"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.?" This text, combining humility with "walking with God," is significant. For in order to draw near to God, we must realize our own nothingness and the infinite greatness of God. 2 Cor. 4:7 says, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." Ps 103:14 says, "We are dust." Phil. 2:7.8 says that Christ, who is God, "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." Christ the Son of God came to earth to be our example in obedience to God. The opposite is Satan's rebellion, the trait of all the wicked. Please read Mal 4:1; Isa 2:12,17.
1) Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yea, all who do wickedly will be stubble, and the day which is coming shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts." "The day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up---and it shall be brought low . . . The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man shall be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day."
Answer: Note that here emphasis is made on just one point: the pride and haughtiness of man will be abased when Christ returns. Now please read Zephaniah 2:3.
2) "Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice (Chinese version is "observed His precepts"). Seek righteousness, seek humility, it may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger." So it is the meek of the earth that obey God, while the proud and arrogant refuse to obey Him. It is so in families on earth: obedient children are humble, while grumpy kids do not obey their parents. That is why a man who wants to walk with God must be humble.
Answer: Correct. And it has to do with the Sabbath. Humility characterizes a true Sabbath-keeper, while pride causes people to refuse to obey God. Gen. 6:5 says, "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Such people would not consider keeping God's Sabbath holy. But in that sinful world there must have been a few who walked with God. The Bible mentions two: one was Enoch, the other was Noah. (see Gen. 6:9)
One who humbly walks with God is careful to keep the Sabbath holy. See Gen. 8:10,12. Here one can begin a study of the profaning of the Sabbath and its restoration. Soon after God established the Sabbath and blessed it, sin entered human society, and the Sabbath was bound to suffer from it. After man sinned, Gen. 3:9,10 says, "The Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?' So he said, 'I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.' This dread of God and fear to see Him, made man reluctant to appear before God on the Sabbath. Only one who has truly repented and is born again and restored to communion with God can appreciate the blessings of the Sabbath day.
3) Why is it that so many Christians today are not keeping God's Seventh-day Sabbath?
Answer: This is indeed a strange situation. In the olden days the Jews only wanted the Sabbath of the Lord, but did not want the Lord of the Sabbath. Today many Christians want only the Lord of the Sabbath, but do not want the Sabbath of the Lord. We should pray for them, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Luke 23:34. Here is the battle between profaning the Sabbath and its restoration. The antedeluvians cherished only evil in their hearts, so naturally profaned the Sabbath. God saved Noah and his family, who walked with God and observed His Sabbath (see Gen. 8:10,12) This was the first time the Sabbath was profaned and then restored. A Sabbath-breaking world was destroyed, giving place to a Sabbath-keeping family.
4) When was the Sabbath profaned and then restored a second time? How did it take place?
Answer: It happened when the children of Noah multiplied. The majority again forsook the true God, who then chose Abraham, because he served God faithfully. God said, "Because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." Gen. 26:5. God's laws must include the Sabbath law. This text shows that 500 years before God proclaimed the law at Sinai, Abraham already knew and kept God's laws, including the seventh-day Sabbath preserved and transmitted by Noah.
5) After that, was the Sabbath again profaned? And how was it again restored? How many times was this cycle repeated?
Answer: Sabbath defilement and restoration has been repeated six times. After the flood, as world population increased and spread over the globe, the knowledge of God and Sabbath observance were gradually forgotten. The Chinese classics preserved the name of the true God "Shang-di," and the "Fu" symbol in the Book of Changes has the comment," In seven days comes repetition." But the practice of Sabbath-keeping had ceased. So God entrusted the knowledge of His truth to a chosen people to be preserved. Rom 3:1,2 says: "What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God."
How were the oracles of God committed to them? It was a most interesting experience, recorded in Exodus. That was the third time the Sabbath was restored after a third period of neglect. Abraham had taught the laws of God to his children, so that when his fourth-generation grandson Joseph was tempted to commit adultery, he said, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Gen. 39:9. This shows that Joseph knew God's commandments. But a century later, the Jews who sojourned in Egypt became enslaved by the Egyptians, and were forced to do hard labor. They could not then keep the Sabbath holy. Many also lost a knowledge of the true God. So God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Ps 105:43,45 says," He brought out His people with Joy, His chosen ones with gladness. . . that they might observe His statutes and keep His laws." All who belonged to God among them resolved to walk with Him.
6) Did God at this time proclaim the Ten Commandments?Answer: Not yet. Two months before He proclaimed the Decalogue, God first taught the people to restore Sabbath observance. Then after they had observed eight Sabbath days, God said to them, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." Exod. 20:8-11. The words of this single command comprise a third of the words of all ten precepts.
7) What method did God use to teach the Israelites to keep eight Sabbath days in a row before He proclaimed the Decalogue?
Answer: The method God used is recorded in Exod 16. A month after the Israelites left Egypt, the food they had was all eaten, so God said, "I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not." Exod. 16:4. This shows that God wanted the Israelites to cultivate the habit of Sabbath observance. They could have reached their destination in one month, but God led them by a circuitous route, to let them consume all the food they had, so that God could use the miracle of raining bread from heaven to test their obedience. To obey what? He wanted them to obey His Sabbath commandment. Now please read Exod. 16:13-31 for us.
8) "In the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, 'What is it?' ('Manna?') For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, 'This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: "Let every man gather it according to each one's need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons, let every man take for those who are in his tent.' And the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one's need. And Moses said, 'Let no one leave any of it till morning.' Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. . . . So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.
"And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. Then he said to them, 'This is what the Lord has said: "Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.' So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, 'Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none.'
"Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, 'How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See, for the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.' So the people rested on the seventh day. And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey."
Answer: God reproved those who went out to gather manna on the Sabbath and found nothing. He said, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?" In order to stress the sanctity of the Sabbath, God performed three miracles every week. (1) For six days He rained manna from heaven. (2) No manna was given on the Sabbath. (3) The manna left over from the sixth day remained fresh on the Sabbath. Every thinking person can see from these miracles that God highly regards the sanctity of His Sabbath. Although it has been forgotten three times by His people, He still takes special pains to restore it. And the strange thing is: many who claim to believe in God regard the Sabbath with disdain. One Christian writer published a book on the miracle of the manna, but did not write a word about the Sabbath! He ignored it In spite of the fact that God said that the miracles were performed with the purpose of testing His people," whether they will walk in My law or not." Exod 16:4.
9) It is indeed a strange thing. Please tell us how the Sabbath was defiled a fourth time, and how it was again restored.
Answer: Not long after the Sabbath was restored in the exodus, many people did not regard it highly, but broke it at will. God said in Ezek 20:12,13, "I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness, they did not walk in My statutes, they despised My judgments, . . .and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths." After they entered Canaan, the Jews continued to defile the Sabbath. So God sent prophets to rebuke them, saying," It shall be, if you diligently heed Me, "says the Lord," to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and horses, . . .and this city shall remain forever. . . . But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched." Jer. 17:24-27.
10) Since God's chosen people failed to hallow the Sabbath, and it was defiled a fourth time, how was it again restored?
Answer: Jeremiah's entreaties had no effect, so his prophecy was fulfilled. In 586 B.C. Jerusalem was burned to the ground. Some of the inhabitants died, some became captives, the remainder fled to Egypt. After 70 years, the descendants of the captives returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the Temple and the city. Then their leader Nehemiah did his best to restore the sanctity of the Sabbath.
Neh 13:15-22 says, "In those days I saw in Judah some people treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and brining in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, 'What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.' So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath . Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. . . . And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day."
11) Four times defiled, and four times restored. It seems to be easier to defile the Sabbath than to restore it. How was it defiled and restored the fifth time?
Answer: The fifth time was a shifting from one extreme to the opposite. Jewish leaders overdid the example of Nehemiah in a strict observance of the Sabbath, adding over 300 rules to regulate Sabbath-keeping, making it a burden on the people. One absurd rule was to forbid healing the sick on the Sabbath. The Gospels record that Jesus, as the Lord of the Sabbath, often healed the sick on the Sabbath, and stated that "it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Matt. 12:12. Thus He boldly restored the sanctity of His day.
12) So the fifth time they defiled the Sabbath by loading it down with man-made rules, which Jesus ignored by doing good on the Sabbath and thus restoring the sanctity of His Sabbath. How about the sixth round of defiling and restoring the Sabbath?
Answer: The sixth round involves a substitute Sabbath. Changing the seventh-day Sabbath into the first day of the week and calling it the "Lord's day." In the Bible the "Lord's day" is the Sabbath. Isa 58:13 calls the Sabbath "the holy day of the Lord." Today many people call the first day of the week the "Lord's day," thus creating a false notion contrary to Scripture. All who work by "thus says the Lord," will faithfully keep the seventh-day Sabbath. All who follow the crowd will worship on the first day of the week. But one who realizes that he is in a battle over defiling and restoring the Sabbath, must choose on which side to stand. Now is the time to decide. In olden times Elijah the prophet said to the people, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him." 1 Kgs 18:21. The people answered him not a word. At the time there was only one prophet of the Lord against 450 prophets of Baal, the sun god. Yet in the ensuing contest the Lord gained an overwhelming victory.
It is so today. Facing a fierce enemy, we must not be neutral and answer not a word. We should stand firmly on God's side. To all who are neutral, a curse is pronounced:"'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of the Lord. 'Curse its inhabitants bitterly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.'" Without our help, God will still win the battle, but we will be cursed. Jesus says," He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters." Luke11:23.
We invite our friends to follow Enoch's example in walking with God to prepare for translation. Gen 5:24 says, "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." The Bible says that after Enoch gave birth to a son, he walked with God 300 years. For now he could better appreciate the heavenly Father's great love for man, and a child's trust in his parents. He was deeply touched by the prophecies of God sacrificing His Son for sinners in the plan of redemption. Enoch's walk with God was not in a trance or a vision, but in all the duties of his daily life. He did not become a hermit, shutting himself away from society; for he had a work to do for God in the world. In the family and in his intercourse with men, as a husband and father, a friend, a citizen, he was the steadfast, unwavering servant of the Lord,
living in full agreement with Him. As it is said in Amos 3:3," Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?"