Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Sabbath - Sign and Symbol of our Faith

The Sabbath - Sign and Symbol of our Faith
by Susan Richardson  -   November 2015
This year LDS Church leaders worldwide are emphasizing the importance of the Sabbath Day.  Every Stake and Mission Conference we have attended and/or participated in this year has made the Sabbath a priority.  In the October 2015 General Conference, we heard it mentioned several times.  It seems that Church leaders are begging us to pay heed to that commandment.
But why?
I believe it is because it is our sign that we are on the Lord’s side, which is a very good place to be when Latter Day storms begin to rage. 
In the story of the Exodus, the faithful Israelites who followed the Prophet Moses’ counsel to mark their doors with the blood of the lamb were spared the death suffered by the unbelieving.  On that fateful night the first born of every unheeding family and beast died.   It was a simple request, but meant much more to the Lord than the mere swiping of blood on the door.  It was a clear sign that they followed the prophet and feared the Lord. 
There may have been some Israelites along with the Egyptians who thought that was a ridiculous request, or perhaps considered doing it the following night when it was more convenient.  Some may have not wanted to dirty their door or been ashamed by those who are always standing by to mock.  But the Exodus story clearly illustrates that those who did listen and followed the prophet were spared while those who didn’t mark their doors were cursed.
Is it possible that honoring the Sabbath Day is our modern day sign that we heed the prophet’s counsel and that we fear the Lord?  And just as importantly, is it possible that the Lord is taking note of those who are following that counsel? 
According to Ezekiel 20:12, Keeping the Sabbath Day is a sign between God and His Covenant people.  “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbath to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify them.   (Also Exodus 31:13) 
Jeremiah 17:21 teaches us that we should “bear no burden on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. According to scripture, honoring the Sabbath involves more than just resting from our work; it entails setting aside time to draw closer to our Heavenly Father. 
Moreover, Elder Nelson recited the words of Isaiah, “who called the Sabbath ‘a delight.’  Yet I wonder,” he continued, “is the Sabbath really a delight for you and for me?”  He went on to teach that the Sabbath should be a special and restful day, and not one of drudgery or boredom.
He went on to say that “Faith in God engenders a love for the Sabbath; faith in the Sabbath engenders a love for God.  A sacred Sabbath truly is a delight.”
Honoring the Sabbath Day in our modern world is particularly difficult when many people are required to work.  It is also often the only day people have for recreation, yard work, shopping, etc.  For many, it seems like an impossible commandment to keep.  Yet, there is great reason and hope for making whatever sacrifice is necessary to honor this holy day.
Surely, in the long-prophesied latter days, there will be great power available to those on the Lord’s side.  Not only does keeping the Sabbath Day holy provide a sign that we are on His side, but we will delight ourselves in the Lord and He will cause us to “ride upon the high places,” (Isaiah 58:13-14) signifying abundance and wealth.  In D&C 59:9 it says, “Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fullness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth… herb, good things whether for food or raiment, houses or barns… everything to gladden the heart, please the eye, strengthen body, and enliven the soul.” 
Elder Cajahuaman shared how honoring the Sabbath Day had blessed his family.  He said that his family owned a store and that business was very slow.  Yet he said that after they began to be faithful in honoring the Sabbath Day, their home began to fill back up with merchandise.
Several missionaries have shared stories of investigators and members alike who chose to quit jobs where they had to work on Sunday and were rewarded with new opportunities and higher earnings.
While the blessings of earthly comforts and pleasures are associated with Sabbath Day observance, the cursing for non-observance clarify the Lord’s seriousness by their contrast.  The Lord’s denouncement of Sabbath day neglect includes words like “kindle fire in the gates” (Jeremiah 17:27) “devour palaces of Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 17:27) and “bring evil and wrath upon people” (Nehemiah 13:18).  Perhaps most disturbing is the reference that he will pour out his “fury” upon them (Ezekiel 20:21).  As we see the “fury” being poured out upon the world at this time, it would do us well to consider the connection between our disregard of the Sabbath Day and the tribulations we are now experiencing. 
The answer to shutting off the fury and tribulations is to obey the commandments, and particularly to honor the Sabbath day.  An account of the people of Nephi illustrates this beautifully.  “The people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land.  They observed to keep the Law of Moses and the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord.” (Jarom 1:5) I believe it is significant that of all the commandments which could have been singled out, it was Sabbath Day observance that they credited for “waxing strong in the land.”  
Just as the Israelites wiped blood on their doors as a sign for death to pass over their homes, keeping the Sabbath Day remains a clear sign that demonstrates our devotion as God’s covenant people, and will merit us, not only promises of protection but of abundance and strength.  As we enter turbulent times, we would be wise to put ourselves on His side before that fateful hour when the Lord may draw a line between those who heed his prophets’ counsel to honor the Sabbath Day and those who don’t. 

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