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What the Bible says about Sabbathkeeping
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ezekiel 20:16

In this passage, God consistently uses a word translated in the King James as "polluted" and in the New King James as "profaned." Pollute means "to defile." Polluted air and water are, to some degree, defiled, stained, poisoned, contaminated, foul. It can imply desecrated, violated, and profaned. Profane means "to treat with irreverence and disrespect." It means "to treat as common": Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are common days of the week, whereas the Sabbath is holy. It is special, set apart.

So, what motivated these people to despise and to pollute His Sabbaths?

Proverbs 4:23 reads, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." Jesus updates this in Matthew 15:19: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, . . ." and about half a dozen other sins. Yet, just as surely as these evil things come out of the heart, so do good things.

God says through Ezekiel that the Israelites broke the Sabbath because their hearts went after their idols. Spiritually, an idol can be anything to which we give our time or attention to the detriment of our relationship with God. However, we must understand that idolatry forces a person to do its will rather than God's. If the heart goes after an idol, the rest of the body will follow the heart. The heart—the thinking and emotional processes—imposes its will on the hands, the eyes, the ears, the mouth, etc., and they just follow what the heart wills to do. If our hearts follow an idol, God says we will surely break the Sabbath.

The idol does not have to be the same for each person, but in relation to the Sabbath, the result is always the same: All or some part of the Sabbath day will be used as one pleases—pursuing one's own interests—rather than what God intends. This is why God says in Isaiah 58:13 that we should not speak our own words on the Sabbath. When we are speaking our own words, our tongue is following after the idol. Undoubtedly, we sometimes do this ignorantly. For most of us, we know better, but our hearts are still going after our idols.

So we can reach a conclusion directly from God's own Word: Idolatry is at the foundation of Sabbath-breaking.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)

Micah 1:6-8

These verses show the intent of God's law. Jesus virtually lifted this word-for-word from Micah and applied its principle in Matthew 23:23. He substituted the word "faithfulness" for "humility," because a person who is truly humble will show it by submitting to God's law, and he will thus prove himself to be faithful.

The essence of the instruction is not that God did not want the Old Covenant sacrifices in Micah's day. What He did not want was rigid, hollow conformity even to ceremonial obligations without a corresponding understanding of their intent and their application in their conduct and attitude in daily life. This is what Jesus was correcting in Matthew 23. The Pharisees had corrupted the intent of tithing, the intent of honoring parents (which He addressed in Mark 7), the intent of the Sabbath—and therefore had perverted the keeping of these commands.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 4)

John 17:3

This verse provides a succinct yet broad biblical definition. We tend to think of eternal life as simply endless life when it is not. Jesus' definition of eternal life is "knowing God." We could say it is understanding the way God lives or that the quality of life that God lives is eternal life. He does not live as a human lives, but He lives on the God-plane. We must learn to live as He lives, to think as He does, to act as He does, to write His image on our minds.

God has set the Sabbath apart so we can know Him, that is, so we can know what eternal life is and live it. Knowing Him is eternal life. Another way to put it is that eternal life is being intimate with Him. He is not intimate with people who rebel against Him nor those who, on the Sabbath day, have their minds on everything else but Him and His way of life. Such people talk about everything else except the things that concern Him and our relationship with Him. Using the metaphor of a courting couple, we cannot come to know Him by going out on a date with Him and then not paying any attention to Him.

The proper observance of the Sabbath is given to humanity so that we might come to know God better on this day than is possible on any other day of the week. He provides an entire twenty-four hours to spend with Him. It is no wonder that He became upset with Israel because they ignored what He wanted from them on the Sabbath. They spent precious little time with Him. They failed to dig into His Word and so failed to discuss His message, His attitudes, His character, His purpose. Their minds were on everything else but Him.

We know that, if we went out with someone of the opposite sex, with whom we expected to have an enjoyable time, and that person paid attention to everybody else except us, we would be frustrated and angry. We would never want to go out with that person again. That is the issue. Eternal life describes the way God lives, and the Sabbath is set apart so that we can come to know Him and become more intimate with Him.

People spend an untold number of years preparing to earn a living in this world. Doctors spend four years at college then study more years at medical school and during their internship. It might take eight, ten, or twelve years for them to prepare a doctor to be successful.

By contrast, God commands us to set aside just one day each week to help us prepare for living endlessly in the highest quality - as He does.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)


 




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