A limited number of Christians observe the Seventh-Day Sabbath. They have proven from the Bible that it is the proper day God set aside for worship at the time of Creation. After a period of time, however, many tend to become careless in how they observe it. The purpose of this article is to remind these Christians of the importance of the Sabbath, and how it should be kept.

The Sabbath is often referred to as the test commandment, not only because it requires a basic commitment to begin keeping it, but also this commitment becomes obligatory every Sabbath day throughout life. It is quite possible to observe the Sabbath strictly according to the “letter of the law,” but fail to keep it in heart and mind, as God requires. When the Sabbath day is observed by resting from labor, and engaging in various kinds of play, hobbies, entertainment, and so forth, this violates the intent and purpose for which the Sabbath was originally ordained. Rather than recognizing that this day is set aside as holy time, it can easily be treated with disregard and contempt. This is a danger of which we should all be aware.

The Bible refers to our time period today as the “time of the end.” Jesus said one of the identifying signs would be the rise of iniquity, or lawlessness. He said: “And because [lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). Lawlessness is the correct translation for the word “iniquity.” In the Bible love is defined as obedience to the Law of God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). Could we be guilty of lawlessness in how we keep the Sabbath? It is possible to have knowledge of the true Sabbath, and to look down on those who do not, but at the same time to desecrate it. Paul warned of this very thing when he wrote:

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (Rom. 2:1-3)

God said those who obey His statutes and judgments must live in them (Ezek. 20:11). In brief, God’s Law is a way of life. Yet Israel of old did not obey. While they made pretense of keeping the Sabbath, they polluted it.

Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted . . . . (Ezek. 20:12-13)

Could we also “keep” the Sabbath and be guilty of polluting it? Yes, indeed! Like Israel of old, we can be guilty of polluting it in ways we may not think. The people of Israel did not set their hearts on God. For example, they were saying ” . . . When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?” (Amos 8:5). It is obvious they were breaking the Sabbath, but it may not be so obvious for us if we violate its principles without realizing it. The people of Israel were driven from their land and taken into national captivity primarily for two things-Sabbath-breaking and idolatry.

Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols . . . . But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God. Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. (Ezek. 20:16, 18-21)
For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. (2 Kings 17:22-23)

How important is the Sabbath to God?

Notice Jeremiah 17:27: “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.”

Did this happen?

“Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, And burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire” (Jer. 52:12-13).

God does not change (Mal. 3:6). He is the same today as ever. His Sabbath has not changed. It has been set aside as holy time. It was given for the benefit of man, not as a day to use in a way that does not serve God’s purpose for man. This is why Jesus said: “. . . The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). He meant that any use of the Sabbath that is contrary to man’s best interest is a violation of the sanctity of the Sabbath.

Notice, the Sabbath that was given at Creation; it was not given by Moses, though Moses repeated it much later to the children of Israel. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:1-3). Today, the Sabbath day is the same day that was given at Creation. It is Saturday, the seventh-day of the week. Saturday is the day chosen by God; Sunday is the day chosen by man.

God’s instruction is as follows:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Ex. 20:8-11)

Notice, the instruction is to keep the Sabbath holy. What makes it holy? The answer: God’s declaration and the manner in which we observe it.

God punished Israel of old for Sabbath-breaking, for refusing to keep it holy. What about us? We are told: “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven . . . . Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:25, 28-29).

The Apostle Paul tells us that what befell ancient Israel was written for our learning (1 Cor. 10:11). Keeping the Sabbath became a test commandment for ancient Israel. They were instructed:

Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt. (Ex. 16:4-6)
And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning . . . . Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. (Ex. 16: 22-23, 26)

But did they all immediately respond?

And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day. (Ex. 16:27-30)

Like Israel of old, the tendency of many Sabbathkeepers is a failure to realize the importance of the Sabbath. But the Sabbath is important to God. Many fail to realize that God’s Word must be kept in spirit and in truth. To observe the Sabbath by resting from one’s labor is one thing, but it must also be kept in mind and heart.

As noted earlier, the Sabbath identifies God’s true people.

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (Ex. 31:13-17)

That same Sabbath is to be kept today. This is made plain by the proper translation for Hebrews 4:9. The text states: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” The word “rest” is an incorrect translation. It is from the Greek word sabbatismos, which means “a keeping of the Sabbath.” The correct translation should be: “There remaineth therefore a keeping of the Sabbath to the people of God.” Sabbathkeepers today carry the identifying sign given in Exodus 31.

As emphasized earlier, the Sabbath must be kept in the heart and mind, not in the way the religious leaders of Jesus’ day obeyed God. Here is what Jesus told them: “. . . Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). The question we need to ask is: Are we honoring God by keeping the Sabbath properly? Or are we keeping it in order to do our pleasure?

Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath-the seventh day of the week (Mark 6:2, Luke 4:16)-as do the Jews today. Jesus’ disciples kept the Sabbath with Him (Mark 1:29; 6:1-2). So did the Apostle Paul. See Acts 13:14, 42-44; 17:2; 18:4.

Christians are warned not to become dull of hearing.

. . . We have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:11-14)

The need to keep the Sabbath properly has become strong meat indeed for some-difficult to accept. Yet, when accepting the Truth, one of the first things Christians should learn is how to keep the Sabbath. There are three questions that need to be asked about keeping the Sabbath. They are: (1) Why do we keep the Sabbath? (2) What is the purpose of the Sabbath? (3) Am I keeping it holy as God intended? Many have allowed themselves to lapse into the “Sunday spirit.” Sunday is the counterfeit Sabbath that attempts to nullify the effects of the true Sabbath. Those who have the “Sunday spirit” observe the day man has chosen in the popular way of the world. As a result, they do not keep the Sabbath as God intended. The “Sunday” spirit can best be characterized by an attitude of self-indulgence-a love for the self that flows inward and manifests itself in self-seeking desires, considerations, and enjoyment. In brief, it makes the Sabbath a day of self-centeredness-a day that is man-centered, not God-centered.

Consider the following:

Isn’t it strange how a $20 bill seems like a large sum of money when donated to a church, but a small amount when one goes shopping? Isn’t it strange how long an hour seems when attending church, but how short it is when watching a ball game or movie? Isn’t it strange when one cannot find a word to say when praying, but has no difficulty talking with friends? Isn’t it strange how difficult and boring it is to read the Bible, but easy to read a hundred pages from a novel? Isn’t it strange to want to sit in the front row at a concert or game, but in the last row in church? Isn’t it strange how one needs to know about a church event two or three weeks in advance, but about other events at the last minute? Isn’t it strange how difficult it is to learn about God and enlighten others, yet how easy it is to learn gossip and repeat it? Isn’t it strange how we believe almost anything we read in magazines and newspapers, but question the words of the Bible? Isn’t it strange how people want salvation, but refuse to do what is necessary to gain it?

From the above paragraph, it should not be difficult to see why the “Sunday spirit” is so highly prized. Most people who keep Sunday feel they have done their duty if they attend church for one hour. After that, the day is theirs to spend doing whatever pleasures they desire. They do not realize that the Bible says the Sabbath is from “even to even,” that is, from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday night-a 24-hour period. Attending church for one hour, then spending the rest of the day in recreation, is not keeping the Sabbath as God intended. The Sabbath is not obeyed by attending church services, then watching TV, golfing, hiking, fishing, swimming, camping, or any other activity that is not God-centered.

Many who now observe the Sabbath have kept Sunday at one time or another. Does the “Sunday spirit” linger in their hearts and minds? The Apostle Paul wrote: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:2-3). Did we use Sunday to fulfill the desires of the flesh and mind? More than likely we did. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures . . .” (Titus 3:3). Those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). If we choose to indulge our desires on God’s Sabbath, we cannot worship Him in spirit and truth, that is, in mind and heart. Our normal desires are man-centered. They take us away from God and the purpose of the Sabbath.

Can we truly worship God by keeping the Sabbath in the physical sense only? The answer is no. The Israelites of old kept the letter of the law. They were unable to keep it in the spirit-that is, by the spiritual intent. Physical obedience alone is unfruitful (John 6:63, Rom. 2:29, 2 Cor. 3:6). Christians are not to be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2). Is the “Sunday spirit” a practice of the world? Yes, indeed. How should Christians really conduct themselves? The answer: “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance” (1 Pet. 1:14). One hour of church attendance and twenty-three hours of doing “one’s own thing” is certainly an example of the “lusts in your ignorance.” Although rest is a part of the day, those who observe the Sabbath need realize the importance of keeping it holy.

One of the characteristics of this age is pleasure-madness. Paul wrote that in the last days perilous times would come. Among other things, men would be lovers of themselves and unholy. They would have a form of godliness, but disregard its power (2 Tim. 3:1-2, 5). Except for the form of religion, they have little, or none at all. They do not allow the Scriptures to have any real influence in their lives. They find it much easier to adhere to form and ceremony, rather than bring their hearts under the controlling influence of God’s Word.

Self-indulgence seldom brings lasting happiness. Solomon wrote: “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?” (Eccl. 2:1-2). After implementing a gigantic spending program to acquire happiness, he concluded: “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (v. 11). Vanity means “lacking real value,” “worthlessness.” In brief, the end result of self-indulgence is dissatisfaction. The failure to keep God’s Sabbath as He intended cannot bring about the results we should be experiencing. Good results will happen only if we observe the Sabbath by the spiritual intent of the law, in the heart and mind-keeping it both physically and spiritually. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17-18).

It is God’s desire that we abound in His way of life. “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thess. 4:1). Proper observance of the Sabbath is one meaningful way. It is the most important day of the week. It is God’s day, not ours. It is holy time. It is not time to be spent in self-indulgence. We do not have a right to observe it as we see fit. We must observe it as God instructs.

So, let us ask again, what is the purpose of the Sabbath?

We read in Genesis 2:3 that “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” This tells us two things: (1) God has placed a special benefit or favor upon this day; (2) He set it aside by consecrating it for a special or holy purpose.

The Sabbath is intended as a day of rest-a break from our physical labor- yet at the same time it is to be observed in a holy manner. A break from our physical labor does not mean replacing labor with recreation. The Sabbath is not a day of recreation; it is a day of worship. The Sabbath is intended to keep us in touch with our Creator. It gives us the time to get close to God-a day for “spiritual revival.” Bible study, prayer, meditation, and Church attendance accomplish this. This is how to keep the Sabbath holy. How can one possibly get close to God if he or she is spending the Sabbath on things other than what God instructs? Where possible, attending Church services on the Sabbath is mandatory. Illness or being away from a Church location would be exceptions, of course. God says: “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings” (Lev. 23:3). A “holy convocation” is a commanded assembly. God tells us to “keep My Sabbaths” (Lev. 19:30). The Sabbath does not belong to us; it belongs to God.

The Sabbath begins when the sun goes down on Friday evening-lasting for approximately 24 hours. How much of that time do we give God? One or two hours on the Sabbath while attending Church, and the rest of the time in rest, leisure, and recreation? If we have children, do we take the time necessary to teach them God’s Way? The Bible tells us: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). The Sabbath provides an excellent opportunity to do this. Time is available for Bible study for the entire family. But many lazy parents, or those who make no effort to get close to God, find it easier to let the television be their baby sitter. Yet, very little on the TV screen is suitable for children at any time, let alone on the Sabbath. Parents will be held accountable before God for neglecting this serious responsibility.

An example of prayer on the Sabbath is seen in Acts 16:13. There was no synagogue in the city, “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made . . . .” (Acts 16:13). Paul and his party found this private place where he could meet with those who hearts were open to the Truth. This was the place where God-oriented people could be found-a place for prayer. Notice, this took place on the Sabbath.

Here is God’s instruction on how to observe the Sabbath:

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, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words. Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isa. 58: 13-14)

There are clearer translations than the one above. For example, the New International Version states:

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isa 58:13-14)

This text clearly states that one cannot derive the benefit of the Sabbath in the manner God intended, if one sets it aside to do what he or she pleases. God made the nation of Israel His holy people (Deut. 14:2). So, also, is the New Testament Church. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Some attempt to interpret the word “pleasure” in Isaiah 58:13 to mean “vocation.” But this notion flies in the face of the facts. Reference works clearly show the word pleasure to mean “ardor,” “delight,” “something precious,” or “affairs.” The word “affairs,” however, has been seized upon to mean “vocation.” But the root word from which “pleasure,” “ardor,” “delight,” and “affairs” are derived simply means “desire,” or “to will.” The word “vocation,” therefore, is strictly an interpretation. By making the word “pleasure” mean “vocation,” the idea is that there is nothing wrong with swimming, golfing, hunting, camping, boating, movies, watching sports, playing cards, or indulging in leisure activities of any kind on the Sabbath. According to this notion, Isaiah 58:13 permits us to do our own pleasure on that day, which, of course, contradicts what is clearly stated. This is how some are willing to pervert the Scriptures.

Take the matter of “speaking your own words,” that is, indulging in idle talk on the Sabbath. It is unlikely that any human being can avoid idle talk altogether, but it can certainly be limited. How? By thinking and meditating on spiritual things! Bible study, prayer, and meditation can accomplish this. Spending time in this manner allows us to get away from the daily cares and worries of the world. This is one of the reasons God gave us the Sabbath in the first place. Consider the following Scripture when participating in idle talk: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (Jas. 1:26).

While the Sabbath is a feast day (Lev. 23:2-3), Friday is the preparation day. The Israelites were given manna to eat, and were required to gather it from the field each morning (Ex. 16:4). We referred to Exodus 16 earlier in this article and saw that God that gave the Israelites this instruction: “And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily” (Exodus 16:5).

Notice what followed next:

And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning . . . . Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. (Ex. 16: 22-23, 26)

We learn that not only was the Sabbath given as the test commandment, but also Friday was given as the preparation day for the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not the day to do the work involved in cooking. Heavy meal preparation should be done on Friday, not on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, then, the food can merely be warmed up at mealtime. Household chores, if limited, can be done on the Sabbath, but not long hours of housecleaning and washing dishes.

The obvious question we should ask, then: What is permissible and what is not on the Sabbath day? Above all, keep in mind the purpose and intent of the Sabbath, as God intended. This question can best be answered by understanding spiritual principles. The Sabbath is intended as a day of rest, to provide a break from our work routine. It is a day to pray and meditate on God, a day to think about Him and His Ways, a day to worship. It is a day for Bible study in order to grow in grace and spiritual knowledge. Anything that detracts or impedes these goals would not be appropriate on the Sabbath.

Those who believe that swimming, golfing, camping, movies, sports, or leisure activities are a way to get closer to God on the Sabbath, or are even permissible, have obviously failed to understand how to observe the Sabbath. They may attend church for an hour or two, but that is about their scope of understanding. They have failed to realize the Sabbath day-the entire time period-belongs to God. What would be the purpose of camping, for example, unless one desired to use the Sabbath as a day for pleasure? Can one find the quiet and privacy needed to get close to God in the average campground? Hardly. The amount of detail and requirements to provide for meals and all the extra work involved at a campground (which is not nearly as stringent at home where needs are already organized) could hardly qualify as a day of rest. Add to this the noise and clamor of barking dogs, honking cars, blaring music, children screaming and running around, and dust billowing from the roads. Such a location could not be considered a place “where prayer was wont to be made.” And how many really go camping to spend time in Bible study and prayer?

Naturally there is a certain amount of leeway on the Sabbath, but even so, the question that needs to be answered is this: Is what I am doing building me up spiritually and drawing me closer to God? Certainly a short walk on the Sabbath would be permissible, but do not go on a long hike. A quiet picnic lunch with one’s children in the park is permissible, if one does not spend the whole day picnicking and frolicking. Reading a newspaper or listening to a brief newscast is permissible, but watching one’s favorite program or sport is not. Listening to inspirational music on the Sabbath is permissible if one does not take valuable time away from prayer, mediation, and teaching one’s children. A short drive to view the scenery is permissible on the Sabbath, but one should avoid a long journey. Visiting the sick is permissible, but one should not spend the whole day doing so. Often, Christians drive some distance to attend Church services. This is permissible providing such a drive does not take up most of the day. There is no Bible command regarding a Sabbath-day’s journey, though the custom is mentioned in the New Testament. However, it would not be proper to drive so far that the journey would be exhausting. This would not be resting on the Sabbath according to the command.

There are, no doubt, many other specific questions that could be asked. It is not within the scope of this brief article to address all that could arise. What should be kept in mind is that each question should be evaluated by this principle: What is the purpose of the Sabbath, and is what I am doing within the intent of that purpose? These questions should be answered objectively and honestly. By this means one can evaluate whether one is truly keeping God’s Sabbath. Four personal questions can aid in this assessment. These are: (1) What is my main interest on the Sabbath day? (2) What is my primary desire-to do the things God requires or to do what I desire? (3) Where is my heart on this day-on God or on pleasure of some kind or another? (4) Do I really have respect for God and seek to honor Him on the day He set aside?

The Bible tells us this: “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you . . . ” (Mal. 1:6). We are all free moral agents. We have a choice. What will it be? Are we going to keep the Sabbath as God intended and thereby derive the benefit it gives, or are we going to seek our own pleasure, while at the same time deluding ourselves thinking we are truly obeying God? One who keeps the Sabbath properly, as God intended, will have no desire to seek one’s own pleasure on that day. Why? Because the blessings that come from properly obeying the Sabbath far exceed the physical amenities that come from physical pleasure.