As Adventists, our FLAGSHIP doctrine is The Seventh Day Sabbath. For generations, we have taught the world the importance that God puts on keeping the Sabbath in both the Old and the New Testament. We have tried to “build the old waste places,” and be “the repairer of the breach” that Isaiah talks about (Isaiah 58), for we know the promise, “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, honorable; and shalt honor 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.”
But, are we REALLY keeping the Sabbath? I fear that many are becoming more and more lax, and are keeping the Sabbath much like the rest of Christendom keeps Sunday. Many go to church (most can’t even get up early enough to make it there in time for Sabbath School) for two hours, come home and make lunch (that they ran out of time to prepare before Sabbath began the night before) or they go out to a restaurant to eat.
Then after eating lunch, many take a nap, and sleep away a large part of the rest of the day. Some go visiting family/friends who are not interested in spiritual things and allow the conversation to go into many places that are not acceptable on the Sabbath. Others entertain themselves watching TV or things on the internet that are not things that will be a spiritual blessing to them.
As a people, I believe we fall FAR SHORT of the mark, when it comes to truly keeping the Sabbath Holy. Talking about certain activities, whether or not those activities are right or wrong to participate in on Sabbath won’t be as productive as talking about the PRINCIPLES of Sabbath-keeping.
I believe the following statements from the Spirit of Prophecy shine light on two principles that will help us in deciding the specifics of Sabbath-keeping.
If it falls into THIS category, it is RIGHT to do on the Sabbath:
“The necessities of life must be attended to, the sick must be cared for, the wants of the needy must be met. God does not hold him guiltless who stays his hand from relieving the suffering on the Sabbath day. The holy Sabbath was made for man, and acts of mercy and benevolence are always in order upon that day. God does not desire his creatures to suffer an hour’s pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day.” 2SP 163.2
If it falls into THIS category, it is WRONG to do on the Sabbath:
“The Sabbath law forbids labor on the sanctified rest-day of the Lord. The toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labor for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon the Lord’s day; but the work of Christ in healing the sick did honor to the holy Sabbath….” 2SP 164.2
If you are a MEDICAL worker, (Dr., Nurse, etc.) I think it’s important to look closer at this topic. Many who work in the medical field justify working on Sabbath, because their work is to make people well. My understanding is that Dr.’s & Nurses who work in worldly hospitals should not see their employment as a license to work on Sabbath unless they are working in a STRICTLY SDA hospital, where only the NECESSARY procedures and care is given to the patients on Sabbath. In worldly hospitals, there is no distinction made between Sabbath and any other day of the week, and the Dr.’s & Nurses are called upon to do many things that should be delayed until the next day, alot of unnecessary work is done that causes them to break the Sabbath. Those who do this are just as guilty as those who hold any other job on the Sabbath.
There are many NECESSARY jobs that someone must do, that Adventists shouldn’t take on. Say for instance, being a Policeman. This world needs Police NOW more than ever! But it’s highly unlikely that you could be a Policeman and not have to work on Sabbath. So that is an employment that Adventists shouldn’t even consider. Just because an employment is an ESSENTIAL or NECESSARY job, doesn’t justify you and me taking on that job and breaking the Sabbath.
Remember when Joseph brought his family to Egypt because of the famine, he told his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they were shepherds, so that they wouldn’t fall into temptation, being employed by Pharaoh ~ “Joseph counseled his brethren, when Pharaoh should ask them of their occupation, to tell him frankly that they were shepherds, although such an occupation was regarded by the Egyptians as degrading. Joseph loved righteousness, and feared God. He did not wish his brethren to be exposed to temptation, therefore would not have them in the king’s special services, amid the corrupting, idolatrous influence at court. If they should tell the king that they were shepherds, he would not seek to employ them in his service, and exalt them to some honorable position for Joseph’s sake…” 1SP 153.1
We have been told that as we get closer to the Second Coming, it is going to get more and more difficult for Sabbath-keepers to keep their employment. Being true Sabbath-keepers, separates us from the World in many ways. Especially in todays world, it’s a great advantage if you can work for yourself and be self-employed. The less we have to depend on those in the world to make a living, the better. If you work for yourself, there is never a reason for you to have a Sabbath issue that might cost you your job. As we all sense that things are heating up in our world, that the contest to obey God or man is coming closer, I’d encourage everyone, as far as possible, to do what you can to learn to make a living being self-employed. And determine from now on, that you will be faithful in keeping the Sabbath Holy. If we are not faithful now, when real persecution comes, there is no hope we will be faithful then.