Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] There is a vital but often neglected truth found throughout the Bible. If you would simply open your Bible and read it for what it says, what would you do? Would you follow its words? What I’m talking about is the truth of the seventh-day Sabbath.
You read about the Sabbath beginning in Genesis 2. You find it as part of God’s law. You see that Jesus and His apostles observed and taught on the Sabbath. You see it throughout God’s Word, and Jesus calls Himself “the Lord of the Sabbath.”
Do you follow Christ—who made the Sabbath for you? History shows us this is exactly what people have done when faced with the clear teaching of Scripture. It’s what followers of Christ will be doing when He returns.
Join us on Beyond Today as we look at “Remembering the Sabbath.”
[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Darris] In her book The Sabbath World , author Judith Shulevitz makes an interesting observation. She writes: “Whenever people begin reading the Book,”—and she’s talking here about the Bible—“they start keeping the Sabbath. And when they keep the Sabbath they read the Book.”
That’s exactly what happened to a group of believers in Transylvania in the 15 and 1600s. Faced with what the Bible says about the Sabbath day, they realized they had no choice but to obey God by keeping the Sabbath as He commanded.
What would you do if you read in the Bible that God intends you to observe the Sabbath? Let’s consider what happened with these people.
Life in medieval Europe was nothing like life in today’s world. Imagine your life completely and totally ruled by other people. Kings, princes, governors, and priests dictate where you live, what you do for a living, and what you believe.
Now—into the darkness of your life comes a bright burning light—the Holy Bible, translated for the first time into your own language. You start reading the Bible and realize that much of what you’ve been taught doesn’t match up with what God says. What do you do?
What about those Christians in Transylvania that I mentioned before? What did they do?
In their search for truth, they discovered one of traditional Christianity’s darkest secrets: that Sunday worship is a man-made—not God-made—tradition, and that the seventh-day Sabbath was kept by Jesus and His apostles. What’s more, it meant that they, too, needed to keep the Sabbath.
Their story is defined by their leader, a man named Andreas Eossi. Eossi was a nobleman, rich in real estate. He owned three villages, along with other, smaller estates. In many ways, Andreas Eossi was a sad man with a very sad life. You see his wife and three sons had died prematurely. On top of that, his own health was poor. He couldn’t even walk.
To fill his time and to heal his mind, Eossi read the Bible. Now remember the idea that we expressed earlier, that as people read the Bible, they begin keeping the Sabbath. Well, Andreas Eossi was no different. His studies led him to a deep conviction that the established church was wrong to change the Sabbath to Sunday—the first day of the week.
Soon, he led a very flourishing and growing group of Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania. At the peak of the movement, there were upwards of 20,000 Sabbatarian Christians living and teaching in the forests and mountains of Eastern Europe.
But conditions were not peaceful for these believers. You see, the Transylvanian Sabbath-keepers had limited protection from the Muslim-ruled Ottoman Empire to the east. But, the supposedly Christian church authorities persecuted them for their biblical beliefs. In the year 1595, Sabbatarianism was outlawed by the political and religious establishment.
Once their Sabbath-keeping became well known, Eossi and his followers came under intense persecution. They faced the confiscation of their property and real estate, their writings were collected and burned, and in many cases they were put in prison and beaten for their Sabbath conviction. The persecution from both Catholic and Protestant authorities would only worsen over time.
One amazing story about the persecution Sabbath-keepers faced is in the life of Andreas Fischer, a student of Eossi. Fischer was a traveling minister who visited pockets of Sabbath-keepers all over Eastern Europe. He was threatened by the religious authorities to renounce his Sabbath-keeping and other religious beliefs that didn’t fall in line with the Lutheran concept of Protestant Christianity.
At one point, Fischer and his wife were arrested and given an ultimatum: Give up Sabbath-keeping, they were told, or be executed. They stood firm, refusing to compromise what they learned from studying the Bible. Tragically, Fischer’s wife was executed by drowning and when Fischer’s time came, he was hung from a fortress tower and left to die. But here’s the amazing part: He actually didn’t die.
No one is sure exactly what happened, whether it was he was rescued by friends, or whether he benefited from a faulty rope, or whether he was receiving divine intervention.
Whatever the cause, Fischer walked away from his execution, escaping custody and living to preach for another decade afterward, following another circuit of Sabbath-keeping churches throughout Eastern Europe.
Fischer’s ultimate fate would be the same as so many other Sabbatarians. About 11 years after his attempted execution, he was again captured. And this time, he did not escape.
When the persecution came for the rest of the Sabbatarian community in the mid-1600s it came quickly and somewhat unexpectedly. Even though Sabbath-keepers were often threatened with punishment if they did not publicly renounce their belief in God’s holy Sabbath, it was rare for the authorities to follow through on their threats. When the religious establishment finally did move on the Sabbatarians, they dealt quickly and harshly with them.
Known Sabbath-keepers were arrested, tried and sentenced to death. Very rarely was anyone actually executed. Instead they were imprisoned, and promised release if they swore never to return to Sabbath-keeping again. Though executions almost never took place, in almost every case, a Sabbath-keeper’s property and his possessions were confiscated.
The once large and thriving Sabbatarian communities of Eastern Europe all but disappeared after the widespread persecution. Sabbath-keepers were forced into obscurity, hiding among pockets of other minority Christians, keeping the Sabbath in secret, always fearing they would be found out.
Well today, times have changed. Most people are not hounded and persecuted for keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. When I began to learn about the Sabbath and to keep it, it did create a major change in my life and in my relationships. But I experienced nothing like these people in Eastern Europe.
You can begin to read in your Bible about the Sabbath. You can see the same scriptures read by these sincere believers. The story of these men and women who kept the Saturday Sabbath in history is fascinating. It was a time of religious awakening.
What these people saw through the Sabbath truth, the Fourth Commandment, was a glimpse into the long prophesied Kingdom of God. Their own writings of belief reveal this insight. As they read Christ’s teaching on the Sabbath, they saw the Kingdom of God. They saw the Sabbath as a sign between the Creator and His chosen people. They believed that as they kept the Sabbath, and God’s Festivals as well, they entered a covenant relationship with the same God who delivered the children of Israel from the bondage in Egypt and made them a nation.
This leads us back to an earlier thought. As people read their Bible they discovered the truth of the seventh-day, or the Saturday Sabbath. People were reading the Bible to gain an understanding about God, the purpose for their human life. They were looking for meaning and purpose to their poor, bleak existence. And in a dark world, the Bible was a dawning light, a morning-star breaking upon a confused and deceived European culture. Some people, and those few in Eastern Europe were among them, came to see the teaching of the Sabbath and embraced its teaching as part of their life. The Sabbath began to define their relationship with God and their entire life’s work.
They saw that by keeping the commandments on which God made a covenant with these ancient peoples, they too entered a spiritual covenant with God. This New Covenant was a better covenant with better promises. It was a covenant based on grace through Jesus Christ, the same God who made the first covenant, and who came to earth and died for our sins, who was resurrected and lives today as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
As they kept the Sabbath, they gained understanding and hope of the coming Kingdom of God. They saw that the rest that exists for the people of God through the Sabbath was the critical key to understanding the fullness of a coming Kingdom of God. The Sabbath then, is the biblical key to unlocking the mystery of the coming Kingdom of God to earth with Jesus Christ as Lord. You really cannot understand the truth of the Kingdom of God without proper knowledge and understanding of the Sabbath day.
Did you know that Christ is also the Lord of the Sabbath? Let’s look at a scripture that shows this. Jesus and His disciples were traveling on the Sabbath day and as they went through the grainfields they plucked some of the grain to eat. Jewish leaders watched and questioned whether it was a lawful act. Jesus explained that it was and then, He added a defining remark about the Sabbath day.
“Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath’” (Mark 2:23-28).
Christ here shows the Sabbath is not to be a burden but a joy. Christ kept the Sabbath and He taught us how to keep it today. I know that this might surprise you, but if you look at our booklet that we are going to offer you talking about the Sabbath and compare the scriptures with your Bible—you will see that Christ taught us how to use the Sabbath to worship the Father and Him, and how to do good on the day while keeping it holy, and how to enjoy a fuller life by keeping that day. Far from doing away with the Sabbath, Christ showed us how to live in the world of the Sabbath and improve the quality of our life.
When we properly observe this day to God, a spiritual connection is made that is real, honest and true. It is the foundation of the only meaningful relationship that can endure and see one through the challenges and trials, highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies of this mortal life.
When Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” He was showing the way forward through this uncertain life (John 14:6).
Now, here is an important point to consider: To enter the world of the Sabbath is to enter a dimension where God dwells. One of my favorite comments about the Sabbath is when it is called “a temple in time.” Now a temple implies the dwelling place of God among men. Today we don’t have a physical temple but we can come before God when we pause from our labor and come into His presence in worship and thanksgiving.
Keeping the Sabbath by worshiping and fellowshipping with others of like mind is like being with God and Christ in spiritual fellowship. It’s a key to the restlessness of our modern lifestyle. All of us understand the stresses and the strains of this life. But not everyone understands the key to getting in sync with God for the help to cope and to manage the extreme stresses of today’s culture. Keeping God’s Sabbath is the missing key to a successful life.
You need to understand this. Are you completely happy with your present life? Is there something missing? Are you searching for a deeper spiritual answer? Keeping God’s Sabbath is a key to the restless unfulfilled parts of life. It is the key to connecting with God in spirit and in truth. You may go to church. You may understand many parts of the Bible. But if you are not keeping God’s Holy Sabbath, the seventh day, you are not connected with the Creator of your life.
Now let me explain this further because this is something you need to understand.
In Genesis we read the account of God’s creative actions on the earth. We read this. “God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
We were created in God’s image that we can have a relationship with Him. The creation account here is meant to show that man is set within this beautiful creation for one purpose alone—to develop a relationship with God the creator of life. Now the very next action that God takes here is to rest on the seventh day. Notice what we are told: “On the seventh day God ended His work which He had done and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work…” (Genesis 2:2-3).
Man is created in the image of God to have a relationship with his maker. The Sabbath was created that man could focus on that purpose and through fellowship with God experience the connection, the one connection, that adds meaning and purpose to his life.
Do you want to find the meaning of your life? Do you want to understand the deep mysteries of the universe? Then begin to keep God’s holy Sabbath day. Worship God on the Sabbath in spirit and in truth. Begin to know the joy that comes with knowing God in the temple in time that is the Sabbath day. To enter the world of the Sabbath is to enter the world of God.
There is another point that all Sabbath keepers, past and present, learn as they read the Bible. They understand there is a continuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament. You understand how the two tell a complete story of God’s grace and offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. You understand how to put the Bible together. You also understand prophecy and how key prophecies of the Old Testament and the New Testament are yet to be fulfilled in the future.
So here is the challenge. Prove God by beginning to keep His Sabbath, the seventh day. Step out in living faith and prove what the Bible says about the Sabbath to be true.
In one remarkable statement in the book of Isaiah God says, “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 honorable, and if you honor 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 in triumph on the heights” (Isaiah 58:13-14, NIV).
God’s Kingdom is coming to this earth and Christ will rule all. In the book of Daniel there is a remarkable prophecy that tells us when this occurs; the Kingdom will be set up “will not be left to other people” (Daniel 2:44). Who are those people who receive the Kingdom? The book of the Revelation says “…those keeping the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). Will you be among them?
We’re going to discuss more about remembering the Sabbath. But first, let’s recap what we’ve covered today:
We have seen that when people read the Bible, they see the Sabbath truth.
We also see that the Sabbath has a long history among people in many nations around the world.
And we also see, that keeping God’s holy Sabbath connects us with the meaning of our lives.
I’m joined now by our Beyond Today panel: Gary Petty and Steve Myers—both fellow hosts here on Beyond Today . This is a fascinating story that we look at from history but most importantly perhaps for what it tells us about today. When we really stop and look at what people did in ancient times, they read the Bible and they began to keep the Sabbath. It’s a fascinating story.
What does that really tell us about the power of the Bible to impact change?
[Gary] You know Darris, every one if they are going to become a Christian, at some point takes this Book and decides this is the Word of God. Either it is or it isn’t. If it is the Word of God, then we begin to realize this is God’s message. This was inspired. This is God’s message for humanity and so every word, everything in it is important. It’s there because the Creator wants us to learn this. So once you decide that, that really this is the message from God, eventually you are going to discover the Sabbath.
[Steve] It is an amazing Book because it’s more than just words on a page. God says that Word is transformational. If you want changes in your life, you read the Book. If you want a different perspective, read the Bible! Go to the Word of God and it changes your outlook. It changes your perspective on life.
[Darris] You know, the power of the Bible, it’s actually not only moved individual lives but it’s actually changed the course of history and moved whole nations. Something that people don’t realize. It’s an amazing book.
There is another issue about the Sabbath that I think we do need to spend a bit of time on. Sometimes people who keep the Sabbath are accused of worshipping the Sabbath rather than worshipping God on the Sabbath. What, how do you respond to that Gary?
[Gary] You know Darris, that really is a bogus accusation. When we look at the Scripture, we look at the reason we keep the Sabbath is because it’s part of our relationship with God. I had a person accuse me of that at one time and I said no, but I do keep the Sabbath to worship the Lord of the Sabbath as Jesus called Himself.
[Gary] So, it’s part of a relationship. The Sabbath doesn’t save us, God saves us. So we are to worship Him the way that He wants to be worshiped.
[Darris] And that is, must include the Sabbath.
[Gary] The Sabbath, that’s right.
[Steve] Yeah and as you pointed out the Sabbath was created right there at the very beginning. God Himself set the example. Christ said follow Me, we follow that example. So it’s not worshipping that day, it’s worshipping the true God on the day that He established for worship. And so we do that very thing and it changes the way we worship God because we obey and we follow Him. And so it becomes critical that way. It’s not about the day itself, it’s about the God that told us to worship on that day.
[Gary] It’s really arrogant to think that we get to determine how to relate to God instead of Him determining how we are supposed to relate to Him.
[Darris] Well, that’s the age-old question then, again it comes to submission. And, the matter of when you are confronted, like on this program showing, you are confronted with the knowledge about the Sabbath, you then have a choice to make. I think that the issue of whether you are worshipping the Sabbath or worshipping God on the Sabbath flows from people’s reaction to what they perceive as legalism. And—which is nowhere near how and what the true keeping of the Sabbath is.
[Gary] No, legalism is the attempt to earn your salvation or earn your position with God by what you do. We understand that God forgives us through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is through humble love of God that we want to have this relationship and the Sabbath is what He prescribes as part of that relationship.
[Steve] There is no doubt we are saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8 says it straight out, but our response to grace is obedience. Our response to grace is to walk in faith and fulfill that calling. And God said to worship Him on the Sabbath and you won’t find any other day mentioned in the Bible for a day of worship other than the Sabbath.
[Darris] Well, and as you have said, we are saved by grace but we are created for good works as well. And, keeping the Sabbath is when we refrain from our physical work to allow God to do His work within us in that spiritual level.
[Gary] If we worship God properly and Christ on the seventh-day Sabbath, we will be worshipping our God all the rest of the week.
[Darris] I think that’s a valid point that is often forgot in the arguments that people will have about that. The Sabbath is not something to be argued about. The Sabbath is something to be obeyed.
What benefit does one get by keeping and remembering the Sabbath day in this modern world? Is it worth the cost?
[Gary] The benefits far outweigh the loss of maybe some money or some fun that you may have. I mean, we’re talking about peace. We’re talking about a relationship with God. We are talking about a relationship with other believers as you come together on that day. We are talking about God giving us healing through Jesus Christ. That’s what this day is all about. Whatever we, anything we give up for the Sabbath is nothing compared to what we receive from actually doing it properly.
[Steve] I was speaking with a man the other day who had come to that conclusion. He read the Book and realized that God expected him to keep the Sabbath and worship Him on that day, but that also led him to some difficult decisions that he had to make. One was his job, so he had to go to his boss and say you know, I need to obey. And it came down to it. He did it and his boss let him off.
And in beginning to keep that Sabbath, he came back later and talked to me about it and how it changed everything. Because he wanted extra time to be able to study that Word of God. The Sabbath allowed that. When he began to study that Book, it changed his marriage relationship. It changed his relationship with his kids because now it gave him that perspective to live according to the Word. And so, it did change everything and begin to transform his life.
[Darris] There is a great deal of benefit from keeping God’s Sabbath.
I hope you’ve been challenged to look further into what I’ve covered on today’s program about God’s Sabbath. Why? Because beyond its important history, the Sabbath was made specifically for you, today!
Like many people, you may be living at a hectic pace trying to stay on top of everything you need to get done. But God offers you a little-understood remedy for your hurried life. His weekly Sabbath is a period of rest and rejuvenation as well as an opportunity for you to grow closer to your great Creator!
To learn much more about the seventh-day Sabbath and how it can truly benefit you and your family, we’d like you to have a copy of our free Bible study aid, Sunset to Sunset—God’s Sabbath Rest sent to you. To request your personal copy, please call toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Or go online at BeyondToday.tv or write to us at the address that’s shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
And, when you order your free Bible study aid, we’ll also send you a free subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Each issue of Beyond Today contains well-researched articles designed to strengthen you and your family—and to assist you in better comprehending the Bible and what’s ahead for our world.
To order our study aid Sunset to Sunset—God’s Sabbath Rest and a subscription to Beyond Today magazine, call 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download them.
So, what’s left for you to do? Well here’s a challenge: Pick up your Bible, start reading it from the beginning in Genesis. You don’t have to go very far, not really any farther than the second chapter to find the first reference to the Sabbath—and it continues on throughout the entire Bible. Notice all the places where you find God’s Sabbath mentioned. Write them down.
You will find the same truth that people for centuries have found. You will find the Sabbath is a key feature of the Word of God. And you will find the same choice they found—to keep the Book open, and to keep reading. See what the Sabbath can do for you! We hope you will make the change and begin to walk with God on His holy Sabbath.
The Sabbath is a key to the Kingdom of God. The New Testament book of Hebrews says, “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).
Jesus and His followers kept the Sabbath and they still do. God commands us to pause and to reflect on His way of life. Take a break from the fast-paced action of this world. Experience a rejuvenation of the mind and grow closer to Him. Join us as we explore the Sabbath and show how it is a key to the Kingdom of God.
Thanks for joining us. And don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next time for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !