Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Sabbath Day

Whether or not you are religious, I think the idea of a "Sabbath" is good for everyone.  Everyone needs one day a week to take themselves out of the world and focus on spiritual things.  Everyone needs a day of rest.
As we all know, the ten commandments teach us to keep the sabbath:
" Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."  Exodus 20:8-11
I think this scripture makes it pretty clear that the sabbath should be a day of rest, but why then is it so hard for us to rest on the Sabbath?  Many people say they can't afford not to work on Sunday.  I believe that spiritually speaking, they can't afford not to rest on Sunday.    Elder Orson F. Whitney said,“The Lord’s plan is perfect,  His commandments have in view the salvation of the body as well as the spirit, for it is the soul that will be redeemed from the grave and glorified. God has commanded us to care for the spirit, as well as for the body, and give it food in due season, and He set aside the Sabbath day that man might rest from his temporal labors and go to the house of the Lord and be fed with that holy influence which nourishes the spirit of man. That is why we meet together on the Sabbath day. Our spirits need their food, the same as do our bodies and if we neglect them, they will starve and dwindle and die upon the same principle that the body will die when deprived of its proper nourishment.” (“The Day of Rest,” Liahona—The Elders’ Journal, vol. 7, p. 530.)
We not only gain great spiritual strength from fully keeping the meaning of the sabbath, but we also focus less on wordly things such as making money.  Some might say that their job requires them to work on Sunday.  I have learned through my life that when an employee explains their beliefs to their employer, they usually can make a way for them to not work that day.  I have known still others who quit the job so that they wouldn't have to work on the sabbath.  I believe that when we show this kind of obedience, God steps in and helps us out.
In latter day scripture we read the following about the keeping of the sabbath:  "And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
 10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
 11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
 12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
 13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full."  Doctrine and Covenants 59:10-13
One of my favorite parts of these verses is the phrase, "And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;"  I really believe that by going to church on Sunday and meaningfully participating in the sacrament, we give ourselves a spiritual protection that helps keep us "unspotted from the world".  What does it mean to be "unspotted from the world"?  I like to think of the term "worldly" as meaning being the kind of person that is focused on material possessions, fame, and power.  A person who sets these things aside one day a week to take time to worship God, is demonstrating that God is more important to them than worldly possessions or worldly fame.
I have really tried to help my family to remove ourselves from the world on the sabbath.  We even avoid watching television.  We don't go out to eat, or go to movies or sporting events.  We especially don't do things that would cause others to have to work for us on the sabbath.  Sometimes this takes extra preparation on our part.  We make sure to fill up the car on Saturday night.  We make sure we have the food we need so that we won't be tempted to go out and shop on Sunday.  Most importantly, we make our sabbath worship the main goal of the day.  We attend our church meetings and attend to other church duties.
The most important part of our sabbath worship is our participation in the sacrament.  Elder Elder Melvin J. Ballard suggested, “We want every Latter-day Saint to come to the sacrament table because it is the place for self-investigation, for self-inspection, where we may learn to rectify our course and to make right our own lives, bringing ourselves into harmony with the teachings of the Church and with our brethren and sisters.” (Bryant S. Hinckley,Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949, p. 150.)
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson gave these suggestions for keeping the sabbath:
"—Engage in activities that contribute to greater spirituality.

—Attend essential Church meetings in the house of prayer.

—Acquire spiritual knowledge by reading the scriptures, Church history and biographies, and the inspired words of our Church leaders.

—Rest physically, get acquainted with your family, relate scriptural stories to your children, and bear your testimony to build family unity.

—Visit the sick and aged shut-ins.

—Sing the songs of Zion and listen to inspiring music.

—Pay devotions to the Most High through prayer (personal and family), fasting, administration, and father’s blessings.

—Prepare food with a singleness of heart: simple meals prepared largely on Saturday.

—Remember that Sunday is the Lord’s day, a day to do his work.

In a statement from the First Presidency, we read that “the Sabbath is not just another day on which we merely rest from work, free to spend it as our light-mindedness may suggest. It is a holy day, the Lord’s Day, to be spent as a day of worship and reverence. All matters extraneous thereto should be shunned. … Latter-day Saints, with a testimony of the Gospel and a knowledge of the spiritual blessings that come from keeping the Sabbath, will never permit themselves to make it a shopping day, an activity that has no place in a proper observance of the Holy Day of the Lord, on which we are commanded to pour out our souls in gratitude for the many blessings of health, strength, physical comfort, and spiritual joy which come from the Lord’s bounteous hand.” (Church News, July 11, 1959, p. 3.)" (Ezra Taft Benson, “Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy,” Ensign, May 1971, 4)
I would like to challenge all to experience for themselves the blessings of keeping the sabbath day holy.  I know from experience that as you do, you will find greater spiritual strength.  You will also find peace to your soul, and protection from the worldly influences that so often encroach on our minds and lives.  As we more fully keep the sabbath day holy, we will indeed keep ourselves "more fully ...unspotted from the world."  


Looney said...

Is it OK to do Hebrew homework on the Sabbath? ;-)

Delirious said...

Well, we believe; "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth." (Doctrine and Covenants 93:36. So I would say it's a wholesome activity. :)