The Sabbath Day

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The Fourth Commandment

As men were inspired by the Holy Ghost to write the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), it is logical to believe that what is written in the Bible, which says to do and not do, believe and not believe, should be strictly adhered to; otherwise any secular book could take its place. We as priesthood holders should take the Ten Commandments seriously, as they are our guidelines to living a correct and exemplary lifestyle.

One commandment which we do not take as seriously as we should is the fourth commandment. Yes, it is not too hard for us to avoid lying, stealing, murdering, and coveting, but what about that fourth commandment? Let us quote it and then review it to see if we are taking it seriously enough.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, 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 they daughter, thy 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 20:8-11).

Notice He leaves out the wife. I will comment on that later. Now let us count: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Note the days of the week: First is Sunday, second is Monday, third is Tuesday, etc. The first six days are work days; the seventh day is Saturday. That is the day of rest, period!

Here it is clear that the Sabbath falls on a Saturday:

“In the end of the sabbath [Saturday], as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week [Sunday], came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher” (Matthew 28:1).

Keeping the Sabbath comes with a promised blessing:

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and [instead] call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor 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 58:13-14).

The fourth commandment was the one commandment that Jesus admonished His followers to pray that they might not break. Remember His words:

“But pray ye the Lord, that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20).

Was the Sabbath Day Changed?

But did not the Savior change the Sabbath to the first day? Let us see if we can find enough evidence to either make it not so important in our life or determine whether or not the Bible gives us a clear indication that it was actually changed from the seventh day to the first day of the week — Sunday — as most so-called Christians practice it today.

To Whom Was the Sabbath Given?

We could use the excuse that the Sabbath was a Jewish belief, and the Gentiles were not obliged to honor it. But when one thinks of this, it does not make sense. The Sabbath was instigated long before the present Jewish nation or the Gentiles even existed.

It is quite clear that the Sabbath was given to all the tribes, not just the tribe of Judah. When Moses, who was a Levite, received the Ten Commandments, it was to the entire twelve tribes. The Lord was extremely angry at them when the first thing they did when given the manna to sustain them in the wilderness was to gather it on the Sabbath. The Lord didn’t distinguish between the tribes, as each tribe was equally responsible to God for their conduct in obeying His holy law, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 16:28).

How Long Has the Sabbath Existed?

God had finished His creation and “…behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).

What did Paul say long after the resurrection of the Savior?

“For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all his works.… For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:4, 10-11).

Apparently there were some, on account of disbelief in the Sabbath, that entered not into their rest and suffered spiritually because of it. Jesus said:

“The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

Jesus honored the Sabbath by worshipping in the synagogue. It was His custom (Luke 4:16). The Sabbath existed from the beginning, and there is no evidence that the Savior changed it.

In fact, the Sabbath was to be in existence throughout eternity. Speaking of the end of times:

“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. 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” (Isaiah 66:22-23).

For what reason? Let us see what the Lord says:

“Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them” (Ezekiel 20:12).

Did the Savior Do Away with the Law?

Another excuse by some to not keep the seventh-day Sabbath is that the Savior did away with the law upon the cross so that we are no longer under the law but are under grace. But how can one do away with the law? If the law is done away with, then consequently there is no sin; and if there is no sin, then there is no need of a Savior. The people who teach this doctrine are mistaken. Christ’s great commission was to save the people from their sins, not in their sins.

The breaking of the Sabbath in the old days was a very serious sin; “…sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).

Keeping the Sabbath Day holy is the fourth commandment. What did the Savior say about the law?

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

What did James say?

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2: 8-12).

When Did the Disciples Meet Together?

There is one other very deceptive teaching which tries in a subtle way to make it appear, without any scriptural support, that the Savior and his disciples changed the Sabbath — the seventh day — to the first day of the week:

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19).

This was not an arranged meeting between Jesus and His disciples; for it was not because of the Sabbath, but “…the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews.…”

This same instance was recounted by Luke:

“…Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:36-37).

Nowhere in the Bible is there the slightest intimation that Jesus would change the Sabbath. What did He say? He said it was well to do good on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10-12).

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16).

“Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).

“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20).

The event for which this admonition was given did not take place until some thirty years after His ascension. (Jerusalem was besieged in AD 66 by Cestius.)

When Did the Disciples Break Bread?

Again let us look in the book of Acts after the Savior’s ascension, in regards to the claim that the Sabbath Day had been changed. In Acts 20:7, the impression could be conveyed that such was the case because the disciples were together on the first day of the week to “break bread”.

Of course as reasoning goes, there must be some spiritual significance to this. And what greater honor could be paid than to change the sacred attributes of the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day and then, for good measure, call it the Lord’s Day? And that of course has been done.

But the first day is not the “Sabbath”; it is the “Lord’s Day”. The first day of the week being the Lord’s Day has not changed the Bible Sabbath one jot or one tittle. The seventh-day Sabbath still remains the “Sabbath of the Lord thy God” (Exodus 20:10).

We know from further study of Acts that the breaking of bread was a daily occurrence:

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46).

Why did they do this? They couldn’t hold meetings of the believers in the temple; they had to go from house to house to administer the sacrament.

How Important is the Fourth Commandment?

No, there is not one text in the New or Old Testaments which would indicate that the changing of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day has the endorsement of God. No, not one! The Sabbath Day commandment is number four on the list and is just as important as the rest. Let us go back to what James said:

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

In other words, if a man commits adultery, he is guilty of breaking all of the commandments. Would it not then apply equally to the fourth commandment also? I think so. But is the fourth commandment as important?

There are so many scriptures in the Bible that promise great blessings if the Sabbath is faithfully kept — and so many horrible cursings if not kept — that I cannot help but think that it is just as or even more important than the others. And the word everlasting is used in many of them! Remember, keeping the Sabbath is in remembrance of the covenant between Israel and God.

What Was Wilford Woodruff’s Opinion?

Now let us apply all that I have written to the Latter-day Saints or Mormons. We claim that Joseph Smith brought forth the fullness of the gospel. Yet he accepted the first-day-of-the-week Sabbath without question.

There is no mention of the seventh-day Sabbath being lived in any revelations or discourses that were given. The only reference on this subject came in the journal of Wilford Woodruff in January 1868, several years after Joseph Smith’s passing. Wilford Woodruff wrote the following:

“Again there is another subject I wish to speak off. There is one subject upon my mind & has been for years that is contrary to my Practice & the Practice of this People & the that is Concerning the Sabbath.
I never thought that the Jews or ten Tribes of Israel would Ever keep the gentile Sabbath. That is the first day of the week.

When I was Baptized into this Church I was keeping the Saturday for the Sabbath. But I knew the Later day saints were the true Church of Christ & if I had imbibed 100 tradition I would have given them up for this. I don’t know as the Latter day Saints will Ever keep this day & it does not make any difference whether the do or not for the Lord will dictate them Just as he please in all those things.

But when Moses received this Commandment to keep the seventh day of the week The Lord [said] this law shall remain as a Statue Between me & the House of Israel forever throughout all your Generation. I have Never found this Commandment Changed By any revelation from God.

Jesus & the Apostles kept the 7 day of the week Called the Jewish Sabbath. Yet the Apostles did meet in some Instances on the first day of the week to Break bread &c. Constantine Changed the day of worship from the seventh to the first day of the week about 600 years after Christ [actually 400 years after Christ].

We received a Revelation in the doctrine & Covenants in the Early age of this Church to Meet upon the Lords day to Break Bread &c. But the Lord did not reveal which day of our time was the Exact d[ay?] that the Lord Commanded Israel to keep.

At the Close of the remarks President Young read the revelation and said that there had been so much Change in time that we do not know the Exact time that was the seventh day. President Young made many remarks upon various subjects” (Wilford Woodruff Journal, Volume 6, pp. 390-391; emphasis added).

According to Wilford Woodruff’s journal entry, the subject had been on his mind for years. It was apparent that he felt that the Sabbath should be the seventh day, for he said that it “… is contrary to my Practice and the Practice of this People….”

The Gentile Sabbath

“I have never thought that the Jews or ten Tribes of Israel would Ever keep the gentile Sabbath. That is the first day of the week(emphasis added).

It is quite evident that Wilford Woodruff understood that he was living in the time of the Gentiles. Then he says:

“…it does not make any difference whether the[y] [the Gentiles] do or not, for the Lord will dictate [to] them Just as he please[s] in all those things.”

In other words, it was the time of the Gentiles. It was their Sabbath. But when the time of the Gentiles comes to an end and the true blood of Israel including the true Jews begin to be gathered in, they will not accept the Gentile Sabbath.

It is surprising also that Wilford Woodruff mentions that there was only one revelation received by Joseph Smith that comes anywhere near to mentioning anything that should change the Sabbath Day.

He does not mention Doctrine and Covenants Section 59, which briefly mentions portions of the Ten Commandments. Then verse 10 says:

“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High.”

Then verse 12 says:

“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” (emphasis added).

It is plainly seen here that the Lord’s Day was indeed the Sabbath of the Gentiles, as President Woodruff understood it. The recorded date of this revelation was August 7, 1831, which was a Sunday.

President Woodruff then quotes Moses:

“… this law shall remain as a Statu[t]e Between me and the House of Israel forever throughout all your Generation[s].”

Next he comments, “I have Never found this Commandment Changed By any revelation from God.”

Then President Woodruff mentions that “Jesus & the Apostles kept the… Sabbath”, etc.

He also mentions that when he was baptized into the Church he was keeping the Saturday Sabbath, but after coming into the Church he changed it accordingly.

I find it kind of strange for Brigham Young to use the lame excuse that we really didn’t know which was the seventh day. If the Lord said the first day of the week (Sunday) was called the Lord’s Day, then the seventh day would naturally be Saturday. Being such an intelligent man, how could he not figure that out?

So by this revelation did the Lord really change the Sabbath Day? This is already evident: No, He did not. He was careful not to call the first day the Sabbath Day because it was not. It was the Lord’s Day, the same name the Apostles called it in the Bible.

The Lord knew what He was doing. He was allowing the Gentiles to use the Lord’s Day as their day of rest. And He promised them blessings if they kept it in a sincere manner.

The Most Challenging Day of the Week

In most cases the people in the early restored church did honor the Lord’s Day as their Sabbath. In accordance with this commandment, both men and women in the Church, especially those who had families — but particularly the women — had the most challenging day of the week.

Each woman had to get herself, her husband, and her children ready for Sunday School and church. There was the pressing and starching of clothes and all else that is involved in getting the family spruced up in their best.

The horses had to be harnessed, the cows had to be milked, and the men had to prepare and organize for their various church responsibilities. In many of the families it was the busiest and most stressful day of the week, especially for the women.

Today it is a little — but not much — easier for the women. Some women I have heard, mostly in a joking manner but with some truth involved, make the comment that when the Lord said that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, that it is in fact true. The work that needs to be done on the Sabbath has been left for the women to do.

It seems surprising that with all of Brigham Young’s wisdom that, by some, he has been compared to Solomon in that he would not notice and possibly question why the workload was so great — especially on the women — on a day that was supposed to be a day of rest. To me, rest means relaxation, doing nothing, and taking it easy.

The Jews at the time of the Savior had it down so that one could only go so far from home on the Sabbath, just a few steps. It was called a Sabbath Day’s journey.

Why a Day of Rest?

When God said in the Book of Genesis that on the seventh day He rested, I believe He really meant it. After all, He had just completed His work of creating this beautiful world. Whether or not it took Him a billion years to His day, it doesn’t matter. He needed a rest. He wanted to relax and take it easy after going to all of the trouble of preparing an earth for His children.

God said to His children: You are going to remember this great work I have done for you by your act of doing the same thing every seven days. If you don’t do this, you will soon forget the great work I have done for you and who your Father in Heaven is. And that is why it is so important that we keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the day of rest.

Sunday Is a Work Day?

Even though the Doctrine and Covenants intimates that rest should be done on the Lord’s Day, it is really not a day of rest according to the Lord’s word. Remember that He said, Six days shalt thou labor. He is stating clearly that the first day, along with the next five, are workdays. So now are you beginning to understand?

The first day of the week is a workday, as every woman knows. It is the hardest and most stressful day of the week. It is when we work the hardest, not for men or for ourselves but for the Lord. I imagine it was His hardest day also to get the earth in its proper place in the universe to begin His creation procedure. Whew!

On the first day of the week, it is recorded that the Savior ascended into heaven. It was really a special day. The Lord’s Day was well named, for it was the day when He overcame all things, even death. This day celebrated an entirely different happening and had nothing to do with the Sabbath.

Do we have two days of rest then? No, Israel has only one — the seventh day. The first day is when we work for the Lord.

The Falling Away of the Gentiles

The Gentile church still keeps the first day, but the Lord has indicated that:

“… the last [Gentiles] shall be first, and the first [Israel] shall be last” (1 Nephi 13:42).

First the Savior came to the Jews, and the Jews rejected Him. Then His disciple Paul went to the Gentiles who accepted the gospel wholeheartedly.

The Lord’s church was set up among the Gentiles; but over time the Gentiles, because of their mixed blood, soon had hundreds of different understandings of the Savior’s teachings. As a result, the church became totally corrupted (the great apostasy).

But it had been prophesied that those who were the last would have the gospel preached to them first. Therefore, the Lord sent the Prophet Joseph Smith to do this great work, but, just as in Moses’ time, the Gentile nation has rejected the higher laws.

The Gentiles initially accepted the fullness of the gospel firsthand, but, even before Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, he could not reveal all to them because he said that those of his own apostles would seek his life if he revealed all that he knew. And just like the Jews killed their Savior, the Gentiles likewise killed their own savior.

A few understood and followed the Lord’s instructions, but then gradually, as predicted, there would be a falling away. And just like John Taylor said, the day would come when you couldn’t tell the difference between a Latter-day Saint and a blackleg. Isaiah said:

“They have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant.”

The Time of the Gentiles Has Ended

Because of the leaders who have acted according to the desires of the people, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been corrupted by the Gentiles, and the time of their tenure has ended. Now the Lord will commence His cleansing. The Gentiles who now control the Church will be exposed and discarded, and the true blood of Israel will be identified and take their rightful place.

Yes, Wilford Woodruff understood that someday this would be the case. What did he say?

“I have never thought that the Jews or ten Tribes of Israel would Ever keep the gentile Sabbath. That is the first day of the week.”

But by Wilford Woodruff’s speech you can tell he did not want to get the ire of Brigham Young, so he did not elaborate too much. Yes, this very wise gentleman Wilford Woodruff understood that, when the time of the Gentiles ended, this Gentile Sabbath would be done away with, and the seventh-day Sabbath would be reinstated.

Charlemagne, way back in history, established the first-day Sabbath, and Joseph Smith was rightfully never given instructions to rectify it. It was the Gentile Sabbath.

The true Sabbath was made for the twelve tribes of Israel and the tribe of Levi. As Wilford Woodruff said:

“I don’t know as the Latter day Saints will Ever keep this day & it does not make any difference whether the[y] do or not.”

Why? Because they were Gentiles, and it was the time of the Gentiles.

This same Gentile nation had so corrupted the law of plural marriage and the law of adoption that God had this great man Wilford Woodruff issue the Manifesto. The federal government thought it was because they wanted to become a state that the Manifesto was issued.

This was true in part, but it was mainly due to so many of the priesthood holders breaking these laws by abusing them that these laws were taken from the Church and made an individual choice. Remember, if you don’t keep a law, it is broken.

Don’t we as Latter-day Saints know that the time of the Gentiles has ended? Each one of us must begin to live at least the Ten Commandments as given to the children of Israel. This includes keeping the seventh-day Sabbath and also working on the first day for the Lord.

It is a wonderful thought. Most of us could easily keep the seventh-day Sabbath. To most of us it is not a work day anyway, and on Sunday how much work could be done for the Lord?

If all of the members of the Church were to shed their Sunday clothes after services or were to hold their services on Saturday evening and then go to work for the Lord on the Lord’s Day building whatever might be needed to build up His Kingdom, contributing millions of work hours building homes for the poor, planting gardens, and making His footstool beautiful, wouldn’t that be a marvelous thing? Think about it!

Remember, the time of the Gentiles is over. They are done, kaput! We now as Israelites must start adhering to at least the Ten Commandments. That would include the fourth commandment. The end times are coming, and we must be prepared, for we know that all those who are not keeping the Ten Commandments and who are not living in places of refuge will be destroyed in the promised calamities.

Separation of the Righteous from the Wicked

Have you wondered how the Lord would separate the righteous from the wicked? Possibly this is one of the ways. Those who do not keep the true Sabbath include every heathen nation and all of the Christians, both Catholic and Protestants.

You say that it then would include all of the so-called Jews and the Mohammedans. No, it would not include them because they do not accept Christ as the Savior of the world. What about the Seventh-Day Adventists? Well, have they accepted Joseph Smith?

All of the above-mentioned groups including the Seventh-Day Adventists do not keep or understand the Lord’s Day, which is Sunday. It will be up to the Lord to save whom He will, for He is a merciful God. Let us be prepared in any case. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy!

“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:13-17).