“SABBATH DAY IS THE LORD’S DAY” By Pastor Yau
One of the excuses I have heard over the years from those I witnessed to is: It is too time consuming to become Christians. One day a week to go to church is just too much in today’s busy life. Statements like these may be a reflection of non-believers as they plan their schedules in term of priority. Unfortunately some of those who called themselves Christians also practice this thinking, may be not verbally expressed, that one day a week spend in church and God is just too much to do.
To find out the meaning and value of going to church one day a week may give us a clear foundation for those of us who have been routinely practicing. It may also provide us stronger conviction that we are not just merely following rituals.
THE ORIGIN OF THE SABBATH: (Exodus 20:8-11)
The fourth Commandment is longest of all the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. God did not just tell the Israelites what to do, He also told them why they need to do it. The English word Sabbath is a transliteration of the Hebrew word Shabbat that means to stop, to rest or stop to rest. God also stressed the importance of doing this as “the seventh day is HOLY.” This Seventh Day, the Sabbath, has become an important part of Judaism. Even the early Christians worshipped in synagogues on Sabbath day.
Later in Christian history, the church adopted the “FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK” as the day of worship because it was on the first day of the week the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. This seven-days-a-week calendar has become a world-wide practice regardless of religious beliefs. Ancient Chinese did not have the idea of a WEEK. They followed the Luna calendar with 12 MONTH and 24 seasons as units in a year. People today take it for granted of the WEEK, knowing not that it is from the teaching of the Bible.
THE PURPOSES OF THE SABBATH: (20:8-11)
Anyone who studies these four verses of the Scripture will come to more than one reason why God instituted the Sabbath. For the purpose of simplicity, let us summarize them into two purposes: to REST and to WORSHIP.
1) God made use of His creation as the background of “the day of REST,” because after He finished the creation in six days, He rested on the seventh day. He specifically commanded that this seventh day is the day of rest from all labors for all people including the servants and foreigners. As auto makers know the needs of cars to have rest in long trips, God, our maker, knows our needs of rest from physical labor. This commandment was not given to benefit God, but to benefit man for a longer, healthier life.
2) God did not just order the seventh day as a day of rest, He called it a day of HOLY. (). The Jewish people built their worship and offering of sacrifices on this day and the tradition still keeps on. The word HOLY in the biblical language designates dates, things and events pertaining to GOD. In this fourth Commandment, God set the rules: for 6 days, men need to work. These are days of man. But the seventh day, the Sabbath, is of God. It belongs to God. Man should use this day to cultivate his spiritual needs with God.
Today, too many people, including some Christians, ignore their spiritual needs. They spend all their days and time for material needs at the expense of spiritual nurturing. That is why we see so much trouble in many personal lives, families and societies.
GOD’S BLESSINGS ON KEEPING THE SABBATH: (Isaiah 56:3-7)
In the Isaiah 56, God proclaimed His blessings on those who obeyed and observed the Sabbath Day. His blessing spilled over even to the foreigners and out-casts in the Jewish society. God promised to give them a permanent name in His temple if they observed the Sabbath. Observing the Sabbath had been strict to the Jews as observing the Lord’s Day to Christians.
Some months ago, Newsweek reported on the benefits of regular church attendance. It reported that those who attend church regularly are less addicted to smoking and excess drinking and therefore suffer less health problems related to smoking and drinking. These people have better spousal communication because they have stronger common grounds to solve their differences. Parents who attend church regularly have better relationship with their children because they spent more time with them and have common values.
I want to alert parents, especially Christian parents, who ignore the value of Sunday church attendance because of extra work, extra income and extra school for their children. You may make more money and your children may learn more in math, English, computer and other academic pursuits. But you do these at the expense of building your family and children a strong spiritual foundation. You are risking a fragmenting family relationship and raising kids with lots of brain but little or no moral and spiritual qualities. You are laying a shaky foundation for your family and children and their future families.
God never intends us to be left behind with no guidance for our lives. He gave us the Ten Commandments and the Bible as our Guidebook. How many of us believe in the good will of God and follow His commands? Keep going to God’s House on Sundays and other days. This will certainly bring you closer to His heart and position you better to receive His blessings. OBSERVE THE LORD’S DAY AND KEEP IT HOLY.