Temple School of Taphim 5:
The Fourth Commandment
1. Beloved children and friends, I welcome you back to the House of the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ, whose House this is. It is my prayer that His Name will be reverenced and honoured as we continue in our study of the Ten Commandments.
2. You have now received instruction on the first three commandments which are as follows: "I am the Lord your God...you shall have no other gods before Me...You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments...You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name" (Exodus 20:2-7, NIV, Taphim 2:36; 3:1; 4:3; 3:17; 4:5; 4:12).
3. Yesterday you were taught that names are very important in the New Covenant and that the names you receive in it have a very special meaning. God's Name, too, has special meanings, to use His Name in vain is to pervert those meanings by blaspheming His personality or character.
4. You were told to beware how language is changing in the modern world and how it is being weakened and perverted. One of your responsibilities as a New Covenant Christian is to help restore the meaning of important words such as "God" and "love" by being conscious of how you speak and using them in the way God intended.
5. You know now that words are very important and that we can't play with them and not expect our spirits to become injured at the same time. Both the inner and the outer worlds are intimately connected and so our outward behaviour should always reflect inner, spiritual truth.
6. You have been taught that using the Name of God correctly makes a person spiritually clean, but to take His Name in vain is to make a person spiritually dirty. God's Name must be kept Holy if we are to have a close and joyful fellowship with Him. You will soon learn how important it is to respect the names of your parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.
7. You have been taught that no-one knows exactly how to pronounce the Name of God or Christ, and that this is not important to being in right relationship with Him. What is important is that you understand the character and authority that lies behind a Name, and most especially God's Name. Just as you should revere the name of the Most High God -- El Shaddai or Yahweh, so also should you revere the names of His servants who, because of their righteous living, have come to reflect God's attributes. Their names will reflect these attributes, like Abraham, Israel, Peter and Paul.
8. You should now understand that God is not one Person but Three and that these Three constitute what is called the Godhead or God-Family. You should also understand that God the Father is the Supreme God and that only He should be addressed in prayer. You now know that this God-Family is called Elohim, meaning "The Mighty Ones".
9. God is our Lord, our King, our Protector and our Sustainer. His Name includes all these attributes. Never allow the world to diminish the greatness of His Name in your mind or heart by reacting indifferently to a blasphemous use of His Name. Make sure that people understand, in the most loving way possible, that you honour the Name of the Lord and will not give any kind of support to jokes, stories, or swearing that defame His character.
10. By doing this, you will prick people's consciences and the Name of the Lord will be respected more. And by your good example, you may become the instrument to bring souls to repentance and into His Kingdom.
11. Beloved children and friends, we shall now, in this the Fifth House of Taphim, take a close look at the Fourth Commandment.
The Fourth Commandment
12. The Fourth Commandment is as follows: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the Seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy" (Exodus 20:8-11, NIV).
13. This, the Fourth Commandment, completes the first section of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, which deals with man's relationship to God. The remaining Six Commandments deal with man's relationship to man.
14. There are therefore four identifying marks or signs of a worshipper of the True God. The first sign of the true Christian, represented by the First Commandment, is that he worships one God and not many. He does not say, as many false religions maintain, that you can worship any "God" you like because all are simply different expressions of the "one God". The One God, as we have seen, has clearly identifiable attributes or characteristics. To worship the One God is not, therefore, to worship Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Mother Earth, Maytrea, or any other pagan deity. It is to worship Yahweh whose nature and characteristics have been perfectly revealed through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. To worship Yahweh is to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, the only Way we can come to God.
15. The second sign, represented by the Second Commandment, is that the true Christian does not place anything or anyone above God. He is not idolatrous. God is first in his life and everything else takes a firm second place.
16. The third sign, represented by the Third Commandment, is that the true Christian does not misuse the Name of God, but keeps it holy. He will defend the honour of the Name of the Godhead and never countenance its blasphemous use.
17. The fourth sign, represented by the Fourth Commandment, is that the true Christian will keep the Sabbath Day holy. These four signs or observances outwardly and inwardly identify whether or not you are in right relationship with God.
18. The Fourth Commandment is the longest in wording of all the Ten Commandments. It is placed, protectively as it were, in the middle of the Ten Commandments. Yet you will find that the vast majority of Christians debate whether it should be observed today. Most do not. And those that do often misunderstand how it is to be observed.
19. The Fourth Commandment begins with a very important word: Remember. The fact that this word is used shows that the Sabbath was already being lived before the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. It was already a part of God's spiritual law. Here, then the Lord was reminding the people of a commandment which they already knew about. One of my responsibilities today is to remind you of this commandment.
20. This commandment is a very deep and profound one and you will not fully understand its significance all at once. "Remember the Sabbath day, by keeping it holy". The word "holy" in Hebrew is qodesh or kadesh and literally means "to keep separate or apart". This day is therefore to be "kept separate" or "apart" from the other six days of the week. In other words, it is to be different. Similarly, the holy cities built by the Holy Order are called KADESH because they are "separate" or "apart" from worldly cities.
21. In the same way that you as Christians are to be holy, separate, set apart or different from other people, so you are to treat the Sabbath day differently from the others. Most of the world already treats the Sabbath day differently from the ordinary working days but as you will see they do not do so in the way in which God had commanded.
22. I want to first point out that the days in the week which we are familiar with -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all pagan names derived from false pagan gods and goddesses. However, they are a part of our language so we shall continue to use them for convenience's sake. In Holy Cities, the days of the week do not have names at all, as was also the Hebrew custom. Each day is presided over by one of the seven archangels.
23. The Lord Jesus Christ affirmed that the Sabbath day is to be observed today when He said: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27-28, AV).
24. There are two important things you must note here. First, that the Sabbath Day was made. Whatever is made has a "Maker". Second, the Sabbath was made for man -- for all mankind -- and not just for the Hebrew nation, and not just for one particular period or dispensation of time, but for all time.
25. As you have already learned, Jesus Christ is the Creator of this world (John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6). He is the Creator also of the Sabbath. That is why He calls Himself the Lord of the Sabbath. Throughout His life on earth Jesus observed the Sabbath day, keeping it holy according to the commandment. He gives much instruction to His disciples in the four Gospels on how to observe it, whilst freeing it from the false traditions that the Jews had added to it.
26. So we see that the Sabbath day was made by the Lord Jesus Christ as God's instrument, for everyone -- a special day to be kept holy. Paul said to the Hebrews that God has "spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe" (Hebrews 1:2, NIV).
27. The Sabbath day was given right after man was made at the beginning of time. In the Book of Genesis we read: "By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done" (Genesis 2:2-3, NIV).
28. God, you will remember in this passage, is Elohim, meaning the God-Family or the Godhead consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus it is Jesus, who is the Creator, who blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (made it holy).
29. The One who said: "Let there be light!" was the same One who blessed and made the Sabbath Day holy. You will therefore see that the Sabbath Day was made to be an intrinsic part of man's environment from the beginning of time -- it was a part of the seven days of creation.
30. When God "blesses" something He confers divine favour upon, and divine presence in, that thing. He therefore set apart this day for a very special purpose. Since God is eternal, what He blesses is also eternal. He has never abrogated a commandment.
31. The Sabbath Day, then, is a holy time. What that means is that one day in seven -- 24 hours in 168 hours -- is to be used in a special way. It is to be a time of rest not just for the body but more importantly for the spirit also. Because we live in the world with all its cares, and because we are surrounded by godlessness, it is very important that Christians can recharge their spiritual batteries.
32. On the Sabbath Day we are to forget all our cares in the world and break our daily routine. Instead of being pre-occupied with earning our daily bread, taking care of the family, all that we do -- inwardly and outwardly -- should be focused on drawing closer to God in study, meditation, prayer, service and worship.
33. Those who neglect the Sabbath Day will soon find that their spiritual life is declining because not only are they failing to meet a very real physical and spiritual need, but because they are out of harmony with God's Spirit. As a result, they are not sanctifying themselves. God cannot sanctify a person who does not obey His commandments.
34. Though the commandment to remember to keep the Sabbath is one of many commandments it is one that most people -- even Christians -- only too easily forget. Many have reasoned that since the Sabbath Law was contained in the Old Covenant in chapters 20 to 24 of the Book of Exodus that it is no longer binding on us today under the New Covenant.
35. It is important to remember, however, that God made the Sabbath Day holy long before the Hebrew nation came into existence and before the Covenant was made with Israel. The Lord told Moses that keeping the Sabbath would be a sign between God's people and the Lord -- a sign that identified the true God (Exodus 31:13).
36. How is it a sign? It is a sign because it identifies God as the One who created all things. It identifies God as Creator. The Lord commands: "The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a(n ever)lasting covenant. It will be a sign between Me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He abstained from work and rested" (Exodus 31:16-17, NIV).
37. Beloved children and friends, observance of the Sabbath is part of an everlasting covenant -- a covenant that will not come to an end so long as heaven and earth exist. As New Covenant Christians we belong to the New and Everlasting Covenant, a covenant that will never end. This is what the Lord has said.
38. It is very clear from the Old Testament that the Israelites were blessed in every way when they observed the Sabbath. Whenever they neglected the Sabbath they stopped worshipping the Creator and started worshipping the created. This is one of the reasons there is so much idolatry in the world. This is why the Second and Third Commandments are not obeyed by the world.
39. The First and Fourth Commandments are a bit like the upper and lower pieces of bread of a sandwich, with the Second and Third Commandments being inbetween. They are the beginning and end of the God-centred commandments. The Fourth Commandment is therefore very much a sign of obedience to the First Commandment, and obedience to the Second and Third Commandments is the fruit of obedience to the First and Fourth. The Sabbath Commandment is not therefore something that has been "added on" but is an integral part of the whole Law of God.
40. The New Covenant Church of God is the New Israel of today (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:28-29; 6:15-16). The Laws are the same only they are now on a much higher spiritual plane. Whenever a nation has neglected the Sabbath commandment, it has been cut off from the true God and has always turned to some form of pagan idolatry. That idolatry is only too obvious in the so-called Christian nations today. In many of these countries laws have been made making the Sabbath day an ordinary working day, to be used as such if people want to. As the prophet Ezekiel warned, these nations are greatly polluting the Lord's Holy Day (Ezekiel 20:12-13).
41. One of the reasons Israel was taken into captivity was because it neglected to observe the Sabbath Day. It is one of the reasons that every nation in the world is moving faster and faster towards a period of total anarchy and lawlessness which the Bible calls the Great Tribulation.
42. It is clear, then, that all men and women everywhere are commanded to observe the Sabbath day, and that when they and nations do so, they place themselves in harmony with the Lord and His blessings, and flourish. Those who do not invariably find that their spirituality declines and they slip into pagan, idolatrous ways. You will not find those who believe and serve false gods observing the Sabbath Day but that they use every opportunity to break it. This is a sign of their rebellion against God and the Created Order He established at the beginning.
43. But how are we to observe the Sabbath? What must we do? This we need to consider very carefully now, for there are many who acknowledge the Sabbath but do not live it properly.
44. Firstly, we must see the Sabbath day in relationship to the other six days. The commandment makes it clear that to be idle on the other six days of the week is to be as guilty of working on the Sabbath! The Sabbath Day was created for rest, and the remaining six days for work.
45. Therefore it is true to say that he who never works is totally unfitted for worship. The honest, purposeful work of the six days is in itself an act of worship and obedience to God. Obedience of the Fourth Commandment therefore not only entails honouring the Sabbath but using the other six days of the week for their intended purpose.
46. The Lord has provided a world which contains all that is necessary for man's physical being, but in order to obtain it he must work. The purpose of physical labour is to develop character. It is to teach industriousness, responsibility, and appreciation of God's gifts. From the very beginning, even before the Fall, man was placed in a garden paradise and told "to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15, NIV).
47. Just as the human body is composed of various organs and parts, so a week is composed of seven days. Just as there is a close working relationship between the various parts of your body which makes it into one functioning whole, so there is a close relationship between the days of the week. As the head is the chief of the body, so is the Sabbath the chief of the week.
48. A person who fails to observe the Sabbath day is incapable of his highest potential achievement in work, in service and in the joy of accomplishment. Similarly, a person who does not work, serve and experience the joy of these two cannot discover the peace or rest of the Sabbath.
49. As you grow in the Holy Order so you will understand that there are sacred patterns in all Creation in all its various levels, both physical and spiritual. You will be astonished at the intricacy and genius of the Lord's Work. This revelation will in turn cause you to praise and worship Him the more.
50. It is important that we now pause to consider what we mean by work. There are many kinds of work and these are arranged in a hierarchy, that is, in order of importance: (1) The first kind of work is that which must be done on the physical level or plane. We must work with our hands, arms, feet, legs and senses. (2) The second, is the that which must be done on the emotional level. We must work with our feelings. (3) The third, is that which must be done on the mental level. We must work with our minds. And (4) the fourth, is that which must be done on the spiritual level. We must work with our spirits.
51. To be working, then, is to be using our bodies, hearts, minds and spirits. All four are very closely connected. They are a part of a whole unit called our body. If you neglect one, then the others are affected. To develop each, you must work with each and make each work! In the Holy Order you will be trained to work on all four levels.
52. For a New Covenant Christian, all work is spiritual because it leads ultimately to the growth and development of your spirit, which is one of the main reasons you were born into this world. For this to occur, God has ordained six days of work and one day of rest.
53. You may think that our ordinary day-to-day activities do not develop us spiritually. This is not true. It does not matter what kind of work you do -- whether is it is a train-driver, a road-sweeper, a shop-keeper, a teacher, a car mechanic, a nurse, a house-wife, a farmer, a policeman, a student or whatever -- if God has called you into a profession, He has done so for your and others spiritual development. Whatever it is you have been called to do to earn your daily bread, God has done so for your blessing.
54. You see, it is not just the job you do which sanctifies, but working itself. God is a being of enormous energy and activity. For a spirit to develop it must be active like a fast moving river. If it sits still and does nothing, it will stagnate.
55. A river is not always a river. It eventually becomes a part of the sea where is "rests" before evapourating into the atmosphere, raining, and starting the water cycle again. This is one parallel with the Sabbath cycle. You will learn more of this in your journey through the Holy Order.
56. If you study the scriptures carefully you will see the Sabbath principle at work everywhere. You are all familiar with the Genesis story of the Creation, and how God rested on the seventh day. But perhaps you have not noticed an interesting verse which tells us what the Spirit of God was doing before the first day of creation. The scripture reads: "...the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (Genesis 1:2b, NIV).
57. Immediately before the command was given for Light to be created, the Spirit was hovering over the waters. Before this period of great activity, there was a period of great stillness. This "hovering" over the waters was actually the seventh day of a previous cycle which you will learn more of in the temple later on.
58. Now that we have considered work, we must also understand what is meant by "rest". You might be tempted to think that to "rest" means to "lie down" or "go to sleep". Think about it. After He had created the Universe after six days, do you imagine that God went away and slept for a day?
59. Let me give you another analogy. I am sure you have all watched with amazement as a plant produces a flower. That takes enormous energy. A plant must call upon enormous resources to make a flower. It works hard. After it has bloomed it rests from making flowers. It is not asleep. Rather it is operating on a different level of energy.
60. A car accelerating uses much fuel, especially if it is going up a hill. Once it gets to the top of the hill, or is on the flat, the engine is no longer screaming but settles down to a gentle purr. The six days of work is a time of ascent -- of climbing. The seventh day is the day to "ease off" -- to gently move along under the momentum of the force used in the six days on the flat or going down hill, until the first day requires our best efforts once again.
61. Life and living consists of many cycles of activity. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, so also does our body. The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes had this very principle in mind when he said that "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV). Your soul -- spirit, mind, heart, and physical body -- was created to experience different things at different times.
62. There is a time to eat and drink, and a time to sleep. A time to talk and a time to be silent. A time to sit, to walk, or run. Can you imagine what it would be like to experience continuous pain? Some of you may have done so. Too much can wear the body out. Can you imagine running 24 hours a day, or eating 24 hours a day? When a person gets lazy, or is a workaholic, then he is breaking the Law of the Sabbath and has not found the true balance.
63. In this world we were designed to live in this fashion. The next world is not necessarily the same as this one. Some people push themselves so hard that they burn themselves out. Others can't, or won't, get going, and idle their lives away. The latter is the greater sin, but both are sinning against the created order.
64. God loves a hard worker but knows that mortal human bodies cannot survive unless the proper order is observed. Therefore He has ordained the Sabbath Day in order to ensure that our lives are balanced and harmonious.
65. The majority of the world interprets this to mean that you just take a holiday. But to rest from your daily work on the Sabbath by having a holiday/vacation only provides part of our needs. It may rest the body but doesn't minister to heart, mind and spirit.
66. Increasingly, many in the world today continue working on the Sabbath Day because they are afraid to get behind on their work and finances. From a human point-of-view it is not hard to understand such an attitude, especially if the people are very poor. Yet God has blessed and sanctified the Sabbath Day. He has set in motion a great Law.
67. The Ten Commandments are living, active laws. Like the law of gravity, they are constantly in operation -- they work automatically. You would be a fool if you believed the law of gravity suddenly stopped working and that from time to time you could safely jump off from a high building without getting hurt. Gravity is here to stay because God ordained it so in the physical world. So it is with the Sabbath Law. God has not suspended it.
68. The law of the Sabbath says that if you will pause to rest and worship Almighty God on the seventh day of every week, you will be blessed during your six days of work that will more than make up for what you might have accomplished by labouring on God's Sabbath. In a way, the Lord is giving you a paid holiday/vacation every seventh day!
69. This principle was taught by the Lord when the Israelites were wandering through the Sinai deserts. Each day He provided the people with manna or food from heaven which they were to gather up each day. But on the sixth day He gave them a double portion so they would not have to work on the Sabbath. Anyone who tried to take more than he needed on a particular day found that the extra went rotten. And those who went searching for manna on the Seventh Day never found any.
70. There are many very important principles to be learned in this story. First, that we are only supposed to do so much work on each day -- too much work will rot our bodies. We are not to unnecessarily wear ourselves out. Secondly, God provides all the energy we need to do a good day's work so long as we make the decision to work. And thirdly, we are not to work on the seventh day -- the Sabbath Day.
71. This is a General Law. There will always be exceptions and Jesus taught this many times during His ministry. If a sheep falls in a ditch, you naturally go and rescue it, He taught, even though this is work. The Sabbath day is not so rigid that the sick cannot be healed -- hospitals must continue to function, though if everyone lived God's Commandments there wouldn't be any need for hospitals.
72. Fires still need to be put out, though if the people lived the Sabbath, the Lord would protect the property of His people. Criminals need to be caught, though if the world lived the Commandments there wouldn't be any criminals. Crops need to be harvested before an impending storm though if the world lived the Commandments farmers wouldn't have to work on the Sabbath.
73. But the world does not live the Sabbath Law -- therefore we must, from time to time, constructively break it. But woe unto anyone who is under covenant and breaks it for any other reason. They inflict punishment on themselves by putting themselves out of harmony with God's protection and blessings.
74. Now what are we supposed to do on the Sabbath? It is a time for physical rest from the ordinary activities of the other six days. But it is more than that. It is also a time for worship, for spiritual rededication, for contemplation and exercise of the spiritual purposes and laws of life which God has set. "But shouldn't we be doing these things during the week also?" you may ask.
75. The answer is, yes. The difference is that your priorities are different. On the six days you should be spending, as it were, six-sevenths of your time in daily labour and one-seventh of your time in worship, spiritual rededication, contemplation and exercise of the spiritual purposes and laws of life which God has set.
76. On the Sabbath it is the other way around. You still have to eat, wash, prepare food, and do various other chores, but this time only one-seventh of your time, as it were, should be used for such things.
77. The difference between Sabbath Day observance should be so stark that you will become aware of a difference not only inwardly but also outwardly. To make the Sabbath Day work for you requires, first of all, effort. Question: do you make as much effort to observe the Sabbath Day as you would to earn your daily bread on a normal week-day? Or is spiritual activity just something you do for a short period of that day? How much of the Sabbath is the Lord's and how much is your own personal recreation?
78. The Sabbath Day is holy. It was made for a special purpose. Its purpose is to bring man into close communion or spiritual contact with God. That requires both effort and time.
79. In the modern world man seems to have little time for his Maker. He has no time to contemplate the spiritual purposes and goals of life. He has no time to worship, to congregate in Church with other Christians, to study the scriptures. And yet they are the most important things he should be doing. That is why the world is in such chaos. And as each year passes, so the world has less and less time for the Lord. This is one of the signs of the approach of the end of this dispensation of time.
80. The Sabbath Day is a spiritual principle, and that principle is using time to spend with God. As I have told you, you need to spend time with God every day. And as you have learned in other sessions, the Christian life is second-by-second communion with the Lord.
81. The Sabbath Day is the training ground for this great goal to be in contact with the Lord 24 hours a day. Without a spiritual feast on the Sabbath, communion with God on the other 6 days of the week becomes weakened.
82. It is only as a person becomes disciplined to observe the Sabbath one day a week that he eventually receives what we call the Companionship of the Spirit of the Sabbath seven days a week. The millennium -- the thousand years of God's Reign on earth is sometimes called a Thousand Year Sabbath. The six thousand years of earth's history up to this time, which are characterised by impurity and sabbath breaking, will be replaced by a universal observance of the Sabbath principle.
83. Your calling, beloved, is to allow God to plant the spirit of the Sabbath in your hearts so that you become true children of God. To do that you must first acquire the outer discipline of observing the one-day-in-seven Sabbath rest. To do this you must do everything in your power to come together with the saints in the outer fellowship. It may require effort and organisation, but so long as there is willingness, then the Lord will make possible what you want to do as well as sanctify what you do. At its heart, the Sabbath Day is a communal observance, not a personal one.
84. Observing the Sabbath is not very popular with most Christian Churches because they do not understand the spiritual laws and principles behind it. Such people mistakenly think that the Sabbath, along with the whole Law of Moses, was canceled by Christ when He atoned for us. They look upon the Sabbath as a "yoke of bondage" and dismiss it as being "Jewish" or belonging to the "barbaric past". But the Sabbath is neither of these. It was, as we have seen, given for the whole of mankind, and not just the Hebrew nation. And as I hope you are beginning to understand, it is anything but barbaric.
85. In fact, the ancient Hebrew idea of the Sabbath was never one of gloom but of gladness and joy. It is supposed to be a day of delight and of thanksgiving. It is a day in which you are supposed to find the full understanding of your being here in the world and to discover your spiritual capacity. Look what the Lord promises you through the prophet Isaiah:
86. "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 honourable, and if you honour 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 it" (Isaiah 58:13-14, NIV).
87. We are not to seek human pleasures on the Sabbath but increase our spiritual joy through honouring and worshipping our Heavenly Father and God. We are not even to speak our own words. That means we should avoid small and silly talk and learn to speak as Christ would have us speak. This we can do by spending much time in prayer, studying, discussing, and meditating on God's Word or on related things and events. In other words, we should be saturating our minds with the thoughts and character of our Heavenly Father.
88. Such observance will always being happiness and joy because we are able to completely rest from worldly work and cares and to receive the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit. The Sabbath allows us to worship the Lord with peace of mind and unhurried freedom. On the Sabbath we should make time to be together. Our thoughts should not be of rushing off home or to some other engagement but of spending time together with God's people as a family.
89. To enjoy the fruits of the Sabbath means spending quality time together. The Sabbath is not dashing to Church for a service and then rushing home again. To many Christians the Church meeting is the Sabbath. This is not correct. Church meetings are part of the Sabbath. They are the organised part of the Sabbath. The rest of the Sabbath should be spent informally together doing activities that are focussed on the Lord.
90. The heart of the Sabbath, as the whole of the Law, is spiritual. That means you should not live the Sabbath just for the sake of living it, because you are afraid to lose your salvation, of anything else like that. You should live the Sabbath because you love God and want to become like Him. Living the Sabbath must always come out of love, never fear. Only that way can you know the joy of the Sabbath.
91. Even though the heart of the Sabbath is spiritual it does, of course, have a practical aspect. We are commanded to follow the principle taught by the Israelites of planning ahead for the Sabbath so that on that day we can be completely free from worldly cares.
92. In the Book of Exodus the Lord told the Israelites to do any heavy cooking or baking the day before the Sabbath. Remember that the Sabbath begins and ends at sunset and therefore will begin and end at different times during the year (Genesis 1:5; Leviticus 23:32). Therefore it is the men's responsibility to have their work completed before sunset on the evening of the sixth day. The women should have their houses cleaned up, their dishes washed, and any heavy cooking or baking done before sunset on this day. Children should likewise have all their school work and domestic duties completed before sunset on this day. Thus the New Covenant Christian family can begin the Sabbath in an atmosphere of rest and worship. This way you will keep the Sabbath holy.
93. It is to Jesus that we must of course turn in order to follow His example. In the Gospel of Mark He says that it is alright to prepare food on the Sabbath if one if hungry and it is really necessary (Mark 2:23-28). He told the Pharisees that He was the Lord of the Sabbath -- meaning that it is HIS day, namely, the true LORD'S DAY.
94. Jesus also taught that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath day -- and healed a cripple man to back up His point (Mark 3:1-5). In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus gives instruction on how to keep the Sabbath. He taught that it was certainly alright to relieve a human or an animal of physical suffering on the Sabbath Day -- and to pull an ox out of the ditch. He also taught, in principle, that you should feed and water your stock (cattle) on the Sabbath (Luke 13:15).
95. Jesus, who is the Lord of the Sabbath, honoured the Sabbath throughout His ministry on earth and never taught that it would be done away with. Luke records: "He went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath Day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom" (Luke 4:16, NIV). As New Covenant Christians, that is our "custom" too, for we follow the example of the Master.
96. What is the Sabbath day? Is it, as some people teach, Saturday? Or is it, as others teach, Sunday? The answer is: we do not know. All we know is that the Sabbath day is the Seventh Day of the week. Since no-one knows when the First Day of Creation was, no-one actually knows when the Sabbath day is. Tradition calls "Saturday" the seventh day "Sunday" the first day of the week but this is pure guesswork.
97. It is also important to understand that there is no special 24 hour period which is more "holy" than the other six 24 hour periods. What is holy is one in seven, not one particular day. If you think about it, this is obvious, since we "add" a day every leap year in the month of February, thus "changing" the calendar every four years.
98. It is also possible to play with time by crossing the International Date Line. Remember also that the Sabbath on one side of the world will begin and end at a different "time" on the other side of the world. Thus a man might be working an ordinary day in Norway whilst another is observing the Sabbath in Australia. Furthermore, someone living on one coast of a large country like the United States may start and finish the Sabbath earlier than someone living on the opposite coast because of the different time zones.
99. This is a very important principle for you to understand. That which is spiritual does not belong to time (which is an outer phenomenon) but to that which is inner or timeless. Nevertheless we physically exist in time and our bodies must observe certain cyclical rules. Observing a 24 hour Sabbath is the outer manifestation of that which is the spiritual Sabbath, which is inner. If you find that hard to understand right now, you will find it easier as you grow up in the Holy Order.
100. Although it is not therefore important whether the Sabbath is observed on a Saturday, Sunday, or other day of the week so long as it is one day in seven, the Lord has decreed that we are to observe the Seventh Day, or Saturday as an identifying mark of Israel. The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday evening and lasts 24 hours to sunset on Saturday evening, except in very northern or southern latitudes where it is more practical to have a fixed time, usually 6 p.m.
101. Children and friends, the 24 hour Sabbath Day is your spiritual training to receive the Spirit of the Sabbath seven days a week. God has ordained it to be so. Remember also that there will always be exceptions to this rule and you must therefore listen to the instruction of the Holy Spirit.
102. The Sabbath belongs to the Lord, not to you. If you use this day for your own business or pleasure, you are stealing from God and become as guilty as a thief and violator of the Eighth Commandment! When you use the Sabbath for your own ends, you are also coveting time that does not belong to you, but to the Lord, and you are therefore guilty of breaking the Tenth Commandment.
103. If you use the Sabbath for your own purposes, then you are certainly putting something else ahead of God and are therefore guilty of breaking the First Commandment too! Moreover, you are breaking the Fifth Commandment too because you are dishonouring and disobeying your spiritual Father in Heaven!
104. Finally, regardless of the silly and often contradictory arguments of carnally minded men, you break the Fourth Commandment -- the "test" commandment -- which the Lord has set as an identifying sign between Him as the Creator and Ruler of all, and which keeps those who obey this God-given Sign in a right relationship with the TRUE GOD.
105. Remember, beloved, that observing the God's Holy Sabbath Day in the spirit of the Sabbath identifies a true believer in God. There are many who observe the Sabbath Day outwardly but not inwardly. For such the Sabbath is meaningless observance. Outward observance does not make a person right with God. (This is called legalism). What God sees is in your heart.
106. As a New Covenant Christian, observing the Sabbath Day inwardly and outwardly should be a great honour. It means that you are right with God! If you are living it inwardly -- in the Spirit -- then you will never be ashamed of it, never try to compromise it, but embrace it joyfully. Do you find the Sabbath Day a bore? If you do, then you are not in right relationship with the Lord and need to repent. You need to acknowledge that your Heavenly Father is Lord in your life and that you are willing to obey and love Him unconditionally.
107. This is a sign of your membership in the Kingdom of God. Those who belong to God love the Sabbath. Those who love the world do not. More than likely your feelings change from one week to another. If this is so, you need to be aware and work on it by recommitting yourself to observing the Sabbath Day. In Zion -- in the Holy Cities of the Holy Order, the Firstborn Communities -- the Sabbath is a way of life. You will learn more of it another time.
108. It is my prayer that the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus Christ, will bless you, every one, as you seek the Spirit of the Sabbath through study, prayer, meditation, and commitment, so that you may come to live it outwardly in joy and peace, and thereby come to know God as you never knew Him before. Amen.
Question and Answer Session
109. We will now have our question and answer session according to the rules that you have been taught (Taphim 1:49; 2:88). I will now take your questions.
(Questions and answers -- max. 30 minutes)
110. Beloved children and friends, you have much to think about until you are called in again to the House of the Lord. Next time we shall be discussing the Fifth Commandment. May you have a special consciousness of the Sabbath and do all you can to honour it between now and then, is my prayer, in the Name of the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus Christ. Amen.
First created on 11 July 1998
Last updated on 8 August 1999
Copyright © 1998-2007 NCCG - All Rights Reserved