Christ and the Sabbath



But go a little further. Not only is it stated that he rested on that day, and blessed that day, and made it a rest day for man, a time for spiritual refreshing, but it is said that he hallowed the day; that is, he made that day holy. The very thing that made it a Sabbath, hallowed it, made it holy. And two or three very familiar scriptures will show this plainly. Refer again to the experience of Moses at the burning bush; when the Lord called to him out of the bush, he said, “Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” The day before that time the ground around that bush was not particularly holy ground. It is true that God is everywhere; and it is true in that general sense, that everything is holy as belonging to the Lord; but that particular portion of the earth was no more holy the day before that occurrence than any other particular portion; but just as soon as Christ revealed himself there,-as we have already learned that it was Christ at the burning bush,-that place became holy because of his presence. So the other event to which attention has been called, in Joshua, the fifth chapter; when the Prince of the host of the Lord appeared to Joshua, he said: “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” It seems likely that that was a place where Joshua retired for secret prayer. It is more than likely that he had visited this place before, and no such word had come to him; but here was the personal presence of the Prince of the host of the Lord; Christ himself was there. The presence of Christ made that ground holy, and Joshua was commanded to loose the shoe from off his foot, because it was holy or hallowed ground. The mount of transfiguration was called holy because Christ in his divinity was manifested there. CAS 17.2

We have a very marked illustration of this at the time when the law was rehearsed by Christ on Mount Sinai. Bounds were placed about the mount, and the people could not pass beyond them. That mount previous to that time was not specially distinguished from other mountains in that neighborhood; but when the Lord himself, Jesus Christ, the agent in creation, the agent in redemption, came down there in person, and proclaimed anew to the world the law of God, by his own voice, his presence there made that mount holy. The mount was bounded off by lines that separated it from the other parts of the surrounding country. There was no particular difference between that portion of the country and other portions surrounding it, except this, that on that particular mount Jesus Christ himself descended in person, and his presence made that mount holy. If any one stepped beyond the boundary, into that mount made holy by the presence of Christ, it was certain death to him. Here was a particular portion of the country entirely separate and distinct from the adjacent country. Men could walk about as usual, but when they came to that boundary, they must stop. That was in a special way God’s land. To step over the line was to step upon holy ground. CAS 18.1

Now, just as the presence of Christ at the burning bush made the ground holy, just as the presence of Christ with Joshua made the ground holy, just as the presence of Christ on Mount Sinai made that ground holy, so the presence of Christ, which constitutes the seventh day a rest day, which makes it a Sabbath, a spiritual rest, makes that day holy. And just as there was a particular portion of the ground made holy in all these other cases, just so there was a particular portion of time made holy. The children of Israel could go about their own pursuits; they could walk about as usual outside of that boundary, but the one who treated that mount, thus marked off, the same as he treated other portions of the surrounding country, forfeited his life. CAS 18.2

It is none the less true to-day that the presence of Jesus Christ has made holy a particular portion of time, the seventh day, the Sabbath, and so the scripture says: “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day.” Isaiah 58:13. It is none the less true that man may go about as usual, may attend to his usual avocations on six days of the week, but when he comes to that boundary line which marks off the time that Christ has made holy by his own presence in it, if he knowingly steps over that line, and treats that time just as he treats the other time, he does it at the risk of his own life. It is true that “because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” but this does not lessen the force of the conclusion. The Lord has indicated his mind in this matter, and he will “give every man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.” CAS 19.1

It is the presence of Christ that makes holy, and his presence has been put into a particular portion of time in a special manner, and that portion of time has been bounded off, separate and distinct from other portions of time. When the children of Israel came up to the boundary of Sinai, they knew it. God did not leave them in ignorance of the boundary line between the common and the sacred. God has not left us in ignorance. He has appointed means that we may know when we come up to that portion of time which he has made holy by his own presence in it, and by his own blessing upon it. But just as the presence of Christ at Sinai made that mount holy, just as his presence in the Sabbath makes that holy, just so the presence of Christ in the individual makes him holy. The Sabbath was designed as a constant reminder of the work of God through Christ in redemption. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. We are commanded, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” But we cannot make ourselves holy. There is one thing that always makes holy, and that is the presence of Jesus Christ. When Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, we are made holy by his presence, and this is the blessing of Sabbath-keeping. That is Christian experience; that is the Christian life. When Christ dwells in the heart by faith, he by his presence makes the believer holy. CAS 19.2