Keeping God’s Sabbaths Holy

May 2011

Dear Brethren:

Greetings to you all in this new month of May, providing the chance in a letter to
again confirm our love and appreciation for all of you who share that love of God’s revealed
truth originally delivered. Your continued faithfulness is part of the very fulfillment of God’s
promise that the gates of hell would never prevail against God’s true church.

This month’s letter will be devoted to what Mr. Armstrong taught about God’s church
neglecting to keep God’s Sabbaths as they should. We need to review and wake up to the real
seriousness of keeping God’s Sabbaths holy.

Do you keep God’s Sabbaths holy? Do you find God’s weekly and annual Sabbaths
a real delight and joy? Or is it a type of yoke or bondage to you? Are you sometimes glad
when the Sabbath is over? Does time seem to drag endlessly or incessantly for you on God’s
Sabbaths? Do you have to force yourself to be in a right attitude about keeping God’s
Sabbaths holy? Do you pursue your own ways or find your own pleasures or speak your own
words on God’s Sabbaths? Any of these troublesome pitfalls, as Mr. Armstrong taught, can
keep you out of God’s Kingdom. Many times God’s Sabbaths can become so familiar and
commonplace to us that we do not realize we are becoming careless about them.

Within that body of critically important Old Covenant prophecies, God stressed and
emphasized only three of the Ten Commandments—warnings against idolatry, graven images
and Sabbath-breaking. He said, “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image . . . for I am
the Eternal your God. Ye shall keep my Sabbaths [plural] . . . I am the Eternal.”

Then He promised, “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do
them; Then I will give you”: unprecedented material prosperity, victory over your nation’s
enemies and the assurance that I will walk among you in the land (Leviticus 26:3–4, read
verses 1–13).

“But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if
ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my
commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you”: I will bring
upon you the curses of national chastisement involving terror, disease, conquest by enemies,
drought, barrenness, wild beasts, pestilence, invasion and captivity—the promised fruit of
disobedience (Leviticus 26:14–39).

Why stress and emphasize just these three commandments? It is because these three,
more than others, were given to keep us in close contact with God! In actuality, we cannot
see God! We are far more prone to lose contact with God, whom we do not see, than with
close human beings we can see. Truly, it is easier to obey the commandments that regulate
our relationship with human associates, whom we see and with whom we talk, than to keep
a close and right relationship with God, whom we cannot see or hear.

Having our minds and interests set too closely upon material cares, duties, obligations,
interests and responsibilities—unaccompanied by sufficient prayer, Bible study, meditation
and fasting—becomes a form of idolatry, putting material and physical things before God in
our minds, hearts and affections! The pride of life can hinder our keeping God’s Sabbaths
properly—really keeping them as God intended. Neglecting to keep God’s Sabbaths as we
should is no light thing. It is our most important called responsibility.

On the very seventh day of what we call Creation week, God Himself rested on the
Sabbath day. He delighted in it! He greatly enjoyed that Sabbath day! He rested from His
great accomplishments, drinking in the joy that comes from achievements, something we
likewise ought to do every Sabbath. We should have accomplished worthwhile things like
earning an income by our week’s labor. And what can be more satisfying than the thrill of
accomplishment?

On that seventh day of Creation week God set that day apart for holy use and purpose.
He sanctified it from the other six days by resting. He made that interval of time, between
what is now called Friday sunset and Saturday sunset, holy time. He made future time holy.
Then in the fourth commandment he required us to: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it
holy . . . wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8–11).
We cannot hallow a day, but we can keep holy a day God hallowed. One cannot keep as
holy, time not made holy by God. No one can keep Sunday holy as the weekly Sabbath. No
one can keep a Sunday Pentecost holy as an annual Sabbath. God never made them holy!
To keep holy these holy times that belong to God means that God wants our time and our
minds on His Sabbaths.

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 [eternal life in God’s Kingdom] of Jacob thy father: for the mouth
of the Lord hath spoken it (Isaiah 58:13–14).

Three Facets to Keeping God’s Sabbaths

Here are three important facets to keeping God’s Sabbaths as we should. Let us
analyze and examine them in detail.

1. Your ways. This means course of life or mode of action, that is: your employment,
firm, company, practice, finances—the more serious business of making a livelihood. You
should not involve yourself in doing what you normally do during the week, those things by
which you feed, clothe and care for yourself and family, physically. This includes working
at your job or business, working around the house, sewing, heavier cooking and cleaning,
mowing the lawn, washing vehicles—all the things that pertain to your physical maintenance
during the normal course of the week. This is the day to be about God’s ways! You rest from
doing your ways. Devote this time to God’s business of eternal life. The Sabbaths give you
extra time to pray, study and meditate on the things of God—His conversion process and
mode of action—to increase the earnest of your inheritance. You will need all the spiritual
knowledge about God’s business you can acquire if you hope to be an active and living part
of God’s spiritual family one day.

2. Your pleasure. Your desire or delight, that which you take extra pleasure in doing.
Some examples: hunting, fishing, golfing, swimming, hiking (a leisurely walk is okay),
cards, movies (including TV movies), boating, four-wheeling, biking, snowmobiling, skiing,
hobbies—those things which take up the majority of your leisure time. Whatever your
pleasure or leisure time activity is, you should not engage in it on the Sabbath, neither in your
thoughts. You should engage in God’s pleasure on the Sabbath. What is God’s pleasure?
God has pleasure in those who separate themselves from this world (Ezra 10:11). God has
pleasure in our uprightness (1 Chronicles 29:17). The Eternal takes pleasure in them that fear
him (Psalm 147:11). The Eternal takes pleasure in His people (Psalm 149:4)—His begotten
children, and so should we in each other. God’s will (pleasure; Strong’s #7522) is to have His
law in action in our minds (Psalm 40:8). David said, “Teach me to do thy will [pleasure;
Strong’s #7522] for thou art my God.” God has given us His Sabbaths to learn to have an
interest and pleasure in His way of life. His good pleasure is to give us the Kingdom (Luke
12:32). “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom
for ever, even for ever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).

3. Your words. This is the spiritual application of the first two principles. “. . . for
out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). We talk about what
we are thinking. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Our words show
what is going on in our minds and hearts. This is obviously the most difficult of all pitfalls.
We may cease from our ways and our pleasures, but it is much more difficult to cease
thinking or talking about them. Really, it is no problem just to rest and do no physical
exertion on the Sabbath. Some people do this regularly seven days a week! Those who
cannot, will not, or do not control their minds call God’s Sabbaths bondage, because they
cannot wait until sunset to be about their ways and pleasures which they have been thinking
about all day anyway.

It behooves us to pay close attention to what we discuss in fellowship on God’s holy
Sabbaths. We can defile, profane, make irreverent and unholy God’s Sabbaths by not
practicing proper fellowship, but instead speaking our own words. We must all be united on
this. God is recording the names of those who properly worship Him by dwelling on His
will, pleasures and objectives, and discussing them with fellow members of His God family
in embryo
. Our Sabbath conversations are of the utmost interest to God. “Then they that
feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book
of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon
his name” (Malachi 3:16). One of God’s names is TRUTH. To think upon God’s name is to
meditate on His revealed truth or doctrine as it was originally delivered. Effective fellowship
requires that we have our minds on the things of God: His master plan, His work, His long-term conversion process in our lives, His desires for us to be a part of His future family,
Kingdom, and His intervention in our lives when we cry out for help.

True Christian fellowship is a desire to share God’s mind with one another as it was
originally revealed to us in His word through His end-time servant. Once you are able to get
your minds and thoughts upon God’s pleasure and God’s ways on God’s Sabbaths, you will
find out what a real delight and joy the Sabbath can be. “Then shalt thou delight thyself in
the Lord” (Isaiah 58:14). How do we accomplish this?

How to Find Delight in the Sabbath

Firstly, we should never fellowship with brethren in the attitude that we are
responsible for pointing out their errors. None of us is perfect (Matthew 7:3)! Secondly,
review church literature on the revealed truth, listen to Sabbath messages and discuss them
with one another. Thirdly, devote your Sabbath time to extra Bible study, extra prayer and
especially extra meditation! This is your one time in the week when you do not have to
worry about getting to the job, paying bills, working out schedules, cleaning house and all
the other things you do that takes away from your study, prayer and meditation during the
week. This is God’s time! Free from all your daily cares and worries. Free to be completely
absorbed in God and His Word.

However, there is one more basic element necessary to make all this possible. It
revolves around the preparation day. Many do not or cannot properly observe the Sabbath
because they have not understood how to prepare for it. The preparation day is any day
which precedes immediately the weekly or annual Sabbaths. The preparation day is the time
to get everything ready for the keeping of God’s Sabbaths so you will not even be tempted
to do it on the Sabbath. But, remember, the preparation day is only one day. Do not make
the mistake of letting everything go—housecleaning, baking, cooking, grocery shopping,
vehicle washing, sewing, mowing the lawn, household chores, doing laundry, etc.—until that
day! Do this and you will find the Sabbath a day of total collapse, lacking enough energy to
communicate with God, rather than a peaceful day of rest and relaxation! It is to be a day to
prepare for the Sabbath, not a day to catch up on what you should have been doing all week.
Also, do not work such long hours during the week that you short yourself on proper and
adequate sleep and rest. Do that and you will find yourself an exhausted, dull, apathetic
sleepyhead on the Sabbath—nodding, dozing and lethargic during services. I have seen
many fall into this pattern week after week, defiling God’s Sabbaths.

God wants us to plan to have everything in readiness to truly greet God’s
Sabbaths—making sure there are no other things pressing on our minds or schedules. Only
when we have everything done and out of our minds can we really become absorbed in the
Sabbath as we should. Plan it this way and you will be amazed at how much more you will
delight in the Sabbath. Remember, God wants your time and your mind on His
Sabbaths—not your endless trivialities which can clutter your mind, thoughts and words
during a normal work week. The Sabbath is the day to completely put all that away from
you. Read Mr. Raymond Cole’s article in the June 1951 Good News, “How to Observe the
Sabbath.” It will answer your most perplexing questions. Is it important to God that we
properly keep His Sabbaths? Go back and review the blessings for obedience and the curses
for Sabbath-breaking in Leviticus 26.

Notice what God said to Judah through Jeremiah: “But if ye will not hearken unto me
to hallow 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” (Jeremiah 17:27)! This was Judah’s
last warning before their plunge into slavery! They did not bear in mind the consequences
of Sabbath-breaking. They did not think that Sabbath-keeping was that important to God.
What were the results and consequences? “Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the
month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came
Nebuzaradon, captain of the guard . . . into Jerusalem, And burned the house of the Lord
[Solomon’s multimillion-dollar temple], and the king’s house; and all the houses of
Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire” (Jeremiah 52:12–13).
More than one hundred years before, the northern kingdom, Israel, had been driven
out of their land by the Assyrians as slaves because of Sabbath-breaking (Ezekiel 20:10–25).
Is the proper keeping of God’s Sabbaths important? It sure is! In fact, failing to do so can
keep you out of God’s Kingdom!

What Has God Said to Us TODAY?

Let us review what Mr. Armstrong taught in his article from the May 1967 Good
News
, “Have We of All People, Been Neglecting God’s Sabbath?” Mr. Armstrong makes
plain from the New Testament how important it is for us, TODAY, not to be neglecting
God’s Sabbath:

I want all in God’s church to NOTICE how God says this carelessness about
His Sabbath can KEEP YOU FROM BEING BORN INTO GOD’S
KINGDOM! It is JUST as important to US, TODAY, as to Judah, then.

The Book of Hebrews is the Book of the LIVING Christ, TODAY!

I want you to see, now, what this world’s theologians have never SEEN!

I want to take you, quickly and brief, through the first four chapters. This was
written for GOD’S CHURCH, for TODAY! And you will see why I keep
emphasizing that word “TODAY!”

“. . . God . . . has spoken to us by a Son—a Son whom he has appointed heir of the
universe, as it was by him that he created the world. He, reflecting God’s bright glory and
stamped with God’s own character, sustains the universe with his word of power . . .”
(Hebrews 1:1–3, Moffatt translation). In the King James Version the “all things” in verse 3
means the entire universe. This introduction to the book of Hebrews shows us just how great
is the living Christ. He is the reflection of God the Father’s glory. He sustains the universe
by the mighty power of His Word.

The following verses of chapter one show the glory of angels, but the far superior
glory of the living Christ. “Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister
for them who shall be heirs [or inheritors] of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). “We [the inheritors
of salvation] must therefore pay all the more attention to what we have heard [the truth once
delivered], lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1, Moffatt). Has that not happened to most all of
God’s called? It certainly has! Pitiful scholarly reasoning. “How shall we [God’s Spirit-begotten children] escape, if we neglect so great salvation . . . For unto the angels hath He
not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak” (Hebrews 2:3–5).

When the Apostle Paul spoke of “so great salvation,” he was speaking of “the world
to come”—Thy Kingdom come—to be ruled by Christ and God’s Spirit-born saints. It has
not been put in subjection to angels. To whom then? But David in a certain place (Psalm
8:4–8) testified, saying: “What is man [created with the nature and mind of Satan, the Devil],
that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man [son of Adam], that thou visitest him? For
thou hast made him a little [for a little while—Revised Standard Version] lower than the
angels. . . ” Man is now, for a time, lower—but man in God’s Family Kingdom to come will
judge the world, including angels (1 Corinthians 6:2–3).

. . . Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the
work of thy hands [all that God has created]: Thou hast put all things [the
universe] in subjection under his feet. For in that he [God] put all in subjection
under him [man], he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not
yet all things [the universe] put under him (Hebrews 2:7–8).

Our future salvation revolves around ruling with Jesus Christ in the Millennium, the
White Throne Judgment period, and over the entire universe for all eternity. But what do we
see now? “But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels [NOW],
crowned with glory and honor. . . ” (Hebrews 2:9, RSV).

Jesus is now, already, in His glory as a Spirit God being, crowned and ruling the
universe. His eyes flashed like fire, His voice spoke the word of God, His facial appearance
like the radiant sun at high noon (Revelation 1:14–16). He is called the pioneer of our
salvation (Hebrews 2:10, RSV). He is the trailblazer, the first of the firstfruits, spearheading
the way for us as His CO-HEIRS. He has already succeeded to God’s Family Kingdom!
That is how great a salvation we could neglect if we are failing to keep God’s Sabbaths as we
should.

Wherefore, holy brethren [those who are keeping God’s Sabbaths holy],
partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our
profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him [the Father] that appointed
him [Israel of the spirit], as also Moses was faithful in all his house [Israel of
the flesh]. For this man [Christ, by whom all things were created] was counted
worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he [Christ] who hath builded
[created] the house [nation of Israel] hath more honour than the house [the
nation itself, of which Moses was only a part]. For every house [family
household] is builded by some man; but he [Christ] that built [created] all
things [universe] is God [or of the Family of God]. And Moses verily [truly]
was faithful in all his house [Israel of the flesh], as a servant, for a testimony
[witness] of those things which were to be spoken after [of Christ]; But Christ
as a son [of God] over his own house [Israel of the spirit]; whose house are we
[God’s church—His Kingdom in embryo], if we hold fast the confidence [bold
trust in the faith once delivered] and the rejoicing of the hope [of our calling]
firm unto the end (Hebrews 3:1–6).

Now, as Mr. Armstrong taught, we come to the heart of the message to us, TODAY.
It revolves around a Sabbath Psalm. “Wherefore (as the Holy [Spirit] saith, To day if ye will
hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation [rebellion], in the day of
temptation [trial] in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted [tested] me, proved me [what
I could do], and saw my works [miraculous wonders] forty years” (Hebrews 3:7–9). These
verses are quoted from Psalm 95. As David said to the congregation of Israel in his time, “.
. . To day if you will hear His voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in
the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Psalm 95:7–8). The marginal references render the
word “provocation” as “at Meribah,” meaning rebellion, strife or contention and “temptation”
as “Massah,” meaning trial or testing. The RSV translates it: “Harden not your hearts, as at
Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness.” The Moffatt translation also renders it
“Meribah” and “Massah.”

Mr. Armstrong says that this ninety-fifth Psalm on which virtually the entire third and
fourth chapters of Hebrews is based, is a Sabbath Psalm. It records what David said, or
preached, to the congregation of Israel on a Sabbath day. It begins the Sabbath service: “O
come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us
come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of
praise!” (Psalm 95:1–2, RSV). Mr. Armstrong taught that the congregation of Israel came
before the Eternal in assembly on the Sabbath. David’s message, or sermon, on that Sabbath
begins in verse 7: “To day [and that “today” was a Sabbath day], if you will hear His voice.
. . . ” God inspired the third and fourth chapters of the book of Hebrews—His message to
God’s church today—around this same Sabbath message.

Mr. Armstrong taught that as David preached to the congregation of Israel then, so
God inspires the warning to His church today. “Harden not your hearts, as at Meribah, as on
the day at Massah in the wilderness” (Psalm 95:8, RSV). Mr. Armstrong taught that this
rebellion was rebellion against God’s Sabbath.

The ancient Israelites under Moses had come to the wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16:1).
It was on the fifteenth day of the second month, a Sabbath, after leaving Egypt. They left
Egypt on “the morrow after the Passover” on the fifteenth day of the first month. That year
the Passover fell on a Wednesday, and they left on a Thursday (Wednesday night). These
Israelites had griped, grumbled, complained, doubted God and blamed Moses ever since they
had left Egypt, in spite of the stupendous miracles God had performed in saving and
preserving them. Now they “murmured” and blamed God and Moses because they were
hungry.

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you;
and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may
prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no . . . . And it came to pass,
as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel [on the
Sabbath day], that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory
of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I
have heard the murmuring of the children of Israel [on the Sabbath]: speak
unto them, saying, At even [after the Sabbath is over] ye shall eat flesh, and in
the morning [upon the first day of the week, Sunday] ye shall be filled with
bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. And it came to pass,
that at even [after the Sabbath was over] the quails came up, and covered the
camp: and in the morning [upon the first day of the week—Sunday] the dew
lay round about the host (Exodus 16:4, 10–13).

Now the children of Israel had food provided. But they still grumbled and complained
and doubted God and demanded of Moses,

. . . Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and
our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying,
What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. And the
Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the
elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine
hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the ROCK. (Exodus
17:3–6, emphasis mine).

. . . for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock
was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased . . . . Neither let
us tempt [test] Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed . . .
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the
destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they
are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (l Corinthians
10:4–5, 9–12).

. . . and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the
people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And
he called the name of the place Massah [trial or testing], and Meribah
[rebellion], because of the chiding [contention] of the children of Israel, and
because they tempted [tested] the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not
(Exodus 17:6–7)?

If we compare these scriptures in Exodus and 1 Corinthians, with Psalm 95 and
Hebrews 3 and 4, we will get the message for us TODAY!

Joshua and Caleb, of that generation, were the only ones permitted to enter into the
promised land of Palestine—a type of our entering into the Kingdom of God. “Today [on
the Sabbath day in assembly], when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the
rebellion, on the day of testing [the Sabbath was the test (Exodus 16:4)] in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works [miracles] for forty years (Hebrews
3:7–9, RSV). Wherefore I was grieved [angry] with that generation, and said, They do alway
err [go astray] in their heart; and they have not known [chosen to practice] my ways. So I
sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest” (Hebrews 3:10–11, KJV). These
passages are cited from Psalm 95:7–11.

Those Israelites under Moses were on their way to the Promised Land, even as we
today are on our way, striving to enter into God’s Kingdom. The word “rest” in verse 11,
according to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, denotes the fixed and tranquil abode promised
to the Israelites in the land of Palestine. Entering the Promised Land would be a rest from
the rigorous lifestyle of the wilderness. This is a type of a spiritual rest for God’s called, who
qualify at Christ’s return to be born as spirit beings into the Family Kingdom of God—made
immortal, incorruptible.

Because ancient Israel hardened their hearts by choosing not to practice, but to
neglect, God’s commands, profaning God’s Sabbaths when He made that the very testing
point to enter the Promised Land, God said of that generation, “They shall not enter my rest.”
And none but Joshua and Caleb of that generation did! But their children, who were born
along the way in the wilderness, did enter under Joshua. God had promised this land to
Abraham’s seed because of his unquestioned obedience to Him. Regardless of the sins of
Israel, God was bound by His promise to Abraham.

As Israel was preparing provisions for their journey across the Jordan River into
Palestine, Joshua reminded the two-and-a-half tribes which were to settle east of the Jordan
of the words Moses spoke earlier. “The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given
you this land” (Joshua 1:13). The day they went over Jordan was the tenth day of the first
month (Joshua 4:19). According to Mr. Armstrong’s article, this was the weekly Sabbath just
before the Passover, which came the fourteenth day of that same first month. This Passover
was also likely on a Wednesday. They entered that “rest,” into Palestine—on a Sabbath day.
Crossing the Jordan into Canaan would have been a short “Sabbath day’s journey.”

How significant! In the year 31 a.d., the Sabbath before the Passover day on which
Jesus was crucified, was the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. That entry was on
the Sabbath, also the tenth day of the first month, and that year, again, the Passover came on
a Wednesday.

Under Joshua, God’s people were reminded upon entering the Promised Land, a type
of our entering God’s Kingdom, not to “harden their hearts” as their forefathers had done,
profaning God’s Sabbath; which prevented that generation from entering this “rest,”—the
Promised Land. Later, in the days of King David, during a Sabbath-day service before the
congregation (church) of Israel, David said: “To day [and it was the Sabbath day] if ye will
hear his voice [those of King David’s generation], Harden not your heart,” as at Meribah
[rebellion], and as in the day of Massah [trial and testing] in the wilderness (Psalm 95:7–8).

The New Testament command to keep the Sabbath for our generation in these last
days, and for entry into God’s Kingdom, comes to us through the living Christ, our High
Priest.

Wherefore as the Holy [Spirit] saith [through the inspiration of His chosen
servants, which makes them the words of God Himself], To day, if ye will hear
his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation [contention], in the day
of temptation [testing] in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted [tested]
me, proved me, and saw my works forty years (Hebrews 3:7–9).

Most of God’s people today—after the initial forty years—have turned away from the
revealed truth about God’s annual Sabbath of Pentecost. They rebelled in the moment of trial
and testing. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief [due
to pagan principles, human scholarship or complacency], in departing from the living God.”
The Greek word for “departing” is the source of our word, “apostasy,” which is a deliberate
departure from God’s originally-revealed truth. Paul’s warning here is for us, because he
knew it would happen—an apostasy from the living God. “But exhort one another daily,
while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin
(Hebrews 3:12–13). Since the apostasy in 1974, most all of God’s people have had their
minds hardened through the deceitfulness of complacency, compromise and watering down
of the truth as it was originally revealed, to make it easier to live life in the flesh.

Notice, the word “To day” in verses 7 and 13 begins in your Bible with a capital “T.”
That is because, according to Mr. Armstrong, it is speaking of the holy Sabbath day. The
Moffatt translation has it: “So long as this word “To-day” is uttered.” It is printed with a
capital “T” and in italics in this case for emphasis. It is put in quotes in a number of other
translations. The Protestant churches and the theologians of this world have been blinded
to this. But this is a message for God’s True Church. “For we [the called of God] are [have
become] made partakers of Christ [His Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4)], if we hold the beginning
of our confidence [our faith in the doctrine once delivered] steadfast unto the end” (Hebrews
3:14).

Ancient Israel, who hardened their hearts, were under Moses. We have become
partakers of Christ. We have God’s Holy Spirit. They did not! We are without excuse!
“While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice . . . So we see that they could not enter in
because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:15, 19). The Greek word for “unbelief,” according to
Thayer’s, indicates obstinate and rebellious disbelief, self-willed—the exact characteristics
of God’s apostate people today.

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest [God’s
Kingdom], any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us [God’s called] was the
gospel preached, as well as unto them.” Ancient Israel had national promises of a physical
land flowing with milk and honey. But we have eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The
New Covenant for us is established on far better promises (Hebrews 8:6). “For we which
have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter
into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Here God
speaks of the completion of the physical creation in six days by work. The next verse shows
plainly He is speaking of God’s Sabbath rest after the “works were finished from the
foundation of the world.” “For he spake in a certain place [Genesis 2:1–3] of the seventh day
on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works” (Hebrews 4:1–4). Verse
4 refers directly back to the first weekly Sabbath day, as the type of the “rest” of which
chapters 3 and 4 are speaking. The Sabbath day was the type of ancient Israel’s “rest” by
entering into the Promised Land. The Sabbath day and the Promised Land are types of our
entering into the Kingdom of God. And we enter the Kingdom after six millennial days, at
the end of six thousand years since Adam. The Millennium shall be a rest from Satan’s
enticement to sin for the whole mortal world, as well as for us who become immortal spirit
beings in God’s Kingdom. “And in this place again [again God spoke of the Sabbath day]
they shall not enter into my rest.” Here again quoting from Psalm 95, which is David’s
weekly Sabbath-day message on a weekly Sabbath:

Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom
it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief [obstinate and
rebellious disbelief]: Again, he limiteth [designates, points out, specifies, sets
apart] a certain day [the Sabbath], saying in David, TO DAY [the Sabbath
day], after so long a time [about five hundred years after the Israelites were
shut out of Canaan, God was still using the word “To day”]; as it is said, To
day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts (Hebrews 4:5–7, emphasis
mine).

The certain day God limited or set apart was that weekly Sabbath day, the type of the
“rest” of our entering God’s Kingdom. If we despise or profane or defile or neglect to keep
God’s Sabbath as we should, we shall lose out on the promised rest as those Israelites did!
Keeping the Sabbath command as we should is of utmost importance. “For if Jesus had
given them rest, then would he [God] not afterward have spoken of another day” (Hebrews
4:8).

The Adam Clarke’s Commentary does surprisingly well in explaining properly this
verse. “The Apostle shows that, although Joshua did bring the children of Israel into the
Promised Land, yet this could not be the finally intended rest, because long after this time,
the Holy Spirit by David, speaks of this rest.” The “rest” of Israel entering the Promised
Land was the type of the Kingdom of God, even as the Sabbath-day rest is a type of the
Kingdom, God’s millennial rest. The Apostle Paul concludes, “There remaineth, therefore,
a rest [Greek: keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath] to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).

There are two Greek words in this chapter which are indifferently translated “rest”:
katapausis and sabbatismos. Katapausis, meaning a “cessation from labor” so that the weary
body is rested and refreshed. Sabbatismos, meaning not only a rest from labor, but a keeping
of a seventh-day Sabbath! This is a plain, direct New Testament command for God’s church
to keep God’s Sabbath. In the plainest of language, rightly translated, this verse says the
seventh-day Sabbath remains for God’s people TODAY. “For he that is entered into his
[God’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10).
How did God cease from His works? Genesis 2:1–3 shows it was by resting on the day He
sanctified and made holy, which was the weekly Sabbath day. Plainly, to enter that
rest—God’s Kingdom—we also must cease from our six days’ work, our own pleasure and
speaking our own words on the Sabbath day.

Let us labour therefore [exertion of body and mind] to enter into that rest
[millennial rest], lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief
[indicating an obstinate, self-willed, complacent, rebellious disbelief in the
truth as it was originally revealed] (Hebrews 4:11).

God wants us to labor six days to enter His Sabbath-day rest, as a type of our laboring
against sin, deception, complacency and what we are by nature, to enter God’s millennial rest
in His Family Kingdom. Let us all unitedly be especially careful in fulfilling the spiritual
application of seeking God’s ways and His pleasure by not speaking our own words on the
Sabbath. God wants our time and our minds on His Sabbath. God wants our delight to be
in His word, His pleasures and His ways on His day of rest. If we do that, Christ lives in us.
Then, when we fellowship with one another, we are fellowshipping with Christ.

May God bless you in your endeavor to strive to keep His day holy.

Your devoted servant in Christ,
Robert Litz Signature
Robert J. Litz


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