Background Considerations:

Sixty plus years ago both my mother and my mother-in-law switched from keeping the first day of the week as sacred to keeping the seventh day. Like many religious Americans they were already regularly attending church services on Sunday and were careful to guard the rest of the day by abstaining from shopping and from attending the movies on Sunday. Instead they attended religious services two or three times each Sunday. At that time some states still enforced laws prohibiting commerce on Sunday. In this climate of respect for “the Lord’s Day”, Seventh-day Adventist evangelists brought their audiences evidence from the Bible and history that the seventh-day of the week was the Sabbath of the Lord. My Lutheran mother and my Episcopalian mother-in-law listened, were convinced of the truth and began keeping the seventh-day Sabbath starting at sundown Friday night. They already knew how to “keep the Sabbath sacred”. It was largely a matter of which day was the Sabbath.

Survey the American scene today. The under-lying concept of sacred time has been lost. While church attendance remains quite high, the practice of Sunday sacredness has virtually disappeared from public life and private practice. So-called “blue laws” against Sunday commerce have vanished as well.

Jesus said that if we love him we will keep his commandments (15:10). I would not say that my wife demonstrates her love for me by doing what I say. We are both human beings without the right to control each other. But our relationship with God is different. He is our creator, our redeemer. And he is kindly disposed towards us. In the Bible his commands, including the Sabbath command, are preceded by recitals of his deeds of love and salvation (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Can the practice of Sabbath keeping survive a cultural indifference to sacred time? How?
  2. Make a case for a full 24 hour observance of the Sabbath.
  3. Alarmed by the intensity of modern life a number of religious persons have urged Christians to return to the practice of “Sabbath keeping” by committing one day of the week for spiritual and physical renewal. How should Seventh-day Adventists relate to this renewed emphasis on keeping a weekly Sabbath, albeit it on another day?
  4. The Sabbath has been presented as a gift from a gracious God. It is also commanded, according to Scripture. How can a command at the same time also be a gift?
  5. If eating out in a restaurant on the Sabbath becomes acceptable, on what basis would a Seventh-day Adventist refuse the requirement of an employer to work on the Sabbath?

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