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How to Keep the Sabbath, Pt 2: Holiday or Holy Day

Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11, Isaiah 58:13-14, Hebrews 13:4
Date: 11/01/2003 
The second of a two part series on how to keep the Sabbath. The purpose of the Sabbath is for worship, prayer, and come together as a people. It's also a time for physical, mental, and spiritual rest. We should seek to make it a blessing and delight without doing our own pleasure.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. Happy Sabbath. Good to see each of you here, and I’m thankful that you have come today. I hope that you will be praying for me as I share with you a subject that is very important and yet it’s delicate. Today is really part two in a two part series that I felt strongly impressed to do on the subject of how to keep the Sabbath. Last week we talked about laboring to rest and sermon title this week is holiday or holy day. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of people in the world that their concept of the Sabbath on the first day of the week is you put in your time at church and then you go to the football game or you go shopping or you just been treated like a vacation. And I’m watching an evolution among Sabbath keepers towards that same concept that I think it’s unhealthy and unbiblical. God will honor those that honor him.

You know there’s a story about a man who had a banana plantation in South America a number of years ago and he was a Sabbath keeper. And I don’t remember all the circumstances ‘cause I’m repeating this story by memory, but evidently the fleet of ships, banana boats, that, and pick up the bananas; because of an approaching storm they all arrived in this port city to pick up the cargo of bananas on Friday afternoon and it was unexpected and they all showed up at the same time and they said, “We are leaving Saturday night because there’s a storm approaching and we cannot afford to get caught.” Well all of the banana farmers they wait to the last minute to cut the bananas to make sure they’re transported fresh. This was back before some of it was done by air. And they all had to scramble Friday and Saturday to harvest their bananas and this one man quickly realized he would not be able to do that and keep the Sabbath. And so when some of his neighbors noticed that he did not have his workers out in the field harvesting the bananas they said, “Aren’t you going to do it?

All the ships are leaving! It’ll be the last set of ships for this season because the shipping season for this crop is going to be over and you’re going to lose your whole crop!” He said, “I can't do it without breaking the Sabbath, and so I figure this is God’s problem and I’m not going to do it.” And they labored with him. They said, “What about your family? God understands. He’ll understand. I mean look at all the waste! And you can give some to the church.” And there was a scripture that he quoted, “‘Has God as great a delight in sacrifices and offerings as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.’

So what if I give an offering to the church? God would rather have me obey!” And they said, “You’re insane!” And so they all went to work and they harvested their bananas and they brought them down to the ships and the ships all took off, and as they were disappearing across the horizon he was in church with his family and his bananas were still in the field. Well, the rest of the story is unbeknown to them one of the ships had engine trouble and it limped into harbor that Monday wanting to buy some bananas. It got the repairs done. All the other bananas were sold because they thought that all the ships had left and they were now willing to pay nearly twice as much for anyone who had bananas so they would not go back empty. And so this man, because he honored God, God honored him. And all of his friends watched as he then went down to the port and he sold his bananas for almost twice what he would have got if he had panicked. “Those that honor me I will honor.” You will be tested and I promise you that there is a big test coming to God’s people about who we will obey.

In the last days it will be a battle between those who obey the beast and worship him and those who have the seal of God and worship him. And that’s why even something that may seem a small as this, keeping the Sabbath day, could be an internal issue. And these little nuances of how to obey that we’re evaluating do make a difference. If we don’t study these things and educate ourselves in these areas then pretty soon I can guarantee you instead of the Sabbath day being a holy day soon among Sabbath keepers it’ll be treated like a common holiday and I think you know there is a difference. Now what is the purpose of the Sabbath? We talked about that a little bit in our last study. Of course it’s a time for reading the word, for prayer, I hope you bring your Bibles to church, for corporate worship. I was shocked when I’ve seen some of these articles and statements that implicate that just stay in your place on the Sabbath… it’s OK to just hang around the house… There are numerous commands in the Bible that it’s a place and a time for us “to come together to worship before him” Isaiah 60:6.

I even found a place in II Kings were it talks about the Shunamite woman and when her son died and she told her husband, “I'm going to see Elisha.” He said, “Why? It’s not the Sabbath.” That implies that they came before. They gathered together on the Sabbath day. Did you ever catch that? And so there’s a lot of evidence in the Bible that it was a day for worship. Remember I couldn’t find some quotes in our last study? One of them all share with you. I had a whole litany of them. “Fathers and mothers,” and this is from the book Child Guidance, page 531, “Fathers and mothers should make it a rule that their children attend public worship on the Sabbath and should enforce the rule by their own example.” How many of you have heard of fathers that Sunday morning they send the kids to church? They stay home so they can watch the news and read the sports section in peace.

Your children are going to do what you do so we ought to do it by example. Of course the Sabbath is a time for physical rest, spiritual rest, mental rest. It should start and end with worship and that doesn’t mean that we’re scrambling around an hour after the Sabbath has begun and say, “Well, I guess we should have a little prayer.” And I’ll confess the reason I’m sharing this with you is not because I’m preaching down but I’m preaching up. In the Batchelor home were still studying how to keep the Sabbath and that’s why this was important. Sometimes we’ve found that the Sabbath started and we say, “Well, let's have a prayer, you know, and officially begin it.” Instead of really worshiping and reading something with substance and singing together and you know it takes effort to give God the honor that is due his name. And it should and that way.

There ought to be decisive beginnings and endings to the event and we should guard the edges of the Sabbath. If you wait until you think that the clock has finally ticked its last tick and now you've entered holy time… why would you wanna push it to the last minute? If I’m getting on a plane I hate being late! I found out what standby means. It means you stand by and watch the plane takeoff! I like to get there early. If I’m gonna wait I don’t always want to wait at home. And when they’re boarding the plane I wanna be the first one on. It happened to me again this last week. I took a trip to Florida and back. Two people had my seat and I was not one of them! Same seat number. Computer error. And I watched everybody get on as I stood back. And you know who ever had gotten to that seat first would’ve been there. I know that sounds selfish and me but you don’t wanna be late is my point. And that’s the way it is with the Sabbath. And when it’s over don’t be watching the clock and say, “All right blow the horn! It’s over! Let’s do our own thing.” That’s wrong attitude.

It’s almost an insult to God. Let linger a little bit. Start early and show Him that you care. Now the Sabbath is not one of the ten suggestions or of the ten recommendations. It is a commandment. Let’s look at this again. It was in our scripture reading, but the repetition won’t hurt us. Exodus twenty verse 8 through eleven. And I especially want you to notice something that is all contained within this commandment. It’s got the what, the where, the who, the how, the when, and the why in this one commandment. You know why God did all of that for this one commandment? Because he knew that we would have questions and so he gets more specific about this commandment than any other. It’s the longest. It’s in the middle of God’s law. He gave it a priority. He begins with the word remember. Why do you think he did that?

He knew we would be prone to forget. And that doesn’t mean start remembering Friday afternoon. “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” It is holy. We are to keep it the way he’s made it. “Six days…” It’s telling us what to do, “six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it…” When? In the Sabbath. “…you shall not do any work.” Who? “…you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant nor your cattle nor the stranger who is within your gates.” Where? “…within your gates. For in six days…” Why? “For in six days the lord made the heaven and the earth and the sea and blessed them. And the lord rested the Sabbath day there for the lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” He’s covering all that in this one commandment so that we would understand. Now in keeping with just reading the commandment I would like to remind you that this is not one of the least of the commandments. You know Jesus said, “Whoever therefore shall do and teach the commandments even the least of these commandments will be called a great in the kingdom of heaven.” And you’d be surprised how many people look at the Ten Commandments and they figure, “Well, if I was gonna pick the least it would be the Sabbath.” But I think they have chosen poorly.

You realize that the penalty for Sabbath breaking was death. The penalty for stealing was not death. The penalty for lying was not necessarily death. The penalty for adultery was death if the people were married, if they were unmarried there was a penalty you had a good hour a and you married the gal or the guy. But the Sabbath, listen to this, Numbers 15:32. While the children of Israel were in the wilderness they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day and those who found in gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron. We know it’s a commandment. Here’s a breaker. What’s the penalty? We’ve got this new law. We know what the law is.

Now we don’t know what the penalty is. And they didn’t know what to do. You read on, it says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘The man must surely be put to death.’” For gathering sticks? “‘All the congregation shall stone him with stones…’” they were to participate in the execution! So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and a stone him with stones and he died. I bet they were little more careful next week. How important this to God? Is it a suggestion? Some people go to Romans where it says “one man regards a day under the lord, another man regards every day alike. Let everyone be persuaded in their own mind.” And they applied that statement that is dealing with the Jewish holidays, the yearly Sabbaths, to the Sabbath day. Oh no! It’s talking about something different there. Then you could read on. Let me give you just a couple more verses if I have time.

Ezekiel 20:12 & 13, “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them that they might know that I am the lord who sanctifies them.” It’s a sign of sanctification. Do we need that? Do we need sanctification? “Yet the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk and my statutes. They despised my judgments which is the man does he will live by them…” Meaning there’s sanctifying influence in them. “… and a greatly defiled my Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness and consume them because they despised my judgments and did not walk in my statutes but profaned my Sabbath.” That’s pretty serious. You can read also in Ezekiel 20:20 & 21 verse 24 “Hallow my Sabbaths. They’ll be a sign between me and you that you might know that I am the lord notwithstanding the children of Israel rebelled against me. They did not walk and my statutes, were not careful to observe my judgments, which if the man does he will live by them” (this is similar) “but they profane my Sabbath and then I said I would pour out my fury on them. I would fulfill my anger against them in the wilderness because they profane my Sabbaths.” Does God care? Is it serious?

I think sometimes we feel like, you know, just everybody be led by your own conscience and if it feels good it’s OK. The Bible does and teach that. Got is specific about keeping the Sabbath day that is a law, a commandment. Amen? Now there are couple of extremes and this is what I think pollutes our thinking a little bit. By the time Jesus came the Sabbath was being taught by the Pharisees who were extremely legalistic and they even accused Jesus of Sabbath breaking in the Bible. But nowhere in the Bible do you see Jesus ever doing anything that violates the Sabbath commandment the way it’s given in scripture. He broke their manmade traditions and how often did you hear Jesus say, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commandment of God that you might observe the traditions of men.” That’s why he goes on and he says, “In vain to they worship me…” Sabbath and worship are connected. “… teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” They had manmade commandments be taught as though it was a doctrine and it was all vain.

You never see Jesus in the carpenter shop on the Sabbath day. You never hear him… or teaching his disciples it’s OK to break the Sabbath. Indeed he was in the synagogue every Sabbath day. So by his example he was there worshipping, stood up reading the scriptures out loud and that’s a good example for us. So a lot of the conflict that you see in the New Testament was Christ trying to clean and clear the Sabbath from the manmade restrictions. And there are still Pharisees out there. Amen? That try to make it a burden instead of a blessing. It is supposed to be a blessing. But some people believe that those statements in Isaiah where it says “thine own pleasure” means that were supposed to make ourselves as miserable as possible in order to keep the Sabbath. Let me read that to you. Isaiah 58: 13 & 14, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on the” Jews holy day. Is that what it says? From your holy day? God says “my holy day.” So we can’t pick our own day. It’s his day. “…from doing your own pleasure…” Now the word pleasure there doesn’t mean anything you enjoy it means your personal, selfish pursuits. And you know, there’s some people say, “You know as long as we’re out nature we’re gonna go water skiing.

We’re in a mode snow skiing on Sabbath.” I believe that that’s a corruption of what the intent is. While the Lord wants you to enjoy the Sabbath you’re not out to be doing your own diversions. I believe that it’s a time to dedicate to his service and we’ll get into that a little more. And he goes on to say, “honor him not doing your own ways or finding your own pleasure” and that word pleasure there means purposes, pursuits, ways. How many of you eat on the Sabbath? Show of hands. Be honest. How many of enjoy it? Would any of you dare to say you find pleasure in it? So we’re not supposed to eat on the Sabbath? Well, of course. That’s not what he’s saying. He’s not saying as soon as you start to enjoy something “I must not be doing the right thing because I’m enjoying this.” And there are people who take that to mean it. It means your own pursuits, your own ways, your own purposes. Now in keeping with that, and I need to be very delicate in the way I address this. I get a question much more than you would imagine on the subject of, “How does that relate to husbands and wives with marital intimacy on the Sabbath day?” There’s a lot of confusion in this area. Let me get you to think about something.

What day of the week did God make Adam and Eve? Friday. Sixth day. And what was the last thing he says to them before you enter into the Seventh day? “Be fruitful and multiply.” What would their honeymoon have been? Is there anything in the Bible… Now was there sin in the world when God made Adam and Eve? There was no sin in the world. Is there anything in scriptures in paradise that implicates that there’s something impure or unholy about those natural relations? No, and I would like to give you Hebrews 13:4. “Marriage is honorable.” And that word honorable can be translated pure. “among all and the bed undefiled” pure. And so this concept that “well, the Sabbath is a holy day” and so you can’t support that Biblically. Paul does say there may be times that a family or husband and wife wants to choose to fast and pray and separate from one another for the purpose of fasting and praying. You notice it’s equated with not eating too. And so if it’s ok to eat on the Sabbath… Do I need to go much further with this or do you understand? Now what I’m sharing with you I’m sharing by permission and not commandment. If your conscience tells you otherwise or if you and your spouse have made a covenant then hey, there’s no sin in that.

That’s fine. But I just wanted to say biblically I think we need to be balanced about this. Another question I get and you’d be surprised how often is how do you keep the Sabbath on the space shuttle? Or the international space station? Or how do you keep the Sabbath in the North Pole during the winter when the sun doesn’t come up for several months? I don’t know, but I thought I should at least address it. I've thought about it because I'd like to go. I’d love to go to the space station maybe before I get too old… I mean you know if I’m 80 John Glenn made it when he was 80. I still have a chance, don’t I? If the lord tarries. I've thought before. What if you’re up there? You know it goes around the earth. I figured you’d just probably say, “All right, Lord, I’m gonna keep the Sabbath the time and the way they’re keeping it in northern California” and just measure it that way, right? I mean, what do you do if you live in a cavern down in the middle of the earth and you’re keeping the Sabbath?

You’d have to use some kind of artificial time mechanism and give Him that time based on where your home is. I don’t know. Same thing with the North Pole. First of all, I don’t think the Lord intended you to live there, right? And you know what’s interesting when people start presenting some of these little strange challenges, “Well, how do you do it the International Date line?” They’re usually Sunday keepers that are trying to create a problem. You know what my answer is? You do it the same way you keep Sunday in those locations. Sabbath is not my idea. It’s God’s idea and when you start to imply that it’s impossible to keep it certain places you’re really attacking him. I don’t know some of these answers but it’s God’s idea. I know how to keep it where I live and that’s what counts, right? And I’m not going to the North Pole so it’s not a problem for me. Now here’s an area where we want to spend a little time. What to do with children. And this is something that really needs attention because the fact remains that if you do it wrong the Sabbath will be a burden for your children. If you do it right it will be a delight and a blessing. First of all, I think it’s a good idea to find as much as you can.

Let’s face it, kids have more energy. How many of you would like to have the energy of a three year old again? They’ve got it seems like unending energy and when you put the seatbelt on in their pew Sabbath morning and they’re sitting still and then you take them home and you say, “Now we get to sit for another six hours.” It’s no wonder that they watch the clock. It’s important that you keep their active minds engaged and give them positive things to do. But I also want to make something clear. It’s my opinion that there’s a difference between the Sabbath being a delight and the Sabbath being a blessing and feeling guilty because you’re not making the Sabbath fun. I don’t know that there’s a command anywhere that we are to make every Sabbath day for our children like a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm or Disneyland. It’s a holy day.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. You might not do something that is fun. I have fun preaching. But the idea of every moment we are to be entertained is I think a plague of our generation. And if I’m not being entertained all the time and if everything isn’t always fun then it’s not good. That’s true, and it’s the corruption in our thinking. We should try to make it a blessing. We should try to make it a delight. And that may not be the same thing as… I've seen parents hand their kids their Gameboy during church. And you know you’re looking out there and you see this one head… they’re shooting asteroids or whatever it is they’re doing out there because they’re afraid they might not have fun and they want them to enjoy a church. Well, they’re not hearing the sermon. Are they going to have that when they’re 45 years old?

I mean, you know, at some point we need to be teaching the children to be respectful and to sit and listen because you want them to transition from being children into adults and as they get older theoretically they’ll understand more and more of the sermon and be able to apply it. But there are things we can do not just in church but during the day. We have great Sabbath School departments here that keep the young people engaged in learning and that’s what I like. They’re not only making it interesting, they’re learning and that takes a lot of effort. First of all, read spiritual books, nature walks, go visit some old folks. Nature is a good thing. You can’t do it all year long. What about the North Pole? Can’t do it there as often. But then you always have the question if you go out to the river or the creek can they go swimming?

Can they go in up to their ankles? How about up to their knees? And I’ve heard all kinds of different parents weigh in on this and in different places. Just a few weeks ago our family with another Sabbath keeping family went to a creek up in Covalo on the Sabbath. We took the kids down there and they wanted to know if they could get in. We said, “Well, you can take off your shoes.” You know it’s OK to wade around and collect rocks and look at the crawdads. I think it’s good to get out in god’s creation and to feel it with your toes a little bit. But the next thing you know Nathan was completely baptized. And he didn’t want to be. The creek was cold. He just, you know, they were bouncing on a log and someone pushed him in. We won’t say who. It wasn’t me. But you know those things you’ve got just to give them guidelines so that they can enjoy being out there but let them know it is holy time. Because let’s face it it’s one thing if you’re down at the river with the kids on the Sabbath and they are cooling off their toes or something.

It’s something else if they’re doing cannonballs of the diving board. They’re really not thinking about God, are they? And so you understand the differences? That might be OK to go for a Sabbath drive with the family, but you don't wanna get involved in the Indy 500, right? You could say, “Well, I’m just driving! You drive on the Sabbath. I’m driving.” No, you see there’s a difference there. And so you need to use intelligence about what is the purpose of it. Somebody gave me a book that, I don’t know. Do we carry this at Amazing Facts? We do! Oh good! Commercial. Amazing Facts has this. But it’s 52 Things to Do on the Sabbath and a lot of these have to do with children. I will read them all. But they can of course be involved with Pathfinders and Adventure Club. They might get out in nature and collect flowers, pine cones, rocks. Rock collections are interesting. Tracking animals, scavenger hunts in nature, there’s of course some of these nature things you can do would be inside the house. Invite a stranger home for you. Draw pictures of nature. You can sing.

Do 20 questions on Bible characters. And I’m not gonna read them all. Visit shut-ins. Adopt a grandparent. Just call or write someone who needs encouragement. Write a letter to a Bible character. And there’s 52… there are other books and things that are available that have ideas. And it might take some energy, well spent energy, thinking about things that can be done to help them burn off some of their energy and enthusiasm that they naturally have. You know in nature when dolphins give birth baby dolphins, of course they’re mammals, they actually have to learn how to swim. It doesn’t take them very long, but you watch them when they’re first born, and I’ve seen this before, they’re going upside down. They’re going down when they need to go up and shortly after they’re born they don’t even know how to breathe. They’re not sure where the air is, and just like human babies they’ve got to breathe shortly after they’re born or they don’t survive.

The mother and father or other dolphins in the pod will get under that little one and push it up to the surface and it’ll take a breath and they’ll let it swim around and they know instinctively when it’s ready for another breath. And on a regular basis they begin for its first I don’t know if it’s hours or days of life they keep pushing it to the surface and telling it where to go for the air. Well, our children need to be trained how to breathe holy air. And it’s not like that there’s a difference and we need to lift them up and they might resist it. They might go the wrong direction, but they just need that gentle guidance so they will then find out where it is. One of the most important parts of the Sabbath Commandment is summed up in the word “remember” and as I said earlier remembering does not mean you wait until the sun is cresting the horizon Friday afternoon and you say, “Well, it’s almost Sabbath. I need to get ready.”

Because we live to worship God, and keep in mind I believe we should worship god seven days a week, amen? But let’s face it; the worship on Sabbath is obviously of a superior nature, context, content because God said so. He said he will meet with us and bless us in a special way. Because we live for the purpose of worshiping him and glorifying him it is worthy of investing time in thinking ahead and remembering. We don’t just start remembering the Sabbath on Friday. I think you start remembering it when the sun goes down Saturday evening and thinking about your next Sabbath and plan our week. You know the Sabbath is a wonderful calibration tool of the Lord in the life of those that worship him because life is made of time and if every week our weeks revolve around this blessed time with God you never lose focus and that's intended. I think God planned it that way so that the Sabbath is something that our whole life revolves around it. It helps us to keep the focus on what our purpose is to worship, to serve him, to glorify him.

It also helps us guard against becoming preoccupied with the cares of this life “lest that day overtake us as a thief.” And so it’s worthy of some attention and planning. A few things I’d like to read you here on that thought. This is, hey like to recommend something. To have a pen? Pencil? A good memory? A lot of what I’m sharing with you can also be found in that classic book Child Guidance. It’s chapter 79 called “The Sabbath, the day of delight” and I highly recommend it. There’s a lot of material there but I will read a few choice quotes to you. “On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in its readiness, that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked” your shoes be shined and so forth “and the baths taken.” Hey! I want to stop right there.

Every Friday, I picked this out yesterday whether you like or not, I just did it in advance. I have my shoes. I pick out my socks and my underwear, the tie, sometimes I’ll pick out two or three and I’ll ask Karen to tell me what to wear and I try and do it in advance so I’m more relaxed. There’s already things the devil is going to do… any of you ever noticed the devil will try to run your Sabbath because he knows it’s a day that’s blessed. He will try to do things to get you so anxious and flustered and things will go wrong and you’ll get out in the car all smiling and happy to drive to church you realize someone left the door open that night, the dome light was on, the battery is dead. And so if you don’t plan ahead the devil will take advantage of that. But what about, it says here, “the baths taken”? Do I dare ask how many take a bath? Oh, I won’t ask that. I’d take a bath or shower. I don’t take baths. I’d take showers every day sometimes two times a day not because I’m neurotic but sometimes I wake up to go to work I take a bath. I’ll play racquetball.

I stink. I’ll take another one. Back 100 years ago taking a shower or bath was a very intensive, laborious job. They use to have to haul the water, and I’ve lived like this before so I know it, heat the water by firewood, pour it, get someone bathed, heat up some more water, pour it. It took hours. And it was very labor intensive to take a bath. It wasn’t some command that you have to be dirty. If I’m going to bathe six days a week I’m not going to have the one day of the week I stink be the Sabbath day. And I’ve got an excuse. The Bible says that the priest washed in the laver on the Sabbath. And so I’ve got a reason. But let’s face it, friends, in our culture to step into the shower and turn that button it’s more effort to drive to church than to do that. And so if any of you have been practicing the 1800’s pattern of only bathing Friday you don’t have to feel guilty, in my opinion, about taking a quick shower on Sabbath as well. “But let the work be done” it says. Make it your rule to do this. You can if you want.

“The Sabbath is not given to the repairing of garments and the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking or any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight.” On my desk I’ve got all kinds of, you know, things you’re dealing with. You’ve got bills and you’ve got other official papers. I stack them and put them out of the way because you know what happens, you look at them and what happens to your mind? If you’re not supposed to be doing your own thing and thinking your own thoughts and speaking your own words it helps if you put that thing out of the way where you don’t need to be distracted by it. Now they put the slide up so I’ll go ahead and jump to that. What about cooking on the Sabbath? Exodus 16: 23-26. First of all, it’s not a commandment that you eat cold food on the Sabbath, but whatever you can get done in advance it’s a good idea. The Sabbath should not be dedicated to elaborate cooking and heavy food preparation. It’s not the same thing as preparing heavy food.

The Bible says, “Bake what you will bake today and boil what you will boil. Lay it up for yourselves. All that remains shall be kept until the morning.” Now some things if you’re going to make a salad, you know if you make a salad on Friday and put the dressing on it you’ve got a limp, soggy salad the next day. Have everything prepared and you throw it together then when you’re about to eat it. You all understand some of the little nuances of different foods, but the idea is get as much of it done as you can in advance, cover it up, have it ready so you can relax. What you’re trying to do is preserve time. Praise God for time bake ovens! Karen will make the food, on Sabbath she sets the oven on automatic, we come home, it goes ‘ding!’, and it’s ready. It’s all heated up.

You don’t have the cold food. And we live in the age of microwaves. You can all nuke something pretty fast. But the principle is get it done in advance. Of course there are some people who might work in the institutions where there is a cafeteria and they need to feed people who are in a hospital or in a Christian boarding school and naturally those kind of things might need to be taken care of on that day and be done with a cheerful spirit. I don’t think you should schedule every Sabbath if you’re in some kind of a necessary function like that where you’re on duty so that you’re busy on every Sabbath and you’re not able to sit at Jesus’ feet. Buying and selling. Nehemiah 10:31, “If the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day that we should not buy it from them on the Sabbath day.” Why do you think that is? And there are people who will argue, “Well, Doug, you know we take up an offering so we’re handling money so what’s the difference if you go to a restaurant?”

That’s a whole different thing. Giving an offering to God is different from buying something, engaging people and trade and hiring somebody. The Bible tells us it’s a day where we are to rest and we are to let servants rest. So when we go somewhere and we’re paying somebody to cook or food because we haven’t made preparation I don’t think that’s a good thing for Christians. This is radar I just wondered if I was gonna get any support on that. You’re not supposed to buy and sell. You should prepare in advance. I don’t believe we should be going out to eat on the Sabbath day and mingling with the world in that way. Sometimes, let’s face it, the environments in these public places of eating they’re playing worldly music, worldly conversations and I just don’t know that that’s God’s plan for us to expose ourselves in that way. Nehemiah 13, I’m gonna read this one to you from the Bible. Nehemiah 13:15, another verse, “In those days I saw Judah in Judah some of the people treading wine presses on the Sabbath.”

This isn’t the first generation that’s had problems with this. “Bringing in sheaves and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of birds which they brought to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day and I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre who’d will there also have brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath day to the children of Israel.” Are you got the pagans selling to the children Israel. The non Sabbath keepers selling to the Sabbath keepers and Nehemiah is saying, “We’re not supposed to do that!” “Then I contended with the nobles of Judah and said unto them, ‘What evil thing is this that you do by which you profane the Sabbath day?’” Now, is this Doug’s opinion? Or does the word of God say when we are engaged in buying or selling like this on the Sabbath day we’re profaning it? I think that it’s something that still matters that God does still care about. It’s a day for doing good. You know I don’t want to just talk about some of these restrictions.

Matthew 12:11-12 Jesus said to them, “What man is there among you that has a sheep if he falls in a fit on the Sabbath day will not lay a hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day.” And obviously there are people who work in hospitals and things, there are folks that are sick and they need care. I think I was teasing Mrs. Batchelor when one of the little Batchelor’s was born that she better not the laboring on the Sabbath day when she was pregnant because we had a command for that. I don’t know that she did pay attention. But obviously… Huh? Oh, good. Alright then you were paying attention. I forgot. But you know there was a few Sabbaths when she looked pretty close. And it tells us that of course were to take care of these obviously these natural things. Even Jesus talked about on the eighth day they would circumstance of baby. Let’s face it in church sometimes pastors stay pretty busy and that’s why that scripture says “the priests profane the Sabbath.”

That means that they do things that are technically not right and yet they’re blameless. On the seventh day the priests would keep the altar fire burning. They’re hauling wood. They would keep water in the laver. They’re hauling water. If the people outside the sanctuary were doing it they were stoned. So there were things that were done in the sanctuary for the service of the people that God recognized needed to be done. So you’ve got to understand what is the context of what’s being done. And we have people around this church we’re very thankful for that perform some acts of service that others might worship, that others might participate, but even there we need to be careful that we don’t get so busy serving week after week, and you and I know that there are people like Martha that are fixing for potlucks every week and they may miss the sermon because they are preparing. And once or twice you understand that, but you get so busy serving that you don’t hear the word you can lose your relationship. And while I’m on this subject of course the Bible talks about the ox in the ditch. Jesus just referred to a sheep in the ditch. Another passage talks about a donkey in the ditch. They don’t fall in the ditch very often. It’s amazing how many things were calling an ox in the ditch these days.

My idea of an ox in a ditch is on Sabbath I have seen literally people whose cars break down. I know that I can get them going again. I will stop and reconnect their carburetor or whatever it is I can do. Try to keep them going down the road. I think that’s… and of course I don’t bill them. And that of course is an act of support and mercy. And a few weeks ago I was with Steven and a car broke down on our way home from church right here on Watt Avenue in the middle of the road. There was this man or woman, I don’t even remember any more, just stuck there and all the cars were honking and I thought, “Instead of just honking why don’t we help them?” Steven and I got out. We helped push the car. Well, I wouldn’t wanna do that for living, but on Sabbath there was nothing wrong with that. Amen? How many of you agree with that? You’re trying to help somebody. But a lot of things we call the ox in the ditch are not the ox in the ditch. And I personally am concerned about sometimes youth ministries say, “This Sabbath we are going to go rake people’s lawns for Jesus.”

No! anyone have a problem with that? Or they say, “We’re going to go wash everyone’s windshields in the parking lot because we’re doing good and were blessing people.” Or, “We’re going to go pick up trash on the highway.” I think we’re setting a bad precedent for the young people when we get into these “ox in the ditch” “doing good” ministries that are really teaching the kids it’s OK to work on the Sabbath day. And that’s, I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind with this principle of the ox being in the ditch. Let me give you an example. Luke 23:55 Jesus dies. I’m going to read on through Luke 24:2. Christ is dead. The sun is going down. It’s not Sabbath yet. They want to get his body prepared. They love him. They’ve spent three years and a half listening to him teach. They know what he wants. “The women who came with him from Galilee followed after. They observed the tomb and how his body was laid and they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils and they rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

On the first day of the week early in the morning after the Sabbath was passed” another gospel tells us “they any other women returned with the spices to finish embalming his body.” Now I think that the way that most people are thinking today among Sabbath keepers we would say, “Well, I realize the sun is going down, but we’re not quite done involving Jesus’ body and after all it is Jesus so certainly it would be OK. A lot of things we’re calling an ox in the ditch I don’t think Jesus would call the ox in the ditch. If it’s something that can wait, let it wait. If it doesn’t have to be done that day to save someone’s life or to take care of some emergency of suffering or something then let it wait. Amen? I mean this was important to the disciples and yet they said hey it can wait till Sunday. I think they were glad they did wait. They got to witness the resurrection because they waited. Amen? There are people who are faced with practical challenges in college or some work will require you for your profession to take a test and when do they always do it?

So many of them on Saturday. A little while ago a policeman stop me to talk to me, a highway patrolman, and I decided to brush up on my driving education. You know when they offer most of the schools? Praise the Lord! They just started offering one online and I was able to do the whole thing online because it’s really difficult. All the other times I had to go traffic school I’d have to find it where you go in little sessions, a half one day and half another day. And what do you do if in order for you to pass a test or something, they have a test and it might mean your grade? And it might mean your job, a promotion? Would you do? Well, first of all, our office here has a letter, we have a few form letters. We run into this all the time, that we will write… praise God in America we have some freedom! Other countries that roses are even more difficult. And we can write a letter and they will maybe give you another test specially just for you or they will waive it or something like that, but don’t say, “Well, I’m going to break the Sabbath just this once because God understands.”

I think you start sacrificing your principles in little things like this and it’ll get easier and easier for you to sacrifice until someday someone is going to tell you to substitute God’s Sabbath for their Sabbath and you have made so many little compromises in series that it will seem like a small concession to give up your faith. The devil chips away at our faith little by little. We need to take a stand. Amen? Are we supposed to break the Sabbath when it becomes inconvenient to keep it? Let’s ask that question about the other commandments. “Well, you know, I really don’t want to lie, but if I lie this one time it’s going to save a lot of trouble.” And I know there are some people that think there’s a good argument for an occasional lie. I don’t believe God sees it that way. How many of you ladies would understand if a husband said, “I’m on a four week business trip and a little bit of adultery… I mean, just this once!” A little bit of using God’s name in vain, just an occasional, just this once, I need to deny Christ just now, worship another god. I mean, does God care if we make compromises with the other commandments? Yes, he does. And that’s why I think we sometimes think the Sabbath is a different kind of commitment and he doesn’t care if it’s inconvenient we break it.

The penalty was death back then, and it’s very serious. Now I don’t believe we’re supposed to execute, but the penalty for sin is what? Death. What am I supposed to wear on the Sabbath? Everyone listen now with your eyes closed so you don’t look at anyone around you. I do think it’s something we should address in how to keep the Sabbath. I believe when we come into the presence of God we should be conscious that he’s a holy God and wear what our best is. Don’t save your worst for God. Some people come to church I know they go to work all week long they wear a suit, they wear respectful clothing, they come to church looking like they’re on a Hawaiian vacation. If the best you have is your Hawaii clothes then praise the Lord! When in Hawaii it’s OK. I’ve been there. No, I’m serious. I go to church in some south Pacific islands and everybody has short sleeves and it’s the way that they, it’s their respectful clothing. You go to the Philippines they wear the barong. You know what I’m saying? Where what the respectful clothing is because you’re coming into God’s presence you want to by your example show respect. Let me give you some scriptures. Genesis 35:2&3, “Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you. Purify yourselves.

Change your clothes. Let us arise and go to bethel.’” Who knows what the word bethel means? House of God. “And I will an altar there to God.” They were to change their clothes as they went before the Lord. When the Lord was about to give the Ten Commandments Moses commanded them to wash their clothes. So one thing is we want to be clean. We should be neat and we should be respectful when we come before the Lord. It’s a day for rest. Oh wait! I want to give you one more scripture. Don’t… too late! She almost put that up. I Timothy 2:9-10, “In like manner that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel with propriety and moderation.” Not with costly clothing. We should not be, I think, flamboyant or extravagant. Some people, let’s face it, they come to church and Saturday is, as far as they’re concerned, it’s the runway in a fashion show. And everybody wants to outdo everybody else, and I’m not saying you’re that way but we all know that there are folks who view it as their opportunity to grandstand their latest purchase. That shouldn’t be the spirit.

We should be coming wanting to reflect Christ. Something else popped into my mind that I forgot that I want to mention. The Bible says that the Sabbath is to be kept within our gates. Remember Jacob just said to his family. There are some things we’re not responsible for. Your gates means your household. Back in Bible times they had ranches. You cannot be responsible for what people are doing as far as Sabbath keeping outside your gates. Even among the children of Israel were people who were not Israelites and they may not have respected the Sabbath. We just read that in Nehemiah. But within your gates, when your children, when your grown children come home they should be taught even though they may not understand or respect how you keep Sabbath when they’re away when they’re within your gates it should be kept. And you might say, “Well, you know, I know they’re not Sabbath keepers so they’re going to be watching football at home while we go to church.” No. Tell them to get a hotel room. You might think that’s a little tough love, but they need to respect because you’ve got to decide to I love God more than my children. And have them honor it within your gates. What if you’re in business and you have business partners that are not Sabbath keepers and they’ve got a business open on Sabbath?

Some of you are doing that right now and you didn’t even know it. You take your money to a bank, they invest in stocks and I can guarantee you they’re not all closed on Sabbath. You can’t control that. Here’s the way I understand it. If you have a controlling interest in what’s happening you either need to get out of that or they should be keeping the Sabbath. For instance, if you’re one of 50 people that owns a hotel you can’t tell them to close it down on Sabbath, can you? But “within your gates” means within your authority, within your control you should be keeping it. If it’s outside of your control and authority you’re not responsible for what everybody else is doing. Then there will be people will say, “Well, you know you’re making others work when you use electricity on the Sabbath, and you’re making the phone company work if you pick up your cell phone and stuff like that.”

I can’t control that whether I use it or not. You see what I’m saying? When I turn on the water I’m glad it’s running, but I’m not going to work at the water company. Amen? And I know that there’s some other things I’m leaving out. This is such a big subject, but I’m running out of time. It’s a day for rest very simply. Another quote from Child Guidance. “Let not the precious hours of the Sabbath be wasted in bed.” While it is a day for rest we don’t want to be gorging ourselves like lions that just killed an elephant and laying around. I think we should enjoy our food, but eat modestly. The food should be special. I think it should be a treat. Doesn’t mean you have to have ninety different items on the table. But it should be a treat. It should be pleasant. I don’t think we should eat so much that all we can think about is finding the nearest hammock and sleeping away the rest of the day. It is a day for rest, but how many people do you know that miss church that say, “Well, after all, it’s a day for rest! So I stayed home and slept.”

Oh, get up! Go to church. Then take a nap later. Amen? But don’t miss your time worshiping with God. “Let not the precious hours of the Sabbath be wasted in bed. On Sabbath morning the family should be astir early. If they rise late there’s confusion and bustle and preparing for breakfast and Sabbath School. There is hurrying…” I hope you’ll come to Sabbath School. “…jostling and impatience, thus unholy feelings come into the home. The Sabbath is thus desecrated and it becomes a weariness and its coming is dreaded rather than loved.” God wants us to love it. He wants it to be a blessing. It’s to be something that’s to be a delight, something that we cherish, something we look forward to. But you know, it takes energy to build that kind of experience. It takes planning. It takes thought. Is God worth it? Is he worth giving your time with someone you love?

Is it worth it? I know I’ve used this example before, but if a man and woman are courting and they have limited time together because of their schedules and where they live, they try to plan that time, they invest energy and it being special. And especially the man who makes those dates special for his beloved, he’s appreciated, isn’t he, when he thinks ahead? How many of you women like that when your husband does something that shows he actually thought ahead? He planned on doing something special. That makes them very happy. When I travel Karen often writes a card or two in advance and she hides them in my luggage or my computer. She always tries to hide them where she figures I’ll find them because nothing bothers her more than when I get home and she says, “Did you read my card?” I’ll say, “What card?” So you don’t want to hide it two well, but it’s always pleasant when I’m digging through my file for that trip and I pull out a card with a you know little note or kiss or something on it. It’s very, she usually has a love letter in there or something, and it shows me she thought about me.

Now I’ve got to learn to do that for her when she… it’s time together. And then finally… let me do something before I get to my finally, real quick. I had so much material that I wanted to share with you and I knew that I didn’t want to go into part three and I wanted to cover as much of this as I can. We’ll put both these messages on one tape. That I summarized some points, concepts for Sabbath keeping, and I have about 200 of these on the table out there so if each family takes one (you’re free to make copies of it) and you can pick one up at our information table. One, the Sabbath is a day to cease our creative work, it’s a day of ceasing as God ceased, and to appreciate what God has done in the world and is doing in us. And there’s scripture. Two, the Sabbath is not a time for elaborate food preparation. It should be done the days before the Sabbath.

It’s not a time for heavy baking and cooking. The Sabbath is the time to lay our burdens down and to rest, Jeremiah 17. We should not do any servile work on the Sabbath. That means slavely work. This includes our entire family our servants, our animals, and strangers who live among us, visitors within your gates. Sometimes it’s hard when you’ve got family that are not believers that are with you. It’s a challenge. You need courage and tact in how to do this. The Sabbath is a holy convocation. We should meet and worship with others. A number of scriptures for that. The Sabbath should be a day of daylight and rejoicing, a day in which we will for sake our thoughts and words for God’s thoughts. How many of you struggle sometimes on Sabbath not thinking about things that you shouldn’t think about? It takes some energy and effort to do that but you can.

The Sabbath, number six, is a time of healing. It’s a good time to visit, to minister to those who are suffering. It’s not a time to do our trading, buying, and selling engaging in those kind of business transactions. The Sabbath is a time to do good and visit the sick. We should do spiritual work on the Sabbath serving others for Christ. That doesn’t mean raking their lawns and washing their cars. The Sabbath is a time for prayer, Acts 16. Eleven, the Sabbath is a time to reason with each other about spiritual principles and for ministers to teach and read the word of God and Jesus read out loud. I think it’s good for us to hear the word of God read. And then twelve, the Sabbath is it time for singing. Amen? We’ll do that in just a minute. Matter of fact, Psalm 92 if you read the little introduction, is called a Sabbath Psalm. They sang on the Sabbath day. And you’ve got Ephesians, Colossians, and a number of others. If you when of these I think we may have enough for one per family that are on the information desk out there. Now finally, the Sabbath is a time to be with Jesus.

Luke 10:38-42, “It happened as they went and entered a certain village a certain woman named Martha welcomed him into her house and she had a sister called Mary who will also sat at Jesus feet and heard his word, but Martha was distracted with much serving.” You know, we sometimes on the Sabbath are so distracted with getting to church and putting in our time and doing it that were not being with him. And the Lord wants us to be with him. If we can convince other people what day the Sabbath is and we’re not being with Jesus we’re not really keeping the Sabbath. It’s in vain. We might have all the arguments. We might put in our time and sit still, but if we’re not being with him and abiding in his presence then we’re not really keeping the Sabbath. “Martha was distracted by much serving and she approached him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care?

My sister has left me to serve alone. Therefore tell her to help me!’ And Jesus answered and said, ‘Martha, Martha, you’re worried and troubled about many things but one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part that will not be taken away from her.’” Sitting at Jesus’ feet, gazing into his face, spending time with him, hearing his voice, this is what the Sabbath is for. Quality time with Jesus. He wants that with us and he was not going to let… even though Martha was preparing a dinner for Jesus he said, “No, not going to interrupt this. This is more important. We’re having a relationship. We’re getting to know each other.” And he wants to have that with you. This is what the Sabbath is for. It’s holy time because it’s time with God. And I want to keep it that way, don’t you, friends? Let’s stand together and sing 383 “Oh, Day of Rest and Gladness!”

I’d like to ask a very simple question and you might respond by lifting your hand in God’s presence. If you have heard the Lord speak to your heart in this presentation on the practical aspects of keeping the Sabbath holy and you recognize that you need help to do what God wants you to do would you like to say, “Lord, help me keep your day holy. Amen.”

Father in heaven, dear Lord, we believe that today and in our previous study we have had our concept of the holiness of the Sabbath raised. I pray, Lord, that you will help us to rise in our keeping of it to meet that truth. Lord, we know that without Jesus We can do nothing but we also still believe that “through Christ all things are possible”. We also know, Lord, that no matter how hard we might try to keep the Sabbath holy that if first and foremost you do not have our hearts it’s impossible. Lord, I pray that you will make us holy that we may keep this holy time in a holy way. Help us to be cleansed through your Spirit.

Help our minds to be purged by the blood of Jesus. And I would pray, Lord, that we can capitalize on this blessed time that you have set aside for us to meet with us in a special way. I pray that we can grow. Some of these things may take time for us to implement, Lord, andin an I pray that we can grow in the way that we learn and we train our families to recognize that you are a holy God and that someday we will gather with all flesh before you in that kingdom and worship you on the Sabbath day. Help us begin now. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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The Lost Day of History by Bill May

The Lost Day of History by Bill May
God's Promises




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