Most of the world, including many Christians, are under the impression that the Ten Commandments, as delivered to Moses, are a series of “thou shalt not”s, and not worthy of our full attention. In other words, if we love God and love our fellow man, we are keeping the Law already.
This, of course, is basically true. But when we stop and think that the Ten Commandments are the only part of the Bible that was written with God’s own finger and not through a prophet, we might have reason to give them a second look and might come to understand and agree with David in Psalm 19:7: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…”
How are these two different?
When you examine the Ten Commandment Law, you find that there are two commandments that stand out in several ways. First, they don’t start with the proverbial “thou shalt not”. They are both in the very center, or heart, of the law, and also have to do with honoring something.
Honor your parents, the fifth on the list, is an admonition that, if heeded, would make it easier for one to fulfill the commandments that follow, that encompass all those things needed to get along with other humans. Everyone recognizes the value of the home life, of having two godly parents, who not only train their children, but set before them good examples of how to live happy and productive lives.
Consequently, Satan has not let up his attacks on the human family. But there is another side of love that we must have, if we want the most fulfilling life, both on this earth, and in the next. And this is our love for God, which are encompassed in the first four of the Ten Commandments.
Most of the Christian world recognizes the first three commandments as binding and necessary to our salvation. Having no other gods, not worshiping idols, and not taking the Lord’s name in vain are standards that Christianity as a whole has accepted. But sadly the one commandment that seems to hold a similar position of importance as the fifth one about honoring our parents is the one right before it, and the one most overlooked by Sunday-keeping Christian churches.
Strangely enough, God pleads with us to remember the seventh-day Sabbath. It’s all about honoring God, just like honoring our parents, as the authority in our lives. Leviticus even mentioned both commandments in one verse. “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:3. The two institutions that God gave us in the Garden of Eden were marriage and the Sabbath. Hence, Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not just for Jews, as some claim. See Mark 2:27.
Satan attacks God through the Law
I propose that Satan especially hates this fourth commandment, because it is the only one that fully recognizes God for who He is, the Creator of the Universe, and specifies how and why we are to worship Him. There have been many ways he has attacked the Sabbath, and thus, our Creator.
He was no doubt instrumental in influencing the Jewish leaders to add so many restrictions to their Sabbath-keeping that even Jesus failed their tests for its observance. He healed on the Sabbath and He allowed His disciples to pick some grain as they were walking in a field. Which were not appropriate acts on the Sabbath, according to their man-made traditions.
How legalistic these religious leaders were. But sadly there is legalism of this nature in almost every world religion and Christian church denomination today. Legalism says you have to do something to earn your salvation or favor with the gods. They say it’s not a gift, as the Bible emphatically teaches. See Ephesians 2:8-9.
Just as Jesus’ followers in the decades right after the resurrection became educated on true Sabbath observance, in accordance with how Jesus kept it (Luke 4:16), Satan threw another “monkey wrench” in the church. He convinced Constantine and the Christian leaders in the fourth century to legally change the worship day to the first day of the week, supposedly in honor of Christ’s resurrection.
The Catholic Church, whose list of popes, they say, goes all the way back to Peter, has consistently claimed the authority to make this change in the Law of God. And obviously, they were very successful in changing the day to Sunday, and deceiving millions in the process.
Yes, Satan has left nothing to chance in trying to get God not to be recognized as the Creator. We all know the havoc Charles Darwin began with his book, The Origin of the Species. If the seventh-day Sabbath had been truly kept by all God’s people, the theory of evolution would not have had a chance.
How are Adventists affected?
But what does all this have to do with a currently practicing Seventh-day Adventist? Has Satan left us alone in this area? I’m afraid we’re not free from attacks either. Our church has swerved precariously during our relatively short history from strict, legalistic observance to lax, almost unrecognizable, Sabbath observance. And the pendulum continues to swing.
I have one recommendation for my fellow church members. In addition to staying close to God and imploring the Holy Spirit to be with you on Sabbath and all through the week as you prepare for it, be conscious of the edges of the Sabbath. Make sure you are welcoming the Sabbath in some way on Friday evening, and likewise, saying farewell to your special time with God on Saturday evening, as the sun sets.
This is just one tip I’ve found helpful in assuring the entire day is filled with restful, peaceful activities that remind me of God and His wonderful creative and re-creative powers. For if Sabbath is not a delight, it’s my fault, not God’s. See Isaiah 58:13-14. He made it for me!