“The Model Sabbath-keeper” American Sentinel 10, 26, pp. 201-203.

June 27, 1895

ROBERT R. WHALEY, a Seventh-day Adventist, is now in jail at Centerville, Md.

He was placed there on complaint of a Methodist neighbor.

The compliant of the Methodist was that his seventh-day neighbor set out plants in his garden on Sunday.

If Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, should come to Maryland, would he enter the pew of this Methodist as he worships on Sunday, while his seventh-day, Christian neighbor, on his complaint, is locked in a cell,—would he enter that pew and say to the Methodist, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”? Would he?

Or would he go to the prisoner in his cell and say, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life;” and then visit Mr. Whaley’s home and speak words of comfort to the weary wife, and bless the prisoner’s little children?

Twelve honest, upright citizens of Rhea County, Tenn., are to be tried at Dayton, the county seat, July 1, on the charge of “violating the Sabbath.” These twelve men are Seventh-day Adventists, and their offense is that after resting the “Sabbath day according to the commandment,” they (without disturbing either the public or private worship of their neighbors) followed their usual vocations on Sunday.

On Which Side Would He Be Found?

If Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, should come to the court-room, at Dayton, next Monday, would he side with the professed Christians who are persecuting their seventh-day, Christian neighbors, or would he espouse the cause of the twelve men charged with “violating the Sabbath”? Would he be found at the prosecutor’s table aiding the first-day observers to convict their seventh-day neighbors, or would he be found in the prisoners’ dock, saying, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for there is the kingdom of heaven.”?

These questions can be answered with positive certainty by referring to the record of the attitude of Christ toward the Sabbath and toward self-constituted guardians of other men’s Sabbath-keeping, when he visited our world about nineteen hundred years ago. He is “the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.” And what he did then he would do now.

What did he do then? To better understand the conflict between Christ and the Pharisees of his day over the Sabbath question, it is necessary to briefly note the history of Sabbath-keeping among the Jews. The Lord, through the prophet Jeremiah, made the following promise to Israel:—

And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever. Jeremiah 17:24, 25.

On the other hand, should the people [202] divobey, they were threatened with the following judgments:—

But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched. Verse 27.

The Result of Disobedience.

They refused to obey, and the threatened judgments overtook them, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:18-21: “They burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.” And this was done “to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah.”

Those of the people who survived the siege were taken to Babylon, where they remained for seventy years; after which their descendants were permitted to return and rebuild Jerusalem.

Remembering that their city and temple had been destroyed, and their fathers taken into captivity because of a failure to hallow the Sabbath, one of the first resolutions they made after returning, was as follows:—

They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; … and if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the Sabbath. Nehemiah 10:29-31.

But a few years later the people disregarded their oath and again violated the Sabbath in the most flagrant manner, as recorded in Nehemiah 13:15, 16:—

In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s Warning.

Remembering that both their city and nation had been destroyed because of Sabbath-breaking, Nehemiah warns the people thus:—

Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath. Verses 17, 18.

From the days of Nehemiah to the coming of Christ, this threatened destruction of the Jewish nation was kept before the people by the priests, as a reason for the strict observance of the Sabbath. An almost endless number of hair-splitting rules for the observance of the Sabbath was enacted until the true Sabbath, and true Sabbath observance was lost sight of and a counterfeit, man-made sabbath, hedged about with traditional exactions, took its place.

The Sabbath of the Lord and the sabbath of the Jews were just as different and just as conflicting as were the Lord of the Sabbath and the Jewish leaders. Although these two Sabbaths occupied the same twenty-four hours, they could have been no more unlike in character if the sabbath of the Jews had been observed on Sunday.

True Sabbath observance is the hallowing of the hallowed day. The seventh day is the Sabbath, whether men recognize it or not. It is impossible to hallow the Sabbath on any other day than the one hallowed by the Lord. But it is possible to observe man’s erroneous ideas of Sabbath-keeping on the seventh day as did the Jews, without hallowing the Sabbath of the Lord. True Sabbath-keeping is a hallowing of the God-hallowed day in the God-appointed way.

The Sabbath of the Lord “was made for man,” not against him; it was a merciful institution. The sabbath of the Pharisees was unmerciful in that it enslaved men. It included in its prohibited work the rubbing out in the hands of a little grain with which to satisfy hunger. Mark 2:22-28. It prohibited the healing of the most pain-racked sufferer. Proof that healing the sick was included among the “work” prohibited by the sabbath of the Pharisees is found in Luke 13:11-14:—

False Sabbath-Keeping.

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.

Thus it is seen that when Christ came to Israel he found a traditional, priest-made Sabbath, and he found the Jewish rulers watching sharply for violators of it, lest its violation should result in again bringing upon them the judgments of God, whereby they would lose their place and nation and be again taken into captivity.

What should the Lord of the Sabbath do? Should he rescue the Sabbath from beneath the traditional sabbath of the Pharisees, or should he leave it buried forever beneath that tyrannical institution? To rescue it he must violate the laws enacted to enforce the man-made sabbath, and consequently, rest under the charge of being a Sabbath-breaker, and of making the people Sabbath-breakers, and thereby inviting the judgments of God upon the nation. This he must do, and suffer all the consequences: for it was prophesied of him that “He will magnify the law, and make it honorable” (Isaiah 42:21): and no part of the law was more dishonored by traditional enactments than was the Sabbath.

What He Did.

What the Lord of the Sabbath did under these circumstances he would do to-day, and what he did his followers ought to do to-day. It is recorded in Mark 3, that—

He entered again into the synagogue: and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

Here we have the Lord face to face with the issue. To refuse to heal the afflicted man would be to surrender the true Sabbath to the claims of the false sabbath. To heal the withered hand would be to subject himself to the charge of Sabbath-breaking, and endanger his life.

And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

This tells what the Lord of the Sabbath did; and the next verse tells what the defenders of the sabbath of tradition did:—

And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

Repeated Attempts To Kill Him.

The first account given by Mark of an attempt to “destroy” the Saviour is the one just quoted.

The first recorded attempt to “destroy him,” as given by Matthew, is on this same occasion, and for the same offense,—violating the traditional sabbath by healing contrary to law, and keeping the true Sabbath by healing the afflicted, and doing good on that day.

The first attempt to kill him, as recorded in Luke, is at this same time and for the same reason,—healing the withered hand on the Sabbath day.

The first attempt to “slay him,” recorded by John, was occasioned by his violating the traditional sabbath of the Pharisees. It is found in the fifth chapter of John, and reads thus:—

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath…. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day. Verses 5-9, 16.

The first sending of officers to arrest him to put him to death was occasioned by another healing on the Sabbath, another honoring of the true Sabbath, and a disregarding of the false, traditional, unmerciful sabbath of the Pharisees; and is recorded in the seventh chapter of John, as follows:—

Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? … If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day? … Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. Verses 19, 23, 30-32.

Again, in the ninth chapter it is recorded that when Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath day, the Jewish leaders declared in their rage, “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day.” Verse 16.

His Faithfulness.

Thus over and over again the Jewish leaders attempt to kill the Lord of the Sabbath because he violated their sabbath regulations and did honor to the true Sabbath. But notwithstanding he knew that they were watching him, and that every time he violated their sabbath laws he was endangering his life; still he persisted in doing that which was lawful on the Sabbath of the Lord, and that which was not lawful according to the sabbath laws of the Pharisees.

From these repeated attempts to kill the model Sabbath-keeper as a Sabbath-breaker, it is plain that when they do kill him, whatever may be the professed reasons, an important reason, if not the chief one will be that he violated what they declared was true Sabbath-keeping; but which, in fact, was Sabbath-breaking,—a sabbath observance which they themselves had originated, and upon the keeping of which they rested the existence of their city and nation.

In the eleventh chapter of John, it is recorded that the Pharisees called council and opened it thus:—

What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on [203] him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

It is very true, as the Lord had said, and as Nehemiah had reiterated, their place and nation did depend on the observance of the Sabbath; but they were now making it depend upon the observing of their false ideas of Sabbath-keeping. The council closed with these words from the lips of the high priest, Caiaphas:—

It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

The Real and the False Reason.

Thus the Sabbath-breakers deliberately decided to kill the model Sabbath-keeper in order to save the nation from the judgments of God. And they killed him (but not openly) on the charge of Sabbath-breaking. To have charged him publicly with Sabbath-breaking would have necessitated a public acknowledgement that he had healed on the Sabbath day, and this would have necessitated a public confession that he had power to work miracles, a fact which they were most desirous of concealing. Hence, they accused him before Pilate of being a civil offender,—“We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cesar, saying that he himself is Christ a king.”

This basely untrue and cruelly dishonest, civil charge availed, and the model Sabbath-keeper was murdered, by the Sabbath-breakers ostensibly as a civil offender; but in truth, as a religious offender.

The model Sabbath-keeper submitted to be nailed to the cross, and to perish as a malefactor, but he persistently and faithfully refused to submit to the laws enforcing a false Sabbath, and thereby rescued the Sabbath of the Lord from beneath the traditions of men.

The Parallels.

Christ observed the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; so do Seventh-day Adventists.

There is absolutely no scriptural authority for the traditional sabbath observance of the persecutors of Christ; neither is there any scriptural authority for the Sunday-sabbath of the persecutors of Seventh-day Adventists.

The Sabbath observance of the Pharisees was man-made, and yet the salvation of the individual and the nation was made dependent upon it; it was therefore the sign of their salvation, and that a salvation by human works. The Sunday-sabbath of to-day is a man-made institution, and yet the salvation of the individual and the nation is made dependent upon its observance; it is therefore the sign of salvation by human works.

Christ broke the laws enforcing the observance of a sabbath made by man, in order that he might faithfully keep the Sabbath made for man; so do Seventh-day Adventists.

Christ could not submit to the laws enacted to do honor to a rival sabbath without dishonoring the true Sabbath; neither can Seventh-day Adventists.

Christ, because of his faithfulness to the Sabbath, was called a Sabbath-breaker and accused of “perverting the nation.” For their faithfulness to the same Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists are called Sabbath-breakers, and accused of “corrupting public morals.”

Christ was crucified to save the nation from the judgments of God; Seventh-day Adventists are persecuted for the same reason.

Christ was persecuted before a civil court, ostensibly as a civil offender, when in truth his offense lay in his religion. Seventh-day Adventists are persecuted before the courts ostensibly as civil offenders, when in reality their offense lies in their religious beliefs and practices.

Christ was faithful in his Sabbath-keeping, even unto death; so have Seventh-day Adventists been, and the Lord of the Sabbath being their helper, so will they be.

Again we ask, If Christ should come to Maryland or Tennessee, would he espouse the cause of the persecuting Sunday-keepers or the cause of the persecuted Sabbath-keepers?

Share this: