Reforming Our Sabbath-Keeping

Introduction

The Seventh-Day Sabbath is THE sign that clearly points to the true people of God. God rested on a specific day, commanded His people to observe that day, and will not accept the observance of any other day. 

A Sabbath Reform Needed

Mrs. E. G. White

Signs of the Times, May 20, 1886

As long as the children of Israel obeyed God, they were prosperous; but when they departed from him in disobeying his law, they brought upon themselves humiliation and distress. They were made to realize that their defense was of God, and that when his protection was withdrawn they were feeble, exposed to the ravages of their enemies. But though they were carried away into captivity, the eye of God was upon them; for they were to preserve the knowledge of his law until the promised Messiah should come. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 1}

"One of the principal ways in which the Jews departed from God was in the desecration of the Sabbath."

One of the principal ways in which the Jews departed from God was in the desecration of the Sabbath. The heathen around them disregarded God’s holy day, and through association with these idolatrous neighbors many had been led to imitate their example. Some not only traded with heathen merchants on the Sabbath day, but tried to overcome the scruples of their more conscientious countrymen, and lead them into the sin of Sabbath-breaking. Thus to a great extent the sacredness of the Sabbath was destroyed. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 2}

At this time Nehemiah was God’s chosen instrument to effect a reformation among his people, and to deliver them from the oppression of their enemies. The circumstances were discouraging; but Nehemiah was a man of courage and fidelity. He caused the people to be instructed in the law they had broken.Precept by precept it was carefully explained, that all might fully understand the will of God. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 3}

"The church of today has followed in the steps of the Jews of old setting aside the commandments of God. She has changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant, and now, as then, pride, unbelief, and infidelity are the result."

The Jews acknowledged that their deplorable condition was the result of their transgressions; and in a general assembly, the Levites, as the representatives of the people, confessed the goodness of God in his dealings with them, and their ingratitude and sins as a nation. Having suffered punishment for their sins, and acknowledged the justice of God in his dealings with them, the Israelites covenanted to obey his law. And that it might be a sure covenant, and preserved in a permanent form, it was written out; and the priests, the Levites, and the princes “sealed unto it.” They had a clear understanding of the claims of God and of the character of sin; and with those who had real principle, to see and understand was to act. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 4}

The church of today has followed in the steps of the Jews of old setting aside the commandments of God. She has changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant, and now, as then, pride, unbelief, and infidelity are the result. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 5}

"He who instituted the Sabbath has never changed it to another day. He rested on a definite day, and blessed and sanctified a definite day, and he requires the human family to observe that definite day."

We need Nehemiahs now, faithful men who shall arouse the people to see how far they are from God through their transgressions. Said the psalmist, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law.” These words are as applicable at the present time as they were in the days of the psalmist. The whole Christian world should search the Scriptures for themselves; for the law of God is made void by the teaching in the pulpits. The papal power has thought to change the law by instituting a Sabbath for the world and the Christian church; and this spurious Sabbath is exalted and revered, while the Sabbath of Jehovah is trampled beneath unholy feet. But will the Lord degrade his law to meet the standard of men? Will he accept a man made institution in place of the Sabbath which he has sanctified and blessed? No; the convenience or profit of men is not to interfere with the claims of God, for he is a jealous God. He does not alter his precepts to gratify the desires of the ambitious or the covetous. “Thus saith the Lord” is sufficient to settle all controversy. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 6}

"Men may think they cannot afford to obey God in their business affairs; but they cannot afford to disobey him."

He who instituted the Sabbath has never changed it to another day. He rested on a definite day, and blessed and sanctified a definite day, and he requires the human family to observe that definite day. The position that God blessed and sanctified a seventh part of time, and no day in particular, is a deception. By this means many have become so confused that they regard God’s holy rest-day as possessing no special sacredness. Because the world do so, they feel at liberty to set the Bible Sabbath aside, and select one that suits their own convenience; and ministers of the gospel assure their congregations that this course is right. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 7}

"Many carelessly put off until the beginning of the Sabbath little things that should have been done on the day of preparation. This should not be. Any work that is neglected until the commencement of holy time, should remain undone until the Sabbath is past."

There is need of a Sabbath reform among those who profess to observe God’s holy rest-day. Many seek to please themselves rather than to honor God. Some discuss business matters and lay plans on the Sabbath; and God looks upon this in the same light as though they engaged in the actual transaction of business. Others enter into partnership with men who have no respect for the Sabbath. If, for the sake of gain, a Sabbath-keeper allows the business in which he has an interest to be carried on the Sabbath by his unbelieving partner, he is equally guilty with the unbeliever; and it is his duty to dissolve the relation, however much he may lose by so doing. He should not allow men in his employ, paid by his money, to work on the Sabbath. Men may think they cannot afford to obey God in their business affairs; but they cannot afford to disobey him. He will not allow carelessness in the observance of the Sabbath to pass unpunished. If we would enjoy his blessing, the Sabbath must be kept holy. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 8}

Divine mercy has directed that the sick and suffering be cared for; the labor required to make them comfortable is a work of necessity, and no violation of the Sabbath. But all unnecessary work should be avoided. Many carelessly put off until the beginning of the Sabbath little things that should have been done on the day of preparation. This should not be. Any work that is neglected until the commencement of holy time, should remain undone until the Sabbath is past. This course might help the memory of these thoughtless ones, and make them more careful to do their own work on the six working days. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 9}

To keep the Sabbath holy, we should not even allow our minds to dwell upon things of a worldly character.Yet it is not necessary that we shut ourselves away from nature, and deprive ourselves of the free, invigorating air of heaven. The Sabbath was made to be a blessing to man, by calling his mind from secular labor to contemplate the goodness and glory of God. It is necessary that the people of God assemble statedly for his worship, to interchange thoughts in regard to the truths of his word, and to devote a portion of time to prayer. But these seasons, even upon the Sabbath, should not be made tedious by their length and lack of interest. During a portion of the day, all should have an opportunity to be out-of-doors. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 10}

"By exalting the Sabbath in the family, it may be made the most interesting day in the week, so that its weekly return will be hailed with joy by every member of the family."

Parents, why not make use of the precious lessons God has given you in the book of nature to give your children a correct idea of his character? Go and sit with them in the groves or bright sunshine, and give their restless minds something to feed upon by conversing with them on the wonderful works of God. Call their attention to the tokens of God’s love to man as seen in his creative works, and their young minds will be attracted and interested, and their hearts will be inspired with love and reverence. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 11}

All who love God should do what they can to make the Sabbath a delight, holy and honorable. They cannot do this by seeking their own pleasure in sinful, forbidden amusements. But by exalting the Sabbath in the family, it may be made the most interesting day in the week, so that its weekly return will be hailed with joy by every member of the family. In no better way can parents exalt and honor the Sabbath than by devising means to impart proper instruction to their children and to interest them in spiritual things, giving them correct views of the character of God and what he requires of them in order to attain to eternal life. Parents, make the Sabbath a delight, that your children may look forward to it, and have a welcome for it in their hearts. Thus will God be honored in the home. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 12}

When Nehemiah moved out as a reformer and deliverer in Israel, he was actuated by love to God and anxiety for the prosperity of his people. His heart was in the work he had undertaken; and his hope, his energy, his enthusiasm, his determination of character, were contagious, and inspired others with the same courage and lofty purpose that animated him. Each man became a Nehemiah in his own sphere, and helped to make stronger the hand and heart of his neighbor; and soon feebleness was succeeded by strength and courage. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 13}

Here is a lesson for ministers and others who are laboring for the salvation of souls. Christian laborers should manifest the same zeal and earnestness that characterized Nehemiah. If ministers are inactive and irresolute, destitute of godly zeal, what can be expected of those to whom they minister? In some instances they may rise above the moral level of their teachers, but not often. But when ministers broaden their plans, and show that they are in earnest, the people will respond to their efforts; and disunited, dispirited workers will become united, strong, hopeful, and eager. – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 14}

It is a sin to be heedless, purposeless, and indifferent in any work in which we may engage, but especially in the work of God. Every enterprise connected with his cause should be carried forward with energy, thought, and earnest prayer. Faithful standard-bearers for God and his truth are wanted, and many are ready to respond to the call. As these see the iniquity and violence that exist in consequence of making void the law of God, they will see greater reason than ever to reverence that law, and will highly prize its righteous, restraining influences. Contempt and reviling increase their love for the precepts of Jehovah. With David they will say: “I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” – {ST May 20, 1886 Par. 15}

Mrs. E. G. White, Signs of the Times, May 20, 1886