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    CHAPTER 9. Bible View of the Sabbath

    1. What are we accused of going back to if we keep the Sabbath?
    2. When was the Sabbath instituted?
    3. Was a law then given for its observance?
    4. What use did God make of it at the exode?
    5. Where is it declared to be a sign?

    We are accused of going back to Moses and falling from grace, if we now keep the original Sabbath. It is therefore a matter of interest to mark how God formerly regarded that practice of Sabbath-keeping which some now claim that he considers so heinous in his sight. We have seen how the Sabbath was instituted in Eden before sin had entered our world, and how a law was given for its observance which had its place among the primary, immutable, and eternal laws. We have seen how at the exode God took the Sabbath precept as the one by which to test Israel’s allegiance to himself. And now we mark, further, that he took the Sabbath to be permanently a sign between himself and them: “It is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” Exodus 31:13. It was the pre-eminent institution through which was to come his acknowledgment of them as his people, and through which they were to manifest their recognition of him as their God. This was to endure throughout their generations. When the natural branches were broken off, the Gentiles were grafted in, taking the place of the severed branches, and keeping the olive-tree perfect in all its proportions. Hence the generations of Israel are perpetuated in a spiritual seed, and the Sabbath is still a sign between God and them. A man who does not keep the Sabbath cannot show that he is a worshiper of the true God who made the heavens and the earth.SYNPT 80.1

    God further sets forth that his honor is involved in the keeping of his Sabbath. Isaiah 58:13: “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable, and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord,” etc. Thus the observance of the Sabbath is not merely for man’s necessities and his physical good; it is to honor God. By keeping it we honor, by disregarding it we dishonor, the Maker of the heavens and the earth.SYNPT 81.1

    6. What is meant by its being a sign?
    7. How long was it to be a sign?
    8. How are the generations of Israel still perpetuated?
    9. What does Isaiah show concerning the Sabbath? Reference.
    10. What promise did the Lord by Jeremiah attach to Sabbath-keeping?
    11. What calamity did he threaten upon the Jews for its violation? Reference.

    The Lord further told the people through Jeremiah what he would do for them if they would keep the Sabbath, and what judgments he would bring upon them if they would not regard it: “It shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me saith the Lord to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever.... But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Jeremiah 17:24, 25, 27.SYNPT 81.2

    And when Jerusalem was overthrown by the Babylonians, the record states that it was to fulfill the word of the Lord by Jeremiah. 2 Chronicles 36:17-21. Nehemiah recognizes the same fact in the restoration. He says: “There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” Nehemiah 13:16-18.SYNPT 82.1

    12. When Jerusalem was overthrown, what prediction did it fulfill?
    13. What fact does Nehemiah recognize?
    14. What is his testimony? Reference.
    15. What does this testimony acknowledge?
    16. How long was the Sabbath held in this high regard?

    Here is an explicit acknowledgment that Jerusalem had been destroyed because their fathers had profaned the Sabbath, and that they would bring more wrath upon themselves if they continued in its violation. This is the way the Sabbath stood, the light in which it was held, and the promises and threatenings connected with its observance or violation, from Moses to Christ. And now can we for a moment suppose that such an institution that originated in Eden, that was a test of Israel’s loyalty to God, that was declared to be a sign between God and them, and that forever, that was declared to be God’s peculiar property, holy to him and honorable, one in the keeping of which his honor was involved, and one which if it had always been kept by that people, Jerusalem would have stood to this day, the pride and joy of the nation, and the ornament of all the earth, - can we suppose that this institution so suddenly changed its position and nature at the coming of Christ that it became at once the symbol of apostasy from God, rejection of Christ, and trust in the flesh? or rather, that God so changed his nature that now he abhors that in which he once took such delight, and pronounces a curse upon that to which he once attached the greatest of blessings? The idea is preposterously absurd! What imperfect ideas of God and his plans, must they have who can entertain such a thought!SYNPT 82.2

    17. What is the general view of it in the Old Testament?
    18. If the Jews had always properly kept the Sabbath, what would have been the condition of Jerusalem to-day?
    19. In supposing that we now fall from grace by keeping this institution, what absurdity is involved?
    20. What position do the prophecies of the former dispensation assign to the Sabbath in this dispensation?
    21. What place does the law occupy under the new covenant?

    In all the prophecies given in the former dispensation concerning the present one, and setting forth the position of the law and Sabbath under this new covenant, and the relation of Christ to these institutions, and the effect of his work upon them, the perpetuity of the law and the continuance of the Sabbath is in the strongest manner affirmed. Thus in the prophecy of the new covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34, God promises to write his law in the hearts and minds of his people. Instead of being abolished, it would thus be enshrined in their inmost affections.SYNPT 83.1

    Again, in the prophecy concerning Christ, it is said that he should “magnify the law and make it honorable.” Isaiah 42:21. This could not be said of any law which he had to take out of the way by nailing it to his cross. And when Christ came into the world, his motives and purpose of action were set forth in the following language: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:6, 7.SYNPT 84.1

    22. What does Isaiah say that Christ would do to the law? Reference.
    23. Could this be said of the ceremonial law, and why not?
    24. What is the language of Christ respecting the law when he came into the world?
    25. Is there any prophecy of the change of the law?
    26. What power was to change it?
    27. What does the prophet say of the yearly sabbaths of the Jews? Reference.
    28. In Christ’s first recorded sermon, how does he speak of the law?

    There is one prophecy of a change of the law; but the power that was to change it, or rather think to change it (for that was all he would be able to do) was not Christ, but the little horn of the fourth beast of Daniel 7, the blasphemous papal power which was to speak great words against the Most High, wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws. The secular history of the Sabbath will show how this has been attempted, and that this prophecy can have been fulfilled in nothing but the change of the Sabbath. The feast days, new moons, and ceremonial sabbaths which as shadows were to cease at the cross, God declared that he would take away. Hosea 2:11.SYNPT 84.2

    29. What does this text affirm?
    30. Why cannot this refer to the ceremonial law?
    31. What scriptures speak of the taking away of the ceremonial law?
    32. How does Matthew 5:20 show what law our Lord refers to?
    33. How does this show that the Sabbath is of perpetual obligation?
    34. What may be said of the whole and its parts?
    35. What admonition does Christ give to his disciples?

    Thus we are brought to the time of Christ; and in his first recorded sermon he speaks thus definitely in regard to the law: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18. Here is some law the perpetuity of which is affirmed in the strongest terms till the end of time; till all things spoken by the prophets are fulfilled. This certainly is not the law of ordinances and ceremonies, which he took out of the way, nailing it to his cross within less than three years and a half of the time when these words were spoken. Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14. The law of which Christ speaks and declares that not a jot or tittle shall pass from it to the end of all things, is that law which determines the degree of our righteousness. Matthew 5:20. But man was to be righteous from the beginning, and all laws regulating that were primary laws applicable to him before the fall. The Sabbath law, as we have seen, was one of this kind. The perpetuity of the Sabbath, therefore, throughout this dispensation is most expressly affirmed in this passage. For whatever is affirmed of a code of laws as a whole, is equally affirmed of every precept composing that code. Hence the solemn admonition which Christ utters, not to the Jews as such, but to his disciples, that whosoever should break one of these least commandments, and teach men so, he should be called least in the kingdom of Heaven, and the blessed promise to all who should both do and teach them, to be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.SYNPT 85.1

    In his ministry, our Lord seems to take especial pains to rescue the Sabbath from the burden of Jewish traditions. He declared that it was made for man, for his good, for Christians as well as Jews. It was not among those laws and requirements which were against us, and contrary to us, and which therefore were taken out of the way. He recognized the Sabbath law by repeatedly declaring that what he did, though contrary to the traditions of the Jews, was lawful to be done on that day. By all his teachings in reference to the law, and in all his life here upon the earth, declaring its holiness and perpetuity, and rendering perfect obedience to it, he magnified it and made it honorable, as the prophet declared he would do. By his death upon the cross he infinitely magnified and made it honorable. There he demonstrated its immutability and perpetuity by showing that nothing less than the death of God’s divine Son interposed could release men from its inexorable claims.SYNPT 86.1

    36. How did Christ treat the Sabbath in his ministry?
    37. What did he recognize by showing what was lawful on the Sabbath?
    38.How did he magnify and make honorable the law?
    39. What was shown by his death respecting the law?
    40. After Christ’s death what did Paul say of the law? Reference.
    41. What text shows the custom of the apostles respecting the Sabbath?

    The apostles took up the subject, and we hear Paul declaring that the law, the law of which the Sabbath is a part, is not made void by faith in Christ, but is established, confirmed, by such faith, Romans 3:31. This cannot by any possibility refer to the typical law; for the moment we have faith in Christ, we set that law aside as an inevitable consequence. They frequently bring the Sabbath to view, showing that they were accustomed to worship on it, Acts 17:2; that they knew of no other Sabbath but the seventh day then in existence, Acts 15:21; and that that was the regular day upon which they preached not to the Jews merely but also to the Gentiles. Acts 13:42, 44. The Sabbath is mentioned in the New Testament, fifty-nine times, always in a way to show its still binding obligation.SYNPT 86.2

    42. What passage shows that they knew no other Sabbath but the seventh day?
    43. What reference show that they took that day to preach to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews?
    44. How many times is the Sabbath mentioned in the New Testament
    45. What prophet, and where, points out a great Sabbath reform before the Lord comes?
    46. What is meant by the Lord’s salvation being near to come?

    Finally, prophecies were given of a great Sabbath reform to take place just before the coming of Christ. Isaiah 56:1, 2: “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment and do justice; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.” The Lord’s salvation is near when the coming of Christ is near; for it is then brought to us. Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:5. And at that time a blessing is pronounced upon those who lay hold on the Sabbath. The third angel’s message, Revelation 14, brings out a company distinguished as commandment-keepers, by their observance of the Sabbath, just before the coming of Christ. The remnant, or last generation, of the church are distinguished in the same way. Revelation 12:17. And when in the closing testimony of the book, the Lord declares that he is coming quickly, he pauses to pronounce a blessing upon those who at that time are found keeping the commandments of God, and to promise them an abundant entrance into the city and free access to the tree of life. And even there the Sabbath attends them as a day of joy and worship; for about 800 years before this, the Lord, by the pen of Isaiah, had put this promise on record: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me saith the Lord.” Isaiah 66:22, 23.SYNPT 87.1

    Thus the Sabbath comes to view in Paradise restored, as it stood at first in Paradise lost; and in all the world’s dark history between these two bright periods, it has been the golden clasp to bind earth to Heaven, and man to his Creator.SYNPT 88.1

    The Sabbath and the first day of the week in the New Testament will be the subject of a separate chapter.SYNPT 88.2

    47. what passages in the New Testament point out the same reform?
    48. what distinguishes the last generation of Christians?
    49. What promise is given to the commandment-keepers who are waiting for the coming of Christ?
    50. What is said of the Sabbath in the new earth?
    51. What is its office between paradise lost and paradise restored?

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