Traveling on the Sabbath

In today’s hustle and bustle world, many of us  are often found traveling. As Sabbath keepers we should always be prepared at home and away. Let’s look at ways which we can guard the Sabbath, to help us keep it “holy” while on the road.

In the fourth Commandment, it begins, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy… (Exodus 20:8). This keeping it holy applies each and every Sabbath, whether we are at home or traveling. In (Isaiah 58:13) we read, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Also, “Thus says the Lord: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.”(Jer.17: 21-22)

 The above is packed with nuggets of gold (Truth). We see that our focus should be to guard against the ever tempting carnal nature of doing “our pleasure” on His holy day. This can be a big problem in situations where one is traveling and away from their routine and customs of the home life. However, as always the Lord has made a way out for us. It’s called preparation.

As  many of us Adventists know , we regard Friday as our “preparation day”. And rightly so. This day is obviously the day before His holy day, so we basically have this day to get things prepared and ready. So let’s look at some areas where we can prepare in traveling.

1) Meals.

This probably is one of the most troubling areas of trying to keep the Sabbath holy when we travel. Obviously we can’t cook most of the time, so we cut corners and eat out. But there again the preparations should be made. Almost every area we travel in, there is a market where we can buy food and snacks. So we can load up on the goodies to eat and drink on the next day -the holy Sabbath.

Sadly some fall into the devil’s trap and succumb to eating in a restaurant. This is  a real  “breaking” of the Sabbath. The most obvious reason is the buying and selling on the Sabbath. We are also encouraging and helping others to break it as well, though they may not be aware of it. In the 13th chapter of Nehemiah we can find specific warnings against buying and selling on the Sabbath.

We need only look back to the story in (Numbers 15:32-41). There you’ll recall the Lord ordered a man stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. How do you think our Lord looks upon us, as we are profaning  His holy Sabbath much more? We should not dare trespass in this way.

2) Planned travel.

Here is another area where we must put the Lord first. When we are to plan our travel, we should be most careful to arrange our flights, so as to not travel on the Sabbath. Long car traveling, which can be laborious should also be avoided also . Yes,  this could cause a delay or interruption, but are we going to risk breaking and trampling His Sabbath in this way? Again our planning and preparation is a must, in order to keep His holy day–holy.

A while back I was in church, in the restroom, and I overheard a conversation. One man was explaining how he was going out-of-town next “Saturday” and flying out. I was amazed!  This I’m afraid, is much more common than we want to believe. The lazy and careless approach to Sabbath keeping will one day cost us if we keep it up. If the Lord stoned that man in the Numbers story, and saves us, as we do much greater  willful transgressions on the Sabbath, will He not have to apologize to that man and his family? Let’s think that through. What makes  us think we now have more rights and liberty to transgress today?

Our two great duties are —Fear God, and keep His Commandments. ( Ecc.  12:13-14).

3) Buying and selling.

Here again is a great temptation. We find ourselves wanting to buy gas, food, general necessities. We rationalize,  “We’re on the road, the Lord understands the circumstances.” Again, Friday is the preparation day when we should get the gas and buy the goodies, etc. With careful planning and thought, we can load all we need by Friday sunset and be good to go for the Sabbath.

4) Places of worship

Sometimes  in our travels there are no close Sabbath churches around. What to do? In the book of Acts there is the example of Paul finding a “riverside” to go to, to pray and have fellowship (Acts 16:13). He was apparently not near a temple and found a quiet place by a river.  So we can also go to a quiet mountain area, beach, or other remote quiet area to pray and read the Scriptures and fellowship. Contemplate the beauty of our Lord’s  creation. We shouldn’t watch worldly TV in our hotel room, or be part of any other worldly endeavor that might keep us from keeping the Sabbath holy.If we know we’ll be staying in the room for the Sabbath, we can take those long overdue naps, or pray, study, or listen to beautiful Christian music. When we indulge in knowing and listening to the things of the Lord, time goes by much too fast!

Our Lord and His word will not change.  “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4). The continual willful sinning in transgressing His Sabbath will, according to His word, cost us a price–our life.

In closing let us be good preparers and planners, thinking of honoring our Lord on His holy Sabbath even while traveling. Traveling will bring us challenges, but we can view them as stepping-stones, to exercise our devotion to the Lord.  Our Lord said the following  “Whoever is faithful in very little, is faithful also in much..” (Luke 16:10).

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