“The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).
“In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored. The breach made in the law at the time the Sabbath was changed by man, is to be repaired” (Prophets and Kings, p. 678}.
“[God] shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:20, 21).
“Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:7).
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11).
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them” (Genesis 2:1).
“The creation was now complete” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 47).
“All was perfect, worthy of its divine Author, and He rested, not as one weary, but as well pleased with the fruits of His wisdom and goodness and the manifestations of His glory” (Ibid.).
THE DAY OF REST
“Following the example of the Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that as he should look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God's great work of creation; and that as he should behold the evidences of God's wisdom and goodness, his heart might be filled with love and reverence for his Maker….
“God saw that a Sabbath was essential for man, even in Paradise. He needed to lay aside his own interests and pursuits for one day of the seven, that he might more fully contemplate the works of God and meditate upon His power and goodness.
“God designs that the Sabbath shall direct the minds of men to the contemplation of His created works.
“The Sabbath, ever pointing to Him who made them all, bids men open the great book of nature and trace therein the wisdom, the power, and the love of the Creator” (Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 47, 48).
The Sabbath was created for contemplation and meditation. If we keep the Sabbath because we are tired, we do not sanctify this day, because the Sabbath was created before there was weariness.
“Six days must be employed in [Moses] devoting himself to God by searching of heart, meditation, and prayer before he could be prepared for direct communication with his Maker.”
“Upon the seventh day, which was the Sabbath, Moses was called up into the cloud,” (Ibid., p. 313).
Thus, every true worshiper needs a special preparation during the week to "be prepared for direct communication with his Maker” on the Sabbath.
“All through the week keep the Lord's holy Sabbath in view, for that day is to be devoted to the service of God. It is a day when the hands are to rest from worldly employment, when the soul's needs are to receive especial attention” (Child Guidance, p. 527).
“During the week our energies will not be so exhausted in temporal labor that on the day when the Lord rested and was refreshed, we shall be too weary to engage in His service” (Ibid., p. 528).
“We are robbing the Lord when we unfit ourselves to worship Him upon His holy day” (Ibid., p. 530).
The first angel pointing to the scale of Judgment says: “worship him that made heaven, and earth” (Revelation 14:7). Therefore, true worship requires that we pace ourselves in our work during the week, lest we rob the Lord.
THE SABBATH AND THE FAMILY
According to the Spirit of Prophecy, the transition from one period to another (the work week to the Sabbath) takes time. It is not something that can be done abruptly. If the time determined by Heaven is not zealously occupied in effecting the said change of thoughts and feelings by study of the Word of God, prayer, and singing, the Sabbath is not sanctified. Thus, the scale of Justice will find us lacking.
“Before the setting of the sun, let the members of the family assemble to read God's Word, to sing and pray. There is need of reform here, for many have been remiss. We need to confess to God and to one another” (Child Guidance, p. 529, emphasis added).
“The value of the Sabbath as a means of education is beyond estimate. Whatever of ours God claims from us, He returns again, enriched, transfigured, with His own glory.... The Sabbath and the family were alike instituted in Eden, and in God's purpose they are indissolubly linked together. On this day more than on any other, it is possible for us to live the life of Eden,” (Ibid., p. 535).
“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., p. 532.)
“How can children receive a more correct knowledge of God, and their minds be better impressed, than in spending a portion of their time out-of-doors, not in play, but in company with their parents?” (Ibid., p. 534.)
“It is for this that He has given us the seventh day and left it as a memorial of His created works,” (Ibid., p. 55.)
“Christ's purpose in parable teaching was in direct line with the purpose of the Sabbath. God gave to men the memorial of His creative power, that they might discern Him in the works of His hand. The Sabbath bids us behold in His created works the glory of the Creator. And it was because He desired us to do this that Jesus bound up His precious lessons with the beauty of natural things. On the holy rest day, above all other days, we should study the messages that God has written for us in nature. We should study the Saviour's parables where He spoke them, in the fields and groves, under the open sky, among the grass and flowers. As we come close to the heart of nature, Christ makes His presence real to us, and speaks to our hearts of His peace and love” (Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 25, 26, emphasis added).
SABBATH AFTERNOON MISSIONARY WORK
“Upon the Sabbath there should be a solemn dedication of the family to God,” (Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 185).
The Sabbath was given to man, to the family. The Sabbath School and the divine service occupy the morning part of the Sabbath. Meetings on Sabbath afternoons are not part of the divine plan. On Sabbath afternoons the family should be busy in:
1 - Contemplation of nature.
“It is for this that He has given us the seventh day and left it as a memorial of His created works” (Child Guidance, p. 55).
2 - Study of the Sabbath School Lesson
“As a means of intellectual training, the opportunities of the Sabbath are invaluable. Let the Sabbath-school lesson be learned, not by a hasty glance at the lesson scripture on Sabbath morning, but by careful study for the next week on Sabbath afternoon, with daily review or illustration during the week” (Education, p. 251).
3 - Relieving the Suffering
“To relieve the afflicted, to comfort the sorrowing, is a labor of love that does honor to God's holy day,” (The Faith I Live By, p. 36).
“Our work for Christ is to begin with the family in the home. The education of the youth should be of a different order from that which has been given in the past. Their welfare demands far more labor than has been given them. There is no missionary field more important than this. By precept and example parents are to teach their children to labor for the unconverted. The children should be so educated that they will sympathize with the aged and afflicted and will seek to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and distressed” (Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 429.)
“Their great reformatory movement must begin in presenting to fathers and mothers and children the principles of the law of God” (Child Guidance, p. 556).
“The law of God is the foundation of all enduring reformation. We are to present to the world in clear, distinct lines the need of obedience to His law. The great reformative movement must begin in the home,” (Ibid., p. 489).
“Religion in the home is our great hope and makes the prospect bright for the conversion of the whole family to the truth of God,” (Testimonies for the Church vol. 6, 119).
We are living in the time when all things are to be restored. Acts 3:19–21 says that Christ will not come until every divine institution is restored. Many things that were tolerated in the past with respect to the Sabbath are no longer permitted today.
The Spirit of Prophecy makes it clear that the people of God who live justly in the last days will observe the fourth commandment down to the smallest detail. The prophet Isaiah says that even our thoughts must be strictly guarded during the Sabbath. God desires to fulfill His purpose with His people. He expects families to understand their sacred duty towards the Sabbath. On this day there must be a solemn consecration of the family to God. On the holy Sabbath, families should be in touch with nature.
This is why He gave us the seventh day. As we contemplate nature and meditate on the works of creation on the Sabbath, we will better understand His great love and worship Him in spirit and truth.
MISSIONARY WORK AND THE WEEK
The missionary work determined by God to be done on the Sabbath must be specifically for the family. External missionary work should be faithfully performed during the week:
“Let us remember that we are pilgrims and strangers on this earth, seeking a better country, even a heavenly. Those who have united with the Lord in the covenant of service are under bonds to cooperate with Him in the work of soul-saving. Let church members during the week act their part faithfully, and on the Sabbath tell their experiences” (Gospel Workers, p. 199).
“The preaching at our Sabbath meetings should generally be short. Opportunity should be given for those who love God to express their gratitude and adoration” (Testimony Treasures, vol. 3, p. 27).
“Sunday can be used for carrying forward various lines of work that will accomplish much for the Lord. On this day open-air meetings and cottage meetings can be held. House-to-house work can be done. Those who write can devote this day to writing their articles. Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour's love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience. You will thus learn much about how to work, and will reach many souls.
“Let the teachers in our schools devote Sunday to missionary effort. I was instructed that they would thus be able to defeat the purposes of the enemy. Let the teachers take the students with them to hold meetings for those who know not the truth. Thus they will accomplish much more than they could in any other way.
“God has given us plain directions regarding our work. We are to proclaim the truth in regard to the Sabbath of the Lord, to make up the breach that has been made in His law” (Testimony Treasures, vol. 3, 396).
Therefore, dear brethren, when we burden the Sabbath with tasks that God has not determined for this day, and make Sunday a day of leisure without missionary activities, we reverse the order of God.
Says the Spirit of Prophecy: “But in an evil hour for our race, the great enemy of all good turned the signpost around, and multitudes have mistaken the way,” (Prophets and Kings, pp. 179).
May the Lord help us to grasp the true purpose of the holy Sabbath. May our mind be turned to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ is. May we recognize Him as Creator and Sustainer of all things and worship Him as such in this time of investigative judgment, attaining transformation through meditation and contemplation of His works. Amen.