Another name for the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

What is the purpose of the Sabbath? Who is it for?

He [Christ] made the Sabbath. By Him it was set apart as a memorial of the work of creation. It points to Him as both the Creator and the Sanctifier (The Desire of Ages: 288).

Following the example of the Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that as he should look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God's great work of creation; and that as he should be­hold the evidences of God's wisdom and goodness, his heart might he filled with love and reverence for his Maker....

God saw that a Sabbath was essential for man, even in Paradise. He needed to lay aside his own interests and pursuits for one day of the seven, that he might more fully contemplate the works of God, and meditate upon His power and goodness. He needed a Sabbath, to remind him more vividly of God, and to awaken gratitude because all that he enjoyed and possessed came from the beneficent hand of the Creator (Patriarchs and Prophets: 47-48).

CC Ghost of Kuji on Flickr

The Lord draws very nigh to His people on the day that He has blessed and sanctified (Testimonies to Ministers: 137).

He [God] gives it to man as a day in which he may rest from labour, and devote himself to worship and the improvement of his spiritual condition (Testimonies volume 4: 249).

Sabbath, a Test of Loyalty.- Every man has been placed on trial, as were Adam and Eve in Eden. As the tree of knowledge was placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, so the Sabbath command is placed in the midst of the Decalogue.

In regard to the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the restriction was made, 'Ye shall not eat of it,… lest ye die' (Gen. 3:3). Of the Sabbath, God said, Ye shall not defile it, but keep it holy...

As the tree of knowledge was the test of Adam's obedience, so the fourth command is the test that God has given to prove the loyalty of all His people. The experience of Adam is to be a warning to us so long as time shall last. It warns us not to receive any assurance from the mouth of men or of angels that will detract one jot or tittle from the sacred law of Jehovah (RH Aug. 30, 1898, S.D.A. Bible Commentary volume 1: 1106).

The Sabbath is the great question which is to decide the destiny of souls (Testimonies to Ministers: 472).

It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord (Testimonies volume 6: 356).

What attitudes and actions should surround the Sabbath?

From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath (Leviticus 23:32).

And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42).

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While preparation for the Sabbath is to be made all through the week, Friday is to be the special preparation day...On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots he blackened and the baths be taken...The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food...

We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten...

While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day...

Many need instruction as to how they should appear in the assembly for worship on the Sabbath. They are not to enter the presence of God in the common clothing worn during the week. All should have a special Sabbath suit, to be worn when attending service in God's house.

While we should not conform to worldly fashions, we are not to be indifferent in regard to our outward appearance. We are to be neat and trim, though without adornment....

Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight...

On this day all differences between brethren, whether in the family or in the church, should be put away. Let all bitterness and wrath and malice be expelled from the soul...

We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time. Before the Sabbath begins, the mind as well as the body should be withdrawn from worldly business...We should each Sabbath reckon with our souls to see whether the week that has ended has brought spiritual gain or loss...

Before the setting of the sun let the members of the family assemble to read God's Word, to sing and pray...At family worship let the children take a part. Let all bring their Bibles and each read a verse or two. Then let some familiar hymn be sung, followed by prayer...Thus you invite Jesus as a welcome guest into your home and heart...

I counsel you...'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.' If you desire your children to observe the Sabbath according to the commandment, you must teach them by both precept and example. The deep engraving of truth in the heart is never wholly effaced...

When the Sabbath is thus remembered, the temporal will not be allowed to encroach upon the spiritual. No duty pertaining to the six working days will be left for the Sabbath. During the week our energies will not be so exhausted in temporal labour that on the day when the Lord rested and was refreshed we shall be too weary to engage in His service (Testimonies volume 6:354-359).

Source: Bill Bradford on Flickr.

When the Sabbath commences, we should place a guard upon ourselves, upon our acts and our words, lest we rob God by appropriating to our own use that time which is strictly the Lord's. We should not do ourselves, nor suffer our children to do, any manner of our own work for a livelihood, or anything which could have been done on the six working days. Friday is the day of preparation...

Nothing which will in the sight of Heaven be regarded as a violation of the holy Sabbath should be left unsaid or undone, to be said or done upon the Sabbath (Testimonies volume 2: 702-703).

Work that is neglected until the beginning of the Sabbath should remain undone until it is past (Patriarchs and Prophets: 296).

Before the setting of the sun let the members of the family assemble to read God's Word, to sing and pray...

At family worship let the children take a part. Let all bring their Bibles and each read a verse or two. Then let some familiar hymn be sung, followed by prayer...In a simple petition tell the Lord your needs and express gratitude for His mercies. Thus you invite Jesus as a welcome guest into your home and heart...

The Sabbath school and the meeting for worship occupy only a part of the Sabbath. The portion remaining to the family may be made the most sacred and precious season of all the Sabbath hours. Much of this time parents should spend with their children...

In pleasant weather let parents walk with their children in the fields...Tell them of the way of salvation...Present before the children Jesus, as a child obedient to His parents, as a youth faithful and industrious, helping to support the family...From time to time read with them the interesting stories in Bible history. Question as to what they have learned in the Sabbath school, and study with them the next Sabbath's lesson (Testimonies volume 6: 357-359).

On the holy rest day, above all other days, we should study the mes­sages that God has written for us in nature. We should study the Saviour's parables where He spoke them, in the fields and groves, under the open sky, among the grass and flowers. As we come close to the heart of nature, Christ makes His presence real to us, and speaks to our hearts of His peace and love (Christ's Object Lessons: 26).

As the sun goes down, let the voice of praise mark the close of the sacred hours and invite God's presence through the cares of the week of labour. Thus parents can make the Sabbath, as it should be, the most joyful day of the week. They can lead their children to regard it as a delight, the day of days, the holy of the Lord, honourable (Testimonies volume 6: 359).

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The Sabbath is not to be a day of useless idleness. Both in the home and in the church a spirit of service is to be manifested. He who gave us six days for our temporal work has blessed and sanctified the seventh day and set it apart for Himself. On this day He will in a special manner bless all who consecrate themselves to His service (Testimonies volume 6: 361-362).

The Sabbath is not intended to be a period of useless inactivity. The law forbids secular labour on the rest day of the Lord; the toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labour for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon that day; but as God ceased His labour of creating, and rested upon the Sabbath and blessed it, so man is to leave the occupations of his daily life, and devote those sacred hours to healthful rest, to worship, and to holy deeds (The Desire of Ages: 207).

Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:12).

Jesus stated to them that the work of relieving the afflicted was in harmony with the Sabbath law. It was in harmony with the work of God's angels, who are ever descending and ascending between heaven and earth to minister to suffering humanity...

He will not be held guiltless who neglects to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. God's holy rest day was made for man, and acts of mercy are in perfect harmony with its intent. God does not desire His creatures to suffer an hour's pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day (The Desire of Ages: 206-207).

What are some "Dos" and "Don'ts" of Sabbath-keeping?

Those who are not fully converted to the truth frequently let their minds run freely upon worldly business, and, although they may rest from physical toil upon the Sabbath, their tongues speak out what is in their minds; hence these words concerning cattle, crops, losses, and gains. All this is Sabbath-breaking (Testimonies volume 2: 703).

A partial observance of the Sabbath law is not accepted by the Lord and has a worse effect upon the minds of sinners than if you made no profession of being a Sabbath-keeper...’I the Lord thy God am a jealous God,' is thundered from Sinai. No partial obedience, no divided interest, is accepted by Him...

It is not a small matter to rob a neighbour...yet he who would scorn to defraud his fellow man will without shame rob his heavenly Father of the time that He has blessed and set apart for a special purpose (Testimonies volume 4: 248-250).

In establishing new churches, ministers should give careful instruction as to the proper observance of the Sabbath. We must be guarded, lest the lax practices that prevail among Sunday-keepers shall be followed by those who profess to observe God's holy rest day. The line of demarcation is to be made clear and distinct between those who bear the mark of God's kingdom and those who bear the sign of the kingdom of rebellion (Testimonies volume 6: 353).

If thou...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 (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Those who sanctified the Lord God in their hearts by a strictly devotional frame of mind, and who sought to improve the sacred hours in keeping the Sabbath to the best of their ability, and to honour God by calling the Sabbath a delight - these the angels were specially blessing with light and health, and special strength was given them (Testimonies volume 2: 702, 705).

The Sabbath and the family were alike instituted in Eden, and in God's purpose they are indissolubly linked together. On this day more than on any other, it is possible for us to live the life of Eden. It was God's plan for the members of the family to be associated in work and study, in worship and recreation, the father as priest of his house­hold, and both father and mother as teachers and companions of their children.

But the results of sin, having changed the conditions of life, to a great degree prevent this association. Often the father hardly sees the faces of his children throughout the week. He is almost wholly deprived of opportunity for companionship or instruction. But God's love has set a limit to the demands of toil. Over the Sabbath He places His merciful hand. In His own day He preserves for the family opportunity for communion with Him, with nature, and with one another (Education: 250-251).

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The Sabbath should be made so interesting to our families that its weekly return will be hailed with joy. In no better way can parent exalt and honour the Sabbath than by devising means to impart proper instruction to their families and interesting them in spiritual things, giving them correct views of the character of God and what He requires of us in order to perfect Christian characters and attain to eternal life. Parents, make the Sabbath a delight, that your children may look forward to it and have a welcome in their hearts for it (Testimonies volume 2: 585).

I fear that we often travel on this day when it might be avoided...We should be more careful about travelling on the boats or cars on this day...

It may be necessary for us to travel on the Sabbath; but so far as possible we should secure our tickets and make all necessary arrangements on some other day. When starting on a journey we should make every possible effort to plan so as to avoid reaching our destination on the Sabbath (Testimonies volume 2: 359-360).

God requires not only that we refrain from physical labour upon the Sabbath, but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. The fourth commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things or by engaging in light and trifling conversation. Talking upon anything or everything which may come into the mind is speaking our own words...upon the Sabbath they should conscientiously restrict themselves to conversation upon religious themes—to present truth, present duty, the Christian's hopes and fears, trials, conflicts, and afflictions; to over­coming at last, and the reward to be received (Testimonies volume 2: 703-704).

He who shuts himself up to himself is not filling the position that God designed he should. The proper cultivation of the social elements in our nature brings us into sympathy with others and is a means of development and strength to us in the service of God (Steps to Christ: 101).

We need to cherish and cultivate a spirit of true worship, a spirit of devotion upon the Lord's holy, sanctified day. We should assemble together believing that we shall receive comfort and hope, light and peace from Jesus Christ (The Faith I Live By: 35).

What about Private Bible Study and Prayer?

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As a means of intellectual training, the opportunities of the Sabbath are invaluable. Let the Sabbath-school lesson be learned, not by a hasty glance at the lesson scripture on Sabbath morning, but by careful study for the next week on Sabbath afternoon, with daily review or illustration during the week...

In listening to the sermon, let parents and children note the text and the scriptures quoted, and as much as possible of the line of thought, to repeat to one another at home. This will go far toward relieving the weariness with which children so often listen to a sermon, and it will cultivate in all a habit of attention and of connected thought.

Meditation on the themes thus suggested will open to the student treasures of which he has never dreamed (Education: 251-252).

Is Sabbath-keeping just legalism?

Source: Kheel Center on Flickr.

We are not merely to observe the Sabbath as a legal matter. We are to understand its spiritual bearing upon all the transactions of life. All who regard the Sabbath as a sign between them and God, showing that He is the God who sanctifies them, will represent the principles of His government.

They will bring into daily practice the laws of His kingdom. Daily it will be their prayer that the sanctification of the Sabbath may rest upon them. Every day they will have the companionship of Christ and will exemplify the perfection of His character (Testimonies volume 6: 353-354).

In the new birth the heart is brought into harmony with God, as it is brought into accord with His law. When this mighty change has taken place in the sinner, he has passed from death unto life, from sin unto holiness, from transgression and rebellion to obedience and loyalty (The Great Controversy: 468).

Editor's Note:
Some people say that keeping the seventh day holy is an act of legalism—because by keeping the law we think we are saved. But, in reality, honoring the seventh-day Sabbath is one of the highest ways of recognizing the truth of salvation only through Jesus and disassociating ourselves from attempts to save ourselves through good works. The law was created by God and He asks us to keep His commandments if we love him, but we cannot do this without His Spirit and His help every step of the way.

Grace is only necessary because there is a law. Without a law, grace is unnecessary and superfluous. The fact that grace abounds (see 2 Corinthians 9:8) proves that the law is still there. The keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath is a celebration of the grace God offers us sinners. God says that the Sabbath commemorates His work of sanctification in our lives (Exodus 31:13; Hebrews 4:10). It is a sign that we love God and want to honor Him with our beliefs and actions. Read more about salvation, grace, and the law.