When I was growing up, my mom used to take me to the Seventh-day Adventist church. When I was about 13 years old and in the process of figuring out religion and truth, I read an article in a well-known Adventist magazine. At the time, I thought it made good sense so I cut it out and saved it. The article explained that it is was a good thing to go out to eat at restaurants on the Sabbath because it saved Adventist women the work of food preparation and clean up in the kitchen and made the Sabbath a more enjoyable day for them. At that time I did not know my Bible, I was not studying it and I was unconverted. In my later teens and early twenties, I lived the life of the world with the heartache it brings. Obviously, I do not blame my choices on this article, however, I do remember that a turning point in my life of sin was facilitated by a disregard for the Sabbath — in not seeing the Sabbath as something so important that it is actually a sin against God to disregard it.
Therefore, now that I have been converted and have surrendered my life to Christ and have a more Biblical understanding of the Sabbath from studying the Bible for myself, I am writing this article on the very same topic. This time with God’s reasoning, not man’s.
Without further ado… What a wonderful gift God has given us in the Sabbath hasn’t He? Since the time I fully surrendered my will to God, the Sabbath has meant more and more to me because Jesus has meant more and more to me, and the Sabbath means something to Him. However, I do understand that perhaps the Sabbath has seemed like a burden to some who have had bad experiences in our church. Even as a youth, I remember hearing conflicting ideas about the Sabbath from well-meaning church members. Sadly, as an unconverted youth not studying the Bible, I was easily blown about, not grounded on the Rock of Christ and His Word.
IS IT OKAY TO EAT OUT ON THE SABBATH?
Amidst the various opinions regarding Sabbath-keeping is the question: “Is it okay to go out to eat on the Sabbath?” To some this is perhaps an insignificant question. Afterall, the Sabbath comes each week, and we eat on that day too. However, when I studied the word of God to understand His will, I found that the implications are not as small as on first glance.
FINDING THE ANSWER IN GOD’S WORD
To me, the most logical place to begin studying this question would be the Sabbath commandment itself. “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, 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” (KJV, Exodus 20:8-11).
I stopped to think about what God meant for us today when He says in the fourth commandment that “thy manservant, nor thy maidservant” shall not do any work on the Sabbath. The question that immediately crossed my mind was, what do I call the people at restaurants who bring me food? Servers! And secondly, what makes them servers? I pay them money to serve me or to work for me. In other words, if I pay a person to do something for me, I have made them my manservant or maidservant. Also, the Hebrew word for manservant, “ebed,” is defined as “a servant” and is taken from the word “abad” which means “to work (in any sense)” (Strong’s Concordance).
AM I CAUSING SOMEONE ELSE TO SIN AND ROBBING THEM OF REST?
So God is plainly telling us in the Sabbath commandment itself that we are not to employ anyone on the Sabbath. Why? It makes perfect sense — God wants everyone, including “Gentiles,” or those who do not have a relationship with Him, to also enjoy the rest He has to give them on the Sabbath, even if they don’t realize it. If I am causing them to work on the Sabbath by paying them to serve me whether it be at a restaurant or a store, I am causing them, albeit unknowingly, to sin by breaking the fourth commandment. I am also robbing them of the rest that belongs to them by the command of God even when they don’t realize it yet.
What if I were given the opportunity to study the Bible with the server at a restaurant I patronized on Sabbath. How could I not look like a hypocrite when telling them that God wants them to rest from their work on the Sabbath if I myself have actually paid them to work on the Sabbath?
SABBATH TRADITION THAT TRANSGRESSED THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD
Jesus says, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3). The Jews had made traditions or rules for themselves that in actuality broke God’s Ten Commandments. For example, the Jews came to believe that it was a sin for them to light a candle on the Sabbath. However, Jews were allowed to pay a Gentile to light the candle for them. Although we do not consider it a sin to light a candle on the Sabbath, do we consider it a sin for us as Seventh-day Adventists to work at a restaurant or store on the Sabbath? We do. And yet we are willing to pay a “Gentile” to work for us at a restaurant or store on the Sabbath. We condemn the Jews in Jesus’ time for being hypocrites, but are we doing the same thing today
SABBATH KEEPING AND THE GOLDEN RULE
The term we use today for paying another person to do something you’re not willing to do yourself is called “doing your dirty work.” Even the world understands that it is “dirty” to pay another person to do something that you’re not willing to do. But, Christ gave us the golden rule that says, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Would we want someone to pay us to work on the Sabbath? How many of us can share testimonies of how difficult it was to give up their jobs to keep the Sabbath commandment? If that wasn’t enough, God specifically spelled it out for us by making it a part of the actual Sabbath commandment by saying that not only shall we not work, but neither shall we cause anyone else to work. This includes even the animals that have no clue about the Sabbath!
One of the biggest blessings God gives His children is the Sabbath, a time where we can rest in so many ways — physically, mentally and spiritually. Jesus wants to revive us so that we may experience a newness of life and enjoy a taste of eternity here and now. Jesus loves those who don’t know the Sabbath. He wants to bless them and help them even before they have come to a full knowledge of Him and His commandments. Therefore, if God wants even the cattle to rest, are not humans much more important?
As Jesus said in Mark 2:27, “The sabbath was made for man." Therefore, the Sabbath is not just for Seventh-day Adventists. Although we enjoy the biggest blessings from the Sabbath because we know and understand and are worshipping the Creator, there is a world full of Gentiles who God loves just as much. They also need the rest that the Sabbath offers, and perhaps we can be a blessing to them on the Sabbath even just by not contributing to their workload. By God’s grace, may they soon know the Lord of the Sabbath because God’s children have lived by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God