God, our Creator, after the six days of creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of creation (Exodus 20:8-11). This is His holy day; set apart to commemorate His creative works; a day which He has sanctified and hallowed. The Sabbath is also a symbol of redemption. The Sabbath rest, by pointing back to Christ’s rest in the tomb, (Matt. 28:1-6), the rest of victory over sin, offers to the Christian a tangible opportunity to accept and experience Christ’s forgiveness, peace, and rest.
The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28, Luke 4:16). The Sabbath is central to our worship of God and the keeping of it becomes the sign of our allegiance to the true God (Exodus 31:13). The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another (Isaiah 58:13, 14). Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God’s creative and redemptive acts (Fundamental Beliefs, 19).
It is on the Sabbath that we can especially experience God’s presence among us. He has given us six days in which to do our own work and carry on the usual business of life; but He claims one day which He has set apart and sanctified. He gives it to us as a day in which we may rest from labor and devote ourselves to worship and the improvement of our spiritual condition. Without the Sabbath all would be labor and sweat without end. Every day would be alike, devoted to secular pursuits. The arrival of the Sabbath, however, brings hope, joy, meaning, courage and rest. It provides time for communion with God through worship, prayer, song, the study of and mediation on the Word, and through sharing the gospel with others. The Sabbath is our opportunity to experience God’s presence (Fundamental Beliefs, 19).
In light of the sacredness of the Sabbath and the part it plays in our worship of God, we should pay special attention to the following:
Sabbath Observance throughout the week
To “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” (Ex. 20:8) we must think of the Sabbath throughout the week and make the preparations necessary to observe it in a manner pleasing to God. This calls for:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->o <!--[endif]-->Ample preparation to be done during the week, prior to sunset on Friday, the preparation day (Luke 23:54). Sabbath meals should be prepared, clothing made ready and the temporal thoughts and activities put away.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->o <!--[endif]-->Those who own their own businesses, to close them on time on Friday in order for their employees to prepare in time for the Sabbath.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->o <!--[endif]-->The family members or groups of believers to gather together just before the setting of the sun on Friday evening to sing, pray, and read God’s Word, thus inviting the Spirit of Christ as a welcome guest.
What should be done on the Sabbath
God requires not only that we refrain from physical labour upon the Sabbath, but that the mind is disciplined to dwell upon spiritual things. Therefore, we appeal to our members to reserve the sacred hours of the Sabbath. The following list contains activities that will help us remain focus on the sacredness of that day.
- Corporate worship: Church services are conducted in our Churches on Sabbath in order for us to come together to worship God in spirit and in truth. It is at these corporate services that we benefit from Christian fellowship.
- Doing good: Jesus points out in Matthew 12:12, that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. From His example some time could be spent visiting the sick and shut-ins, participating in prison ministry and distributing literature. Works of mercy and of necessity are permitted on the Sabbath, (medical evangelism, caring for the sick, saving lives) (Luke 13:10-17).
- Rest from unnecessary physical labour: There are certain physical activities that should be avoided if we are going to enjoy the goodness of the Sabbath. Activities such as parades and marches should be discouraged, and where it is deemed necessary, it should be so organized that it does not violate the sacredness of the Sabbath. The preparation and physical activities that are involved in planning and participating in these events can easily take away from the sacredness of the day. The preparation of the Sabbath meal should be done, as far as possible, prior to the Sabbath. The Lord says, “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8).
- Family togetherness: Quality time should be reserved for family togetherness. Parents should spend time with their children teaching them about God and his goodness toward us. This can be done at home, in church services and in nature.
- Observe the closing moments. The closing of the Sabbath should be observed by the coming together of family or church members in a vesper service, requesting God’s presence and guidance through the ensuing week.
For further study on the observance of the Sabbath read Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 48 and Testimonies, vol. 6.
VOTED by West Indies Union Conference Executive Committee, August 30, 2005