earth. Jesus went to church but He also looked after the sick. He spent the Sabbath at times with His friends/disciples. We saw Jesus in nature, telling stories, parables etc. So by Jesus example we can do all the above. There's no use being in church with your head spinning and not retaining anything. May your future Sabbaths be spent following God's example. God bless you.

  4. I have always wondered why most people agree with 9/10 of the commandments whole heartedly without question and forget the sabbath worship commandment. Yes it's a beautiful day of rest to enjoy with God and People and the rest and fellowship recharges my heart with strength for the week. I just have to learn how to communicate this joy with my friends from my life outside of church.

  5. Often the emphasis on obedience in the ABSG seems legalistic to me. Do the lesson authors assume everyone is well grounded in love to God?

    • Dana, If you wonder what "the lesson authors assume," I suggest watching the It Is Written videos featuring the lesson authors. This quarter's lessons were written by Mark Finley. While I've not been a Mark Finley fan before, I confess, I've really appreciated these videos featuring him. You can find last week's video by choosing the link to 8: Light from the Sanctuary – It is Written – Discussions with the Author

      Please watch that video and look for the one on this week's lesson to be posted soon.

      I find that my preconceptions affect the way I "see" things. I believe the love of God is demonstrated in His Law, and we just need to learn how to present it correctly. Love begets love, and that's why we need to learn to love and to demonstrate the character of God to those around us.

  6. We cannot see God face to face because sin has created a barrier between us. The law was given so we could understand the nature of God, and see that the relationship He wants with us is one of mutual love and respect. It's a law because it is immutable - God doesn't change. Therefore His promises are real and we can depend on them. Fallen humans have 4 standards to the character of God and how we should relate to Him, and 6 that show us how to relate to others.
    They are Keys To Happiness and God's peace.

  7. "The emphasis should be who we worship not the day on which we worship" Sister Inge Anderson please elaborate this one.
    Otherwise I'm learning a lot through this platform.

    • Elsie, when we worship on the seventh-day Sabbath we acknowledge that the Creator of heaven and earth is our God, not some human who set up another day of worship. That's why I believe it is better to start with creation when talking about the Sabbath, rather than the Ten Commandments.

      If our main focus is on which is the right day, the central issue of who we worship can get lost.

  8. I just returned back to my church seventh day Adventist. Unfortunately, I stopped attending for many years and went back to worldly life. I am so happy now that I came back, but sometimes especially when I go on vacation I don’t attend church, but never ever stop worshipping, reading my bible, and my lesson. But I find it very difficult when my family puts me down for not being at church. anywhere that I am I am expected to be at church. I also have grand kids that have games on Saturdays so sometimes NOT OFTEN I miss church to go watch them and again I get backlash from my family. Isn’t this legalism, please let me know if I am sinning by not attending church SOMETIMES????

  9. You have to becareful, the enemy dose not want us to
    keep the Sabbath, we must learn to worship HIM the creator on
    his holy day , thats why we have the excuses that we are so much tired on the Sabbath,and also we must be examples to others and not engage in any activity that doesn't bring praise
    to God! we can not compromise !!
    May the Spirit of God lead us unto all truths !!

  10. The Bible is very clear on what you do on the Sabbath. What Seventh-day Adventist should do is to follow what the Bible says. If we throw our own opinions in every discussion there will no where near to a solution.

    Take heed of what the prophet Isiah said, "If you stop your foot from doing your own pleasure ... on My Sabbath day." Simple! The question is, when you are running on Sabbath, whose pleasure? Will God be healthier when you run on Sabbath? When talking about the world news on Sabbath whom to you glorify? Stop is not legalistic. In the decalogue, why not the don'ts from the sixth to the tenth commands are not legalistic, but Sabbath is? I do not look at the don'ts on Sabbath they are legalistic. They are for our benefit. The prominent point of Stop! on the Sabbath is for us to stop focusing on our self to focus on God.

    In the creation account God created the world by creating things out of nothing.He then separates them, and the He fills the empty spaces. However, on the seventh day, there was no beginning and there was no ending. But the most interesting point is, "on the seventh day God ... " The narrative changed from the created to the Creator. Here on the seventh day God put himself there for us to know that the seventh day, now known as Sabbath, belongs to him.

    Sabbath don'ts are not legalistic. It is for us to remember to worship God the one who created us. The One who redeems us and the one who is to come.

    The rest in Genesis 2:1 - 3 reveals in Revelation that reminds us of the heavenly rest when Jesus comes. Sabbath, therefore, is for us to practice today of the greatest Sabbath rest to come. Matt 24:13 affirms that only those who endures to the end will be saved.

    Sabbath is a test of our allegiance to God. Again it is our personal choice whom we worship and serve. Sabbath stop is not legalistic, but for us to remember the One who created and redeemed us.


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