By John Hickey
I’ve always known somehow that the seventh day is the Sabbath. I don’t know how but I guess I must have read the creation story or the Ten Commandments. Like most others, when I went to church I went on Sunday so I rationalized it to myself by telling myself that the calendars and the Seventh Day Adventists were wrong. Monday must be the first day of the week and Sunday the seventh. I mean, everybody goes to church on Sunday don’t they? Well don’t they???
I found out the answer to this question when I watched what I thought was going to be a science programme on TV, but the Church of God programme was so much more than that. It changed my life. I rang and ordered the booklet that was offered and when it arrived I gobbled it up – I mean, it was so new and interesting.
You know, the very first thing that God did after He finished the creation was to create the Sabbath for us, by resting and sanctifying the seventh day. This was way before the flood, way before Abraham and Moses, way before the law was given at Mt Sinai. It was not part of the rules and regulations put in force to keep the Israelites in order. And it has never been changed.
The fourth commandment starts out “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”. Remember. To start out with that word God surely knew that we would forget. He then follows that by explaining how we should remember it. In fact, it was so seriously regarded at that time by God that He said that everyone who profanes it shall be put to death, and that we should keep it throughout our generations as a perpetual covenant.
The Sabbath is a sign from God to His people that we may know that He is the LORD who sanctifies us. It is also a sign from us to Him the He may know who His faithful people are, whether they be Israelite or Gentile. The problem is that the Hebrew priests developed so many rules and regulations governing the way that the Sabbath was to be kept, and what they could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath that they made it a great burden on the people, who otherwise would have rejoiced in the rest that was provided.
According to Rabbinical ideas, the act of plucking ears of corn and rubbing them as in Luke Chapter 6 verse 1, broke the Sabbath in 2 respects, for to pluck was to reap and to rub was to thresh. Jesus’ attitude in Mark 2:27 where He said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”, was a way of freeing it from these burdensome traditional rules by which it was made an end in itself, instead of a means to an end.
Isaiah gives us an example of how we should act on the Sabbath in chapter 58, verses 13 & 14 where he tells us that we should consider it a delight and an honour. That we should not seek our own pleasure or do our own things. That we should delight ourselves in the LORD and He will reward us greatly.
We know that we need to meet together on a regular basis so that we can obtain encouragement and fellowship with other members of God’s people. That without this encouragement maintaining our faith becomes so much
Jesus set us an example by joining together with others of His people to worship on the Sabbath, as did the 12 apostles and later on, Paul. Paul always went to the synagogue on the Sabbath when he could. Firstly, to meet with the Jews there, and later, after they rejected him he met with the Gentiles, also on the Sabbath, as they were generally more receptive to his message. Though Paul did make some things a little easier for the Gentile converts, the bible never indicates that he ever strayed from worshipping and teaching of God on the Sabbath.
We know that we must endeavour to keep from sin. We know that sin is the transgression of the law. The fourth commandment says we must keep the Sabbath holy so that is why we obey it today.
The creation week and the seven day weeks we have today are an indication of the glory that is to come. When taking a day as a thousand years as Peter indicated, after six thousand years of man’s reign on this Earth we look forward to the hope of the thousand year rest of the Kingdom of God.
In our fast paced society, the idea of spending a whole 24 hour day as holy time might seem impractical, if not impossible. Most people think that if they go to Church they’ve done their good deed and can then get back to their lives. Indeed, a previous mainstream pastor I had used to preach long and hard against the people that came to church towing the boat – a short stopover on the way to the beach. I do believe that the majority of this world has lost it. They have busy lives and even when they’re not working they’re still rushing around trying to fit everything in. To be able to stop for 24 hours, once a week is a great blessing.
After I had read the booklet that I’d got from the Church of God I called on the pastor of the charismatic church I went to at that time, and asked him why we worshipped on Sunday. He didn’t say because the Sabbath was changed after the crucifixion, He didn’t say that Paul changed it, He didn’t say that we were commemorating the resurrection. What did he say? I was amazed at his answer. He said “I don’t know”. Fancy doing something every week and not knowing why you do it when you do. Especially when you know what is taught in the bible as well as he did.
Unlike my previous pastor, and many others in the world today, we honour God on His Sabbath day – and we know exactly why we do it.
I named this essay “My Favourite Day” because that’s what the Sabbath is. A time of rest, a time to spend with God, a time to meet with my favourite people for worship, prayer and fellowship. What a great day God has made.