Remember The Sabbath Day . . . Part 5
Remember the Sabbath Day, Part V
Benjamin S. Brown
Parents should explain the Sabbath sermon to their children that they may understand the way of salvation.
"Ministers are engaged in a sacred, solemn work, but upon those who hear rests just as sacred a responsibility. They are to hear with a determination to follow the instruction that all must practice who gain eternal life. Each hearer should strive to understand each presentation of Bible truth as God’s message to him, to be received by faith and put into practice in the daily life. Parents should explain to their children the words spoken from the pulpit, that they also may understand and have that knowledge which if put into practice brings abundant grace and peace." Child Guidance, 531.
The Sabbath is not only a day for going to Sabbath school and church, but a day that the parents should spend time with their children, not allowing them to find their own amusement on this special day.
"Very many of the parents who profess to believe the solemn message for this time have not trained their children for God. They have not restrained themselves and have been irritated with anyone who attempted to restrain them. They have not by living faith daily bound their children upon the altar of the Lord. Many of these youth have been allowed to transgress the Fourth Commandment, by seeking their own pleasure upon God’s holy day. They have felt no compunctions of conscience in going about the streets on the Sabbath for their own amusement. Many go where they please, and do what they please; and their parents are so fearful of displeasing them that, imitating the management of Eli, they lay no commands upon them.
"These youth finally lose all respect for the Sabbath and have no relish for religious meetings or for sacred and eternal things." Ibid., 527.
"On the Sabbath day many [parents] are indifferent and do not know where their children are or what they are doing.
"Parents, above everything take care of your children upon the Sabbath. Do not suffer them to violate God’s holy day by playing in the house or out-of-doors. You may just as well break the Sabbath yourselves as to let your children do it, and when you suffer your children to wander about and suffer them to play upon the Sabbath, God looks upon you as Sabbathbreakers." Ibid., 533.
What to do With the Children
Do we understand that we, as parents, become Sabbath breakers when we knowingly allow our children to do as they please, without guidance, on the Sabbath day?
"The Sabbath school and the meeting for worship occupy only a part of the Sabbath. The portion remaining to the family may be made the most sacred and precious season of all the Sabbath hours. Much of this time parents should spend with their children." Ibid., 532.
"In many families the younger children are left to themselves to find entertainment as best they can. Left alone, the children soon become restless and begin to play or engage in some kind of mischief. Thus the Sabbath has to them no sacred significance.
"In pleasant weather let parents walk with their children in the fields and groves. Amid the beautiful things of nature tell them the reason for the institution of the Sabbath. Describe to them God’s great work of creation. Tell them that when the earth came from His hand, it was holy and beautiful. Every flower, every shrub, every tree, answered the purpose of its Creator. Everything upon which the eye rested was lovely and filled the mind with thoughts of the love of God. Every sound was music in harmony with the voice of God. Show that it was sin which marred God’s perfect work; that thorns and thistles, sorrow and pain and death, are all the result of disobedience to God. Bid them see how the earth, though marred with the curse of sin, still reveals God’s goodness. The green fields, the lofty trees, the glad sunshine, the clouds, the dew, the solemn stillness of the night, the glory of the starry heavens, and the moon in its beauty all bear witness of the Creator. Not a drop of rain falls, not a ray of light is shed on our unthankful world, but it testifies to the forbearance and love of God.
"Tell them of the way of salvation; how ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16. Let the sweet story of Bethlehem be repeated. Present before the children Jesus, as a child obedient to His parents, as a youth faithful and industrious, helping to support the family. Thus you can teach them that the Saviour knows the trials, perplexities, and temptations, the hopes and joys, of the young, and that He can give them sympathy and help. From time to time read with them the interesting stories in Bible history. Question as to what they have learned in the Sabbath school, and study with them the next Sabbath’s lesson." Testimonies, vol. 6, 358, 359.
Parents should plan suitable reading and conversation for their children on the Sabbath.
"The Sabbath—oh!—make it the sweetest, the most blessed day of the week. . . .
"Parents can and should give attention to their children, reading to them the most attractive portions of Bible history, educating them to reverence the Sabbath day, keeping it according to the commandment. This cannot be done if the parents feel no burden to interest their children. But they can make the Sabbath a delight if they will take the proper course. The children can be interested in good reading or in conversation about the salvation of their souls. But they will have to be educated and trained. The natural heart does not love to think of God, of heaven, or of heavenly things. There must be a continual pressing back of the current of worldliness and inclination to evil and a letting in of heavenly light." Child Guidance, 532, 533.
Also, the Sabbath is a day that the family should, if possible, spend a portion of it outdoors educating their children about the God who created nature.
"During a portion of the day all should have an opportunity to be out of doors. . . . Let their young minds be associated with God in the beautiful scenery of nature, let their attention be called to the tokens of His love to man in His created works. . . . As they view the beautiful things which He has created for the happiness of man, they will be led to regard Him as a tender, loving Father. . . . As the character of God puts on the aspect of love, benevolence, beauty, and attraction, they are drawn to love Him.
"The Sabbath is the golden clasp that unites God and His people.
"It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord." My Life Today, 287.
Avoid Unnecessary Travel
We have also been given instruction about traveling on the Sabbath. As far as possible, we should avoid travel that is not necessary.
"If we desire the blessing promised to the obedient, we must observe the Sabbath more strictly. I fear that we often travel on this day when it might be avoided. In harmony with the light which the Lord has given in regard to the observance of the Sabbath, we should be more careful about traveling on the boats or cars on this day. In these matters we should set a right example before our children and youth. In order to reach the churches that need our help, and to give them the message that God desires them to hear, it may be necessary for us to travel on the Sabbath; but so far as possible we should secure our tickets and make all necessary arrangements on some other day. When starting on a journey we should make every possible effort to plan so as to avoid reaching our destination on the Sabbath.
"When compelled to travel on the Sabbath we should try to avoid the company of those who would draw our attention to worldly things. We should keep our minds stayed upon God and commune with Him. Whenever there is opportunity we should speak to others in regard to the truth. We should always be ready to relieve suffering and to help those in need. In such cases God desires that the knowledge and wisdom He has given us should be put to use. But we should not talk about matters of business or engage in any common, worldly conversation. At all times and in all places God requires us to prove our loyalty to Him by honoring the Sabbath." Testimonies, vol. 6, 359, 360.
Ellen White wrote of her travel: "We expected to leave for Tasmania on Thursday evening, but learned that the steamer was not going out until Friday afternoon, and would bring us into Launceston after the Sabbath had begun. I could not consent to go on this steamer when we should thus have to trespass on the Sabbath, if there was any way possible by which we could avoid it. We learned that a boat left Melbourne Tuesday afternoon, and we decided that it would be much better to go on this early boat than to travel on the Sabbath." Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, No. 3, 42.
As Mrs. White explains, there are times that it is necessary for us to travel on the Sabbath.
"[En route from Colorado to Battle Creek] Sabbath, November 8, 1873. Traveled on Sabbath, Regretfully. [See Testimonies, vol. 6, 360.]—We rested well on the car during the night. We were unwilling to report ourselves on the cars this morning, but circumstances connected with the cause and work of God demand our presence at the General Conference. We could not delay. If we were doing our own business we should feel it a breach of the fourth commandment to travel on the Sabbath. We engaged in no common conversation. We endeavored to keep our minds in a devotional frame and we enjoyed some of the presence of God while we deeply regretted the necessity of traveling upon the Sabbath.—Manuscript 13, 1873." Selected Messages, vol. 3, 265.
Care for the Sick
Is caring for the sick breaking the fourth commandment? Is it not a work of mercy?
"And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up [herself]. And when Jesus saw her, he called [her to Him], and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid [his] hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, [Thou] hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or [his] ass from the stall, and lead [him] away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." Luke 13:10–17.
The Pen of Inspiration puts it this way: "God has directed that the sick and suffering be cared for; the labor required to make them comfortable is a work of mercy, and no violation of the Sabbath; but all unnecessary work should be avoided." Patriarchs and Prophets, 296.
"And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took [him], and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things." Luke 14:1–6.
The Physician as a Sabbath Observer
"Christ was a Seventh-day Adventist, to all intents and purposes. It was He who called Moses into the mount and gave him instruction for His people. . . . In awful grandeur Christ made known the law of Jehovah, giving, among other charges, this charge: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ My brother, you have not placed upon the Sabbath the sanctity that is required by God. Irreverence has come in, and an example has been set that the Lord does not approve. He is not honored and glorified.
"There will always be duties which have to be performed on the Sabbath for the relief of suffering humanity. This is right, and in accordance with the law of Him who says, ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.’ [Matthew 12:7.] But there is danger of falling into carelessness on this point, and of doing that which it is not positively essential to do on the Sabbath.
"Unnecessary traveling is done on the Sabbath, with many other things which might be left undone. Take heed, saith the Lord, to all thy ways, lest I remove My Holy Spirit because of the lax regard given to My precepts. ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ [Exodus 20:8.] Bear in mind the charge to remember. Do not carelessly forget, ‘Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work.’ [Verse 9.] In this time all the duties necessary to prepare for the Sabbath are to be done.—Letter 51, 1901." Medical Ministry, 49, 50.
Never Neglect the Suffering
"Often physicians and nurses are called upon during the Sabbath to minister to the sick, and sometimes it is impossible for them to take time for rest and for attending devotional services. The needs of suffering humanity are never to be neglected. The Saviour by His example has shown us that it is right to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. But unnecessary work, such as ordinary treatments and operations that can be postponed, should be deferred. Let the patients understand that physicians and helpers should have one day for rest. Let them understand that the workers fear God and desire to keep holy the day that He has set apart for His followers to observe as a sign between Him and them.
"The educators and those being educated in our medical institutions should remember that to keep the Sabbath aright means much to them and to the patrons. In keeping the Sabbath, which God declares shall be kept holy, they give the sign of their order, showing plainly that they are on the Lord’s side." Counsels on Health, 236.
"The necessities of life must be attended to, the sick must be cared for, the wants of the needy must be supplied. He will not be held guiltless who neglects to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. God’s holy rest day was made for man, and acts of mercy are in perfect harmony with its intent. God does not desire His creatures to suffer an hour’s pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day.
"The demands upon God are even greater upon the Sabbath than upon other days. His people then leave their usual employment, and spend the time in meditation and worship. They ask more favors of Him on the Sabbath than upon other days. They demand His special attention. They crave His choicest blessings. God does not wait for the Sabbath to pass before He grants these requests. Heaven’s work never ceases, and men should never rest from doing good. The Sabbath is not intended to be a period of useless inactivity. The law forbids secular labor on the rest day of the Lord; the toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labor for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon that day; but as God ceased His labor of creating, and rested upon the Sabbath and blessed it, so man is to leave the occupations of his daily life, and devote those sacred hours to healthful rest, to worship, and to holy deeds. The work of Christ in healing the sick was in perfect accord with the law. It honored the Sabbath." The Desire of Ages, 207.
As the Sun Sets
Special instruction has been given us as to how the close of the Sabbath should be honored.
"As the sun goes down, let the voice of prayer and the hymn of praise mark the close of the sacred hours, and invite God’s presence through the cares of the week of labor.
"Thus parents can make the Sabbath, as it should be, the most joyful day of the week. They can lead their children to regard it as a delight, the day of days, the holy of the Lord, honorable." Child Guidance, 536, 537.
"I counsel you, my brethren and sisters: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ [Exodus 20:8.] If you desire your children to observe the Sabbath according to the commandment, you must teach them by both precept and example. The deep engraving of truth in the heart is never wholly effaced. It may be obscured, but can never be obliterated. The impressions made in early life will be seen in afteryears. Circumstances may occur to separate the children from their parents and their home, but as long as they live the instruction given in childhood and youth will be a blessing." Testimonies, vol. 6, 359.
[All emphasis supplied.] To be concluded . . .
Benjamin S. Brown writes from Madisonville, Tennessee, where he has been instrumental in opening a home church and a health food store.
January 2003 Table of Contents