How to Keep the Sabbath, Pt 1: Laboring to Rest

Scripture: Revelation 14:12, Exodus 20:8-11, Isaiah 66:23
Date: 10/25/2003 
The first of a two part series on how to keep the Sabbath. The devil seeks to erode our convictions so that we are not ready for big tests at the end of time. The Sabbath is a day for coming to church to worship the Lord. It's a day. It's a day we should prepare for.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Now I would solicit your prayers to be compounded with Bill’s prayer this morning for the message both today and next Sabbath as well. I’m going to address something that can be easily misunderstood and I would appreciate your prayers that I can present it the way the Lord would want me to. I’d like to talk today about how to keep the Sabbath. Part 1: Laboring to Rest. That sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it? You’ll notice in the scripture reading that Jennifer shared it says there in Hebrews chapter four, “Let us therefore labor to enter that rest.” That sounds like a contradiction, but really that’s what’s happening as we prepare for the Sabbath.

We’re investing additional labor so that we might enjoy the rest of the Sabbath. Anyone ever gone on a vacation? Not that I’m comparing the Sabbath with a vacation, but how many of you recognize that if you’re going to have a good vacation it requires a little extra work and preparation to enjoy the vacation? Would you admit that? It seems like sometimes you’ve got to recover from the vacation when you get home because it takes that extra energy. I believe that in order for us to really enjoy the release and peace that God has designed for this blessed day we must labor to enter that rest. That involves some education. It involves some thinking and it’s one of those areas that is often misunderstood. I’ll get to that in a moment. Back in 1924 at the Olympics something historic transpired there in Paris.

There was a Scottish missionary’s son, Eric Little who was a very talented runner and he was scheduled to run a sprint in the Olympics but he discovered that the time trials for his event were going to fall on Sunday which was his Sabbath. And even though he had trained and prepared and his country had chosen him and invested in him he said, “I’m not going to do it. I won’t have it.” And he was under an immense amount of pressure. “Just this once!” “God will understand.” “Your country is counting on you. What’s more important?” There were politicians, teammates, some extended family members (not his mother and father who supported what he was doing) that put incredible pressure on Eric to capitulate his convictions and just go ahead and run the time trials “just this once.” And he said, “No, I can’t even do it this once.”

He believed Sunday was the Sabbath and he said, “I’m not going to violate my conscience even if I die.” Well, later they wanted to use his talent for the country somehow. They found out that he could do the time trials for the 400-meter. And when he did the time trails he didn’t show very well. Matter of fact, they were wondering if he would be able to finish at all compared to the other talented runners, but he said, “You know, the results are with God. I don’t question God. I’m going to do what He tells me to do and the results are in His hands.” And just prior to running that 400-meter race even though he did poorly in the time trials someone handed him a slip of paper that had a scripture on it. It said very simply, “Those that honor me, I will honor.” And when the gun went off and he ran that race he not only won he was five lengths ahead of every other runner and he broke the record. Later he lived out his convictions. He died in a prisoner of war camp in Japan at the end of WWII 1945 because he had been serving as a missionary in China.

The man believed in obeying God. Now let me tell you what has precipitated this series of messages on how to keep the Sabbath. I believe that it is the devil’s decided plan to erode our convictions through a series of rationalizations and compromises so that when the big test of the last days comes and we must choose who we will worship at the point of death so many of God’s people have been so prepared and trained to compromise that we won’t know how to take a stand, and it will be just as important that we are faithful in little things like keeping the Sabbath holy. That commandment is no less important to God than the one that says, “Do not murder” and “Do not commit adultery.” But it’s difficult sometimes for us to wrap our minds around that and I’ll talk about that in a moment. But think about the stories in the Bible of the great heroes.

You know there are some Old Testament heroes like modern day Eric Little who, of course you’ve got the story of Daniel. Daniel chapter 6, a political law is made that everybody must pray to King Darius for thirty days or they will be executed. They must not worship or pray to anyone but the King for thirty days, just a little while, but Daniel had a custom of going to an upper room. Three times a day he’d kneel on his knees in a physical posture of prayer, he would open his window so people could see him praying, and he would pray towards Jerusalem so people would know what God he worshipped. And when the law was enacted Daniel had to make a choice.

He actually had made the choice a thousand times before when three times a day he went to his upper room and prayed in this pagan land. You know we were talking about this this week in our staff meeting and Pastor Mike was saying that he or a friend was somewhere where they saw this Moslem who in the middle of a crowded public place at the time of prayer he stopped, rolled out his prayer rug and began to pray towards Mecca. And though it looked a little absurd you had to respect the person’s convictions. They did not care what anyone around them thought. They were more interested in what God thought. And here Daniel thought, “Even if I am torn limb from limb by lions I would rather obey God than man, even if it’s unpopular.” And the thing that you must also respect is he did not make little compromises. How easy it would have been for Daniel to say, “Well, look.

I don’t want to offend the king. It might be a bad witness. I could look obnoxious so I’m going to shut my windows.” It could have been easy for Daniel to say, “Well, I’m going to stand in my window and face Jerusalem but I’m not going to kneel because that looks too much like prayer.” Or Daniel could have quoted that scripture, except the scripture hadn’t been given yet, “When you pray enter into your closet.” I mean there would have been so many available rationalizations that he could have chosen to compromise, but he would not. Did God honor Daniel because he honored him? He delivered him and his enemies were destroyed. Then in the same book, of course, you’ve got the three Hebrew worthies, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Another government law. This is now chapter three. It says, “If anyone fails to pray to the golden image that I have set up they are going to the flaming furnace” that you could still see smoldering in the distance. Oh, how easy it would have been for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to say, “When the music plays, let’s all tie our sandals.

I’m not going to pray to the image but you know we don’t want to wreck the king’s party. We’ll just kneel down and tie our sandals” or drop a contact lens. See if you can find it. Find some excuse to look like or kneel down but really pray to Jehovah in your heart. I mean, after all, that’s what really matters. How many rationalizations they could have found to just cut the corners, but they said, “No! We will not even look like we’re failing to worship our God.” They stood up for God and did God stand up for them? Then of course you go to the book of Esther in a similar story where one of the enemies of God’s people was Haman the Aggagite who was related to the Amalachites, avowed enemies of God’s people. The first ones to attack the Children of Israel when they left Egypt were the Amalachites. And a law was made by the King of Persia that says everybody was to bow and worship Haman. Mordicai said, “I can’t do that. Even if it means that I lose my life.” And he knew that his whole people would be targeted, but even though his devotion might react in suffering on the rest of his people he said, “I’m not going to compromise.” And there was a law made to exterminate all of God’s people because he would not compromise. He stood up. Did God deliver his people? Now, here’s my point, friends.

If you read in Revelation 13:25 it tells us there is going to be a law enacted by the Beast. And it says that this beast power is granted power to give breath to the image of the beast that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. A law is made regarding worship and if you do not worship the way you are told it is the death penalty. Now follow me for a moment. Let’s review a little history. The Bible tells us “he that is guilty of breaking one commandment is guilty of all.” The devil doesn’t care whether your sin is adultery or murder as long as he can get you to sin and separate you from God it doesn’t matter what commandment it is. And in God’s book the Sabbath commandment is not any less important or valuable than the other nine. Some people think that it’s, “Well, you know, it’s sort of a personal preference commandment.” No, it’s not! It’s not an optional commandment. It’s not a recommendation. It’s still a commandment. We’re not commandment if it’s convenient. We’re commanded to remember.

Could it be in the last days that, you know? Daniel chapter 3 the commandment was the one about not worshiping images. Daniel chapter 6 the commandment was not worshiping other gods. The same thing with the story of Haman. And you’ll find different stories with different commandments. With David and Bathsheba we know it was the seventh commandment, but he failed. Joseph passed it. Amen. And Joseph passed it even before the 10 Commandments were written it was still a sin to commit adultery. Joseph said so. Before the 10 Commandments were written the Sabbath was still a commandment. Otherwise why would God begin the commandment by saying “remember” if it had never existed before? Any of you remember things that never happened? I’ve heard about some legal cases that have been brought against psychotherapists, psychologists who tell people the reason they’re having all of these problems in their life is because of repressed memories. They say, “Maybe you were abused as a child and you’ve been repressing that. You don’t know it.” And it’s almost like they’ve encouraged them to conjure up memories of the parents or somebody that abused them that never really happened. They got them so mixed up they thought they were remembering things that never even really happened! Well, that usually is not the case.

You remember things that have happened. So when God says, “Remember the Sabbath Day” it’s understood it’s there before He asks you to remember it. And all you have to do, of course is go to Genesis chapter 2 and that’s where God made it Holy and He blessed it. Now when you talk about a subject like this about how to keep the Sabbath one reason I enter in on this with a little trepidation is because it is very easy to be misunderstood and appear legalistic. Because let’s face it. In the time of Jesus there were two extremes that were being dealt with. In the time of Christ there were two religious groups that were in supremacy, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Forgive me if I use some modern labels there were the liberals and the conservatives. The Sadducees didn’t even believe in angels or resurrection. That’s pretty liberal theology. You think why even believe? The Pharisees were so meticulous in their Sabbath keeping. They wanted to make sure you didn’t walk too far on the Sabbath day and I understood they had a ball of string that they would unravel and measure off the distance and make sure that you could walk the appropriate distance. They didn’t want you to carry a burden on the Sabbath day and if you carried a handkerchief to blow your nose on the Sabbath day it was a burden and you were working.

So what they did to get around that if you had a cold is they sewed the handkerchief to your clothes and you’d blow your nose on the hankie which when you think of it being your clothes doesn’t sound very good, but then at least you weren’t carrying a burden. They had hundreds of man made laws and you often see Jesus battling with and trying to clarify the Sabbath truth. He would heal somebody on the Sabbath day and they’d say, “Oh! You’re breaking the Sabbath!” But where in the Sabbath command does it say you can’t heal anyone? And in all the conflict that Jesus dealt with regarding the Sabbath truth, often it was healing people, never do you hear Jesus say, “You don’t need to keep the Sabbath anymore.” It would have been so easy for Him to say that, but He doesn’t say that. He tells them how to keep it, that it was “made for man”, that it was “made for good” and He tries to clarify it, but never does Jesus say that it’s not important. The problem in the time of Christ was more legalism.

Back of the days, if you read your Bible, in Jeremiah and Isaiah the problem about the Sabbath then was the problem we face today. They weren’t keeping it any better than the pagans. They were being very sloppy about it. My concern as a pastor and I want to tell you right now I’m not just talking to you who might be here or watching, we’re talking to the Batchelor family. Karen and I are constantly trying to educate ourselves about what is right and what is not right on the Sabbath. And when you love God and you want to obey Him it’s not legalism to seek to understand and obey better. Don’t let people accuse you of being legalistic because you’re asking good questions. And so because I will be dealing with some of the specifics of what is right to do on the Sabbath and what should not be done on the Sabbath there will be people who misunderstand. And this would be a good place for me to announce this message is for those of you who already love the Lord.

If you have not committed yourself to the Lord it may seem legalistic to you, but if you love Jesus and if you are determined to obey and to follow Him then this is for you that we might understand what God wants us to do. Now one reason I think this is especially important for God’s people in the time in which we are living we know that there is going to be a law made that commands us to break one of God’s laws. I think there is a very good probability that the Sabbath is going to be the issue because of what I read in prophesy. And if we’re being indifferent and sloppy in how we keep the Sabbath now, if we’re fudging on doing things on Sabbath that should not be done on Sabbath now, when our lives are on the line and when our commitment to Christ is on the line and when you can’t buy or sell or there is a death penalty we’re making a series of little steps that is going to make it very easy for us to give up. We need to feel as strongly about keeping the Sabbath as we do about the commandment that says don’t commit adultery. Don’t lie. Not a little lie, no lies. Not a little adultery, no adultery. Not a little Sabbath breaking. You’re going to seem fanatical but that will not be your problem. That will be the problem of the viewer. You must be consistent in your obedience.

He that doesn’t stand for something falls for anything. You’ve heard me say that before. So we’re commanded for one thing to keep the Sabbath and keep it Holy. When you look in Revelation chapter 14 the three angels messages that God’s people take to the world before Jesus comes. In Revelation 14 Jesus comes, there is a vision of that. These angels declare, “Worship Him that made the heaven and the earth and the sea.” That’s a quote right out of the Sabbath commandment. “For in six days the Lord made the heaven the earth and the sea.” Then Revelation 14:12, speaking of the saved, “Here is the patience of the saints. Here are those that keep the commandments of God.” It is contrasting those who keep the commandments of God with those who worship the beast. Did you catch that? It says, “If any man worship the beast and his image and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand the same will drink the wine of the wrath of God that is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation and the fire it sends up.” The most fearsome curse in the Bible is in Revelation 14 and it’s identifying those who worship the beast. The next verse is saying, on the other hand we have those who keep the commandments of God. And it doesn’t mean some of them because everybody keeps some of them, right?

It’s talking about a people who keep them consistently. Now when you look at the 10 Commandments how many of the commandments specifically involve the word keep? “Remember the Sabbath day to keep.” It does not say, “Thou shalt not keep adultery.” “Thou shalt not keep murder.” Now there is one place in the commandment dealing with idolatry where it says “showing mercy unto thousands that love me and keep my commandments.” But that’s a general phrase for all ten. The only commandment that specifically uses the word keep is the Sabbath commandment. And it seems strange that it’s one of the only commandments the Christian world is saying is no longer an obligation. That sounds very inconsistent to me. I could never buy that. It was there in creation at the beginning. It’s going to be in the New Earth. God wants us to keep it now. We may find it’s a test in the last days. Let’s go to the commandment. Let the Lord speak for Himself. Indeed this is one of the places where God did speak for Himself. Exodus 20:8 and we’re going to read the commandment.

“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 not do any work. You or your son, or your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle nor the stranger who is within your gates for in six days the Lord made the Heaven and the Earth and the sea and all that is in them and He rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” It takes us all the way back to Genesis. The idea that the Sabbath was not inaugurated until Mt. Sanai is bad scholarship. It springs from ignorance. Exodus 20 is where you hear Him speaking it. He hasn’t even written it yet. Exodus 16 God rains the manna down from heaven, right? Six days a week He rains the manna. There’s twice as much they gather on Friday because there will be no manna on the seventh day of the week. That’s Exodus 16. He has not spoken the Sabbath commandment yet. He has not written the Sabbath commandment yet and He’s already treating it like it’s something they understood. When some of them went out on the Sabbath day looking for bread God responds by saying, “How long will you, how often will you refuse to keep my commandments, my laws?” He is calling the Sabbath a law before Mt. Sanai.

It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Does man need to rest? Does man need a specific time for worship? Yes! The principle comes from the very beginning. And some people believe because there is silence on something it must not have existed. That is a very foolish logic to prove anything. You catch that? Because you don’t hear a lot said about something to assume that it means it wasn’t there or it didn’t exist you apply that principle to other truths in the Bible and you’re going to get all kinds of strange beliefs. It’s obvious that it was there. There is no commandment that says you’re not supposed to commit adultery before Mt. Sanai but Joseph seemed to know that there was. Some of these things are clearly implied. So this is the commandment. You’ll notice that it is the longest of the 10 Commandments. It is the only commandment that begins with the word “remember”. It’s in the middle of God’s law and God takes more time with the Sabbath commandment explaining what that means in case they misunderstood. But here is the point I don’t want you to miss.

The Ten Commandments are an abbreviation of the law of God. For instance, when it says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain” does that commandment go into great detail to explain every way that a person could take God’s name in vain? Or is that something for further study? You’ll find other examples of that in the Bible. It doesn’t in the 10 Commandments go into all the examples of how you could swear or claim to be a Christian and be a hypocrite and all that’s involved in taking God’s name in vain. You study out the details of that. In the commandment that says you shall not commit adultery. I just quoted it. That’s pretty brief. I think you and I know there is a lot more to it than that one statement. What does that involve? How about two people that aren’t married? Is it adultery then? And you’ve got a lot of things where you invest a lot of study and understanding in how do you keep that commandment. It’s broader than the statement you find etched in stone, the same thing with the Sabbath commandment. And God in His Word gives us a lot more detail about what is involved in keeping it holy. It does not mean that you simply swing in a hammock all day long and don’t farm. There’s a lot more to it than that. But it does give more detail you are to rest, your animals are to rest, your servants are to rest, your family is to rest and everybody within your gates. I’ll talk more about some of those specifics when we go on.

I’ll tell you what confuses people a little bit about the Sabbath. It’s because it deals with time. Wesley tells a story about somebody who was a new convert to Christianity and very devout and as the sun was going down before the Sabbath began he was shining his shoes or cleaning his shoes and it took about fifteen minutes to do each shoe and he got one shoe done and he looked at where the sun was and he knew he would not have the other shoe done before the sun went down and he decided to stop. Did he make the right decision? Went to church the next day. One shiny shoe and one dirty one. Fanatic! Is he? It’s either right or it’s wrong. You know that during WWII there were Christians and Jews in concentration camps that were told they had to go dig potatoes on Sabbath. The Nazis loved showing the Jews that they were hypocrites. I have Jewish relatives that were over there and they’d make them go out and dig potatoes or work on the Sabbath and some of them were more devout and they would say, “I cannot do this. It’s God’s Sabbath.” And they were killed. Just like that. Others compromised. In the days of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they stood up do you think they were the only Jews in the crowd that day? I’m sure there were some who bowed down.

I’m ashamed and afraid to say that I’m sure that there will be some Sabbath keeping Christians that will go along with the world in the last days. That’s why this message is important. And if you don’t know how to make a decision to say the sun is almost down. The Sabbath will have begun and this shoe is not done yet but I’m going to do it anyway because that would be fanaticism then you don’t understand the principle. You see time makes a difference. In our minds we think, “How can it be good and holy and fine to shine this shoe and then a few more ticks of the clocks and all of a sudden it’s a sin?” I mean it sounds strange to us. Let me use another illustration. A man might have a girl that he’s very interested in and it’s inappropriate for him to gaze upon her without her clothes on and vise versa. But after they make some vows suddenly what was a sin is now holy.

Do little things like that make a difference? What at one moment was wrong after the service it is holy and it’s good. So these words of God do make a difference and we’ve got to understand that because we become very sloppy and we say, “Oh, well, I realize the sun is down, but I’ve got a little more… a few more dishes to do. I’ve got, oh, you know. Why would I stop mowing the lawn? I realize the sun’s almost down and leave this Mohawk of grass right down the middle. I mean, obviously God doesn’t want me to do that. And so then your neighbor drives by and they see that the sun is down and you’re mowing that last swath of grass. What message are you sending to your family and your neighborhood? It does matter, friends! You will be accused of being legalistic and Pharisaical and fanatical. You’ll be accused of all that but I can guarantee you they probably had some Jewish friends tugging on their trousers. When the music played and everyone bowed to the image in Babylon Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego probably had some friends that were saying, “Get down! Are you crazy? Just this once.

You are a fanatic!” Yeah, the world, the church probably thought they were fanatics, but God honored them. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much. Timing makes a difference. Things change. And when God says this is regular time for work, this is holy time. But God commands us to keep it holy. What is holy? If we’re going to keep it holy we need to know what that means. Only a few things in the Bible are called holy. Marriage is called holy. Before a girl is married she is available and you can, you know, make your bid and try to court or do whatever you want to do but until she says, “I do.” I mean she may have made an engagement commitment, but it ain’t over ‘til it’s over, right? And you’ve all heard stories how at the last minute the guy or the girl says, “I can’t do this! I really love her!” or something else you know. But once they’re married if they say that… It’s holy. And a violation of that is profaning a marriage, it’s called adultery. It’s sacred. There is money, a percentage of money that is called holy.

The Bible says that tithe is holy unto the Lord. Now it’s hard for us to understand if I’ve got ten dollars in my wallet that one of them is holy. They all say, “In God we trust.” (It’ll just be a matter of time before they take that off, right?) But we’ve got to understand that whatever that, it’s the first one I pull out and give at church is the first fruits, but one of them is holy and you’ve got to be intelligent about that. And if I take the tithe that is set aside for God and I use it to make my VCR payment that is profaning. It’s a sin. You’re taking something holy and you’re making it common. That’s a sin. And when you treat a married woman like she’s not married it’s a sin. It’s holy. There are some things that are holy and they should not be profaned. God says the time of the Sabbath is holy not because a church teaches it, not because it’s a creed, but God said, “I have sanctified it. I have blessed it.” And nothing any man in the world can do changes that. Whether you know it’s holy or not it’s still holy. Whether you know you’re breaking it or not doesn’t make you less culpable.

Oh, I take that back. I believe there are going to be many people… you know sometimes I preach without notes and I’ll say something stupid and the Lord arrests my attention. There are going to be many people in heaven who maybe kept the wrong day as the Sabbath and they simply did not know and the Lord will judge them according to the light they have. But it is still the Sabbath day whether you know it or not. That’s what I meant to say. And it is still holy whether you know it or not. You don’t make it holy by believing it. It is holy. You notice God doesn’t say, “Remember the Sabbath Day to make it holy.” He doesn’t ask you to make it holy. You can’t. God is the one who declares something holy. And when He says, “keep it holy” He says, “I’ve already made it holy back in the beginning, before sin. Now I’m asking you to recognize what I have done and respect me.” And it’s all about a love relationship with God. Now I’m going to begin with a few obvious points that I think are important to understand. What should we do on the Sabbath? Now we’ll talk about things that should be done and things that should not be done. You know the Sabbath is one commandment, some commandments are stated in the negative. The Sabbath is stated in the positive and the negative.

It says, “You shall keep it holy, you shall not work.” It gives both sides. And so I’m approaching this message that way. First of all I hope it’s obvious to everybody that it’s a day that we should go to church. How many of you believe that? It’s a day for us to have corporate worship. I’m probably going to get some letters. When something is in print it’s fair game. Is that right? If you get bold enough to print something then you can critique it. There was an article in the Review in April this year that I thought was appalling. The title of the article was “Some Keep the Sabbath by Going to Church”. And the implication is, all through the article I kept saying, “What’s the point?” and the only point I could get out of it is you can keep the Sabbath by staying home just as well as you can keep it by going to church.

I thought, why on earth would the Review print that? As much trouble as pastors already have impressing on people that it’s a holy day to come together and worship, why in the world? And this is the kind of stuff that makes me see that the devil is eroding very simple principles of truth. And in the article in fairness it quotes the statement there in Genesis, I’m sorry Exodus 16 where Moses told the people there would be no manna on the seventh day and God tells them to stay in their place. So see? They were to keep the Sabbath by staying at home. That’s not what it means. He was telling them not to go out of the camp to look for manna. The sanctuary, they would gather together and worship the Lord right there in the camp. And so is the Sabbath a day to stay at home? Oh, no, friends. I was so disappointed to hear that. I’m not going to take any more time critiquing that because I get a little hot doing it. But first of all, Isaiah 66, “it’ll come to pass that from one Sabbath to another in heaven shall all flesh come to worship before me.”

Now is it just me or do you see in this passage that you are to come before the Lord and worship on the Sabbath? You don’t just hang out in your tent. I couldn’t believe it. You can read in Leviticus 23, “Six days shall work be done but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation.” You know what the word convocation means? What’s a convention? It means an assembly, a coming together, a time a holy time to come together and worship before the Lord the way we just read. And even in that message, “Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgement is come and worship Him that made.” The Sabbath is a memorial to creation. It’s a time we are to come together and worship him that made collectively. So this idea that some keep the Sabbath by staying at home and if that’s what you should… No, friends! As we see the day approaching we should not forsake the assembling together all the more as we see the day approaching. And if God has set aside a day for rest what better day to come together and worship Him than the Sabbath day?

It’s the day when I think He especially walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I’d like to let me read a couple of quotes here. I hope I included them. Just in case there is anybody who has some questions about that. Oh, tell me I put them in here. Oh, man! I left that. No, wait! I think I’ve got them. Let’s see here. I don’t want to tear it. Oh, no! Be patient with me. You know I think I had a whole page of quotes that talk about coming before the Lord for worship and I just wanted to go through some of them. I think I left them. I’m sorry. Come next week. I’ll have them there then, God willing. But I think that there is plenty of evidence even from what I’ve read so far that it is a day for us to come together and worship Him. Do you agree with that? From what I’ve shown. Come together and worship. It’s a day for studying the word. Fist of all, everybody here agrees a Christian is what? A follower of Christ. What was the pattern of Jesus? The Bible tells us in Luke 4:16. Did He come to church on the Sabbath? You can use it here too.

He came to Nazareth where He had been brought up and as His custom was He went into the Synagogue on the Sabbath day. Do you think they were worshiping God then? Obviously. And what did He do? He stood up to read. And what did He read? It says He read from Isaiah. And what is Isaiah? It’s the Bible. A study of the scripture. You can also read in Acts 13:44, “And on the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.” The Sabbath is a day… Now let me back up. Am I saying we do not worship God every day? No, we do worship God every day. What makes the Sabbath unique is that it is a time for corporate worship. Should we read our Bibles and have personal devotions every day? Yes! But can we do it all day long? No. The Sabbath day is a special time to invest an extra study of the Bible. Remember, they would gather extra manna on Friday so that they could have plenty on the Sabbath and it’s a time when we want to be able to study the word together. I would be shirking my duty as a pastor if I didn’t at least remind you here that if you own a Bible bring it to church.

I mean what else are you going to do with it if you don’t at least carry it as a prop to church once a week, right? It worries me when I see Christians who have become so blasé about the relationship with the Lord they don’t even bring their Bibles to church. You know I’ve got one of these Palm Pilots now. I guess it’s the I-PAC version and they’ve got the Bible in many versions that you can get on these hand held computers. Some of you use those in your business. Put the Bible on it. Bring that with you. But we need to study the word of God. Follow along. How do you know the pastor’s not misquoting? We’ve got to know for ourselves what the Bible teaches. It’s a day for prayer. We pray every day. We worship God every day. We read his Bible every day. But extra prayer because it’s holy. You can read in Acts 16:13, “And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city by a river where prayer was customarily made and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.” And that I think is another good point.

If possible since it’s a day that is a memorial of creation find a place in nature where you and your family can have devotions there. That makes it even more special. I don’t know, was that last week, Karen, when we went up to the Taylor’s? Yeah. Taylor’s have some property up in the hills. We went to visit them and we closed out the Sabbath sitting out there with the trees having prayer and worship. It’s a special day for prayer. Be in an attitude of prayer all day long. If ever a Christian should walk with God walk with Him on the Sabbath because think of it this way. You cannot be saved unless you love God. Do you agree with me so far? God is love. The purpose of the Plan of Salvation is to inspire us, restore in us the attitude of love for God. You cannot love somebody you do not know. You cannot know somebody you do not take time with. The reason that the Sabbath is so important to God is because it is the quality time with God. Those of you who have children know that it is not enough just to say hello and good-bye through the day as you’re coming and going from work.

You need to sit down and spend some time with them. You need to wrap them in your arms and talk to them individually. If you have a spouse and you want to cultivate your marriage it is not enough just to say “I do” and then go on your separate ways. You need to spend quality time. We hear that word a lot don’t we. You need to spend “quality time together.” Quite simply the Sabbath is our quality time with God where we especially nourish the relationship unencumbered by the cares of life and once we understand what that principle is this in holy quality time with God then everything else begins to make sense. Anything that distracts us from God or takes away from that time, anything that can be done before that time begins should be done. So that you have preserved, you’ve insulated that quality time to nurture the love relationship and this ought to help you understand why the devil hates the Sabbath. He does. Go back in your Bibles to the story of the exodus. I think it’s interesting. Sherle, I think I’m going to jump to those slides that I put in about work. Talking to someone in the studio here.

I didn’t know exactly where I’d go next. When Moses came to liberate the Children of Israel from Egypt at God’s command, before he met with the Pharaoh he met with the leaders of Israel. And we don’t have all the details of that conversation but he told them that God was going to deliver them. It was the God that their fathers had served and they had been compromising with the Egyptians. And I understand part of that conversation, you can read this in the book Patriarchs and Prophets, was reminding them to remember the Sabbath because in an attempt to keep up with the work demands of the Pharaoh’s building projects they were now working seven days a week. After visiting with Moses they began to rest on the seventh day. Why do you think the Pharaoh said, “I know what’s going on. You are making the people Sabbath!” That’s exactly what he said in the original language.

The Pharaoh said to Moses, “I know who you are. You’re making them rest! You’re making them Sabbath! I’m not going to let them keep Sabbath!” And he increased the workload and then punished them for not reaching the workload because they kept keeping the Sabbath. The whole issue was about that. The exodus from slavery and entrance to the Promised Land revolved around the context of remembering the sacred time and resting and the devil not wanting them to rest. It’s going to happen again before we get to the heavenly Promised Land. We’re going to have to learn how to rest in the Lord. And it always strikes me as ironic that whenever I talk about keeping the Sabbath people will say that I’m works oriented. Is it me, or is it really the other way around? We’re rest oriented. Those who do not want to keep the Sabbath are works oriented. We’re saying, rest! Yes, labor to enter that rest, but the Bible commands us to do that. The Pharaoh wanted them to keep working. He doubled their workload. Make bricks without any straw. It’s a day for prayer.

It’s a day for bringing our gifts to God. No, I believe that you can give a gift anytime but let’s be practical. There’s not always a time and a place to receive them and God has specified that the time we come before Him to worship is also a time to bring our gifts. Let me give you a scripture. I Chronicles 16:29, “Give to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before Him.” Is that plain? “Oh, worship the Lord in beauty of holiness.” Notice. Glorify Him, bring an offering, worship Him, come before Him. Isn’t the Sabbath a time when we come before Him? Didn’t we read in Isaiah 66, “All flesh will worship before Him”? And bring a gift. I mean when you come before a king it’s not a good idea or polite to come empty handed. The very audience of a king is a privilege. Would you agree? To be brought into the presence of a king is a great honor. To come empty handed is an insult. When the Wise Men saw Jesus what did they do when they came into the presence of this king? “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?” They brought a gift. All of them. All seven of them.

We don’t know how many of them there were, do we? But you thought there were three because we know there were three categories of gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh. But they all brought gifts we believe. So it’s a day for us to bring our offerings. Now if you have nothing to bring come anyway. I mean, one widow came and all she had was two cents and Jesus praised her because she came and at least she gave two cents. But come anyway. He wants you to come. Now this is an area I don’t know if I’ll get it all in today, but Isaiah 58:13. Matter of fact turn in your Bibles to Isaiah chapter 58 and I want you to notice something that it says just before the verse we’re going to consider. It talks about a group of people… you know what I think was interesting is this morning as I was straightening my tie I turned on 3ABN and Pastor Dwight Nelson was preaching and you know what his sermon title was? “How to Keep the Sabbath”. I thought I’d better change my sermon title this morning, or all our members are going to think I’m plagiarizing, but really I planned this for a while!

Notice here in Isaiah chapter 58 it talks about a group of people who are repairing and building up. We could start with verse 6, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, that you break every yoke…” Notice, “undo burdens”, “break every yoke.” Don’t miss that. “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and that you bring into your house the poor who are cast out when you see the naked that you cover him and that you do not hide yourself from your own flesh.” We’re going to talk about doing good on the Sabbath and what constitutes the “ox in the ditch.” “Then your light will break forth like the morning, your healing will spring forth speedily, and your righteous will go before you. The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you’ll call and the Lord will answer, you’ll cry and He will say, ‘Here I am!’ If you take away from you the yoke from your midst…” That was another implement of burden, of work. “…the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness. If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul then your light will dawn in the darkness and your darkness will be like the noonday and the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your soul in drought and strengthen your bones.

You’ll be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Like that woman at the well. Artesian, living waters. Notice verse 12, “Those that be from you shall build up the old waste-places.” When Jerusalem was broken down and they had to rebuild it. They took the old foundations and they built up new walls. “Those who be from you shall build up the old waste-places, you’ll raise up the foundation of many generations.” They didn’t move the foundation. They raised up the old foundation. “You will be called the repairer of the breach, a restorer of streets to dwell in.” Now I’ll submit to you that for many years the Sabbath truth is something that has been obscured, misrepresented. There was a breach in God’s law. I mean you even today could go to many churches and preach on nine commandments and get an Amen. Preach on the Sabbath day and you’ll be met with scorn. Why? There was a breach in the law. And God said in the last days He would raise up a people that would be restoring the paths, the ancient paths, the ancient foundations. And then you read the next verse He tells you what it is. “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath…” Your foot means you’re desecrating something, you’re stepping on something that is holy.

“Turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day…” Keep in mind, in the Eastern culture, any of you ever been to a church in Japan or even Hawaii, India? Even if you go to a Mosque they take off their shoes before they go in. If you walk into one of these holy places with your shoes on what did God say to Moses? “Take your shoes off your feet. This is holy ground.” So when He talks about turning away your foot it means stomping with dirty shoes on something that is sacred. That’s the implication here. “Turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day.” Now this verse has been very misunderstood. It doesn’t mean you are not supposed to enjoy anything on the Sabbath. Are you allowed to eat on the Sabbath? If you take pleasure in your food is that a sin? I believe that food should be made in a way that it is pleasant. This isn’t what He’s talking about. But we’ll talk more about that too. “From doing your pleasure on my holy day.” You notice he doesn’t call it the Jews’ holy day. In the Sabbath commandment it says, “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord” not the Jews. This is God that we’re offending not a nation, not a church, not a denomination or a people or a doctrine. He says, “It’s my day.” “…and call the Sabbath a delight.”

Now that helps balance it out. He says, Not your own thing, but my day. You know the only way you can call the Sabbath a delight is if you delight in the Lord. If you’re trying to keep the Sabbath holy by not doing your pleasure it’ll never be a delight if you’re not delighting in God. “…and call the Sabbath a delight the holy day of the Lord, honorable and will honor him.” So what does this imply? That when we are going our own secular things on his holy day are we honoring him or dishonoring him? “…and will honor him not finding your own pleasure or speaking your own words.” It says, “Not doing your own ways or finding your own pleasure or speaking your own words then you will delight yourself in the Lord.” I like this. “I’ll cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob your father.”

You know what it means “high places of the earth”? I will exalt you. If you honor me I will honor you. Those that honor me I will honor. And one way we honor God is by respecting what he declares to be holy. By keeping sacred what he has sanctified and God has sanctified a day and he’s asked us if we love him to not allow the devil and his minions to bring in all these little worldly distractions and he said, “Not doing your own thing.” Now I’m not going to completely dissect this verse because we don’t have time but I want you to consider something. He says, “Not speaking your own words.”

Why does he say that? “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” True Sabbath keeping begins in the heart. It’s an attitude in the heart. It’s walking with God in the heart and thinking his thoughts and basking in him. I’d like to read a quote to you. And I’ve lost the reference but I’ve got the quote. “God requires not only,” I think this is Child Guidance. “God requires not only that we refrain from physical work upon the Sabbath but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred things.” I want to pause there. It’s not a sin to try to educate yourself to try to think differently. It’s not fanaticism. It’s not legalism. Being a Christian is conquering that last frontier which is what you think about. And if you can keep your mind stayed on holy things this is what it meant when it says, “Enoch walked with God.”

Every Sabbath we get a chance to practice walking with God for those twenty-four hours. We should discipline the mind to dwell on sacred themes. The fourth commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things or engaging in light trifling conversation. Talking upon anything and everything which may come into the mind and speaking our own words. Every deviation from right brings us into bondage and condemnation. Sometimes you might need to talk to someone who doesn’t share your beliefs and when they start talking about the new addition they’re going to put… and I’ve fallen into this before… their new addition on the house and the garage and you forget that it’s Sabbath, you know, and you automatically, men are very task oriented. We think about the things we’ve got to do and you might have to say, “Change your conversation.”

Or “You know, let’s not talk about that right now.” And if you have children sometimes kids, you know, their minds are so active and they’ll start talking about their Lego Bionicals that can blow up this and that and you know they…and you say, “Let’s talk about something else now. It’s the Sabbath. Think about holy things. Think about God. Whatsoever things are good and noble and just and pure think on these things.” If ever that verse could be applied it could be applied to the Sabbath. Amen? And so it’s a day for doing good. God doesn’t want us to have an idea where we dread the Sabbath. He wants it to be a blessing, but let’s face it. If we don’t have a love relationship with Jesus then we’ll be watching the clock. When the Sabbath isn’t begun yet we’ll be thinking, “Oh, I’ve got this stuff I want to do. Is it Sabbath yet? Oh, I guess I don’t have time to do it.”

That’s not the attitude. And if it is Sabbath I mean you know let’s face it who of us has never heard some young person say, “Is it still Sabbath?” How many of you have heard that before? Come on! Doesn’t it make you feel bad to have that kind of attitude? And I’ve caught myself, yes, Pastor Doug, looking wistfully out the window and wondering if the Sabbath is over so I can get to my next project. And I’m ashamed but it’s true. You know what that means? A change in the heart. It’s a change in the heart. It’s a change in the attitudes. You know it’s not the first time that appears. You can find examples of that attitude in the book Amos chapter 8 verse 5. The people were saying, “When will the new moon be passed that I might sell grain and the Sabbath that we might trade wheat?” Isn’t it over yet so we can do our own thing? And God says that’s the wrong attitude.

We want it to be a delight. You know I think the more that we know the Lord the better we love the Lord the more delightful it becomes. It comes from walking with God. Now let me illustrate here. If a young man falls in love and is smitten by a young woman. Two single young people. And because of their schedules they can only spend one day a week together he will do everything he can to arrange his schedule and get all of his business aside and all of the stuff that might distract his thinking so that he can give quality time to his beloved and she can do the same. If while they are together and she’s talking to him and he doesn’t seem to be paying attention as they’re walking and holding hands and she says, “You seem like you’re a thousand miles away.” And he says, “Well, you know I’m really thinking about the projects I’ve got this week.” Would that hurt her feelings?

Or if they’re sitting together over dinner that she’s spent all this time preparing and he keeps looking at the clock saying, “Is our date over yet? I’ve got to leave. You mind if I leave early?” What would that say about his relationship? These attitudes indicate what? We want the Lord to have our hearts and when God has our hearts we won’t be asking those kinds of questions. But I’ve got news for you, friends, even if your attitudes aren’t right keep it correctly. Even if you’re doing the right thing for the wrong reason still do the right thing. Because he commands you and he’s God. And sometimes in doing what you’re being told to do you then will understand the meaning. It’ll come to you. Still do the right thing and then say, “Lord, I may not have the right attitude. I might be thinking things I shouldn’t be thinking but I’m going to try and do the right thing and help me have the right attitude.” Even if a man says, “You know I don’t feel for my wife the same way I used to feel.” You stay married! Right? Right? So just because you may not feel like it doesn’t mean you stop obeying.

You know I have had the privilege of meeting one of the only people who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. It’s the highest medal that can be given in our country. It was awarded to only one non-combatant. He was a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian named Desmond T. Doss. And when he enlisted during World War II or was drafted, he didn’t, he wasn’t a conscientious objector, he was a non-combatant. He said, “I will serve. I will try to save lives but I refuse to pick up a gun and to take lives.” And going through boot camp and training he would not work on the Sabbath. He told them right from the very beginning. And he didn’t say, “I won’t do it.” He said, “I can’t do it because as much as I respect my officers and superiors God comes first.” And they would put a rifle in his hands and he wouldn’t hold it. And they would try to make him work and he would say, “On the Sabbath I can’t. I’ll work six days a week twenty-four hours a day but from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday I can’t work.

Now if life is threatened since I’m a medic I will do that because that’s what Jesus did. But the KP and the sweeping of the barracks and this other stuff,” he said, “I can’t do it.” And I’ll tell you what. He was jeered and tormented, ridiculed, and mocked, made fun of all through his military experience until they got on the front lines. And when they got on the front lines and they were under some of the worst fighting in WWII and you know there was some bad fighting in the Pacific. A bunch of men were trying to take this cliff, this escarpment from the Japanese and a hail of fire was coming off the… of machine gun fire coming off the top. A lot of marines and soldiers were wounded. He heard them up there crying and he went up one time after another and he rescued these men who were wounded. And brought seventy men… every time he’d come back down with one they’d say, “You better stop. You got lucky that time. Don’t push your luck.” He would hear another one crying, “Medic!” And he’d go back up. No one else went. And he brought them down and he never got hit. And they gave him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Hand grenade was thrown in the group where he was standing. He jumped on the grenade. And to this day he’s missing some toes. He’s still alive. He gave me one of his signed books.

It’s a book I recommend. It’s called The Unlikeliest Hero. But he said, “I’d rather die than disobey.” “Those that honor me I will honor.” God is looking for some people who will stand up for Him. And that means you need to be faithful even in that which is least. Don’t be ashamed of saying, “I keep the Sabbath.” Or “I can’t do that.” This is God’s Sabbath. And God will honor you if you do. This is the first part of a message. We’re going to talk more about this. But I would like to see a revival in my life in being more careful to keep that day holy because God is commanding us to do it. Because a big test is coming in the near future, friends, and if we can’t get it together regarding something as basic as keeping the Sabbath holy, how are we going to pass the big test? I want to be faithful, don’t you? If that’s your prayer then why don’t you reach for your hymnal? Let’s sing our closing hymn. “Don’t forget the Sabbath.” I forgot the number. What is that? 388 Thank you.

How many of you found yourself having to read the verses because you didn’t know them by heart? It’s because we don’t hear this message enough, do we? I wanted you to read them. There’s good theology in there. I’ll make a confession to you. I feel like I have sometimes been sloppy keeping the Sabbath and I know that it’s a sin. I want to be faithful to keep it holy. It’s not my day. It’s his day. Because I love him. Anyone else want to confess with me and ask God to help us be faithful?

Father in Heaven, Lord, we’re coming before you beginning with repentance. Please forgive us for profaning something you have declared to be holy and your word has creative powers and when you say something is it is. You’ve said this day is holy, Lord. We are living right now; we’re dwelling in sacred times. Help us in our deeds in our thoughts in our words to learn how to keep the Sabbath in a way that pleases and honors you because we love you. Lord, this subject requires some understanding, education, study and I pray that as we continue to explore this theme that we will grow in grace and we will not only be hearers but doers of the word. Bless us now in this way. In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.

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