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“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”. Exodus 20:8-11

“The Sabbath is the great question, to unite the hearts of God's dear waiting saints.” A Word to the Little Flock, pg. 18


Man has many ways of regarding the Ten Commandment Law. Many who believe in the scriptures acknowledge that it is from God and ought to be obeyed; at least most of it. They can agree on nearly the whole law and even the most ardent putter forth of the idea ‘we are not under law but under grace’, will quickly use it as an authority to enforce a point in spite of their previous claims.

 Many philosophers will say it was made up by Moses and no more binding today than any other law from ancient times. However all men do recognize within themselves a certain ‘natural law’.


It is not difficult to find many people, Christian and otherwise, who will tell you that the Ten Commandments are a valid and important moral law. They will especially say that about the last six, the second table. The theorizing person will be quick to tell you that the law of love; ‘thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’, covers all of them, and of course, they are correct. Nearly every person born into this world has a ‘Natural Law’ within him that tells him that to do these things is somehow intrinsically wrong and undesirable. The odd person born with no such sense is somehow less than human.  Even in the darkest heathendom some basic sense of right and wrong and a code of moral behavior is found and they are remarkably the same worldwide. Unless the inner voice has been silenced through long transgression, it is understood ‘naturally’ by men that to kill, or steal from his neighbor is wrong, and though cultures may vary on the number of wives that is acceptable for a man to have, no culture believes that a man should just have any woman he wants.

 What about the first table of the law? Well even there the Bible tells us that the existence of God is impressed on every man through the observation of God’s created works.

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Romans 1:20  

So we can see then to fail to recognize a ‘higher power’ or to blaspheme the name of that ‘higher power’ is universally recognized as wrong behavior. Also with a bit of reasoning on his own part man can of himself figure out that to worship an object made by his own hands is somehow illogical. So we can see the first table recognized as well.


If I were to go as a missionary to a far away ‘dark’ corner of the uncivilized world, I could no doubt be justified in saying to a person there, “Why do you steal from your neighbor? Doesn’t your own heart tell you that is wrong?” I could probably also say to him “Why do you blaspheme the ‘Higher Power’ that you know created you?” He would know what I was talking about. But what if I told this uncivilized heathen man, “Why do you continue to do your ordinary work on this holy day? You should know that is breaking God’s law.” Would he know instinctively what I was talking about? No, he would not.

And that brings us face to face with a Big Difference between the 4th commandment of the Sabbath and the rest of the two tables of stone. In order for a man to know about the keeping of a Sabbath, it must be revealed to him by someone else—either by God directly or through His word or by another man who has had this revealed to him.


Down through the years, Sabbath keepers and the promoters of the Sabbath, have done something that is really rather illogical, they have tried to prove that the Sabbath is no different than any other of the Ten Commandments. But when you really take a good look at it, it is obvious that it is very different, and in many ways. For one thing the others say ‘do this, or don’t do that’ but the Sabbath commandment says ‘Remember’. It was reminding the people of God of something they should be aware of and should continue to be aware of.


Let’s take a look at a quote from an interesting source: The  Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests:

"The point of difference (between the Sabbath commandment and the other nine, is evident.  The other commandments of the Decalogue are precepts of the natural law, obligatory at all times and unalterable.  Hence, after the abrogation of the Law of Moses, all the ten commandments contained in the two tables are observed by Christians, not indeed because their observance is commanded by Moses, but because they are in conformity with nature, which dictates obedience to them.

"This commandment about the observance of the Sabbath, on the other hand, considered as the time appointed for its fulfillment, is not fixed and unalterable, but susceptible of change, and belongs not to the moral, but to the ceremonial law.  Neither is it a principle of the natural law; we are not instructed by nature to give external worship to God on that day, rather than any other."  (Translated by J.A.McHugh and C.J. Callan, 1958, pp. 397-398.  Notice the interesting use of the term "natural law" here!)

In explaining, or explaining away, the Ten Commandment moral law, philosophers can wax eloquent in showing you how every part of it can be explained by the ‘Natural law’ to be found in what they believe to be man’s basic inner goodness. These concepts they will say, have just evolved along with man’s civilization and it is no proof at all of the existence of a Creator God to whom we are personally answerable.


Down through the ages, especially in the Christian era, this ‘differentness’ of the 4th commandment has been largely equated with being inferior—of lesser validity. (see quote above) Many will tell you that Moses made a mistake and stuck something of the ceremonial law in the middle of the moral code and somehow it just don’t belong there. But although we can all agree if we will admit to the obvious, that the 4th commandment is ‘different’, does it necessarily follow that it is inferior? Perhaps this very differentness might indicate an even higher level of ‘spirituality’ than the other nine?

“One thing is certain:  it is no insignificant problem logical man finds himself facing from the moment the Sabbath enters upon the arena.  First it is with visible pleasure our mini-Kant of the 1980's lets his mini-brain go on juggling with those admirable commandments of the Decalogue, one after the other, until, all of a sudden, he stumbles over a huge rock somebody has left right in his passage.  That is the Sabbath commandment, to him a most awkward "foreign body" defying all common rules of rational philosophy…How much more reassuring it would be, to the most independent spirits among us, if we could just have a slightly modified formulation of the fourth commandment to grapple with.  For instance:  "Remember the day of rest."  Full stop.  Or still better:  "Remember a day of rest".  Or why not simply?  "Remember to rest".  That would seem quite a roomy way of putting it, would it not, and comparatively inoffensive to all sensitive souls.  You would not even have to be a good humanist in order to find that reminder meaningful and harmless.  Any logician with some mysterious preference for the indefinite, the vague and reducible, would feel that this was a commandment he could manage to handle.  And men with a passion for Western self-sufficiency would be quite happy, too.  For a commandment of that kind would be nothing more than what any sensible man could manufacture all by himself.” Carsten Johnsen. Day of Destiny ch.7


For one thing the candid reader of the Ten Commandments would have to admit that nowhere else in the Law are you given the Authority behind that Law. Remove the 4th and the law could be the product of any source, human or otherwise. Only in the 4th do we see the Name, Rank and Authority of the Lawgiver. He declares Himself to be God, the Creator of all things and therefore exerts His right to Authority and His privilege to ‘give a direct order’ so to speak.


We see something else here when we really begin to take note of the words of this fabulous fourth commandment; Here is displayed information that man has no way, either scientifically or intuitively of knowing unless God were to reveal it to him. That is Who created him and How. Not even by tradition from his elders could man have known how the creation was done—as no man was there until the end of it. The Sabbath is the ‘evidence’ so to speak of how God created the world—In six days he made—and rested on the seventh.

When man was made, he was placed into a complete and perfect environment—no loose ends, no half finished tasks. Man’s very first full day on this earth was the Sabbath and a revelation from God as to how creation took place. Even then, man had no way to ‘prove’ whether God was telling him the truth or not. He took God’s word for it that it was done that way and the ‘evidence’ God was pleased to give of the truth of creation was—the Sabbath—as He joined with man in contemplation of the job well done.

Evolution cannot account for either the seven-day week or the Sabbath! How could any such concept have ‘evolved’ or come from the contemplation of man’s own mind? It tells us something about what kind of God our Creator is also.

We often oppose evolutionistic theory by saying how degrading it is to us as humans that we should be said to have evolved from the lowest forms of life, but how much more degrading is it to God, the Creator Himself, to say that he would create in such a slipshod, bumbling way of trial and error? What kind of a monster-god would choose long years of trial and error, suffering and death, to gradually bring about an improving but never finished world? How could any such thing ever be termed ‘good’ or ‘very good’?


Here we see something else that is plain in the Sabbath commandment and nowhere else in the Law—that is the Personhood of God. The 4th commandment is a Person, giving a personal directive, to other persons that are under His authority, because He made them. The Sabbath commandment cannot be explained by an impersonal, mindless, spiritualized, all invasive power source—which is what philosophers and pagan minds delight to make God out to be. The fourth commandment is a call to realism in a concrete world of reality, a world of days and weeks, a world of work and rest, a world of bodies and beating hearts, a world of children, servants and animals.

In this day and age in a world where the needs of the individual are seldom even considered and where we are more and more being reduced to an impersonal number in some master-computer somewhere, the Sabbath command with its personalized invitation can hit us in one of two ways; it’s either an unwelcome shock, or a blessed relief—the ‘rest’ that remains for God’s children.


It is a literal appointment, in literal time, give by a literal Person, to literal persons, to meet with Him—their Creator, in a mutually satisfying way and have literal fellowship. The Creator, who has the literal authority to make such an appointment is hereby showing His very real and literal interest in the creatures He has created. There is nothing vague or shadowy here, nothing of the spiritist’s ghostly world of the ‘Idea’ or pure ‘soulism’.

Right away as we are confronted with this commandment we are faced with a test of faith. We either believe God and obey or we have to try dozens of ways to get rid of that rock of offense right in our pathway—that disturbing, literal Sabbath! Just as Christ said He was a ‘Rock of offense’, so also is His Sabbath.

The Sabbath speaks of a God that wants—nay desires passionately to be with His created little ones. A God that relates personally to us, and wants us to relate personally to Him. The ‘rest’ spoken of is to have the trusting joyous togetherness of the infant asleep in his mother’s arms. Our Immanuel; God with us!


One of the ways people try to spiritize away their literal obligations is through ‘Pan-Theology’. In Pantheism they say God is everything and in everything—God is everywhere—but the actual outcome of that concept is that God is nowhere.

“Now, what all those "pan-isms" actually say is very much the same thing.  It could be epitomized in one sentence:  "It all makes no difference whether there is sin in your life or not."  Why does that make no difference?  "Because with God and with the world nothing makes any difference.  For God is the world, and the world is God. The holy is common (profane) and the common is holy. It is all one huge mass. There is no distinction worth mentioning. For personalism is a bad dream and an anomaly. Just as the holiness of the Sabbath has 'spilled over' into all the other days, so God's holiness has `spilled over' into the whole world. Personal responsibility is an evil which has luckily been overcome." This is what all pan-holy-ism says and means.” Carsten Johnsen, Day of Destiny ch.5 

To be holy means something must be set apart as holy, and it must be set apart from something. If everything is ‘holy’ then nothing is really holy. If God is everywhere and in everything, then God is really nowhere and nothing. He does not exist as a personal Being.

So also to claim ‘All days are holy’ means that no day is holy, to be holy something must be set aside from the common—if all is holy, then ‘holy’ becomes a meaningless concept.

The very literal, everyday language of the 4th commandment shouts of reality—it speaks of everyday things and the separated thing—the seventh day set aside from the common as Holy time—Sacred to a Personal God.


 In Hebrews there is this interesting text:  But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”. Hebrews  11:6 

Here we see Faith. God is not satisfied with any less than service born of Faith—wholehearted, willing service given by hearts responding in grateful love to His Great Love is the only thing He wants from man. No forced service, no prideful offerings of the self-exalting creature is of any value with Him.

All the other commandments can be spiritualized and philosophized from the mind of man into vague, shadowy pan-principles. BUT to really keep the 4th, even to accept that one is obligated to keep it literally as given, lays bare our true attitude towards the Giver of that command. Do we see God as a Personal Being who has a right to our personal service and loves us personally? Or do we see that ‘God’ is an impersonal general principle, a sort of ‘first cause’, vague, shadowy and not really impinging on our day to day affairs.

To really keep the Sabbath of the Lord, one must have faith that God is a real person, to whom he or she owes personal service and to whom he or she is personally accountable.


I have heard it said from the pulpit that God could have chosen any one of the commandments for a final test; a final ‘tool’ to separate His true children from the professed. But from what we have seen in this study—and we have only touched the surface of the facets of the ‘fabulous 4th’—this is just not so. All the other commandments man can claim to arrive at through his own reason, all others can be kept by people who do it for their own reasons—having nothing to do with a heart relationship to a personal God.  The Sabbath of the Lord thy God is different. Man does not arrive at it naturally, and man cannot even keep it properly unless he has faith that God exists as a Person in reality.


“In this connection, let us consider what M.L. Andreasen states in his book:  'The Sabbath, Which Day and Why' (1942). "Breaking the fourth commandment is not like breaking some of the other commandments."

            “Andreasen's idea corroborates what we have arrived at in a previous chapter.  The Sabbath is essentially different, somehow. Breaking it, is not, for that reason, a less serious matter or a less remarkable sign.  Rather the opposite:  a man may commit manslaughter in a fit of anger; he may, as a result of sheer rashness, take God's name in vain; or he may succumb to the temptation, suddenly presenting itself, to yield to some overwhelming sensual passion.  But a failure to keep the Sabbath, according to Andreasen, rarely comes into that category.  Sabbath-breaking does not have the excuse of sudden passion or of inordinate desire.  It is not like most other great sins or destructive habits: "It is rather a symptom of spiritual decline, of departure from God, of estrangement from the promise—of a sickly Christian experience." Carsten Johnsen, (Ibid pp. 26-27).” Day of Destiny-ch.9

"The Sabbath command is the only commandment in the observance of which God could join man. It would be highly improper to speak of God as keeping the first commandment: `Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’ So it is with the second and the third. Again it would be highly irreverent to speak of God as keeping the last six commandments. A moment's reflection will make this clear. Stealing, lying, adultery, all these have no place with reference to God. But there is one commandment in the observance of which God could join man: the Sabbath commandment. Man can keep it; God can keep it. Thus the Sabbath is the meeting place of God and man." (The Sabbath, which Day and Why? (1942)  p. 32).


Man can give all kinds of ‘lip service’ to God; he can pontificate great moral sentiments and noble principles. He can recognize a ‘higher power’ and then design it in his mind in any direction that pleases him. He can claim great love and sympathy with his fellow men and do great deeds of humanitarian efforts. He can make great personal sacrifices for his beliefs and speak great swelling words of vanity that move multitudes. He can even celebrate ‘God’ and have an exciting time just ‘praising his God’.

But when he is faced with this literal command for the literal seventh day, this very personal appointment with the Personal God of Creation to Whom he is responsible—that is, as we say, ‘where the rubber meets the road’. Immediately the true child of God is separated from the proud, independent pagan. The child will gladly obey his loving heavenly Father and rejoice that He has been so considerate as to set time aside so His little created other-ones can enjoy fellowship with Him. He will be filled with love and joy for such a privilege.


The Pagan Pride of the unrenewed heart will never consent to simply accept a literal directive like the 4th commandment and respond with loving obedience, rejoicing in the goodness and mercy of his heavenly Father in giving such personal care to His little other ones.

 The proud pagan replies, “Who is God that I should obey him? I can’t see any logical reason why I should be tied to such a literal, spiritually inferior idea as keeping a particular day holy. OK, I tell you what, I’ll keep a day, but I’ll choose one that’s more suitable to my own self. After all, I can accept the principle of this thing; it’s just its literalness that I can’t go along with. I’ll choose a day and not only do things for God on that day; I’ll even force everybody to recognize it as well. Just watch my zeal for God!”


Just what is the Jewish Sabbath in contrast to the true Sabbath of the Lord? Well the Jewish Sabbath in Christ’s day had become something very different from what it was meant to be. The Pharisees were very zealous to ‘keep’ the Sabbath and had actually succeeded in making it at least appear to be part of the ceremonial law. They heaped their own traditions of rules and regulations around it until any chance that the true Child of God might recognize the loving face of his Heavenly Father in this weekly event was pretty well negated.

When Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, He was trying to show that God’s purpose in placing the Sabbath as a memorial in time was to bless man, not to burden him. He also told them they lacked mercy in their lives and that they did not know Him or His Father in heaven. They had made the Sabbath part of their proud, self-sufficient hypocrisy, even though they ‘kept’ it, the joyous fellowship of the created little ones with their great Creator Father, they never knew.

We can keep the 'Sabbath of the Jews' today; when we look upon it as a duty we perform for God. It becomes like Cain’s offering, something to exalt ourselves and earn merit with an authoritarian God. But only the loving service of a willing heart means anything to God.

 Imagine a loving father making time to spend with his dear children. He plans to pack as much love and delight into the day as possible and then, when he tells his children about it, they respond, “But Dad, do we have to? Do we have to spend that time with you? We have our friends and we’d just rather be with them.”

Can you imagine the heartache in that loving Father’s breast that his children didn’t want his fellowship?

What about if the children said, “Sure, we know about fatherhood, you are our father, but we prefer to think of it in terms of a basic ‘fatherness’ in general, not such a personal thing as it seems to be with you. We can go about our own ways and think now and then about the concept of ‘fatherness’—we prefer it that way. We find this spending actual time with a real father just too unspiritual for our taste.”

Here the father isn’t even recognized as a person!


The story is told in various forms about a man who had bought a lovely farm for his son and told him, “I will give you some instructions on how to plant the crops on this farm and I will come back in a few months and if you have followed my instructions, I will deed the farm to you to be yours.”

The son readily agreed and the father delivered to him a list of instructions. The days went by and the son was following the list to the 'T' in every directive. He could see the wisdom of his father in what he had planned, but one day as he was preparing to plant one of the fields, he saw that his father wanted a crop there that the son felt was just not suitable. “It will never grow properly in this particular field”, he reasoned, “Dad must have made a mistake—I know what crop is best to be put here so I will plant that.”

The day appointed came and as the father came to inspect the farm, his son assured him that he had followed his every directive. The father systematically went around the property checking the various fields against the list he had given to the son. All went well until he came to the last field and saw there a crop that he had not ordered.

“What’s this all about?” he asked the son.

“Oh Dad”, replied his boy, “All the orders you gave me were just great Dad, except for this one, the crop you had said to plant just was no good for this field, but I obeyed you in all the rest.”

“No, son”, said the father sadly, “You didn’t obey 'me' at all, your own logic accepted to do what I had said, but here you showed clearly who you were really following, it was your own will all along.”


Of all the days of the week there is only one that in no way could have been the Sabbath, the memorial of creation, and that is the 1st day. God could have made everything in one day and rested on the second, or any other number, but the first day could never have been the Sabbath!  The 4th commandment says ‘Remember’; it draws attention to something established by God from the very beginning.  It was made by the Word of God.

What about Sunday? It has evolved gradually, silently, slowly intruding its defiance into the customs of man until we see the ‘Man of Sin’ exalting it and himself above all that is called God.

A Roman Catholic book, entitled 'A Sure Way to Find Out the True Religion,' says: "The keeping holy the Sunday is a thing absolutely necessary to salvation; and yet this is nowhere put down in the Bible; on the contrary, the Bible says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep is holy' (Exodus 20: 8), which is Saturday, and not Sunday; therefore the Bible does not contain all things necessary to salvation."

            This is only one out of many similar citations that might be given, but is sufficient to show that in the observance of Sunday the Catholic Church deliberately repudiates the Word of the Lord, and sets itself above it. It has placed its sabbath on an entirely different day from the Sabbath of the Lord—a day which even God Himself could not possibly have made His Sabbath, since on it He began His work—in order to emphasize its claims to be above God.  It would teach men that they are to obey the church rather than God.

            Notice that the citation speaks about necessity of "keeping 'holy' the Sunday." But God has not made the Sunday holy.  In fact, the Bible knows nothing about such a day. It does know the first day of the week, which it calls a working day, but the Sunday, a day composed of parts of two days, was made in Rome. The only day that God has ever spoken of as holy is the seventh day of the week. That day He Himself has made holy, and all He asks of us is keep it holy

"But since God has not made the Sunday holy, it follows that if man is to keep it holy, a man himself must make it holy. All the sacredness in the world that Sunday has is that which man gives to it. The Sunday sabbath, therefore, stands as the sign of man's pretended power to make things holy. For if man can make one thing holy, it is evident that he can make anything holy. If man can make and keep a day holy, then he can make and keep himself holy. The papal sabbath is thus the sign of the pope's claims to take the place of the Lord as the sanctifier of sinners. While the seventh day is the sign of God's power to save by His own works, the Sunday is the sign of man's assumed power to save himself by his own works, entirely apart from and in spite of the Lord.” E J Waggoner, 'The 3 Sabbaths'  


 I remember years ago my husband-to-be was working in another city many miles away. Each week there was one day when he would come out and we could be together for that day. How precious did the hours of that day become to me. Everything in the whole week centered upon being ready for that day when the joy of just being with my beloved was mine. Whether we went walking or sang hymns or just sat and talked together, it was all a delight—the highlight of my whole week.

Suppose someone had told me, “You know, you don’t really need to spend that day with him. Don’t you think he is being kind of arbitrary to expect you to drop your activities and spend a whole day with him?” I can tell you, I would have told them they were out of their mind if they thought I would fail to meet the arranged appointment!

God means the Sabbath to be just that kind of joy to us. A more personal arrangement cannot be conceived of—to spend time together—just our Creator-Father and us in loving fellowship.


 The judgment is a real event and real evidence that can be seen by all is what will decide our destinies. God knows all hearts and could just decide without making a dividing test for mankind, but He has chosen to do things in a way that all created intelligences can see by the choice we make, what our hearts really believe. It’s merely a matter of faith—we either believe God or we don’t—it’s just that simple.

“I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question, to unite the hearts of God's dear waiting saints. And if one believed, and kept the Sabbath, and received the blessing attending it, and then gave it up, and broke the holy commandment, they would shut the gates of the Holy City against themselves, as sure as there was a God that rules in heaven above.”  A Word to the Little Flock pg. 18


The Sabbath is a ‘golden clasp' to bind our hearts to God and also to unite our hearts together here in holy fellowship. It is this ‘crowning jewel’ of the Law that binds God’s children here to the great family in heaven. It is much more than a duty, much different than a ceremony, and certainly never a burden! It is a family matter; a heart affair with God and will be a heart affair with each one of His loving children.

“Here is our test which God has made, and He will fulfill His word, if human agents will show their love to God in keeping all His commandments. If they reverence the Sabbath, which is engraved on the first table of stone, they will keep the first three commandments, and the last six will reveal the duty of man to his fellow man; for the Sabbath sign is the covenant between God and man. It is the golden clasp which unites man to God in supreme obedience and reverence, and which unites man to his fellow man.” Ms 45, 1900. ("What Is the Chaff to the Wheat?" typed July 26, 1900.) Manuscript Releases Volume Five pg. 89

“The Sabbath is a golden clasp that unites God and His people. But the Sabbath command has been broken. God's holy day has been desecrated. The Sabbath has been torn from its place by the man of sin, and a common working day has been exalted in its stead. A breach has been made in the law, and this breach is to be repaired. The true Sabbath is to be exalted to its rightful position as God's rest day.

 “In the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah is outlined the work which God's people are to do. They are to magnify the law and make it honorable, to build up the old waste places, and to raise up the foundations of many generations. To those who do this work God says: "Thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in. 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." Verses 12-14." 6 Testimonies, pg. 351

When you read this, it brings to mind a Father waiting patiently in the old family homestead, watching and longing for His wayward children to come home; To return to the safe and tried paths of His tender care; To come back to His heart of love for them.

Is the Fabulous 4th different? Yes, and what a glorious difference for the true Christian child of God!

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 


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