2012-7-28 Remember the Sabbath Day
It is sometimes difficult for people, particularly youth, to feel gratitude for the Sabbath day. These people associate the day with rules and restrictions rather a blessing from our loving Heavenly Father. When we understand that Heavenly Father commanded us to keep the Sabbath day holy for our own good, we will be more able to see that honoring the Lord on the Sabbath day brings blessings to us. Then we will be more able to enjoy the Sabbath and be grateful for it
The Sabbath is a day of rest and worship and is a blessing in the lives of all who remember the sacredness of the day. Eli Herring was a football player on the Springville (
High School team. The team had just won
the state championship, and Eli appeared to be headed for a college and even
professional football career. As Eli
talked with his parents about the possibilities, they cautioned him to remember
the values he had been taught. Utah
Several universities invited Eli to play for them after high school, but he chose to attend
, in part
because the coaches there would allow him to leave on a mission after his
freshman year. After Eli returned from his mission, he rejoined the team and
became one of the best college football players in the Brigham Young
University . United States
As Eli realized that he had a good chance at a career playing professional football, he thought about how much he would enjoy it and how much money he could make. But he also realized that as a professional football player, he would have to play football on the Sabbath.
Eli knew he could do good things with the money he could earn as a professional football player. He could pay his children's college and mission expenses; he could go on missions with his wife; he could do whatever he wanted after his football career was over without worrying about money.
As Eli struggled to make his decision, he remembered reading about Erroll Bennett. When Erroll joined the Church, he decided to stop playing soccer on Sunday, even though he was a top soccer star in
and not playing on Sunday would mean he would have to quit his team. Eli Herring was very impressed by Erroll
Bennett. Eli said, "I knew I wanted
to be a man like that, with that kind of commitment and dedication to what I knew
Eli's parents and wife let him know they would support him in whatever he decided. Eli talked to many people and then fasted and prayed about his decision. He also read the scriptures intensively. It took him six months to come to a final decision.
Ultimately Eli decided that for him, keeping the Sabbath day holy was more important than playing professional football and making lots of money. "I read my scriptures, and time after time I would see more and more and more reasons that I felt in my heart that I needed to observe the Sabbath more than I needed to play football," Eli said. He turned down the offers from the professional teams and now teaches and coaches at a high school. He does not make a lot of money, but he is happy. He said: "The paychecks now, in spite of being low, are more than we were making when we were students. We're happy to have more than we had before. Occasionally I think we could have a brand-new car or a nice house, but I have never had any serious doubts about the decision." (See Joseph Richardson, "To Keep It Holy," New Era, Oct. 1997, 34-37.)
When the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He included a commandment about the use of the Sabbath day. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
"Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
"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, they manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
"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 20:9-11).
The Sabbath was made holy after the Lord finished the creation of the earth. He rested on the seventh day and hallowed it or made it holy. Until the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Sabbath was observed on the seventh day or Saturday. Today the Sabbath is observed on Sunday in remembrance of the Savior's Resurrection on that day.
"Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
"And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher.
"And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus" (Luke 24:1-3).
When we say "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" we mean that we want to honor the day, to dedicate it to righteous purposes, and to keep it sacred and deserving of reverence. We should keep the Sabbath day holy because it helps us to do so.
Elder James E. Faust, who was at the time a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: "Why has God asked us to honor the Sabbath day? The reasons I think are at least threefold. . The first has to do with the physical need for rest and renewing. Obviously God, who created us, would know more than we do of the limits of our physical and nervous energy and strength.
"The second reason is, in my opinion, of far greater significance. It has to do with the need for regeneration and the strengthening of our spiritual being. God knows that left completely to our own devices without regular reminders of our spiritual needs, many would degenerate into the preoccupation of satisfying earthly desires and appetites. This need for physical, mental, and spiritual regeneration is met in large measure by faithful observance of the Sabbath day.
"The third reason [for honoring the Sabbath day] may be the most important of the three. It has to do with obedience to commandments as an expression of our love for God. Blessed are those who need no reasons other than their love for the Savior to keep his commandments" (Ensign, Nov. 1991, 35).
According to Elder Faust, there are at least three reasons why we are asked to keep the Sabbath day holy: 1) physical renewal; 2) spiritual strength; and 3) love for God. Our bodies are wonderful creations, but they need occasional rest and renewal. By giving us the Sabbath day, God gave us a day each week to rejuvenate our bodies. As important as this reason is, it is even more important for us to gain the spiritual strength to take us through another week. By reverently observing the Sabbath day, we show that we love God - the most important reason for keeping any of His commandments.
The Prophet Isaiah taught the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy: "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:
"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" (Isaiah 5:13-14).
When Isaiah wrote "Turn away… not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words," he was not saying that we should not enjoy the Sabbath; he was saying that the Sabbath is a day to forget our own desires and follow God's will)
We can make the Sabbath day a delight by observing it as the Lord commands. President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency said, "The Lord has given the Sabbath day for your benefit and has commanded you to keep it holy. Many activities are appropriate for the Sabbath. Bear in mind, however, that Sunday is not a holiday. Sunday is a holy day" (in Ensign, Nov. 1990, 47).
Some of our most "holy days" have been turned into "holidays" by much of the world (particularly Christmas and Easter), but those who understand the significance of those holy days observe them more appropriately. The Lord obviously considers a holiday differently than he does His holy day. Elder James E. Faust related the following story:
"A … miracle occurred at the Wells Stake Welfare Tannery some years ago where hides of animals were tanned into leather. On regular work days, the hides were removed from the vats and fresh lime placed in the vats, after which the hides were returned to the lime solution. If the hides were not turned on holidays, they would spoil. But the change was never made on Sunday, and there were no spoiled hides on Monday. Explained J. Lowell Fox, the supervisor of the tannery at the time:
"`This brought a strange fact to our minds: holidays are determined by man, and on these days just as on every week day, the hides need to have special care every twelve hours. Sunday is the day set aside by the Lord as a day of rest, and He makes it possible for us to rest from our labors as He has commanded. The hides at the tannery never spoil on Sundays. This is a modern-day miracle, a miracle that happens every weekend!'" (in Ensign, Nov. 1991, 35).
There are numerous ways that we can make the Sabbath a holy day and a delight for us. One important way is to attend Church and partake of the Spirit there. "An almost totally deaf sister was once asked how she managed to come to sacrament meeting each week [and remain] genuinely interested in what was being said…. [She said]: `I look forward to being in the physical presence of those whom I love and who love the gospel. I can share in their spirit without hearing a word, and if I am really in tune, the Lord whispers to me'" (Robert K. Thomas, "Listening with the Spirit," Ensign, Jan. 1978, 40).
Another important way is to use the day to "re-create" ourselves. President Spencer W. Kimball explained how we can use the Sabbath day to make ourselves better: "The Sabbath is a day on which to take inventory - to analyze our weaknesses, to confess our sins to our associates and our Lord. It is a day on which to fast…. It is a day on which to read good books, a day to contemplate and ponder, a day to study lessons for priesthood and auxiliary organizations, a day to study the scriptures and to prepare sermons, a day to nap and rest and relax, a day to visit the sick, a day to preach the gospel, a day to proselyte, a day to visit quietly with the family…, a day for proper courting, a day to do good, a day to drink at the fountain of knowledge and of instruction, a day to seek forgiveness of our sins, a day for the enrichment of our spirit and our soul, a day to restore us to our spiritual stature, a day to partake of the emblems of [Jesus'] sacrifice and atonement, a day to contemplate the glories of the gospel and of the eternal realms, a day to climb high on the upward path toward our Heavenly Father" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 216).
Another valuable thing we can do to better observe the Sabbath is to eliminate all those activities that are not conducive to bringing us closer to our Heavenly Father. Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:
"It seems to me that the following should be avoided on the Sabbath:
"Overworking and staying up late Saturday so that you are exhausted the next day.
"Filling the Sabbath so full of extra meetings that there is no time for prayer, meditation, family fellowship, and counseling.
"Doing gardening and odd jobs around the house.
"Taking trips to canyons or resorts, visiting friends socially, joy riding, wasting time, and engaging in other amusements….
"Playing vigorously and going to movies.
"Engaging in sports and hunting `wild animals' which God made for the use of man only `in times of famine and excess of hunger.' (See D&C 89:15.) …
"Reading material that does not contribute to your spiritual uplift.
"Shopping or supporting with your patronage businesses that operate on Sunday, such as grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and service stations" ("Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy," Ensign, May 1971, 6-7).
Even though our leaders encourage us to put aside as much work as possible, they understand that some businesses are "essential" and must be prepared to act at a moment's notice; however, even those who have to work on Sunday can keep the Sabbath day holy by reading their scriptures during breaks at work and by attending Church meetings either before or after working. Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Seventy said: "We know that there are essential businesses that must be open on Sunday. These are emergency, medical, transportation, and some forms of protective services, such as police and fire" (Ensign, May 1996, 10-11).
We can determine our own attitudes toward the Sabbath by asking questions such as the following: 1) Which purposes and blessings of the Sabbath are important to me? 2) What activities seem to take away from the purpose of the Sabbath for me? 3) What activities help me feel the Spirit on the Sabbath? 4) What could I do before Sunday to make the Sabbath a more delightful day?
5) What will I do to keep the Sabbath day holy and enjoy it more?
The value of the Sabbath cannot be overstated, particularly for helping us to prepare to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. A modern-day scripture says: "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;
"For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-10).
My parents taught me to keep the Sabbath day holy by their examples. I grew up on a farm where work was done every day of the week. On the Sabbath, our parents taught us to do the necessary work - milk the cows and feed the animals - but to generally rest from our labors. There have been a few Sabbaths that I did not keep holy. I quickly learned that I needed that "day of rest" every week. If I did not "rest" on Sunday, I needed to use another day to rejuvenate and renew my body and spirit. I know that blessings and joy come through proper observance of the Sabbath day. I encourage all my readers to make each Sunday delightful by putting into practice those activities that will bring you closer to the Savior.