“You show me a nation that has given up the Sabbath, and I will show you a nation that has got the seeds of decay.”— D. L. Moody
In last month’s magazine, I inserted a small Dan Gayman comment, one that was taken from a recent “Watchman” magazine. It was based on President Donald Trump’s political campaign slogan; Can America be great again — without finding God? Mr. Gayman said a resounding “No”, unless, he went on, our nation reacquaints herself with our Mighty God.
Sadly, turning back to God isn’t going to happen, unless some sort of disaster forces our Israel nations to our knees. For the stalwart Christian, it is heartbreaking to see how the seeds of decay have grown to the extent that they have adversely affecting every aspect of our lives.
I encourage you to re-read the words, recorded above, of D.L. Moody, a great preacher, evangelist and publisher of the nineteenth century, because our decline has gone hand in hand with our giving up the Sabbath. One short story I’ve printed more than once came to us in an editorial by the late Pastor Alan Campbell. It paints a picture of what happens to a nation walking with God versus one that has abandoned His Laws and Commandments. Ironically, ten years before the notable Trump campaign slogan, Pastor Campbell asked “Why is this happening to America?”
He began his theses by examining the foundation of America in the eyes of Alexis de Tocqueville, a French historian who began a study of America in 1831 and subsequently published his book, “Democracy in America.” He quoted three widely published Tocqueville passages, these being:
“Upon my [Tocqueville’s] arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequence resulting from this new state of things.”
“I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors ….; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.” “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
And his subsequent words sum it up, If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. And not just America, but all the Israel nations, beginning with the other Joseph nations, as well, i.e. Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Greatness quickened its exodus when Israel abandoned the Sabbath. Indeed, there is evidence to this assertion, by looking at the glory days of the British Commonwealth and the United States as they began their journey during the early years of the twentieth century. Take, for example, the World Exhibition in Paris in the year 1900; neither the British nor the United States would participate on Sundays. Their respect for God’s Law paid dividends and when respect was lost, both nations, perhaps more so the British Commonwealth, declined in prestige and morality. Both nations may long for their former days of power and prosperity, but the growing poverty, fear and loss of freedoms of the people depicts nations sorely lacking God as Commander in Chief.
In his editorial, Pastor Alan Campbell quoted Pastor Karl Schott who pointed out, “David, king of ancient Israel, gives us wisdom and direction when he was inspired to write: ‘The God of Israel spoke to me, He who ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.’” Pastor Campbell then continued, this is so true, but just as it is necessary for government leaders, it is equally so for economic and ecclesiastical leaders. As a yearly visitor to America, I have witnessed an accelerating falling away from the faith and the adverse effect of this is reflected in every aspect of American life, resulting in those massive problems mentioned earlier. America is at a crossroad, one branch leads to a calamitous future if the present course is maintained, the other to a return of goodness and greatness if repentance and prayer lead the way. Well, we in the other Israel nations are at that crossroads too but we need more than any time before, leaders who not only mention Jesus Christ for political convenience, but lead as He directs. This we rarely experience.
Some time ago, a young Vancouverite asked me what Sundays were like when there was no commercial activity of note taking place in our communities. I don’t know whether my answer satisfied him; I told him that the Sabbath concerned mostly our rest from our daily toils. That this Fourth Commandment of the Almighty directed us to, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work. But the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work…” I like what a man by the name of Dr. F. B. Meyer said, “The Ten, Commandments do not make things right. They state things because they are right. We shall never get right until we begin to see that the Bible does not make things right or wrong. It simply states what things are right and what things are wrong in the Eternal order; and the keeping of the Sabbath is right, is obligatory, not only because it is in the Ten Commandments, but because it is part of the Eternal order. If men break any one of these Commandments, they are not simply sinning against God, they are hurting themselves because God made things right or wrong, not arbitrarily, but because some things make for health and some for disease.” If you think of this, lack of rest invariably leads to ill health.
As to what Sundays were like, I guess you had to experience the quiet atmosphere and the feeling of bliss. You might think I am quoting others too much in this article but great wisdom is great wisdom and these words of an early twentieth century visitor to England by the name of PERE HYACINTHE couldn’t have summed up the feeling better when he wrote, “I NEVER shall forget the emotion which filled me at the sight of London. There she sat, the great empress of the seas, giving laws to isles and continents, stretching afar over kings and peoples, not like those of old, the rod of oppression, but the beneficent sceptre of her riches and her liberty. And I heard the hum of her vast industry, and through the streets there poured the living sea of men and vehicles; then, by and by, there dawned a day, a day which was not like other days; no noisy waggons now in the streets, no throngs hurrying to business; the giant machine that had been roaring and thundering the day before had suddenly stood still as if before the vision of God.”
Most of us, when we were young, understood the wisdom that to break the Sabbath was unthinkable. We knew this in days gone by, our parents certainly knew this, and they understood the advice of Isaiah 58:13-14, “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 of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
One writer penned, “A corruption of morals usually follows the profanation of the Sabbath”. Certainly, we who have lived long enough realize this. And vice-versa!
A number of years ago, I was fortunate enough to talk to someone about the importance of keeping the Sabbath and I adopted his advice. Sometimes it is difficult not going to a restaurant on a Sunday or shopping at the local plaza but I can say that the twenty years since have bestowed great personal benefits. Still, it is so sad to see the plight of our nations, as lack of rest for our citizens and land brought about through debt and usury prevents a Sunday rest and the Sabbath year of rest. Sadly, our people are neither knowledgeable (Hosea wrote, “My People are destroyed for lack of knowledge) nor at this time prepared to repent, so Isaiah 59:2 holds true, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
Nonetheless, you and I, knowing full well the underlying message of the Bible and who we really are, should add Sabbath Keeping to our lives, so we may all reap God’s beneficence. As to our nation, we can only hope that someday soon these following words will be our shining example. “If you refrain from doing your own business, upon the sabbath, on my sacred day, and hold the sabbath a delight, and the Eternal’s sacred day an honour, not following your own wonted round, not doing business, and not talking idly, then you shall have delight in the Lord’s favour, for he will let you hold the land in triumph, enjoying your father Jacob’s heritage: so the Almighty God himself promises.”