In the original lecture series done in 1984 at the Loma Linda University Church, Graham Maxwell spoke for about a half hour each Friday night followed by written questions and answers from Lou Venden and also from the audience. The next several posts contain questions and answers from the tenth presentation, “The Reminder of the Evidence.”
Lou: You’ve laid a great deal of emphasis upon the fact that you don’t see the Sabbath as arbitrary, something imposed as a kind of test. And you’ve certainly provided a great deal of meaning to the Sabbath. But I’ve heard people raise this question: All of that may be true, but if so, why couldn’t one keep the Sabbath on another day? Does it really matter? Everyone agrees that nine of the commandments are important because if you really love God and your fellow human beings, that’s the way you’re going to act. But why the seventh day in particular?”
Graham: The word arbitrary suggests that there is no reason, that God ordered it just because He wanted to, just to show His authority. I would say if it really were arbitrary, it could be any day. But it’s the seventh day because it’s so loaded with reasons. Did you ever try on Marjorie (Lou’s wife), “It doesn’t matter when we celebrate our anniversary this year, why don’t we have it some other day?” I don’t think she’d go for it.
On top of that the Bible adds meaning after meaning and reason after reason for the seventh day, which makes it less and less arbitrary. It seems to me that no other of God’s commands is associated with so many meanings. It is the least arbitrary of them all. What bothers me most about considering it as arbitrary is the thought that if it is arbitrary, the only reason why we keep it is to prove that we are God’s good people. We are the only ones who obey. Whereas I understand the purpose of the Sabbath is to say something about Him. But those who keep the Sabbath as meeting an arbitrary requirement are simply saying to the world, “Look, there aren’t many in the world who are good, but we keep the seventh day. The seventh day is not to say something about us. It is to say something about God. So that is an important difference.
Lou: So the meaning inherent in the seventh day makes that the Sabbath day?
Graham: Yes, because He chose to create the world the way He did. Now He did make a decision to do it slowly, but I think to do it slowly is not arbitrary. The universe was watching. The charges had to be met. And God in His own good time and in that very dramatic way unfolded His plans for our world. And every day was saying more of the truth about Him, and the falsity of Satan’s charges. That was a dramatic week!
Lou: I can hear one of our friends asking, “In the light of all this, do I have to keep the Sabbath to be saved? If I don’t keep the Sabbath, am I going to be lost?
Graham: Ah, that reflects on our discussion earlier of what sin is (Chapter Two). If you think of sin as just breaking the rules, then one might follow that line of thought: If I break that rule, I’ll be lost. It all depends whether there is a distrust and a rebelliousness involved in a failure to keep the Sabbath. I think, rather, the Sabbath was made to be a great benefit to us. If I don’t observe it, I lose. If I don’t take my medicine, I lose. God offers it to us. There are some who have never heard of it. I don’t think the thief on the cross ever kept one. But in the legal model, if you violate that rule like any other, then you’re out, because sin is a breaking of the rules. But in my view, sin is internal distrust, rebelliousness and unwillingness to listen. If the gift God has given us inspires a hostility within you, a rebelliousness within you, an unwillingness to listen, that would be a serious thing.
Lou: Because that’s where the problem began.