Sandy Seventh-day Adventist Church

Hope and Healing For All People

Is this the Greatest Commandment?

Because of the emphasis Seventh-day Adventists put on the Sabbath commandment, some people may get the impression that we think it’s the greatest commandment.


Jesus said this about the greatest commandment:


  • “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT)


If the entire law is based on these two commandments, what does the Sabbath commandment have to do with loving God and loving our neighbors?


Love Gives Rest

You may have heard it said that the first 4 commandments address our relationship to God, and the last 6 address our relationship to others. Let's read the fourth commandment again:


  • "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 male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who 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. (Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV)


The first part of the commandment is to rest on the seventh day because God’s rested on the seventh day after six days of creation. God is Love (1 John 4:8). When God creates, it's an act of Love. The Sabbath is a gift of Love when we receive it as God intended. It is a promise that you can:

  • Stop doing your work

  • Receive God’s Rest


The second part of the commandment is to give rest on the seventh day to the people and animals who work on our behalf—giving rest to our neighbors as God gives rest to us.

  • Do God’s work

  • Relieve others from doing your work

  • Give God’s Rest


But wait! There's more...


Delighting in the Sabbath

Jesus healed a man who couldn't walk. He told him to pick up his bed and walk. So, that's what the man did.


Because Jesus did this on Sabbath, Jewish religious leaders were angry. They had a rule about carrying one's bed on Sabbath. To them, that was work. They believed Jesus was encouraging disobedience to the Sabbath commandment.


God didn't command people to not carry their beds on Sabbath. God did say this:


  • “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Isaiah 58:13-14 NLT)


Sabbath-keepers have often found it helpful to make rules about how to rest on Sabbath. Most of these rules are about how to avoid working. Often, these rules become a burden. It's hard to rest when you're carrying a burden. And how much more difficult is it for a person to call Sabbath a delight when they're weighed down by rules.


When the Jewish religious leaders confronted Jesus about telling the lame man to pick up his bed and carry it on Sabbath, Jesus said, "My Father is always working, and so am I."


Sabbath is God's busiest day of the week. What kind of work is God doing?


God is loving people. And that's the kind of work He calls us to do.


  • "Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. (Isaiah 58:7-10 NLT)


This is the kind of work that makes Sabbath a delight. It's more than giving rest to those who work for us. It's the work giving rest to those who are suffering from all kinds of burdens. It's the work of blessing, because we are blessed.


  • "But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:17-18 NKJV)


Receiving rest and giving rest.


That's what loving God and loving our neighbors looks like.

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