Keeping the Sabbath Holy

by: Wayne Schatzle

Recently Pope John Paul II came out with a strong plea for all Catholics to take seriously the commandment to remember the Sabbath. He asserts Christians have forgotten the meaning of the day and it has become more of a day for people to seek their own pleasures.

Who can disagree with his observations? I well remember grow-ing up in the '50s when everyone would go to church, and you would be hard pressed to find any store open. Sunday was a day for visiting family and friends. It was truly a day of rest.

Times have indeed changed, and Sunday has become a day to seek one's own pleasure rather than God, and the turn around has occurred in a mere generation.

The relatively small number of Sabbath (Saturday) keeping Christians have noticed this abuse of the rest day for years.

Most "Sabbatarians" generally keep a much more strict day of rest. They also contend that no man can make any day holy - only God can do that. It is clear that God set apart the day we call Saturday, as the Sabbath, and there is not one word in all the Bible that there would be a change. In fact, God declares, "I am the Lord, and I change not" (Malachi 3:6).

Although the pope is correct in his assertions of the laxity of many in their observance, there is a lot to say about the validity of keeping Sunday holy in the first place. After studying Catholic literature, it is apparent that Sunday observance is a "church" commandment rather than a Bible commandment.

The Catholic church also takes some pride in the fact that it is they who sanctified the day rather than the Bible and Protestants obey Rome and keep Sunday rather than the Bible Sabbath.

Also noted is how they will use the Old Testament scriptures for authority for Sabbath observance, which was Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, and transfer the binding Law to a non-sanctified day - Sunday. Ecclesiastical history is well documented on how the change took place, if one cares to read it.

Indeed, Sabbath keeping was (and is) important to God, the transgression of which carried the death penalty. We do get careless in our relationship with God in the good times we experience in this country. This may be a good time to rediscover our loving Father by turning to Bible reading.

Study the forgotten commandment: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of God" (Exodus 20:8-11).

Almost overlooked in the Sabbath conflict is the blessing God has attached to Sabbath observance: "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause You to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken" (Isaiah 58:13-14).

The blessing is there for anyone to claim. Go to the effort to find out once and for all just which day is the Sabbath that God sanctified. Whatever day you discover is the true Sabbath, use that time to build a relationship with the one you will spend eternity with.

Written by Wayne Schatzle,
director, Freedom Biblical Information Center
P.O. Box 1806, West Chester OH 45071