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A Day to Remember

Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11, Isaiah 58:13-14, John 14:15
Date: 04/27/2013 
The fourth commandment is about the Sabbath. Keeping the seventh day of the week as a Sabbath was instituted at Creation to be observed as a memorial of the Creator’s work. The fourth commandment is the only one that begins with “Remember” and is the only one that contains both the name and title of the Lawgiver.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Welcome, friends, to Central Church! If you are visiting today, just to let you know, our platform normally does not look the way you see it now. We’re in the middle of a special series dealing with the law of God, the Ten Commandments. I knew it would be a big commitment to do this because it’s really going to embrace 12 presentations, not that we’ve invented two new commandments, but we had one that was an introduction, and one will sort of be a conclusion—once we understand the law of God, how can we be an obedient people? Today, we find ourselves with presentation number four. Now, at this church, being a Seventh-day Adventist church, hopefully you all know which one that is. It’s dealing with the subject of the Sabbath.

I’d like to invite you to go ahead and open your Bibles to Exodus chapter 20, and this is where you find this commandment. You also find it in Deuteronomy chapter 5 and a couple of other places, but we’ll be reading this version. Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

There you have the commandment the way that it is given from the Lord, and I’d like to remind you that these are not the Ten Suggestions, they’re not the Ten Proposals or the Ten Good Ideas, these are the Ten Commandments of God, and if we believe He is God, He’s not making recommendations to us, He’s saying, “These are My commandments.” Every commandment of God is for our good. In Deuteronomy 5:29, God says, “Oh, that … they would fear Me” and there was “such a heart in them that they would” “keep all My commandments always” [KJV]—all of them always, “that it might be well with them and with their children…!” So, all of the commandments are designed to be a blessing to <_____God._____> When we disobey, we struggle and we suffer.

I was looking at an interesting connection that was made. A number of the big accidents that are kind of notorious industrial accidents in recent years, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Three Mile Island nuclear problem, the Chernobyl problem, the fatal navigational error of Korean Air 007—I don’t know if any of you remember that one, and the Challenger disaster, all came as a result of fatigue. First of all, most of those happened in the middle of the night and people were tired, and they made human error because of their fatigue. I think it’s also interesting, they’ve shown now statistically that the Monday immediately following Daylight Savings Time is one of the most dangerous times to drive because there are so many people who are out on the road that are just a little bit tired, and they can always see the accidents spike because people are missing their rest. We struggle, we suffer when we don’t get enough rest.

One thing the Sabbath is about is rest, but it’s also about relationship. We’re coming to the end of the commandments that you would find on what we call the first table of stones. I’ve got one to my right and one to my left. This is the English version. On our big stones there, you’ve got it in the actual Hebrew. But the Ten Commandments are typically divided; the Bible says they were written on two tables of stone. The first table of stone deals with our worship and our relationship to God. It’s dealing with the vertical relationship. The last six that we’ll enter into in our next presentation deal with our horizontal relationships—our love relationship with our fellow man. They summarize the two commandments that Jesus gave. “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart,” “love your neighbor as yourself” are summarized in these two commandments. It’s like you have two arms with ten fingers, and I know it’s not a perfect representation here, but you have love and love—love for God, love for your neighbor, and that it’s demonstrated through those other commandments.

These Ten Commandments don’t cover everything. They are really a summary. They are comprehensive in that they cover the duty of man to God and to his fellow man. You can’t really think of a sin (I don’t want you to try to right now; there’s just something wrong with doing that in church), but I don’t think you can think of a sin that cannot in some way fall under one of these ten precepts. These are ten principles.

In the Sabbath commandment, we’re dealing with worship of God, we’re dealing with physical rest, we’re dealing with our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. It probably would be a good idea right at the beginning to go through a list describing what is the Sabbath. Something I just remembered—Amazing Facts has a website. I’m not going to be able to cover everything in our time, but there is a website, and it is one of the most popular websites on the subject in the world. If you go to Yahoo or Google and you type something in, there may be millions of options, but the most popular ones will appear in the first few lines of the first page, right? If you type in “Sabbath Truth,” “SabbathTruth.com” or “SabbathTruth.org,” out of the 92 million possible websites you can go to, this is third or fourth on the list. I recommend you go there because it’s just got a plethora of information on the subject of the Sabbath, talks about the history of it, the purpose of it, and you’ll find it there. So please take a look at that website.

The sermon title is really “A Day to Remember.” You might call it “The Rest of the Week,” too, because it is the rest of the week. But there is a day to remember in the rest of the week. There is a day that is special. Now, while the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, what day was it for man? Man’s first 24-hour experience of a whole day was the Sabbath, because what day of the week was man made? So before he could really get into the work of the week… His only work on that day he was made was Adam had to name the animals and find a wife, and he did it all in one day. He used a dating service called “God” that helped him link up right away with the perfect person. But then, the immediate thing that happened after that was a day of worship and rest with God, and that’s what prepared him for the week. He had his battery charged. “Worship renews the spirit as sleep renews the body,” Richard Cabot said. This is supposed to be the most important day of the week because it’s an appointment with the One you love, it’s a time to nurture those relationships, it’s a time to rest in what God made. Keep in mind, when God made the Sabbath, He didn’t rest because He was tired. Does the Lord ever weary or tire? So His rest was to enjoy, to embrace, to take it in, and He wanted to spend that quality time with man.

I have an amazing fact here. Have you ever heard of President David Rice Atchison? As you list out the different presidents—, and our kids used to have a place mat that had all the presidents of the United States. It became obsolete a couple of presidents ago, but they thought they knew all the presidents. I told them one day there was a President David Rice Atchison. That’s right. He was actually a senator, and he was a pro tem senator, and his responsibility was to see to the transition between the presidency Polk and Taylor. The problem was one president ended his service on Saturday, the end of the week; the other one was supposed to start the next day, but Zachary Taylor said, “I don’t want to have an inauguration on Sunday. I don’t think that’s appropriate, so I’ll begin being president; we’ll do my inauguration on Monday.”

The problem is America could not be without a president for even 24 hours. So what do they do? Well, it fell to David Rice Atchison to be president during that time. But he was so busy all day Saturday getting the final business and legislation and everything tied off for the former administration—an incredible amount of work; worked late into the night, that finally when the term ended for Polk, Atchison went home and he went to sleep. He was so exhausted he slept for 24 hours, and he snored through his entire presidency. That’s a picture of his tombstone up there. It says, “President of the United States for One Day, Sunday, March 4th, 1849.” He used to brag afterward. He said, “Two things.” He said, “One, I had the most honest presidential administration of any president, and there were fewer complaints from my presidency than for any president.” Can you imagine being president for a day and missing it? That would be sad.

Why don’t we talk about the Sabbath and find out what is this day and what is its purpose? I’m going to go with a series of questions here, and first of all start with the basics. What is the Sabbath? What is the Sabbath day? I have a lot to share on this. First of all, the word sabbath comes from the Hebrew word shabbath, or “shabbat” it’s pronounced, and it means “to repose, to desist from exertion, to cease, to celebrate,” and it is an interesting word because it is the composite of three words in Hebrew. You have the sha- for like “Shalom,” you have abba for “father” (you know abba is “father”), and you have beth, which means “house.” The very word Sabbath means “peace in the Father’s house.” You say “Shalom,” you mean “peace,” right? And abba, beth, and it’s like “peace in the Father’s house.” That’s what we’re doing today, right? We’re enjoying that peace in the Father’s house. It represents quality time.

You can’t love God if you don’t know Him. You can’t know somebody if you don’t spend time with them. One of the most common things we hear when there are problems in a marriage and there’s counseling is, “We just don’t have any quality time.” Now, it’s one thing to say that you’re with somebody; it’s something else to say you’re having quality time. I’ve often heard Mrs. Batchelor say, “Doug, we need to spend more time together.” And I’ll say, “Well, I was home most of yesterday,” and she’ll say, “Yeah, but you were in the office. We didn’t really talk. It wasn’t quality time.” So, quality time—I see some of you—you know what I’m talking about. You can be with someone and not be with them. Doesn’t the Lord say, “I’m with you always, even to the end of the world”? He’s with us, but do we sometimes forget about Him? We’ll go half a day and not even think about God, and He says, “I’m with you,” but we’re not really with Him. A Sabbath is a time when we’re supposed to set aside the cares of life, get everything done, all the secular business, everything out of the way, so you have quality time, special, sacred, holy time with God. That’s one of the most important purposes.

It’s a time for physical rest. Your body is a machine, and we are under the effects of fatigue, and we need rest. Sometimes you need to just pause and take things in. The Sabbath means, “to cease.” I remember listening to the accounts of some of the astronauts that actually walked on the moon. There weren’t that many of them. I think it was the astronaut Irwin who was up there, and he said, “We were on the radio, and we’re talking to each other, and we’re gathering samples, and we’re bouncing around on the moon, and we’re getting messages from Houston,” and he said, “at one point they were talking to us, and I just stopped, and the earth was rising,” and he said, “You know, I thought to myself, I probably am never going to be back on the moon again. I want to just pause a moment and take it all in.” Because in the hustle and the busyness and all the demands and all the collections and all the stress of doing a mission on the moon—if you’re going to send a guy to a moon, don’t you want him to stop for a minute and just look around and take it all in in behalf of all mankind and enjoy it?

When I do weddings (some of you have seen this before), and I have the bride and the groom standing before me—they always look so nervous, to be honest with you, and I tell them, “Take a breath,” and I said, “Now look, stop, turn around,” and they get a little nervous because I said, “No, no, no, just relax. You’ve spent a lot of money for today. You’re going to forget what happened until you look at the pictures.” I said, “Stop, turn around, look at your friends. Take it all in for a minute. Enjoy it.” And if they’re still not excited, and I say, “You ought to think about this,” at that point. We get so busy with life, we sometimes don’t enjoy life, and the Sabbath is a time for blessed fellowship with God—and if you don’t enjoy God, then you won’t enjoy anything, because He’s good—and each other. So that’s part of what the Sabbath is about.

The Bible says it’s a sign of redemption. Every Sabbath we are remembering that God sanctifies us. You find that in Ezekiel 20:12. It says, “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” The Sabbath was a day that God set aside and He sanctified, and it reminds us He sanctifies us.

It’s also a sign or a memorial of creation. I believe in North America that if every church was teaching and practicing the Sabbath the way God designed, you wouldn’t have so many issues with evolution being taught, because every Sabbath we remember that He is the Creator. It says in Exodus 31:16, “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and [them]; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” This is a sign, He says, between God and His people that He is the Creator and He re-creates us.

The Sabbath was not just for the Jews. God originally gave it to Adam and Eve, and what was their religion? Whatever it was, you’re related to them. The Bible says Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man. Man is not how you spell Jew. It’s M-A-N; Jew is J-E-W. It’s a different word. Jesus could have said the Sabbath is for the Jews or the Sabbath is for the Israelites; He said the Sabbath is for man, and He used the word that encompasses all of anthropology; it’s talking about mankind. It’s for everybody. So it’s a universal institution.

It’s a time for corporate worship. Common question I get about the Sabbath, people say, “Well, yes, I should rest on the Sabbath, but nothing in the command says I need to go to church.” Oh, you’re mistaken. I told you the commandments are a summary. You read later in the Bible, you get more details on these commandments, and there’s more detail on the Sabbath other places. Leviticus 23 tells us that the Sabbath is a holy convocation. That means “a time to convene.” As I said, even in the very word, it means, “peace in the Father’s house.” We come together to corporately worship Him on that day. It’s a holy assembly. So people say, “Well, I’m going to keep the Sabbath out in nature,” and that’s usually code for, “I’m going snow skiing this Sabbath.” If you’re not gathering together… We’re to gather corporately. I’m not saying there’s never an exception where you might want to just go out and be out by yourself in nature on the Sabbath day, but if you can get together with God’s people, that is part of worshiping Him. It’s something we do together as His children, something we’re going to do in heaven. It says, “from one Sabbath to another,

all flesh shall come [together and] worship … Me.” So if we’re going to come together to worship Him in heaven, should we come together to worship Him here? So when you hear this argument, “Oh, we don’t have to come together; we don’t have to worship—,” that’s not what the Bible says. It is a holy convocation.

And of course, it is one of the Ten Commandments. Here’s where most people will say “amen” in most Christian churches to what I’ve just said. Here’s where it gets interesting as you say, “What day of the week is the Sabbath?” This is an important question. Well, it tells you if you read in Genesis chapter 2. As a matter of fact, why don’t we go there really quickly? Let’s read Genesis chapter 2, and right there in the first few verses it says, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.” Notice, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it,”—doesn’t say a seventh day; it says the seventh day. And He “sanctified it.” He didn’t sanctify a day, He sanctified the day, a specific day, “because … He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” So, because man was made in the image of God, and because God rested and we are made in His image, we should rest. So when people say it’s the Sabbath of Moses or the Sabbath of the Jews, it doesn’t say that when it’s introduced. It’s the Sabbath of the Lord, the Bible says. What day was it? First day, third day, seventh day? Three times it says “the seventh day.”

It’s interesting; the number for man in the Bible is six. When it talks about it’s the number of a man in Revelation 13, what number do you find? 666. It’s talking about the manmade worship. In the last days when the beast is trying to impose manmade worship on humanity, God is saying, “I have My day and My worship.” First time you find the number 7 mentioned three times in the Bible, it’s in the Sabbath commandment right there in the beginning—first time any number is mentioned three times. “Seventh day,” “seventh day,” “seventh day.” When God says something three times, the Hebrews believed it was sealed for eternity. When it says, “Holy, holy, holy,” speaking of the Lord, when something is repeated three times like that, it was supposed to seal it and nail it down for eternity. Right there at the beginning, God established the weekly cycle, and He said, “the seventh day.” This comes from God.

It’s interesting that around the world, people still have a seven-day week. Think about this, a lot of the world professes to be atheistic right now. Why do we keep a seven-day week if we’re atheist? I can understand why most of the nations would have a month with approximately 30 days in it because it’s lined up about with the lunar cycle. That’s where the word month comes from, from moon. You can understand why many of the ancient civilizations had a year with approximately 360 to 370 days because they noticed that’s how long it took for the earth to make one complete circuit around the sun. And we all, of course, have a 24-hour day because that’s how long it takes for the earth to rotate. One time on its axis is 24 hours. So there are things in the sun, the moon, and the stars that give us those time periods, but you tell me, what in the sun, moon, and stars gives the world a seven-day week? Only place we can trace the seven-day week to is the word of God. So even atheists, when they’re keeping the seven-day week or they recognize the seven-day week, they’re acknowledging that on the seventh day God rested and that was the end of the cycle. He perfected; He ceased; He completed. So, very clear.

Some people say, “Well, Pastor Doug, the calender has been changed, so we don’t know which day of the week is—.” By the way, you could also look just at a dictionary. If you look at a dictionary under what is the seventh day of the week, it says Saturday is the seventh day of the week. If you look in the Webster’s Dictionary, Sunday is the first day of the week. There is no question about it. Some people say, “Well, the calendar has been changed. We don’t know.” It is true; there have been adjustments and corrections in the calendar from the time the Roman calendar was instituted. The calendar that we use now is the Julian calender, and there’s a Gregorian calendar. I think we use the Gregorian. They have the Julian calendar. Pope Gregory made an adjustment of 10 days. The Julian calendar was named after Julius Caesar; that’s where you get the month July, and August is named after Augustus Caesar, and there have been a lot of changes in the calendar.

But there’s a myth. It’s a mental game that happens to people. When they look at the week on their calendar, they think a change to the calendar affects the week. There is absolutely no connection. It is a mind game that people play on themselves. Any change you want to make to the calendar will never affect the weekly cycle. They are two completely independent keepings of time. But because we see the week on the calendar, we think somehow the week is changed when the calendar is changed. When they changed the calendar—1582, Pope Gregory made a 10-day change—Thursday, October 5th was followed by Friday, October 15th. You get that? 1582, Thursday, October 5th was followed by Friday, October 15th. Did they change the calendar? Yes. Did it affect the weekly cycle? No. That’s why your birthday is on a different day of the week, because they’re two independent cycles of time.

I have a quote from the U.S. Naval Observatory that I’ll put up here on the screen for you that helps to reinforce this. People have written (the Navy Observatory keeps very minute records of time), and they asked if there was any change in the calendar in recorded history that would affect the continuity of the weekly cycle, and the response was there is no change that they know of. As they’ve studied chronology, they’ve never seen anything that indicates the slightest doubt regarding the continuity of the weekly cycle since long before the Christian era. No change in the calendar has affected the Sabbath. So that’s just a myth. You’re going to hear all kinds of myths about this that really can’t be backed up with facts. So the Sabbath is still in effect.

As a matter of fact, it’s something universal because if you go around the world, in over 105 languages of the world, the word for the seventh day of the week is—. My friends here that speak Spanish, how do you say Saturday? “Sábado.” And if you speak Russian, it’s “Subbota.” And I could go through all 105 languages and you’d get tired of it pretty soon, but why is that all these ancient languages, their word for what we call “Saturday” was Sabbath? Because all the way back to the Tower of Babel, they all kept the seventh day. They all knew what day it was. So this is something that goes back from the beginning.

I have some other interesting things. There is a very interesting shape in nature. It’s called the hexagon. It’s considered one of the strongest geometric forms. If you look, for instance at crystals… This is a picture of the Giant’s Causeway. I think this is in Ireland. They have these hexagons, which are six-sided shapes where you have six surrounded by one. Go to the next one of the bee. There is a law that if you take a perfect circle and you get six other circles that are the same size and surround them, all their edges will touch, and it becomes a very strong form. That’s why bees use these hexagons in construction because it’s so strong. Another case in point would be the Golden Gate Bridge. Bonnie actually has a section, and I took a picture of it, of the old Golden Gate Bridge. They replaced the cables. You know why it’s so strong and it’s been up there for, who knows, what, 60 years now? It’s because they have six cables that surround a central seventh cable of equal size, and it becomes a ferociously strong cable. Time is made up of six days that surround that one holy day, that protect that one day of rest, and that’s where you get your center, so to speak, and that’s where you get your strength. That’s something from nature.

I have some other interesting facts while I’m thinking about it, since I’m talking about the number seven in nature. I wouldn’t put too much stock in this, but it’s interesting. In music, you have seven primary notes: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti. I wanted to say “do” again and start singing, but… You actually have seven there, don’t you? In the gestation of animals, it’s interesting that they’re typically divided in sevens—the time of period that an animal gestates before it’s born. Most insects are in multiples of seven, going anywhere from 14 days to 42 days. A mouse, 21 days, which is 3 times 7. A rat, 28 days, 4 times 7. A cat is 56 days, 8 times 7. A dog, 63 days, 9 times 7. A lion, 98 days, 14 times 7. A sheep, 147 days, which is 21 times 7. A hen, 21 days, 3 times 7. The duck is also 28 days, 4 times 7, and a human is 280 days. That nine months is 40 x 7. It’s interesting how many sevens you find, and these are just a few of them. Ladybug has seven spots on its back. Aha! what does that mean? Nothing, probably. So you have to be careful going down those roads. But they’re interesting nonetheless—trivia.

When does the Sabbath begin biblically? Leviticus 23:32, “from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.” Now someone’s going to write in a question and say, “Well, how do they keep the Sabbath on the space shuttle, and what do you do when you’re up at the North Pole?” You write it, and I’ll answer that. Mark 1:32, “At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed” because the Sabbath was over; they didn’t want to bring the sick during the Sabbath. There’s no question in the Bible that their days began and ended at sundown, and so the Sabbath begins and ends at sundown. As you’re preparing for the Sabbath, don’t wait until the last little sliver of sun disappears behind the lowest point in the horizon before you think, “I guess I should start getting ready for Sabbath.” You want to be ready to rest before that ever happens. You should be preparing so when that time comes, you can have peace and rest. You don’t want to be ripsnorting around your house cleaning up. You want to remember the Sabbath, not starting Friday afternoon. You want to remember the Sabbath as soon as the sun goes down Saturday. You’re remembering it for the next week and preparing so you’ve protected that special time for your relationship with God. Amen?

A Christian is a follower of Jesus. Did Jesus keep the Sabbath? If you’re ever in doubt about what to do, say, “What did Jesus do?” If Jesus kept the Sabbath, and if you follow Jesus, you’re home free; you’re safe. You can read a number of verses. I’ll read a couple. Mark 6:2, “And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.” Jesus went to church. Synagogue and church—the word synagogue just means “gathering,” same word. It says He healed. He did a lot of good things on Sabbath, but you never saw Jesus in the carpenter shop working on Sabbath. Luke 4:16, “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was….” Is a custom something you do once in your life, or is it a pattern, a habit, a behavior? “As His [behavior] was,” His pattern, “He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read” the Scriptures. So Jesus went to church and read the Bible on the Sabbath day.

Number five, Did early Christians keep the Sabbath? What was the example of the early church, the apostles, and the disciples? Read in Acts 13:42, “So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.” Then the Bible says the next Sabbath the whole city came together. Now, wait a second. If the Sabbath had been changed to the first day of the week, why would the apostles tell the Gentiles, “Come back next Sabbath”? Why didn’t they say, “Come back tomorrow”? If Sunday was the new Sabbath, wouldn’t you just say, “Well, come back tomorrow, and we’ll celebrate the Sabbath”? They said, “Come back next Sabbath.” See what I’m saying? It’s very clear from history that they were keeping the seventh day. Acts 17:2, “Then Paul, as his custom was” (there you have a custom again), he “went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” You can read also Acts 18:4, “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks,” not just for the Jews’ sake, but the Jews and the Gentiles—that’s the Greeks. If the Sabbath was not being observed by the believers, then why would Jesus say in Matthew 24, speaking of the second coming, “pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath” day? Could it be, Jesus, looking down in time, knew that His people were going to still be keeping the Sabbath, and He said, “Pray that you won’t have to flee for your life during that time”? So, yes, the early church kept the Sabbath.

Next question, number six, How about the Gentiles? We talked about the apostles and the disciples. Did the Gentiles also worship on Sabbath? Did God plan that the Jews keep the seventh day and then the Gentiles keep the first day? Isaiah 56:6—here’s a prophecy, “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—everyone who keeps [the Sabbath] from defiling [it], and holds fast My covenant—even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.” And it goes on to say, “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” “Even the Gentiles that come to accept Me, they will gather on the Sabbath. I will make them joyful in My house. My house will be a house of prayer for all nations.” This idea that the Sabbath was just for the Jews and He has a different day for the Gentiles—you don’t find that taught anywhere in the Bible.

It begs a real question, Why would God change the Sabbath day from the seventh day to the first day? When God established the Sabbath, was it before or after sin? Before there was even sin. Was there anything wrong with it? Why would He change it? It was part of His perfect plan, and if He wanted them to keep it back then, then wouldn’t He want us to keep it now? That doesn’t make any sense.

Of course, Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. You know what the number one medication is sold in North America? Dr. DeRose is here. He might correct me, but I understand that five of the top most purchased medications are stress related in North America. Everything from antacids to sleep aids, they’re stress related. I’ve heard that the six most deadly diseases, everything from heart disease and diabetes and cancer, can all be linked in some way to stress. What does stress do to our health? Could it be in this culture of smartphones and high speed that we get so busy and so stressed, we don’t have that time for rest? The devil doesn’t just want to deceive you with error, he wants you to stay so busy you don’t think about the truth or your relationship with Him. Jesus said, “Pray always that you might be accounted to stand before the Son of Man when He comes. Don’t let your heart be overcharged with eating and drinking and cares of this life.” We can get so busy with the cares of this life we forget why we are alive. Every Sabbath day, God designed that we sort of put on the emergency brake and get out and slow down and recalibrate what are the priorities in life of knowing God and seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.

Now we’ll go to number seven. Is the Sabbath part of the old Mosaic law? This is another myth. People say, “Well, it’s the Ten Commandments that God gave to the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.” That’s not correct. The Sabbath existed before Mount Sinai. First of all, I read it to you in Genesis 2. That goes pretty far back. When God made the first seventh day, He inaugurated the Sabbath. Man didn’t just start needing rest at Mount Sinai. God always knew that man needed a time for physical rest and for spiritual rest and worship, and that goes all the way back. That should make sense to everybody; that was part of His plan.

When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, when they came to Mount Sinai, it was after they had already started keeping the Sabbath, because when He rained bread down from heaven, you notice that the bread happened before they got to Mount Sinai. In Exodus chapter 16, you can read Moses told them when they rained the bread down from heaven, “Eat that today, for this is the Sabbath to the Lord. Today you will not find it in the field.” Six days a week God rained down bread. The seventh day there wasn’t any. Before they ever got to Mount Sinai… This is Exodus chapter 16. You find the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20. Exodus 19 is where God tells them to gather the people, and He’ll speak His law. Exodus 20 is where He speaks it. Later, He gets the written copy. They knew what the Sabbath was before they ever got there. When people went out on the Sabbath looking for manna, the first time God winked at their ignorance. The next time they started doing that, it became more serious penalty. He said, “How long will you refuse to keep My commandments?” The Sabbath was a commandment of God before they ever got the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai—went all the way back.

When God rested that day and He blessed the day and He made it holy, when God makes a day holy back in Genesis 2, who is He making it holy for? Do you think it’s holy for Him to keep it holy? If it’s all done in the context of creating man, it’s certainly for us to keep it holy, right? I would think that would make sense. When God made the Sabbath day, the Bible says He rested, He blessed it, and He sanctified it. He set it aside as unique and different. He did something with that day He did with no other day.

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking. “Pastor Doug, why is the world missing this? Can it really be that important? There are so many dear, sincere Christian people, and they don’t seem to make a big deal out of it.” It didn’t used to be that way. What I mean by that is Christians from all backgrounds used to revere what they thought was the Sabbath. They might have the day wrong, but Sunday keepers used to be very careful about keeping Sunday in North America.

I remember Benjamin Franklin, he writes about before the colonies got their independence from Britain that King George sent a proclamation to the colonies, and he said, “You don’t have to be so strict in keeping the Sabbath. I proclaim that you are allowed to participate in public sports,” because he thought the colonists were too religious, and he required the pastors to read it to their congregations. This was before we had our independence. Franklin said there was only one minister that read it to his congregation, that he knew of, and what the minister did was he read the king’s proclamation that it was okay to participate in sports on the Sabbath day, and then immediately after he read the king’s proclamation, he read the Sabbath commandment. And then the pastor said to his congregation, “You’ve heard what your king said, and you heard what your God said. I’ll let you decide which is more important.”

They had special shoes that they wore on Sabbath, or they would treat whatever shoes they had carefully. They had clothes they only wore—they were called their Sabbath attire—once a week. I know families—I have a good Methodist family, and he said when he was a kid and they grew up on the farm, he said, “We had to just sit all day. We weren’t even allowed to run on the Sabbath.” They were very strict. The idea of going shopping or eating out—forget about it; they never even thought of that. Going to a movie? Not on your life! They used to keep Sunday better than most Sabbath keepers keep Sabbath now. Things have changed, and unless the Lord intervenes, we’re heading the same direction towards compromise. These are not the Ten Suggestions of God. These are commandments of God, and He promises to bless us when we obey them.

This is a quote from Adam Clarke. Adam Clarke was John Wesley’s right hand man during the great Methodist movement. He was the one who wrote the famous commentary on the Bible. “Though Christ is said to have fulfilled the law for us, yet it nowhere intimates in the Scripture that He has so fulfilled the Ten Laws as to exempt us from the necessity and the privilege of being no idolators, swearers, Sabbath breakers, disobedient and cruel children, murders, adulterers, thieves, corrupt witnesses. All these commandments He writes on the heart of every soul that is redeemed by His blood.” His theology was actually pretty good. The idea that we don’t have to keep the Sabbath because we’re not under the old law, that’s strange. It’s very clear that we don’t have to sacrifice lambs. The Bible is clear circumcision is not required. We don’t have to keep the annual feasts. But when it comes to the Ten Commandments, that’s different. Those are the moral law, not the ceremonial law, that God expects every believer to follow. Amen?

Now we’re going to go to point number eight. Was the Sabbath changed to Sunday? Since the majority—not all, but the majority—of professed Christians keep the first day of the week, you’d think that somewhere in the Bible there must be a command to observe the first day. I always open the floor if anybody can show me a scripture where we are commanded to keep the first day holy. I do it with cameras rolling, and if you can tell me where is a verse that commands us to keep the first day as the Sabbath, share it with me. There isn’t one. There are several references to the first day in the Bible. They’re just historical references that say this happened or that happened on this day, but nowhere are we commanded to keep it as a Sabbath day.

Yes, it’s true that it mentions the first day of the week when it tells us that Eutychus fell out the window, and someone says, “Well, they had gathered to hear Paul preach, and that means it must have been some new Sabbath day.” That’s reading an awful lot into the text. First of all, it tells us it was the first day of the week at night, which would make it Saturday night when they gathered because the day ends and begins at sunset, correct? And that means Paul was getting ready to go on a journey. This is Acts 20:7. Paul was getting ready to go on a journey that day. If Sunday was the new day of rest, would he have begun a long and tedious journey on that day? No. There’s nothing in that verse that tells us that. The other verses tell us Jesus rose the first day of the week. Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a new Sabbath.

Let’s look at this in the Bible. In Luke chapter 23, you find these references regarding—and we’re talking about was the Sabbath changed. It says in verse 54, “That day”—the day that Jesus was crucified—“was the Preparation,” or Friday (we call it sometimes “Good Friday”), “and the Sabbath drew near.” So this is just before the seventh-day Sabbath. And “they [the disciples] returned and prepared spices and [ointments]. And they rested on the Sabbath according to” the old Jewish law. You notice Luke, who was a Gentile—only Gentile writer in the Gospels, it would have been a good place for him to say, “according to the Jewish custom or the Jewish law,” but he says “the commandment,” and he states it as an existing fact, that it is still the commandment.

Think about this for a moment before I read on. The disciples spent three and a half years with Jesus. They heard His teaching on what was and was not appropriate on the Sabbath. A lot of disputes about the Sabbath, but never do you find Jesus working on that day. He healed people; He taught. But they refused to finish embalming His body—. Most of us would say, “The ox is in the ditch. We’re not done embalming His body, and I realize the sun is going down, but we had better go ahead and finish up,” but they were so careful in their Sabbath observance, and they got this after three and a half years following Jesus. They would not even finish embalming His body because they thought, “How could we embalm the body of Jesus on Sabbath? Knowing how He feels about it, we’ll come back and finish Sunday morning.” As long as they finished before three days went by, three 24-hour periods, they would believe corruption did not set in and they could do it. So they said, “Let’s wait; we’ll come back. Let’s roll the stone in its place. We’ll figure out how to move the stone because we are not going to do it on the Sabbath.” So if the apostles were that careful, who follow Jesus about keeping the Sabbath holy…

Jesus even kept the Sabbath in His death. Friday afternoon He said, “It is finished.” He completes His work of saving man. He rises Sunday morning like a new creation day. It’s wonderful that He rose Sunday morning, but it’s not a new Sabbath. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on Thursday. Is Thursday a new Sabbath? He died for us on Friday. Is Friday a new Sabbath? Do we pick our own new Sabbath if God has not given us another day? And if He says, “There is a certain day that I have blessed and sanctified and set aside…”

One more thing. I was doing some meetings like this and talking about this subject, and it was in a public venue, and people, Christians from many different denominations, were coming, including a pastor who was there from one of the local churches. And he interrupted my talk (it was a smaller town, so I guess he felt that would be okay), and he said, “Brother Doug,” he said, “You’re putting these people under a burden of works by teaching the old Jewish law.” And I said, “Well, Brother, do you believe that God wants us to keep the Ten Commandments, or not?” And he said, “No.” And then some of the people audibly gasped because he went to the same church, and sounds like you’re saying, “Is it okay to break the other nine?”

No one has a problem teaching in a Christian church you should keep the other nine, right? You look at these commandments before us. I know you can’t read the Hebrew here, but worshiping only God, not making idols, reverencing His name, honoring your father and mother, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t covet, be honest—all of those commandments you could preach in any regular Sunday church, and folks would say “Amen,” they’d smile, they might be uncomfortable or convicted, but they’d know in their heart it’s true. You would not be forbidden from teaching a commandment in those churches, right? But you stand up in the typical Sunday-keeping church and say, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, and God wants us to keep that day holy,” “You’re putting these people under a burden of works! Legalism!” is the cry. Is that consistent or inconsistent?

So I asked this brother. I said, “Does God want us to keep the Ten Commandments?” He said, “No.” The people gasped. He said, “Yes,” and then he realized that would include the tenth. He said, “Nine of them.” So I said, “So brother, you’re telling me that the one commandment that we’re supposed to forget is the only one that begins with the word remember is the one you’re telling me to forget?” He says, “We keep the Sabbath every day now.” I said, “Brother, the Bible tells us that we are to rest on the seventh day and not do any work. If you’re telling me that you’re resting seven days a week, you’re not holy, you’re lazy.” Because it says six days you work and one day you rest. So you’ll hear all of these very spiritual-sounding answers, but they don’t make sense.

I just thought of another note. This is from Dwight Moody. He was a good man, good preacher. Listen to what he says. “The Sabbath was binding in Eden.” You know why he’s so clear on this is because he did not go to seminary. He was a self-taught preacher. I’m sorry, nothing against those of you who went to seminary—I just didn’t mean it that way, but Moody was always very clear. He was a shoe salesman. “The Sabbath was binding in Eden. It has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word remember, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law in the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with, when they’ll admit that the other nine are still binding? I believe the Sabbath question today is a vital one for the whole country. It’s the burning question of the present time. If you give up the Sabbath, the church goes. If you give up the church, the home goes, and with the home goes the nation. That’s the direction in which we’re traveling. The church of God is losing its power on account of so many people giving up on the Sabbath and using it to promote selfishness.” That’s from his book Weighed and Wanting, page 47 by D.L. Moody.

I told you that in our country people used to really believe the Sabbath truth, but when the Seventh-day Adventists began to show biblically what day it was, the evidence was so overwhelming that a number of Sunday ministers said, “We either need to convert or say that we’re not under any law.” So in an effort to get rid of that one commandment, they’ve tried to get rid of the other nine and then reattach—. I heard a pastor explain it this way once. He said, “It’s like you hit one finger with a hammer and it hurts, and you’ve split your fingernail, and it’s causing you all kinds of pain, so to get rid of it, you cut off all ten fingers and ask someone to sew nine of them back on.” So the idea that if the Sabbath is bothering some of the churches because they realize they’re not keeping the day God has blessed, we’ll say we’re not under any of the law, but we re-instituted nine of them in the New Testament, and I showed you last week that the one commandment not repeated in the New Testament is the commandment “Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain.” It’s not the Sabbath commandment. You can find that in Hebrews chapter 4. “There remaineth therefore a [Sabbath] for the people of God.” It is in the New Testament. It’s in the example of Jesus. Jesus kept it when He rose from the dead. He rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day.

Here you have, just to sum it up—on the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre, and of course, He had risen. So if you look at the pattern of when He died, you can see Friday is the preparation day, Sabbath is Saturday, first day is Sunday—yes, that’s accurate, but it doesn’t say He established a new Sabbath.

Number nine, But isn’t Sunday the Lord’s Day? People always call Sunday the Lord’s Day. Again, it’s a myth. It sounds good, but there’s no scripture for it. They base that on Revelation chapter 1, where John says in verse 10, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day.” They say it was Sunday, and he had the vision of Revelation. They just pull that out of thin air. There’s nothing that says Sunday is the Lord’s day in the Bible. It says actually the opposite. You can read in the commandment, Exodus 20:10, “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.” So what day is the Lord’s Day? Seventh day. Another one: Isaiah 58:13, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day.” If that’s not enough, the words of Jesus in Mark chapter 2, it says, “Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

Jesus didn’t say, “I came to abolish it.” As a matter of fact, in our scripture reading, it said, “Whosoever therefore will think to break the least of these commandments and teach others so will be spoken of as least in the kingdom of heaven.” That doesn’t mean they’re going to be in the kingdom, that means those in the kingdom will speak of them as the lowest kind of people. He says, “But whoever will do and teach them, even the least of the commandments…,” so you look through the ten and you figure out which one is the least important, and it says if you do and teach it you will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. So if you have a problem with me teaching this, take it up with Jesus. He said, “I want you to teach them.” I don’t think the Sabbath commandment is the least. Longest of the Ten Commandments, in the middle of the law, the only commandment that begins with the word remember.

You know why I think this is important, a special reason? The devil wants people to break God’s law, especially regarding worship. When you look, for instance, Daniel chapter 3, a law is made that everybody must pray to this golden image, break one of God’s commandments and worship the wrong way, but God honors Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If you look in Daniel 6, there’s a law that you must break the first commandment and pray to only the king. It’s about worship, isn’t it? But Daniel stands up for the Lord, he opens his windows, and God blesses him. The fourth commandment also revolves around worship. The mark of the beast issue in the last days revolves around worship. We’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think that this is going to be part of a central issue of not only who you worship, how you worship Him, when you worship Him; they are all going to come into play in the last days, and the beast power is going to make laws that will make true Sabbath keeping difficult. So if we’re not settled in what we believe about the Sabbath now, how are we going to be willing to stand for our faith then? We need to know the Sabbath is not just some additional hors d'oeuvres that we put on our Christian menu. If you’re giving God as holy one day every week, then that’s something significant.

Just about done. Number ten, Where did Sunday keeping come from if it doesn’t come from the Bible? You need a quick history lesson here. Matthew 15:9, Jesus said, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” It evolved hundreds of years after Christ through manmade traditions and commandments. It really became prominent with a law made by Constantine the Great, who was the emperor who legalized Christianity. He wanted to bring the Christians and the Jews together, and the pagans, in his kingdom. The pagans were all keeping the first day of the week; Christians and Jews were keeping the seventh. He said, “Let’s just make it so that everybody can remember the day of the sun.” Here’s his decree. This is Encyclopedia Britannica (hopefully you believe them), page 654. “The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday”—notice that, “the earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday is a constitution of Constantine in 321 A.D., enacting that all the courts of justice, inhabitants in towns and workshops were to rest on Sunday.” That’s not Son like the Son of God; that was for the Venerable Day of the Sun.

There’s another verse that people often turn to. They either turn to Romans 14 where God says in verse 5 [KJV], “One man [regards] one day above another: another [man regards] every day alike. Let every [one] be … persuaded in his own mind.” The word sabbath doesn’t appear in Romans 14 at all. He’s talking about the Jewish Christians that were trying to force the new Gentile Christians to keep the Jewish annual sabbaths, the annual days. He said, “If you’re going to keep it, keep it to the Lord. If you’re not going to keep it to the Lord, you don’t keep it. Don’t force it on anyone.” I tell people that when it comes to Christmas. Some people say, “Well, is it okay to remember the birth of Jesus during this time of year?” I say, “If you’re going to do it, do it to the Lord. If you’re not going to do it, there’s no command that you have to do it.” That’s where you would apply Romans 14.

The other one people typically turn to is Colossians 2:13, 14. We’ll put this up on the screen. It says [KJV], “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” By the way, it goes on to say, “Let no man therefore judge you in [regard to] meat, or in drink, or … new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come.” People say, “Don’t let anyone judge you regarding the Sabbath.” Paul identifies what sabbaths he’s talking about. First of all, in that verse it’s small s; that’s talking about the annual sabbaths. It’s not talking about the commandment of God that was weekly.

If you want to know what law he’s talking about, notice, it says, “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances”—the ceremonial laws—“that [were] against us.” You go to 2 Chronicles 33 [KJV], it says, “that they … take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.” You have the whole law and the statutes and ordinances by the hand of Moses—handwriting. The ordinances were written by the hand of Moses. The Ten Commandments were written by Whom? God, in stone by His finger. Then in Deuteronomy 31:26, it says, “Take this book of the law”—not the stone, “…put it in the side of the ark”—not inside the ark, a pocket on the outside—“ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.” What was it that was a witness against them? It was the ceremonial laws written by the hand of Moses, and there were sabbaths in those laws, not the weekly Sabbath; they were annual sabbaths. So don’t let anyone read Colossians 2:13, 14 to you and say, “Don’t let anyone judge you. You don’t need to keep this commandment.” I’ve heard people twist the scripture to try to defend adultery and murder and lying and all kinds of things, and people also twist the Scripture to try to defend Sabbath breaking. It is not a recommendation of God; it’s a commandment of God that He wants us to keep.

Why does He want us to keep it? (Number 11.) Isn’t it very dangerous to tamper with the law of God? Yes. James tells us, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” And again, it tells us if we teach men to break one of the least of these commandments, we’ll be spoken of as least in the kingdom of heaven. We mentioned earlier that the Challenger space shuttle disaster—you had the Columbia also. You remember? It entered the atmosphere, and some foam had bumped against some of those heat-resistant tiles that were there, and five of them were knocked off. There are 24,000 tiles that protected the underbelly of that aircraft against heat. Well, when they lost five of them, they said, “It probably won’t be a problem. What difference is 5 among 24,000?” Well, do you remember what happened on re-entry? A little bit of heat, it created an opening, and it began to liquify the wing, and once that heat got through, all the other tiles fell off; the thing disintegrated. It created an opening. The law of God is a foundation; it’s a wall, and if we create a breach in the wall, then the devil has access. We want to believe in all ten commandments, amen? God is not offering a 10% discount to anybody. It all matters to Him.

Will we keep the Sabbath in heaven? We know from reading the Bible. It tells us that Adam kept it in the Garden of Eden. We know Moses and God’s people kept it in the Old Testament. We’ve read where the apostles and the disciples kept it in the New Testament, and the Bible tells us in Isaiah we’re going to be keeping it in heaven. So it would make sense that it’s important to God now. Isaiah 66:22 [KJV], “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that … from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me,” not just Jews—everybody. Why would God not want us to gather before Him and worship Him during the Sabbath now? Who will be the preacher? Nobody’s going to go to sleep during the sermon when Jesus is there.

So what should I do about the Sabbath truth? Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Amen? The Bible promises that the Lord is going to bless you if you obey Him. The devil won’t be happy. Revelation chapter 12 tells us that those who keep the commandments of God are the special object of the devil’s rage in the last days. Revelation 12:17 [KJV], “The dragon was wroth with the woman”—that’s God’s true church, and he goes “to make war with the remnant of her seed,” her descendents, “which keep the commandments of God.” Now, you think if there were people out there that kept three or four of the commandments, that the Bible would mention them as the people who keep the commandments? Everybody keeps some of them some of the time, right? God wants us to keep them all consistently. The devil doesn’t want that, and if he can create a breach in at least one of the commandments… Revelation 14 also says, just before the Lord appears, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God.” And again, Revelation 22:14—last chapter in the Bible. Does it matter, friends? “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”

And then Christ told us in John 13:17; this is the bottom line. He said, “If you know these things, blessed are you,” happy are you, “if you do them.” It’s one thing to say, “You know, Doug, that makes sense. That’s very interesting.” Great. You believe it’s true? Are you going to do something about it? Are you willing to enjoy that day of rest that God has blessed? He wants you to receive a blessing. He didn’t curse the day; He blessed it. And you will never get it until you accept that by faith. Ultimately, what is the invitation of Jesus? You can read in Matthew 11:28, He says, “Come to Me, … and I will give you rest.” The Lord wants us to have that blessed rest, that peace and that rest, and that’s why this is so important. That’s why this day is a holy day where God says He will meet with us; He will speak to our hearts.

Would you like more peace in your life? Have you been struggling with stress? God has a great stress reliever. It’s a day to remember, and it’s called the Sabbath. We’re going to sing about that, and if you’d like to join me, you can stand. We’re going to sing 466, “Wonderful Peace.” We’ll sing the first and the last verses.

[Hymn]

Before we sing the last verse, I just wanted to open up the church, open the doors, as they used to say in the Baptist church, because I know some of you maybe are hearing these things for the first time, and you’re thinking, “Pastor Doug, that makes sense. I see it’s in the Bible. I want that peace and that rest. I just didn’t know, and I’m willing to say, ‘Lord, I want that peace. I want Jesus. I want to worship Him the time, the way, the day that He has designed and He has commanded.’” Maybe you want special prayer. Maybe in your life the Sabbath has not had the place that it deserves. Maybe you’re becoming careless about keeping it holy. He didn’t tell us we make it holy. He made it holy. But we keep it the way He made it. If you would like special prayer to that end and would like to come forward as we sing the last verse of this song, come and we’ll have prayer together.

[Hymn]

I love that song because the words and the music all go along together, and it kind of emits that peace and that rest. Amen? I want that peace. Jesus says, “Come to Me, … and I will give you rest.” Let’s pray together.

Father, we are very thankful that You have set aside a time to protect our love relationship with You, to nurture that relationship. Knowing You better, we’ll love You more. Loving You better, we’ll serve You better. I pray, Lord, that we’ll not fall for the devil’s temptation to become so busy with the cares of life that that day of Your return overtakes us as a thief. Help us to give Your day the priority that it deserves, and help us know what it means to keep it holy. Lord, we can only really keep it holy if we keep it through a relationship with You. Help us to experience that new birth. Be with all of these dear people, Lord, and help us to enter into that Sabbath rest, the spiritual side as well as the physical. I pray Your blessing on those who have responded this morning, and just be in each of their lives, and help them to experience that renewal, that peace. Be with us now through this Sabbath day, and I pray that You’ll bless our time as You’ve promised—our fellowship with each other and with Thee. We ask in Christ’s name. Amen.

If there are some here who maybe are hearing these things for the first time, if you’d like to study more, please contact myself or one of the pastors or elders that you’ll see at the doors. God bless you, and happy Sabbath.

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Written in Stone by Bill May

Written in Stone by Bill May
God's Promises




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