Sabbath Meditation #28 – A Changed World

Sabbath Meditation #28 – A Changed World

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion,  the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations  and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.’” (Isaiah 2:2-5)

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).

In Psalm 90:4, we learn that “a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” The Sabbath day wonderfully depicts the coming 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. There will be rest from the works of mankind and the devil, which have caused war, famine, disease, strife, and evil. Instead, there will be peace, harmony and joy. The world will do things His way, which is summarized by the Sabbath day.

In the last Sabbath Meditation, we considered the holy work God continues do to in us individually every week. Let us not forget the work that He is doing in the entire Body of Christ to prepare us to rule and reign with Him (Rev. 20:4-6). He is working in us all to bring us together for His Glory. Moreover, consider the work He will one day do in the entire world!

One day the entire world will honor the Sabbath. When humanity understands God’s Wisdom in the Sabbath, then the entire world will be transformed. The efficiency, quantity, and quality of the world’s work will increase. First, everyone will be in obedience to God’s weekly cycle. Secondly, we will be collectively working/resting together; that will put us all on the same page. This will one day create a world-wide synergy and productivity like has never been witnessed in human history; the Creation will be in harmony with the Creator.

We will see God’s purpose without hindrance. With Jesus Christ ruling the world, we will get to see it all come together.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Cor. 13:12).

During the Millennial reign of Christ, God’s ways will be the only option. Everyone will work together in harmony. Isaiah 2:1-5 and Rev. 20:6 are two reminders of that wonderful time.

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Holy Living in a Fallen World

Holy Living in a Fallen World

by Lori Stuckey

“In today’s society holy living has lost its meaning. People are more concerned with the physical circumstances of their lives than in the life God has called them to live. It’s time for a new beginning.

From Genesis to Revelation holiness is not just a happy-sounding suggestion. It is a commandment. If holiness were unimportant to God, He would not be holy. In order to navigate the many pitfalls that lead to sin and complacency and arrive at true holy living, we must seek to understand the many tools the Bible gives Christians to assure them of a victorious life.

One tool for effective, holy living is to read the Word of God and put its principles into effect. This makes the Word of God a living principle inside us. Some other avenues are prayer, fellowship with other believers, putting on the whole armor of God, and witnessing to others of the wonderful benefits that come from having close fellowship with God.

Holy living draws us close to the fount of all blessings, our Heavenly Father, and that is what we call, “living in the Spirit.” When we live in the Spirit—close to the Father—and not in the flesh, holy living flows from us like a fountain…”

(this article is an excerpt from the May–June 2010 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 9, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/tss_543.pdf

Historical Background of Matthew 24:20

Historical Background of Matthew 24:20
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Pray that your flight not take place in winter neither on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20).

Across the Sabbath community, I have seen a few perspectives on the importance of Mathew 24:20. There are two common viewpoints. The first is that this verse illustrates the importance of Sabbath observance among the first disciples of Christ. After all, they were the immediate audience of the verse. The second view is that the Sabbath would still be observed by the disciples of Christ at the time just before the end of the age.

While these perspectives are true, there is also an overlooked historical background to Matthew 24:20. As a major city at the crossroads between continents and Empires, Jerusalem was periodically besieged in ancient times. The Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans were among the first people groups to conquer it. Ancient records and some modern calculations reveal that the Sabbath seemed to be a preferred day for invading armies to attack the city.

The first complete conquest of Jerusalem occurred in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (597 and 586).  In the mid twentieth century, John Alger did thorough calculations to determine the dates upon which these sieges occurred (see Works Cited).  Using careful chronology, he asserts that the first siege under Jehoiachin was completed on March 16, 597, which was the Sabbath. While Zedekiah was put on the throne as his replacement, but he later rebelled. This resulted in another siege, which he gauges to have occurred on January 15, 588 BC. This was also the Sabbath. The final capture of Jerusalem took place on July 29, 587. This date also turns out to be the Sabbath.

Ancient historians reveal that other sieges definitively took place on the Sabbath. We have listed these events below with the appropriate historical quotes.

Sometime between 320 and 305 BC, Ptolemy Soter, who was the ruler of the Greco-Egyptian Kingdom, seized Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Josephus recorded this event:

“…insomuch that all Syria, by the means of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, underwent the reverse of that denomination of Saviour, which he then had. He also seized upon Jerusalem: and for that end made use of deceit and treachery. For as he came into the city on a sabbath day, as if he would offer sacrifice, he, without any trouble, gained the city: while the Jews did not oppose him. For they did not suspect him to be their enemy: and he gained it thus, because they were free from suspicion of him; and because on that day they were at rest and quietness: and when he had gained it, he ruled over it in a cruel manner” (Antiquities of the Jews, 12.1).

While there isn’t a record that the troops of Antiochus Epiphanes captured Jerusalem on the Sabbath, they During the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, his soldiers attacked the Jewish people on the Sabbath (event occurred about 165 BC).

“…they fought against them on the sabbath day, and they burnt them as they were in the caves, without resistance, and without so much as stopping up the entrances of the caves. And they avoided to defend themselves on that day, because they were not willing to break in upon the honor they owed the sabbath, even in such distresses; for our law requires that we rest upon that day. There were about a thousand, with their wives and children, who were smothered and died in these caves…” (idem, 12.6).

In the 60s BC, a civil war erupted in Judea. The Roman general Pompey intervened in this conflict and captured Jerusalem (about 64/63 BC). Josephus recorded that the Romans made major progress on their siege ramps during the Sabbath (ibid, 14.4; Wars of the Jews, 1.7). We have two quotes from Roman authors that discuss this siege. Note that the Romans called Saturday the ‘day of Kronos’ or ‘day of Saturn’.

“Pompey seized the city, it is said, after watching for the day of fasting, when the Judeans were abstaining from all work…” (Strabo, Geography, 16.2.40) Note: Some writers consider the “day of fasting” to be the Day of Atonement, which is an Annual Sabbath, and others consider it to be a reference to the weekly Sabbath, which some pagans thought the Jewish people fasted upon every week.

“16 Most of the city, to be sure, he took without any trouble, as he was received by the party of Hyrcanus; but the temple itself, which the other party had occupied, he captured only with difficulty. 2 For it was on high ground and was fortified by a wall of its own, and if they had continued defending it on all days alike, he could not have got possession of it. As it was, they made an exception of what are called the days of Saturn, and by doing no work at all on those days afforded the Romans an opportunity in this interval to batter down the wall. 3The latter, on learning of this superstitious awe of theirs, made no serious attempts the rest of the time, but on those days, when they came round in succession, assaulted most vigorously. 4Thus the defenders were captured on the day of Saturn, without making any defence, and all the wealth was plundered…” (Cassius Dio, Roman History, 37.16.1-4).

In the 30s BC, Herod (called the great) conspired with the Romans to be made king of Judea. As part of this plan, he besieged Jerusalem. One Roman source said that the city was attacked on Sabbath.

“The Jews, indeed, had done much injury to the Romans, for the race is very bitter when aroused to anger, but they suffered far more themselves. The first of them to be captured were those who were fighting for the precinct of their god, and then the rest on the day even then called the day of Saturn…” (ibid, 49.22.4-6).

Just 40 years after Jesus’ life and the words of Matthew 24, Jerusalem was conquered again by the Romans. In 70 AD, the Romans attacked and defeated the people on the Sabbath.

“The deified Vespasian Augustus attacked the Jews on their Sabbath (Iudaeos Saturni die), a day on which it is sinful for them to do any business, and so defeated them” (Frontinus, Strategems, 2.1.17).

“Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, the day which even now the Jews reverence most…” (Dio Cassius, Roman History, 65.7.2).

Why might these attacks over the centuries occur on the Sabbath? Because it was the day of rest and the most likely time to catch the people off guard.

In 70 AD, Jesus’ disciples heeded his words and fled to the mountains before the Romans besieged the city. These early Christians were called Nazarenes; they also kept the seventh-day Sabbath. To read an article about them, click this link: The Nazarenes.

With this historical background, we can better understand Jesus’ warning about a Sabbath flight.  Historically, it was a day that the Jewish people and Jerusalem were attacked. An invading army might begin a siege or seizure of the city on that day of the week. This may indicate that a future invasion of Jerusalem, such as that described in Zechariah 14:1-3, could take place on Sabbath and thus connect to the future fulfillment of Matthew 24:20.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President
www.biblesabbath.org

Works Cited
Cassius Dio. Roman History, 37.16; 49.22; 65.7. Dio’s Roman History. Translation by Earnest Cary. vol. 3. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1914. pp 124-131; vol. 5. 1955. pp 386-389. Vol. 7. 1925. pp 268-271.
Frontinus. Strategems, 2.1.1. The Strategems and the Aqueducts of Rome. Translation by Charles E Bennett. New York, 1925. pp 98-99.
Johns, Alger F. “The Military Strategy of Sabbath Attacks on the Jews.” Vetus Testamentum, vol. 13, no. 4, 1963, pp. 482–486. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1516866. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.
Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews, 12.1, 12.6, 14.4; Wars of the Jews, 1.7. The Genuine Works of Flavius Jossephus the Jewish Historian. Translated by William Whitson. London, 1737.
Parker, Richard and Dubberstein, Waldo. Babylonian Chronology: 626 B.C. – A.D. 75. Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University Press, 1956. pp 25-28.
Strabo. Geography, 16.2.40. The Geography of Strabo. Translation by Horace Leonard Jones. vol. 7. Cambridge, 1954. pp 290-291.

Failed Attempts to Change the Seven-Day Cycle

Failed Attempts to Change the Seven-Day Cycle

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

In the very beginning of the Bible, we learn about creation and the establishment of the seven-day week. During the first six days, God worked to fashion creation. On the seventh day He rested; the day was blessed and set apart from the other six days.

Genesis 2:1-3 reads: “1 And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.” (ASV)

One of the proofs that God created everything is the seventh-day Sabbath and by extension, the seven-day cycle. The seventh day completed the first week of Creation. Knowledge of the seven-day weekly cycle continued after that time. It was understood in the days of Noah as explained in Genesis chapter 8.

“10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11 and the dove came in to him at eventide; and, lo, in her mouth an olive-leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 12 And he stayed yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she returned not again unto him any more” (Gen 8:10-12).

A further proof that God is the Creator is that there has been a continuous seventh-day cycle from Genesis 1 and 2 until the present.

Did you know that there have been attempts to change the seven-day cycle? ALL of them have resulted in failure! This means there have always been humans observing this cycle despite these attempts. God will not let us forget that the seven-day cycle, culminating with the Sabbath, points us back to the Creator!

We will take a look at some of these failed attempts. It is a valuable lesson for us all to remember.

Among the first attempts to force people to break the seven-day weekly cycle was by the ancient Babylonians. They observed lunar weeks. This means that they waited for the new moon to appear and re-started the week accordingly. They kept a sort of lunar Sabbaths with periodic sabbaths every seventh, fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty first, and twenty eighth days of the month (Sayce, The Higher Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments, p 74). The problem with this reckoning of time is that their Sabbath fell on different days of the week every month! It also creates weeks that are longer than seven days (because the lunar month is more than 28 days).

Well, this scheme fell apart at some point in history. The Babylonians eventually went back to the seven-day weekly cycle that was started in Genesis. Unfortunately, the lunar Sabbath has made a comeback in recent decades. It is a heretical viewpoint that causes a complete disconnect from God’s seven-day weekly cycle. Anyone who follows this viewpoint is literally going back to Babylon. To learn more about the danger of the lunar sabbath, CLICK HERE.

Another attempt to deviate from God’s original weekly cycle occurred in ancient Egypt. The Israelites dwelt there for four hundred years; they were enslaved for the last portion of their time in that land. During their stay, they became acclimated to some Egyptian ways, which included a 10-day week (Fagan, p 476). This explains why God had to reveal to the Israelites the Sabbath through the giving of the manna (Ex. 16). Eventually, the Egyptians went back to the seven-day week. The Greek peoples would also try the ten-day week without success.

Going back as far as the eighth century BC, the ancient Romans used the eight-day week. Every eighth day was called nundinae or market day. By the first century BC, the seven-day week increased in popularity. They had a dual system of reckoning weeks for a time! By the fifth century, only the seven-day cycle was used.

In modern times, humanity has tended to look upon ancient peoples with condescension. To sober ourselves from these thoughts on this subject, I will provide you with some modern examples where humans tried to deviate from God’s weekly cycle.

In 1788, the Frenchman Pierre-Sylvain Marechal developed a new calendar. It had a much different reckoning of time than the Gregorian Calendar. A ten-day week was recommended with three weeks making one month. Each month was renamed to fit the season in which it occurred. It was instituted in 1793 and is commonly called the French republican calendar. It lasted until Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor in 1806; the seven-day week was reinstituted.

Note: The French word for Saturday is Samedi; it comes from the vulgar Latin word sambati dies, meaning Sabbath day.

In 1929, the USSR instituted a five-day work week. The goal was two-fold. First, the Soviets wanted to maximize their work force and keep machines running non-stop. People were assigned random rest periods during these five days. The second goal was to make religious adherence to any Sabbath by Christians, Jews, or Muslims impossible. Neither goal was met; machines broke down and people were not always off work at the same time as other family and friends. This caused people to experience a social disconnect with friends and family and thus a type of social disintegration began. Furthermore, it resulted in decreased productivity. After two years they moved to a six-day work week. By 1940, they abandoned the project and reinstituted the original seven-day week (Frost).

Note: the Russian word for Saturday is subbota, which means Sabbath.

These historical examples show attempts by mankind to disconnect humanity from our Creator. God instituted the seven-day weekly cycle and the Sabbath in Genesis. It was established by HIM, so any attempts to go contrary to it will result in failure. Furthermore, these examples show us that God will never allow us to fully separate from His timing; our way does not work. Every seven days we are reminded that God created all things, including time itself.  

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

 

Works Referenced

Catholic Encyclopedia 1910: General Chronology, French Revolution

Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edtion: Calendar

Encyclopedia Britannica online: Pierre-Sylvain Maréchal

Fagan, Brian M. ed. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. New York, 1996. p 476.

Frost, Natasha. “For 11 Years, the Soviet Union Had No Weekends.” History.com. August 30 2018. https://www.history.com/news/soviet-union-stalin-weekend-labor-policy

Sayce, A.H. The “Higher Criticism” and the Verdict of the Monuments. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1910. p 74.

Anna the Prophetess And the Hope of All Israel

Anna the Prophetess And the Hope of All Israel

by Doug Ward

“Traditional Christian nativity scenes give a convenient visual summary of people and events connected with the birth of Jesus. They generally include Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus, with a manger and animals, often accompanied by shepherds, angels, and magi.

As with any shorthand representation of reality, a nativity scene sacrifices some precision and detail for the sake of simplicity. Nativity scenes that include both shepherds and magi collapse together two separate events, since the magi probably arrived in Bethlehem some months after the shepherds. A more accurate portrayal would require two separate scenes, one at a manger and another at the house visited by the magi (Matt. 2:11).

In between the two Bethlehem snapshots we could insert a third scene, at the temple complex in Jerusalem. About six weeks after the birth of Jesus, his family traveled from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to present the offerings prescribed in Lev. 12 (Luke 2:22-24). In this scene Jesus and his parents are joined by Simeon, an old man who blesses God for the coming of the Messiah and prophesies about the implications of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:25-35); and by Anna, an elderly widow who also rejoices in the birth of the Messiah.

Although this third scene is sometimes overlooked—it is not included in the movie The Nativity Story, for example—it has much to teach us. From the fact that Joseph and Mary made the trip to Jerusalem, we learn that they were observant Jews, careful to carry out the requirements of the Torah…”

(this article is an excerpt from the July–August 2011 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 5, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/TSSJulyAug2011Issue550.pdf

Sabbath Meditation #27 – He’s Not Finished With You

Sabbath Meditation #27 – He’s Not Finished With You

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works…9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:4, 9-10)

“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working. For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).

On the seventh day God rested from the work of creating. In the first six days He made everything and set forth the processes that would continue His Creation to our present day (such as the Law of Biogenesis). While His work of physical creation was finished by the seventh day, the work of leading man towards His will still goes on.

When we first repent for our sins (Acts 2:38), we become a new creature in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

But God’s work in us is not completed at that very moment. We still have lessons to learn; He has character to build within us. “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

When Jesus came to earth, He showed us the true meaning of keeping the Sabbath. The religious leaders of His day had added unnecessary rules to the Sabbath and accused Him of transgressing God’s commandment. Jesus merely violated their man-made rules!

As we reviewed in the last Sabbath Meditation, there is a difference between God’s holy work and our own personal work. The Sabbath is a reminder that He is not finished with you. While we will all make mistakes, He is still doing His great spiritual work within you. He is still teaching, healing, and refining you to be His ambassador on earth and a priest in His Kingdom.

Spend time considering the work God has done in you, is doing within you, and will do through you in the future. On the Sabbath we are reminded of the scripture: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).

Let continue to finish His perfect work in you; He is faithful to bring it to completion.

Selah

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Hebron Home Has Filled Our Hearts

Hebron Home Has Filled Our Hearts

by Invar

“If there ever was a place to fill your hearts with absolute joy, it is with the Sagar Jalli family and ministry at Hebron Home.

If there was ever a place to fill your hearts with heart-wrenching sadness, it is having to say goodbye to brethren, family and children at Hebron whom fill your hearts beyond what you would expect in such a very short time.

The five days at Hebron Home have been the most uplifting, busy and inspiring start to a mission trip since Kardias began them in 2008. Hebron left such an impact, Rienne and Marissa are discussing coming back to Hebron again perhaps within a year to stay for a month to serve the orphans and ministry here.

At our arrival, we were greeted with a hero’s welcome, the energy from the children who are all excited to tell you their names and expect you to remember it, was a small glimpse into the full schedule we would participate in during our stay at Hebron.

The orphans at Hebron are well taught in the scriptures as their day begins in prayer and Bible classes, so it was a delight for us to expand on their biblical understanding with our theme of the Fiery Furnace…”

(this article is an excerpt from the July–August 2012 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 12, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/TSSJulyAug2012.pdf

German Sabbath Keepers in Pennsylvania

German Sabbath Keepers in Pennsylvania

“Under the leadership of Conrad Beissel in 1728, a group of German Baptists (Dunkers) in Lancaster County, PA separated from their brethren over the issue of the Sabbath. They formed a self-sufficient, monastic community at a place now known as the Ephrata Cloister. German Seventh Day Baptists, as they called themselves, had one of the earliest printing presses in the colonies. They produced the Martyrs’ Mirror (a work similar to John Foxe’s The Book of Martyrs, originally in Dutch), Continental currency, and translations of the Declaration of Independence for distribution in other countries.

German Seventh Day Baptists had the first Sabbath School (several years before Robert Raikes started a similar movement in England) until 1777 when the Revolutionary War necessitated another use for the buildings. After the battle of Brandywine, on September 11 of that year, the Brothers and Sisters cared for five hundred sick and wounded soldiers at the Cloister. Although two hundred soldiers died (and were buried on the Cloister farm), the majority recovered sufficiently to return to their homes. The toll on the community, however, was considerable, in people and in property. Disease killed many of the residents, and those who remained had to burn some of the buildings to limit the contagion.

The members of the Ephrata community established branch societies elsewhere in southern PA, including one at Snowhill (Franklin County) in 1758 and another at Salemville (Bedford County) in 1763. The work at Snowhill originally had a monastic group of men and women as well as representatives from the surrounding area who attended the church there. The work at Salemville had no monastic element; the congregation consisting exclusively of members from the community.

The devastating affects of the Revolutionary War and the limited attraction of monastic living eventually led to the decline and demise of the work at Ephrata. The State Historical Society assumed responsibility for the property in 1939 and has restored many of the buildings. A similar trend away from monasticism affected Snow Hill. By 1900, the last member of the monastic society there had passed away, although the church continued until the early 2000s with a small group meeting each Sabbath. The Salemville church did not suffer the same fate. Although not a large congregation, it maintains an active ministry of worship, study, fellowship, and outreach.

German Seventh-Day Baptists have enjoyed good relations with their Seventh Day Baptist English brethren, going as far back as 1725 when Able Noble, an English SDB minister from Philadelphia, encouraged Beissel to take a stand on the Sabbath issue. Most differences that once separated the two groups (e.g., language) no longer exist. In 1968, the Salemville church, although not part of the English Conference, joined the regional body of that group (now called the Appalachian Association) to promote common interests in camping and youth ministries.”

Information taken from the German Seventh Day Baptist historical site: https://germanseventhdaybaptist.com/history/

New Booklet Available for Free Download!

Exciting News!

The BSA has a brand new booklet available for FREE download.

“How Did Sunday Become the First Day of the Week?”
by Kelly McDonald, Jr.
(BSA President)

How did a day, which was unnamed in the Bible, come to be called Sunday? In this work you will learn the four factors that contributed to this development, which impacted the seventh-day Sabbath.

To read this FREE book, just click on the picture below!

Sabbath Meditation #26 –Our Work Versus His Work

Sabbath Meditation #26 –Our Work Versus His Work

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God…” (Deut. 5:13-14)

“On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.” (Numbers 28:9-10)

“This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant” (Lev. 24:8).

“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working. For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18).

God recognizes the work we must do to take care of our own lives. In the Ten Commandments, He calls it “Your Work.” We work to provide for ourselves and our families. There are various chores and errands to complete throughout the week. He also gives us six days to accomplish these tasks—which is 85.8% of our week. We serve a very reasonable God.

In the fourth commandment, the six days for our work is juxtaposed with the Sabbath rest. “…but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God…” (Deut. 5:14). If there is a time during the first six days of the week for “your work” then the seventh day must involve some sort of action for the Lord our God.

In the Old Covenant, God gave the priests of Aaron certain tasks to complete every day. In Numbers 28:1-8, we learn that the priests had to make two offerings every day (one in the evening and one in the morning). In verses 9 and 10, we learn that they had to make twice as many on the Sabbath. In Leviticus 24:5-9, we learn that the priests had to make twelve loaves of bread and set them out on the golden table of Shewbread every Sabbath. I have read estimates that each loaf probably weighed between 7 and 10 pounds. The priests had more work on the Sabbath than they did on common days!

How could this be? As always, the wonderful words of Jesus will help us understand more.

In John chapter 5, Jesus saw a man by the pool who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. He told him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (John 5:8). The man was healed and began to walk immediately. The Pharisees became indignant. They accused Christ of breaking the Sabbath because He commanded this man to take His mat and walk. Jesus responded to their accusations by saying that He and the Father have always been at work (John 5:18, quoted above).

The first thing to understand about John chapter 5 is that Christ did not break the Sabbath. He simply told the man to walk with his mat as the evidence for his healing. There is not a single commandment against doing this in the whole Bible. Jesus transgressed the Pharisees’ man-made rule, not God’s law.

In the gospels, Jesus publicly read the Scriptures, taught and prayed for others on the Sabbath. He was active in doing His Father’s work. John chapter 5 is just one example. Christ and the Father engage in holy work on the Sabbath. This is a lesson for us. When the Sabbath begins, our common work ceases, but our holy work is just beginning.

The Sabbath is a call to rest, but it is also a call to action. Jesus set the example for us. Many Sabbath churches rent a facility. Someone must set up/operate speakers and sound systems to have service. Someone must lead the music service. Someone must lead prayer. Someone must preach/teach a message. Someone must teach the Sabbath school classes. Someone must help organize it all! Do not forget that we should continually encourage and admonish one another in love. The study of the Word of God should not be neglected. We can pray for others. These things facilitate the functioning of the Body; if everyone contributes a little bit then it builds up the whole that much better.

We are expected to act for the Lord on Sabbath. He died for us; we are priests for His Kingdom. “…to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…” (Rev. 1:5b-6a).

Jesus’ actions condemned the Pharisees, who taught against doing even holy work on the holiest day of the week. They restricted those things which God did not, such as prayer for the sick, yet they allowed things He did not approve of (such as putting burdens on people and plotting to harm Jesus).

Consider the holy work that you can do on the Sabbath as a priest in the Kingdom of God. It is only 14.2% of our week; we can definitely take the time to serve Him.

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President www.biblesabbath.org