God’s Love in Sabbath Keeping

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

Ours is a very personal God that comes very close to everyone who will take the time to feel after Him and to bask in His precious love. There is a love that we need to discover as individuals and as a church in life.

There is a class of Christians that keeps on denouncing those who will keep on upholding God’s love. They think that upholding God’s love is making small of His commandments and His laws. They tend to think that if you keep on upholding God’s love you become liberal and careless; that if you keep on upholding that God has removed our condemnation for us through Jesus Christ, and you don’t have a feeling of the sense of your condemnation all the time, then you will become slack.

Indeed there is a mentality that riddles its way through much of Christianity, which places into your heart a sense of fear so that you will obey. But then there is the liberal soul that doesn’t have any fear and who is careless about doing what God wants him to do.

The question I would like you to ponder about is, Can it be possible that by dwelling heavily on the love of God you can yet be very law-abiding and very particular about Sabbath-keeping? Is it possible to dwell on the love of God and have Him in your mind so strong that when you sing a hymn like this (Love Divine), the hymn brings tears to your eyes, and that as you walk in the garden with Him you will be so particular in every respect of God’s expectations? As long as it is going to take me, I am going to spend message after message to show that indeed you will become the strongest law-keeper if you dwell on the love of God.

We have contemplated the beautiful glory that exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we have identified that that glory is His love. The love between these three persons is so strong that Jesus wished to impart it to us.

John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me,

the same kind of love that the Father has to Jesus,

John 15:8 …so have I loved you:

Remember that Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.

John 15:8 … continue ye in my love.

And what does that mean?

A Commandment-keeping Love

What does it mean to be truly involved in that beautiful love that exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

The relationship of love – and we are talking about the divine love, not love as we have it here on earth – is what Jesus said is a new commandment, The way in which I have loved you. That love is a love that keeps all of God’s commandments.

John the beloved seems to have had a wonderful focus on this. It comes out in all of his words:

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

There is something about those Ten Commandments that we need to discover through love; because without that love, what are those commandments? Grievous. They are grievous to the sinner, very grievous. They make the sinner feel terribly condemned. But when the love of God is demonstrated, although our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and He knows all things. His wonderful love towards us has brought the designed love towards us, so that we can be commandment-keepers because of love.

1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

How can you know that someone is in God, in Christ, as Jesus prayed, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one”? How do you know? It says, “Hereby know we that we are in him”: if we keep His word, then the love of God is perfected in us. The Ten Commandments are often laid aside when Christians read these texts. “Oh, that’s just doing what God says; it doesn’t matter about the Ten Commandments.” This is what modern Christianity believes.

I was studying with some people in other churches, and I read to them all those beautiful Bible texts and it just fell like water off a duck’s back. They did not recognize these texts to refer to the Ten Commandments. I scratched my head and thought, How can they do that? Of course they showed me and I thought, Oh, alright. I can see what you mean. “It doesn’t matter about the Ten Commandments, it’s what God tells you now that you must obey. You walk with Him and you listen to Him now.” That is the way they read it. But what about the Ten Commandments? Are they not for us to pay close attention to if we love Him?

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

What law is he talking about?

Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

What commandment is he looking at? He is talking about the Ten Commandments. Of course, there are other ones apart from the ones he quoted; he missed out the first four. What is this commandment-keeping?

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.

The Ten Commandments. He is here referring to the Ten Commandments. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Jesus summarised it perfectly when He was asked, What is the most important law? People come today, and they check us out Sabbath-keepers, saying, What is the most important law? and they expect us to say, The Sabbath. Well, I think the Sabbath is the most important law, but only when you understand love. In the following scripture Jesus points out what is the most important part of the law. These students of theology always throw bait out, and here is one of them. This student of the law threw a bait out to Jesus:

Matthew 22:36 Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Love to God and love to man. The law, the Ten Commandments, hangs on these two commandments. That is what Jesus said. In this meditation, we want to examine how God’s love in my heart will affect my keeping of the fourth commandment; how God’s love will affect my keeping of the Sabbath.

Experiencing Love

Let us allow the Scriptures to pave the way for our meditation:

1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

We can bask in God’s love even though we discover how far short we are even now of keeping that law. God loves us and smiles upon us because we come to Him with the yearning that we want to keep that law, with the yearning that we really fear Him, and love Him, and that we want to do what He wants us to do, but we fail miserably many times. So what has God done? He has come and brought Jesus into our midst, so that our love will become stronger, and the energy of love in us can become more perfect until finally we will perfectly keep His law.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

That is why we can bask in love, because God has done away with the sense of the condemnation, when we come to know Him and Jesus Christ our Saviour. There lies this beautiful experience of being able to bask in God’s love. When you have discovered that and you know that God does not condemn you even though you feel so horribly condemned; that you are no longer under the oppression and the undercurrent of stress, but in an undercurrent of basking; when that has taken root in your life because you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour; when you know what it means to bask in His love; then, through this beautiful atonement, the attitude and the relationship of God with you comes wonderfully into focus.

Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, through becoming at one with sinful men, He was made to be sin for us, so that we don’t have to feel condemned under sin when we wake up to this beautiful gift. And in this atonement God is appealing to us in the most affectionate manner:

Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted,

Can you see the atonement? In all my afflictions he was afflicted. Last night I was heavily afflicted. I was afflicted with the most horrible thought-patterns as I was trying to sleep, and these beautiful realities came back to me: That is what Jesus was afflicted with; those thought-patterns that were trying to penetrate and take away His peace. “In all their affliction”: There is not a single affliction that you can go through that Jesus was not afflicted with.

Isaiah 63:9 … and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

Isn’t this a precious comfort? Oh, if people would believe it! and I mean believe it! There is so little of that kind of faith to believe this. This is the greatest psychology that you ever want to engage in. Don’t worry about the psychology of this world; it only twists your brain. But this one heals it, so that when thoughts and feelings come and destroy your peace, there is an immediate infusion of the story of the atonement; and as you know that atonement your mind then comes to rest. I experienced it through the night and I went back to sleep in a peaceful comfort. My brain just eased off.

I understand well mental disease; I have nursed it, as a nurse. I saw the terrible screwed-up faces of people who were tormented in their minds. And as I touched the right buttons, as it were, of their mind activity, they were helped. The only reason I could touch them is because I know the answer from the Lord myself. Only when you know by experience the beautiful psychology of heaven can you help others. Here it is, in this beautiful statement, “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” Whatever afflicts your mind, it doesn’t matter; the Lord knows it. He has been suffering the same way, and He found a way out.

He says, I have done this; I have been afflicted together with you, so that you can experience the love that exists between Me, the Father, and the Son.

Isaiah 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins:

Do you believe it? Do you really believe it? Every time thoughts come to you about your past life, do you believe that that has all been blotted out?

Isaiah 44:22 …return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

He is talking to people who have fallen under Adam’s sin themselves; and like God came to Adam, saying, Where are you Adam? and Adam was hiding; so are we. But now He says, I have redeemed you, I have suffered your afflictions, return to Me. What a love. The beautiful love of God creates in us a response of submission and coming back to Him, even though we feel so depraved and fearful.

Close Relationship

There is a beautiful message that is contained in the love of God in the gift of Jesus Christ, and the desire in the heart of the Father is expressed in the prayer of Jesus Christ. Now that Jesus has done the work to redeem us, He says:

John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

That was the redeeming work.

John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Now that I have done this redeeming work, Father I want to get back to you. But as He was praying this prayer, notice what He says in verses 9 and 10:

John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

Here is a wonderful, close, intimate relationship, just like parents. Those children belong to the father and to the mother. And the mother might say, I have done something with the children, and all thine are mine, and mine are thine. That is the picture: a wonderful close relationship. What is the prayer and the yearning of Jesus, as is the yearning of the Father? “All mine are thine, and thine are mine.” What is the yearning?

John 17:13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

“My joy may be fulfilled in themselves.” “All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.” “Return unto Me,” He says, “You are My sons; you are My daughters.” This is His yearning.

Jeremiah 32:40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

What does He desire? He doesn’t want you to depart from Him. He wants you to stay close to Him, as the Father was close to the Son.

Jeremiah 32:41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.

Who is speaking? Who loves us with His whole mind and His whole soul, and says, I want you to love Me with your whole mind and your whole soul? He loved us first, and He yearns for us to be back with Him, and closer than we were before. This is the Father’s heart. This is the desire of the Father.

Wherever there is love, there is a deep desire to be together, isn’t it? Why do couples want to get married? Why? They want to be together. They want to share their life close together. God is saying to us, I want you to be close to Me. I want you to share the joy of the intimacy of the Godhead. That is why My Son has come, to love you the way that our love exists between us, so that through Him you can also become close to Me and us, in the same closeness and intimacy that we enjoy.

Therefore marriage and God’s intimacy is a parallel story. We are told in Sister White’s writings that marriage is a symbol of the family of heaven (See Counsels for the Church, p.130.6 and Christ Triumphant, p.230.5).

Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you:

Turn, come back! I am married unto you. When a married couple lives together, in marriage, they get very busy, don’t they? The children come along, and they have to make a living, and there is so little time of the very thing that they desired to have when they married. So little time. And there are many marriages that are on the rocks today because the time to spend together with each other in marital love is not there. Why? Responsibilities have taken them away from it. To keep marriage alive you must set times aside as a very definite agreement and appointment. If you don’t, your marriage will weaken. You must have an appointed time to enjoy each other. If you don’t, it’s just another brother or sister, and it is just regarded that way. God and His people are exactly in the same position.

Spending Time Together

What is the scripture of Exodus 20:8-10, that well-known letter of the law, actually saying?

Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God:

What is He saying? We need to spend time together, lest you lose the precious, warm relationship with Me that I yearn to have with you. I am setting aside an appointment with you to have a close, loving relationship to devote each other’s attention upon each other. Through the week you can do all the work you do, and I am going to walk with you and talk with you, yes. I am going to help you, but you are going to be occupied in so many different areas – just like husband and wives; you love each other’s company, and you like doing things together, but there is something else you yearn for: just to focus upon each other for a little bit. God says here, I have given you six days to do all the necessary responsibilities, but that one day every week is for our love-relationship. That is what it is there for.

You have it every morning together in prayer life, but it is only a small time compared to the whole day. But now, once a week, you have the entire day to enjoy love. O, how many people have that aching void in there, Love! Oh, I want love! and they are looking for it; and God says, I want you to spend love-time with me.

Notice what He promises to those who spend that time with Him, so devotedly to Him, and Him to us:

Isaiah 58:13 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, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD;

Can you see here? He wants you to delight yourself with Him. If you are not going to keep this Sabbath set aside, to delight yourself with Him, you will be occupied with other mind exercises and practices of life.

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].

I want your company! I am speaking to you! I am the One that is saying to you, I have redeemed you; I have given My life for you. I am seeking your love. I want you to bask in it. If you spend this day in anything else but that, you are going to miss out. No wonder there are so many people who don’t quite know what it means to bask in the Lord’s love.

It is interesting that God is making sure that this day is going to be spent every seventh day into eternity. God knows that even in the earth made new we need to spend time to focus upon love with Him, just like we need to spend love with one another in a marriage, or in any other department of fellowship:

Isaiah 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

A love-relationship is worship relationship, isn’t it? How many times I hear how, This young man worships that young woman. How many times I hear that. Indeed, love means worship. Love means spending time with that person and adoring that person. If you don’t do that you will find yourself just going to a platonic relationship. And how many marriages are there that have gone down that path? It doesn’t take very long. I have seen it. Those wonderful sparkling eyes looking at each other, and I think, Whoa, if only that could remain. Then, after about two or three years, I think, Where has that look gone? Where is that love that was once there? Many, many different reasons.

God wants us to worship Him because He worships His Son. They worship together in love, in glory. His Son worships Him; it’s all written. And we are to enjoy this kind of worshipful love. That is what Jesus was praying for:

John 17:24 … that they also … be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory,

An Appointed Day

Yes, the entire day has been given for us to glory in the love. It is an appointment; it is a day that God has made for that purpose.

Psalm 118:24 This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is talking about Jesus, as we can see in verses 22 and 23. It has to do with the story of redemption. Indeed, the Sabbath is the sign that “I am the Lord that doth sanctify you,” isn’t it? That wonderful love-relationship of the gospel that we have just been meditating about is part of the day that the Lord has made. This is what we read in Hebrews (chapter 4); those that rest in Jesus Christ will keep the Sabbath, the seventh-day of the week, because God has said, This is a hallowed time for you and Me to love one another. As we think upon it in that perspective, does that not clarify to us what true Sabbath-keeping is? Think about it now.

What is true Sabbath-keeping? If you love someone very dearly, you yearn to spend undivided attention with that one, and you come there and you now expect to just be ravished in one another’s love. But that person that you have an appointment with turns around and does this, does that, and does the other thing, and you just stand there and say, Where is my darling? We made an appointment; and there is a hurt. “She’s not there. She’s busy doing this and doing that, but I’m here!” “Oh, I know you’re there, that’s alright.” “But I want a time with you.” Can you imagine how God feels? Sabbath-keeping. We have read it in Isaiah, “Not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Devote your whole mind activity to that person. That is what true Sabbath-keeping is.

Preparation

If you know that you have that time allotted for that special experience, what will you do to make sure that you have that time? Don’t you plan for it all the way through the week? And you think, Oh, it’s coming. It’s getting closer, and I have to make sure that this is done, and the other thing is done. All through the week you are preparing, and then just the day before, you have a preparation day. I love reading the Spirit of Prophecy in the vein in which it is meant. So many people misread it, and as a result they think that E. G. White’s writings are very condemnatory. But they are not at all. It is precious love communication.

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. 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. {6T 355.3}

Why not? Because God is waiting there for you. And if you are busy doing these things on the Sabbath day, He is heart-broken. Where is my love, my dove, my undefiled? Where is she? I want to spend time with her. This is God’s heart, and those who understand God’s heart understand what it means to get ready for the Sabbath.

There is another work that should receive attention on the preparation day. On this day all differences between brethren, whether in the family or in the church, should be put away. Let all bitterness and wrath and malice be expelled from the soul. {6T 356.2}

Say, if you have an undercurrent of distaste about somebody somewhere, and you are having a relationship of love with someone else, does it flow easily? There is something spoiling it, isn’t it? There are things that spoil the free-flowing love when there are problems in the heart. Those problems are expressed here:

Song of Solomon 2:14 O my dove, [that art] in the clefts of the rock, in the secret [places] of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet [is] thy voice, and thy countenance [is] comely.

When you love somebody you look at their face and you love it, don’t you?

Song of Solomon 2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines [have] tender grapes.

If you read it in its context, you see that it is talking about a marital love relationship, which is equivalent to the love relationship of God with His people. Let us take those foxes that spoil the beautiful love-feast that is available between God and His people. Get ready for the Sabbath, and make sure that there is nothing boiling up inside of you. If you have a burden, if you have something that is boiling inside of you, lay it aside. And if you can’t quite deal with it correctly as you desire, then make sure that in your heart you don’t carry any business toward anybody. If you do, your relationship with Jesus and God is polluted, and it doesn’t bring forth pure fruit.

Then, when you are thoroughly ready, as the Sabbath is approaching, and after you have wiped out everything that would hinder the total focus upon the One that you love, how do you proceed?

We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. {6T 356.1}

We should jealously guard them. What is that? Because as the sun sets, who is coming?

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}

The time has come when God comes close to you, and He is going to spend His total focus together with you; and if on the edge of the Sabbath you are still rushing here, rushing there, rushing there, doing this, “I’ve got to get ready for Sabbath;” He is standing here saying, Where are you? My darling, where are you? When somebody looks forward to spend time together, and the other is rushing around, there is a disappointment.

But if you really love Him, and He has created a love in your heart, you will be eagerly waiting as the sun sets, to be ready to welcome Him; and you will experience His drawing near to you. It’s the most precious experience of the week for me. Every time the Sabbath comes near; you know I thought that after I went into the ministry I was going to become so used to spreading the word and sharing it with others that the Sabbath wouldn’t mean so much to me anymore. But I haven’t found that, because God is infinite in love. He is so great, so precious, so glorious. I wished I could find words to describe Him. Every time Sabbath comes, there is a joy; there is a blessing, which I wish that everybody could have. And I come to church and I love to be here. Why?

Song of Solomon 2:3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight,

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.”

In the Banqueting House

Song of Solomon 2:3 … I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste. 4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me [was] love.

“His banner over me was love,” where? In the banqueting house. Say, where is that?

Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.

But, are you? Do you come to the house of the Lord absolutely thrilling? Or do you come to the house of the Lord thinking, “Oh, I have to meet this and that person. There is that person there, and this person there; and I look over my shoulder, argh! I don’t want to see that person.” Tell me, is that a banqueting house? We come to the banqueting house with God’s banner of love over us, and we are going to enjoy it. “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 42:1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks,

Is that how you feel towards God? Do you really pant for Him?

Psalm 42:1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where [is] thy God? 4 When I remember these [things], I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

What are we here for? Are we here to meet with one another and pay attention to each other? Or are we here to meet with God together and to pay no attention to each other in terms of each other’s personality? We only pay attention to the personality of the Lord in and amongst His people; and we are yearning to be there. I do. If you have characteristic faults that I don’t like, I don’t see them, honestly. Somebody might not be dressed exactly according to dress reform, somebody might not be eating just right, somebody might not be doing this, that, and the other thing right. I don’t see it, honestly brethren and sisters! I do not see it. If you see it and pay attention to it, you will spoil your love feast! It’s a blot.

I appeal to us all that we will not spoil the beautiful love of God amongst us, because we are here for no other purpose but to be in the banqueting house, to love the Lord with all our hearts because He wants to love us, with all the heart and with all the soul. This is true Sabbath-keeping. That is what it means to go to the house of the Lord. We gather for total focus; and that is the reason why before we come to church, before we enter the sacred Sabbath hours, I will put aside all bitterness and all burdens before the Sabbath. The following text is often referred to as physical burdens, but how many burdens do you carry out of your house?

Jeremiah 17:22 Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day,

If you leave home on the Sabbath day with a burden on your heart about such and such, and such and such, etc., you are carrying the burden out of your house. You are supposed to leave it there, because you are gathering in the banqueting house of the Lord, and there you are to feast on His love. You are to bask in the banqueting house.

What are you to do as you come to the banqueting house?

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. 2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter [any] thing before God: for God [is] in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

Now, what is that saying to you? Does it mean you don’t say anything in church? It says we are to share with one another the praises of the Lord. We are to tell of the glory of God. Oh, no, silence is not being meant. It’s just, be careful what you say. Let your words be relevant to the love of God only. Put a guard upon your mouth. What does it say there also? Keep whose foot? “Keep thy foot.” You don’t have to keep anybody else’s foot. You don’t have to think, Well, this person is really sticking out of term. That is not your business. Keep thy foot.

We are in the banqueting house. We want to have nothing spoil our love-feast. We don’t want to be a blot in the love-feast.

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Keep thy foot, as long as it pertains to yourself. That is all you consider. And if a blot arises, which Satan often makes sure of, you don’t pay any attention to it. That is what Satan does; he goes along and creates a stir, and a blot arises. Jesus had to meet that. Remember the story of the lovely Mary, who broke the alabaster box.

Basking in His Love

Matthew 26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat [at meat]. 8 But when his disciples saw [it], they had indignation, saying, To what purpose [is] this waste? 9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10 When Jesus understood [it], he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did [it] for my burial. 13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, [there] shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

She loved Him, and she broke that alabaster box and the perfume went through the house; and they knew what a costly ointment that was. And what did the disciples say? The disciples, mind you, the ones that Jesus loved, said, “Why wasn’t that money spent to help the poor?” What a blot. She just poured out her love, and somebody said that. What did Jesus say? He protected her.

How many times in God’s house we feel somebody is saying something that has really put a blot on my expression of love. Should I pay attention to it? Not at all, because Jesus smiles upon you. You are basking in His love, what does it matter what another person says? Something happened between Mary and Martha, remember? Mary was sitting at His feet, just basking, and Martha said, “What’s going on? I’m doing all the work here, and she is sitting there.” What did Jesus do to Mary? Did He tell her to go? No, He said to Martha, She has the better side of things. He was smiling upon Mary. Did Mary have to pay attention to the blot? Not at all.

We are in the love-feast; we are concentrating on Jesus! Pay no attention to the blots, none whatsoever. As our hearts are aglow with the love of God, our conversation will be relevant to that love. We will put a guard on our lips.

Here, in the following testimony, we have a beautiful expression of Sabbath-keeping in regards to our conversation, especially after we have come out of the divine service, and the next minute we find ourselves talking about things that have nothing to do with the love-feast. Have you experienced that? Then you are going to turn around and say, Come on, we should be keeping the Sabbath! Is that a love feast? What will you do in love? You will kindly turn the words into the subject matters that we are here for. No judgment. There is no condemnation, somebody has just slipped up, that’s all. Why do we have to start being judgmental about it? Each one of us should keep his foot and not worry about the other. We will put a guard on our lips on this beautiful day of love.

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

If you have carried your worldly matters into the church, you will talk about it. But if your heart is set with the love of God, out of the abundance of your heart the love will speak, and that’s all. This is true Sabbath-keeping.

Upon the Sabbath they should conscientiously restrict themselves to conversation upon religious themes–to present truth, present duty, the Christian’s hopes and fears, trials, conflicts, and afflictions; to overcoming at last, and the reward to be received. {2T 703.3}

You don’t give a mournful description of the trials and conflicts, but you say, I’ve been through that, and look at the beauty of the strength to overcome that God has given me, and look what we are looking forward to. These are the matters of our conversation.

If any of us have failed on the Sabbath day to keep it as a love-relationship; if we do feel that something has gone wrong, are you condemned? Do you now have to start feeling that, “Oh no! I’m going to mourn because I haven’t kept the Sabbath properly,” and it just goes on and on, “and I might as well not go back to church the next day because it’s just going to happen again.” What is the beautiful love of God? If your heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart (1 John 3:20). Is He going to say, “Get out of here! You’ve spoiled My love, you’ve spoiled My day”? That is not the way God is. He picks us up again and again. Next Sabbath I will come with a more determined, particular outlook that I am going to be guarding myself so that it won’t be happening again. That’s all. And you can learn when you are not under condemnation; you can learn to be more particular. He will not cast you off as long as you don’t cast yourself off.

Unfolding of the Sabbath

If we will truly keep the Sabbath day in all these respects with this love-feast in place, then Sabbath will become better and better as we proceed to the time of the end; because we are still learning to keep it the best way yet. Love is something that develops and gets stronger and stronger. And with a knowledge of true Sabbath-keeping in our hearts we will guard carefully every moment and we will improve from Sabbath to Sabbath. Here Sister White makes a beautiful statement of a wonderful Sabbath that they had:

Sabbath we had a sweet, glorious time. . . . We were made to rejoice and glorify God for His exceeding goodness unto us. . . . I was taken off in vision. . . . {Mar 245.2}

Notice what the vision was:

I saw that we sensed and realized but little of the importance of the Sabbath, {Mar 245.3}

She just had a beautiful Sabbath, yet in her vision she saw, Oh, this is so short of the mark.

I saw that we sensed and realized but little of the importance of the Sabbath, to what we yet should realize and know of its importance and glory. I saw we knew not what it was yet to ride upon the high places of the earth and to be fed with the heritage of Jacob. {Mar 245.3}

We don’t know yet.

But when the refreshing and latter rain shall come from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power we shall know what it is to be fed with the heritage of Jacob and ride upon the high places of the earth. Then shall we see the Sabbath more in its importance and glory. But we shall not see it in all its glory and importance until the covenant of peace is made with us at the voice of God, and the pearly gates of the New Jerusalem are thrown open and swing back on their glittering hinges and the glad and joyful voice of the lovely Jesus is heard richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear bidding us enter. {Mar 245.3}

Don’t you want to be there to hear that voice? I do. To hear that lovely voice, to be captivated by His loving looks upon His people.

[I saw] that we had a perfect right in the city for we had kept the commandments of God, and heaven, sweet heaven is our home. {Mar 245.3}

Then the Sabbath will reach its full culmination, and from one Sabbath to the other we will enjoy that love-feast. Sabbath is a commandment of love. If I don’t keep that commandment according to the words that are written there, I will not be able to bask in Jesus. Cling to your Lord! His love to you is the only source of your love to Him. Only in this love can you be a true Sabbath-keeper. God grant us this, this is my prayer.

Amen.

Posted on April 5, 2013, in Divine Service Sermons, God's Love Series. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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