Keeping the Sabbath

The very first thing God showed us to do in his Word, very few of us are willing to do. One of the greatest blessings God has ever given us is also one of the things humans have resisted the most. Learn how to be blessed by God in our latest presentation, Keeping the Sabbath.

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Last time we showed the biblical proofs for observing the Sabbath. Today we’re working on how to observe it. Before we learn how to keep the Sabbath, let’s talk about a roadblock that prevents us from understanding why we ought to observe it. I talked a bit about this last time, but there’s more to say.

Christians today say that the only things we have to observe are God’s rules in the New Testament. By the way, all of the Ten Commandments are mentioned in the New Testament for Christians, except the Sabbath. So today’s Christianity professes to observe nine of the Ten Commandments. Do you know where the Sabbath commandment is located? It’s the fourth one. It’s kind of right in the middle. It’s not at the end or the beginning, where it could be easily lopped off. It’s all part of a whole – all Ten Commandments. But today’s Christianity observes nine of those ten. How inconsistent that is! Never mind the idea that the entire New Testament church observed all Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, into the 90s AD – sixty years after Jesus started His ministry. Never mind that the apostles all observed it. Never mind that Jesus observed it and said that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? Never mind that it clearly tells us, in the New Testament, to follow His example and walk as He walked. That’s an example of selective comprehension if there ever was one! Just because a law is not mentioned in the New Testament, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to keep it. Now, if the Bible said that, then I would follow it, but the truth is, the Bible says no such thing. That’s just a humanly devised argument.

There is a scripture in the New Testament that says that there are some laws that Christians don’t need to keep any longer – at least for the time being – but those laws all had to do with two things – the national laws of Israel – how to run a country…. I think, logically, without even looking at the Bible, we can see why they’re not observed. We can’t observe them. Christianity is not a nation. The second set of laws we don’t observe any longer – or at least for the time being – has to do with all the things pertaining to temple – sacrifices, washings, rituals, etc. There is no more temple, so we don’t do those things. There is going to be a temple once again, and when that temple is there, we’ll start doing them once more, we’re told in the book of Zechariah. But everything else remains. You can read about it for yourself in Hebrews. Paul is very clear about it. But to understand it, you have to read it without preconceived notions. Just read what it says! Hebrews, the 9th chapter – I won’t take time to read it to you. We read it last time and we’ve read it many times in our presentations.

So here’s another thing to consider. Mainstream Christianity has been taught that people who try to keep the law of God – and the Sabbath is one of those – are trying to earn salvation, when it clearly says in scripture we can’t earn it. It’s a gift of God. In fact, let’s look at a good scripture about that. It’s in Ephesians 2:8.

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

You know, I believe that point of scripture with all my being. No amount of Sabbath-keeping or observance of any law can save me. Yet I observe the seventh-day Sabbath. Why? Well, I’ll explain it this way. Suppose you murdered someone. Let’s make it dramatic. You murdered a child. The trial date has arrived. You’re let out of jail to go to court. The judge is behind the bench. Your attorney and the district attorney are ready to present their cases. On the other side of the courtroom are the parents of the child you murdered. When it’s your time to testify, you go to the witness box and you admit the wrong you have done. You confess to the murder of the innocent child. But you also tell the court that before you did this terrible thing, you did a lot of good in the world. You were a model citizen. You ran a charity for children. You saved many children from the street. And you ask for mercy because of things you have done. But the judge has to be a good judge. He has to be fair. All the good you’ve done in your life does not excuse you of the crime you have committed. And you are going to have to pay the penalty for that crime. The parents of the dead child expect it. And the law calls for it.

When we break a law of God – no matter which one it is – there has to be a penalty paid. And that penalty is always the same. It’s death. So no matter how much Sabbath-keeping I do, it won’t save me from the violations of God’s law that I have committed in the past. I’m not a legalist and I’m not trying to earn salvation. There is no way to do that. There is only one thing that is going to save me. And that’s in Acts 4:12.

Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. And that name is Jesus Christ – the only man who never sinned, who never had to die, according to the law, paid the penalty for our sins by dying in our place. He died to cover the violations that we’ve committed.

Why, then, would I keep the laws of God if I can’t gain salvation from it? Well, there are three reasons that all fit together. Number one: A law of God shows us how to be blessed. If you look in Psalm 119:105, it says:

Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Christians have been brainwashed willingly to believe that the laws of God are a restriction, when, in fact, they are, in reality, a way to get in line with the natural laws of the universe and be blessed. If we lie, people won’t trust us. If we murder, people will fear and hate us. If we steal, people won’t open their doors to us. But what happens if we don’t keep the Sabbath?

Well, now we come to the second point. Point two: We won’t be as close to God. The last six of the Ten Commandments show us how to express love to God by showing love to His children. Some of those are don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t murder, etc. The first four show us how to express love directly to God. The commandment of the Sabbath is one of those. It has to do with our relationship with God!

I have a story that illustrates how this works. I know a woman who is a nurse. She works in a hospital. When she applied for the job, she told them about her Sabbath observance and they hired her with knowledge. Now nurses usually work on rotating shifts. So when it comes time to schedule a Sabbath-keeper, it’s a bit of a pain to the one doing the scheduling. And that person isn’t thinking about the contract or the law. He or she is just having to do a bit more work to accommodate this person. So this lady told me she could tell that her manager – the one who does the scheduling – was a bit frosty toward her. So she asked her one day about it. Her manager said that she didn’t like it that this woman was so rigid about that day. She said, “Everyone else has to flex. Why don’t you?” And the woman said to her, “I’m sure it seems to you like I am rigid and I know it’s harder for you to work with me because of my schedule, but I don’t see it as rigid at all. I see it as a grounding point. Once a week I have extra time to rest up from the incredibly intense work we do here. Once a week I have time to spend time with other people who believe like I believe. Once a week I can study my Bible, pray, draw closer to God and spiritually rejuvenate myself. Of course, I realize you don’t see it that way.” And her manager looked at her and said, “No, actually, that sounds really good to me.” And then she never bothered her again.

And some would say, “Yes, but it’s so restrictive to keep the Sabbath,” meaning they want to do what they want to do, in spite of what God tells them to do. And that goes to whether a person is converted or not – to whether that person is a committed Christian or just playing at it.

You might ask yourself, “If the Sabbath really was to be kept, would I do it?” We did a series on baptism recently, where we explained the nature of a commitment to Jesus Christ. You can look it up on our Website or see it in our YouTube playlists.

So let’s look at the third thing now. What is the third reason? Well, let’s turn to Revelation. It’s in Revelation 22:12 that I want to read.

Revelation 22:12 – Behold – Jesus says – I am coming soon, bringing My recompense with Me – to repay each person for what he has done.

But didn’t we read earlier that we can’t earn salvation? What does this mean – that we will be repaid according to what we have done? Let’s go back to the courtroom again. Let’s say that somehow you get off. Maybe your brother offers to pay your price for you – to die in your place. Now, I know our law doesn’t work that way – only God’s – but at any rate, in the story, you’re now free. Are you free, then, to go murder again? Why not? Because the law is still there. If you do it again, you’re going to be hauled up on charges again, if you’re caught. But can’t we just be forgiven again? No. Only if we break the law unintentionally. To be forgiven of our sins, we must first have a commitment to obeying it. Did you catch that? If you want to be forgiven of your sins, you have to commit to obeying God’s laws. Revelation 22:14:

Revelation 22:14 – Blessed are those who washed their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

Washing our robes, or our clothes, means to get them clean – to be living in harmony with God, to be obeying His laws. Let’s read further – Revelation 22:15:

V-15 – Outside are the dogs and sorcerers, and the sexually immoral – are you that? – and murderers, and idolaters – are you that? – and everyone who loves and practices a lie – are you that? Verse 16:

V-16 – I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendent of David, the bright morning star.

So, to be a part of God’s kingdom – to have eternal life as a member of God’s family – we have to be walking the way Jesus walked. And He never broke the law of God – all ten of them. He observed the seventh day. Will you walk with Him?

Let’s switch gears now. You know that I observe the Sabbath, but let’s talk about how to observe it. You know, really, it’s easy to understand.

On Friday evening, at sunset, stop doing your own stuff until Saturday night, at sunset, and, instead, do God’s stuff. But what does that look like in real life? Well, let’s start with a promise found in the Old Testament. It’s in Isaiah 58:13.

Isaiah 58:13 – If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy day of the LORD honorable – if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasures, or talking idly…. “Turn back your foot” – that means taking control of yourself and stop doing your own things on the Sabbath – your own recreation, shopping, working for money, yard work, cleaning – you know, your stuff – and if you, instead, focus on God and enjoy it and the Sabbath rest, if you realize you’re doing the same thing Jesus did after He created the earth in six days, if you realize that the seventh day of the week actually pictures a time when we will be at rest with God – beyond tired or sick or unhappy – because we will be immortal, and you are awe-struck and amazed, then something amazing will happen to you. It’s right here in verse 14:

V-14 – …then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride in the heights of the earth. I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

If we observe this day, our attitude toward God changes. And He promised to make us ride on the heights of the earth. Now I don’t exactly know what that means, but it sounds really good. And He will feed us with the heritage of Jacob, your father. Are you a son of Jacob? Well, with my last name, I have no doubt. But I’m just kidding. If you are a Christian, you are, in the New Testament, called the Israel of God. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. The ancient nation of Israel is a type of God’s church and what comes after it in God’s salvation plan. So what God is promising us there is eternal life.

Okay, we have the fundamental principle laid out. What about the details? How do we keep the Sabbath in the twenty-first century? How do we take the principle and apply it with common sense to whatever situation we’re in.

Well, number one: We don’t work for pay, or run a business for profit. It’s okay to do God’s work, but we don’t run a business for profit or do our work.

Point number two: Since the Sabbath is a commanded convocation, or meeting, we go to church with people of like mind and faith.

[Three:] We rest. We don’t do housework or recreation. We do our chores and work on the other six days. We get recreation on the Sabbath from being with God, instead of from TV, movies, sports, video games, etc.

But could you go camping, for example? Well, I do that occasionally. I usually get there before the Sabbath and set up camp. It’s nice to be out in nature. It’s inspiring – feel closer to God. But we try to take as much work out of it as possible by preparing ahead. I wouldn’t go fishing on the Sabbath. Instead, I would study my Bible, or pray, or talk with other people about the things of God. I’d fish before or after the Sabbath.

Fourth: We don’t travel long distances unless it’s some kind of emergency. The post-exilic Jews had, as a part of their oral law – which was not a part of law of God – the term Sabbath-day’s journey. I believe it was one eighth of a mile. There is an ultra-orthodox synagogue, that I’ve heard about, that no one can come to on the Sabbath because they’re too far away from it. When we try to take matters into our own hands and make rules God hasn’t made, we wind up painting ourselves into corners. Jesus didn’t observe the Sabbath day’s journey, nor did He observe all the ritual washings that they added to the law. He traveled to do God’s work on the Sabbath. The Pharisees judged Him and His disciples for not washing their hands as they did in their extra-biblical rules. When the disciples were hungry, they ate without washing their hands. You can read about this in Mark 7, the first part of the chapter. In that chapter, Jesus condemns them for teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Do you want a modern day example of that? Teaching people that, because Christians have the Holy Spirit, we keep the commandments in our hearts. That’s not in the Bible. It’s a humanly devised argument.

What about eating out? Everybody eats out today. Are you doing business or causing others to work? Well, let me ask you this question? Are your electric lights on on the Sabbath? Or your air conditioner running? Or your heater? Somebody somewhere is working to keep that service available to you. So should you shut that all down? No, that’s on them. And you’re not going to stop them from working on that day. They’re going to keep doing it anyway. The only thing that’s going to happen is, you’re going to be uncomfortable.

What about paying for food at a restaurant? Money is exchanged. Is that doing business? Well, I think, for the restaurateur, it is. But that’s on him. So don’t run a restaurant on the Sabbath. But what about you? Are you buying and selling goods? Or are you simply procuring a meal? The Sabbath is called a feast day in the Old Testament. Food was a good part of it. But they did as much of the preparation ahead of time, as they could. It’s good to entertain church friends on the Sabbath, but we just prepare most of the food ahead of time, so we can engage them and God more effectively on that day. Usually, when we buy a restaurant meal on the Sabbath, we’re doing it so we can fellowship longer with friends on that day. We go out to eat with them after church and then we all go home. If we didn’t do it that way, we wouldn’t spend as much time with them.

Do any of these things detract from calling the Sabbath a delight or do they enhance it? Do you see what we’re doing? Instead of being really picky, we’re applying a spiritual principle. Jesus did the very same thing. Let’s read about it – Matthew 12:1:

Matthew 12:1 – At that time, Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and they began to pluck heads of grain to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” And He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry and those who were with him – how he entered into the house of God and ate the bread of the presence, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And, if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath.”

So here Jesus, our Lord, rather than saying, “You guys, get off this Sabbath thing; I’ve done away with it,” He defends the Sabbath against the pickiness and humanly devised rules of the Pharisees. And He gives an example of how the Sabbath can be broken in an emergency or when God’s work is to be done. You know, it’s always a good time to do God’s work – to go to church, preach, fellowship, set up chairs in the meeting hall, etc. – and I’ve driven many miles in my life on the Sabbath, but only to do the work of a minister and never for vacation or personal issues.

Think about emergencies. If your child burns himself on the Sabbath, what would you do? Well, it’s ridiculous to even ask the question. What do we think God is like anyway? Let’s look in Luke 14:3.

Luke 14:3 – And Jesus responded to the lawyers and the Pharisees saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. And then He took him and healed him and sent him away. So there was a sick person there. And He said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that’s fallen into a well on the Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” The heartless legalists were at it again. And He gives us an example of mercy instead of sacrifice.

Then, when there is no emergency, we go right back to keeping the Sabbath as always, because we delight in drawing closer to God. It’s all very practical. It was an easy way to do it.

People tell me, though, “It would be impossible for me to make that switch. It’s just too hard.” No, no it wouldn’t. You’re just a few steps away from it right now. It’s right there – right there for you, if you want it. You might have to plan for it. You might have to work your way into it. You might have to, eventually, get a new job, although I’ve seen people from nearly every field observe the Sabbath. And I’ve known thousands of Sabbath-keepers who are employed and some of them, even, quite rich.

But what about going to church? Well, you might have to make a switch there, too, though there are sabbatarian arms, or off-shoots, from every major Christian denomination. It’s just a matter of how bad you want to follow Jesus Christ – how badly you want to draw close to Him, how badly you want to follow every word of God. If you want to badly enough, you can. And if you do, you will be blessed. Try it. You’ll see.

Well, that’s it for today. Check back in two weeks for our next presentation, or subscribe to this channel – LifeResource Videos – to be notified automatically, or go to our Website and sign up for our free e-newsletter that comes out every two weeks. We’ll notify you there also. Until then, keep walking the walk.