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Wednesday: The Sabbath — 31 Comments

  1. My research supervisor asked me completely out of the blue, why I kept Sabbath. Here I was facing a theological question by an unchurched secular-minded academic. He had no background in church attendance, Bible reading, or Sunday School. What do you tell a person like that? I had to think fast, and I told him that one of the ten commandments reminded us to keep the seventh day as a day of rest. I told him what that meant to me.

    We often had our research meetings on Friday afternoon and our discussions were often quite vigorous as we evaluated ideas and argued their strengths and weaknesses. Often, I would drive home late Friday afternoon completely exhausted from our discussions. I reminded my academic supervisor of this. Then I told him that when I get home on Friday evening, I switch off from my studies and I have the next 24 hours to rest and spend time with my friends in the church. I told him of what the Sabbath meant to my church friends and me. In the end he said, “I wish I had a day like that!”

    Why do we keep Sabbath? I know that some Seventh-day Adventists keep it because they can say to Catholics and apostate protestants that we have got it right and they are wrong. Others keep the Sabbath because God said so and it is the law. Still others keep it because they can do historical studies that show the integrity of the seventh-day Sabbath remains unchanged since time began.

    The Sabbath is one of our core fundamentals, and part of our name, but sometimes I get the feeling we are so defensive about our belief, that we miss the point of what Sabbath is all about. It is about rest and re-creation. Its greatest blessing comes from sharing the Sabbath with others. I have made the point before, but it is worth repeating here, that if we have just transplanted the church experience of Sunday back to Saturday, we have missed the point of Sabbath.

    The Sabbath should be a great unifier for our church, not just in the commonality of shared mental assent of belief but in the communality of shared experience. How do we make that a reality?

    And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. Mark 2: 27,28

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    • Very well stated Maurice! I ABSOLUTELY agree with every word and I certainly hope that you did tell your research supervisor that he does have a day like that ... and all he needs to do is claim it.

      (4)
  2. I would like everyone's help to find ways to describe our Sabbath experience to people like Maurice's supervisor.
    I believe saying "I keep the Sabbath" does not fully do the experience justice.
    As a start, how about:
    I celebrate my salvation on Sabbath
    It is a day of rest and gladness (my mother's favorite)
    It is a reunion with my LORD
    It is a day of fellowship with like minded people
    It is a day of spiritual renewal/a retreat
    It is .....

    (8)
    • I keep the Sabbath because I have returned to the God of my Father, Mother, and Brothers. I look forward to the Sabbath every week as a day of rest and extra fellowship with Christ and Christian friends. After doing it a while it became a delight. Just as after sticking with my diabetic diet good food became a delight.

      (3)
  3. God has sent us the Sabbath with a full meaning, to rest, to keep, to help neighbors, as a sign... It makes all difference in my life! It is a blessed day for me and my family!

    (4)
  4. The Sabbath is indeed a blessing. Besides spending time with God and the church family studies are now showing that it is good for mental and physical health. Studies are showing that individuals who observe the Sabbath are living longer, healthier and happier lives. Thank you God for the Sabbath day.

    (3)
  5. Sabbath God's seventh day but it was man's first day.
    Man did not begin by working. It was God who began by working.
    Even in Matthew 28:28-30
    Come, I will give you rest.
    In Christ, we will always begin by resting.
    Satan, you have worked six days; therefore, you DESERVE the seventh day rest.
    In Christ, I receive the rest because agape always gives.

    Deuteronomy 5:12-15 Your redemption from Egypt (sin) was not your doing.
    Moses thought he could provide the deliverance from Egypt because he had the education, military leader, and had been brought up in the palace. (Acts 7:22)
    God had to send him back to school to unlearn and relearn his dependency on God.
    When we take matters into our own hand, Christ will invariably will send us into the refinery to remove that which would not depend upon God.
    The reason sin will not raise the second time because God's people have placed their trust in Christ alone.
    No one will enter heaven who may have one iota of self dependency left in him.
    True Sabbath worship shows our dependency on God. Not I but Christ.

    (3)
    • Yes, of course it is. Read Matt 12: 10-13 where Jesus healed the man with the withered hand. Attending a funeral helps the recovery process for those who have been affected by the passing of their loved one.

      (1)
      • "Yes, of course it is". With respect Maurice, that is rather a bold statement, if I may say so. Things are rarely that black and white. Shirley makes some valuable points and, depending on your standing with the non-church member and their family, your presence at said funeral may have zero impact on the recover process. The question is can God be glorified through my presence there. If yes, go. If not, stay away.

        (0)
    • I wouldn't dictate to any one but I would ask them to consider the type of funeral. Is it a service with a some consoling fellowship or is it a big involved ritual with huge amounts of cooking and ritual dancing. Is it the same amount of work as a huge wedding or is it similar to going to sabbath service and potluck afterwards?

      (0)
  6. Should you mention to your colleague that Adventists officially keep both Saturday and Sunday? We are very evangelistic about every other position we hold but so silent about our Sunday observance that most Adventists know nothing about it. How does keeping both Saturday and Sunday create unity? I can say, after visiting Samoa, the Seventh-day Adventist Church there is deeply divided and feels abandoned by the world church. 7 years and counting

    (0)
    • The Tonga Samoa situation is a difficult one and illustrates some of the complexity of living in a modern world and of trying to "legislate a solution" from the outside. for those who do not know the situation here is a postage-stamp sized description.
      In 2011 the Samoan government decided that it should be on the western side of the International Dateline to be in line with its closest significant neighbors, Australia and New Zealand. Prior to that, it was on the eastern side which meant that it was always a day our from its neighbors. Consequently, they skipped a day of the week. Seventh-day Adventists now had the problem as to which day was Sabbath. Should they accept the new week and worship on Saturday or should they maintain the weekly cycle and worship on Sunday? There were arguments put forward on both sides and ultimately the issue ended up in the SPD who finally decided that the weekly cycle should be maintained and that Adventists should worship on Sunday. They had a precedent in mind because Tonga had faced the issue in the late 1800s and Adventists there had made a similar decision (Part of the reason for that is that American missionaries arrived from America and kept the weekly cycle from America in spite of the fact that at the time Tonga considered itself on the Western side of the International Dateline.)

      Some of the Samoans believed that the change of the week was a manmade one and they were keeping the weekly cycle by worshiping on Sunday. Others considered it important that they are seen to be worshipping on Saturday because the difference between Adventists and other churches should be noticeable. Both groups believe they are following the word of God and their conscience. And so we have Adventists who have skipped a day when the change occurred and worship on Sabbath on Saturday, and the other group believes the change to the week is artificial and worship on Sabbath on Sunday.

      The issue has caused a division in the Samoan church that is deeply unsettling and the ones that feel it the most are those who worship on Saturday.

      I don't what this issue to take a life of its own on this blog. There are other places where the arguments have raged back and forth for the last 7 years as John indicates. The problem is one unique to the island nations that are along the 180th meridian. (I should point out that there is no international convention about where the dateline should be. A convention was held in the 1800s which settled the location of the 0th meridian (Greenwich) but while the committee acknolwedged the consequences for a dateline, it was left to individual countries to decide for themselves.) Further, there is no theological argument for the placement of the dateline.

      I am very familiar with the problems caused by this situation. Family members have worked in Tonga and none of us see the problem going away easily. Perhaps the best we can do is accept that both groups have followed their conscience on this one. (Those of you who know me know that I believe one side to be right and the other wrong on this issue. I have tried to be as neutral as I can in this post because I don't think that publically taking sides really helps.)

      (2)
      • The theological arguments are:
        1. God told man to subdue the earth. There must be a place where the day begins and ends. Surely that must be a universal place agreed by the community.
        2. Divers weights and measures are an abomination. Diverse from what? Surely from standard. The civil authority administers standards.
        3. The seventh day is the Sabbath. Saturday is the seventh day whether or not Adventists think so.

        (3)
        • The issue is that both sides can produce theological arguments - I have seen them, pages and pages of them but it has not provided a solution.

          (3)
          • Both sides can’t be right.
            Our Church’s theologians say, “The calendar was changed and the days were renamed by the government.” Neither biblical nor true.
            Tonga has never shifted the dateline but Adventist theologians have decided, “Tongans keep the seventh-day Sabbath but call it Sunday.” False.
            Since our inception we have vehemently challenged the whole mainstream Christian Church’s Sunday keeping using Scripture, so how does the reasoning for our Sunday keeping hold any water?

            (0)
            • It's true that both sides cannot be right. However, both sides believe they are right and worship on their respective Sabbaths because of that belief. If people were making the choice of day based on their desire to participate in or watch Rugby football games on the "other day" then they would be making a convenience of the situation and that would be wrong.

              I regret that the official decision was made to worship on Sunday for Samoa, but I also know that if the decision had been the other way, the Church would have also split, just the demographic would have been a bit different. I do not know how to resolve the situation. It is interesting that Hubert Tolhurst, a missionary to Tonga in the 1930s, in a letter to the Australian Union at the time, wrote about the Tongan situation and while defending the situation in Tonga, admitted that it was 30 years too late to change.

              Far be it from me to tell the Samoans and Tongans what to do, but this is a situation that requires tolerance. Our salvation is by grace, not by works, and if you honestly believe that you are worshipping on the right day, you are honouring God. Neither side is trying to defy God and we need to keep that in mind. Perhaps the situation is more of a test for support for one another.

              (0)
        • John, here is another on the Sabbath that is not solved Biblically. If you were a Misionary to Barrow Alaska, where there is no sunset 79 days out of the year, and no sunrise for 67 days of the year. What would you do? The Bible only says from sundown to sundown. You would have options. 1. Use Juneau, Alaska sundowns. 2. Use Sacramento, California’s sunsdowns. Or use Miami, Florida’s sundowns. You would want to be consistent. Then you would have the decision of which day to go back to the Barrow sundowns and which day to go off. Again what would you do? Remembering the Bible only says sundown to sundown, just as important as the 6th vs the 7th day. I live 70 miles from the time zone west of me. What if the government pulled me into the time zone West of me. I would stay with the government, but some could make an argument to stay with the traditional time zone. If I lived in Tonga Samoa I would feel uncomfortable of worshiping on the same day as my Sunday keeping Christian friends. I would also feel uncomfortable going against my denominations decision. I am fortunate I have not been in Samoa’s or Barrow, Alaska’s situation. I believe God has His Seventh-day-Adventist Samoa’s, which ever way they go.

          (1)
          • The issue of the Arctic Sabbath did come up in Norway - long story. Two practices developed for recognizing the commencement and end of the Sabbath. Eventually, it was decided that folk should follow their own conscience on that one and follow the practice they saw fit. They were advised though that a) they should not swap practices for convenience, and b) they should not be critical of those who followed the alternative practice.

            (0)
          • Alaska's question wasn't over which day, only over the sunset. I can tell you, from my visit to Samoa, that the division in the Church is deep and damaging as long as it continues. The stupid thing is, the Samoans said if the Division instructed them to they would change back to Saturday and the Division leadership said if the Samoans changed back to Saturday they would rubber stamp it. But nobody moves. How incredible that Seventh-day Adventists think they need permission from the Church to observe Sabbath on Saturday. How incredible that Adventist congregations are locked out of SDA Churches because they observe Saturday! How tragic that long standing friendships have been rent asunder over disagreement about the day for keeping the Sabbath. How ridiculous that people who suffered violence, hatred and dis ownership by their families when they joined the Adventists now keep Sunday the same as those families. Many have returned to their former Churches

            (1)
      • The situation is only difficult because Adventist leadership made it so. Observing Sabbath I'd simple. Remember the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath, wherever you are. Td the day before Sunday. Don't trust anyone who tells you local time is incorrect

        (0)
  7. The statement in this lesson on Wednesday regarding The Seventh Day Sabbath that says, "It is one that, with very few exceptions in Christendom, we alone follow." I would say that this statement is not quite correct in that there are not "very few exceptions," in this matter when one considers that Jews still hold this belief as still binding, then there are also the Seventh Day Baptists that started holding this belief about 300 years before SDA's did, then there are also Non-Denominationl SDA's that still do, and there are also Pentecostal SDA's that are in line with this, and then there are also several SDA OFF SHOOTS that still hold this belief. I would not say therefore that there are "very few exceptions," in this matter. Therefore I would not go as far as to say that "we alone follow," this belief. I would say that WE ALSO FOLLOW THIS. But we are not "Alone" in this.

    (3)
  8. How do you think Adventists react to the verse...But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”? JN 5:17

    (1)
  9. To pastors who teach that the sabbath commandment is void..because it is never repeated in the new testament, I tell them that the sabbath commandment gets more exposure in the new testament than all of the other 9 put together.

    (1)
  10. I'm wondering Why do we make statements in our lessons that contain known error?
    "Another crucial biblical teaching that Seventh-day Adventists believe and uphold is the seventh-day Sabbath. This is a key doctrine that brings unity and fellowship among us. It is one that, with very few exceptions in Christendom, we alone follow."

    As a denomination, we know this statement to be inaccurate. Seventh-day Adventists are not even the first denomination to bring the Sabbath doctrine to the states nor the early Adventists.

    Today there are many churches/denominations practicing the Sabbath based upon a biblical foundation: http://www.the-ten-commandments.org/sabbathkeepingchurches.html

    MIRACLES & BLESSINGS-ISAIAH 53!!!

    (2)
    • The statement does add the rider, "with very few exceptions" and given the relative size of these Sabbath-keeping churches you can perhaps forgive the statement a little, I agree that it could have been worded better. We do tend to be possessive rather than sharing, of the Seventh-day Sabbath.

      (0)

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