It is the Sabbath which has made I us a distinct people in the world, and we should understand fully just what the Sabbath offers to a Sabbath keeper in his own personal experience. The first reference to the Sabbath which we find in the Bible is, of course, Genesis 2:1-3: "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made."
The Sabbath carries with it, by the very nature of its origin, the seal of heavenly benediction and divine creation. It stands as the great memorial of the mightiest employment of divine power in the fulfillment of divine purpose. It comes to us as the sequel of a great week of working, in which the mighty power of the Godhead was employed in carrying out the divine program for man. It comes to us in its weekly visitation, bringing us the atmosphere of such origin and such relationship with God Himself. It outdistances sin and separation, and stands for complete fellowship between God and man.
It was on the level and environs of Sabbath keeping that man originally learned to know his birthright and his heritage as a son of the Infinite. In the providence of God, that same creative power exhibited in the instituting of the Sabbath, has been operative throughout these six millenniums of human history, to make possible the bringing back of man to that high plane from which he fell; for in God's mercy He has preserved this single link, the Sabbath, as a reminder of that blessed experience. Surely it ought to bring into our hearts, as we enter into the experience of Sabbath keeping, a large measure and a wonderful degree of the joy and sweetness of fellowship with God.
The Sabbath is not the fourth commandment just by accident. It is not by chance buttressed on the one side by three great commandments which exalt the name of Jehovah, which establish His character, which honor His name; and on the other hand by the six commandments which speak of man's duty to man, establishing the only sure foundation upon which society can build in the government of the nation, in the conduct of the community and in the joy and happiness of the home circle itself. God put it there for a purpose. It is the great divine link between God and man.
The Sabbath has been appropriately likened to the keystone of an arch. Right in the very center of the divine law it stands, possessed, like those other nine precepts, of the very character of the Author. The string of commandments is like the ten fingers of our two hands—made of the same substance, animated by the same vitality, and feeling the beatings of the same great heart. God put the Sabbath right there in the center, as the link between Himself and His character and man with every phase of his need.
So in the experience of Sabbath keeping we are to find the definiteness of present relationship with God. What value is there to our hopes for the future if they are not interpreted in the experience of the present? The prophecies from which we have received enlightenment help us to look into the days not far distant, and see the time when men will again walk with God. But how can the heart be sure of entering into that experience if it does not have a foretaste of that joy now? So God takes us along the trail of commandment keeping, especially honoring His Sabbath, that on this ground we may find the contact that is so real between Himself and His people.
Thus the Sabbath is great in its origin, great in its history, and great in its destiny. And may God make us just as great in our experience as His institution!
Washington, D. C.