Seventh Day Plus
As a people, we are well aware of the wonderful truth of the seventh-day Sabbath given to us in Scripture, and the desire of the Lord to lift up His downtrodden law in this dark world. We are often content in this knowledge, going to church week by week, paying our tithe, and believing the truth. As we study the subject of the Sabbath in its framework of truth, we will find more—much more—that God desires to teach us and help us to live.
Sabbath is more than going to church on the 7th day
“God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:3).
“The Sabbath is a golden clasp that unites God and His people.”1
To keep the Sabbath holy, we must be a holy people. This cannot be if we are not united with Christ, who is our Righteousness. It also cannot be kept holy if we do not do the will of God the other six days of the week. It is a deeper study, but let us endeavor to pray and dig deeper into the Word of God to understand our privilege and our responsibility before God. 1 Peter 2:9 gives us that special calling, that wonderful mandate as believers and followers of Christ.
“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.”2
“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. 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 speak- ing thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isaiah 58:12–14).
“In establishing new churches, ministers should give careful instruc- tion as to the proper observance of the Sabbath. We must be guarded, lest the lax practices that prevail among Sun- daykeepers shall be followed by those who profess to observe God’s holy rest day. The line of demarcation is to be made clear and distinct between those who bear the mark of God’s kingdom and those who bear the sign of the kingdom of rebellion.”3
What are the lines of demarcation?
Be prepared daily
“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 char- acter. every day their light will shine forth to others in good works.
“In all that pertains to the success of God’s work, the very first victories are to be won in the home life. Here the preparation for the Sabbath must begin. Throughout the week let parents remem- ber that their home is to be a school in which their children shall be prepared for the courts above. Let their words be right words. No words which their chil- dren should not hear are to escape their lips. Let the spirit be kept free from irrita- tion. Parents, during the week live as in the sight of a holy god, who has given you children to train for Him. Train for Him the little church in your home, that on the Sabbath all may be prepared to worship in the Lord’s sanctuary.”4
Be prepared in rest
“When the Sabbath is … remembered, the temporal will not be allowed to encroach upon the spiritual. No duty pertaining to the six working days will be left for the Sabbath. During the week our energies will not be so exhausted in temporal labor that on the day when the Lord rested and was refreshed we shall be too weary to engage in His service.”5
Be prepared on Preparation Day. It is not difficult, with proper planning, o have our duties finished with extra time to relax, pray, and sing before the Sabbath draws on. The Preparation Day is exactly that, the day to make sure that our Sabbath clothing, our Sabbath food, and our personal cleanliness of home and body are taken care of before the Sabbath begins.
“While preparation for the Sabbath is to be made all through the week, Friday is to be the special preparation day. Through Moses the Lord said to the children of Israel: ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning’ (Exodus 16:23). . . . There was something to be done in preparing the heaven-sent bread for the children of Israel. The Lord told them that this work must be done on Friday, the preparation day. This was a test to them. God desired to see whether or not they would keep the Sabbath holy.”6
“While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Pro- vide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day.”7
“On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule you can do it. the Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment.”8
Be prepared in heart
The Sabbath is the day to draw even closer to the Lord, our families, and our brethren and sisters. How important then to have the right heart preparation sothatwecanbeinaframeofmindto seek and receive blessings from our Lord.
Be prepared early. We don’t need to be rushing about and late to receive the Sabbath blessings. If we are habitually late to prepare on a weekly basis, what will happen as we prepare to meet Jesus at His return?
“We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time. Whenever it is possible, employ- ers should give their workers the hours from Friday noon until the beginning of the Sabbath. Give them time for preparation, that they may welcome the Lord’s day with quietness of mind. By such a course you will suffer no loss even in temporal things.”9
Be prepared in your relationships. It is not true worship if we meet with others and have wrong feelings in our heart. We must put forth efforts to be truly united in spirit with our brethren and sisters
and our families or we will not receive the blessings of God. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
“There is another work that should receive attention on the preparation day. On this day all differences be- tween brethren, whether in the family or in the church, should be put away. Let all bitterness and wrath and malice be expelled from the soul. In a humble spirit, ‘confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed’ (James 5:16).
“Before the setting of the sun let the members of the family assemble to read God’s word, to sing and pray. There is need of reform here, for many have been remiss. We need to confess to God and to one another.”10
Be prepared in worshipful attitude. Whether or not you have children, each should be in an attitude of worship, seeking the Lord, praising His goodness, listening for His still, small voice. It is appropriate to have a special set of cloth- ing appropriate for this reverent worship. Remember, church is not a fashion show; it is the seeking place of God.
“At family worship let the children take a part. Let all bring their Bibles and each read a verse or two. Then let some familiar hymn be sung, followed by prayer. For this, Christ has given a model. The Lord’s Prayer was not intended to be repeated merely as a form, but it is an illustration of what our prayers should be—simple, ear- nest, and comprehensive. In a simple petition tell the Lord your needs and express gratitude for His mercies. Thus you invite Jesus as a welcome guest into your home and heart.”11
“Many need instruction as to how they should appear in the assembly for worship on the Sabbath. They are not to enter the presence of God in the common clothing worn during the week. All should have a special Sabbath suit, to be worn when at- tending service in God’s house. While we should not conform to worldly fashions, we are not to be indifferent in regard to our outward appearance. We are to be neat and trim, though with- out adornment. The children of God should be pure within and without.”12
Be early to rise and cheerful at home. This is part of having the right attitude to worship the Lord. If all rise early, well-rested, there will be a holy calm and expectancy to meet with the Lord and others.
“Let not the precious hours of the Sabbath be wasted in bed. On Sabbath morning the family should be astir early. If they rise late, there is confusion and bustle in preparing for breakfast and Sabbath school. There is hurrying, jostling, and impatience. Thus unholy feelings come into the home. The Sabbath, thus desecrated, becomes a weariness, and its coming is dreaded rather than loved.”13
Eat lighter for clearer minds. So much is lost when we are overly tired or overfed. Our mind becomes dull, and we do not discern all the Lord wants to teach us.
“We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. Overeating befogs the brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is con- fused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many have done more than they think to dishonor God.”14
“Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of
his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” “Holy and reverend is his name” (Psalms 100:2–4; 111:9).
“As you enter the place of worship, ask the Lord to remove all evil from your heart. Bring to His house only that which He can bless. Kneel before God in His temple, and consecrate to Him His own, which He has purchased with the blood of Christ. Pray for the speaker or the leader of the meeting. Pray that great blessing may come through the one who is to hold forth the word of life. Strive earnestly to lay hold of a blessing for yourself.”15
It is important to remember that we are called to represent Christ in all that we say and do. Neatness and order and cleanliness should characterize the appearance and dwellings of Sabbath- keepers and also the whole place of worship and its service. It is important to teach the children this by precept and example and to keep them from causing confusion and noise in the church.
Yet we are commanded: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
“the house of god is often des- ecrated by Sabbathkeepers’ children. their parents allow them to run about the house, play, talk, take the attention of the people, and manifest their evil tempers in the very meetings where they have assembled to worship god. i have seen that in the assembly of the saints a holy stillness should reign. but the house where god’s people assemble is often made a perfect baby- lon, a place of confusion and disorder. this is displeasing to god.”16
“If when the people come into the house of worship, they have genuine reverence for the Lord and bear in mind that they are in His presence, there will be a sweet eloquence in silence. The whispering and laughing and talking which might be without sin in a common business place should find no sanction in the house where God is worshiped. The mind should be prepared to hear the word of God, that it may have due weight and suitably impress the heart. . . .
“When the meeting is opened by prayer, every knee should bow in the presence of the Holy One, and every heart should ascend to God in silent devotion. . . . All the service should be conducted with solemnity and awe, as if in the visible presence of the Master of assemblies.”17
This same principle applies after the service, that our hearts can absorb the solemn message we have been given.
“When the word is spoken, you should remember, brethren, that you are listening to the voice of God through His delegated servant. Listen attentively. Sleep not for one instant, because by this slumber you may lose the very words that you need most— the very words which, if heeded, would save your feet from straying into wrong paths. Satan and his angels are busy creating a paralyzed condition of the senses so that cautions, warnings, and reproofs shall not be heard; or if heard, that they shall not take effect upon the heart and reform the life. Sometimes a little child may so attract the attention of the hearers that the precious seed does not fall into good ground and bring forth fruit. Sometimes young men and women have so little rever- ence for the house and worship of God that they keep up a continual com- munication with each other during the sermon. Could these see the angels of God looking upon them and marking their doings, they would be filled with shame, with abhorrence of themselves. God wants attentive hearers. It was while men slept that Satan sowed his tares.
“When the benediction is pro- nounced, all should still be quiet, as if fearful of losing the peace of Christ. Let all pass out without jostling or loud talking, feeling that they are in the presence of God, that His eye is resting upon them, and that they must act as in His visible presence. Let there be no stopping in the aisles to visit or gossip, thus blocking them up so that others cannot pass out. The precincts of the church should be invested with a sacred reverence. It should not be made a place to meet old friends and visit and introduce common thoughts and worldly business transactions. These should be left outside the church. God and angels have been dishonored by the careless, noisy laughing and shuf- fling of feet heard in some places.”18
Part of the purpose of gathering together is to meet with each other to fellowship, to encourage, and to strengthen in the most holy faith. It is not to be a common gathering but a holy one. Conversations should be uplifting, edifying.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
“We do not obtain a hundredth part of the blessing we should obtain from assembling together to worship God. Our perceptive faculties need sharpen- ing.”19
The Sabbath is the time to get the double portion of manna. That does not mean that we need hours of sermons. If we have the proper attitude and heart, and the preacher has the same, God can speak without our becoming weary. The service time is also the opportunity to share His goodness shown in our life, a chance to praise Him.
“The preaching at our Sabbath meetings should generally be short. Opportunity should be given for those who love God to express their gratitude and adoration.”20
“[Daniel Webster aptly declared:] Many of the ministers of the present day take their text from St. Paul and preach from the newspapers. When they do so, I prefer to enjoy my own thoughts, rather than listen. I want my pastor to come to me in the Spirit of the gospel, saying, ‘You are mortal. Your probation is brief, your work must be done speedily. . . . You are hastening to the bar of God. The Judge standeth before the door.’ ”21
“Let none come to the place of worship to take a nap. there should be no sleeping in the house of god. You do not fall asleep when engaged in your temporal business, because you have an interest in your work. Shall we allow the service which involves eternal interests to be placed on a lower level than the temporal affairs of life?”22
The afternoon and evening of the Sabbath is also a special time. It is not for us to use it for our own pleasure or to talk about our own things. It is dedi- cated time to learn more of our Creator through His creation. Especially for those with families, this is the ideal time to draw closer. It will then be the best day of the week.
“The Sabbath school and the meet- ing for worship occupy only a part
of the Sabbath. the portion remain- ing to the family may be made the most sacred and precious season of all the Sabbath hours. Much of this time parents should spend with their children.”23
“Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee” (Job 12:7, 8).
“In pleasant weather let parents walk with their children in the fields and groves. Amid the beautiful things of nature tell them the reason for the institution of the Sabbath.”24
Traveling on the Sabbath
“If we desire the blessing promised to the obedient, we must observe the Sabbath more strictly. I fear that we often travel on this day when it might be avoided. In harmony with the light which the Lord has given in regard to the observance of the Sabbath, we should be more careful about travel- ing on the boats or cars on this day. In these matters we should set a right example before our children and youth. In order to reach the churches that need our help, and to give them the message that God desires them to hear, it may be necessary for us to travel on the Sabbath; but so far as possible we should secure our tickets and make all necessary arrangements on some other day. When starting on a journey we should make every possible effort to plan so as to avoid reaching our destination on the Sabbath.”25
(It is important to understand the above in the context of the days when this text was written. The boats and cars referred to paid transportation needed when traveling a great distance. The believers at that time travelled by horse and carriage which took consid- erable time. Increased technology may have facilitated our transportation op- tions today, but the principles involved are timeless.)
“Great blessings are enfolded in the observance of the Sabbath, and God desires that the Sabbath day shall be to us a day of joy.”26
Let us remember that the Sabbath is a time to commune with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. May we each receive His blessing is my prayer.
“For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8). R
1 Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 351.
2 Ibid., p. 353. [Emphasis supplied.]
4 Ibid., pp. 353, 354. [Emphasis supplied.]
5 Ibid., p. 354.
6 Ibid., pp. 354, 355.
7 Ibid., p. 357. [Emphasis supplied.]
8 Ibid., pp. 355, 356. [Emphasis supplied.]
9 Ibid., p. 356.
11 Ibid., p. 357.
12 Ibid., p. 355.
13 Ibid., p. 357.
15 Ibid., pp. 362, 363.
16 Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, pp. 288, 289. [Emphasis supplied.]
17 Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 492, 493.
18 Ibid., pp. 493, 494.
19 Ibid., vol. 6, p. 362.
20 Ibid., p. 361.
21 The Review and Herald, June 23, 1891.
22 Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 361. [Emphasis supplied.]
23 Ibid., p. 358. [Emphasis supplied.] 24 Ibid.
25 Ibid., pp. 359, 360.
26 Ibid., p. 349.