Sabbath Observance Myth Busters #1 Sabbath Afternoon Naps

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As Seventh-day Adventists continue celebrating the 150th anniversary of our name, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the Sabbath we observe and how we observe it. It must be important because it is in our name. The fourth commandment tells us to remember the Sabbath. Most of the world has forgotten it and thus has forgotten its Creator. Our name reminds the world that we have a Creator. However many myths exist about Sabbath keeping. Many times we have instituted our own traditions because we did not realize the true spirit of the Sabbath. This month I would like to address some of the myths about Sabbath keeping. I am in no way pretending to be an expert on Sabbath observance. I am only sharing what I feel to be true. If you disagree, please feel free to comment and say why. This blog covers myth number one.

Myth # 1: Sabbath is a time for sleeping all afternoon.

For years Adventist families have tried to abstain from doing things that would break the Sabbath, by just sleeping right through it. They figure you can’t do something wrong as long as you are asleep. Wrong! The Sabbath is a day for activity.

“…and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse 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 man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:10-12 NIV.

 

So the Sabbath is a day for doing good. We see this same thought expressed in Isaiah 58:13-14.

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
       and from doing as you please on my holy day,
       if you call the Sabbath a delight
       and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
       and if you honor it by not going your own way
       and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
       and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
       and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
       The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Growing up I heard these verses used to tell us that we should not just do as we please in worldly talk or entertainment on the Sabbath, but as you read all of Isaiah 58 you get the broader meaning. God is talking about people who are breaking the Sabbath by going to church and Sabbath School! That’s right! They go to church and debate theology in the Sabbath school and then they go to fellowship lunch and sit with their friends talking their own idle words, while they ignore the stranger at the next table. God tells His people that true Sabbath keeping is doing good to others, and helping the stranger and less fortunate. God gave us the tithing system to help us systematically overcome our selfishness with money, and He gave us the Sabbath to help us systematically overcome selfishness with our time. Please keep in mind that even though Jesus did good He also needed rest from time to time.

I am not saying the Bible teaches we should not sleep at all on the Sabbath or even visit with friends and family. I just believe it is more than just that. As in all things there is a balance.

“None should feel at liberty to spend sanctified time in an unprofitable manner. It is displeasing to God for Sabbathkeepers to sleep during much of the Sabbath. They dishonor their Creator in so doing, and, by their example, say that the six days are too precious for them to spend in resting. They must make money, although it be by robbing themselves of needed sleep, which they make up by sleeping away holy time. They then excuse themselves by saying: “The Sabbath was given for a day of rest. I will not deprive myself of rest to attend meeting, for I need rest.” Such make a wrong use of the sanctified day. They should, upon that day especially, interest their families in its observance and assemble at the house of prayer with the few or with the many, as the case may be. They should devote their time and energies to spiritual exercises, that the divine influence resting upon the Sabbath may attend them through the week. Of all the days in the week, none are so favorable for devotional thoughts and feelings as the Sabbath.” {Counsels to the Church p. 270.4}

 

Redemption in Romans, Lesson 11

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s SS Lesson asks, “What can we learn from the mistakes of many in ancient Israel? How can we avoid doing the same things today?”

I think as a whole we have the same struggle ancient Israel had when it comes to a proper association with the rest of the world. It appears to me, that either we join them in “Baal worship” or we have nothing to do with them whatsoever.  Jesus showed us the perfect balance to take.  In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. Salt is to have saving qualities. At the same time, salt must be mixed with the food in order to have any kind of savor. Likewise we must have some association with the world. Please allow me to share some quotes from the classic Desire of Ages and Ministry of Healing, that may help us find a healthy balance.

As disciples of Christ we shall not mingle with the world from a mere love of pleasure, to unite with them in folly. Such associations can result only in harm. We should never give sanction to sin by our words or our deeds, our silence or our presence. Wherever we go, we are to carry Jesus with us, and to reveal to others the preciousness of our Saviour. But those who try to preserve their religion by hiding it within stone walls lose precious opportunities of doing good. Through the social relations, Christianity comes in contact with the world. Everyone who has received the divine illumination is to brighten the pathway of those who know not the Light of life.   We should all become witnesses for Jesus. Social power, sanctified by the grace of Christ, must be improved in winning souls to the Saviour. Let the world see that we are not selfishly absorbed in our own interests, but that we desire others to share our blessings and privileges. Let them see that our religion does not make us unsympathetic or exacting. Let all who profess to have found Christ, minister as He did for the benefit of men.  –Desire of Ages, p.  152

  Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts.– Desire of Ages, p. 151

     Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”–The Ministry of Healing, p. 143

How big of a mission field do you have as an ambassador for Christ? How many non Christians do you have on your cell phone contact list? In other words how many non Christians do you come in contact with on a friendly every day basis?  How many non Christians do you have as Facebook friends? Are you being exclusive and reclusive like the Pharisees or are you reaching out to the world in the same way Christ did? Christ calls us all to be missionaries. He may not need us to go overseas but He may be asking you to leave your big comfy church and Christian Community and move to a dark county where there are no churches for miles and start mingling with the people there and start a new church. He may be asking you to drop out of your church softball league and join a secular league where you can reach people you could reach no other way. I am just thinking out loud here, but you get the idea. 🙂 In Isaiah 58 God tells ancient Israel that while they thought they were worshipping God by debating theology in the temple with their friends, that real worship is going out to share His love and mercy with the world.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.