In October and November of 2001 I had the privilege of holding crusades in Africa for five weeks. During that time I met with many evangelists and pastors. Most of these men were Sabbath keepers, but not all.
On two occasions I met and had Bible studies with a man named Robert who pastors a Disciples of Christ Church which assembles weekly on Sunday.
One day Robert and I were experiencing sweet Christian fellowship, talking and delighting in the Lord Jesus and God's great plan of salvation. Obviously, we were very much like-minded. I think Robert was quite pleasantly surprised to have such fellowship with a Sabbath minister because most of them he knew felt more comfortable discussing the law than the gospel.
Suddenly, Robert declared, "You keep Sabbath, and we keep Sunday." I believe he felt compelled to make this statement because he could find no appreciative differences between us other than the day in which we worshiped.
I turned to my new friend and said, "Robert I'm sorry, but that is not really correct. We do keep the Sabbath, but you and your congregation do not keep any day."
I then told him that when I had walked to the outdoor market on Sunday morning I found only a few stands open for business. Then at about 1 p.m. I began to see many people walking from their churches, coming to open their stands for business.
So I said, - "Most of the people that I know who attend a Sunday church do not keep any day holy to the Lord. They merely attend morning services and then do whatever secular activities they want the rest of the day."
I then asked brother Robert if members of his congregation practiced what I had seen at the market. He put his head down onto a table top and said disappointedly,- "yes."
I then told him that Sabbath keeping is more than a day to attend worship services. And that the fourth Commandment stated not only to "Remember" the Sabbath, but to also "Keep it holy." That it is a 24 hour period of time that the Lord made for man to leave his secular works,- man needs this rest. I explained that the Sabbath is a divinely appointed time, sanctified and set apart by God for the holy use of assembly, fellowship, prayer, study and various acts of doing good to others.
And I told him how grateful I was that my Heavenly Father loves me so much that He has given me a weekly appointment to meet with Him.
I then said, - "Brother, God is always available for His children, but isn't it a meaningful thing that He made one whole 24 hour day "holy" and "sanctified" just for He and us? God promises to be there when the saints assemble."
On the Sabbath, you don't have to invite Him, for His presence is already there, and it is He who is inviting you to join Him.
I then said,- "Brother, I believe the sad truth is,- most Christians don't want to spend an entire day devoted to spiritual things. That is too long for them. After attending morning services they feel their "obligation" to God is fulfilled, so they are free to do the secular things which their hearts were already set on.
That is why so many will not accept Sabbath observance. They don't see the value of having time for the spiritual things of God because their hearts and minds are on the natural things of this world. They see Sabbath observance as a curse and a burden rather than a blessing and a delight."
I reminded this dear brother that Sabbath observance was not a "Jewish" thing, but was given to "mankind" at the end of creation week. Man went astray from God and this blessing, but when the Lord revealed Himself to the children of Israel, bringing them out of bondage in Egypt, He gave them this gift again, and did so even before the command to keep it was thundered from Mt. Sinai.
I reminded him of Jesus' Olivet prophecy (Matthew 24) where the Lord is instructing end-time Christians to pray that their time of escape from the Anti-Christ would not fall on the Sabbath day. I then asked,- "If the Sabbath was now like any other day, then why would Jesus counsel us to pray that our time of flight not be on the Sabbath?" Jesus was making a clear difference between the Sabbath day and the other days of the week, -a follower of Christ must ask "Why?"
Robert came to visit me once more while I was in Nakuru, Kenya. His home and church was perhaps 150 miles or so away, and he had to take public transportation on rough roads to come.
During his second visit he wanted to look closer at what the Scriptures said about Sabbath keeping. We carefully went through many Bible passages but I believe the last one made the greatest impression on Robert.
It was Isaiah chapter 66, verses 22 and 23 which says,- "For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me" declares the Lord, "So your offspring and your name will endure. And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all mankind will come to bow down before Me," says the Lord."
As a Bible student, Robert knew that this chapter of Isaiah was primarily about the Lord's return in glory and the things which will take place thereafter. The words that said "And from Sabbath to Sabbath, ALL MANKIND will come to bow down before Me" seemed to literally jump off the page to him. He began to realize that not only had the Lord preserved the Sabbath day until now, but will give it back to "all mankind" at the Lord's return.
After our Sabbath study we talked about many things, which as Christians we held so dear. I did not seek to force the fourth Commandment upon Robert. I viewed him as a dear brother in the Lord whether he came to the same understanding on this subject or not. I just knew how much a blessing the weekly Sabbath had been to me and my family for almost 30 years, and I wanted him to experience the same joy of entering into the weekly rest of the Lord.
Some time later I received word from Pastor Joseph Kimani that Pastor Robert had told his congregation that he was convicted to observe the Sabbath day. After explaining this doctrine to the church over a few weeks, the Disciples of Christ began to hold services on the Sabbath and the congregation began to experience the joy of having a full 24 hour time period devoted fully to the spiritual things of the Lord.
After holding 34 crusades in 34 days my daughters Sarah, 23, and Jennifer, 21 (at the time) and I returned home to America. Soon I received a letter from Robert saying how much a blessing they have found Sabbath observance to be. He also told me that he had visited a church in Uganda and shared the Sabbath blessing with them. After much study and testimony this congregation also eagerly embraced this gift and entered into the Lord's weekly rest.
These brethren in Uganda, like Robert and like me, discovered the value of truly "keeping" a full day holy. And not just any day, but the one which the Lord has sanctified and made holy. This is one of God's gifts to you, if you will only receive it with gladness.