RECENTLY a question was put to me that has caused me to do considerable thinking, studying, and also some heart searching. In fact, it has caused me more than a little concern, so I would like to share it with you.
A member of a certain church has a factory job that he has held for some time. On Friday he is always out of work before the set of sun, but when the days are short sunset finds him en route home, riding the subway. So he bows his head and communes with his Maker, beginning the Sabbath in this fashion. Is this proper Sabbath observance?
God is calling for a reform in true Sabbath observance. He wants us to lift the standard high, and ministers' homes must be an example to the believers. In reflecting upon this subject I would like to share with you counsel and advice from inspiration along with a few practical ideas, hoping that this will be a help to each of us.
Not all our people are as particular as they should be in regard to Sabbath observance. May God help them to reform. --Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 123.
God has called us to uplift the standard of His downtrodden Sabbath. How important, then, that our example in Sabbathkeeping would be right. --Ibid., vol. 6, p. 352.
Instead of the people of God becoming less and less definitely distinguished from those who do not keep the seventh-day Sabbath, they are to make the observance of the Sabbath so prominent that the world cannot fail to recognize them as Seventh-day Adventists. --Evangelism, p. 233.
Every week God is robbed by some infringement upon the borders of His holy time; and the hours that should be devoted to prayer and meditation are given to worldly employments. --Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 247.
Preparation for the Sabbath
All through the week we are to have the Sabbath in mind and be making preparation to keep it according to the commandment. . . . They will bring into daily practice the laws of His kingdom. Daily it will be their prayer that the sanctification of the Sabbath may rest upon them. --Ibid., vol. 6, p. 353.
While preparation for the Sabbath is to be made all through the week, Friday is to be the special preparation day. --Ibid., p. 354.
On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness. --Child Guidance, p. 528.
In many families [on Sabbath] boots and shoes are blacked and brushed, and stitches are taken, all because these little odds and ends were not done on Friday. --Ibid.
On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. . . . Let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. --Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 355.
Why not make it a habit to check all clothing before it is put away? In this way loose buttons are detected and the necessary stitches can be taken before Friday. Another good habit is to brush or polish your shoes after each wearing, and in this way shoes will always be in readiness for Sabbath. Let the children help in checking to see that all clothing is in readiness. If the hair needs to be washed, let the shampooing and setting be done before the Sabbath.
On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See . . . that all the cooking is done. --Ibid.
We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. Overeating befogs the brain. --Ibid., p. 357.
While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something . . . the family do not have every day. --Ibid.
What a boon automatic ovens are! How nice to enter a house and be greeted with the tantalizing odors of a baking dinner! Let us, however, be careful to have our dinners all prepared, ready for the oven, if we use the automatic timer device. If we have baked potatoes, let us be sure to have them scrubbed on Friday. When boiling potatoes in their jackets on Friday, why not peel them as soon as they are sufficiently cooled to handle? They peel more easily then, and this foresight avoids having to do it on Sabbath.
Have you ever thought of preparing your favorite roast or entree, baking it on Friday, then removing it from the casserole into foil? By wrapping it carefully after it has cooled, on Sabbath it can be popped into the oven and warmed easily and quickly with out even a dish to wash.
As we consider our habits and ways, I am sure all of us can improve our preparation for Sabbath in many ways. Let us try to avoid Friday shopping or unnecessary telephone calls. It seems that Satan is on double duty on Friday trying to divert us and getting us to trample on God's holy day.
Let Us Ever Remember That---
All unnecessary work should be avoided [on Sabbath]. Many carelessly put off till the beginning of the Sabbath little things that might have been done on the day of preparation. This should not be. Work that is neglected until the beginning of the Sabbath should remain undone until it is past. --Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 296. (Italics supplied.)
We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time. Whenever it is possible, employers should give their workers the hours from Friday noon until the be ginning of the Sabbath. Give them time for preparation, that they may welcome the Lord's day with quietness of mind. By such a course you will suffer no loss even in temporal things. --Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 356.
Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment. --Ibid., p. 355.
Surely all televisions and radios with secular programs will be silent in our homes long before the Sabbath begins.
There is another work that should receive attention on the preparation day. On this day all differences be tween brethren, whether in the family or in the church, should be put away. --Child Guidance, p. 528.
In the early days of the advent movement, when our numbers were few, the celebration of the ordinances was made a most profitable occasion. On the Friday before, every church member endeavored to clear away everything that would tend to separate him from his brethren and from God. Hearts were closely searched; prayers for a divine revelation of hidden sin were earnestly offered; confessions of overreaching in trade, of ill-ad vised words hastily spoken, of sins cherished, were made. The Lord came near, and we were greatly strengthened and encouraged. --Evangelism, p. 274.
Before the Sabbath begins, the mind as well as the body should be withdrawn from worldly business. God has set His Sabbath at the end of the six working days, that men may stop and consider what they have gained during the week in preparation for the pure kingdom which admits no transgressor. We should each Sabbath reckon with our souls to see whether the week that has ended has brought spiritual gain or loss. It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord. God says: "Them that honor Me I will honor." 1 Sam. 2:30. --Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 356.
Beginning the Sabbath
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.--Ibid. (Italics supplied.)
At family worship let the children take a part. Let all bring their Bibles and each read a verse or two. Then let some familiar hymn be sung, fol lowed by prayer. --Ibid., p. 357.
Parents should have a thorough understanding with their family that the sacred hours of the Sabbath are to be spent to God's glory. They should be up with the sun, and have plenty of time to prepare for Sabbath school without getting into a rush, and perhaps losing self-control. Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 54.
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. --Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 358.
We are given counsel as to various activities we might engage in on the Sabbath that will prove not only a blessing to ourselves but to others. A few of these are:
Walking with our children (see Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 358).
Reading to our children (see Child Guidance, p. 532).
Explaining Sabbath sermons to our children (see ibid., p. 531).
Comforting the sorrowing on the Sabbath (see My Life Today, p. 231).
Doing acts of mercy on the Sabbath (see The Desire of Ages, p. 207).
God requires not only that we refrain from physical labor upon the Sabbath, but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. The fourth commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things or by engaging in light and trifling conversation. Talking upon anything or everything which may come into the mind is speaking our own words. --Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 703.
The example of ministers should be circumspect in this respect. Upon the Sabbath they should conscientiously restrict themselves to conversation upon religious themes to present truth, present duty, the Christian's hopes and fears, trials, conflicts and afflictions; to over coming at last, and the reward to be received. --Ibid.
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. --Ibid., vol. 6, p. 359.
God's standard is perfection. We each come far short of His ideal for us. Will you join me in putting forth a greater effort to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy? In doing so, there is a beautiful promise we may claim as ours:
Angels were specially blessing with light and health, and special strength those [who keep Sabbath holy]. --Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 705.