15. The Refreshment Of The Sabbath And How It Becomes Polluted

John Thiel, Audio: mp3

In the sanctuary, in the ark of the covenant, are the Ten Commandments, and around the Sabbath there is a halo that is brighter than all the other commandments. We have seen that the Sabbath is a day that is the day of the Lord our God, and that therefore Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath has everything to do with our relationship with God. We also touched on the fact that the Sabbath is to be the seal of God because in the Sabbath is the seal, the name, the title and the domain that He rules. In the true keeping of the Sabbath lies the seal of God, not so much in being a Saturday-keeper.

Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed. There are many even among those who teach the truth to others who will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads. They had the light of truth, they knew their Master’s will, they understood every point of our faith, but they had not corresponding works. {5T 213.2}

By their lack of devotion and piety, and their failure to reach a high religious standard, they make other souls contented with their position. {5T 214.1}

The seal which is the Sabbath is only applied to people who actually have a devoted piety on that Sabbath day or on any part of God’s truth. That is why not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed, because it has to do with the actual works of the keeping of the Sabbath that make it a sealing aspect.

Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. {5T 214.2}

That is a frightening reality. You see that as we are studying the Sabbath in the sanctuary, it has to do with the Day of Judgment in which we are being prepared, in which we are being examined, and the Sabbath day is an item of that whole sanctification that has everything to do with our character development. The true Sabbath is therefore directly linked with purity of character. Our sin-stained life needs to be changed and altered. It is stained, it needs to be washed. If you have to wash your character, your sin-stained robes, you need to wash it according to the following scripture:

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word,

What is Jesus doing? He is washing His people.

The Washing of Water by the Word

The fountain of pure water is what we are in need of to cleanse ourselves. And that fountain of pure water is the word. As we study the word there are many aspects of the word that wash us. As it says in Timothy, there is instruction, admonition, reproof and correction. That is what the word does. There is also the word regarding the Sabbath which has everything to do with the developing of character to be sealed.

The Word Regarding the Sabbath

It is the water that is to wash us. A weary, sin-polluted human wandering in the desert of dry, parched countryside, comes to the water and looks to be refreshed. There is something in the word of the Sabbath that deals with being refreshed.

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, and Jesus is therefore the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus, who comes to cleanse and purify us, is connected with the Sabbath because we need what God provided there in Exodus 31:17:

Exodus 31:17 It [is] a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

The word refreshed has even to do with God, He was refreshed. But the Sabbath was made for man, for man to be refreshed. God’s intention to refresh man by the word of the Sabbath assures us that the true provision of the true Sabbath is everything about refreshing, cleaning and purifying. When you are hot and bothered, when you are overburdened with filth and dirt, O to be able to plunge into some clean, fresh water. That is so precious, so refreshing. In fact we are actually invited to come to the waters.

Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

He is speaking of spiritual thirst, of spiritual refreshment needed for people who are thirsty. He says, Come to the waters, come and be refreshed, quench your thirst.

Isaiah 41:17 [When] the poor and needy seek water, and [there is] none, [and] their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

Here is God’s analogy of His word to provide for the thirsty, parched, dirty person a cleansing, refreshing, thirst-quenching word. When we come to that need of drinking deeply at some fresh water, God will open rivers in high places. It happened to me as I travelled through the mountains near mount Kosciusko, as I was driving through, the snows were melting and this beautiful, clear water was running through underneath the bridge. I stopped and as I looked, it was so crystal clear and so cool and refreshing, you could see right through the bottom, it just attracted you, you just wanted to drink.

When I was travelling in New Zealand through the mountains there, I was really thirsty and I got a bottle of water straight from the mountains and that water was so refreshing, so invigorating, it had some life-giving energy in it. This is what God is saying, that is what His water of the word is meant to achieve with us. Of all the waters of God’s word the Sabbath is especially sparkling and alive. It is actually living water. There are four points to consider.

1.  The Sinner Whose Mind Is Clouded with His Sin

His mind is clouded. He comes to the Sabbath and there he sees his Creator and he sees God’s perfect creation. A mind that is so bogged down with all sorts of earthliness can stop and be refreshed by looking at the creation around him. Sometimes you can walk through creation and hardly see it, but on the Sabbath we are called upon to have a good look. “Look at those beautiful flowers, look at those beautiful trees, look at the wind blowing through the trees, look at the water running through the nature.” Everything is something that inspires awe, it refreshes the mind.

2.  The Sinner Who Desires Freedom from Sin

He comes to the Sabbath and Jesus says, I am your Saviour and the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath presents a Saviour, a Re-creator and there is this other dimension of refreshment found for the sinner who finds his Saviour in the Sabbath.

3.  A Life of Restless, Fevering Work

Hurrying through the week, one duty chases another and the mind is, Go, go, go, all through the week. God has commanded the Sabbath and that, Go, go is to cease. There is a time that is directly commanded in the Sabbath to stop and drink refreshment to the fevered soul.

4.  The Repentant Sinner Crying for God to Make an End of Sin and Evil

Every week there is a constant reminder of what God is going to do in concluding this world’s evil. As we come to the Sabbath it is a precursory mental exercise that when the sun sets that is it. All your past is over, now you are coming into the presence of the Lord. That is what will happen at the very end. To the soul that is yearning for the end of the world to come, and who desires to be ready for it, the Sabbath is a constant refreshment of that appreciation.

If the Sabbath is truly understood to be this river of pure refreshing water, it is too attractive for Christianity to walk past it with any kind of impunity. And yet that is what we are seeing. People are not really appreciating anymore the things I have just described, and we want to know the reason why. Why is this beautiful, fresh water that God has provided by analogy as the Sabbath to refresh us, why is this not happening in the majority of Christianity?

The Shepherds are not Doing their Work Correctly

In Ezekiel 34:18 is a real indictment upon the shepherds of the church. He rebukes them sharply, and in verses 18 and 19 He tells them what they have done:

Ezekiel 34:18 [Seemeth it] a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And [as for] my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.

The Sabbath is a refreshment. Why isn’t it so attractive to the majority of Christians today? Because the ministers have fouled it. That’s why. The shepherds have fouled the residue of that water. They themselves have been drinking deep of it and then stirred it up and made it muddy. That is why thirsty sinners walk past it and say, Yuck. Shepherds themselves are guilty of fouling and polluting the refreshment of the Sabbath. The people can’t understand what is valuable in it.

The world needs evidences of sincere Christianity. The poison of sin is at work at the heart of society. Cities and towns are steeped in sin and moral corruption. The world is full of sickness, suffering, and iniquity. Nigh and afar off are souls in poverty and distress, weighed down with a sense of guilt and perishing for want of a saving influence. The gospel of truth is kept ever before them, yet they perish because the example of those who should be a savor of life to them is a savor of death. Their souls drink in bitterness because the springs are poisoned, when they should be like a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. {PK 232.1}

What are the people dying of? The poisoned water of the world. That is what the ministers have done, and the pure joy of true Sabbath refreshment has been polluted. The gospel truth is kept before them. The ministers preach the externals of the gospel. But are people really benefitted by it? It is all polluted. The soul drinks in and afterwards he feels sick. He is not actually washed. God calls in the Bible for a change to this. It is those who listen to His pure direction that can bring a change to this. In Isaiah 58 you have those who are truly of God, the true shepherds that God raises, and that He sends. Here is what they will do with the pure water of the Sabbath:

Isaiah 58:12 And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. 13 If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath,

The people that are of God, who are the true shepherds, what will they do? They will turn their foot away from the Sabbath from polluting it with their feet. You can see how that connects with Ezekiel, and those who are stirring up the water, the refreshment of the Sabbath. How are the faithful ones going to demonstrate that they have turned their foot away from the Sabbath?

Isaiah 58:13 [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words:

Here is the simplicity and the summary of what it is that pollutes the Sabbath. It has to do with bringing into the Sabbath that which is our own things instead of taking in the things that are of God. What happens then?

Isaiah 58:14 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].

These words are so resplendent with what God wants us to enjoy in the Sabbath and what God would like to see us appreciate, but He says we must turn our foot away from that which He wants us to appreciate. That is what is written in Isaiah 56, where He says that we are called upon to take the water of the word.

Isaiah 56:1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation [is] near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

That water, that righteousness, that justice, keep on pursuing it.

Isaiah 56:2 Blessed [is] the man [that] doeth this, and the son of man [that] layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.

That word polluting we understand now more than at any other time in earth’s history, because the world is polluted, the waters are polluted by man’s stirring up with the chemicals and all that they put in the water. It’s interesting that in these last days as man is polluting the physical water, he is polluting also the Sabbath water.

Isaiah 56:6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;

The Sabbath is the water of life that is being polluted. God’s people are called upon to turn away their foot from that pure water. Let us then examine very closely how it is that we actually pollute that refreshing water. We saw it in summary in Isaiah 58:13. Our own pleasures, our own ways, our own words, that is how we can pollute the Sabbath. Let us enlarge that. Examine whether we are drinking pure Sabbath water, or whether we are fouling or polluting this vital stream, this refreshing, sparkling water. It is interesting that the water that sparkles as I described it before from the mountains or that comes from the depth of the fountain, is so different to the water that has already ran through the valleys and has brought down some mud. It is a different quality of water. We want to understand what it is that brings that beautiful, refreshing, sparkling water into a state of loss of that sparkle. Our own pleasure, our own ways, our own words. We want to grasp from the writings of the Spirit of prophecy the intended purpose of the Sabbath and how this can be polluted. We read of this problem of polluting the Sabbath which takes away that beautiful sparkle.

If we desire the blessing promised to the obedient, we must observe the Sabbath more strictly. {6T 359.4}

Do we desire that refreshment? Do we desire that beautiful, sparkling thing? It is promised us. Then we must observe the Sabbath more strictly.

Far more sacredness is attached to the Sabbath than is given it by many professed Sabbathkeepers. The Lord has been greatly dishonored by those who have not kept the Sabbath according to the commandment, either in the letter or in the spirit. He calls for a reform in the observance of the Sabbath. {6T 353.2}

As we read this from the perspective of this sparkling water, you can see it is sacred, it sparkles. Far more sacredness is attached to the Sabbath than is given it by many professed Sabbath-keepers. They cannot grasp hold of this sacredness, and the Lord who wants us to be totally refreshed is dishonoured by the fact that we are not appreciating it. What is needed is the understanding of what God has intended for us by obeying His instructions on how to keep it.

Let us go through three major points. What do the ministry do to the flock? They go into the water with their feet and they stir up the mud, so that beautiful, clean water is mingled and cluttered with grit. Don’t clutter the Sabbath, that is polluting it.

The Clutter of the Sabbath

The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight. {6T 355.3}

Why? Because that is the grit, that is the dirt that mingles with that water. The Sabbath is not to be cluttered with having to rush around to do some preparations of garments, or to spend time cooking food, or with pleasure seeking, or with worldly employment. It is not to be cluttered with secular papers, or secular work. There needs to be a preparation so that that doesn’t happen. It is not to be cluttered.

Another Clutter of the Sabbath

I fear that we often travel on this day when it might be avoided. In harmony with the light which the Lord has given in regard to the observance of the Sabbath, we should be more careful about traveling on the boats or cars [trains] on this day. In these matters we should set a right example before our children and youth. In order to reach the churches that need our help, and to give them the message that God desires them to hear, it may be necessary for us to travel on the Sabbath; but so far as possible we should secure our tickets and make all necessary arrangements on some other day. When starting on a journey we should make every possible effort to plan so as to avoid reaching our destination on the Sabbath. {6T 359.4}

Nowadays when you are flying you have to watch that. Here is a clutter. Here is something that clutters the appreciation of the real blessing that God wants us to have. If we travel for any other reason than for enjoying the Sabbath and we travel in areas that are polluting to our mind, we are suffering, and some sparkle is lost there. She was talking about public transport. Today, we have our cars and of course we don’t buy petrol on the Sabbath, everything is arranged so that all we do is hop in the car and drive to the church. That’s it. Don’t clutter anything with your car, apart from just using it. We don’t even want to stir up the slightest bit of mud. We want pure, pure water. The travelling is only to be done for the pure waters’ sake. Arrangements are to be made to minimize any fuss. In this clutter concept, your mind gets easily cluttered doesn’t it? Do you ever have a cluttered mind? The mind must be cleared of all trouble and earthliness.

Things That Spoil Pure Sabbath Blessing

God requires not only that we refrain from physical labor upon the Sabbath, but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. {2T 702.1}

Nothing which will in the sight of Heaven be regarded as a violation of the holy Sabbath should be left unsaid or undone, to be said or done upon the Sabbath. {2T 702.1}

Nothing which will in the sight of Heaven be regarded, because it is what the sight of Heaven sees as pure that we are to embrace. That is why we have been given the guidance of Sabbath keeping. We are reaching for the pure water, as pure and clean as possible. We are not to clutter the mind by words and communication.

If the mind is running upon worldly matters, the tongue will reveal it, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. {2T 703.2}

The mind must be uncluttered to be able to take that pure, sparkling, Sabbath water.

Trouble-Mindedness and Lack of Peace

There is a rest intended for the Sabbath. There should be peace. You can’t rest if there is lack of peace. We are to have purposeful order, so that when we come to the Sabbath day we don’t have to run into out of order aspects.

Let not the precious hours of the Sabbath be wasted in bed. On Sabbath morning the family should be astir early. If they rise late, there is confusion and bustle in preparing for breakfast and Sabbath school. There is hurrying, jostling, and impatience. Thus unholy feelings come into the home. The Sabbath, thus desecrated, becomes a weariness, and its coming is dreaded rather than loved. {6T 357.1}

You don’t have to have a family to have experienced that. If you are running late on Sabbath morning, you are in a hurry and your Sabbath is already muddied. To just drive peacefully to church with plenty of time, I have to get up earlier so I can do all the things that need to be done without hurry and bustle because that spoils the peace of the Sabbath. We can see that all that lies behind the Sabbath instructions are there for the blessing of that crystal water that we want to participate in.

There is something else besides the hurrying and bustling that affects the purity of the Sabbath. It is eating.

Eating on the Sabbath

We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. {6T 357.2}

What is that saying? That beautiful clear water we want to have, if my mind is befogged with a heavy meal, then it actually muddies that water. It puts murkiness into that. You know what it is like when you have eaten lightly, you feel light, you don’t feel gluggy. When you talk about gluggy water, it is not sparkling. The food we eat must be such that I can drink deeply.

Overeating befogs the brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is confused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many have done more than they think to dishonor God. {6T 357.2}

They dishonour Him in the sense that He wants to bless us, and by me overeating I am polluting the blessing. It is a dishonour to God. If someone provides a beautiful, clean glass of fresh water for me and I go along and put my finger in there, how does the other person feel about it? This is what we do when we dishonour God. This is the picture that is being painted before us here.

While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. {6T 357.3}

If the food is not nice, it does have an effect. If you go to a spiritual camp and the food is not nice, it affects the spirituality of the camp. So it is with the Sabbath. Food has something to do with sullying the waters.

Why Should We Not Stay Home On Sabbath?

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Why should we go to church on Sabbath?

All heaven is keeping the Sabbath, but not in a listless, do-nothing way. On this day every energy of the soul should be awake, for are we not to meet with God and with Christ our Saviour? We may behold Him by faith. He is longing to refresh and bless every soul. {6T 362.1}

He is longing to refresh. If He is longing to refresh and I am not getting refreshed, am I not dishonouring him?

Everyone should feel that he has a part to act in making the Sabbath meetings interesting. You are not to come together simply as a matter of form, but for the interchange of thought, for the relation of your daily experiences, for the expression of thanksgiving, for the utterance of your sincere desire for divine enlightenment, that you may know God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. Communing together in regard to Christ will strengthen the soul for life’s trials and conflicts. Never think that you can be Christians and yet withdraw yourselves within yourselves. Each one is a part of the great web of humanity, and the experience of each will be largely determined by the experience of his associates. {6T 362.2}

Why must we come together? To be refreshed. This is a principle that has to do with meeting with God and with one another to receive the blessing that God has intended. Have you ever stayed home on the Sabbath and felt completely flat? That is the reason why: there is no sparkle in the Sabbath. We need to be together to get the sparkle of the Sabbath. It is a bit like getting up in the morning and having nothing to do, you feel completely soggy, you can’t even feel like doing anything. But when you finally get into activity, Oh, that feels much better. That is precisely what happens with the Sabbath if we don’t go to meet with God’s people. This is part of drinking the refreshing water of God. To go and be together with others in worshipping God and then rejoicing, looking forward to talk together of what I have learnt in the word of God, to hear how we appreciate the Sabbath school lesson, to hear how we appreciate what God has been saying to us; that is part of the refreshment. Every energy of the soul should be awake. Everyone should feel he has a part to act in making the Sabbath meetings interesting. When you have that within you, you have something to share and make the Sabbath beautiful.

The Family

The Sabbath school and the meeting for worship occupy only a part of the Sabbath. The portion remaining to the family may be made the most sacred and precious season of all the Sabbath hours. {6T 358.1}

There is another dimension of family.

Much of this time parents should spend with their children. In many families the younger children are left to themselves to find entertainment as best they can. {Ibid.}

Children don’t enjoy the Sabbath if they are not occupied with something refreshing, spiritual, beautiful. Go for a walk with them to spend time in nature.

In pleasant weather let parents walk with their children in the fields and groves. Amid the beautiful things of nature tell them the reason for the institution of the Sabbath. Describe to them God’s great work of creation. Tell them that when the earth came from His hand, it was holy and beautiful. Every flower, every shrub, every tree, answered the purpose of its Creator. Everything upon which the eye rested was lovely and filled the mind with thoughts of the love of God. {6T 358.2}

Let the mind focus on beautiful things that God still has for us in nature. Therefore, because we don’t want to clutter the Sabbath and we want to keep the peace of the Sabbath and we want to come together and meet on the Sabbath, there needs to be ample preparation through the week so that these refreshing aspects of the water of Sabbath can be truly appreciated. The preparation for the Sabbath is a very important element to make sure the water is refreshing.

The Preparation of the Sabbath

All through the week we are to have the Sabbath in mind and be making preparation to keep it according to the commandment. We are not merely to observe the Sabbath as a legal matter. We are to understand its spiritual bearing upon all the transactions of life. {6T 353.4}

All my transactions of life through the week have something to do with reaching the Sabbath in perfect appreciation. All through the week the Sabbath is to be kept in mind, and preparation for that special time is to be made.

At the very beginning of the fourth commandment the Lord said: “Remember.” He knew that amid the multitude of cares and perplexities man would be tempted to excuse himself from meeting the full requirement of the law, or would forget its sacred importance. Therefore He said: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8. {6T 353.3}

It’s coming, remember it all the way through the week.

On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule you can do it.  {6T 355.3}

The children should be taught to respect the Sabbath. On the day of preparation, clothing should be put in proper repair, shoes polished, baths taken. Then around the family altar all should wait to welcome God’s holy day, as they would watch for the coming of a dear friend. {ST, May 25, 1882 par. 9}

This way on the Sabbath those little details don’t clutter the Sabbath. That opens up the whole appreciation of why we do this. It is because it has to do with sullying the waters, that refreshing, sparkling thing that God wants to honour us with, and in which He wants us to honour Him.

We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time. {6T 356.1}

Before the setting of the sun let the members of the family assemble to read God’s word, to sing and pray. There is need of reform here, for many have been remiss. We need to confess to God and to one another. We should begin anew to make special arrangements that every member of the family may be prepared to honor the day which God has blessed and sanctified.  {6T 356.5}

Every moment is sacred. The moment that we come to that water, we must be careful that we don’t stir up the mud. As the sun sets we are to be in perfect tranquillity, looking for the coming of the best Friend, and permitting nothing to make that water turbid. Because it has to refresh me. The Sabbath is to be spent from its beginning through in a way that we keep on drinking, on washing, on enjoying those precious, sparkling aspects.

The Closing of the Sabbath

As the sun goes down, let the voice of prayer and the hymn of praise mark the close of the sacred hours and invite God’s presence through the cares of the week of labor. {6T 359.1}

We used to have a swimming pool, and when it was a hot day, at the end of the day I would jump into the swimming pool and then I went to bed, and the beautiful, cool effect of that swing kept me cool all night. So the beautiful, cooling refreshing Sabbath that we have spent can keep the refreshed appreciation through the week, and as it comes close to the next Sabbath again, we are ready for another refreshment. That’s why we close the Sabbath, to just drench ourselves with that final joy to meet the cares of the world with refreshment.

I hope that our study of the sanctity of the Sabbath with its refreshing aspects is understood in its connection with the sanctuary because the Sabbath is actually a sanctuary, a place like the sanctuary. It has been sanctified and we are to enter into the sanctifying effect of that sanctuary, of that Sabbath. The Sabbath provides a seal so that we will not be among those who profess to keep the Sabbath and yet are not sealed.

Amen.

Posted on February 15, 2010, in The Sabbath, The Sanctuary Series and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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